Monthly Archives: June 2011
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In the not too distant future the government escalates the War on Drugs with the employment of a diabolical new device aimed at preventing the populous from getting stoned. It is known as the “Sobriety Bomb.” Fortunately, HIGH TIMES’ Craig Coffey has the technology to counteract the bomb and survive sobriety for another day. Introducing: The Grass Mask.
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Study: Frequent Hand Washing Appears to Reduce Exposure to Hormone-Disrupting PBDEs
By Brenda Goodman
WebMD Health News
(June 30, 2011) — Hand washing at work doesn’t just keep germs at bay. A new study shows that office workers who frequently lather up have lower levels of hormone-disrupting flame-retardant chemicals on their hands and in their blood.
The study tested for polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in 31 Boston-area offices and found the chemicals, which are used to keep everything from office chairs to carpeting to computers from catching fire, in every work space tested.
Additionally, researchers swabbed the hands of office workers and took blood samples to check for the presence of PBDEs.
Workers who washed their hands at least four times daily had lower levels of PBDEs on their skin, and their blood levels of some kinds of PBDEs were more than three times lower than workers who washed their hands less frequently.
Studies in animals and people suggest that exposure to PBDEs may affect the thyroid and brain. The chemicals, which have been widely used for decades, have also been linked to developmental delays in children and lowered testosterone levels in men. In one study, women with high PBDE levels had a harder time getting pregnant compared to women exposed to lower levels.
U.S. manufacturers voluntarily stopped using some kinds of PBDEs, called penta-PBDEs, in 2004. But because many of the products they made are still in use, the chemicals, which may be stored in the body for years, are still around. Another class of PBDEs, deca-PBDEs, is set to be phased out by 2013.
“It’s still everywhere. It’s still in people’s homes and in people’s offices and probably in people’s cars, and even though we stopped making it, we still have this residual problem,” says study researcher Thomas F. Webster, DSc, associate professor of environmental health in Boston University’s School of Public Health.
One of the office buildings tested in the study was newly constructed, Webster says.
Picking Up PBDEs at Work
PBDEs seem to shed into the environment and are found in high levels in dust, but researchers haven’t always understood how they get into the body.
“We were trying to figure out how PBDEs get out of products and into people,” says study researcher Deborah Watkins, a doctoral candidate at the Boston University School of Public Health.
For the study, researchers recruited 31 adults who worked at least 20 hours a week in eight different office buildings around Boston.
Most of the study participants were women, and they were on average about 49 years old.
Investigators vacuumed the floors of their offices and checked the collected dust for PBDEs.
They also swabbed the hands of study volunteers at least an hour after the last time they washed their hands. They saved and analyzed those gauze pads for PBDEs.
THURSDAY, June 30 — You’re probably familiar with how easy it is to remember things that never happened, especially if you’re around people who recall things the same way.
British and Israeli researchers used a novel false-memory test and brain-scanning technology to find out how that happens.
About 70 percent of those who took part in the test believed the implanted memories — and certain parts of their brains tended to be more active as they did so, the researchers reported in the July 1 issue of Science.
“Social influence can efficiently manipulate existing memory traces, often creating long-lasting false memories,” said study lead author Micah Edelson. The brain appears to do this by activating regions that control emotions, social interactions and memory processing, he added.
“To create the false memories, we had small groups of participants watch a documentary, and then we tested their individual memories of the film. We also asked them how sure they were that each answer they gave was correct,” said Edelson, a graduate student at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. Later, the researchers tried to promote false answers through the use of group influence “to change . . . confident correct answers to incorrect ones.”
Almost 70 percent of the time, the people in the study fell for a false memory and believed it. Of those, about 40 percent kept on remembering the false memory.
The findings of the research, which also involved the Wellcome Trust Center for NeuroImaging at University College London, are relevant to aspects of real life such as the legal system, where eyewitness accounts often sway juries, Edelson said.
The key to the experiment was “the manipulation of social influence,” said Washington University in St. Louis psychology professor Henry L. Roediger III, who co-wrote a commentary accompanying the study. “When subjects in the experiment saw that other people had responded in one way, they tended to conform and respond the same way.”
No one was immune to suggestions of false memories, Edelson said, although some were better able to stick with reality than others.
The scans showed that the amygdala and hippocampus areas of the brains were more active in those who believed false memories over time. The hippocampus affects memory, Edelson said, while the amygdala “probably plays a critical role because it is perfectly situated . . . to mediate between the brain’s emotional-social and memory processing systems.”
What does all this mean for daily life?
Edelson said it could play a role in legal cases where eyewitnesses to an event talk to each other about what happened. And it’s possible but not proven, he added, that the effects of group-think on the memories of children — who “are very prone to social influence” — may be greater than on adults.
For more about memory, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Posted: June 2011
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Most of us remember Raven-Symone as little Olivia from ‘The Cosby Show,’ so the premiere of her new show ‘State of Georgia’ (Wednesdays, 8:30PM on ABC Family) was quite a departure for the now-grown actress. Playing Georgia, an aspiring actress, Raven-Symone’s character went into seductress mode to convince a casting directer she had the requisite sex-appeal to win a role.
Back in casting director Trent Pierce’s apartment for a romantic dinner, Georgia does such a convincing job at playing the part that he tries to kiss her, but she deflects his advances. “I see a woman I want to kiss, and I kiss her,” he said. “Not this woman,” replied Georgia.
Pierce was obviously confused, and asked what was happening. “This was me answering a very, very simple question,” said Georgia. “In what world would Trent Pierce buy me as a seductress? This one.” Pierce wound up declaring he needed to brush his teeth and do sit-ups at the same time, possibly because a reference to a cold shower would have been too much for ABC Family.