If you think you don’t have viruses, think again. It may be hard to fathom, but the human body is occupied by large collections of microorganisms, commonly referred to as our microbiome, that have evolved with us since the early days of man. Scientists have only recently begun to quantify the microbiome, and discovered it is inhabited by at least 38 trillion bacteria. More intriguing, perhaps, is that bacteria are not the most abundant microbes that live in and on our bodies. That award goes to viruses.
Changing the clock causes a temporary state of misalignment in our internal biological time. We may not feel ready to go to bed an hour earlier and our alarms will wake us up before we’ve had enough sleep.
Being depressed can negatively affect your appetite and what you eat, but can bad eating habits bring your mood down? Our latest study, a systematic review of the best available evidence, found a clear link between the quality of a person’s diet and their risk of depression. And it goes beyond the effect of diet on body size or other aspects of health that can affect mental health.
It’s a common misconception that hangovers are mainly the result of dehydration. An evening of heavy drinking can lead to inflammation of the stomach and intestines, poor-quality sleep and the production of toxic substances that lead to vomiting, sweating and an increased heart rate. Research also suggests that hangovers can hamper the ability to concentrate and remember information.
Say you meet an old friend at the train station. She is standing about a metre ahead of you, and on the tracks to your right a train has just pulled into the station. Behind your friend you see a bakery. We often remember such scenes in vivid detail. But exactly how we do that by forming mental images has long been a bit of a mystery.
Almost all life on earth is based on DNA being copied, or replicated, and understanding how this process works could lead to a wide range of discoveries in biology and medicine. Now for the first time scientists have been able to watch individual steps in the replication of a single DNA molecule, with some surprising findings. For one thing, there’s a lot more randomness at work than has been thought.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, medicines shouldn’t be your first option. Exercise regularly, cut back on coffee (and other caffeinated drinks) after midday, eat less in the evening, ease up on “screen time” before, and in, bed, practice meditation and try to have a quiet, dark bedroom dedicated mostly to sleep.
There are something like 37 trillion cells in your body, each doing its designated task to keep you alive and healthy. But sometimes, some of those cells, particularly in our brains, simply become inert — these cells, called senescent cells, aren’t quite dead but they’re not performing their jobs, either.
We all want other people to “get us” and appreciate us for who we really are. In striving to achieve such relationships, we typically assume that there is a “real me”. But how do we actually know who we are? It may seem simple – we are a product of our life experiences, which we can be easily accessed through our memories of the past.
There will be almost ten billion people living on Earth by 2050 and two billion of them will be over the age of 60. Growing old is the primary risk factor for multiple chronic and life threatening conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. This burdensome morbidity is the most distressing aspect of old age – compromising individual independence and straining collective healthcare systems.
If you drink alcohol, it’s likely you’re familiar with some of the effects of a hangover. Headaches, nausea and fatigue are just some of the unpleasant but common experiences of the morning after the night before. But have you ever wondered how a hangover may influence your thoughts and behaviour?
Everybody knows that to lose weight you should eat less and move more. But, of course, it’s not that simple; the combination of today’s environment and human biology can make it really, really hard to shed pounds. To reduce diseases caused by being overweight or obese, society needs to change, but those changes will be slow to come. We need effective weight-loss strategies now.
It’s been a busy summer for food-based biotech. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration made headlines when it approved the plant-based “Impossible Burger,” which relies on an ingredient from genetically modified yeast for its meaty taste. The European Union sparked controversy by extending heavy restrictions on genetically modified organisms by classifying them as gene-edited crops.
There’s a reason researchers call graphene a “super material.” Even though it’s just a single layer of carbon atoms thick, it’s super strong, super flexible, and super light. It also conducts electricity, and is biodegradable. Now an international team of researchers has found a way to use the super material: to create artificial retinas.
To call gambling a “game of chance” evokes fun, random luck and a sense of collective engagement. These playful connotations may be part of why almost 80 percent of American adults gamble at some point in their lifetime. When I ask my psychology students why they think people gamble, the most frequent suggestions are for pleasure, money or the thrill.
Humans have big brains and our frontal lobes, just behind the forehead, are particularly huge. Injuries to this part of the brain often happen after blows to the head or a stroke. Paradoxically, some people with frontal lobe injuries can seem unaffected – until they’ve been carefully evaluated.
The ability to reverse ageing is something many people would hope to see in their lifetime. This is still a long way from reality, but in our latest experiment, we have reversed the ageing of human cells, which could provide the basis for future anti-degeneration drugs.
There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the value – or lack thereof – of muscle stretching to accelerate recovery after exercise. “Stretching clears out your lactic acid,” and other similar claims abound. Is any of this true?
To uncover how the brain keeps track of an animal’s experience, we started by asking how the brain records its electrical activity. Every experience you have, from chatting with a friend to smelling french fries, corresponds to its own unique pattern of electrical activity in the nervous system and brain. These activity patterns are defined by which neurons are active and in what way they’re active.
If you work in an office, the chances are there are some colleagues you would rather sit next to than others. But we’re not just talking personality likes or dislikes here – what can also be a factor is how clean they keep their desk.