Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Plastic Brain Outsmarts Experts: Training Can Increase Fluid Intelligence, Once Thought To Be Fixed At Birth

Plastic Brain Outsmarts Experts: Training Can Increase Fluid Intelligence, Once Thought To Be Fixed At Birth: "ScienceDaily (June 6, 2008) — Can human beings rev up their intelligence quotients, or are they stuck with IQs set by their genes at birth? Until recently, nature seemed to be the clear winner over nurture...But new research, led by Swiss postdoctoral fellows Susanne M. Jaeggi and Martin Buschkuehl, working at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, suggests that at least one aspect of a person's IQ can be improved by training a certain type of memory.

Most IQ tests attempt to measure two types of intelligence--crystallized and fluid intelligence. Crystallized intelligence draws on existing skills, knowledge and experiences to solve problems by accessing information from long-term memory.

Fluid intelligence, on the other hand, draws on the ability to understand relationships between various concepts, independent of any previous knowledge or skills, to solve new problems. The research shows that this part of intelligence can be improved through memory training."

Brain-training To Improve Memory Boosts Fluid Intelligence

Brain-training To Improve Memory Boosts Fluid Intelligence: "ScienceDaily (May 6, 2008) — Brain-training efforts designed to improve working memory can also boost scores in general problem-solving ability and improve fluid intelligence, according to new University of Michigan research..."

Get Smart About What You Eat And You Might Actually Improve Your Intelligence

Get Smart About What You Eat And You Might Actually Improve Your Intelligence: "ScienceDaily (July 3, 2008) — New research findings published online in The FASEB Journal provide more evidence that if we get smart about what we eat, our intelligence can improve. According to MIT scientists, dietary nutrients found in a wide range of foods from infant formula to eggs increase brain synapses and improve cognitive abilities...In the study, gerbils were given various combinations of three compounds needed for healthy brain membranes: choline, found in eggs; uridine monophosphate (UMP) found in beets; and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), found in fish oils..."

Carrot Component Reduces Cancer Risk

Carrot Component Reduces Cancer Risk: "ScienceDaily (Feb. 18, 2005) — Scientists have given us another reason to eat carrots - a compound found in the popular root vegetable has been found to have an effect on the development of cancer..."

Anti cancer from whole carrots

BBC NEWS | Health | Cancer boost from whole carrots: 16 June 2009 "The anti-cancer properties of carrots are more potent if the vegetable is not cut up before cooking, research shows...Scientists found 'boiled before cut' carrots contained 25% more of the anti-cancer compound falcarinol than those chopped up first."

Multivitamins linked to younger ‘biological age’

Multivitamins linked to younger ‘biological age’: Study: "The cells of multivitamin users may have a younger biological age than cells from non-users, according to new research from the US...the telomeres of daily multivitamin users may be on average 5.1 per cent longer than in non-users...

In an attempt to identify specific nutrients that could be behind the observations, a positive relationship between telomere length and intakes of vitamins C and E from foods was observed.

“Whereas the evidence is not sufficient to conclude that these 2 dietary antioxidants mediated the observed relation, the results are consistent with experimental findings that vitamins C and E protect telomeres in vitro,” wrote the researchers."

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Semen Quality May Depend Upon Antioxidants In Man's Diet

Semen Quality May Depend Upon Antioxidants In Man's Diet: "ScienceDaily (June 3, 2009) — A possible relationship between men's diets and the quality of their semen has long been a discussion point. Spanish researchers have now confirmed that antioxidants, molecules which are found mainly in fruit and vegetables and can delay and prevent the oxidation of other molecules, play a key role."

Red Wine Compound Resveratrol Demonstrates Significant Health Benefits

Red Wine Compound Resveratrol Demonstrates Significant Health Benefits: "ScienceDaily (June 12, 2009) — The benefits of alcohol are all about moderation. Low to moderate drinking – especially of red wine – appears to reduce all causes of mortality, while too much drinking causes multiple organ damage. A mini-review of recent findings on red wine's polyphenols, particularly one called resveratrol, will be published in the September issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research..."The breadth of benefits is remarkable – cancer prevention, protection of the heart and brain from damage, reducing age-related diseases such as inflammation, reversing diabetes and obesity, and many more," said Brown. "It has long been a question as to how such a simple compound could have these effects but now the puzzle is becoming clearer with the discovery of the pathways, especially the sirtuins, a family of enzymes that regulate the production of cellular components by the nucleus. 'Is resveratrol the only compound with these properties?' This would seem unlikely, with similar effects reported for other components of wine and for other natural products such as curcumin. However, we know much more about resveratrol relative to these other compounds."...

Key points of the review include:

  • Resveratrol exhibits therapeutic potential for cancer chemoprevention as well as cardioprotection.

"It sounds contradictory that a single compound can benefit the heart by preventing damage to cells, yet prevent cancer by causing cell death, said Brown. "The most likely explanation for this, still to be rigorously proved in many organs, is that low concentrations activate survival mechanisms of cells while high concentrations turn on the in-built death signals in these cells."

  • Resveratrol may aid in the prevention of age-related disorders, such as neurodegenerative diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

"The simplest explanation is that resveratrol turns on the cell's own survival pathways, preventing damage to individual cells," said Brown. "Further mechanisms help, including removing very reactive oxidants in the body and improving blood supply to cells."

  • Low doses of resveratrol improve cell survival as a mechanism of cardio- and neuro-protection, while high doses increase cell death.

"The key difference is probably the result of activation of the sirtuins in the nucleus," said Brown. "Low activation reverses age-associated changes, while high activation increases the process of apoptosis or programmed cell death to remove cellular debris. Similar changes are seen with low-dose versus high-dose resveratrol: low-dose resveratrol produces cellular protection and reduces damage, while high-dose resveratrol prevents cancers."

"Resveratrol is largely inactivated by the gut or liver before it reaches the blood stream, where it exerts its effects – whatever they may be – good, bad, or indifferent. Thus, most of the reseveratrol in imbibed red wine does not reach the circulation. Interestingly, absorption via the mucous membanes in the mouth can result in up to around 100 times the blood levels, if done slowly rather than simply gulping it down. Of course, we don't know if these things matter yet, but issues like this are real and generally ignored by all.""

Sleep May Be Important In Regulating Emotional Responses

Sleep May Be Important In Regulating Emotional Responses: "ScienceDaily (June 12, 2009) — According to a research abstract that will be presented on June11, at Sleep 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, sleep selectively preservers memories that are emotionally salient and relevant to future goals when sleep follows soon after learning. Effects persist for as long as four months after the memory is created..."

Folic Acid Supplementation Provided In Utero, But Not After Birth, May Protect Offspring From Colorectal Cancer

Folic Acid Supplementation Provided In Utero, But Not After Birth, May Protect Offspring From Colorectal Cancer: "Folic Acid Supplementation Provided In Utero, But Not After Birth, May Protect Offspring From Colorectal Cancer

ScienceDaily (Apr. 16, 2008) — Although folic acid fortification has proven to lower rates of neural tube defects and some childhood cancers, there is a growing body of evidence that too much folic acid may increase one's risk of developing colorectal cancer. A new study suggests that folic acid supplementation provided in utero, but not postnatally, may protect offspring from developing colorectal cancer..."

Ginkgo Reduces Neuropathic Pain In Animal Studies

Ginkgo Reduces Neuropathic Pain In Animal Studies: "ScienceDaily (June 12, 2009) — An extract of ginkgo biloba shows scientific evidence of effectiveness against one common and hard-to-treat type of pain - neuropathic pain, a common pain problem associated with herpes zoster, limb injury, or diabetes"

Successful Weight Loss With Dieting Is Linked To Vitamin D Levels

Successful Weight Loss With Dieting Is Linked To Vitamin D Levels: "ScienceDaily (June 12, 2009) — Vitamin D levels in the body at the start of a low-calorie diet predict weight loss success, a new study found. The results, which suggest a possible role for vitamin D in weight loss, were presented at The Endocrine Society's 91st Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C..."

Taking Folic Acid Supplements Before Conception Linked To Reduced Risk Of Premature Birth

Taking Folic Acid Supplements Before Conception Linked To Reduced Risk Of Premature Birth: "ScienceDaily (May 12, 2009) — Taking folic acid supplements for at least a year before conception is associated with reduction in the risk of premature birth..."

Huge Drop In Preterm Birth-risk Among Women Taking Folic Acid One Year Before Conception

Huge Drop In Preterm Birth-risk Among Women Taking Folic Acid One Year Before Conception: "ScienceDaily (Feb. 1, 2008) — New research suggests that women who take folic acid supplements for at least one year before they become pregnant can cut their risk of having a premature baby by half..."

Large Study Links Folic Acid Supplementation With Reduced Risk Of Preeclampsia During Pregnancy

Large Study Links Folic Acid Supplementation With Reduced Risk Of Preeclampsia During Pregnancy: "ScienceDaily (Jan. 24, 2008) — Folic acid supplementation during pregnancy has long been known to reduce the risk of birth defects in newborns, but a new study now suggests that the vitamin may also reduce the risk of preeclampsia, a leading cause of maternal and infant illness and death worldwide..."

Multivitamins In Pregnancy Reduce Risk Of Low Birth Weights

Multivitamins In Pregnancy Reduce Risk Of Low Birth Weights: "ScienceDaily (June 14, 2009) — Prenatal multivitamin supplements are associated with a significantly reduced risk of babies with a low birth weight compared with prenatal iron-folic acid supplementation..."

Meditation May Be An Effective Treatment For Insomnia

Meditation May Be An Effective Treatment For Insomnia: "ScienceDaily (June 15, 2009) — Meditation may be an effective behavioral intervention in the treatment of insomnia, according to a research abstract that will be presented on June 9, at Sleep 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies..."Results of the study show that teaching deep relaxation techniques during the daytime can help improve sleep at night..."

New Piece Found In The Puzzle Of Epigenetics: Mechanism Of Fine Regulation Of RNA Synthesis Elucidated

New Piece Found In The Puzzle Of Epigenetics: Mechanism Of Fine Regulation Of RNA Synthesis Elucidated: "ScienceDaily (June 16, 2009) — A team of scientists led by Professor Dirk Eick of Helmholtz Zentrum M√ľnchen has identified the enzyme TFIIH kinase as an important factor in the epigenetic regulation of the cell nucleus enzyme RNA polymerase II. The findings, recently published in the journal Molecular Cell, constitute a further building block for understanding the pathomechanisms of cancer and other diseases...For many years scientists have known that the numerous biological functions of an organism are not regulated solely by the DNA sequence of its genes: Superordinate regulatory mechanisms exist that contribute to determining the fate of genes. Although they are not anchored in the DNA, they can even be passed on to subsequent generations to a certain extent. Intensive research in recent years has shown that these mechanisms – bundled under the term epigenetics, are very multifaceted and complex...The scientists were interested in the fine regulation of the cell nucleus enzyme RNA polymerase II. This transcribes the genetic information of the genetic substance DNA into messenger RNA - mRNA for short – which in turn is the basis for protein synthesis. At the same time RNA polymerase II is also responsible for the production of other kinds of RNA molecules, the so-called snRNA, which are not translated into proteins but take on other tasks. In prior research Eick and his colleagues had observed that a certain region of the RNA polymerase II enzyme – the carboxy-terminal domain – is involved in deciding which kinds of RNA are formed. In humans this domain consists of 52 repeats of a sequence of seven amino acids...For RNA synthesis the determining factor is whether and how specific amino acids of this region are modified biochemically. Thus, it is absolutely essential for the synthesis of snRNA that the amino acid serine at position 7 of this repeat sequence is provided with an additional phosphate group. If this is lacking, mRNA will be produced, but not any snRNA. The reason for that is presumably that this phosphorylation enables the interaction with a protein complex – the so-called integrator complex – which is necessary for snRNA formation. In other words, the modification of the enzyme RNA polymerase II at defined positions regulates whether this enzyme can produce certain kinds of RNA molecules or not.

In their latest research, the scientists led by Dirk Eick showed that the enzyme TFIIH kinase is responsible for the selective phosphorylation of RNA polymerase II. “With these findings another building block has been identified that plays a key role in epigenetic regulation by means of RNA polymerase II,” Professor Eick said. “This is of great significance because knowledge of epigenetic mechanisms is necessary in order to better understand cancer and other diseases and to be able to provide more targeted treatment.”

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Test Detects Molecular Marker Of Aging In Humans

Test Detects Molecular Marker Of Aging In Humans: "ScienceDaily (June 16, 2009) p16INK4a is a tumor suppressor protein, cancer researchers are interested in its role in cellular aging and cancer prevention... is strongly correlated both with chronological age and with certain behaviors such as tobacco use and physical inactivity, which are known to accelerate the aging process...They found that expression of the biomarker was strongly correlated with the donor's chronological age and, in fact, increased exponentially with age. In addition, increased levels were independently associated with tobacco use and physical inactivity as well as with biomarkers of human frailty..."We found a very weak correlation between the biomarker and obesity – as measured by body mass index (BMI) – despite other data suggesting that caloric restriction slows aging. The data suggest the possibility that reduced exercise may actually be worse with regard to molecular age than a higher BMI."..."Although we don't know whether this test is a good reflection of cellular age in all types of human tissues, we believe it is a first step toward a better understanding of issues like the suitability of organs for transplantation, how well patients are likely to recover after surgery or the future toxicity of chemotherapy for cancer patients,"..."

Key Target Of Aging Regulator Found

Key Target Of Aging Regulator Found: "ScienceDaily (June 16, 2009) — Researchers at The Wistar Institute have defined a key target of an evolutionarily conserved protein that regulates the process of aging. The study, published June 11 in Nature, provides fundamental knowledge about key mechanisms of aging that could point toward new anti-aging strategies and cancer therapies...demonstrated for the first time a molecular target for a member of this class, Sir2, in regulation of aging in yeast cells. Sir2 removes an acetyl group attached to a specific site (lysine at position 16 or K16) on histone H4—histones are proteins that package and organize the long strands of DNA within the nucleus and also are central regulators in turning genes on and off. The study reveals that removal of this acetyl group by Sir2 near the chromosome ends—the telomeres—is important for yeast cells to maintain the ability to replicate. Researchers found that Sir2 levels decline as cells age, and there is a concomitant accumulation of the acetylation mark along with disrupted histone organization at telomeres. Deacetylation of H4K16 by Sir2 and consequent telomere stability play a major role in maintaining long lifespan in yeast. Since sirtuins deacetylate many different proteins, these results clarify a key role of Sir2 protein in control of lifespan. "Some modifications on histones, like this acetylation on histone H4 lysine 16, are persistent and are maintained through generations of cell divisions. This DNA-independent inheritance is called epigenetics," Berger says. "Characteristic epigenetic features have been discovered for various developmental processes in recent years. Understanding epigenetic changes associated with aging is a hugely exciting direction in aging research. It will provide insights and ideas not only for new therapies to regulate cells that have lost control of proliferation, such as 'immortal' cells found in cancers, but also for new strategies to maintain health and fitness."... "