Mango Effective in Preventing Colon and Breast Cancer.


Mango fruit been found to prevent or stop certain colon and breast cancer cells in the lab.

That’s according to a new study by Texas AgriLife Research food scientists, who examined the five varieties most common in the U.S.: Kent, Francine, Ataulfo, Tommy/Atkins and Haden.

Though the mango is an ancient fruit heavily consumed in many parts of the world, little has been known about its health aspects. The National Mango Board commissioned a variety of studies with several U.S. researchers to help determine its nutritional value.

“If you look at what people currently perceive as a superfood, people think of high antioxidant capacity, and mango is not quite there,” said Dr. Susanne Talcott, who with her husband, Dr. Steve Talcott, conducted the study on cancer cells. “In comparison with antioxidants in blueberry, acai and pomegranate, it’s not even close.”

But the team checked mango against cancer cells anyway, and found it prevented or stopped cancer growth in certain breast and colon cell lines, Susanne Talcott noted.

“It has about four to five times less antioxidant capacity than an average wine grape, and it still holds up fairly well in anticancer activity. If you look at it from the physiological and nutritional standpoint, taking everything together, it would be a high-ranking super food,” she said. “It would be good to include mangoes as part of the regular diet.”

The Talcotts tested mango polyphenol extracts in vitro on colon, breast, lung, leukemia and prostate cancers. Polyphenols are natural substances in plants and are associated with a variety of compounds known to promote good health.

Mango showed some impact on lung, leukemia and prostate cancers but was most effective on the most common breast and colon cancers.

“What we found is that not all cell lines are sensitive to the same extent to an anticancer agent,” she said. “But the breast and colon cancer lines underwent apotosis, or programmed cell death. Additionally, we found that when we tested normal colon cells side by side with the colon cancer cells, that the mango polyphenolics did not harm the normal cells.”

The duo did further tests on the colon cancer lines because a mango contains both small molecules that are readily absorbed and larger molecules that would not be absorbed and thus remain present in a colon.

“We found the normal cells weren’t killed, so mango is not expected to be damaging in the body,” she said. “That is a general observation for any natural agent, that they target cancer cells and leave the healthy cells alone, in reasonable concentrations at least.”

The Talcotts evaluated polyphenolics, and more specifically gallotannins as being the class of bioactive compounds (responsible for preventing or stopping cancer cells). Tannins are polyphenols that are often bitter or drying and found in such common foods as grape seed, wine and tea.

The study found that the cell cycle, which is the division cells go through, was interrupted. This is crucial information, Suzanne Talcott said, because it indicates a possible mechanism for how the cancer cells are prevented or stopped.

“For cells that may be on the verge of mutating or being damaged, mango polyphenolics prevent this kind of damage,” she said.

The Talcotts hope to do a small clinical trial with individuals who have increased inflamation in their intestines with a higher risk for cancer.

“From there, if there is any proven efficacy, then we would do a larger trial to see if there is any clinical relevance,” she said.

According to the National Mango Board, based in Winter Park, Fla., most mangoes consumed in the U.S. are produced in Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Guatemala and Haiti. Mangoes are native to southeast Asia and India and are produced in tropical climates. They were introduced to the U.S. in the late 1800s, and a few commercial acres still exist in California and Florida.

 

Source: http://preventdisease.com

Why You Need To Add Mangoes On Your Grocery Your List.


Not only do they taste great, but mangoes are also loaded with several qualities that are excellent for your health. Their powerful antioxidants are known to neutralize free radicals that cause damage to cells and lead to health problems like heart disease, premature aging and cancer among other things.

– Mango fruit is rich in pre-biotic dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals, and has antioxidant compounds. It is beneficial for digestion too.

– According to a new research, mangoes have been found to protect against colon, breast and prostate cancers.

– Fresh mango is a rich source of potassium, which is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps to control heart rate and blood pressure.

– Vitamin E, which is abundantly present in mangoes, helps to regulate sex hormones and boosts sex drive.

– Mango helps to clear clogged pores that cause acne. Just slice a mango into thin pieces and keep them on your face for 10 to 15 minutes and then take bath or wash your face and see the results.

– It’s a known fact that mangoes are rich in Iron. People who suffer from anaemia can take mangoes regularly along with their dinner. It is especially good for women after menopause.

– High level of soluble dietary fibre, Pectin and Vitamin C present in mangoes helps to lower serum cholesterol levels.

– Some studies say that eating mangoes reduces the risk of kidney stone formation.

– In Chinese medicine, mangoes are considered sweet and sour with a cooling energy. They are useful for those suffering from anaemia, bleeding gums, cough, fever, nausea and even sea sickness.

– With its high iron content, mangoes are excellent for pregnant women and those who suffer from anaemia.

– Studying for exams? This fruit is rich in glutamine acid– an important protein for concentration and memory. Instead of snacking on unhealthy chips and cookies, why not feast on slices of mangoes instead.

– A recent study shows that not only the flesh of a mango but the leaves can fight diabetes.

Health tip: Before going to bed put some 10 or 15 mango leaves in warm water and close it with lid. The next day morning filter the water and drink it in empty stomach. Do this regularly.

 

Source: http://preventdisease.com

 

Rapid Nicotine Clearance is Associated with Greater Reward and Heart Rate Increases from Intravenous Nicotine.


The ratio of nicotine metabolites (trans-3′-hydroxycotinine (3HC) to cotinine) correlates with nicotine clearance. In previous studies, high nicotine metabolite ratio (NMR) predicted poor outcomes for smoking cessation treatment with nicotine patch. The underlying mechanisms that associate NMR with treatment outcomes have not been fully elucidated. A total of 100 smokers were divided into quartiles based on their baseline plasma NMR. Following overnight abstinence, smokers received saline followed by escalating intravenous doses of nicotine (0.5 and 1.0 mg/70 kg) given 30 min apart. The effects of nicotine on subjective, plasma cortisol, heart rate, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure measures were obtained. Smokers in the first NMR quartile (slower metabolizers) had lower Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND) scores, suggesting lower levels of dependence. In contrast, smokers in the fourth NMR quartile (faster metabolizers) reported greater craving for cigarettes following overnight abstinence from smoking and reported greater ratings of nicotine-induced good drug effects, drug liking, and wanting more drug. Higher NMR was also associated with greater heart rate increases in response to nicotine. These results suggest that enhanced nicotine reward and cigarette craving may contribute to the poor treatment response in smokers with high NMR. These findings warrant further investigation, especially in treatment-seeking smokers undergoing cessation treatment.

Source:Neuropharmacology/nature

 

 

Dexamethasone Stimulated Gene Expression in Peripheral Blood is a Sensitive Marker for Glucocorticoid Receptor Resistance in Depressed Patients.


Although gene expression profiles in peripheral blood in major depression are not likely to identify genes directly involved in the pathomechanism of affective disorders, they may serve as biomarkers for this disorder. As previous studies using baseline gene expression profiles have provided mixed results, our approach was to use an in vivo dexamethasone challenge test and to compare glucocorticoid receptor (GR)-mediated changes in gene expression between depressed patients and healthy controls. Whole genome gene expression data (baseline and following GR-stimulation with 1.5 mg dexamethasone p.o.) from two independent cohorts were analyzed to identify gene expression pattern that would predict case and control status using a training (N=18 cases/18 controls) and a test cohort (N=11/13). Dexamethasone led to reproducible regulation of 2670 genes in controls and 1151 transcripts in cases. Several genes, including FKBP5 and DUSP1, previously associated with the pathophysiology of major depression, were found to be reliable markers of GR-activation. Using random forest analyses for classification, GR-stimulated gene expression outperformed baseline gene expression as a classifier for case and control status with a correct classification of 79.1 vs 41.6% in the test cohort. GR-stimulated gene expression performed best in dexamethasone non-suppressor patients (88.7% correctly classified with 100% sensitivity), but also correctly classified 77.3% of the suppressor patients (76.7% sensitivity), when using a refined set of 19 genes. Our study suggests that in vivo stimulated gene expression in peripheral blood cells could be a promising molecular marker of altered GR-functioning, an important component of the underlying pathology, in patients suffering from depressive episodes.

Source:Neuropharmacology/nature

 

 

Neurobehavioral Effects of Interferon-α in Patients with Hepatitis-C: Symptom Dimensions and Responsiveness to Paroxetine.


In patients at high risk for recurrence of malignant melanoma, interferon-α (IFN-α), a stimulator of innate immunity, appears to induce distinct neurobehavioral symptom dimensions: a mood and anxiety syndrome, and a neurovegetative syndrome, of which the former is responsive to prophylactic administration of paroxetine. We sought to determine whether symptom dimensions (and treatment responsiveness) arise in patients with hepatitis C administered IFN-α and ribavirin. In a randomized, double-blind, 6-month study, 61 patients with hepatitis C eligible for therapy with IFN-α and ribavirin received the antidepressant paroxetine (n=28) or a placebo (n=33). Study medication began 2 weeks before IFN-α/ribavirin therapy. Neuropsychiatric assessments included the 10-item Montgomery–Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). The items of the MADRS were grouped into depression, anxiety, cognitive dysfunction, and neurovegetative symptom dimensions, and analyzed using a mixed model. By 2 weeks of IFN-α/ribavirin therapy, all four dimensions increased, with the symptom dimensions of anxiety and cognitive dysfunction fluctuating and worsening, respectively, in both groups over time. The depression symptom dimension was significantly lower in the paroxetine treatment group (p=0.04); severity of the neurovegetative symptom dimension was similar in both groups. Similar to patients with malignant melanoma receiving high-dose IFN-α, the depression symptom dimension is more responsive to paroxetine treatment in individuals undergoing concomitant IFN-α/ribavirin therapy. However, the anxiety, cognitive dysfunction, and neurovegetative symptom dimensions appear less responsive to prophylactic paroxetine administration. Different neurobiologic pathways may contribute to the responsiveness of IFN-α-induced symptom dimensions to antidepressant treatment, requiring relevant psychopharmacologic strategies.

Source:Neuropharmacology/nature

 

 

Postpartum and Depression Status are Associated With Lower [11C]raclopride BPND in Reproductive-Age Women.


The early postpartum period is associated with increased risk for affective and psychotic disorders. Because maternal dopaminergic reward system function is altered with perinatal status, dopaminergic system dysregulation may be an important mechanism of postpartum psychiatric disorders. Subjects included were non-postpartum healthy (n=13), postpartum healthy (n=13), non-postpartum unipolar depressed (n=10), non-postpartum bipolar depressed (n=7), postpartum unipolar (n=13), and postpartum bipolar depressed (n=7) women. Subjects underwent 60 min of [11C]raclopride–positron emission tomography imaging to determine the nondisplaceable striatal D2/3 receptor binding potential (BPND). Postpartum status and unipolar depression were associated with lower striatal D2/3 receptor BPND in the whole striatum (p=0.05 and p=0.02, respectively) that reached a maximum of 7–8% in anteroventral striatum for postpartum status (p=0.02). Unipolar depression showed a nonsignificant trend toward being associated with 5% lower BPND in dorsal striatum (p=0.06). D2/3 receptor BPND did not differ significantly between unipolar depressed and healthy postpartum women or between bipolar and healthy subjects; however, D2/3 receptor BPND was higher in dorsal striatal regions in bipolar relative to unipolar depressives (p=0.02). In conclusion, lower striatal D2/3 receptor BPND in postpartum and unipolar depressed women, primarily in ventral striatum, and higher dorsal striatal D2/3 receptor BPND in bipolar relative to unipolar depressives reveal a potential role for the dopamine (DA) system in the physiology of these states. Further studies delineating the mechanisms underlying these differences in D2/3 receptor BPND, including study of DA system responsivity to rewarding stimuli, and increasing power to assess unipolar vs bipolar-related differences, are needed to better understand the affective role of the DA system in postpartum and depressed women.

Source:Neuropharmacology/nature

 

 

The Hidden Cause of Psychiatric Disorders Almost No One Considers.


The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is launching a study to see whether Streptococcus bacteria, which cause strep throat, scarlet fever, and other infections such as pneumonia, may also be responsible for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in childreni .

According to NIMH statistics, OCD affects approximately one percent of American adultsii .

People with OCD are beset with anxious persistent thoughts (obsessions), or feel compelled to perform certain rituals like hand washing or repeatedly checking things (compulsions).

For many people, the condition begins during childhood or the teen years.

The Streptococcus bacteria create proteins that mimic human proteins, thereby evading your immune system.

Once your immune system identifies them as “foreign invaders,” it begins creating antibodies.

However, these antibodies can also attack human tissues such as your heart, joints, and brain.

Several years ago, evidence emerged suggesting that this attack on the brain can inflame brain structures, which possibly could trigger OCD (or OCD-like symptoms) in children.

The NIMH now exploring what causes OCD, and will work on finding a treatment that might help reverse the syndrome.

According to the featured report in New Scientistiii , the Institute intends to find out whether an antibody treatment used to reduce autoimmune reactions might be beneficial.

The Gut-Brain Connection

From a proactive perspective, it’s important to realize that you have the potential to take control over your health, including your mental- or psychiatric health.

Psychiatric conditions such as OCD are primarily believed to be the result of chemical dysfunction in your brain, or in some cases hereditary and therefore out of your control. Many fail to realize that a) your lifestyle can override genetic predispositions, and b) your lifestyle can be a major underlying cause of that chemical imbalance or dysfunction.

So, there’s plenty of reason to take a closer look at lifestyle factors such as diet and toxic exposures—whether you want to prevent a health condition, or treat it.

Some may object and say that a child hasn’t had enough time to develop bad lifestyle habits, but when it comes to health problems related to the brain, the GUT is typically involved, and children are now increasingly BORN with damaged gut flora—courtesy of less than ideal lifestyle choices by the child’s mother…

In a very real sense, you have two brains: one inside your skull and one in your gut.

While they may seem very different, these two organs are actually created out of the same type of tissue. During fetal development, one part turns into your central nervous system while the other develops into your enteric nervous system.

Your vagus nerve—the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem down to your abdomen—connects these two organs together. Your gut actually produces more of the neurotransmitter serotonin—thought to play an important role in OCD, in addition to having a beneficial influence on your mood in general—than your brain does, so optimizing your gut flora may indeed have tremendous benefit for your psychological health. And there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that this needs to begin from birth, or even, ideally, before birth.

Can You Reverse Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders with… Bacteria?

Increasingly, scientific evidence shows that nourishing your gut flora with the beneficial bacteria found in traditionally fermented foods (or a probiotic supplement) is extremely important for proper brain function, and that includes psychological well-being and mood control. The reason I am more fond of using fermented foods as a source of beneficial bacteria is LEVERAGE. You can typically consume more than 100 times the amount you would in typical serving of oral probiotics. You can get many trillions of bacteria instead of billions.

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride has successfully demonstrated the power and effectiveness of this theory. In her Cambridge, England clinic, she treats children and adults with a range of conditions, including autism, neurological disorders, psychiatric disorders, immune disorders, and digestive problems using the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) Nutritional Program, which she developed.

Her GAPS theory is an elegant description of how such conditions can develop as a direct result of gastrointestinal toxicity. How might your gut turn into a source of toxicity rather than nourishment? Many aspects of our modern lifestyle contribute to destroying your all-important gut flora, including:

Antibiotics; both from prescription antibiotics, and from consuming antibiotic-laden foods like non-organic meat, chicken, and milk from cows raised in Confined Animal Feeding Operations Processed foods. Not only are processed foods void of “live” beneficial bacteria to begin with, the high sugar and grain content serve as fuel for the growth of pathogenic anaerobic bacteria, fungi, and yeast, which competitively inhibit your good bacteria Genetically engineered foods
Aspartame, which inactivates digestive enzymes and alters gut barrier function, has been found to destroy up to 50 percent of your beneficial gut flora Chlorinated and/or fluoridatediv water Agricultural chemicals and pollution
Oral contraceptives (birth control pills)    

 

Pathogenic microbes can damage the integrity of your gut wall, and once your beneficial gut flora has been crowded out by pathogenic microbes inside your digestive tract, toxins and microbes can reach your bloodstream. And once they’re in your bloodstream, they can reach your brain…Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) may manifest as symptoms that can fit the diagnosis of a wide range of conditions and syndromes, including:

Obsessive-compulsive disorder Autism Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Attention deficit disorder (ADD) without hyperactivity Dyslexia Dyspraxia

Fermented Foods to the Rescue

Needless to say, the importance of ‘reseeding’ your gut with health-promoting, beneficial bacteria from fermented foods (and probiotics when you’re taking an antibiotic) cannot be overstated. If you don’t’ eat fermented foods, you most likely need to supplement with a probiotic on a regular basis, especially if you’re eating a lot of processed foods.  Dr. Campbell-McBride’s GAPS Nutritional Protocol (which is detailed in her book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome), heavily promotes the consumption of traditionally fermented foods, such as:

  • Cultured vegetables (including pureed baby foods)
  • Chutneys
  • Condiments, such as salsa and mayonnaise
  • Cultured dairy, such as yoghurt, kefir, and sour cream
  • Fish, such as mackerel and Swedish gravlax

 

Fermenting Your Own Foods is Easier than You Might Think!

According to Caroline, most people are intimidated by the thought of fermenting their own foods, and worry that the culturing process might lead to some horrific pathogenic infection. But such fears are undeserved. Getting it right is actually easier than you might think. Caroline addresses this and other concerns in her article “Taking the Mystery out of Culturing Your Own Superfoods.”Clearly, educating yourself about the process will help alleviate concerns about eating fermented foods, which are very much “alive.”

However, remember that the culturing process produces beneficial microbes that are extremely important for your health. They help balance your intestinal flora, thereby boosting overall immunity.

Another important aspect of fermented foods is their detoxing ability. Fermented foods are actually some of the best chelators available, and can help rid your body of a wide variety of toxins, including heavy metals. This is another reason why the GAPS Nutritional Protocol so effective.

Those of you who are still unaccustomed to the taste of fermented foods may be pleased to learn that you don’t need to consume very large amounts in order to reap the benefits. Caroline recommends eating about a quarter to half a cup (2 to 4 oz) of fermented vegetables or other cultured food, such as raw yoghurt, with one to three meals per day. I personally consume about 8 ounces nearly every day as I believe they are one of the healthiest superfoods that I eat.

Bear in mind that due to their detoxifying effect, you could experience detox symptoms, or a “healing crisis,” if you introduce too many cultured foods all at once. Caroline recommends beginning with very small servings and working your way up to the quarter- to half cup serving size. This way your intestinal microflora has the chance to adjust.

Culturing Your Own Vegetables in Six Simple Steps

Wild fermentation allows whatever is on the vegetable or fruit that you’re culturing to naturally take hold and culture the food. The drawback of this method is that it’s very time consuming. Most people prefer inoculating the food with some type of starter culture, which will significantly speed up the fermentation process. Also, while you can use a crock pot, Caroline recommends culturing your veggiesdirectly in the glass Mason jars, which eliminates the need for a crock pot and eliminates a transfer step in the process.

This also allows you to make smaller batches, and it eliminates the presence of wild yeasts that can occur when using a crock. These yeasts tend to give the food a cheesy flavor, which many find unpalatable. Here’s a quick summary of Caroline’s recipe for how to make your own fermented veggies. For more information, please listen to the interview above, or read through the transcript:

  1. Shred and cut your chosen veggies
  2. Juice some celery. This is used as the brine, as it contains natural sodium and keeps the vegetables anaerobic. This eliminates the need for sea salt, which prevents growth of pathogenic bacteria
  3. Pack the veggies and celery juice along with the inoculants (starter culture, such as kefir grains, whey, or commercial starter powder all of which can be used for vegetables) into a 32 ounce wide-mouthed canning jar. A kraut pounder tool can be helpful to pack the jar and eliminate any air pockets
  4. Top with a cabbage leaf, tucking it down the sides. Make sure the veggies are completely covered with celery juice and that the juice is all the way to the top of the jar to eliminate trapped air
  5. Seal the jar and store in a warm, slightly moist place for 24 to 96 hours, depending on the food being cultured. Ideal temperature range is 68-75 degrees Fahrenheit; 85 degrees max, as heat will kill the microbes
  6. When done, store in the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation process

Last but not least, resist the temptation to eat out of the jar, as organisms from your mouth can be introduced into the jar this way. Instead, always use a clean spoon to take out what you’re going to eat, then, making sure the remaining veggies are covered with the brine solution, recap the jar.

While culturing your own foods is rather easy, especially once you get the hang of it, if you don’t have the time or inclination to ferment your own, but understand and appreciate the value of them, Caroline has a company that sells fermented vegetables. I used hers for a month before I started making my own. So, if you just want to put your toe in the water and see if you like them, you can order a jar or two and try them out. You can find her products on www.CulturedVegetables.net or www.CulturedNutrition.com.

References:

 

Source: www. .mercola.com

 

Will computer ever know everything?


What was Alan Turing’s greatest contribution? Here was a man who invented the idea of the modern computer, a man upon whose insights the information technology revolution firmly rests. He was the first to understand that instructions are themselves data, making algorithms capable of the recursive thinking that makes humans unique. (I think that I think, therefore I am.) He realized that machines would become so smart that they would eventually be mistaken for humans—this in an era when the chairman of IBM was claiming that there would be a worldwide market for perhaps five computers—and devised a test to tell man from automaton. Oh, and he also led the successful Allied effort to break Germany’s secret Enigma codes during World War II, as he realized that “no one else was doing anything about it and I could have it to myself.”

An essay in this week’s issue of Science magazine by Andrew Hodges, the dean of Wadham College at Oxford University and the author of Alan Turing: The Enigma argues that, great as these achievements are, Turing’s greatest contribution was defining the limits of what computers can “know”—that is, what is computable. By formalizing the computability question in 1936, Turing illuminated the deeper issue of what humans could know: Is our knowledge limited in the same way as computers? Or do we have some sort of mental “intuition” (Turing’s word) that supersedes the power of mere machinery?

Turing wasn’t sure (though he suspected that the strange rules of quantum mechanics may give our brains some non-deterministic wiggle room). Three quarters of a century later, we’re not much closer to an answer. Even in this age of “big data,” where computers churn through gobs of information to come up with cannily human-like responses (consider IBM’s Jeopardy-beating Watson computer, named, incidentally, after the CEO with poor computer-demand forecasting skills), humans are far better at everyday tasks like making sense of a scene. Artificial intelligence remains a dream.

Turing’s work on computability led to an even deeper question, according to Hodges: “Does computation with discrete symbols give a complete account of the physical world?” In other words, is the world computable? Can a machine, in principle, rise not just to the intellectual capabilities of human beings, but supersede those capabilities? Can a computer know everything?

This past December we asked the Harvard researcher David Weinberger to profile the Living Earth Simulator, an project that would take in lots of data and compute the future of human civilization. It is perhaps the most ambitious effort ever launched to test the computability of the world. (Weinberger came away unconvinced.) Perhaps the Living Earth Simulator will succeed in due time, and computers will be able to predict the future.

More likely it will not, and another 75 years hence, we will still be struggling with the rich philosophical loam that Turing left us with. You don’t need a computer to predict that we’re going to require a mind as exceptional as Turing’s to make sense of it.

Source: Scientific American

 

Prenatal NMDA Receptor Antagonism Impaired Proliferation of Neuronal Progenitor, Leading to Fewer Glutamatergic Neurons in the Prefrontal Cortex.


N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor is a glutamate receptor which has an important role on mammalian brain development. We have reported that prenatal treatment with phencyclidine (PCP), a NMDA receptor antagonist, induces long-lasting behavioral deficits and neurochemical changes. However, the mechanism by which the prenatal antagonism of NMDA receptor affects neurodevelopment, resulting in behavioral deficits, has remained unclear. Here, we report that prenatal NMDA receptor antagonism impaired the proliferation of neuronal progenitors, leading to a decrease in the progenitor pool in the ventricular and the subventricular zone. Furthermore, using a PCR array focused on neurogenesis and neuronal stem cells, we evaluated changes in gene expression causing the impairment of neuronal progenitor proliferation and found aberrant gene expression, such as Notch2 and Ntn1, in prenatal PCP-treated mice. Consequently, the density of glutamatergic neurons in the prefrontal cortex was decreased, probably resulting in glutamatergic hypofunction. Prenatal PCP-treated mice displayed behavioral deficits in cognitive memory and sensorimotor gating until adulthood. These findings suggest that NMDA receptors regulate the proliferation and maturation of progenitor cells for glutamatergic neuron during neurodevelopment, probably via the regulation of gene expression.

Source:Neuropharmacology/nature

 

 

Can social media detect the changes in public mood?


New research has analysed the mood of Twitter users in the UK and detected various changes in the mood of the public. In particular, the researchers observed a significant increase in negative mood, anger and fear, coinciding with the announcement of spending cuts and last summer’s riots together with a possibly calming effect during the royal wedding.

 

The study by academics at the University of Bristol’s Intelligent Systems Laboratory is presented at the International Workshop on Social Media Applications in News and Entertainment (SMANE 2012) held in Lyon, France.

In this study the researchers focused on measuring the mood, and changes, using standard tools for mood detection, of a large sample of the UK population. A collection of 484 million tweets generated by more than 9.8 million users from the UK were analysed between July 2009 and January 2012, a period marked by economic downturn and some social tensions.

ANIMATION: Mood Changes in UK Twitter Content 2009-2012: http://mediapatterns.enm.bris.ac.uk/mood/

The findings present intriguing patterns that can be explained when events and social changes are taken into account. The researchers found that a significant increase innegative mood indicators coincided with the announcement of the cuts to public spending by the government, and that this effect is still lasting. They also detected events such as the riots of summer 2011, as well as a possible calming effect in the run up to the royal wedding. Intriguingly, a rise in public anger seems to have already been under way in the days before the riots.

Nello Cristianini, Professor of Artificial Intelligence, speaking about the research, said: “Social media allows for the easy gathering of large amounts of data generated by the public while communicating with each other.

“While we leave the interpretation of our findings to social and political scientists, we observed how the period preceding the royal wedding seems to be marked by a lowered incidence of anger and fear, which starts rising soon after that. Of course, other events also happened in early May 2011, so they may also be responsible for that increase.”

 

The aim of the study was to see if the effects of social events could be seen in the contents of Twitter. The first part of the researchers analysis provides a sanity check, in that it corroborates their assumption that word-counting methods can provide a reasonable approach to sentiment or mood analysis.

While this approach is standard in many applications, the researchers felt that a sanity check in the domain of mood detection via Twitter was necessary. By making use of lists of words that are correlated with the sentiments of joy, fear, anger and sadness, they observed that periodic events such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Halloween evoke the same response in the population, year after year.

The main part of the analysis focused on a visible change-point occurring in October 2010, when the government announced cuts to public spending, testing its statistical significance. The study shows that the change point is real, and that its effects can still be observed. In other words, public mood has still not recovered from that announcement.

The same testing technique shows another important period, that of summer 2011, when riots broke out in various UK cities, leading to looting and even loss of life. The researchers method seems to suggest that some increase in public anger preceded, and not followed, these events, although the significance of this finding is a matter for social scientists to discuss.

Future work will include the comparison with social media content with traditional media content, as well as the comparison of both with traditional opinion polls methods.

It is important to remark that the real-time detection of social trends via the analysis of social media content, presents various possible limitations. Social media analysis can only be accomplished with text mining technologies, which are less accurate than human assessment, but can be applied to vast amounts of data. Also the population that is assessed is necessarily that of Twitter users, which is a biased subsample of the general population. Particular care needs to be paid when extracting information but also when reporting it.

Source:  University of Bristol