Infant’s gaze may be a sign of autism later in life

08 November 2013
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How long infants spend looking at other people’s eyes may be an early marker of autism, a new study suggests. In the study, infants watched a video of a person acting like a caregiver, while the researchers tracked their eye movements. More from LiveScience Beyond Vaccines: 5 Things that Might Really Cause Autism 7 Baby Myths Debunked That’s Incredible! 9 Brainy Baby Abilities Infants that later developed autism were found to show declines in how long they looked at the caregiver’s eyes, starting around ages 2 months to 6 months. By age 2, children with autism looked at caregiver’s...

Why doctors are testing an epilepsy drug for alcoholism

08 November 2013
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Enlarge image i Gabapentin, sold under the brand name Neurontin, helps some people cut down on drinking. iStockphoto.com Gabapentin, sold under the brand name Neurontin, helps some people cut down on drinking. iStockphoto.com In the hunt for new ways to help people fight alcoholism, doctors are studying gabapentin, a generic drug that’s commonly used to treat epilepsy and fibromyalgia. In a 12-week clinical trial conducted by the Scripps Research Institute, people taking taking gabapentin were much better at reducing their alcohol intake than those who got a placebo. The research, involving...

Reports of military sexual assault rise

08 November 2013
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There were 3,553 sexual assault complaints reported to the Defense Department in the first three quarters of the fiscal year, from October 2012 through June, a nearly 50 percent increase over the same period a year earlier. Defense Department officials said the numbers had continued to rise. The numbers included sexual assaults by civilians on service members and by service members on civilians. Sexual assault was defined in the report as rape, sodomy and other unwanted sexual contact, including touching of private body parts. It did not include sexual harassment, which is handled by another office...

Why Elizabeth Warren cares about funding the social sciences

08 November 2013
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(J. Scott Applewhite/AP) Science Magazine reports that Sen. Elizabeth Warren is pushing back hard against Sen. Tom Coburn’s attack on National Science Foundation funding for the social sciences. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) issued a full-throated endorsement of the value of basic research to the nation—and to her colleagues in the U.S. Congress. “When policymakers tie the hands of social science researchers,” Warren said, “they are tying their own hands.” … “Social science research is a compass for policymakers,” she added. “It points us in the right direction.” Placing...

Study sheds light on criminal activity during time change

05 November 2013
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Copyright © 2013 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Now, as you drive to work this morning, or wait for the school bus with your kids, you’re going to notice that it’s brighter than it was just last week. We’ve moved an hour of daylight from the evening to the morning with the end of Daylight Savings Time. There’s new research now that this has a big downside. NPR’s social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam is the man who informs us of many unseen downsides. He shares interesting...

Childhood maltreatment can leave scars in the brain

05 November 2013
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Girls are particularly vulnerable to brain changes caused by stress or trauma, researchers say. Allen Johnson/iStockphoto.com Maltreatment during childhood can lead to long-term changes in brain circuits that process fear, researchers say. This could help explain why children who suffer abuse are much more likely than others to develop problems like anxiety and depression later on. Brain scans of teenagers revealed weaker connections between the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus in both boys and girls who had been maltreated as children, a team from the University of Wisconsin reports in the...

Why attractive candidates win

05 November 2013
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Scientists had previously theorized that the general preference for attractive leaders was just another example of a “halo effect.” In other words, we attribute all kinds of positive characteristics to attractive people, and this tendency leads to more votes for politicians who look like Hollywood stars. But our work challenges this traditional view. As we argue in a new article in the journal Psychological Science, people’s preferences for good-looking politicians may be linked to ancient adaptations for avoiding disease. In fact, the preference for attractive politicians seems to ebb and...

Hefty tax on soda would reduce obesity

01 November 2013
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Slapping a 20 percent tax on soda in Britain could cut the number of obese adults by about 180,000, according to a new study. Though the number works out to a modest drop of 1.3 percent in obesity, scientists say that reduction would still be worthwhile in the U.K., which has a population of about 63 million and is the fattest country in Western Europe. About one in four Britons is obese. Researchers at Oxford University and the University of Reading estimated a 20 percent tax on soft drinks would reduce sales by 15 percent and that people would buy beverages like orange juice, milk and diet drinks...

Federal appeals court reinstates key restriction in Texas abortion law

01 November 2013
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AUSTIN, Texas A federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that most of Texas’ tough new abortion restrictions can take effect immediately – a decision that means as least 12 clinics won’t be able to perform the procedure starting as soon as Friday. A panel of judges at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said the law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital can take effect while a lawsuit challenging the restrictions moves forward. The panel issued the ruling three days after District Judge Lee Yeakel said the provision serves no medical purpose....

Effects of smoking seen in twins

01 November 2013
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.cnn_html_media_utility::before{color:red;content:’>>’;font-size:9px;line-height:12px;padding-right:1px} .cnnstrylccimg640{margin:0 27px 14px 0} .captionText{filter:alpha(opacity=100);opacity:1} .cnn_html_slideshow_media_caption a,.cnn_html_slideshow_media_caption a:visited,.cnn_html_slideshow_media_caption a:link,.captionText a,.captionText a:visited,.captiontext a:link{color:#004276;outline:medium none} .cnnVerticalGalleryPhoto{margin:0 auto;padding-right:68px;width:270px} ]]> The twin on the left has smoked 17 years longer than the twin on the right. Note the differences...

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