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November 10, 2006, 5:14 AM CT

Memories: It's All In The Packaging

Memories: It's All In The Packaging
Researchers at UC Irvine have found that how much detail one remembers of an event depends on whether a certain portion of the brain is activated to "package" the memory.

The research may help to explain why sometimes people only recall parts of an experience such as a car accident, and yet vividly recall all of the details of a similar experience.

In experiments using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the scientists were able to view what happened in the brains of subjects when they experienced an event made up of multiple contextual details. They found that participants who later remembered all aspects of the experience, including the details, used a particular part of the brain that bound the different details together as a package at the time the event occurred. When this brain region wasn't activated to bind together the details, only some aspects of an event were recalled. The findings are published in the current issue of Neuron.

"This study provides a neurological basis for what psychologists have been telling us for years," said Michael Rugg, director of UCI's Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory and senior author of the paper. "You can't get out of memory what you didn't put into it. It is not possible to remember things later if you didn't pay attention to them in the first place".........

Posted by: Nora      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 5:00 AM CT

Shopping With Your Heart

Shopping With Your Heart School of Business professor Laurence Ashworth (at the wheel) says emotion-based decisions lead to long-term satisfaction.
photo by Stephen Wil
Going with your "gut feeling" when making a major purchase isn't a bad thing after all, says Queen's University School of Business researcher Laurence Ashworth. In fact - contrary to popular belief - listening to your heart when shopping can make you happier in the long run.

And emotion can play just as big a part when purchasing a house or a car as when buying a bottle of shampoo.

The results of a series of studies, reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, suggest that people make "affective" purchases - based on their emotional reaction to a product - even when there is clear information suggesting an alternative product is better.

And surprisingly, such choices can lead to greater long-term satisfaction for important purchases.

"This is the first time that longer lasting positive effects of using emotions in important purchase decisions have been shown," says Dr. Ashworth, an expert in consumer behavior. "In such instances, emotions make a lot of sense. People feel them for good reasons, not just inherent biases, and they can actually lead us to more satisfactory choices in the long run".

Co-authors with Dr. Ashworth on the paper are Peter Darke of UBC and Amitava Chattopadhyay of INSEAD in France. Funding comes from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada and R&D INSEAD.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 4:15 AM CT

Audio Telescope Heeds Call Of The Wild Birds

Audio Telescope Heeds Call Of The Wild Birds Audio telescope" system uses three separate processing boards to digitize the input from an array of 192 microphones.
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Intelligent Automation, Inc. (Rockville, Md.) and the University of Missouri-Columbia have modified a NIST-designed microphone array to make an "audio telescope" that could help airports more efficiently avoid costly and hazardous bird-aircraft collisions by locating and identifying birds by their calls. The prototype system was described in a recent paper.*.

From chirps to trills, bird song usually is soothing and restful--unless you're a pilot. Collisions with birds in flight, called "bird strikes," caused over $2 billion worth of damage to aircraft in the United States or U.S. aircraft abroad, since 1990, according to statistics from the Federal Aviation Administration. Worldwide, wildlife strikes --mostly birds--have destroyed more than 163 aircraft and killed more than 194 people since 1988.

Airports fight back with X-band radar and infrared cameras to monitor birds, but neither technology can distinguish between different kinds of birds, particularly in bad weather. That's important because not all birds are equally hazardous to aircraft, and shutting down runways because of the proximity of unknown birds imposes its own costs in delays and increased aircraft congestion. The "audio telescope" proposed by NIST and IAI researchers is a one-meter-diameter concentric array of 192 microphones that would be mounted parallel to the ground to listen to the skies. By comparing the arrival time of sounds at different microphones, the array can determine the direction from which the sound came, even distinguishing simultaneous sounds coming from different directions. The researchers adapted mathematical algorithms designed to allow speech recognition systems to identify different speakers in order to distinguish different species by their calls. The system can tell a Canada goose from a gull or a hawk within a couple of seconds.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


November 10, 2006, 4:06 AM CT

Firefighters Face Increased Risk Of Cancers

Firefighters Face Increased Risk Of Cancers
University of Cincinnati (UC) environmental health researchers have determined that firefighters are significantly more likely to develop four different types of cancer than workers in other fields.

Their findings suggest that the protective equipment firefighters have used in the past didn't do a good job in protecting them against cancer-causing agents they encounter in their profession, the researchers say.

The researchers found, for example, that firefighters are twice as likely to develop testicular cancer and have significantly higher rates of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and prostate cancer than non-firefighters. The researchers also confirmed previous findings that firefighters are at greater risk for multiple myeloma.

Grace LeMasters, PhD, Ash Genaidy, PhD, and James Lockey, MD, report these findings in the November edition of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The UC-led study is the largest comprehensive study to date investigating cancer risk associated with working as a firefighter.

"We believe there's a direct correlation between the chemical exposures firefighters experience on the job and their increased risk for cancer," says LeMasters, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UC.

Firefighters are exposed to many compounds designated as carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)--including benzene, diesel engine exhaust, chloroform, soot, styrene and formaldehyde, LeMasters explains. These substances can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and occur both at the scene of a fire and in the firehouse, where idling diesel fire trucks produce diesel exhaust.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


November 8, 2006, 9:47 PM CT

Good Fences Do Make Good Neighbors

Good Fences Do Make Good Neighbors
A new study led by a UC Irvine economist debunks a popular argument against urban sprawl - that living farther from neighbors decreases social interaction. In fact, the data shows that suburban living is better for one's social life.

Using data from 15,000 Americans living in various places across the country, researchers found that residents of sprawling suburban spaces actually have more friends, more contact with neighbors and greater involvement in community organizations than citydwellers who live in very close proximity to each other.

"Our findings suggest the old proverb may be true: good fences make good neighbors," said Jan Brueckner, professor of economics at UCI and lead author of the paper. "This contradicts one of the common social and economic arguments against urban sprawl".

Among their specific findings were that for every 10-percent decrease in density, the likelihood of residents talking to their neighbors at least once a week jumps by 10 percent. And involvement in hobby-oriented clubs increases even more significantly - by 15 percent for every 10 percent decline in density. To measure these and other social interactions, researchers used data from the Social Capital Benchmark Survey and controlled for other factors such as income, education and marital status.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


November 7, 2006, 10:47 PM CT

Ethanol Production From Plant Fiber

Ethanol Production From Plant Fiber John Verkade, left, a University Professor of chemistry at Iowa State, and Reed Oshel, a graduate student in biorenewable resources and technology, are studying a chemical compound that breaks down plant fiber.
John Verkade remembers just how it happened some 40 years ago: One of his Iowa State University graduate students, David Hendricker, stopped by to report somebody was stealing a little wooden applicator stick from a beaker.

Oh, Verkade said, that's just a prank. Go hide around the corner and do some peeking until the joker shows up again. Thirty minutes later Hendricker was back in Verkade's office.

"You've got to see this," Verkade remembers him saying.

What they saw was a wooden stick falling apart and sinking into the chemical compound that had been the basis for Verkade's doctoral dissertation.

"That's an interesting observation," Verkade said at the time.

It was so interesting he asked Iowa State to consider a patent application. But that was a long time before breaking down plant fibers to produce ethanol was associated with energy independence and national security. So the university didn't move on a patent back then. And Verkade, now a University Professor in chemistry, moved on with his work in catalysis and molecular design.

A few years ago, George Kraus, another University Professor of chemistry at Iowa State, brought up Verkade's story of the dissolving wood. He said that compound could be a way to break down the tough cellulose that forms the structure of a plant's cell walls. Breaking down the cellulose can release the simple sugars that are fermented into ethanol. Making that happen could add some value to Iowa crops or the fibrous co-products of ethanol production.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


November 7, 2006, 10:12 PM CT

Happy People Are Healthier

Happy People Are Healthier
Happiness and other positive emotions play an even more important role in health than previously thought, as per a research studyreported in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine by Carnegie Mellon University Psychology Professor Sheldon Cohen. The paper will be available online at www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/.

This recent study confirms the results of a landmark 2004 paper in which Cohen and colleagues observed that people who are happy, lively, calm or exhibit other positive emotions are less likely to become ill when they are exposed to a cold virus than those who report few of these emotions. In that study, Cohen observed that when they do come down with a cold, happy people report fewer symptoms than would be expected from objective measures of their illness. In contrast, reporting more negative emotions such as depression, anxiety and anger was not linked to catching colds. That study, however, left open the possibility that the greater resistance to infectious illness among happier people may not have been due to happiness, but rather to other characteristics that are often linked to reporting positive emotions such as optimism, extraversion, feelings of purpose in life and self-esteem.

Cohen's recent study controls for those variables, with the same result: The people who report positive emotions are less likely to catch colds and also less likely to report symptoms when they do get sick. This held true regardless of their levels of optimism, extraversion, purpose and self-esteem, and of their age, race, gender, education, body mass or prestudy immunity to the virus.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


November 7, 2006, 7:39 PM CT

How about 'Die Another Day'?

How about 'Die Another Day'?
A fascinating new study from the recent issue of the Journal of Consumer Research is the first to conceptualize sequels as the movie equivalent of brand extensions. As per traditional branding research, extension evaluations improve when the extension is perceived to be similar to the parent brand. However, Sanjay Sood (UCLA) and Xavier Drze (University of Pennsylvania) find that the effect of similarity reverses when it comes to movies. In comparison to numbered movie sequels, the scientists observed that named sequels performed better at the box office and had a longer shelf life.

"With intangible experiential goods, similarity is not valued because people tend to satiate on experiences," explain the authors. "In other words, consumers prefer sequels that are markedly different from the original movie because they do not want to see the same movie twice".

Each movie released by a Hollywood studio is a brand that has to be packaged and promoted effectively to consumers. Launching these brands is an expensive activity. In 2004, the average cost of bringing a movie to market was almost $100 million. With financial stakes so high, the studios have turned to sequels as a way to capitalize on the success of hit movies.

Two experiments demonstrate that the name of the sequel is an important indicator to potential moviegoers about the similarity between original and sequel. The scientists compared sequel evaluations for a numbered title (e.g., Daredevil 2) versus a named title (e.g., Daredevil: Taking it to the Streets). Evaluations improved with named sequels because numbered sequels were perceived to be too close to the original movie. In fact, for numbered sequels, consumers were not only quicker to judge the sequel but also less able to recall details about the sequel's storyline.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


November 7, 2006, 4:32 AM CT

Cambodia moves to protect endangered bird

Cambodia moves to protect endangered bird Bengal Florican
In an effort to protect a large grassland bird from possible extinction, the government of Cambodia has recently moved to set aside more than one hundred square miles of habitat for the Bengal florican, a bird now classified as endangered, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

The Bengal florican--a type of bustard--is restricted to tiny fragments of grassland scattered across Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal and India, which are threatened by land conversion for industrial-scale agriculture. The new network of protected areas covers more than 100 square miles near Cambodia's Tonle Sap lake, home to what is thought to be the world's largest remaining population of floricans. Protecting grasslands is also crucial for local human communities, who in turn help to maintain the quality of the habitat through traditional grazing, burning and scrub-clearance.

The decision to protect the bird's habitat was made by Nam Tum, the provincial governor of Cambodia's Kampong Thom province, some 80 miles from the country's capital city Phnom Penh.

"We applaud the governor for taking this action to protect one of Cambodia's endangered bird species," said WCS Country Director Joe Walston of the organization's Cambodia Program. "This population of Bengal floricans represents the best hope for the entire species, so setting aside critical habitat will give the bird a fighting chance".........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


November 6, 2006, 8:46 PM CT

Tiffany Silver Coffee Bean

Tiffany Silver Coffee Bean
The Handbag.com win a gorgeous gift every day from now up until Christmas competition continues and today you have the chance to win this fab Tiffany silver coffee bean necklace. And what better Christmas present could you wish for, a silver necklace as has been spotted around the necks of a number of a celeb including Linda Evangelista, Liz Hurley, Cindy Crawford and Elle Macpherson!!

Just think you could be unwrapping this great Christmas giveaway, valued at pound105!!! Click HERE for your chance to win this perfect Christmas present!........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


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