Posts tagged development
Sugar-coated Laziness

Check out this study. Researchers found that when "teenage" rats (30-45 days old) consumed massive amounts of sugar, they became extremely difficult to train as adults. For two weeks or so during adolescence, one group of rats had free access to a tasty 5% sucrose solution, while the control group only had water available. Similar to some American teenagers, the experimental group of rats consumed about 20% of their daily caloric intake as simple sugar.

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How "The Science of Success" Redefines Psychology

I just finished reading Dave Dobbs' new article in the the December issue of The Atlantic, "The Science of Success".  Dobbs turns the classic question of Nature vs. Nurture, whether our genes or our environment are the deterministic drivers of our fate, on its head.  Traditionally, those who support "nature" say that our genes are most influential in defining us.  On the other hand, those that support the "nurture" side say that our environment plays a more important role. Based on new research, Dobbs introduces the idea of two types of people, "dandelions" and "orchids".  Dandelions can thrive anywhere, despite their environment or upbringing.  Orchids, however, are more temperamental, and require a stable environment to survive.  At first glance, the orchids may seem like a liability, and in fact, they often carry genes that make them susceptible to mood disorders and psychological disease.  The astounding part of Dobbs' report is that he shows that given the right care, or environment, the orchids don't just do OK, but far surpass the dandelions in perfomance.  In other words, given the right training, orchids may in fact be destined for greatness.

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Why Behavior Change Is (Still) Better Medicine Than Drugs

While attending the Institute for the Future's Health Horizons Fall Conference on Monday, one thing became eminently clear. The 21st century will be the era of brain, the last great scientific frontier. Due to societal shifts, environmental changes, and the fact that we are just living longer, we are poised to see a sharp rise in cases of diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, autism, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The only thing worse than the increasing prevalence of brain disease is the sobering fact that few viable treatments currently exist.

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Pregnancy: Epigenetic and Developmental Links

There were two posts at ScienceDaily today that discussed the consequences of mothers' choices during pregnancy on the future health of their children.  The first stated that the children of mothers that smoked cigarettes during pregnancy were more likely to smoke in the future, and would find it harder to quit if they tried.  The second discussed the link between obese pregnant mothers and children who developed asthma.  Presumably, obesity causes a pro-inflammatory response, which may predispose the fetus to cytokines that cause respiratory inflammation that leads to the development of asthma in later life. These posts have me thinking about just how much a mother's life affects a fetus during pregnancy at the epigentic and developmental levels.  In my preliminary search, I've found a couple other interesting stories.  One article discussed how maternal feeding affects the biological clock of the fetus.  Another report talked about how maternal exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) changes fetal gene expression.

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