AADT Session Wrap-Up
> 12/17/2007 11:26:49 AM

Missing Protein May Underlie Autism - Researchers at MIT demonstrated that mice lacking the Cdk5 enzyme, and thus sufficient amounts of the protein that it creates (CASK), suffered from impaired synapse formation. Cdk5 mutations have been linked to a variety of mental disorders, from autism to retardation, and this enzyme may hold the key to understanding why these problems occur.

Proof Broken Hearts Can be Fatal - A meta-study from Utrecht University confirms the popular wisdom that losing a family member can hasten death. One of the examined studies revealed that men and women had respectively a 21% and 17% higher risk of death after losing a spouse. It is not clear whether this elevation in risk is caused by negative emotions, which can stress the body, or unhealthy living habits that develop in the grieving process.

How We Learn from our Mistakes - A paper in Science reveals that genetic differences related to dopamine affect the ability to learn from mistakes. All subjects in the experiment were able to learn from positive feedback, but subjects with a particular allele took much longer than average to learn from mistakes. This may help explain while some people engage in activities like gambling despite losses that would turn off the majority of the population.

Accentuating the Positive More Effective in Inspiring Smokers to Quit - It turns out that dire warnings about cancer may not be the best way to get people to give up smoking. This study from Yale found that subjects were more likely to quit if given positive messages about the benefits they would get from giving up cigarettes.

Teen Dating Violence Leads to Risky Health Behavior - Around 20% of women have been abused by a dating partner, and this abuse can lead to serious mental and physical health problems. This study found that victims of abuse were much more likely to engage in a variety of risky behaviors such as binge eating, smoking, and drug use.

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