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Smells can trigger emotional memories

Smells can transport us back to powerful and emotional memories from the past more effectively as compared to sounds, a new study has found.

Researchers have gone a step closer to proving  through an experiment that smells trigger more detailed, arousing and unpleasant memories of painful experiences than sounds. A team from Utrecht University in The Netherlands recruited 70 female students and played them video footage designed to provoke aversion, such as car accidents and reports on the Rwandan genocide.

While the film was played, the smell of cassis was pumped into the room, coloured lights were directed onto the back wall and neutral music was played in the background.

A week later, the participants were asked to recall their memories of the film while exposed to either the same smell, lights or sounds used in the initial screening.

Those who were given the cassis smell remembered more details about the film and found their memories more unpleasant and arousing than those who had the background music as a memory trigger, although the lights and the smell were equally effective.

Researchers said that there was no difference between the triggers in two other categories measuring how evocative and vivid the memories were. Re-testing participants after a longer period than one week could produce more distinctive results, they said.

Chemistry research may help free environment of toxins

A researcher is studying materials that use light or darkness to purify air filled with toxins that are harmful to human health and the environment.

 The research, conducted by Manindu Weerasinghe from Kansas State University, Sri Lanka, could one day lead to filters, humidifiers and other devices that can detoxify air in windowless rooms, manufacturing facilities and other indoor areas. “Indoor pollutants can come from things like asbestos, markers and new carpet, and are very harmful in just small amounts,” Newswise quoted Weerasinghe as saying.

“A room like an office or a laboratory that may have few or no windows will have higher levels of indoor air pollutants than a room that has lots of windows. Also, if the room does not have good ventilation those levels would increase,” she said.

 For her research, Weerasinghe is testing and analysing photocatalysts and dark catalysts, materials made by chemically bonding a metal to oxygen. Photocatalysts react to light while dark catalysts react to darkness.

The photocatalysts being tested are made from chromium or vanadium with titanium. Cobalt is used for the dark catalysts. Finding which metal is most effective at combating pollutants is key.

 Weerasinghe is also adding varying amounts of pure silica to each catalyst mixture. Silica is the substance used to make glass and ceramics and serves as an insulator in chemical reactions. Based on test results, adding silica improves a catalyst's ability to remove air pollutants.

 “Right now it’s not really clear why and how pure silica works so well, so that’s something I hope to also answer with more experiments,” she said.
 
Diabetes could cause hearing loss, especially in women

A new study has found that having diabetes may cause women to experience a greater degree of hearing loss as they age, especially if the metabolic disorder is not well controlled with medication.

 According to the study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, women between the ages of 60 and 75 with well-controlled diabetes had better hearing than women with poorly controlled diabetes, with similar hearing levels to those of non-diabetic women of the same age.

 The study also shows significantly worse hearing in all women younger than 60 with diabetes, even if it is well controlled.

Men, however, had worse hearing loss across the board compared to women in the study, regardless of their age or whether or not they had diabetes. “A certain degree of hearing loss is a normal part of the aging process for all of us, but it is often accelerated in patients with diabetes, especially if blood-glucose levels are not being controlled with medication and diet,” Derek J. Handzo, D.O., with the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Henry Ford said.

 “Our study really points to importance of patients controlling their diabetes, especially as they age, based on the impact it may have on hearing loss.”  American Diabetes Association said that nearly 26 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and another 34.5 million have some degree of hearing loss.

Signs of hearing loss include difficulty hearing background noises or hearing conversations in large groups, as well as regularly needing to turn up the volume on a radio or TV.
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