Every once and a while, I will have a visitor sit into my class, this time it was my husband Roger armed with his ever present camera!

Every once and a while, I will have a visitor sit into my class, this time it was my husband Roger armed with his ever present camera!

Here is what I am reading today:

“Vocabulary instruction in the early years is not challenging enough to prepare students for long-term reading comprehension, argues a study led by a Michigan State University education researcher.”

“Female mice exposed to Bisphenol A through their mother’s diet during gestation and lactation were found to be hyperactive, exhibit spontaneous activity and had leaner body mass than those not exposed to the chemical, researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health have discovered.”

  • even a beetle navigates by the stars

“Despite having tiny brains, dung beetles are surprisingly decent navigators, able to follow straight paths as they roll poo balls they’ve collected away from a dung source. But it seems the insects’ abilities are more remarkable than previously believed. Like ancient seafarers, dung beetles can navigate using the starry sky and the glow from the Milky Way, new research shows.

“This is the first time where we see animals using the Milky Way for orientation,” said lead researcher Marie Dacke, a biologist at Lund University in Sweden. “It’s also the first time we see that insects can use the stars.””

“The connection between poor sleep, memory loss and brain deterioration as we grow older has been elusive. But for the first time, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found a link between these hallmark maladies of old age. Their discovery opens the door to boosting the quality of sleep in elderly people to improve memory.”

“Results of a recent clinical study by researchers from Western and the University of Arkansas reveal the presence of a unique blood marker, which may further the understanding of possible gut linked environmental contributors to autism. The findings may also forecast potential blood tests for early screening to identify and potentially treat the condition, even before symptoms present.”

“A patient’s relationship with his or her doctor has long been considered an important component of healing. Now, in a novel investigation in which physicians underwent brain scans while they believed they were actually treating patients, researchers have provided the first scientific evidence indicating that doctors truly can feel their patients’ pain – and can also experience their relief following treatment.”

“New research at Oregon State University suggests the health benefits of small amounts of activity – even as small as one- and two-minute increments that add up to 30 minutes per day – can be just as beneficial as longer bouts of physical exercise achieved by a trip to the gym.”

“In mice, a particular type of neuron responds specifically to gentle touch. Stroking skin produces a pleasurable sensation in many mammals, including humans, but until now, it was unclear which neurons detected that stimulus”

“You knew it would have to come around sometime. Too many gamers out there to not believe it was going to happen. Finally there are a few sites which allow men and women who love to play video games to play with each other! Although it is hard for many of my female colleagues to believe, but there are a rising number of young women who love and play video games! We play as a family, in pairs and individually… and now we know we are not alone!” — Laura Freberg




erichasenkamp · January 31, 2013 at 6:21 pm

So, dung beetles use the milky way for navigation? That’s pretty cool! Although one thing I am curious about is how the time of night affects their navigation. As the night proceeds, the milky way changes position in the sky. Therefore, if they are guided by light from the milky way, then it seems to me that they would be directed in different directions depending on the time of night. It would be an interesting study to observe how they move when the night is young vs. just before dawn. Also, the caps they put on the beetles could potentially be affecting navigation just based on the weight of the cap, and not because it blocks light. In further experiments, I think this should somehow be controlled for.

erichasenkamp · January 31, 2013 at 6:34 pm

As a person considering a career in medicine, this article is particularly interesting for me. I have always heard of the placebo effect, but this is sort of like it in reverse! Just thinking about it, this study makes intuitive sense. In my experience, when someone experiences something painful, I can sort of “feel” the pain that they are feeling. Perhaps it is because our brains are recalling a memory of that event, which activates the regions of our brains that were involved in that event, which cause us to “feel” their pain. When we see relief on someone’s face, we also feel relieved possibly because we know what it feels like, and our brains activate those feelings of relief. As a prospective doctor, I believe that empathy is something a doctor has to be able to do, or else they would be a pretty crummy doctor! It’s cool that people are starting to figure out the biological basis for this phenomenon.

mlauth · February 7, 2013 at 8:54 pm

It’s funny to think that staying up late studying for a midterm can actually hurt one’s performance in the future. In “Poor sleep in old age prevents the brain from storing memories”, a study shows that nREM sleep helps with transferring memories from the hippocampus to the prefrontal cortex. With a lack of nREM/REM sleep, fewer memories are transferred to the prefrontal cortex and the next day the information in the hippocampus gets overwritten with new experiences. Applying this to students at Cal Poly, it seems important for students to get a full nights rest before a midterm a couple of nights before, so that they can retain their study memories not just for the test but for future endeavors in the field. I really believe getting rest before an exam a couple of days before is important for success in the future.

mlauth · February 7, 2013 at 9:14 pm

BPA, a common endocrine disruptor, has been known for many years to play a large role in messing up the thyroid and estrogen communication in our body. This is extremely dangerous because not only is it harmful to individuals, but can actually be even more harmful in smaller doses than larger ones. A recent study that I read about in another class showed that there was beginning to be a correlation between the small dosages of BPA in the environment of mice and abnormal behavioral and emotional problems in their young. It was also clarified that a higher number of miscarriages occurred in pregnant mice that were in a BPA environment than mice that weren’t. A follow up study on this experiment showed higher rates of meiosis error (nondisjunction) in male mice, which would relate to the higher miscarriage rate. It is going to be extremely interesting for our current young adults and teenagers that have been exposed to BPA at a young age and their relative reproductive success in the future.

kfrance · February 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm

A blood test for Autism would be a great way to help diagnose more individuals and help in expanding the knowledge of ASD. I do behavioral therapy with children with Autism and the more we continue to learn, the more we can continue to help those on the spectrum to give them tools to help in social behaviors. I love reading up on new and upcoming research in such an unknown thing. It would be interesting to know and understand the metabolism of those with ASD. I have many clients that go through drastic increases and decreases in energy and understanding if there is a big different in metabolism would help better understand their behaviors.

Steph S · February 11, 2013 at 10:09 am

In response to: Vocabulary Instruction Failing U.S. students

I had never really thought about the teaching of vocabulary until I read this article. I thought it was very interesting the point the author made that most of the words we teach kindergarteners in class are words they would already pick up in everyday life. I think the author was right on the money when they stated that we needed to up our level of vocabulary and not make the words so easy and common. The point of school is to teach things that we may not learn in everyday life if not there would be no point for school for life itself would be school. It’s interesting because I feel the younger and younger generations get the worse quality of vocab they have. Younger people have a great vocab when it comes to slang and abbreviations but the eloquent sophisticated words don’t seem to exist to them.

Steph S · February 11, 2013 at 10:10 am

In response to: Hard to make memories without sleep

It is interesting but understandable that the quality of our sleep deteriorates, as we get older. This is somewhat ironic because the older we get the more time we have to sleep. For instance in college we barely sleep even though this is prime time for quality sleep. Yet when we retire and have time to sleep and take it easy the quality of sleep goes down, even though the quantity may go up. The fact that we can’t store memories, as we get older due to sleep is an interesting concept. Its would be interesting to see how dementia patients vary from non-dementia patients in their sleep cycles along with whether gender may play a role.

jbfournier · February 12, 2013 at 3:49 pm

in response to: do doctor’s FEEL your pain??

I really enjoyed this article because I think it is an incredibly important topic in today’s medical field. I feel that so many doctors today are being instructed on how to treat the “symptoms” instead of how to treat the “patient.” There should be a connection between doctor and patient and the well-fare of the patient should have an effect on the doctor. This is how we can guarantee successful healthcare. If doctor’s are connected to their patients they will make informed decisions regarding their care and they should feel rewarded when they help a patient!

Hannah · June 3, 2013 at 6:38 pm

On “Taking Stairs and Raking Leaves is Exercise?”

Kinesiology major speaking, and this article is barking up the RIGHT tree. So many Americans are incredibly inactive because they insist that after a 9-5 job, taking care of a house and kids, and all the other stressors in the world, there is just no time or energy to exercise. The difference between Americans and the rest of the world, however, is that we are simply getting NO physical activity. Americans sit in a car, sit at a desk, get back in a car, recline on the couch, go to sleep, and repeat this routine day after day. To make matters worse, we are eating horrific food that makes this inactivity even worse. Citizens of other countries are much more likely to walk or bike to work, walk to the subway, use non-motorized tools, etc. Unfortunately, there is a general misconception that one must exercise for 30 minutes or more at a time to make a difference. When someone does not have 30 minutes to give, then they give up on the small opportunities to exercise, such as doing jumping jacks during a commercial break. As a health promotor, it is my job to get the general public to understand that moving in any way – no matter how mundane it may seem – is better than no activity at all.

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