Epilepsy comprises more than just one neurological abnormality. Instead, this group of seizure-causing neurological disorders has a number of causes that can be genetic, environmental, or a combination of both. One of the most severe forms of epilepsy, progressive myoclonus epilepsy (PME) tends to appear in childhood and causes debilitating twitches and seizures, and can also cause cognitive decline. Recently, an international team of scientists uncovered a gene that may cause the condition.
Researchers recruited 84 participants who had PME. Using gene sequencing techniques, they were able to find a genetic cause in 26 patients—31% of the entire group. In addition, a previously undiscovered mutation in a potassium ion channel gene known as KCNC1 played a role in 13% of PME cases. This mutation isn’t inherited; rather, it’s the product of errors in DNA copying. The potassium ion channel the mutation affects plays a major role in the transmission of brain signals. Researchers believe that the gene may reduce inhibitory brain signals, rendering patients more vulnerable to seizures and similar neurological problems. The findings were published earlier this week, just in time for epilepsy awareness month.
According to a new survey by BabyCenter, one of the most popular websites for parenting advice and support, 20% of new moms experience postpartum depression, but 40% percent of these women don’t seek help. Among women who don’t seek help, the most common reasons were thinking their symptoms weren’t sufficiently serious (25%), embarrassment (24%), and guilt (23%).
People with mental health issues have historically been portrayed as one-dimensional and lampooned as “crazy” in many television shows. But the complex portrayal of mental health issues in Coronation Street and Homeland is earning the two shows much praise.
In an article published in The Lancet Psychiatry, Cambridge University psychiatrists recently argued that hip-hop could offer help for people struggling with mental health difficulties. The psychiatrists point to hip-hop lyrics that emphasize overcoming adversity, emphasizing that some hip-hop lyrics neatly outline the symptoms of common mental health issues.
An experimental Dutch village embraces residents with dementia. The 152 resident of Hogeway receive care in small residential groups, and have significant freedom to explore the town. Residents need fewer medications than other similarly situated dementia patients. They also live longer, eat better, and are happier.
A survey of 30,000 teenage girls has found that girls’ self-esteem has precipitously dropped since the economic downturn that began in 2007. Previous trends in girls’ self-esteem showed that confidence was increasing, so the numbers come as a surprise. The survey shows a peak in self-esteem among 10-year-olds, with an increasing number of girls in this age group reporting high self-esteem. Among 14- and 15-year-olds, though, the numbers are worse. Researchers believe the change may be due to increased Internet usage. About a third of study participants reported fears of cyberbullying, and two-thirds want to lose weight.
A survey of over 1,000 teens ranging in age from 14 to 19 has found that many teens suffer dating abuse online. Forty-five percent of females and 31% of males reported online romantic abuse in the past 3 months. For 8% of study participants, the abuse included aggressive messages or threats.
The sleight of hand and careful deceptions that good magic demands might seem like something only a highly emotionally attuned human could pull off. But programmers at Queen Mary University of London have revealed a computer program with remarkable magic skills. The system works by evaluating how viewers will perceive the magic trick, then applies these principles to ensure that viewers really feel like they’re experiencing magic.
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