Joseph Bast and Roy Spencer: The Myth of the Climate Change ‘97%’.


http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303480304579578462813553136

Researchers say they’ve figured out what makes people reject science, and it’s not ignorance.


http://www.sciencealert.com/researchers-have-figured-out-what-makes-people-reject-science-and-it-s-not-ignorance

Research shows babies remember their birth language, even if they never use it


It’s in there somewhere.

Researchers have shown that babies will remember the language they hear around the time of their birth, even if they’re later raised to speak something different.

The new study suggests language learning can be subconsciously locked away in the first six months after birth, making it easier to relearn a birth language later on in life, especially in terms of its pronunciation.

The team behind the research says it’s good news for those adopted internationally who want to reconnect with their mother tongue.

“Even in the very early months of life, useful language knowledge is laid down,” said one of the researchers, Mirjam Broersma, from Radboud University in the Netherlands.

“What has been retained about the birth language is abstract knowledge about what patterns are possible, not, for instance, words.”

While previous studies have shown that babies can pick up language patterns in the womb and at the very start of their lives, the aim of this new research was to figure out how much of that learning could be retained if they didn’t continue speaking the language.

To figure this out, researchers enlisted 29 Korean-born Dutch speakers and 29 native Dutch speakers and asked them to identify and reproduce three Korean consonants over a two-week period of training. The Korean-born Dutch speakers no longer had any conscious knowledge of how to speak Korean.

The sounds were chosen as being especially unlike anything in the Dutch language, and the volunteers’ efforts were then rated by native Korean speakers.

 The participants who were born in Korea showed significantly more improvement in their pronunciation over the two weeks compared to those who were born in the Netherlands. They were also better able to pronounce the Korean sounds to begin with.

In other words, something appears to have stuck from their very earliest months as babies, even though these participants were then brought up in the Netherlands, only speaking Dutch.

“One of the most interesting findings was that no difference showed in the learning results of those Korean-born participants adopted under six months of age and those adopted after the age of seventeen months,” says Broersma, suggesting that we get plenty of learning done during that first half a year.

The way young infants pick up and learn languages is fascinating, but it’s also difficult to study – getting a panel of babies together to talk about their experiences isn’t really an option.

However, we’ve seen plenty of recent research showing that even in the earliest months of our lives, we’re developing important language skills, and the new study backs up research from 2015 looking at how our very first language stays with us.

In that research, the brain activity of volunteers showed traces of recognising a first language, even if it wasn’t practiced any more – though in this case the focus was on switching languages after the first three years of life rather than the first six months.

So if you’ve long since lost the use of your first language, why not give it another try? You might be able to pick it up faster than you think.

A new twist on fusion power could finally create limitless clean energy .


http://www.sciencealert.com/a-new-twist-on-fusion-power-could-create-limitless-clean-energy

Mammograms Again Found to Have No Impact on Mortality


http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/07/28/mammogram-myths.aspx?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=twittermercola_ranart&utm_campaign=20170122_mammogram-myths

First hint of ‘life after death’ in biggest ever scientific study


A bright light behind some trees
Some cardiac arrest patients recalled seeing a bright light; a golden flash or the Sun shining 

Death is a depressingly inevitable consequence of life, but now scientists believe they may have found some light at the end of the tunnel.

The largest ever medical study into near-death and out-of-body experiences has discovered that some awareness may continue even after the brain has shut down completely.

It is a controversial subject which has, until recently, been treated with widespread scepticism.

But scientists at the University of Southampton have spent four years examining more than 2,000 people who suffered cardiac arrests at 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria.

And they found that nearly 40 per cent of people who survived described some kind of ‘awareness’ during the time when they were clinically dead before their hearts were restarted.

One man even recalled leaving his body entirely and watching his resuscitation from the corner of the room.

Despite being unconscious and ‘dead’ for three minutes, the 57-year-old social worker from Southampton, recounted the actions of the nursing staff in detail and described the sound of the machines.

“We know the brain can’t function when the heart has stopped beating,” said Dr Sam Parnia, a former research fellow at Southampton University, now at the State University of New York, who led the study.

“But in this case, conscious awareness appears to have continued for up to three minutes into the period when the heart wasn’t beating, even though the brain typically shuts down within 20-30 seconds after the heart has stopped.

“The man described everything that had happened in the room, but importantly, he heard two bleeps from a machine that makes a noise at three minute intervals. So we could time how long the experienced lasted for.

“He seemed very credible and everything that he said had happened to him had actually happened.”

Of 2,060 cardiac arrest patients studied, 330 survived and of 140 surveyed, 39 per cent said they had experienced some kind of awareness while being resuscitated.

Although many could not recall specific details, some themes emerged. One in five said they had felt an unusual sense of peacefulness while nearly one third said time had slowed down or speeded up.

Some recalled seeing a bright light; a golden flash or the Sun shining. Others recounted feelings of fear or drowning or being dragged through deep water. 13 per cent said they had felt separated from their bodies and the same number said their sensed had been heightened.

Dr Parnia believes many more people may have experiences when they are close to death but drugs or sedatives used in the process of rescuitation may stop them remembering.

“Estimates have suggested that millions of people have had vivid experiences in relation to death but the scientific evidence has been ambiguous at best.

“Many people have assumed that these were hallucinations or illusions but they do seem to corresponded to actual events.

“And a higher proportion of people may have vivid death experiences, but do not recall them due to the effects of brain injury or sedative drugs on memory circuits.

“These experiences warrant further investigation. “

Dr David Wilde, a research psychologist and Nottingham Trent University, is currently compiling data on out-of-body experiences in an attempt to discover a pattern which links each episode.

He hopes the latest research will encourage new studies into the controversial topic.

“Most studies look retrospectively, 10 or 20 years ago, but the researchers went out looking for examples and used a really large sample size, so this gives the work a lot of validity.

“There is some very good evidence here that these experiences are actually happening after people have medically died.

“We just don’t know what is going on. We are still very much in the dark about what happens when you die and hopefully this study will help shine a scientific lens onto that.”

The study was published in the journal Resuscitation.

Dr Jerry Nolan, Editor-in-Chief at Resuscitation said: “Dr Parnia and his colleagues are to be congratulated on the completion of a fascinating study that will open the door to more extensive research into what happens when we die.”

47% of Jobs Will Disappear in the next 25 Years, According to Oxford University


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The Trump campaign ran on bringing jobs back to American shores, although mechanization has been the biggest reason for manufacturing jobs’ disappearance. Similar losses have led to populist movements in several other countries. But instead of a pro-job growth future, economists across the board predict further losses as AI, robotics, and other technologies continue to be ushered in. What is up for debate is how quickly this is likely to occur.

Now, an expert at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania is ringing the alarm bells. According to Art Bilger, venture capitalist and board member at the business school, all the developed nations on earth will see job loss rates of up to 47% within the next 25 years, according to a recent Oxford study. “No government is prepared,”The Economist reports. These include blue and white collar jobs. So far, the loss has been restricted to the blue collar variety, particularly in manufacturing.

To combat “structural unemployment” and the terrible blow it is bound to deal the American people, Bilger has formed a nonprofit called Working Nation, whose mission it is to warn the public and to help make plans to safeguard them from this worrisome trend. Not only is the entire concept of employment about to change in a dramatic fashion, the trend is irreversible. The venture capitalist called on corporations, academia, government, and nonprofits to cooperate in modernizing our workforce.

To be clear, mechanization has always cost us jobs. The mechanical loom for instance put weavers out of business. But it’s also created jobs. Mechanics had to keep the machines going, machinists had to make parts for them, and workers had to attend to them, and so on. A lot of times those in one profession could pivot to another. At the beginning of the 20thcentury for instance, automobiles were putting blacksmiths out of business. Who needed horseshoes anymore? But they soon became mechanics. And who was better suited?

A Toyota plant, Japan. Manufacturing is almost fully automated today and so many other jobs are not far behind.

Not so with this new trend. Unemployment today is significant in most developed nations and it’s only going to get worse. By 2034, just a few decades, mid-level jobs will be by and large obsolete. So far the benefits have only gone to the ultra-wealthy, the top 1%. This coming technological revolution is set to wipe out what looks to be the entire middle class. Not only will computers be able to perform tasks more cheaply than people, they’ll be more efficient too.

Accountants, doctors, lawyers, teachers, bureaucrats, and financial analysts beware: your jobs are not safe. According to The Economist, computers will be able to analyze and compare reams of data to make financial decisions or medical ones. There will be less of a chance of fraud or misdiagnosis, and the process will be more efficient. Not only are these folks in trouble, such a trend is likely to freeze salaries for those who remain employed, while income gaps only increase in size. You can imagine what this will do to politics and social stability.

Mechanization and computerization cannot cease. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. And everyone must have it, eventually. The mindset is this: other countries would use such technology to gain a competitive advantage and therefore we must adopt it. Eventually, new tech startups and other business might absorb those who have been displaced. But the pace is sure to move far too slowly to avoid a major catastrophe.

According to Bilger, the problem has been going on for a long time. Take into account the longevity we are enjoying nowadays and the US’s broken education system and the problem is compounded. One proposed solution is a universal basic income doled out by the government, a sort of baseline one would receive for survival. After that, re-education programs could help people find new pursuits. Others would want to start businesses or take part in creative enterprises. It could even be a time of the flowering of humanity, when instead of chasing the almighty dollar, people would able to pursue their true passions.

The first fully automated restaurant opens in San Francisco.

On a recent radio program, Bilger talked about retooling the education system in its entirety, including adding classes that are sure to transfer into the skills workers need for the jobs that will be there. He also discussed the need to retrain middle-aged workers so that they can participate in the economy, rather than be left behind. Bilger said that “projects are being developed for that.” Though he admits that many middle-aged workers are resistant to reentering the classroom, Bilger says it’s necessary. What’s more, they are looking at ways of making the classroom experience more dynamic, such as using augmented reality for retraining purposes, as well as to reinvent K-12 education. But such plans are in the seminal stages.

Widespread internships and apprenticeships are also on the agenda. Today, the problem, as some contend, is not that there aren’t enough jobs, but that there aren’t enough skilled workers to fill the positions that are available. Bilger seems to think that this problem will only grow more substantial.

But would those who drive for a living, say long haul truckers and cab drivers, really find a place in the new economy with retraining, once self-driving vehicles become pervasive? No one really knows. Like any major shift in society, there are likely to be winners and losers. This pivot point contains the seeds for a pragmatic utopia, or complete social upheaval, but is likely to fall somewhere between.

Bilger ended the interview saying, “What would our society be like with 25%, 30% or 35% unemployment? … I don’t know how you afford that, but even if you could afford it, there’s still the question of, what do people do with themselves? Having a purpose in life is, I think, an important piece of the stability of a society.”

4 Things You Can Do to Cheer Up, According to Neuroscience


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For everyone, there are times when a dark cloud just seems to be following you around. You may not even even know why. While we don’t mean to minimize the value of medication for those who experience this on a daily basis, UCLA neuroscientist Alex Korb, author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time, has some insights that might just get you back on the sunny side. It’s all got to do with neuroscience.

Getting Your Brain’s Attention

statue

 

Your brain has some unhelpful ideas of its own on how to feel good. If you’re experiencing guilt or shame, it may be because your brain’s trying — ineffectively — to activate its reward center. Wait, what?

According to Korb, “Despite their differences, pride, shame, and guilt all activate similar neural circuits, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, insula, and the nucleus accumbens. This explains why it can be so appealing to heap guilt and shame on ourselves — they’re activating the brain’s reward center.“

A similar thing may be going if you just can’t seem to stop worrying. Korb says worrying stimulates the medial prefrontal cortex and lowers activity in the amygdala, thus helping your limbic system, your emotions, remain copascetic. His theory is that, even though worry is widely recognized as a pointless thing to do from a tactical point of view, apparently the brain considers it better than doing nothing at all when you’re anxious.

So the obvious question is how you can take positive control of this destructive little dance? Korb suggests asking yourself: “What am I grateful for?” His reasoning is chemical: “One powerful effect of gratitude is that it can boost serotonin. Trying to think of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex.”

Even more intriguingly, actually coming up with something you’re thankful for — not always an easy thing to do in a dark mood — isn’t even required. Just the acts of remembering to be thankful is the flexing of a type of emotional intelligence: “One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful.”

He-Who-Actually-Must-Be-Named

Voldy

 

So, okay, you’re still down. Try and get more specific. What, exactly, is the bad feeling you have? Anger? Stress? Sadness? Loneliness? Neuroscience says that just giving your darkness a name defuses it.

Author David Rock’s book Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long explains:
“To reduce arousal, you need to use just a few words to describe an emotion, and ideally use symbolic language, which means using indirect metaphors, metrics, and simplifications of your experience. This requires you to activate your prefrontal cortex, which reduces the arousal in the limbic system. Here’s the bottom line: describe an emotion in just a word or two, and it helps reduce the emotion.”

Korb notes that fMRI studies support this idea, like one in which “participants viewed pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. Predictably, each participant’s amygdala activated to the emotions in the picture. But when they were asked to name the emotion, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact.”

FBI negotiators use labeling to try and calm hostage negotiators, and it’s also an important tool in mindfulness.

You’re the Decider

signs

 

Worried and anxious? One thing to try is making a decision about what’s got you worked up. It doesn’t even have to be the perfect decision; just a good one will do. As Korb notes: “Trying for the best, instead of good enough, brings too much emotional ventromedial prefrontal activity into the decision-making process. In contrast, recognizing that good enough is good enough activates more dorsolateral prefrontal areas, which helps you feel more in control …” Korb: “Actively choosing caused changes in attention circuits and in how the participants felt about the action, and it increased rewarding dopamine activity. Making decisions includes creating intentions and setting goals — all three are part of the same neural circuitry and engage the prefrontal cortex in a positive way, reducing worry and anxiety. Making decisions also helps overcome striatum activity, which usually pulls you toward negative impulses and routines. Finally, making decisions changes your perception of the world — finding solutions to your problems and calming the limbic system.”

A key thing here is that you’re making a conscious decision, or choice, and not just being dragged to a resolution. Your brain gets no reward for that.

If you’re still reluctant to make a choice between one option or another, the science suggest don’t worry, you’re likely to gain a positive bias toward the decision you make anyway. As Korb notes, “We don’t just choose the things we like; we also like the things we choose.”

The Power of Touch

Okay, so let’s be clear right up front: You should only be touching others who want to be touched. All right, then…

hugs

 

Got someone to hug? Go for it. Korb says “A hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.”

Hand holding, pats on the back, and handshakes work, too. Korb cites a study in which subjects whose hands were held by their partners experienced a reduced level of anxiety while waiting for an expected electrical shock from researchers. “The brain showed reduced activation in both the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — that is, less activity in the pain and worrying circuits.”

And if you have no one handy to touch, guess what? Massage has also been shown to be an effective way to get your oxytocin flowing, and it reduces stress hormones and increases your dopamine levels. Win win.

The value of touching shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re down. According to Korb: “In fact, as demonstrated in an fMRI experiment, social exclusion activates the same circuitry as physical pain … at one point they stopped sharing, only throwing back and forth to each other, ignoring the participant. This small change was enough to elicit feelings of social exclusion, and it activated the anterior cingulate and insula, just like physical pain would.”


Nobody’s in a good mood all the time, so hopefully these insights will be of use to if there comes some dark and stormy day.

Harvard Researchers Have Found the Source of Human Consciousness


What is human consciousness and where does it come from? Throughout the ages, some of our greatest minds have probed this question, and struggled to find answers. Today, different disciplines offer varying definitions. One theory says it is meta-cognition or our ability to ponder our own thought process. Another states it is our capacity to recognize our own mortality, and another still, to be able to imagine future scenarios, and make plans for them.

Scientists too have had difficulty, particularly in finding the source of what we experience continuously from one moment to the next, which makes us human, and which is what we lament in those stuck in a coma or a vegetative state. Those poor souls been stripped of something we feel is elemental to who we are, and worse still, they remind us just how fragile our own consciousness is.

Classical neurology defines consciousness as the ongoing process of arousal and awareness. Its origin however, has been much harder to pinpoint. Now, researchers at Harvard Medical School, along with colleagues at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, have discovered the neural network from which consciousness derives.

We’ve known for some time that the brainstem regulates arousal, what neurosurgeon Richard M. Bergland called the “spark plug of consciousness.” This is the oldest and deepest part of the brain. The starting point for the spinal cord, the brainstem controls breathing, heart function, and the sleep-wake cycle. But where awareness emanates from has long been a mystery. Previous speculations say it resides in the cortex, the newest parts of the brain, and its outermost layer.

For the first time, neuroscientists have found a connection between these two regions, according to Michael D. Fox, MD, PhD, a researcher on this study. “A lot of pieces of evidence all came together to point to this network,” he said. To conduct the study, Fox and colleagues recruited 36 patients with brainstem lesions. 12 of these were in a coma and the remaining 24 conscious.

Map of the human connectome or connections between brain regions.

Those subjects who were unconscious showed damage to a small area of the brainstem known as the rostral dorsolateral pontine tegmentum. “When it is damaged, almost every patient became comatose,” Fox said. Only one of the 24 conscious patients did not see damage to this area of the brainstem. Due to this, researchers established that the tiny region plays a vital role in consciousness. Next, the neuroscientists turned to a map of the human connectome to investigate the connections between regions. They found two areas in the cortex connected to this part of the brainstem. That led them to believe that these three regions make up a neural network from which, consciousness derives.

Where exactly these connections terminate in the cortex is not yet known. One ends at a part called the left, ventral, anterior insula (AI). The other concludes in the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex (pACC). Both areas are associated with awareness. But this is the first time they have been implicated in a neural network, never mind one which creates and maintains consciousness. In a follow-up segment, researchers examined the brains of 45 patients in a coma or vegetative state with an fMRI. They found in all the patients that these three regions were out of commission.

Other research must verify these findings. Even so, it looks like an incredible step forward which impacts not only neurology but medicine and even philosophy. Fox and colleagues believe that someday we may better understand those who are in a coma or a vegetative state, and may even find novel treatment options to help those patients “wake up.”

 

SCIENTISTS CREATE SEE-THROUGH RODENTS FOR BRAIN SCIENCE


A NEW TECHNIQUE TO TURN BODIES TRANSPARENT COULD HELP SCIENTISTS MAP ENTIRE NERVE CELL PATHWAYS.

Those small threads you can see in the video above are individual nerve cells. Until now, scientists couldn’t see them in place in the whole mouse brain.

 But a new technique can now turn the entire bodies of small animals transparent, allowing scientists to trace the paths of nerve cells and blood vessels from nose to tail. The new tool, published today in Nature Methods, is the first to offer such a detailed view of individual cells in an intact body.

“Now…we can look into the wiring of the whole mouse in high resolution,” says coauthor Ali Ertürk, a neuroscientist at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. This will allow researchers to better understand how the nervous system is assembled, and how injuries or illnesses can mess with this circuitry.

Ali Ertürk

An entire mouse brain imaged with a new technique that turns organs and small animal bodies transparent.

Generally, scientists can view entire organs in low-resolution with techniques like MRI, or cut tiny pieces of tissue into fine slices and pop it under a microscope for a detailed look at a very small area. But cutting tissue up into thin wafers is time-consuming and doesn’t capture the full complexity of the nervous system, whose cells are often too long to fit onto a tissue section.

“This is usually sufficient to study tumor cells or inflammatory cells because they are small circles…but neurons are not like this,” Ertürk says. “You don’t see the entire picture, you are cutting the wires.”

With the new method, which he and his colleagues have dubbed “ultimate DISCO” or uDISCO, those wires can be viewed whole and in place. Ertürk likens the process to learning how pipes in a wall are organized by turning everything to glass and filling the pipes with colored water.

To make a dead rat see-through with uDISCO, the animal is soaked in solutions that remove the water and lipids from its tissues, leaving a glassy scaffold behind. This process also shrinks the rodents’ bodies by up to 65 percent, making them easier to fit under a microscope, and renders tissue hard but flexible for easy positioning.

In rodents engineered to carry fluorescent proteins, a peek under the microscope can then offer a high-resolution glimpse at whichever cells or areas the researchers decided to illuminate.

transparent rat

A rat made transparent with uDISCO.

Previously, Ertürk and his colleagues created a similar technique called 3DISCO (3D imaging of solvent-cleared organs). 3DISCO could clear a mouse brain or spinal cord within a few hours, but the solutions quickly damaged the glowing proteins. To turn a whole mouse transparent takes days, at which point there was no signal left to light up the cleared tissues.

“They would destroy this fluorescent color,” Ertürk says. “So basically we would make [the mice] transparent, but at the end we would lose what is painted inside.”

uDISCO preserves the fluorescent proteins in a body for months, making it possible to clear and view entire rodents. The whole process takes about eight days. By contrast, using an electron microscope to map a mouse brain from tissue slices would take about 50 years, and a human brain 1000 years, Ertürk says.

He hopes to eventually map an entire human brain with uDISCO. Ertürk and his colleagues also plan to apply uDISCO to investigate how brain injury or psychiatric conditions can affect the rest of the body. Another use would be to follow the path of metastasizing cells in tumors, or understand how transplanted stem cells migrate to unintended areas of the body. Using uDISCO to create atlases of whole rodents might even cut down on the number of lab animals used in future research.

With uDISCO, scientists can also compare how the nervous system looks in healthy mice compared to those with Alzheimer’s-like diseases. “This will give us hints how the miswiring is happening,” Ertürk says. “And how we can then tackle it to make it correct.”

Mouse brain and spinal cord.

Mouse brain and spinal cord.

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