"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Fat, Lonely, and A Hero, Type II 

Pennsylvania researchers have found what they call a 'master' regulatory gene for fat storage and metabolism. GCN2 eIF2alpha kinase, when activated, appears to make the body drop all of its stored fat in a really short time frame. Activated by leucine deprivation, the kinase modulates the body's starvation response, and could possibly be manipulated to treat obesity.

The media could also get a hold of this study and set off a new national fad diet involving induced leucine deficiencies. That's what I hope happens, because the results would be hilarious*.

As if being fat wasn't enough to be afraid of, it appears that loneliness may be a risk factor for developing Alzheimer's. In a fairly large cohort (823 patients over four years), Rush University scientists found that higher scores on a loneliness scale predicted lower levels of cognitive functioning. This is not a terribly surprising finding, but it emphasizes the importance of strong social networks and social participation as we age.

Speaking of people who may need more social interaction, we have gamerz. You know, that guy who spends 15 hours a day playing Grand Theft Auto only pausing to grab another bag of Cheetos and a Diet Coke? Yeah, Rochester's Daphne Bavelier wants to be his hero. Her research may or may not suggest that playing those action video games is actually good for your visual ability. The thing is, her study seems to have a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem: avid gamerz had better vision than controls, but she does not appear to have addressed whether this is what makes them good players, or if it is a result of their playing.

* By 'hilarious' I of course mean "a disaster for the health of the people duped into following such a diet, but really they probably deserve it, because stupidity should be painful.

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