Ebola vaccine safe, generates immune response, shows trial

The first trial results of Ebola vaccine at Oxford University suggest the vaccine has an acceptable safety profile and is able to generate an immune response.

Research assistant Georgina Bowyer works on a vaccine for Ebola at The Jenner Institute in Oxford, southern England on January 16, 2015.

“The Ebola vaccine was well tolerated. Its safety profile is pretty much as we had hoped,” said professor Adrian Hill of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University who led the trial.

The results suggest that the vaccine is suitable for further testing in West Africa during the current outbreak.

The Ebola vaccine is being co-developed by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) against the Zaire strain of Ebola, which is the one circulating in West Africa.

The first doses for use in large scale trials in West Africa have been delivered to Liberia by GSK.

The vaccine uses a single Ebola virus gene in a chimpanzee adenovirus to generate an immune response.

As it does not contain infectious Ebola virus material, it cannot cause a person who is vaccinated to become infected with Ebola.

During the trial, 60 healthy volunteers were vaccinated at the Jenner Institute.

The results showed safety data and immune responses for the volunteers for 28 days after immunisation.

Two people experienced a moderate fever within 24 hours of receiving the vaccine but this passed within a day.

“People typically experienced mild symptoms that lasted for one or maybe two days, such as pain or reddening at the injection site, and occasionally people felt feverish,” professor Hill explained.

The primary goal of the trial was to assess safety. However, the scientists also assessed immune responses to Ebola seen in the volunteers before and after vaccination.

Importantly, the vaccine generated immune responses against Ebola in the volunteers.

Levels of antibodies increased over a period of 28 days after vaccination and there was no significant difference in the levels seen at different doses.

Levels of T cells — cellular immunity is the other arm of the body’s immune system — peaked at 14 days.

“Larger trials in West Africa are needed to tell whether immune responses are large enough to protect against Ebola infection and disease,” the team added.

The Oxford University trial is one of several safety trials of the GSK/NIH vaccine candidate — in the USA, Britain, Mali and Switzerland — that have been fast-tracked in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The Oxford University scientists have also begun testing the safety of a candidate booster vaccine against Ebola, to find out whether it could further increase the immune responses.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed over 8,000 people so far.

The initial findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

5 Signs You’re Not Respecting Yourself

My journey from the depths of self-hating, suicidal suffering into self-acceptancehas taught me that self-love isn’t just a dinner mint. It’s an essential part of being a healthy, happy person and not prioritizing self-care has obvious, dangerous symptoms that are too often ignored.

The first step to overcoming any sort of suffering is self-awareness and that’s what I hope the following list can do for you. If you’re exhibiting any of the five signs of lacking self-love below, I hope you’ll take the time, after reading this article, to reconnect with the most important person in your life – you.

1. You feel jealous of other people’s happiness, success and relationships.

As a self-loving person, when I am faced with someone more skilled or accomplished, my immediate reaction is wide-eyed, eager inspiration. I want to learn more, hear more, experience more from this amazing person who can teach me so much.

As a self-judging person, when faced with the same person, I would shrink away feeling jealous, inadequate, and bitter. Sometimes, the feeling would be so intense that I’d begin to hate the other person passionately. But truly, I only hated myself.

2. You chronically tell white lies.

If you’re frequently finding yourself spilling out some fabrication, big or small, and thinking, Wow, that was really unnecessary!, it could be because of your relationship to yourself.

Those who chronically lie are often seeking approval and acceptance from others.

In a self-loving state, acceptance and approval are constantly accessible for you – from within. In a self-judging state, however, you’re running low on approval and, thus, your mind is subconsciously picking up on any and every opportunity to fill up your tank.

Like this, you might lose your integrity for a few raised eyebrows. But don’t worry, this pattern is easily fixed and doesn’t have to become pathological!

3. You find it hard to exercise, eat well, or break bad habits.

When you love someone, you don’t want to hurt them. You’d never shove cigarettes or donuts into your newborn baby’s mouth. You’d never deprive your beloved dog of his daily walk.

When you dislike someone, it’s a different story.

Those who lead kind, loving relationships with themselves find it enjoyable and even necessary to engage in daily rituals of nourishment and care with their minds and bodies. These rituals are just natural outgrowths of the beautiful friendship within.

If you find it hard to take care of yourself, maybe you need to take a moment to fall in love with the person you’re taking care of so that self-care becomes a basic need rather than a distant guilt-inducing fantasy.

4. You only feel happy when everything is going right.

This might seem like a perfectly normal thing. Why would you be happy when things aren’t going well?

Turns out, that is exactly what happens to self-loving people.

Think of your life as an adventure. If you’re crazy about your travel partner, the plane can be delayed and the food can taste like cardboard and you’ll still have a good time. You’ll have a laugh about it. If you’re bored or displeased with your companion, these little things will drive you insane.

That is the power of a loving relationship with yourself. When things get rough, you can laugh, shrug them off, and try again. When things get really rough, you can comfort yourself, take some time to process, and assure yourself that everything will be okay.

5. You’re beating yourself up for exhibiting any of the signs above.

If you’re feeling shame or dread at having discovered yourself lacking in self-love, this is a sure-fire sign that you’re overloading on self-judgment.

Those who are lacking in self-compassion are usually experts at setting standards for themselves. They measure themselves in numbers and expectations. When they discover that they’re not measuring up in some way, they’re crestfallen.

I always say: self-improvement without self-love is like building a house upon sand. You can build and build, but it’ll always sink.

You need to build a foundation of unconditional self-acceptance beneath those accomplishments and expectations. Then, when you find you’re lacking in some way, you can revert to love and get excited about learning something new.

I consider myself a survivor of the terrible illness of love deprivation. After I fixed my relationship with myself, I saw my relationship with my body, my mind, my family, my partner, my past – with everything and everyone else – improve dramatically.

We live in an age where everyone’s always trying to fix themselves, but they forget that the most important thing we can ever fix is the line of communication between our heart, our mind, and our spirit.

Now, over to you. What will you do to love yourself more today? How can you celebrate who you already are instead of always expecting yourself to be someone else?

Chikungunya To Chickenpox: How Did The Most Famous Diseases Get Such Strange Monikers?

Humans like to name things — it’s just what we do. Even a crippling, horrific disease has a moniker to go by. Some diseases such as measles and chickenpox have become such household names that many don’t even stop to think of the origins of the words. Well, you, my curious reader, I just so happen to have the answer to your question.


What They Do To The Body

Many diseases are aptly named after what they do to the body. This is particularly true for many ancient diseases that were named in a time before science could tell you any more about an illness than what you could see with your eyes.

For example, take the ever-popular chickenpox. Many incorrectly assume that, like the more recent “bird flu,” the name has to do with how our ancestors believed the viral infection was spread. Chickenpox has been observed for centuries, and although there is no concrete evidence as to who originally named the virus and why, researchers have some clue about its roots. Interestingly though, this evidence was set forward by linguists, not biologists.

According to Mental Floss, the Old English word for the verb “to itch” was giccan. It’s easy to see how over the centuries giccan could have gotten misheard as “chicken.” In an essay onThe Informed Parent, Dr. Louis P. Theriot, a pediatrician at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center in California, presents another hypothesis for the common virus’s moniker, explaining how some believe the name comes from chickenpox lesions’ resemblance to what one would expect to see if a child had been pecked with the bills of chickens.

Even more interesting, in other parts of the world, chickenpox is named after the chickpea. For example, in many Arab countries the childhood disease is known as “hummus,” and in Spain it’s known as “garbanzo,” both names associated with the chickpea. It’s easy to see how the chickenpox resembles the chickpea in size, shape, and color, and some have speculated that the English name is actually more closely related to this legume rather than the farmhouse bird.

The measles has a similar story behind its name, thought to come from the Dutch wordmasel, which means “blemish,” Medical News Today reported. However, like the chickenpox, this meaning is speculative and the true roots of the name have been lost intime.

You’ve probably heard the disease chikungunya in the news, too, especially after Lindsay Lohan became recently infected. Chikungunya derives from the Kimakonde word meaning “to become contorted,” which refers to the stooped appearance that the joint pain causes in sufferers. The Kimakonde people live in modern day Tanzania and northern Mozambique, both areas historically afflicted by chikungunya epidemics.

Geographic Locations

Other disease names come from areas where either the disease is believed to be derived from or where the disease most heavily afflicts. One of the most popular of these is Africa’sEbola virus. Ebola is barely over 38 years old, which means that much of the world’s population remembers its discovery and how its name was chosen.

Dr. Peter Piot and his colleagues named Ebola over a bottle of Kentucky bourbon. By this time, the virus had already killed hundreds, and doctors needed a name for the invisible force they were so desperately fighting. The virus had originated in the town of Yambuku in Zaire, but the scientists feared that by naming the virus after the tiny village, the villagers would run the risk of being alienated. Instead, they named the virus after a river that followed near the village. The Ebola River, which means Black River in the local language “seemed suitably ominous,” wrote Piot, as reported by LiveScience.

Other diseases whose names have geographic roots include the West Nile Virus, which turned mosquitoes from annoying pests to life-threatening enemies for many Americans; the Coxsackie viruses, the most common of all hand foot and mouth diseases, named after none other than Coxsackie, N.Y.; and Marburg Virus, named after a town in Germany.

How You Catch Them

It would seem that a clever way to name a virus would be to describe how one would catch it. This way unknowing victims could be forewarned as to how best to protect themselves. Such was the idea of those who named malaria. Unfortunately, the name-givers were completely wrong in their idea of how the virus spread, but many centuries later the name has stuck.

Malaria comes from the Italian phrase mala aria, which translates to “bad air.” The name can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who believed the disease was caught through the inhalation of foul-smelling air.  Today we know this is wrong. In 1880, Dr. Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran discovered the parasite responsible for the disease, and a decade or so later Dr. Ronald Ross found that the mosquito in turn spread this virus among the human population. By then, however, it was too late; the phrase malaria was too ingrained in the mind to be changed to a more accurate descriptor.

While a doctor may put down the “rhinovirus” as the cause of your stuffy nose and sore throat, we all know that when you call in to work sick, you’ll tell your boss you have “the cold.” The cold is actually a quite general term that is used for many respiratory tract infections. Such as in the case of malaria, before humans realized that the cold was caused by a virus, they named the illness after what they believed caused it. This time, however, it wasn’t foul-smelling air, but rather cold air.

Amazingly, people believed this old wives’ tale up until 1968, when a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found “no effect of exposure to cold on host resistance to rhinovirus infection and illness that could account for the commonly held belief that exposure to cold influences or causes common colds.” Why is it then that colds occur more in colder weather? This is because, while the cold doesn’t “cause” the rhinovirus, it does affect how our body responds to the infection. Recent research has shown that in cold temperature our bodies are less efficient at fighting off the common cold, which is why its effects are most fiercely felt in the winter months, io9 reported.

Who ‘Discovered’ Them

Lastly, we have the class of illnesses that were named after the scientists who uncovered their existence and shared it with the rest of the world.  The diligent scientists who dedicated their lives to uncovering the cause of these ailments received the honor of forever having their name associated with a horrific and painful disease. One of the most notable is Crohn’s disease, named after Dr. Burrill B. Crohn. Crohn chose to study afflictions of the stomach after watching his father suffer with terrible indigestion for the majority of his life,The New York Times reported. In 1932, the doctor identified the cause of Crohn’s disease as localized inflammation of an area of the small intestines called the ileum. Although he gave the condition the name ileitis, it was later changed to Crohn’s disease in recognition of his work.

Another condition named for its discoverer is Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that starts in the white blood cells, called lymphocytes. It was first described by Dr. Thomas Hodgkin’s more than 175 years ago. In 1832, he published a paper where he described a pattern of disease that afflicted both the lymph nodes and the sleep. Rather than brush it off as an infection, which most doctors in this time did, Hodgkin theorized that the condition was a disease all on its own. However, it wasn’t until some time later that a second man, Dr. Samuel Wilks backed Hodgkin’s theory and proved that the disease he described was actually a type of cancer. Wilks went on to name the disease after its discoverer in 1965, merely a year before Hodgkin himself died.

Survival Benefit of Solid-Organ Transplant in the United States.

Importance  The field of transplantation has made tremendous progress since the first successful kidney transplant in 1954.

Objective  To determine the survival benefit of solid-organ transplant as recorded during a 25-year study period in the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database and the Social Security Administration Death Master File.

Design, Setting, and Participants  In this retrospective analysis of UNOS data for solid-organ transplant during a 25-year period (September 1, 1987, through December 31, 2012), we reviewed the records of 1 112 835 patients: 533 329 recipients who underwent a transplant and 579 506 patients who were placed on the waiting list but did not undergo a transplant.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary outcome was patient death while on the waiting list or after transplant. Kaplan-Meier survival functions were used for time-to-event analysis.

Results  We found that 2 270 859 life-years (2 150 200 life-years from the matched analysis) were saved to date during the 25 years of solid-organ transplant. A mean of 4.3 life-years were saved (observed to date) per solid-organ transplant recipient. Kidney transplant saved 1 372 969 life-years; liver transplant, 465 296 life-years; heart transplant, 269 715 life-years; lung transplant, 64 575 life-years; pancreas-kidney transplant, 79 198 life-years; pancreas transplant, 14 903 life-years; and intestine transplant, 4402 life-years.

Conclusions and Relevance  Our analysis demonstrated that more than 2 million life-years were saved to date by solid-organ transplants during a 25-year study period. Transplants should be supported and organ donation encouraged.

How Psychologists Are Working to Eradicate Human Trafficking | Psychology Benefits Society


From the desk of Zedie.

Everything I Learned About Nutrition I DIDN’T Learn In Medical School

I’m an orthopedic surgeon, yet I received no nutritional education in medical school. Sadly, this continues to be the practice to this day. I had no strong thoughts about the the impact of my diet on my overall health, except that I knew I should watch my weight and try to eat “right.”

I assumed that, with my strong family history of heart disease, that I was a prisoner of my genes. The best I could do was to watch my weight and try to prolong the inevitable as long as possible.
All that changed when I was 53 years old and told I needed triple bypass surgery. As fate would have it, a colleague of mine suggested I read The China Study prior to my arteriogram, the procedure I had done to determine I needed the bypass surgery.

I was blown away. I had never heard this information, ever. I read even more books and went back to my physician and canceled my surgery. I opted for a no-added oil, whole-foods, plant-based lifestyle. My wife and I dove in headfirst and never looked back. Initially, I was scared, but that was four years ago and I feel better than I’ve felt since being a college athlete.
I have made it my life’s mission to study the science behind nutrition and to educate my patients.  
Today, my basic message is that you either Feed your disease or you Fight it with what you put on your fork. The Standard American Diet (otherwise known as SAD) is only getting us the Standard American Diseases and we’re dying the Standard American Deaths.
We all know someone who has or will die of heart disease, cancer or diabetes. With medical students still not being educated on the science of nutrition, it’s time for the general public to take their health into their own hands. Clearly we know the evidence behind what smoking will do to the body and people may make the INFORMED decision to continue to smoke.
The evidence behind what animal protein, animal fat, and added oil does to the body is less known by the general public and what they do hear is funded by big business.  There is so much conflicting information presented that no one knows what to do, so they do nothing. Unfortunately, there is no money to be made off healthy people, so many physicians are not motivated to learn or educate their patients.  I find this not only sad but infuriating.
In order to educate more people at one time, about a year ago, my wife and I started holding quarterly seminars free to the public. My wife cooks a no-added oil, whole-foods, plant-based dinner and I go over the science of how to Feed or Fight disease. I know full well how hard the transition can be! That’s why, after we bombard them with all this science, we try to leave them with some tips on how to get started.
Here are some tips to start using food to fight off disease: 
1. Remove all processed foods, fat and dairy from your diet from the beginning. 
2. Slowly start filling your plate with more plants. 
For instance if you cook tacos, use black beans spiced with taco seasoning as the “meat” and opt for corn tortillas over flour,  ditch the sour cream but keep the guacamole. Sauté vegetables such as onions and bell pepper in a pan on medium heat with a lid to sweat out the moisture and you will typically not need to add anything.  If you cook with a lot of garlic like we do which can be sticky you might add a small amount of vegetable broth, white or red wine or just a little water.
3. Opt for GBOMBS: Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Seeds/Nuts. 
You can get greens and berries in your morning smoothie, greens, seeds, onions and mushrooms in your salad at lunch or dinner.  Fill in the rest with whole grains, beans and MORE veggies!
4. If you want to continue to eat some meat, make it a side dish and make sure it’s grass fed, antibiotic-free and hormone-free.
Eventually a totally whole-foods plantbased diet is the goal but it can take time for some people to get there.  If you’re facing any sort of disease with current significant issues my suggestion is always to go full steam ahead and cut out ALL animal products and fat! There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain!
Our seminars continued to grow to the point that we now hold them every month.  They are still free.  If you’re interested in the benefits of a plantbased lifestyle I would encourage you to research Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Michael Greger and Dr. Joel Fuhrman who are just a few of the experts in the field of plantbased nutrition.
Here’s to Fighting for your health!

Scientists Studied What Psychedelics Do To The Brain And It’s Not What You’ve Been Told |Higher Perspective



It turns out that psychedelics aren’t just good for turning into an elf and jousting a car. Psychiatrists, psychologists and specialists in addiction and recovery from traumatic experiences have been investigating the use of hallucinogens in treatment programs, and the results indicate that psychedelics actually have practical therapeutic uses. And one drug has proven particularly useful. Repeated studies have found the psychedelic compound found in magic mushrooms, psilocybin, can help people move past major life issues — like beating alcoholism and becoming more empathetic.

The research: One study concluded that controlled exposure to psilocybin could have long-lasting medical and spiritual benefits. In 2011, Johns Hopkins researchers found that by giving volunteer test subjects just the right dose (not enough to give them a terrifying bad trip), they were able to reliably induce transcendental experiences in volunteers. This provoked long-lasting psychological growth and helped the volunteers to find peace in their lives, all without side effects. Nearly all of the 18 test subjects, average age 46, were college graduates. Seventy-eight percent were religious and all were interested in finding a scientific experience.

Fourteen months later, 94% said their trip on magic mushrooms was one of the five most important moments of their lives. Thirty-nine percent said it was the most important thing that had ever happened to them. Their colleagues, friends, and family members said the participants were kinder and happier; the volunteers had positive experiences ranging from more empathy and improved marriages to less drinking.

Lead author Roland Griffiths told TIME’s Healthland that “The important point here is that we found the sweet spot where we can optimize the positive persistent effects and avoid some of the fear and anxiety that can occur and can be quite disruptive.”

What’s more, the researchers say that those changes in personality are highly atypical, because personalities tend to be pretty set in stone after the age of 25-30. According to postdoctoral researcher Katherine MacLean, who contributed to the study, “This is one of the first studies to show that you actually can change adult personality.”

“Many years later, people are saying it was one of the most profound experiences of their life,” she continued. “If you think about it in that context, it’s not that surprising that it might be permanent.”

This is strictly do-not-try-this-at-home. Maclean says that “in an unsupervised setting, if that sort of fear or anxiety set in, the classic bad trip, it could be pretty dangerous.” But “On the most speculative side, this suggests that there might be an application of psilocybin for creativity or more intellectual outcomes that we really haven’t explored at all.”

More research: Within the past few decades, interest in hallucinogens has expanded from the counter-culture to dedicated, methodological research. For example, another study published in 2010 conducted research into whether psilocybin can lend some comfort to terminal cancer patients — finding evidence that it reduced death anxiety and experienced significantly less depression. According to study researcher Dr. Charles Grob, “Individuals did speak up and tell us that they felt it was of great value.” NYU’s Dr. Stephen Ross, who conducted a similar study, told SCPR that “To me it’s been some of the most remarkable clinical findings I’ve ever seen as a psychiatrist.”

As a result of the studies, a joint UCLA, NYU and Johns Hopkins team is conducting large-scale phase three trial next year.

Cluster headache patients say (with the backing of some doctors) that psilocybin and LSD provide them with significant relief, which researchers argue need further study.

A 2012 study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found evidence that psilocybin “enhances autobiographical recollection,” suggesting psychiatric uses in “the recall of salient memories or to reverse negative cognitive biases.” A review of the pyschiatric research performed on psilocybin concluded that the risks of therapy were acceptable and that “most subjects described the experience as pleasurable, enriching and non-threatening.” And this year, Zürich researchers released a study in which they administered psilocybin to 25 volunteers. The treatment was found to be associated with an “increase of positive mood in healthy volunteers.”

So basically, there’s at least some hard evidence that this:



How Cigarettes Damage Your Body

Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.  Here’s why.

Factors like high blood pressure can stretch out the arteries and cause scarring. Bad cholesterol, called LDL, often gets lodged in the scar tissue and combines with white blood cells to form clots. The good cholesterol, called HDL, helps keep the LDL from sticking and building up.

Here are some other problems smoking causes:

  • Smoking robs you of some of your good cholesterol.
  • Smoking temporarily raises your blood pressure.
  • Smoking increases the blood’s clotting likelihood.
  • Smoking makes it more difficult to exercise.

Although cigarette smoking alone increases your risk of coronary heart disease, it greatly increases risk to your whole cardiovascular system. Smoking also increases the risk of recurrent coronary heart disease after bypass surgery.

Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fatty substances in the arteries, and is a chief contributor to heart disease – theNo. 1 killer in America.

Stroke risks are higher, too. Because smoking temporarily increases blood pressure, and also increases cholesterol build-ups and the tendency for blood to clot, both types of strokes are more likely for a person who smokes. There are strokes caused from bleeding because of a weakened blood vessel and strokes caused by blockages and clots that form in a vessel and cut off blood flow to the brain.  Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and adult disability in America.

Smoking also contributes to peripheral artery disease. Again, because of the added strain smoking places on the arteries and veins, peripheral artery disease is much more like among smokers, and the habit also further increases the risk for aortic aneurism.

There is hope and help.

Despite all these scary facts, there is hope if you’re a smoker. Did you know that almost immediately after you quit smoking, your lungs and other smoke-damaged organs start to repair themselves?  You can start getting better the day you put down the cigarettes.

See how this process happens in the Smoke-Free Living– Benefits & Milestones.

Lung and breathing problems.

Your lungs are “air-exchange organs.” They’re made up of tubes that branch out into small sacs called bronchioles and alveoli where oxygen exchange takes place.  Your body takes in the oxygen you breathe and uses it as fuel. When you breathe in, the sacs inflate. When you breathe out, the sacs deflate.

In a healthy person, these tubes and sacs are very elastic and spongy.  In a person with a chronic lung disease, these sacs lose their elasticity and oxygen exchange is greatly impaired.  When that happens, your body is in grave danger because we can’t live without oxygen!

The lungs protect themselves with a thin layer of protective mucus and by moving toxic particles out with small hairs.  In a smoker’s lungs, the small hairs, called cilia, move slower and struggle to remove harmful particles. You can’t cough, sneeze or swallow effectively to clear these toxins.  They become trapped in your lungs, leading to  higher risk for numerous dangerous health problems, including heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is usually made up of two conditions that make breathing difficult: emphysema and chronic bronchitis.  When you have emphysema, the air sacs in your lungs start to deteriorate and lose their elasticity. Chronic bronchitis occurs when the lining in the tubes in your lungs swell and restrict your breathing.  These conditions are directly related to smoking.

What Facebook Addiction Looks Like in the Brain

For many Facebook users, the urge to like a kitten video or snoop on a high-school flame is almost irresistible.
As it turns out, this type of “Facebook addiction” may show up in the brain: A new study found that the brains of people who report compulsive urges to use the social networking site show some brain patterns similar to those found in drug addicts.
However, the parallel isn’t perfect: Compulsive Facebook users may have more activity in impulsive systems in the brain, but the brain regions that inhibit this behavior seem to work just fine, unlike in the brains of cocaine addicts. [The Top 10 Golden Rules of Facebook]

One possibility is that, in cases of Facebook addiction, people are sensitized to respond strongly to positive triggers associated with the site, said study co-author Ofir Turel, a psychologist at California State University, Fullerton. “They have the ability to control their behavior, but they don’t have the motivation to control this behavior because they don’t see the consequences to be that severe.”
Wide-reaching impact
Several studies have suggested that Facebook and other social networking sites have a profound impact on people. For example, Facebook can hurt a woman’s body image, allow people to obsess over a failed relationship and even lead some people to fall into depression. In fact, so many people end up feeling left out after seeing pictures of friends at a rooftop party or eating opulent meals, for example, that there’s even a word for it: “fear of missing out,” or FOMO.
In recent years, researchers have coined the term “Facebook addiction” to describe people with an unhealthy desire to spend hours checking the social networking site.
But whether this type of compulsion is truly an addiction is hotly debated.
Facebook brain
To understand how this process affects the brain, Turel and his colleagues asked 20 undergraduate students to fill out a questionnaire that gauged addiction-type symptoms associated with Facebook use, such as withdrawal, anxiety and conflict over the site.
The researchers then used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the participants’ brains while they looked at a series of computer images — some Facebook logos, and others of neutral traffic signs. The students were told to either press or not press a button in response to each image.
The higher people scored on the Facebook addiction survey, the more likely they were to quickly hit the button when viewing Facebook images compared to neutral images. Similarly, the participants were more likely to mistakenly press the button when they saw a Facebook logo versus a neutral traffic sign. Essentially, the Facebook cues were much more potent triggers in people’s brains than the traffic signs, Turel said. [Understanding the 10 Most Destructive Human Behaviors]
That means that, if you’re driving on a street next to someone who has a compulsive relationship with Facebook, they are “going to respond faster to beeps from their cellphone than to street signs,” Turel told Live Science. “That’s the power of Facebook.”
The Facebook “addicts” showed greater activation of their amygdala and striatum, brain regions that are involved in impulsive behavior. But unlike in the brains of cocaine addicts, for instance, the Facebook users showed no quieting of the brain systems responsible for inhibition in the prefrontal cortex.
That could be because Facebook “addiction” is fundamentally unlike substance addiction, or it could be that the study only looked at people whose daily lives weren’t much impaired by their desire to be on Facebook, Turel said.
Hooked on Facebook?
Addiction to social networking is likely caused by a collision of biological, psychological, social and cultural factors, Cecilie Schou Andreassen, a psychologist at the University of Bergen in Norway who was not involved in the study, said in an email.
The study looked at a relatively small, homogeneous group with relatively low levels of Facebook addiction, so “it is therefore questionable whether this sample is appropriate for investigating Facebook addiction,” Andreassen told Live Science.
Social networking sites like Facebook “hook” people using four elements: a trigger, such as loneliness, boredom or stress; an action, such as logging in to Facebook; an unpredictable or variable reward, such as scrolling through a mix of juicy and boring tidbits in the newsfeed; and investment, which includes posting pictures or liking someone’s status update, said Nir Eyal, a startup founder and author of “Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products,” (Nir Eyal, 2013).
“Facebook is a poster child for a company that has these hooks,” Eyal told Live Science.
Getting “unhooked” is a matter of breaking that chain by putting some friction into the process — for instance, by using a website blocker or putting an Internet router on a timer that shuts off at night, Eyal said.
The new study was published in December 2014 in the journal Psychological Reports: Disability and Trauma.

Rabies Vaccine Fails in Rare Death

The rabies vaccine unexpectedly failed to save the life of a 6-year-old boy in Tunisia who was infected with the deadly virus, even though doctors started treating him the same day a stray dog bit him on the face, according to a new report of his case.
“It’s very rare to have the rabies post-exposure regimen fail, but there are cases where it does fail,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and a doctor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who was not involved in the child’s care.
The vaccine almost always works when the injections are delivered soon after a person is exposed to the rabies virus. It’s possible that the doctors failed to completely clean the dog’s saliva from all of the boy’s wounds. But even without such an error, there are rare instances in which the vaccine does not work in people, according to the case report, published Jan. 14 in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

After the dog bite, doctors immediately cleaned and treated the child’s wounds, according to the case report. They administered rabies immunoglobulin, which are antibodies that can fight the rabies virus; these were delivered both directly to the bite wound on his forehead as well as intravenously, into his bloodstream. They also injected the post-exposure rabies vaccine into his arm on the day it happened and on days 3, 7 and 14 after the bite, following World Health Organization guidelines.
But 17 days after the dog bite, the child came to the hospital with fever, vomiting, pink eye and signs of neurological problems, including crossed eyes, agitation, uncoordinated muscle movements and brisk reflexes in his legs. He died that day after developing seizures and going into cardiac arrest. [7 Devastating Infectious Diseases]
A later examination of the boy’s brain found that he had rabies, the researchers wrote in the report. Other tests showed that the dog that bit him also had rabies.
The virus that causes rabies travels along nerve cells until it reaches the brain, where it causes fatal swelling. Bites from rabid dogs cause more than 98 percent of the 40,000 to 60,000 cases of rabies among people that occur every year worldwide, the researchers said. Tunisia, in northern Africa, has one to two human rabies deaths a year, typically from people who do not seek treatment after being bitten by dogs.
Failure of the rabies vaccine is rare. In 1997, researchers reported at a conference that out of 15 million cases in which the vaccine had been used to date, it had failed in just 47 people, said Dr. Natasha Crowcroft, the chief of infectious diseases at Public Health Ontario, who was not involved with the care of the child in the recent case.
When the vaccine does fail, it’s not unusual for people to have been bitten on the hand or face, parts of the body that have a high concentration of nerves that the rabies virus can potentially infect. Moreover, the virus doesn’t have to travel far to the brain if it enters through a wound on the face, Crowcroft said.
Usually, “the rabies virus travels quite slowly to the brain up through the nerves,” she said. “When we give the vaccine, it’s a race of [the body] making antibodies from the vaccine and the virus traveling up to brain. As soon as the virus gets to the brain, it’s too late.”
The boy did not have hydrophobia (fear of water) or excessive salivation, two common rabies symptoms, when he returned to the hospital on day 17. “These features made the diagnosis of rabies encephalitis [swelling of the brain from rabies] difficult, especially in this child, who had received four doses of rabies vaccine” and other treatments, the researchers wrote in the case report.
It’s possible that the doctors missed a wound that was infected when they examined the child, and therefore didn’t properly clean and treat it with immunoglobulin, according to the case report. The doctors sutured the bite wound after cleaning and treating it, but if they missed some of the saliva, the suturing may have even helped the virus enter the nerves in the face, the researchers said.
Vaccines can also fail if they’re expired or not stored at adequate temperatures, but that didn’t happen in this case, the researchers said.
There is a pre-exposure rabies vaccine, but its high price makes it difficult to provide to people in developing countries, where many cases of rabies occur. Instead, only people who are at high risk of rabies, such as veterinarians, are usually given the pre-exposure vaccine, the researchers said.