Health Updates 3 February 2012

  • Study identifies new location for brain speech center: Speech processing is located in a different area of the brain than has long been believed, according to a new study.  Since the late 1800’s, it’s been thought that speech was processed in at the back of the cerebral cortex, behind the auditory cortex which receives sound…But American scientists who reviewed more than 100 brain imaging studies say the speech processing center is actually three centimeters closer to the front of the brain, and is in front of the auditory cortex.  ‘Textbooks will now have to be rewritten,’ said study lead author Josef Rauschecker, a professor of neuroscience at Georgetown University Medical Center…”. (HealthDay/Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)
  • The very old may feel helpless, but not depressed: “People over 100 years old may say they feel ‘helpless’ and ‘worthless’ because they can’t do the things they used to do, but that doesn’t mean they’re not in good spirits suggests a new study.  The researchers say their findings indicate that people around 100 years old may see life differently than people 20 or 40 years their junior and traditional tests for depression may not be effective in the extremely old.  ‘We’re saying look at more of the components that make up depression’, said Peter Martin, a gerontology researchers at Iowa State University and one of the study’s authors.  ‘Some may be more relevant to centenarians than others’.”  The study subjects answered a survey known at the Geriatric Depression Scale, which asks 30 yes-or-no questions about whether someone has been depressed in the past week.  The more yeses, the more likely they are depressed.  (MedlinePlus)
  • Tobacco companies argue against graphic images on cigarette packs: “A federal judge shows no signs of changing his position in favor of the US government’s push to require cigarette packs to carry large graphic photos of dead and diseased smokers. Previously, US District Judge Richard Leon ruled that tobacco companies are likely to succeed in their lawsuit to stop the requirement and he blocked it from taking effect until after the lawsuit is resolved….At a hearing Wednesday, Leon heard from cigarette makers that they shouldn’t have to place ‘massive, shocking, gruesome warnings’ on products they legally sell.   Federal government lawyers said the photos are ‘factually uncontroverted’.  After the hearing, Leon said the government appears ‘headed to a place where you have to watch a 10-minute video before you can even buy a pack of cigarettes’.” (HealthDay)
  • Anesthesia in toddlers linked to ADHD: “Children exposed to general anesthesia multiple times during the first two years of life have an increased likelihood of later developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a retrospective cohort study found.  In adjusted analyses, children who underwent two or more surgeries or procedures requiring general anesthesia had more than double the risk for later ADHD…however, a single exposure to anesthesia did not increase the risk”.  The researchers cautioned that the study found an association, which does not prove causality. Family and genetic factors, stress and systemic inflammation might also be involved, and parents should not avoid needed procedures out of fear of later problems.  (Nancy Walsh, MedPage Today)

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