What's the Buzz

What's the Buzz

Why it is hard to control anger at times

When levels of a brain chemical called serotonin are low, which often occur when someone hasn’t eaten or is stressed, it may be more difficult for individuals to control their anger and, in turn, make them more prone to aggression, UKL researchers say. For the study, healthy volunteers’ serotonin levels were altered by manipulating their diet.

The researchers then scanned the volunteers’ brains using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) as they viewed faces with angry, sad, and neutral expressions.

The research revealed that low brain serotonin made communications between specific brain regions of the emotional limbic system of the brain (a structure called the amygdala) and the frontal lobes weaker compared to those present under normal levels of serotonin. The findings suggest that when serotonin levels are low, it may be more difficult for the prefrontal cortex to control emotional responses to anger that are generated within the amygdala.

Endeavour crater provides evidence of water on Mars
Scientists have found possible evidence of past water on Mars from the giant impact crater called Endeavour, thanks to the Mars rover Opportunity. Endeavour is an impact crater 14 miles in diameter, and offers tantalizing clues about the Red Planet’s early formative process, according to the scientists.

Steve Squyres, Cornell’s Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy and principal investigator of the Mars Exploration Rover mission, described Tisdale 2, the first rock Opportunity has examined at the rim of Endeavour during a Sept. 1 news teleconference.

Tisdale 2 is a basaltic rock that has a composition similar to some volcanic rocks, but most striking so far is the large amount of zinc in its chemical makeup, Squyres said. For rocks on Earth, zinc is an element typically associated with being formed in a place with hydrothermal activity.

“We may be dealing with a hydrothermal system here. We may be dealing with a situation where water has percolated or flowed or somehow moved through these rocks – maybe as vapour or maybe as liquid. We don’t know yet,” he said.

It is too early to tell whether the rock’s composition indicates evidence of water on Mars, Squyres said, but the initial observations point to what he expects will be a “long and interesting story about these rocks.”

Homeopathic remedy hits the fashion runway
At this year's New York Fashion Week, models and fashionistas may be relying a new beauty accessory to trim down and brighten skin: a homeopathic supplement called arnica montana. On Thursday, The New York Times reported on the new trend: undergoing an oral regimen of arnica supplements to reportedly reduce puffiness and clear up complexions.

“I heard of models and other designers taking arnica before big events or photo shoots, so I thought I'd try it out,” said New York-based fashion designer Phillip Lim in the article. “I did feel like my skin glowed afterwards.” Arnica, made from a flower, comes in many forms: gels, creams, tinctures and pills.

Before its adoption by the fashion crowd as a beauty aid, it's traditionally been used to combat muscle soreness and bruises and reduce inflammation. Many professional athletes use Traumeel or Weleda ointments, arnica-based rubs. But arnica advocates tout mostly unsupported claims that it cures a variety of ailments, from hair loss to vertigo.

However if taken internally, noted The New York Times, some arnica formulations must be diluted with water and aren't recommended for long-term use. Arnica also contains a toxin called helenalin which can stress the gastrointestinal system and kidneys, and can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities.

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