Science and Medicine

Few Americans Have Healthy Hearts

3 percent of Americans have optimal heart health, while 10 percent have poor heart health

As interest in concussion rates and prevention strategies at all levels continues to grow, one population that appears to have increasing head injury rates is collegiate football players. Research presented July 12 at the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine’s (AOSSM) Annual Meeting in Baltimore highlights that the concussion rate in three college football programs has doubled in recent years.

“We monitored concussions at three service academies in the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 football seasons, and saw the combined number of reports increased from 23 to 42 in this timespan,” said Kelly G. Kilcoyne, MD, lead author from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, DC.

The increase comes after a 2010 NCAA concussion management initiative that requires athletic programs to report concussions signs and symptoms and then remove players from play.

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Whale Possessed Distinctly Human-Like Voice

Researchers have been able to show by acoustic analysis that whales—or at least one very special white whale—can imitate the voices of humans.

For the first time, researchers have been able to show by acoustic analysis that whales—or at least one very special white whale—can imitate the voices of humans. That’s a surprise because whales typically produce sounds in a manner that is wholly different from humans, according to researchers who report their findings in the October 23 issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication.

“Our observations suggest that the whale had to modify its vocal mechanics in order to make the speech-like sounds,” said Sam Ridgway of the National Marine Mammal Foundation. “Such obvious effort suggests motivation for contact.”

It all started in 1984 when Ridgway and others began to notice some unusual sounds in the vicinity of the whale and dolphin enclosure. As they describe it, it sounded as though two people were conversing in the distance, just out of range of their understanding.

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Part of Brain That Controls Movement Impacts Overeating

“The same brain area we tested here is active when obese people see foods and when drug addicts see drug scenes.”

The same part of the brain usually thought to control movement may also cause people to overeat—especially foods that are extra tasty.

The neostriatum, located near the middle and front of the brain—the part of the brain that is damaged in patients with Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease—has traditionally been thought to control only motor movements.

Yet for several years, it has been known that the neostriatum is active in brains of obese people when viewing or tasting foods and in brains of drug addicts when viewing photos of drug-taking.

Published in the journal Current Biology, a new study shows that an opium-like chemical—enkaphalin—produced naturally in the brain is a mechanism that generates intense motivation to consume pleasant rewards, says Alexandra DiFeliceantonio, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Michigan and the study’s lead author.

When researchers gave extra morphine-like drug stimulation to the top of the neostriatum in rats, it caused the animals to eat twice the normal amount of sweet fatty foodsin this case, M&M milk chocolate candies.

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