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Fungi accumulate at bottom of feet

A new study has found that the area in the human body where the most fungi are found is at the bottom of the feet.

Genetic sequencing found the fungal genus Malassezia dominated on most of the core body regions and arms.

The heel, toenail and toe web (skin between the toes), by contrast, supported highly varied fungal communities, Fox News reported.

Imbalances in these populations may lead to athlete’s foot and other fungal diseases, the researchers said. The skin serves as a barrier to pathogenic micro-organisms, but is also home to a rich array of harmless microbes.

Until now, most efforts to study the skin’s microorganisms have focused on bacterial species, but fungi (which are a distinct biological group) form a significant part of these skin communities.

In the study, scientists took skin scrapings from 10 healthy adults at 14 different sites on the body.

They sequenced the DNA from the swabs. In addition, the researchers isolated more than 130 fungal strains from the genera Malassezia, Penicillium and Aspergillus, and grew them in the lab.

Insomnia causes dysfunction in emotional brain circuitry

A new study has found neurobiological evidence for dysfunction in the neural circuitry underlying emotion regulation in people with insomnia.
The finding may have implications for the risk relationship between insomnia and depression.

“Insomnia has been consistently identified as a risk factor for depression,” said lead author Peter Franzen, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

“Alterations in the brain circuitry underlying emotion regulation may be involved in the pathway for depression, and these results suggest a mechanistic role for sleep disturbance in the development of psychiatric disorders,” he noted.

Human brain can be trained to be more compassionate

Until now, little was scientifically known about the human potential to cultivate compassion.

A new study by researchers at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that adults can be trained to be more compassionate.

The report investigates whether training adults in compassion can result in greater altruistic behavior and related changes in neural systems underlying compassion. “Our fundamental question was, ‘Can compassion be trained and learned in adults? Can we become more caring if we practice that mindset?’” Helen Weng, lead author of the study and a graduate student in clinical psychology, said. “Our evidence points to yes.”

In the study, the investigators trained young adults to engage in compassion meditation, an ancient Buddhist technique to increase caring feelings for people who are suffering.

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