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Baby swimmers have better balance

Baby swimmers have better balance and are also better at grasping at things than non-swimmers, a new study has found. This difference persists even when children are five years old, when babies who have been taught to swim still outperform their peers, research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) shows. “Practice makes perfect,” say professor Hermundur Sigmundsson.

Now Sigmundsson and Brian Hopkins, a professor of psychology from Lancaster University, have shown that baby swimming is good for developing balance and movement in infants and young children.

The study involved comparing 19 baby swimmers against a control group of 19 children who had not participated in baby swimming. The only factor that separated baby swimmers from the control group was swimming. All other factors, such as the parents’ education, housing and economic status, were the same. The baby swimmers had participated in swimming classes for two hours a week from the age of 2-3 months until they were about 7 months old.

Hand-clapping songs improve cognitive skills

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researcher conducted the first study of hand-clapping songs, revealing a direct link between those activities and the development of important skills in children and young adults, including university students.

“We found that children in the first, second and third grades who sing these songs demonstrate skills absent in children who don’t take part in similar activities,” explains Dr Idit Sulkin a member of BGU’s Music Science Lab in the Department of the Arts. “We also found that children who spontaneously perform hand-clapping songs in the yard during recess have neater handwriting, write better and make fewer spelling errors.”

Dr Warren Brodsky, the music psychologist who supervised her doctoral dissertation, said Sulkin’s findings lead to the presumption that “children who don’t participate in such games may be more at risk for developmental learning problems like dyslexia and dyscalculia. There’s no doubt such activities train the brain and influence development in other areas. The children’s teachers also believe that social integration is better for these children than those who don’t take part in these songs.”

Soon, clinical treatment for cocaine toxicity

A new American research promises an advanced and effective therapy for cocaine toxicity. Scientists have developed and tested a modified enzyme that can break down cocaine into inactive products nearly 1,000 times faster than the human body does regularly.

This engineered enzyme, called CocE, may be an excellent candidate for clinical use. The difficulty in designing a therapy for cocaine toxicity stems from the drug’s complex mechanism of action.

Cocaine can block multiple targets in the brain and body, which accounts for this drug’s cardiovascular and anesthetic effects, as well as its strong addictive properties.
Moreover, many of the metabolites of cocaine formed by the body (such as norcocaine and cocaethylene) have similar and sometimes stronger effects than cocaine itself.

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