New Posts on Discovery

March 18, 2014

I’ve been having fun delving into my usual eclectic mix of subjects for Discovery recently. Here are a few samples:

How Memory Rewrites the Past

Do you remember what your mom looked like when you were 4?

Are you sure?

A study published today in the Journal of Neuroscience sheds new light on when memories remain stable and when they get overwritten with new information.

Lead author Donna Jo Bridge, a postdoctoral fellow in medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and colleagues guided 17 participants through an experiment involving remembering where objects were placed on a computer screen with different backgrounds.

Participants were asked to try to remember where an object was on the original background and place it in the same spot on a new screen. Time after time, they got it wrong.

Read the full story here.

Why Is Heroin Becoming More Deadly?

When Oscar Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was discovered dead on Sunday with a needle in his arm, the apparent heroin overdose underscored the new dangers of the drug: more people than ever are using it, and a new mixture of heroin and Fentanyl makes overdoses easier and deadlier.

The number of heroin users almost doubled between 2007 and 2012, from 373,000 to 669,000, according to a 2012 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration survey. It’s reached epidemic proportions, said Nancy Knott, an interventionist and treatment counselor at the Scripps Treatment program near San Diego.

“We’ve always had this picture of heroin being in the worst parts of town, in the shadows,” Knott said. “It’s come out of the shadows with a vengeance. There’s no stereotypical heroin user anymore.”

Read the full story here.

Is Mono-Skiing Too Dangerous for Paralympics?

A challenging course and less-than-ideal conditions made for some scary alpine runs during the Sochi Olympics. Now, as paralympians find themselves navigating the same courses in even worse conditions, many athletes are watching the remainder of the Games from hospital beds.

Even before Saturday, when 11 of the 27 athletes crashed on their mono-skis, mono-skiers (formerly known as sit-skiers) were known for being particularly extreme. After the crashes, some wonder whether the sport is too dangerous for the Paralympics.

Read the full story here.

Is Religion Good for Your Brain?

If you live in Georgia, you’re more likely to have a healthy brain than if you live in Minnesota. That’s according to an annual state-by-state ranking released this week by a national health education campaign called Beautiful Minds.

While Georgians could use more “mental stimulation through reading and game playing,” their high level of religious activity elevated them to a No. 10 ranking. And while Minnesotans read more and are active in their communities, their low level of religious activities contributed to their No. 31 ranking.
Why the emphasis on religion? Research has linked religious activity with everything from reduced stress to better memory retention.

Read the full story here.

Dog Mushers’ Tricks for Staying Warm

When mushers line up with their dogs in Anchorage this weekend for the 975-mile Iditarod, they probably won’t be worrying about the temperature. Months of preparation and years of experience have readied them for everything from last year’s mild climes to temperatures down to 60-below and gale-force winds.

With much of the rest of the nation engulfed in Alaska-like weather, we asked two competitors for their tips on staying warm.

Read the full story here.

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