Every week our Research Editors highlight a few of the latest headlines in science news and explain why these pieces are interesting and applicable to our classes at UC San Diego. If you find an engaging science article, share it with us on our Facebook page and your highlight may just be featured!
Studies show that people who sleep more than eight hours a day are at greater risk for stroke. Scientists followed approximately 10,000 people aged 42-81 years for almost a decade to track patterns between hours of sleep and chance of stroke. They found that those who slept more than eight hours a day were 46 percent more likely to have a stroke, while those who slept less than six hours a day were 18 percent more likely to have a stroke. As of right now, the reason behind the link between sleep and stroke risk is unclear.
If you are interested in sleep patterns, consider taking Circadian Rhythms — Biological Clocks (BIMM 116).
A new technique called “bionic reconstruction” has allowed three Austrian men to control robotic prosthetic hands with their minds. Before amputation, the patients underwent cognitive training to activate the hand muscles and used electrical signals to control a virtual hand. Then, they moved on to using a model of the prosthetic. After amputation, they were given the prosthetic hands and are now able to perform many everyday tasks such as cutting food, picking up a ball, and undoing buttons.
If you are interested in prosthetics, consider taking Neural Prostheses (BISP 194).
Researchers at the University of Michigan have confirmed that highly processed foods, such as chocolate, pizza and French fries, are among the most addictive. This is one of the first studies to specifically examine which foods may be implicated in food addiction. Although highly processed foods are generally known to be more tasty and preferred, it is unknown whether these types of foods can elicit addiction-like responses in humans. The study reported that individuals with symptoms of food addiction or with higher body mass indexes experienced a greater degree of problems with highly processed foods.
If you’re interested in learning more, consider taking Nutrition (BIBC 120).
Through the use of advanced DNA sequencing methods, researchers have discovered a new gene that is associated with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder that results in the loss of all voluntary movement and is fatal in the majority of cases. The newly associated gene, called TBK1, plays a key role at the intersection of two essential cellular pathways: inflammation (a reaction to injury or infection) and autophagy (a cellular process involved in the removal of damaged cellular components). The identification of TBK1 is a major development in the journey to understand ALS pathogenesis, especially since the inflammatory and autophagy pathways have been previously implicated in the disease.
If you’re interested in learning more about neurodegenerative diseases, consider taking Neurobiology & Behavior (BILD 12).