Planarians Offer a Better View of Eye Development

Planarian flatworms have come under intense study for their renowned ability to regenerate any missing body part, even as adults. But now they may take on a starring role as a model system for studying eye development and eye diseases in vertebrates, including humans.

This expansion of the planarian job description comes Continue reading

Primary Schoolchildren that sleep less than 9 hours do not Perform

A study by the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB in Spanish) and Ramón Llull University have researched the relationship between the sleeping habits, hours slept, and academic performance of children aged between six and seven years of age. Experts have found that sleeping less than nine hours, going to bed late and no bedtime routine generally affects children’s academic skills.

“Most children sleep less than is recommended for their intellectual development, which is hindered because the lack of sleep cannot be recovered. This is the first Spanish study that proves that losing out on hours of sleep and bad habits affect schoolchildren’s academic performance,” stated Ramón Cladellas, researcher at the Faculty of Psychology at the UAB. Continue reading

Natural Selective Breeding Works Better than GMOs

Twenty years of careful research and development on a new apple variety has produced an amazing fruit that New Zealand’s Scoop news states is “sweet, tangy and delicious.” And the most amazing aspect of Swiss orchardist and researcher Markus Kobelt’s new RedLove apple variety is that it was designed to be resistant to disease, appealing to the palate, and easy to grow — and all without the use of any sort of artificial genetic modification.

For many years, researchers from other organizations have been working on creating a genetically modified (GM) apple variety that would be higher in nutrients, more resistant to disease and pests, and appealing to growers and consumers. But Kobelt beat them to the punch  Continue reading

Too Much Liquorice During Pregnancy may Affect Child’s IQ and Behavior

HELSINKI – A new study claims that a woman’s consumption of excessive quantities of liquorices during pregnancy could hamper her child’s intelligence and behavior.

The study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology saw a comparison between eight-year-old children and found that kids of mothers who ate large amounts of liquorices when pregnant did not perform as well as other youngsters in cognitive tests on vocabulary, memory and spatial awareness.

Sixty-four of the children who took part in the study were exposed to high levels of glycyrrhizin in liquorices, 46 to moderate levels and 211 to low levels.

Behavior was assessed using an in-depth questionnaire completed by the mother and also used by clinicians to evaluate children’s behavior.

The research concluded that women who ate more than 500mg of glycyrrhizin per week – found in the equivalent of 100g of pure liquorices – were more likely to have children with lower intelligence levels and more behavioral problems.

Some of the inadequacies in the kids, selected from Finland where consumption of the drink among women is common, were poor attention spans and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

The study, carried out by the University of Helsinki and the University of Edinburgh, suggested that a component in liquorices called glycyrrhizin may impair the placenta, allowing stress hormones to cross from the mother to the baby.

Apparently, high levels of such hormones, known as glucocorticoids, affect fetal brain development, which leads behavioral disorders in children.

Professor Jonathan Seckl, from the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Cardiovascular Science, said: “This shows that eating liquorices during pregnancy may affect a child’s behaviour or IQ and suggests the importance of the placenta in preventing stress hormones that may affect cognitive development getting through to the baby.”

Professor Katri Räikkönen, from the University of Helsinki’s Department of Psychology told: “Expectant mothers should avoid eating excessive amounts of liquorice.”

SEE OUR POST “INTRODUCING-LICORICE”

Want To Boost Your Confidence – Sit Straight!

CLEVELAND – Sitting up straight isn’t just good for your posture – it also gives you more confidence in your own thoughts, says a new study.

Researchers found that people who were told to sit up straight were more likely to believe thoughts they wrote down in that posture, regarding their fitness for a job.

On the other hand, those who were slumped over their desks were less likely to accept these written-down feelings about their own qualifications.

The results, based on a study of 71 students at Ohio State University (OSU), show how our body posture can affect not only what others think about us, but also how we think about ourselves, said Richard Petty, study co-author and OSU psychology professor.

“Most of us were taught that sitting up straight gives a good impression to other people,” Petty said.

“But it turns out that our posture can also affect how we think about ourselves. If you sit up straight, you end up convincing yourself by the posture you’re in,” Petty added.

The research was published in the European Journal of Social Psychology.

Iodine Must for Developing Kids’ Intellect

SYDNEY – Intake of iodine is a must for developing the full intellectual potential of children, a new study has revealed.

Otago University (O-U) researchers have shown that iodine supplementation to correct the mild deficiency common in children improves their performance in cognitive tests. Fish and seafood are rich sources of iodine.

Principal Investigator and O-U nutritionist Sheila Skeaff says that while moderate to severe deficiency of iodine sometimes has disastrous effects on children’s brain development, it had previously been thought that mild deficiency had no significant cognitive consequences.

O-U researchers in nutrition and psychology undertook a 28-week trial involving 184 Dunedin children aged between 10 and 13.

The children, who were found to be mildly iodine deficient at the outset, were randomly assigned to groups which either received daily iodine tablets or a placebo.

By the trial’s end, the researchers found that the children taking the iodine supplement had achieved adequate iodine status, while the placebo group remained mildly deficient.

“In the initial round of cognitive testing, there were no significant differences between the two groups’ scores. When tested again at the end of the trial, in two sub-tests measuring perceptual reasoning, the iodine group showed a significantly improved performance relative to the placebo group,” Skeaff said.

The findings have been published online by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.