New structure in dogs’ eye linked to blinding retinal diseases

In humans, a tiny area in the center of the retina called the fovea is critically important to viewing fine details. Densely packed with cone photoreceptor cells, it is used while reading, driving and gazing at objects of interest. Some animals have a similar feature in their eyes, but researchers believed that among mammals the fovea was unique to primates — until now.University of Pennsylvania vision scientists report that dogs, too, have an area of their retina that strongly resembles the human fovea. What’s more, this retinal region is susceptible to genetic blinding diseases in dogs just as it is in humans.”It’s incredible that in 2014 we can still make an anatomical discovery in a species that we’ve been looking at for the past 20,000 years and that, in addition, this has high clinical relevance to humans,” said William Beltran, an assistant professor of ophthalmology in Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine and co-lead author of the study with Artur Cideciyan, research professor of ophthalmology in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine.”It is absolutely exhilarating to be able to investigate this very specialized and important part of canine central vision that has such unexpectedly strong resemblance to our own retina,” Cideciyan added.Additional coauthors included Penn Vet’s Karina E. Guziewicz, Simone Iwabe, Erin M. Scott, Svetlana V. Savina, Gordon Ruthel and senior author Gustavo D. Aguirre; Perelman’s Malgorzata Swider, Lingli Zhang, Richard Zorger, Alexander Sumaroka and Samuel G. Jacobson; and the Penn School of Dental Medicine’s Frank Stefano.The paper was published in the journal PLOS ONE.The word “fovea” comes from the Latin meaning “pit,” owing to the fact that in humans and many other primates, the inner layers of the retina are thin in this area, while the outer layers are packed with cone photoreceptor cells. It is believed that this inner layer thinning allows the foveal cone cells privileged access to light.It is known that dogs have what is called an area centralis, a region around the center of the retina with a relative increase in cone photoreceptor cell density. …

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Fires, floods, winds and snow – 4 seasons in 1

By being connected through social media we find out and éxperience’ where others live around the world without actually leaving home! That is what makes social media so fascinating – the fact that we can keep in touch thanks to modern technology, being connected to the internet and even seeing/sharing immediate pictures of our lives and day to day experiences. Fires have been near here the last few days, floods and strong winds in UK and heavy snow falls in USA and Canada.Valentine’s day yesterday was interesting as to how it is celebrated globally. What is extra special is seeing not just it being celebrated with couples in love, but also families counting their blessings having the love of children, friends and other ‘friends’ they have …

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LungLeavin’ Day Heather Von St. James 2 February 2014

My name is Cameron Von St. James and I am reaching out to you to share something very special to me. I found your blog while searching for those who have overcome obstacles in life. I noticed that openly acknowledge it and I was wondering if you’d be willing to help me with a cause that means a lot to me!Eight years ago, my wife Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma. She had just given birth to our daughter Lily, and was only given 15 months to live. After a life saving surgery that included the removal of her left lung, LungLeavin’ Day was born. This will be the 8th year that we celebrate!The purpose of LungLeavin’ Day is to encourage others to face their fears! Each …

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Clutter Video Tip: How to Deal with Disorganized Family Members, Part 1

Look into my eyes. You are getting sleepy, very sleepy… Do you feel like pulling out your pocket watch and hypnotizing your partner is the only way to get your home organized? Watch this video for strategies to turn your “honey-do” into a “honey-done” list. When I count to three and snap my fingers you will awake feeling refreshed and uncluttered. ;)(Click here to watch on YouTube if you can’t see the embedded player. Or watch the video at HELP: “LIKE”-ing, sharing, and commenting on these Clutter Video Tip videos on YouTube really helps me a lot to get the word out about the information we have to offer. If you like it, please go to YouTube and take …

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Warning against Wi-Fi in cars: Drivers will be too distracted even if devices are voice-operated, study shows

Oct. 16, 2013 — Plans to provide high-speed Internet access in vehicles, announced last month by Canadian telecommunications company Rogers Communications and American provider Sprint Corporation, could do with some sobering second-thought, says a researcher in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto.”Because of the potential for driver distraction, safety should be of great concern,” said Professor Ian Spence, author of a new study on the impact of auditory distractions on visual attention. “Many people assume that talking to a voice-operated device will be as safe as using a hands-free cell phone, but neither activity is safe.”Spence and a team of researchers asked subjects to perform an attentional visual field test in which they repeatedly identified the random location of an object in visual clutter displayed on a computer monitor. Poor performance on the test is known to be a good predictor of unsafe driving. Subjects performed the test while carrying out a range of listening and/or speaking tasks or in silence.An example of an easy task was listening to recordings of news items, much like listening to a car radio. More difficult tasks required subjects to answer simple yes-no questions while performing the visual test. Subjects answered by either speaking out loud in some experimental conditions, or merely thinking of the answer in others. The most-demanding questions required subjects to take the last letter of a presented word (e.g. apple) and speak another word beginning with that letter (e.g. elephant).Subjects who completed the test of visual attention coupled with the listening/speaking tasks were as accurate as those who completed the visual test in silence. …

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Clutter Video Tip: Is Your House Too Small?

Do you feel like your home is too small? Are you trying to keep up with the Jones’s instead of just keeping up with your stuff? Good things really do come in small packages. But you also don’t want to feel like a small fish in a big pond. Watch this video for tips on how not to sweat the small stuff and to be thankful for small mercies.(Click here to watch on YouTube if you can’t see the embedded player. Or watch the video at HELP: “LIKE”-ing, sharing, and commenting on these Clutter Video Tip videos on YouTube really helps me a lot to get the word out about the information we have to offer. If you like it, …

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What Are Pain and Suffering Damages?

In a lot of cases where someone is involved in a car accident or suffers from some kind of injury, you might hear your attorney talk about “pain and suffering damages.” For a lot of people who don’t have a lot of knowledge about the law, this term can sound a little confusing. While it’s always best to talk to your attorney about any legal question you have, here is what you need to know about pain and suffering damages.DamagesIn the legal world, the word “damages” is just another way of saying money. More specifically, it’s money other people owe you because they caused you harm. For example, if you are involved in a car accident because someone else drove recklessly, that person may have to pay you money. Depending on how badly your car was damaged and whether you suffered an injury, the other driver may have to pay to both repair your car and compensate you for the injuries you received. The driver might also have to pay you because the accident left you in pain or prevented you from going to work and earning an income. All of these types of payments are referred to as damages.Pain and SufferingIn any case where someone is hurt, it’s often very easy to determine the price of property damage, medical costs, and lost wages. These types of damages are known as economic damages.Yet the courts also allow for non-economic damages, or as they are more commonly referred to, pain and suffering. These types of damages are not so easily calculated because there is no fixed dollar amount associated with them.Any time you’re hurt in an accident you might be entitled to recover pain and suffering damages because you’ve suffered pain, gone through emotional or psychological distress, have been disfigured, or have sustained injuries that have affected your ability to do things you like to do. If any of these situations occurred as a result of the accident or injury you sustained, and someone else is at fault, you can receive pain and suffering damages.Calculating the Cost of PainWhenever you sue for pain and suffering damages, the question of how much you are entitled to always arises. …

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Giving children non-verbal clues about words boosts vocabularies

June 24, 2013 — The clues that parents give toddlers about words can make a big difference in how deep their vocabularies are when they enter school, new research at the University of Chicago shows.By using words to reference objects in the visual environment, parents can help young children learn new words, according to the research. It also explores the difficult-to-measure quality of non-verbal clues to word meaning during interactions between parents and children learning to speak. For example, saying, “There goes the zebra” while visiting the zoo helps a child learn the word “zebra” faster than saying, “Let’s go to see the zebra.”Differences in the quality of parents’ non-verbal clues to toddlers (what children can see when their parents are talking) explain about a quarter (22 percent) of the differences in those same children’s vocabularies when they enter kindergarten, researchers found. The results are reported in the paper, “Quality of early parent input predicts child vocabulary three years later,” published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”Children’s vocabularies vary greatly in size by the time they enter school,” said lead author Erica Cartmill, a postdoctoral scholar at UChicago. “Because preschool vocabulary is a major predictor of subsequent school success, this variability must be taken seriously and its sources understood.”Scholars have found that the number of words youngsters hear greatly influences their vocabularies. Parents with higher socioeconomic status — those with higher income and more education — typically talk more to their children and accordingly boost their vocabularies, research has shown.That advantage for higher-income families doesn’t show up in the quality research, however.”What was surprising in this study was that social economic status did not have an impact on quality. Parents of lower social economic status were just as likely to provide high-quality experiences for their children as were parents of higher status,” said co-author Susan Goldin-Meadow, the Beardsley Ruml Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology at UChicago.Although scholars have amassed impressive evidence that the number of words children hear — the quantity of their linguistic input — has an impact on vocabulary development, measuring the quality of the verbal environment — including non-verbal clues to word meaning — has proved much more difficult.To measure quality, the research team reviewed videotapes of everyday interactions between 50 primary caregivers, almost all mothers, and their children (14 to 18 months old). The mothers and children, from a range of social and economic backgrounds, were taped for 90-minute periods as they went about their days, playing and engaging in other activities.The team then showed 40-second vignettes from these videotapes to 218 adults with the sound track muted. Based on the interaction between the child and parent, the adults were asked to guess what word the parent in each vignette used when a beep was sounded on the tape.A beep might occur, for instance, in a parent’s silenced speech for the word “book” as a child approaches a bookshelf or brings a book to the mother to start storytime. In this scenario, the word was easy to guess because the mother labeled objects as the child saw and experienced them. …

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A rather complex complex: Brain scans reveal internal conflict during Jung’s word association test

June 10, 2013 — Over 100 years ago psychologist Carl Gustav Jung penned his theory of ‘complexes’ where he explained how unconscious psychological issues can be triggered by people, events, or Jung believed, through word association tests.New research in the Journal of Analytical Psychology is the first to reveal how modern brain function technology allows us to see inside the mind as a ‘hot button’ word triggers a state of internal conflict between the left and right parts of the brain.The study revealed that some words trigger a subconscious internal conflict between our sense of selves and downloaded brain programs referring to “other” beings.Analysis showed how this conflict takes place between the left and the right brain over three seconds, after which the left brain takes over to ensure ‘hot buttons’ will continue to be active.”We found that when a complex is activated, brain circuits involved in how we sense ourselves, but also other people, get activated,” said Dr. Leon Petchkovsky. “However, as there is no external person, the ‘other’ circuits really refer to internalized programs about how an ‘other’ person might respond. When a hot button gets pressed, ‘internal self’ and ‘internal other’ get into an argument.””If we can manage to stay with the conflict rather than pseudo-resolve it prematurely, it may be possible to move beyond it,” said Petchkovsky. “We can do this in psychotherapy, or by developing ‘mindfulness’ meditation skills. This makes for fewer ‘hot-buttons’ and a happier life.”Further research into this technology may help to develop an office-based test for conditions such as schizophrenia. Jung noticed that when schizophrenic patients responded to the word association test, their complexes tended to predominate for a much longer time and they would often get a burst of auditory hallucinations when they hit complexed responses.In Dr Petchkovsky’s research with two schizophrenic patients found that their right brain activity persists for much longer than other patients and they reported an increase in auditory hallucination activity when complexes are struck.

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