When it comes to pain, I like to think I’m pretty tough, but when I was recently asked to participate in a study on pain, I came out pretty poorly.
This was for a TV show I’m doing about sleep, and we were looking at the extent to which a bad night’s sleep reduces your ability to tolerate pain, which is important if you suffer from a chronic pain condition.
The test involved blindfolding myself, putting my hands in a bucket of ice water, and then seeing how long I could keep them there before the pain became intolerable.
I did this test before and after a night where I was deliberately sleep deprived and only slept four hours.
And while my pain threshold was lower when I was tired (I only lasted 90 seconds), it wasn’t as impressively high even when I was well-rested (I only lasted two minutes).
So maybe I’m not as harsh as I like to think, or maybe I can blame my Neanderthal genes.
A new study led by researchers at University College London has found that people who have inherited certain Neanderthal genes are much more sensitive to some types of pain.
In fact, we all have them. And now, a new study led by researchers at University College London has found that people who have inherited certain Neanderthal genes are much more sensitive to some types of pain (stabbing pain rather than heat or pressure pain) than those who don’t. they have them. .
Phones can detect early signs of depression
Social media and mobile phones are often blamed for driving the rise in poor mental health seen in people of all ages.
But could they also contribute to the solution?
One of the main problems for people with depression or anxiety is that their symptoms often go unnoticed, and that is where mobile phones could come into play, as they can track the way we behave.
A 2015 study, for example, by Northwestern University in the United States, found that simply using data from people’s phones could identify those with depressive symptoms with 87 percent accuracy.
One telling sign was the amount of time people spent on their phones: the more time they spent, the more likely they were to become depressed.
In this study, the average daily use by depressed people was 68 minutes (which seems pretty low to me), while for non-depressed people it was only about 17 minutes.
The distance they traveled on a typical day was also a powerful predictor, because when people are depressed, they are not motivated to go out and do things.
Now researchers are looking to see if artificial intelligence (AI) systems, built into phones, can make accurate predictions about our mental health based solely on our behavior.
I’m not sure if I find the idea of my phone reading my mind encouraging or disturbing.
Neanderthals were a human species that lived long before our remote ancestors left Africa about 70,000 years ago. At some point our ancestors must have mated with Neanderthals, because we all carry a little of their DNA.
Neanderthals became extinct about 30,000 years ago, leaving us the only human species left on the planet.
But they left a valuable legacy in the form of genes, which continue to shape our lives.
Neanderthal DNA makes up about one percent of our genes, although when I recently submitted a sample of my saliva to a DNA ancestry website, they told me that almost 2 percent of my DNA must have come from Neanderthal ancestors and that I I’m more Neanderthal. than most people who have reviewed.
So what does all this mean for us today? Well, first of all, as the recent study shows, it affects our response to pain. The researchers made this discovery by measuring the pain thresholds of nearly 2,000 people, after analyzing their blood for three specific Neanderthal genes previously identified as likely to lead to increased sensitivity to pain. They found that those people who were more reactive to stabbing pain were more likely to have these genes.
Although the main reason we feel pain is to protect ourselves from harm (for example, if you accidentally put your hand on a hot surface, the pain makes you move it away), it is not clear why being more sensitive to pain would have been a particular advantage. for Neanderthals, or why these genes have persisted in modern humans.
However, it does dent the popular image of Neanderthals as callous brutes. In addition to pain sensitivity, other genes passed down to us from Neanderthals include those that affect the shape of our nose (researchers say it leads to “a taller nose,” but they don’t say what that means); the thickness of our lips; and even the roundness of our heads. More importantly, there is evidence that a particular Neanderthal gene helps increase a woman’s chances of giving birth to a healthy baby.
This was the suggestion of scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, who analyzed the blood of more than 244,000 women and found that almost one in three had inherited a greater sensitivity to the hormone progesterone from Neanderthals.
Progesterone is a hormone that plays an important role during pregnancy by binding to receptors that are scattered throughout the body.
It doesn’t stop there. Recent research shows that genes inherited from Neanderthals help boost our immune system and protect us from deadly viruses, including, surprisingly, Covid-19.
The study, conducted by the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Japan (published in the journal PNAS in February 2021), revealed that genes inherited from Neanderthals reduce the risk of becoming seriously ill if you contract Covid-19 by around one 20 percent.
These protective genes, which are present in half of us, work by producing enzymes that attack and destroy viruses. The fact that they are present in many of us suggests that they perform an important job.
It is remarkable that another species of humans continue to protect and support us long after they disappeared from the face of the Earth.
Could eating onions stop you from wanting chocolate chip cookies?
We know that high-fiber foods are good for our gut, but a new study shows that eating certain types of fiber also alters our brain, helping to reduce cravings for sugary treats.
As someone who struggles to say no to a chocolate chip cookie, the findings piqued my interest.
This fascinating research was carried out by scientists at Leipzig University Medical Center in Germany, who scanned the brains of 59 overweight middle-aged people while showing them images of food, including sweets; They were also asked to give a score to each prize at the same time.
For the next two weeks they consumed a drink high in inulin (a type of fiber found in onions) – Stock Image
For the next two weeks, they consumed a drink high in inulin (a type of fiber found in onions, wheat, and green bananas) or a placebo. They then returned to the lab to have their brains scanned again, while looking at the same images.
Surprisingly, brain scans showed that inulin had effectively reduced activity in the reward areas of the brain; Volunteers who consumed it also reported fewer cravings. These brain changes were accompanied by changes in gut bacteria from the inulin group, with a significant increase in bifidobacteria, which are thought to trigger the release of GLP-1, another chemical in the gut.
This is the same chemical targeted by the new “miracle” weight loss drugs that are currently causing a lot of fuss.
Researchers are now conducting a six-month follow-up study to see what impact inulin has on people’s eating behavior and weight.
Thanks to 3D printers, you can ‘print’ anything from shoes to weapons.
Oxford scientists The university even shown what you can do new brain tissue, using ‘bioink’ made from cells to create an appropriate shape. The idea is that In the future surgeons could use this approach to repair people’s brain damaged by trauma, stroke or even cancer