Latest research news

July 5, 2006

Geordie stroke victim left sounding like Jamaican
Researchers are hoping that a woman who woke up after a stroke to find her Geordie accent sounding like Jamaican patois could shed some light on “foreign accent syndrome”. Lynda Walker, 60, shows the symptoms of a rare affliction that leaves sufferers with a different accent. Although Ms Walker lived in Canada for a spell, she returned to the North East, where she grew up, and never lost her strong Geordie twang. But when she regained consciousness after a stroke in March last year, she spoke with a different accent.
The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Scotsman, The Independent

Dodging punishment may be its own reward
Is the carrot or the stick the more effective encouragement? Both are equally effective, suggests a new study that found an important reward centre in the brain responds similarly to avoiding punishment or gaining a prize. The brain area is known as the medial orbitofrontal cortex. Damage to this area – caused by anything from car accidents to tumours – can cause a person to develop behavioural problems, explains John O’Doherty of Caltech in Pasadena, California, US. He recalls one patient, a karate expert, who after damage to the medial OFC began inappropriately practicing karate moves on hospital staff.
New Scientist

'Rewired brain' revives patient after 19 years
A study of the "miraculous" recovery of a man who spent 19 years in a minimally conscious state has revealed the likely cause of his regained consciousness. The findings suggest the human brain shows far greater potential for recovery and regeneration then ever suspected. It may also help doctors predict their patients’ chances of improvement. But the studies also highlight gross inadequacies in the system for diagnosing and caring for patients in vegetative or minimally conscious states.
New Scientist, The Times, Nature

Common infections 'may spark diabetes in the young'
Exposure to common infections may be a trigger for diabetes in children and young adults, the latest research suggests. About 20,000 under-15s in the UK now have diabetes, with cases rising by 3 per cent each year. A study of 4,000 people under the age of 29 has found that environmental factors such as common infections may be causing many of the cases they found over the past 25 years. A pattern emerged where "clusters" of cases were found at different geographical locations and time intervals, perhaps linked to an outbreak of infection.
The Scotsman

Is going to the gym bad for your health?
Gyms are a Mecca for the fit and healthy - so they are the last place you would expect to encounter a serious threat to your well-being. Yet research shows that they can be a breeding ground for illnesses ranging from colds and viruses to deadly superbug infections. Microbiologists have discovered that dangerous bacteria lurk not only in the unpleasant sweaty residue left on gym equipment, but in hot-tubs, changing rooms and even sports drinks bottles. In a recent survey, Dr Derren Ready a clinical scientist in microbiology at University College Hospital in London, admits he was shocked when swabs taken from one unnamed London gym revealed dangerously high levels of bacteria.
The Daily Mail

South Korea scientist admits to faking data
Disgraced stem-cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk on Tuesday admitted to fabricating some data that went into a landmark paper but said he was duped by junior researchers into believing the bulk of his team's findings was valid. Hwang, once celebrated as a national hero, was indicted in May after prosecutors said he was the mastermind of an elaborate scheme to make it look like his team had actually produced stem cell lines through cloning human embryos.
The Scotsman

Pomegranates may slow prostate cancer
The bottles of pomegranate juice flown to Germany to stop England's football players wilting in the stifling heat could have other health benefits, according to a study published today that suggests the juice can combat prostate cancer. Prostate Specific Antigen is a protein that the prostate produces. A rising PSA level may indicate prostate cancer, which kills 10,000 men every year in the UK. A team from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that drinking an eight ounce glass of pomegranate juice daily increased, by nearly four times, the period during which PSA levels in men treated for prostate cancer remained stable.
The Daily Telegraph

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