Author: Usha Ganesh

Night Shifts At Work More Harmful To Women Than Men – Study

Our body’s biological cycle demands a good night’s sleep, and any disruption caused to it, especially after working nights, might affects our brain functioning, more of women’s than men’s. Researchers from the University of Surrey in their findings state that the circadian effects – the 24-hour biological cycle – on brain operation was way too stronger in women than in men, and hence women were more cognitively impaired from doing night shifts at work. Researcher Nayantara Santhi stated that their team has shown for the first time how the effects of challenging the circadian clock affects the performance of men’s and women’s brain differently. This research is significant for the study of work-related cognitive deficits and shifts in mood. The phased out sleep-wake cycle from the brain’s 24-hour (circadian) clock led to a state of impairment in mental skills like attention span, motor control and even working memory. The team studies the brain functionalities of a total 34 participants – 16 male and 18 female – who were subjected to 28-hour a day cycle in a controlled environment without natural light dark cycles. This exercise was extremely effective in desynchronising the sleep-wake cycle from the 24-hour clock, somewhat close to a jet-lag or shift-work. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and raises important implications for female night-shift workers such as nurses, security guards and police...

Read More

‘Too Much Noise’ Can Hamper Baby’s Brain Development – Study

How loud noise can harm our ears is common knowledge, but biologists at University of California have pointed out that too much noise can be very harmful to your brain. With cutting-edge technology, Ivine biologists were able to determine that uncontrolled fluctuations, commonly referred to as ‘noise’, in the concentration of vitamin A derivative Retinoic acid (RA) may lead to disruptions in the brain segment during its developmental stage. Recognising how a cell responds to a signal transmitted by another cell, despite the level of noise present, may give us a better understanding of developmental disorders. While in development, RA is an important secreted unit that assists in proper brain functioning. The cellular response to RA is dependant upon its concentration, which is calculated by its production, movement through tissue and interactions with the several proteins present within the cell. In normal development, these cells can filter out the ‘noise’ in RA levels in order to establish proper brain organisation. Researcher Thomas F. Schilling and lead author Julian Sosnik wished to map the fluctuations in RA and determine how responsive cells are despite the presence of constant noise. To study this, they used fluorescence lifetime imaging to utilize the auto-fluorescent nature of the RA and measure its distribution across the developing zebrafish embryo. They even noticed that a substantial amount of noise existed within the RA gradient. They distinguished a single protein...

Read More

Google Calendar App Adds ‘Goals’ Tool To Help You Save Time For Self-Improvement

If the search giant’s latest “Goals” tool, which the company incorporated in its free Android Google Calendar app, is any indication, then people who usually find themselves comfortably safe behind a pile of lame excuses are in serious trouble. Made available on both iOS and Android devices, the Goals tool employs artificial intelligence to let the software work for you in chalking out free time where you can squeeze your workouts, music sessions, foreign language sessions, or anything that you might want to pursue but you’re not owing to your laziness. Jyoti Ramnath, Google Product Manager, in a blog post mentioned that achieving goals can get really hard at times, and it’s for this particular reason that they’ve introduced Goals in Google Calendar. People get to add personal goals such as reading more books or going out for a jog, and then the Google Calendar studies your schedule for optimal time where they can fit in those activities. In case of conflicting times, the Google Calendar will automatically reschedule time for personal goals, and is programmed in such a way that it’ll auto-reschedule activities if users prefer to put them off. The more frequently you use the Goals tool in Calendar, the more advantage you derive from the Goal tool as it gets really better at picking time for yourself. Ramnath believes that calendars should assist a user in making most of...

Read More

Bilingual Babies Have Better Problem-Solving Skills, Better Executive Functions

Research shows that babies raised in bilingual households possess brain activity related to executive functioning when they’re just 11-months-old. The executive functioning covers a plethora of mental abilities that include problem-solving, shifting attention and several other desirable cognitive traits, and these traits and brain activities are evidently differentiable when the babies reach 11 months of age. Lead author of the report, Naja Ferjan Ramírez from University of Washington, states that even before the babies start talking, the ones in bilingual house get practice at tasks linked to executive function. This goes on to show that bilingualism not only develops a child’s language skills, but also cognitive functions. The brains of babies from a bilingual families are more open to learning new sounds, as compared with those from monolingual backgrounds. The team employed magnetoencephalography (MEG), which measures the magnetic charges sparked by active nerve cells. They then compared the brain response to the language sounds of sixteen 11-month babies – eight from English-only families, and eight from Spanish-English families – and observed that the children from Spanish-English households had stronger brain responses to speech sounds. These reports suggest that this enhancement bilingualism gives to executive function in the brain could be because these children have to switch more often between languages, allowing them to practice and improve these skills on a regular basis. Ferzan stated that the 11-month-old baby brain is learning language(s) present in...

Read More

Google And Apollo Hospitals Collaborate To Launch Health Cards In India

Google recently launched new doctor-vetted health cards on the Indian search-pages and knowledge graph, where anyone in India looking up for any particular health information could have it conveniently and quickly. The health cards cover more than 400 health conditions and detail basic information such as general symptoms, whether a particular disease is contagious, the age limit mostly affected by the disease, and even has medical illustrations for people with limited reading skills. The search giant has made the cards available in both English and Hindi languages at present, in an attempt to tap a promising market. Approximately one in twenty Google searches all over the world is regarding health-related information, stated the company. Prem Ramaswami, senior product manager at Google stated that with so many health-related questions being looked up on a constant basis, launching health cards made sense for the company. The simple outline of the cards makes it easy for the user to search and access information about a particular health condition and have a more informed conversation with their respective doctors. The company also stated that the health card’s content should be treated as information only and not a conclusive medical advice. Google faced a lot many difficulties while setting up the health cards. Most of its users preferred to consult friends or relatives for information rather than search for it online, and for the company to acquire and publish high-quality...

Read More