What's the buzz

What's the buzz

Visual brain parts refine sensation of touch

Researchers have indicated that people who have been blind from birth make use of the visual parts of their brain to refine their sensation of sound and touch.
According to an international team of researchers led by neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical Centre (GUMC), this finding helps explain why the blind have such advanced perception of these senses - abilities that far exceed people who can see.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers found that the blind use specialised ‘modules’ in the visual cortex that process the spatial location of an object when a person localises it in space. More generally, they believe that the different functional attributes that make up vision, such as analysis of space, patterns, and motion, still exist in the visual cortex of blind individuals. But instead of using those areas to understand what the eyes see, the blind use them to process what they hear and touch because the same components are necessary to process information from those senses.

Insoluble drugs can be taken orally in nano crystal form

Taking a big leap in how oral medicines are administered, Indian scientists have shown that producing nanoscopic crystals of a pharmaceutical product can allow the medication to be absorbed by the gut even if the drug is not soluble in water.
The study suggests that more than half of the medicinal drugs being developed by the pharmaceutical industry dissolve only very weakly in water, if at all.
This is a major problem for administering such drugs as it means they are not effective if taken by mouth.

The industry has developed many approaches to addressing this problem, such as adding a small quantity of an organic solvent, such as ethanol, to the mixture, coupling the drug with a charged ion to increase bioavailability and in more recent times using water-soluble ‘carriers’, such as the ring-shaped cyclodextrin.
A much more effective approach would be to somehow make the drug soluble without resorting to such additives.

Scientists have, over the last decade or so, discovered that producing microscopic crystals of a pharmaceutical product can make it soluble in water even if the bulk compound is not.

Bad neighbourhoods can have depressing effect

People living in bad neighbourhoods have a depressing effect on their health, found two Iowa State University researchers.

Daniel Russell, an Iowa State professor of human development and family studies; and Carolyn Cutrona, professor and chair of psychology, presented their study, which summarised data taken from the Family and Community Health Study (FACHS), an ongoing ISU study of 800 African American families — approximately half living in Iowa and half in Georgia — that started in 1997.

Russell and Cutrona reported that negative neighbourhood infrastructure could keep neighbours from forming social ties.