I love my electric car for running around town! Charging it with the solar panels and saving up on the Testla Power Wall Battery! How cool is that?

Here’s what we are reading today!

“A prevalent idea on the origin of speech is that the low human larynx is required to be able to produce sets of distinct vowels, and that the high larynx of nonhuman primates prevents them from producing the vowels found across human languages. Thus, scientists believe that language originated relatively recently, within the last 70,000 -100,000 years, and little research on links between the vocalization of nonhuman primates and human speech has been undertaken.”

“Ivan de Araujo wasn’t initially interested in turning mice into maniacs. A neurobiologist at Yale University, he usually studies rodent feeding behavior in his lab. But a few years ago he came across a 2005 study that suggested the amygdala—a small, almond-shaped part of the brain linked to fear and anxiety—was active during hunting and feeding in rats.”

“Using National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) III data collected from more than 16,000 Americans who were followed for up to 23 years, medical student Mustafa Chopan ’17 and Professor of Medicine Benjamin Littenberg, M.D., examined the baseline characteristics of the participants according to hot red chili pepper consumption. They found that consumers of hot red chili peppers tended to be “younger, male, white, Mexican-American, married, and to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and consume more vegetables and meats . . . had lower HDL-cholesterol, lower income, and less education,” in comparison to participants who did not consume red chili peppers. They examined data from a median follow-up of 18.9 years and observed the number of deaths and then analyzed specific causes of death.

“Although the mechanism by which peppers could delay mortality is far from certain, Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels, which are primary receptors for pungent agents such as capsaicin (the principal component in chili peppers), may in part be responsible for the observed relationship,” say the study authors.

In this video Paul Andersen explains the structures and functions of seventeen major parts of the brain.

“Professor Kevin Fox who led the work at Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences said: “Our work represents a major change in the understanding of how AIDS-related dementia works.

“Armed with the new knowledge that the CCR5 protein in neurons affects learning and plays a major role in AIDS-related dementia, we can now look at ways to suppress it for treatment of the disease and investigate whether its reduction can also benefit other forms of dementia and even aid recovery for stroke victims.””

“The researchers caution that maintaining high levels of fitness through physical activity will not entirely eliminate or cure age- or Alzheimer’s disease related decline, but it may slow down the decline. Future studies following individuals’ fitness and physical activity levels, memory, and brain function over the course of years would more directly address this issue.”


Venus · January 18, 2017 at 9:24 am

I read the article about the association between eating hot peppers and decreased mortality. I was especially interested in this article because I don’t think I could survive without spicy foods! Although I do not particularly eat hot peppers, I love spicy foods in general. I found it interesting that one possible explanation for the red chili peppers’ benefits is because the principle component of the peppers, capsaicin, play a role in cellular and molecular mechanisms that prevent obesity, moderate coronary blood flow, and have antimicrobial properties. I am eager to find out more about this study once more research is made and hopefully spicy foods do in fact reduce total mortality!

kmmenden · January 21, 2017 at 2:18 pm

I read the article about AIDS-related dementia. We have talked a lot about the HIV virus in my Evolution class and was interested to see that I even knew the protein (CCR5) that the article was talking about! I did not know that AIDS and dementia were related, so it was interesting to see what role the CCR5 protein played in both of those diseases.

rachelcarlson · January 22, 2017 at 7:56 pm

The first paragraph relating to the larynx and vocal production was very intriguing to me. I wonder if primates, like humans, are born unable to create certain sounds due to the immature structure of their larynx? Human babies are unable to create certain sounds until they have passed through specific developmental stages of developing vocal control, from crying, to cooing, to creating single phonemically discrete utterances such as “ma” and “pa”. Obviously, primates do not have a language that humans can understand, but perhaps the development is similar.

kylie.wong18 · January 23, 2017 at 7:23 pm

I read “Older, Fitter Adults Experience Greater Brain Activity While Learning” and found it very interesting because most of the time when I think of exercise, I think of improving my physical state and emotional well being rather than memory and cognitive function. Seeing older relatives losing their memory is a very sad experience because they lose a part of themselves. If this is something that could be slowed down by exercising, why is this not brought up more? I feel like this is something that could motivate people to exercise instead of advertisements focused on weight loss/physical appearance. I know memory is influenced by a wide variety of factors, but any little thing can make a difference.

Venus · January 23, 2017 at 10:28 pm

I read the article about baboon vocalizations. I was not surprised by these researchers’ findings because homo sapiens evolved from ape-like species like the baboon. I found it interesting that these researchers were able to take seemingly random noises that these baboons made and break it down and distinguish that there are five vowel sounds like the ones that humans have. Knowing that language originated within the last 100,000 years, we still have a lot to discover about linguistics, but it is definitely very impressive that these researchers were able to decipher baboons’ callings and determine that they have similar sounds.

gcosgrove3 · January 26, 2017 at 11:53 am

“Older, Fitter Adults Experience Greater Brain Activity While Learning”

This article caught my attention because as an individual very curious about nutrition and physical activity, I enjoy learning about the different benefits associated with exercise. When the article mentioned “higher fit older adults also had greater activation than young adults in some brain regions, suggesting that fitness may also serve a compensatory role in age-related memory and brain decline,” it made me wonder how fitness can play a role in slowing down the aging process. In a society concerned about how fast we are aging, I think this find could be a revolutionary break through. It triggers questions such as how much cardiovascular exercise does it take to show a difference in brain activity? What kind of functions can be directly affected? And are individuals who have been exercising their whole life less prone to memory and brain decline than those who start later in life? I look forward to reading future research about the connection between exercise and brain activity.

jcatson98 · February 13, 2017 at 10:49 pm

I read the article about the correlation between eating hot peppers and the decrease mortality rate. I thought this was very interesting and actually shocking! Being one who doesn’t eat a whole lot of spicy food, after reading this it just makes me want to suck it up and eat some spicy food to live longer! I really had no clue that there was any correlation between this. After reading the article It just wants me to learn more about this and have more research be done on the certain subject. Very interesting article!

gcosgrove3 · February 18, 2017 at 1:55 pm

“Study finds association between eating hot peppers and decreased mortality”

This article caught my attention because I love spicy food, so I found it encouraging when I found I could live longer by adding more siracha to my dinners. I understand the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey III data was correlational, but it also mentioned the individuals who consumed the most hot red chili peppers were “’younger, male, white, Mexican-American, married, and [tended] to smoke more cigarettes, drink alcohol, and consumer more vegetables and meats…’” This made me wonder why any of these factors could not be the reason for the decreased mortality rate? How did researchers determine that hot peppers were the variable that increased longevity? There is support for the antimicrobial properties of chili peppers and I think that is where the research should be focused.

kayleeroe · April 23, 2017 at 7:38 pm

I read the article, “Older, Fitter Adults Experience Greater Brain Activity While Learning”. I enjoyed this article because I am very interested in the benefits of exercise, and was curious to know how exercise can help with brain activity while learning. The article addressed the importance of cardiorespiratory fitness not only for physical benefits, but also for memory performance and brain function. I think this article does a great job at mentioning how it is never too late to start exercising to help slow down the decline of age related changes in brain activity. I wish I would be able to fully see the effects this study has on individuals, because I believe it will shine light on the importance of exercise for brain activity and convince more adults to create an exercise routine.

kayleeroe · May 10, 2017 at 12:51 pm

I read the article, “Study finds association between eating hot peppers and decreased mortality”. I found this study very interesting yet also shocking! I love spicy foods, so I am glad to hear that they have a positive effect on my health and could play a role in helping me live a longer life. I did not know that chili peppers play a role in cellular and molecular mechanisms that prevent obesity and help blood flow. Knowing this information will allow me to tell my friends and family in life to encourage them to eat spicy foods with hot chili peppers to increase their chances of living a longer life as well!

Nicole Sacco · May 24, 2017 at 3:43 pm

The article “Study Finds Association Between Eating Hot Peppers and Decreased Mortality” took me by surprise because I have always been told the opposite about spicy food, that they decrease your lifespan. This article provided evidence that there is a 13% reduction in mortality primarily in deaths due to heart disease and strokes since there is an association between chili pepper consumption and mortality. I thought that it was very interesting that the study followed 16,000 Americans for 23 years; I believe that this shows a very reliable study and that the results can be generalized. After discovering these new benefits of chili peppers, I am going to have to force myself to start liking and consuming spicy foods in order to live longer.

madisonklein118 · March 10, 2018 at 12:52 pm

I found the article about mice and how their amygdala’s are linked to hunting very interesting. It makes sense that this could be evolutionary. It is logical for the mouse to be scared and on high alert when it is out hunting because it is most likely out in the open and vulnerable. Even though it would be totally unethical, I wonder if this experiment would replicate in humans? Humans were mostly predators and mice are predominately prey so I wonder if this would make a difference in how we would react if the study was done in humans!

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