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How Blind Can See Again Without Their Eyes

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A new study offers the most dramatic demonstration to date of so-called blindsight, the native ability to sense things using the brain’s primitive, subcortical — and entirely subconscious — visual system.

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BLINDSIGHT A patient whose visual lobes in the brain were destroyed was able to navigate an obstacle course and recognize fearful faces subconsciously.

Scientists have previously reported cases of blindsight in people with partial damage to their visual lobes. This new report is the first to show it in a person whose visual lobes — one in each hemisphere, under the skull at the back of the head — were completely destroyed. The finding suggests that people with similar injuries may be able to recover some crude visual sense with practice.

“It’s a very rigorously done report and the first demonstration of this in someone with apparent total absence of a striate cortex, the visual processing region,” said Dr. Richard Held, an emeritus professor of cognitive and brain science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Scientists have long known that the brain digests what comes through the eyes using two sets of circuits. Cells in the retina project not only to the visual cortex, but also to subcortical areas. These include the superior colliculus, which is crucial in eye movements and may have other sensory functions; and, probably, circuits running through the amygdala, which registers emotion.

In an earlier experiment, one of the authors of the new paper, Dr. Alan Pegna of Geneva University Hospitals, found that the same patient had emotional blindsight.

When presented with images of fearful faces, he cringed subconsciously in the same way that almost everyone does, even though he could not consciously see the faces. The subcortical, primitive visual system apparently registers not only solid objects but also strong social signals.

Sources:
The New York Times December 22, 2008
The New York Times January 4, 2009
Current Biology December 23, 2008;18(24):R1128-9

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News on Health & Science

A Big Bottom Can Cut Diabetes Risk

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Here’s some good news for women who find it hard to squeeze into their skinny jeans, courtesy their big bottoms: a generously proportioned derriere could be good for health, say scientists.
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Accord to research, the fat in buttocks and hips may protect against type 2 diabetes.

Scientists at Harvard Medical School in America reckon that the type of fat that accumulates around the hips and bottom may offer some protection against developing the condition.

Fat found commonly around the lower areas, known as subcutaneous fat, or fat that collects under the skin, helps to improve the sensitivity of the hormone insulin. Insulin is responsible for regulating blood sugar and therefore a big bottom might offer some protection against diabetes.

The boffins said that fat which collects around the stomach can raise a person’s risk of diabetes and heart disease. But, people with pear-shaped bodies, with fat deposits in the buttocks and hips, are less prone to these disorders.

Lead researcher Dr Ronald Kahn said that the research on mice had shown that not all fat was bad and could help to prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

The team is trying to find the substances produced in subcutaneous fat that provide the benefit because they could lead to the development of drugs, reports the Daily Express.

The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Sources:The Times Of India

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Herbs & Plants

Kantakari

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Common names of Bhatkatiya, Indian Nightshade
Biological Name:
Solanum indicum
Other Names: Brihati, Kantakari, Birhatta

Hindi name:Kateli, Ringani, Katai
. Gujarati name:Bhayaringni
Marathi name:Bhuirungani
Malyalam & Tamil name: Kandan Kathiri
Sanskrit name:Kantakari, Nidigadhika, Brihati
Telugu name:Nelamulaka, Vankuda.
Kanarese name:Chikkasande, Nele Rama-gulla
Description: This herb is found throughout India.
Parts Used:
Fruit, root, plant, seeds

The purple flowered species is most common. The traditional healers and natives specialised in medicinal uses of Bhatkatiya give preference to white flowered species. In reference literatures related to different systems of medicine in India, not much has been written on this white flowered species. Also, in reference literatures on botany, very little information is available. It is common belief among natives that the presence of white flowered species in wild indicates the presence of secret treasure around it. Many old natives informed that one can see this species in old forts and palaces, where according to belief, the secret treasures still exist. The natives involved in Tantra activities, consider the white flowered species most valuable.

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The crude drug extracts caused transient hypotensive effect which is partly inhibited by atropine. The gluco alkaloid, saponin and resin fraction increased the force of contraction of isolated frog’s heart and caused gradual rise in blood pressure levels. The alcoholic leaf extract, resinous and crystalline fi-acons caused contraction of dog tracheal chain while the glucoalkaloid and alcoholic stem extract after initial potentiation caused refractoriness to the constrictor responses of acetylcholine and histamine. Histamine releasing effects have been shown.

Roots are one of the constituents of Dasamulasava. The plant is useful in fever, cough, asthma, constipation. Seeds are used as diuretic. The juice of the berries is reported to he useful in sore throat. A decoction of plant is used in gonorrhoea and it also said to promote conception in females. A. clinical trial showed kantakari to be useful in cases of Kasa Roga (cough) and also in Tamakswasa (bronchial asthma). The plant has a definite effect in diminishing the intensity of cough and dyspnoea.

Actions Herb: aphrodisiac, astringent, cardiac tonic, carminative, cordial, resolvent. Root: diaphoretic, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant.

Medicinal Uses:
In Ayurveda, this herb has several uses. It is used for treating the following ailments:
Asthma, catarrh ,chest pains ,chronic fevers, colic ,cough, dry and spasmodic ,edema, gas, scorpion stings ,toothache, difficult urination, worms.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

References:

http://www.chakrapaniayurveda.com/kantakari.html
http://www.holisticonline.com/herbal-Med/_Herbs/h136.htm

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