Selfie Viewing on Facebook linked to low Self-Esteem

New York, (IANS) If you cannot take your eyes off the innumerable selfies posted on social networking sites like Facebook, take heed. Researchers have found that the more often people view their own and others’ selfies, the lower is their level of self-esteem and life satisfaction. “Most of the research done on social network sites looks at the motivation for posting and liking content, but we’re now starting to look at the effect of viewing behaviour,” said Ruoxu Wang, one of the researchers from Pennsylvania State University in the US.

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Viewing behaviour is also called “lurking” — when a person does not participate in posting or liking social content, but is just an observer.This form of participation in social media may sound like it should have little effect on how humans view themselves, but the study, published online in the Journal of Telematics and Informatics, revealed the exact opposite.

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The researches conducted an online survey to collect data on the psychological effects of posting and viewing selfies and groupies.They discovered that frequent viewing of selfies through social network sites like Facebook is linked to a decrease in self-esteem and life satisfaction.

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Why Teenagers Indulge In Risk-Taking Behaviour ?

New York, If you find your teenage son indulging in alcohol or drugs, do not just blame his peers. A specific imbalance in the functioning of his brain may put him at risk-taking behaviour risk, a study has found.

The study conducted on animals showed that the adolescent-specific behaviour may be driven by an imbalance in activity between the prefrontal cortex (PFC) — an area of the brain involved in cognitive control and inhibition — and the nucleus accumbens (NAC) which plays a central role in reward-seeking and addiction. Researchers from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in the US said that the low activity in PFC with concurrent high activity in NAC — an imbalance which appears to exist only during adolescence — is essentially at odds with each other.

This imbalance is behind the tendency that could lead to potentially dangerous behaviour, including drug use, harmful drinking, addiction, unsafe sex and risky driving, which may result in unintended injuries, violence and/or even premature death.

“Understanding how specific changes in brain function during development relate to behaviour is critically important for determining why some individuals engage in excessive risk-taking behaviour during adolescence,” said David J Bucci, professor at Dartmouth College.

For the study, researchers used adult rats, which normally have balanced activity in these areas and used a novel approach to decrease the activity in PFC and simultaneously increase activity in NAC while the rats learned an inhibition task. The rats that were treated with the new approach exhibited a dramatic delay in learning to inhibit and required twice the amount of training to learn the behaviour.

The delay in learning this inhibitory response matched the delay that the researchers observed in normal adolescent rats during an earlier study. “Our hope is that these findings will inform new means to minimise the potential for engaging in drug use and other harmful behaviours during this important period of development,” Bucci added in the paper published in the journal Current Biology.

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Top 10 tweeted food list has just one healthy item!

New York, Oct 17 (IANS) If tweets can reveal something about our health, researchers have some bad news. In a list of top 10 tweeted foods in the US, they found only one item – chicken – that could be considered healthy food.

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Coffee was the most tweeted food in the US between mid-2014 to mid-2015 followed by beer then pizza, the study revealed.

Chicken, the only food that can be considered healthy, came seventh in the list.

For the study, scientists at University of Utah surveyed nearly 80 million Twitter messages — a random sample of one percent of publicly available, geotagged tweets — over the course of one year.

They then sorted through about four million tweets about food to prepare a top 10 tweeted foods list.

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The researchers found that tweets from poor neighbourhoods, and regions with large households, were less likely to mention healthy foods. Also, people in areas dense with fast food restaurants tweeted more often about fast food.

“Our data could be telling us that certain neighbourhoods have fewer resources to support healthy diets,” said lead author of the study Quynh Nguyen, Assistant Professor at University of Utah College of Health.

These types of comparisons could provide clues as to how our surrounding neighbourhood – the environment that we live, work, and play in — impacts our health and well-being, suggests the study published online in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) Public Health and Surveillance

Perhaps neighbourhoods laden with fast food restaurants could benefit from having more supermarkets or farm stands that sell fresh produce, Nguyen noted.

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Zika virus unlikely to infect same person twice

New York  You are unlikely to get Zika fever twice as new research bolsters the belief that people infected with the virus may not be susceptible to it again. “The research shows that infection provides excellent protection against reinfection,” said one of the researchers Stephen Higgs, Director of the Biosecurity Research Institute, at Kansas State University in the US.

“This means people infected during this current epidemic will likely not be susceptible again. When a large proportion of the population is protected — known as herd immunity — the risk of future epidemics may be low,” Higgs said.

Re-infection of six animals 45 day after primary infection with a heterologous strain resulted in complete protection, which suggests that primary Zika virus infection elicits protective immunity, the researchers said. The protection against reinfection was one of several findings of the collaborative study published in the journal Nature Medicine.

Other findings showed that Zika virus is present in the blood very early during infection and remains in some tissues for a long time but is only briefly present in other tissues. For the study, the researchers produced Zika virus at the Biosecurity Research Institute and provided it to collaborators to support studies performed at several other laboratories.

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Sleep-deprived kids eat more

New York, Oct 14 (IANS) Young kids who miss daytime nap and also stay up late at night are likely to consume more calories, suggests new research.

These findings may shed light on how sleep loss can increase weight gain and why a number of studies show that preschoolers who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be obese as a child and later in life.

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“To our knowledge, this is the first published study to experimentally measure the effects of sleep loss on food consumption in preschool children,” said study first author Elsa Mullins from University of Colorado Boulder in the US.

“Our results are consistent with those from other studies of adults and adolescents, showing increased caloric intake on days that subjects were sleep deprived,” she said.

In this small study, preschoolers were deprived of roughly three hours of sleep on one day – they had no afternoon nap and were kept up for about two hours past their normal bedtime – before being awakened at their regularly scheduled times the next morning.

During the day of lost sleep, the three- and four-year-olds consumed about 20 per cent more calories than usual, 25 per cent more sugar and 26 per cent more carbohydrates, lead study author Monique LeBourgeois, Assistant Professor at CU Boulder.

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The following day, the kids were allowed to sleep as much as they needed.

On this “recovery day,” they returned to normal baseline levels of sugar and carbohydrate consumption, but still consumed 14 per cent more calories and 23 per cent more fat than normal.

“We found that sleep loss increased the dietary intake of preschoolers on both the day of and the day after restricted sleep,” LeBourgeois said.

The study was published in the Journal of Sleep Research.

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Cholesterol deprivation can kill brain tumour cells

New York, Oct 14 (IANS) Offering new hope for an alternative treatment of brain cancer, researchers have found that depriving the deadly tumour cells of cholesterol, which they import from neighbouring healthy cells, kills tumour cells and causes their regression.

“Disrupting cholesterol import by GBM (glioblastoma) cells caused dramatic cancer cell death and shrank tumours significantly, prolonging the survival of the mice,” said senior author Paul Mischel, Professor at University of California San Diego School of Medicine in the US.

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Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and most aggressive form of brain cancer, which is extremely difficult to treat. The median survival rate is just over 14 months, with few treated patients living five years or more past diagnosis.

“The strategy worked with every single GBM tumour we looked at and even on other types of tumours that had metastasised to the brain,” Mischel noted.

Adult brain cancers are almost universally fatal, in part because of the biochemical composition of the central nervous system (CNS) and the blood-brain barrier, which selectively and protectively limits the passage of molecules from the body into the brain, but which also blocks most existing chemotherapies, contributing to treatment failure.

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“Researchers have been thinking about ways to deal with this problem,” Mischel said.

In previous research, Mischel and others had noted GBM cells cannot synthesise cholesterol, which is vital to cell structure and function, particularly in the brain.

Instead, GBM cells derive what they need from brain cells called astrocytes, which produce cholesterol in abundance.

The researchers found that the experimental metabolic disease drug candidate named LXR-623 can help disrupt cholesterol import by GBM cells in mice.

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The study published online in the journal Cancer Cell found no effect of the treatment upon healthy neurons and other brain cells, but GBM cells were deprived of vital cholesterol, resulting in cell death and tumour regression.

Mischel suggested the GBM strategy could be implemented in clinical trials using drug-candidates under development or in early trials.

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Skincare tips for festive season

New Delhi, (IANS) From staying hydrated, moisturising your skin to saying no to hot water bath, it is important to give your skin extra care before the festive season, says an expert. Preeti Seth, Cosmetologist at Pachouli Spa & Wellness Centre, Delhi, has shared some tips that one must start from now to keep your skin healthy.

* Stay hydrated: The more you keep your body hydrated, the more youthful you will look. Drinking lots of water is the best way to do away with impurities in your skin, and eliminate waste and toxins from your system. So make sure you drink 8-10 glasses of water every day.

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* Avoid exposure to sun: Although shopping and celebrations are a big part of the festive season, it is best to avoid too much direct exposure to sunlight. The sun’s strong UV rays can damage your skin texture and make you look dull and tanned. When stepping out, carry an umbrella, apply sunscreen of SPF 45, wear sunglasses and full-sleeved clothes.

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* Moisturise your skin: Do not wash your face more than twice a day, as it may result in dryness. Additionally, apply a good herbal moisturizer to keep your skin soft and hydrated.

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* CTM is a must: One must do CTM — cleansing, toning, moisturising — once a day. You can opt milk for cleansing, a good toner as per your skin type and olive oil for moisturising your skin.

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* Say no to hot water for bathing: Use warm water than hot water for bathing as hot water leads to removal of skin oils which makes it dry.

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Scientist create colour-changing sunscreen patch

Canberra, (IANS) An Australian researcher has devised a new high-tech UV-sensitive patch that changes colour when it is time to reapply sunscreen.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT’s) Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation lead researcher Dr Elke Hacker said on Monday in a statement that the research aims to help 75 per cent of young Australians who get sunburned every year that possibly contracts skin cancer, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Sunscreen when applied at the correct concentration (2mg/cm2) is effective at blocking the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation. However, the concentration applied in real life conditions is usually less, which provides inadequate protection,” Hacker said. “Currently the most common way to assist people to determine how long they can safely stay in the sun after sunscreen application is time-based on the two hour reapply recommendation.”

“However, what we are seeing is despite doing their best to stay sun safe and sunburn-free, people get either the concentration or the timing wrong resulting in a damaging dose of ultraviolet radiation,” she said. Hacker will lead a pilot study looking at the usability of a newly developed wearable UV indicator that takes away the guesswork in how much sunscreen to apply and when to reapply by changing colour to warn wearers their sunscreen is no longer effective.

“As part of our study we are looking for Brisbane-based volunteers to test a patch before we undertake a larger trial to determine if it can reduce the incidence of sunburn,” Hacker said. “Participants will be asked to test the patch for a seven day period and attend two focus groups sessions at the start and end of the study,” she said.

Hacker said UV radiation or sunlight exposure was the main environmental risk factor for skin cancer. “What we know is that sunburn rates are high, especially among younger people, with more than 72 per cent of Queenslanders aged 18 to 24 years admitting to getting sunburnt,” she said.

“The sun-smart messages are getting through to Queenslanders but the concern is that high rates of sunburn are caused because people are unaware when dangerous UV levels have been reached.” This device seeks to give real-time information that can help change unhealthy sun exposure habits,” she said.

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Greed and fear hinders teamwork

London, Oct 10 (IANS) While working on a project, have you noticed someone who does not align with the team and remains obstructive throughout?

According to a recent research, greed and fear are the basic reasons with such people’s underlying problems with teamwork. “People are afraid that their contribution will mainly benefit those people who themselves contribute nothing. That’s why people hold back and invest in self-protection rather than cooperation,” said Carsten de Dreu, Professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands, in a statement.

The findings showed that people devise strategies to maximise the benefits for themselves and to reduce the risk of being exploited. “Fear is almost always present as a brake on cooperation, but it’s more difficult to predict when greed will crop up,” De Dreu added.

When motivated by greed, people seem to invest mainly in self-protection and less in attacks on others. The paradox is that fear among rival groups tends to result in people working better together. The fear of something or some people within the group can cause people within a group to work better together.

It seems to happen almost automatically, often without it even being discussed, the researchers said. In further studies, De Dreu wants to examine what human brain looks like when people are working together, and whether oxytocin – the cuddle hormone – plays a role in cooperation.

He also intends to investigate the effect of ‘institutions’ such as religion and legislation which has an obvious influence on human behaviour, especially in the matter of cooperation.

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What Exactly Happens To Your Body When You Meditate ?

As an ancient peaceful practice, Meditation has gained immense popularity and importance over the years. Now a days, this process of multi-dimensional actualisation is practised in all parts of the world. Since decades, many people who have been practising meditation, have come forward and highlighted it’s profound benefits and brought them to light. While there are a dozen types of meditation one can practice, inner silence and expanded awareness is a perk of every form.

Have you ever wondered what exactly happens to your body when you practice meditation ? Why you feel so calm and peaceful after meditating or the positive outlook towards life that you gain.. where does that come from ? Today we are providing answers to all of your questions!

1. Brain

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Brain is the organ that is most affected by the practice of meditation. One of the major changes our brain undergoes when we meditate is that it stops processing so much information. Thanks to modern technology like Magnetic Resonance Imaging, (MRI) we are able to have a more deeper insight of these changes. In the MRI scan below, we can actually see where beta waves are decreasing the most, indicated by the colour changes in the image. (Beta waves  indicates processing of information.)

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According to a study conducted by Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School, meditation can literally change your brain. Meditation tends to affect the following areas of the brain in different ways.

Frontal lobe

The  most evolved part of our brain is Frontal lobe. It is highly responsible for reasoning, planning, walking, emotions and self-conscious awareness. During meditation, the frontal cortex tends to go offline.

Parietal lobe

This part of the brain integrates and processes sensory information among various modalities about the surrounding world, orienting one in time and space. During meditation, the level of activity in the parietal lobe slows down.

Thalamus

Thalamus is known as the gatekeeper for the senses. It helps in focusing the attention by funnelling the sensory data deeper into the brain and stopping other signals in their tracks. With the help of Meditation, the flow of incoming information  is reduced to a trickle.

Reticular formation

Reticular formation receives incoming stimuli and puts the brain on alert, ready to respond. The neurons of the reticular formation, all play a crucial role in maintaining behavioural arousal and consciousness. Meditating dials back the arousal signal.

2. Lungs and Heart

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Meditation tends to increase activity in our parasympathetic nervous system. This system is responsible for stimulation of “rest-and-digest” or “feed and breed” activities. With the help of meditation, lungs begin to draw deeper breaths. And our heartbeats begins to slow down, causing our blood vessels to relax. Regular meditation can actually lower our risk for heart disease by dropping our blood pressure by up to four points.

3. Gray Matter

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Gray matter is the darker tissue of the brain and spinal cord, consisting mainly of nerve cell bodies and branching dendrites. More gray matter indicates more positive emotions, longer-lasting emotional stability, and heightened focus during daily life. Meditation has been linked to larger amounts of gray matter in the hippocampus and frontal areas of the brain. It also diminishes age related effects on gray matter.

 4. Mood

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Meditation can help a person to master over his emotions and help him to feel closer to others. State of meditation can light up the area of your noggin that controls complex thoughts and positive emotions. Some kinds of meditation can even build mental muscle in the brain’s hubs for compassion, empathy, and fear. People who practice meditation are normally less stressed, healthier, they sleep better, and have a more positive outlook on life.

5. Immune System

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Immune system is our defense mechanism that protects our body from any foreign invaders like viruses or bacteria. There is an increasing evidence that meditation does impact our immune system. Meditation tends to create a positive mental environment for the immune system to flourish. So our response to potential illness which is managed by the immune system, improves with meditation.

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