Rice gets trendy, adds nutrients, so much more

In the April issue of Food Technology magazine, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Senior Associate Editor Karen Nachay writes about rice becoming a trendy culinary selection of many restaurant menus but also the go-to solution for consumers looking for gluten-and allergen-free choices rich in nutrients.The National Restaurant Association’s 2014 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast predicts diners will see more rice selections on restaurant menus including black rice and red rice. Food scientists are looking for new ways to incorporate rice into many consumer products.Rice ingredients can enrich food and beverage products with nutrients, improve textural attributes, replace common food allergens, function in gluten-free formulations, and act as a thickening agent, while providing a cost-effective protein source.The article highlighted food scientists using sprouted brown rice to increase protein in bars, powdered shakes, soups, pastas, ready-to-drink beverages, cereals and sweet and savory snacks. Rice starches are being used to provide a variety of texture options in both food and beverages, from smooth and creamy to crispy and crunchy. Rice is also being used to enrich diets with more fiber.The article online can be found at: http://www.ift.org/food-technology/past-issues/2014/april/columns/ingredients.aspxStory Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Temperature fluctuations: Atlantic Ocean dances with the sun and volcanoes

Natural fluctuations in the ocean temperature in the North Atlantic have a significant impact on the climate in the northern hemisphere. These fluctuations are the result of a complex dance between the forces of nature, but researchers at Aarhus University can now show that solar activity and the impact of volcanic eruptions have led this dance during the last two centuries.Imagine a ballroom in which two dancers apparently keep in time to their own individual rhythm. The two partners suddenly find themselves moving to the same rhythm and, after a closer look, it is clear to see which one is leading.It was an image like this that researchers at Aarhus University were able to see when they compared studies of solar energy release and volcanic activity during the last 450 years, with reconstructions of ocean temperature fluctuations during the same period.The results actually showed that during the last approximately 250 years — since the period known as the Little Ice Age — a clear correlation can be seen where the external forces, i.e. the Sun’s energy cycle and the impact of volcanic eruptions, are accompanied by a corresponding temperature fluctuation with a time lag of about five years.In the previous two centuries, i.e. during the Little Ice Age, the link was not as strong, and the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean appears to have followed its own rhythm to a greater extent.The results were recently published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.In addition to filling in yet another piece of the puzzle associated with understanding the complex interaction of the natural forces that control the climate, the Danish researchers paved the way for linking the two competing interpretations of the origin of the oscillation phenomenon.Temperature fluctuations discovered around the turn of the millenniumThe climate is defined on the basis of data including mean temperature values recorded over a period of thirty years. Northern Europe thus has a warm and humid climate compared with other regions on the same latitudes. This is due to the North Atlantic Drift (often referred to as the Gulf Stream), an ocean current that transports relatively warm water from the south-west part of the North Atlantic to the sea off the coast of Northern Europe.Around the turn of the millennium, however, climate researchers became aware that the average temperature of the Atlantic Ocean was not entirely stable, but actually fluctuated at the same rate throughout the North Atlantic. This phenomenon is called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), which consists of relatively warm periods lasting thirty to forty years being replaced by cool periods of the same duration. The researchers were able to read small systematic variations in the water temperature in the North Atlantic in measurements taken by ships during the last 140 years.Although the temperature fluctuations are small — less than 1C — there is a general consensus among climate researchers that the AMO phenomenon has had a major impact on the climate in the area around the North Atlantic for thousands of years, but until now there has been doubt about what could cause this slow rhythm in the temperature of the Atlantic Ocean. One model explains the phenomenon as internal variability in the ocean circulation — somewhat like a bathtub sloshing water around in its own rhythm. …

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Fitness study pairs dogs with seniors

Lola, Stryker and Bogey aren’t your regular gym rats. In fact, they’re dogs. But three times a week, they’re breaking a sweat with Florida State University doctoral students Ashley Artese and Brandon Grubbs, and residents of the Westminster Oaks Retirement Community.Artese and Grubbs designed the exercise program under the direction of Associate Professor of Exercise Science Lynn Panton and Associate Professor of Nursing Karla Schmitt as part of a study to look at whether exercising with dogs can lead to better health outcomes.“Between each exercise, we try to leave a little bit of time so people can pet the dogs and talk to the handlers,” said Artese, a first-year doctoral student in exercise science.Volunteers for the study at Westminster Oaks were split into two groups of seven. One exercises with dogs trained by Tallahassee Memorial Hospital’s pet therapy program. The other group exercises without them.Asked Schmitt: “Is it the contact with the animal that is the value? Or, the working and contact with the group?”At the beginning of the six-week program, researchers took some basic measurements of the participants, which will be repeated at the end. They’re looking at blood pressure, mood, physical ability and whether participants stuck with the program.Three times a week, Artese and Grubbs take both groups through an exercise program. Walking around the room, biceps curls with light dumb bells and resistance band stretching are all a part of the routine.When the group working with dogs lift their dumb bells, Bogey picks up a plastic one. And when the seniors walk around the room, Lola, Stryker and Bogey walk in circles too.“Exercise classes are not something I call fun, but with the dogs, it is fun,” said Mary Stevenson, a Westminster Oaks resident.Stevenson acknowledged that the dog component convinced her and her husband, David, to sign up for the study. Though not currently pet owners, the two have owned three dogs over the course of their marriage.“When I heard it was an exercise class with dogs, that definitely peaked my interest,” she said.The idea initially came from Schmitt, whose dog Hannah has been a pet therapy dog for the past nine years.But, Schmitt acknowledged, the concept was outside her normal area of research, so she recruited Panton to help develop the exercise component and Associate Professor of Nursing Eileen Cormier to develop an assessment of participants’ well being.Panton then assigned Artese and Grubbs to help design the actual workout program.“Exercise — it’s so important, especially as you get older and you lose the ability to do all the things you used to take for granted,” Panton said.They also worked with the hospital’s pet therapy program to get seven dogs and their handlers to come to Westminster Oaks. …

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Psychologist discovers intricacies about lying

Sep. 4, 2013 — What happens when you tell a lie? Set aside your ethical concerns for a moment — after all, lying is a habit we practice with astonishing dexterity and frequency, whether we realize it or not. What goes on in your brain when you willfully deceive someone? And what happens later, when you attempt to access the memory of your deceit? How you remember a lie may be impacted profoundly by how you lie, according to a new study by LSU Associate Professor Sean Lane and former graduate student Kathleen Vieria. The study, accepted for publication in the Journal of Applied Research and Memory Cognition, examines two kinds of lies — false descriptions and false denials — and the different cognitive machinery that we use to record and retrieve them.False descriptions are deliberate flights of the imagination — details and descriptions that we invent for something that didn’t happen. As it turned out, these lies were far easier for Lane’s test subjects to remember.Lane explained that false descriptions remain more accessible and more durable in our memories because they tax our cognitive power.”If I’m going to lie to you about something that didn’t happen, I’m going to have to keep a lot of different constraints in mind,” Lane said.Liars must remember what they say, and also monitor how plausible they seem, the depth of detail they offer, even how confident they appear to the listener. And if the listener doesn’t seem to be buying it, they must adapt the story accordingly.”As the constructive process lays down records of our details and descriptions, it also lays down information about the process of construction,” Lane said.In short, false descriptions take work. We remember them well precisely because of the effort required to make them up. …

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Dragonflies can see by switching ‘on’ and ‘off’

Aug. 15, 2013 — Researchers at the University of Adelaide have discovered a novel and complex visual circuit in a dragonfly’s brain that could one day help to improve vision systems for robots.Dr Steven Wiederman and Associate Professor David O’Carroll from the University’s Centre for Neuroscience Research have been studying the underlying processes of insect vision and applying that knowledge in robotics and artificial vision systems.Their latest discovery, published this month in The Journal of Neuroscience, is that the brains of dragonflies combine opposite pathways — both an ON and OFF switch — when processing information about simple dark objects.”To perceive the edges of objects and changes in light or darkness, the brains of many animals, including insects, frogs, and even humans, use two independent pathways, known as ON and OFF channels,” says lead author Dr Steven Wiederman.”Most animals will use a combination of ON switches with other ON switches in the brain, or OFF and OFF, depending on the circumstances. But what we show occurring in the dragonfly’s brain is the combination of both OFF and ON switches. This happens in response to simple dark objects, likely to represent potential prey to this aerial predator.”Although we’ve found this new visual circuit in the dragonfly, it’s possible that many other animals could also have this circuit for perceiving various objects,” Dr Wiederman says.The researchers were able to record their results directly from ‘target-selective’ neurons in dragonflies’ brains. They presented the dragonflies with moving lights that changed in intensity, as well as both light and dark targets.”We discovered that the responses to the dark targets were much greater than we expected, and that the dragonfly’s ability to respond to a dark moving target is from the correlation of opposite contrast pathways: OFF with ON,” Dr Wiederman says.”The exact mechanisms that occur in the brain for this to happen are of great interest in visual neurosciences generally, as well as for solving engineering applications in target detection and tracking. Understanding how visual systems work can have a range of outcomes, such as in the development of neural prosthetics and improvements in robot vision.”A project is now underway at the University of Adelaide to translate much of the research we’ve conducted into a robot, to see if it can emulate the dragonfly’s vision and movement. This project is well underway and once complete, watching our autonomous dragonfly robot will be very exciting,” he says.

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Skipping breakfast may increase coronary heart disease risk

July 22, 2013 — A large 16-year study finds men who reported that they skipped breakfast had higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease. The timing of meals, whether it’s missing a meal in the morning or eating a meal very late at night, may cause adverse metabolic effects that lead to coronary heart disease. Even after accounting for modest differences in diet, physical activity, smoking and other lifestyle factors, the association between skipping breakfast (or eating very late at night) and coronary heart disease persisted.Here’s more evidence why breakfast may be the most important meal of the day: Men who reported that they regularly skipped breakfast had a higher risk of a heart attack or fatal coronary heart disease in a study reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.Researchers analyzed food frequency questionnaire data and tracked health outcomes for 16 years (1992-2008) on 26,902 male health professionals ages 45-82. They found:Men who reported they skipped breakfast had a 27 percent higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease than those who reported they didn’t. The men who reported not eating breakfast were younger than those who did, and were more likely to be smokers, employed full time, unmarried, less physically active and drank more alcohol. Men who reported eating late at night (eating after going to bed) had a 55 percent higher coronary heart disease risk than those who didn’t. But researchers were less convinced this was a major public health concern because few men in the study reported this behavior. During the study, 1,572 of the men had first-time cardiac events. “Skipping breakfast may lead to one or more risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, which may in turn lead to a heart attack over time,” said Leah E. Cahill, Ph.D., study lead author and Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass.”Our study group has spent decades studying the health effects of diet quality and composition, and now this new data also suggests overall dietary habits can be important to lower risk of coronary heart disease,” said Eric Rimm, Sc.D., senior author and Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School.Men who reported eating breakfast ate on average one more time per day than those who skipped breakfast, implying that those who abstained from breakfast were not eating additional make-up meals later in the day. …

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Brain region implicated in emotional disturbance in dementia patients

July 12, 2013 — A study by researchers at Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) is the first to demonstrate that patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) lose the emotional content/colour of their memories. These findings explain why FTD patients may not vividly remember an emotionally charged event like a wedding or funeral.The research team discovered that a region of the brain, called the orbitofrontal cortex, plays a key role in linking emotion and memories.”This step forward in the mapping of the brain will improve how we diagnose different types of dementia,” says the study’s lead author, Associate Professor Olivier Piguet.The fact that we vividly remember events infused with emotion — like birthday parties — is well established. Patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) — a degenerative condition that affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain — show profound difficulty understanding and expressing emotion. Yet the extent to which such deficits weaken emotional enhancement of memory remains unknown.To find out, the NeuRA team showed patients images that prompt an emotional reaction in healthy people. Healthy control subjects and patients with Alzheimer’s disease remembered more emotional than neutral images. The FTD patients, however, did not.Professor Piguet says, “Up until now, we knew that emotional memories were supported by the amygdala, a brain region also involved with emotion regulation. This study is the first to demonstrate the involvement of the orbitofrontal cortex in this process. This is an important development in how we understand the relations between emotions and memory and the disturbance of the emotional system in this type of dementia.”NeuRA researcher, Fiona Kumfor, says the findings will help carers better understand why their loved ones may find personal interactions difficult. “Imagine if you attended the wedding of your daughter, or met your grandchild for the first time, but this event was as memorable as doing the groceries. We have discovered that this is what life is like for patients with FTD,” says Fiona.”This is the first study that has looked at memory and emotion together in FTD and that is exciting. …

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