BJP urges Guv to call Shimla civic polls

first_imgThe Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, led by former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, on Saturday submitted a memorandum to Governor Acharya Dev Vrat on the postponement of the Shimla Municipal Corporation elections.Seeking his intervention, the BJP strongly condemned the Virbhadra Singh government and the State Election Commission (SEC) and alleged that the SEC was working under the diktat of the government.The party alleged that the Congress, fearing a defeat, before the Assembly elections, had got the municipal elections postponed.The Congress had recently lost the Bhoranj by-election to the BJP, giving the BJP a huge boost.The civic polls were deferred on the grounds that the revision of electoral rolls had not been completed.The BJP alleged the revision, which was to be completed by May 5, had been deliberately delayed. Now after the special revision it will be over by June 23 and the elections might take place in July, the BJP said.Earlier, the High Court had directed the government to file a reply within two weeks on the delay in completing the election process and its failure to conduct elections before the end of the present civic body’s term.BJP activists had challenged the matter in the court, calling it “highly undemocratic, unconstitutional and in violation of Article 243.”last_img read more

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In Maharashtra, youth beaten for protesting bridal ‘virginity test’

first_imgThree young men from the Kanjarbhat community were badly beaten by members of their community’s ‘caste panchayat’ in the city’s Pimpri-Chinchwad area on Sunday night for voicing their opposition to the tribunal’s practice of conducting a bridal ‘virginity test’.A First Information Report (FIR) under Sections 143, 147, 149 (pertaining to rioting and unlawful assembly), Section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), Section 506 (criminal intimidation), and Section 427 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was lodged against 40 persons at the Pimpri Police Station on Monday.Two persons have been arrested so far.The police acted on the complaint of Prashant Indrekar (25), who, along with his cousins Saurabh Machhle and Prashant Tamchikar, was roughed up for opposing the Panchayat’s practices.According to the police, the incident occurred around 11.30 p.m. on Sunday night.“A caste tribunal of the Kanjarbhat community assembled after a community marriage on Sunday night, with the tribunal ‘elders’ decreeing that the bride had to take a virginity test. A number of ‘panchayat’ members vented their ire against Indrekar and his friends, who were present on the occasion, for their campaign on social media speaking out against such practices,” said a senior official at the Pimpri Police Station.A gang of about 40 persons from the community inflicted injuries on the three young men using fists and blunt objects.In December last year, several progressive youth the Kanjarbhat community, including Mr. Indrekar, created a WhatsApp group titled ‘Stop the V-Ritual’ (the ‘V’ standing for virginity), which elicited an enthusiastic response.One of the creators of the group was Vivek Tamchikar, a student at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai (TISS). Their initiative has the backing of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), an organisation that fights superstitious beliefs.The regressive practice of a bridal ‘virginity test’ is rife in the Kanjarbhat community and forcibly imposed through the diktats of illegal caste tribunals. In it, a newly-married couple is generally taken to a hotel room and the groom is given a white bedsheet and asked to use it during consummation of the marriage. If the groom displays a bedsheet with blood stains on it, the bride has ‘passed’ the test. If the bedsheet has no blood stains, the bride is accused by the tribunal of having had sexual relationships in the past.“In many instances, ‘caste panchayat’ members actually sit outside the room during the act of sexual intercourse on the wedding night. It is to put an end to this degrading and demeaning practice and to preserve our dignity that we began this WhatsApp group,” said Mr. Indrekar.On November 25 last year, Siddhant Indrekar (21), a resident of Kanjarbhat Nagar in Yerwada, had lodged a complaint against the ‘caste panchayat’ at the Vishrantwadi police station.“Police are tardy in taking action in such cases despite ample proof of the activities of the ‘caste panchayats’, including demands of money for various rituals. But the police often do not register such cases under the Social Boycott Act [the Maharashtra Protection of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016]. How long must progressive members within such communities pay with their life and security before cases are lodged under the new law?” asked Nandini Jadhav of the MANS.last_img read more

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Air dispensary set to take off in Northeast

first_imgThe air dispensary service in the North East, which is the “brain child” of the Manipur Governor Najma Heptula, will be commissioned soon in Manipur and Meghalaya.Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh announced it in the Manipur Assembly on Monday.Governor Ms. Heptulla said that she first came to know of the air dispensary in Australia during a visit there. Doctors and paramedics rush in helicopters to hard to access villages to attend to the patients.She said, “I personally approached Prime Minister Narendra Modi to introduce the air dispensary service.” No medical carePeople in the far-flung villages, both in the valley and hills do not get timely medical attention. There had been reports on how the tribal villagers bring their sick family members including women in labour in hand-made beds. Some of the women had to give birth at the roadside in the hills.Mr. Singh disclosed that one helicopter shall be stationed in Imphal and the other in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. These two helicopters will attend to the sick in far flung villages in the North East.last_img read more

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Syama Prasad Mookerjee bust defaced

first_imgMiscreants vandalised a bust of Bharatiya Jan Sangh founder and BJP icon Syama Prasad Mookerjee in Assam’s Kokrajhar town on Tuesday. This is the first such instance in Assam, after a statue of Vladimir Lenin was toppled in Tripura’s Belonia town two days after the BJP swept the Left Front out of power on March 3. A statue of Syama Prasad Mookerjee was targeted allegedly by Left-wing activists in Kolkata on March 7.Residents of the town’s Rabindranagar locality noticed the damaged bust in the morning and informed the police. “We did not receive any complaint but we have decided to register a case on our own,” Rajen Singh, Superintendent of Police of Kokrajhar district, said.“Our force has the situation under control there. They are trying to find the culprits,” Kuladhar Saikia, Special Director-General of Police (law and order), told The Hindu.Appeal for peaceRajib Kumar Brahma and Doneswar Goyari, executive members of the BTC, visited the spot during the day and assured the locals that action would be taken against those trying to “foment trouble in the council areas”.Former MP Urkhao Gwra Brahma condemned the incident on behalf of the regional United People’s Party Liberal. “This is an attempt to create communal turmoil. We demand strong action and appeal for peace and harmony in the area,” he said.Mookerjee’s bust in Kokrajhar was inaugurated in 2002 by BJP leader and former Bihar Minister Kailashpati Mishra.last_img read more

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14-year-old raped in Uttar Pradesh, three arrested

first_imgA 14-year-old girl was allegedly raped in a village here by two youths, who have been arrested, police said on Saturday. The girl was allegedly lured by a woman of her village to a secluded spot and handed over to the youths, who raped her on Friday, Superintendent of Police (SP) Pratap Kumar Gupta said. On the complaint lodged the the victim’s family, an FIR was registered, he said. The accused were identified as Babloo Prajapati and Bhaiyan, and the woman as Savita Prajapati, the officer said. They have been arrested and the girl has been sent for medical examination, the SP added.last_img read more

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Husband of former IPS officer held

first_imgThe husband of former IPS officer Bharati Ghosh was arrested by the West Bengal’s Criminal Investigation Department after his anticipatory bail plea was rejected by the Calcutta High Court on Tuesday. Ms. Ghosh, who was the Superintendent of Police of the crucial districts of Paschim Medinipur and Jhargram for several years, was once considered to be close to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. “Anticipatory bail prayer of M.V. Raju, husband of Bharati Ghosh, has been rejected by the Calcutta High Court. He has been taken into custody,” a senior CID official said. Mr. Raju was arrested for alleged extortion and forgery.last_img read more

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M.J. Akbar questions IQ of govt. critics on Doklam

first_imgUnion Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar said on Saturday that those criticising the government’s handling of the 2017 Doklam crisis had “no knowledge, understanding or IQ” about governance. Mr. Akbar, while speaking at a function at an educational institute in Mapusa, North Goa, said the silent manner in which the government had handled the crisis was noteworthy. Mr. Akbar’s comments assume significance in the context of Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s comments during an interaction in London, where he criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the manner in which the government had handled the Doklam stand-off. Mr. Akbar, without naming Mr. Gandhi, said, “I seriously do not wish to use any harsh words because it may be inappropriate, but some people who have been talking have clearly proved over and over again that they have no knowledge, no understanding, no IQ of what governance is all about.” He said he wished the critics would not discuss Doklam and “betray their inability to understand our country and its values by words and thoughts that have been fed into their mouth”.Calling the stand-off between the Indian and Chinese armed forces as one of the most significant events in India’s foreign policy history, he said the two countries had decided to be “mature nations”. “We have differences, of course. Our largest differences are over the borders with China. That differences must not become disputes and disputes must not become confrontations,” he said. Even the most difficult problems can be resolved through diplomatic channels, Mr. Akbar said.Mr. Akbar also said that Naxal violence had declined. He said, “Look at the impact of Mudra scheme on some of the most important problems we are facing. It is a fact that Naxal violence has come down. Why has it come down? Because the people are seeing development come to their areas, which they have never seen before.”last_img read more

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Akhilesh Yadav, SP Ministers under CBI scanner in mining probe

first_imgThe Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday said the role of mining Ministers in Uttar Pradesh between 2012 and 2016, which includes Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, may be probed in connection with a fresh case of alleged illegal mining of minor minerals registered on the direction of the Allahabad High Court.Mr. Yadav, then Chief Minister, had held the additional portfolio of Mining between 2012 and 2013.District Magistrate namedThe CBI has registered the FIR against 2008-batch IAS official and then Hamirpur District Magistrate B. Chandralekha and 10 other individuals, besides unknown officials and persons. Among those named in the FIR are SP Member of Legislative Council Ramesh Kumar Mishra and Sanjay Dixit, who had fought the 2017 election on a Bahujan Samaj Party ticket.“Acting on the Allahabad High Court directive in 2016, we had instituted seven preliminary enquiries on allegations of illegal mining in seven districts. Two of them (related to Kaushambi and Shamli) were earlier converted into regular cases, while the third pertaining to Hamirpur was registered on January 2,” said an agency official.The official said searches were carried out on Saturday on 14 premises of the accused persons in Delhi, Hamirpur, Lucknow, Kanpur and Jalaun.Violate NGT ordersThe FIR alleges that that public servants allowed illegal mining of minor mineral between 2012 and 2016 by the fraudulent granting of fresh or renewed leases. Officials also allegedly permitted mining by the existing lease-owners during the “obstructed period” when the National Green Tribunal had barred the activity. The leases were also issued in violation of a May 2012 order of the State government for e-tendering.“Other persons were allowed to excavate and steal minor minerals, extort money from the lease holders and drivers of the vehicles transporting minor minerals,” the CBI official said, adding that the alleged illegal activities caused wrongful loss to the exchequer and undue gain to the accused persons.The agency alleges that Ms. Chandrakala, as the then District Magistrate of Hamirpur, allowed mining in violation of the e-tendering order. She also issued and renewed leases during the “obstructed period”. During the searches on her premises in Lucknow and Noida, the CBI found details of a locker and two bank accounts, besides jewellery and documents.Others arraigned in the case include Adil Khan, a lease holder, who had allegedly got the licence on the recommendation of the then Mining Minister Gayatri Prajapati; Moinuddin, the then geologist/mining officer of Hamirpur, from whose premises the CBI seized ₹12.5 lakh in cash and 1.8 kg of gold; Mr. Mishra’s businessman brother Dinesh; mining clerks Ram Ashrey Prajapati, Ambika Tiwari; retired mining clerk Ramavtar Singh. and Karan Singh.“Searches on the premises of Mr. Ramavtar Singh, who also held a mining lease in the name of another person, led to seizure of ₹2 crore in cash and about two kg of gold,” said the official.last_img read more

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Social security cover for farmers and workers in Haryana budget

first_imgWith focus on agriculture and allied sectors, Haryana Finance Minister Capt. Abhimanyu on Monday presented tax-free budget proposals for 2019-20 with a total outlay of ₹1,32,165.99 crore, 14.73% more than last year.Presenting the budget proposals in the Assembly, Capt. Abhimanyu announced two new schemes to provide financial and social security cover to families of farmers with landholding of up to five acres, and those of workers in the unorganised sectors with family income of less than ₹15,000 per month.The budget proposes to raise the outlay for agriculture and allied services to ₹3,834.33 crore in 2019-20 as against ₹3,670.29 crore in 2018-19.“The State government plans to transform the agriculture sector completely by diversifying the focus from crop husbandry to horticulture crops, animal husbandry and fisheries in the coming years, and making these sectors holistic, integrated, progressive and futuristic,” said Capt. Abhimanyu.The proposed budget does not include any new taxes for 2019-20. “This year also, I do not intend to propose any change in the present rate of taxes under the Haryana Value Added Tax Act, 2003, or introduce any new tax in the budget estimates for the fiscal 2019-20,” he said.“Even though no new tax has been proposed, revenue receipts are expected to increase to ₹82,219.41 crore in 2019-20 on account of better realisation of tax and non-tax receipts,” he said.GSDP growthCapt. Abhimanyu said during 2018-19, as per advance estimates, the Gross State Domestic Product of Haryana was expected to achieve a growth of 8.2% as against 7.2% recorded at the national level.The Finance Minister said the State’s fiscal deficit had been kept within the limit of 3% prescribed by the 14th Finance Commission even though the demand for funds for development activities had increased manifold over the years.last_img read more

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Niyamgiri activist Lingaraj Azad arrested

first_imgLingaraj Azad, activist and adviser to Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, was arrested by the police in Kalahandi on Wednesday. The arrest of Mr. Azad, who happens to be the national vice president of Samajwadi Jan Parishad and national convener of National Alliance of People’s Movements, was confirmed by Kalahandi Superintendent of Police Battula Gangadhar. Mr. Gangadhar told The Hindu that a police team from Bijepur arrested the rights activist from Kesinga police station area of the district in a case relating to a protest demonstration outside the India Reserve Battalion camp at Trilochanpur village last month. Activist Prafulla Samantara, who has been involved in the agitation against proposed bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills, however, claimed that the villagers were opposing the IRB camp since the security personnel had occupied their gram panchayat office without the consent of its office-bearers. Mr. Azad has also been charged for staging a protest demonstration outside the Vedanta alumina refinery on the foothills of Niyamgiri; a case had been registered at Lanjigarh police station in April 2017 in this regard. He was later produced before a court at Bhawanipatna which remanded him in judicial custody. Activists demand release The development took many activists supporting the cause of the tribals living in the Niyamgiri hills by surprise. Terming Mr. Azad’s arrest illegal, SJP and NAPM activists demanded his immediate release.Activists also passed a resolution condemning the arrest. “We condemn Mr. Azad’s arrest ahead of the SJP’s proposed rally in Bhubaneswar on March 11 on the continued violations of rights in Niyamgiri hills,” said Aflatoon, all-India general secretary of the SJP.last_img read more

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Reject dubious NRC objections: All Assam Minority Students’ Union

first_imgThe All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) has urged the authorities updating the National Register of Citizens in the State to reject dubious objections against people whose names appear in the complete draft of the citizen register published in June 2018.Hearing for the claims and objections round of the Supreme Court-monitored NRC began on May 6. The apex court has set July 31 as the deadline for updating the NRC after verification of the documents of 40.07 lakh applicants who were left out of the published draft.Also Read Assam NRC: Supreme Court frowns on foreigners’ tribunals plan  In a letter to NRC State Coordinator Prateek Hajela on Thursday, the AAMSU pointed out that the number of objections jumped from some 1,300 till December 30, 2018 to more than 2.5 lakh on the following day – the last day of the claims and objections round.“We welcome genuine objections. But, it has come to the knowledge that a large number of objections were filed in cyclostyled/forged manner in total violation of law,” the AAMSU memorandum said.The union said NRC officials handling the objections should have rejected them at the threshold without issuing any notice since the “forged” and “incomplete” objections violate existing norms that warrant registering the names, contact number, address and other particulars of an objector.“The officials are not disclosing the particulars of the objectors” thereby denying the victim the right to information, the AAMSU said.Lamenting that earlier requests to Mr. Hajela for addressing genuine grievances had gone in vain, the union reminded him of the Supreme Court’s May 8 observation that the “State Coordinator is free to deal with all incidental issues, that may arise, in his wise discretion and in accordance with law.”The apex court’s observation followed reports of objectors failing to turn up at NRC centres for hearing on the objections they had submitted.“Therefore, we request you to issue necessary order or guidelines to reject the objections ex-parte (one-sided) at the threshold where the objectors remain absent in hearing, to reject the objections where the details have not been furnished by the objectors, and to furnish detailed particulars of objectors in the notice for hearing as well as to the person against whom such objection is made during the course of hearing,” the AAMSU said.The union also urged the NRC to fix hearing venues within reasonable distances of same localities of the persons being called for disposal of claims and objections, and to accept linkage documents (papers linking an applicant to an ancestor for establishing as pre-1971 residents of Assam) issued after August 31, 2015.“Unfortunately, some officials are not accepting documents issued after August 31, 2015 at their whims and caprice in total violation of the Supreme Court’s order on December 12, 2018 to accept documents that are found to be legally valid regardless of the date of their issuance,” Mr. Rahman said.last_img read more

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ED attaches O.P. Chautala’s ₹1.94-crore property

first_imgThe Enforcement Directorate has provisionally attached a property worth ₹1.94 crore of former Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala in a corruption case. The total attachment in the case stands at ₹6 crore.The money laundering case is based on an FIR lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation against Mr. Chautala and others for allegedly acquiring assets disproportionate to their known sources of income. The CBI has filed a chargesheet against him and his sons, Abhay and Ajay Chautala, under the Prevention of Corruption Act.According to the CBI, Mr. Chautala had acquired assets disproportionate to his known sources of income to the tune of ₹6.09 crore from May 24, 1993, to May 31, 2006. “Investigation revealed that Abhay Singh Chautala and Ajay Singh Chautala had also acquired assets disproportionate to their known sources of income to the tune of ₹119. 69 crore and ₹27.74 crore, respectively,” said the DirectorateThe ED alleged that Mr. Chautala had acquired immovable properties in Delhi and Panchkula. He also got constructed a residential house at Sirsa in Haryana during the check period from the money received from undisclosed sources. “He had disclosed properties so acquired in the affidavit filed before the Returning Officer in the Haryana Vidhan Sabha elections in 2005 and 2009, thereby projecting publicly the tainted properties as untainted,” it said. The agency had earlier attached assets worth ₹46.96 lakh of Mr. Chautala, which has been confirmed by the Adjudicating Authority under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. “Further properties of Mr. Chautala to the tune of ₹3.68 crore were also attached in April 2019,” said the ED. The Directorate had filed a chargesheet against the former CM in July 2018. The court took cognisance of the charges in November last year. Later, a supplementary chargesheet was also filed.last_img read more

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Probing the Brain’s Final Moments

first_imgWhat people experience as death creeps in—after the heart stops and the brain becomes starved of oxygen—seems to lie beyond the reach of science. But the authors of a new study on dying rats make a bold claim: After cardiac arrest, the rodents’ brains enter a state similar to heightened consciousness in humans. The researchers suggest that if the same is true for people, such brain activity could be the source of the visions and other sensations that make up so-called near-death experiences.Estimated to occur in about 20% of patients who survive cardiac arrest, near-death experiences are frequently described as hypervivid or “realer-than-real,” and often include leaving the body and observing oneself from outside, or seeing a bright light. The similarities between these reports are hard to ignore, but the conversation about near-death experiences often bleeds into metaphysics: Are these visions produced solely by the brain, or are they a glimpse at an afterlife outside the body?Neurologist Jimo Borjigin of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, got interested in near-death experiences during a different project—measuring the hormone levels in the brains of rodents after a stroke. Some of the animals in her lab died unexpectedly, and her measurements captured a surge in neurochemicals at the moment of their death. Previous research in rodents and humans has shown that electrical activity surges in the brain right after the heart stops, then goes flat after a few seconds. Without any evidence that this final blip contains meaningful brain activity, Borjigin says “it’s perhaps natural for people to assume that [near-death] experiences came from elsewhere, from more supernatural sources.” But after seeing those neurochemical surges in her animals, she wondered about those last few seconds, hypothesizing that even experiences seeming to stretch for days in a person’s memory could originate from a brief “knee-jerk reaction” of the dying brain.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)To observe brains on the brink of death, Borjigin and her colleagues implanted electrodes into the brains of nine rats to measure electrical activity at six different locations. The team anesthetized the rats for about an hour, for ethical reasons, and then injected potassium chloride into each unconscious animal’s heart to cause cardiac arrest. In the approximately 30 seconds between a rat’s last heartbeat and the point when its brain stopped producing signals, the team carefully recorded its neuronal oscillations, or the frequency with which brain cells were firing their electrical signals.The data produced by electroencephalograms (EEGs) of the nine rats revealed a highly organized brain response in the seconds after cardiac arrest, Borjigin and colleagues report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. While overall electrical activity in the brain sharply declined after the last heartbeat, oscillations in the low gamma frequency (between 25 and 55 Hz) increased in power. Previous human research has linked gamma waves to waking consciousness, meditative states, and REM sleep. These oscillations in the dying rats were synchronized across different parts of the brain, even more so than in the rat’s normal waking state. The team also noticed that firing patterns in the front of the brain would be echoed in the back and sides. This so-called top-down signaling, which is associated with conscious perception and information processing, increased eightfold compared with the waking state, the team reports. When you put these features together, Borjigin says, they suggest that the dying brain is hyperactive in its final seconds, producing meaningful, conscious activity.The team proposed that such research offers a “scientific framework” for approaching the highly lucid experiences that some people report after their brushes with death. But relating signs of consciousness in rat brains to human near-death experiences is controversial. “It opens more questions than it answers,” says Christof Koch, a neuroscientist at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, Washington, of the research. Evidence of a highly organized and connected brain state during the animal’s death throes is surprising and fascinating, he says. But Koch, who worked with Francis Crick in the early 1980s to hypothesize that gamma waves are a hallmark of consciousness, says the increase in their frequency doesn’t necessarily mean that the rats were in a hyperconscious state. Not only is it impossible to project any mental experience onto these animals, but their response was also “still overlaid by the anesthesiology,” he says; this sedation likely influenced their brain response in unpredictable ways.Others share Koch’s concerns. “There is no animal model of a near-death experience,” says critical care physician Sam Parnia of Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York. We can never confirm what animals think or feel in their final moments, making it all but impossible to use them to study our own near-death experiences, he believes. Nonetheless, Parnia sees value in this new study from a clinical perspective, as a step toward understanding how the brain behaves right before death. He says that doctors might use a similar approach to learn how to improve blood flow or prolong electrical activity in the brain, preventing damage while resuscitating a patient.Borjigin argues that the rat data are compelling enough to drive further study of near-death experiences in humans. She suggests monitoring EEG activity in people undergoing brain surgery that involves cooling the brain and reducing its blood supply. This procedure has prompted near-death experiences in the past, she says, and could offer a systematic way to explore the phenomenon.last_img read more

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Podcast: Near-Death Experiences, Bone-Eating Worms, and Suspicious Internet Comments

first_imgIs there a scientific basis to near-death experiences? What’s new with strange creatures known as boneworms? And how much stock should you put in Internet ratings?Science’s Online News Editor David Grimm chats about these stories and more with Science’s Kristine Hamilton.Listen to the full Science podcast.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Read the transcript.Hear more podcasts.last_img read more

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Podcast: Elephant Empathy, Hiding Your Genome, and Reconstructing Old Telescopes

first_imgDo elephants display humanlike empathy? What’s the best way to hide your genome? And what did Galileo really see when he looked up at the heavens? Science’s Online News Editor David Grimm chats about these stories and more with Science’s Sarah Crespi.Listen to the full Science podcast.Hear more podcasts.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)last_img read more

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ScienceShot: How to Shave Metal Whiskers

first_imgA whisker can be a wicked thing. In 2005, a Connecticut nuclear power plant shut down after a short-circuited pressure sensor triggered a false alarm. The culprit was a solitary metal whisker thinner than a human hair that sprouted inside the sensor’s electronics. Metal whiskers, such as those pictured above, have incapacitated four satellites and short-circuited more than $10 billion in electronics since their discovery in the 1940s, yet until now the mechanism behind whisker formation remained a mystery. This month in Physical Review Applied, physicist Victor Karpov of the University of Toledo in Ohio presents the first theory that quantitatively explains how metal whiskers form. According to Karpov, imperfections on metal surfaces can form small patches of net positive or negative electric charge. The similar charges repel one another, producing an outward stress. Where the material is weak enough, metal whiskers can grow up to 1 centimeter a year. Karpov suggests that treating metal surfaces with electrolytes, which contain free-moving charges, could neutralize these electrically charged patches, thwarting the growth of any wicked whiskers.last_img read more

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Why are those birds up so %&*@! early?

first_imgChirping birds can be a delight to wake up to in the morning, unless they’re up and at ’em a little too early. But don’t blame our feathered friends—they may just be confused about what time it is, a new study suggests. Ornithologists observed six common species of birds to see how artificial light and traffic noise affect their daily songs. After recording them at dawn and dusk in various environments, researchers found that whereas noise has little effect on them, light pollution can change the timing of their songs. For instance, in areas with more artificial night light emitted by street lamps, European robins (pictured above) and blackbirds can start singing up to 1.5 hours earlier than sunrise, and great tits chirp an hour earlier than normal. The effect was not as strong at dusk, with some birds only tweeting about 10 minutes later than usual. The finding, published this week in Behavioral Ecology, suggests that birds’ perception of day length is rattled by artificial light, but the disruption of the natural pattern may not be entirely bad. The researchers think that because singing attracts mates, an earlier start in the day may make them more successful at reproduction.last_img read more

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‘Vampire’ squirrel has world’s fluffiest tail

first_imgFew scientists have ever seen the rare tufted ground squirrel (Rheithrosciurus macrotis), which hides in the hilly forests of Borneo, but it is an odd beast. It’s twice the size of most tree squirrels, and it reputedly has a taste for blood. Now, motion-controlled cameras have revealed another curious fact. The 35-centimeter-long rodent has the bushiest tail of any mammal compared with its body size.”The species is really quite bizarre,” says Erik Meijaard, a conservation scientist with People and Nature Consulting International in Jakarta.Meijaard and his wife, Rona Dennis, an independent remote sensing scientist, gathered a collection of photos of Rheithrosciurus, including ones from colleagues. All were snapped by motion-activated cameras. Their 15-year-old daughter Emily Mae Meijaard, a student at the British International School, Jakarta, analyzed the pictures, measuring the size of the tail and body of various individuals.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Rheithrosciurus’s plush tail is 30% larger than the volume of the squirrel’s body, the family reports this month in Taprobanica. “This squirrel takes everything to the extreme,” says Melissa Hawkins, a mammalogist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., who notes that the ears are particularly hairy as well. The closest contenders, whose tails are merely as bulky as their own bodies, include the common striped possum, which has a prehensile tail for climbing; the squirrel glider, which navigates with its tail as a rudder; and the ring-tailed cat, which uses its tail for balance during acrobatics in trees.It’s not clear why Rheithrosciurus needs so much tail, but Emily Mae and her co-authors believe the bobbing mass of fur might confuse clouded leopards and other predators, or prevent them from getting a good grasp when they strike. That idea sounds plausible to Hawkins, who says that when her field crew saw the squirrels in Borneo, they at first thought it was a much larger animal.Local legends suggest that Rheithrosciurus, which is thought to mostly eat giant acorns, can be savage. Hunters say that the squirrels will perch on low branches, jump onto a deer, gash its jugular vein, and disembowel the carcass. “It sounds pretty fantastical,” says a skeptical Roland Kays, a zoologist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. “Even more than its fluffy tail.”Emily Mae, in any case, has switched her focus to photographs of something less gruesome: the mating behaviors of the argus pheasant.last_img read more

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Childhood neglect erodes the brain

first_imgIn perhaps the most famous study of childhood neglect, researchers have closely tracked the progress, or lack of it, in children who lived as infants in Romania’s bleak orphanages and are now teenagers. A new analysis now shows that these children, who display a variety of behavioral and cognitive problems, have less white matter in their brains than do a group of comparable children in local families. The affected brain regions include nerve bundles that support attention, general cognition, and emotion processing. The work suggests that sensory deprivation early in life can have dramatic anatomical impacts on the brain and may help explain the previously documented long-term negative effects on behavior. But there’s some potential good news: A small group of children who were taken out of orphanages and moved into foster homes at age 2 appeared to bounce back, at least in brain structure.“This is an exciting and important study,” says Harvard Medical School psychiatric researcher Martin Teicher, who directs the developmental biopsychiatry research program at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts. The “crucial question” of whether children can recover from the setbacks of early adversity had not been answered before, he adds.The work is based on MRI scans and other measures taken in Romania by researchers at the Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP). The group, headed by neurologist Charles Nelson of Harvard Medical School, was spurred to action by the collapse of Romania’s Nicolae Ceauceșcu regime in 1989, which had shunted tens of thousands of unwanted children into state-run orphanages. Nelson says that caretakers in the orphanages worked in factorylike shifts; children might see as many as 17 different caretakers in a week. Infants rarely enjoyed the one-on-one interactions that are considered essential to normal development.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The orphanages have sharply reduced their intake today. But more than a decade ago, when they were still in favor, BEIP’s leaders saw a need for humanitarian aid; they also saw a rare opportunity to study the effects of child neglect. Drawing mainly on U.S. government research funding, BEIP offered a limited number of children a chance to move out of orphanages into foster care, providing desperately needed attention. BEIP also worked with Romanian officials to recruit orphans and other local children into clinical studies.BEIP initially enrolled 136 children in research. Only 69 were involved in the MRI study published online today in JAMA Pediatrics. Of these, 23 were drawn from the group randomly assigned to foster care, 26 from a group assigned to remain in orphanages, and 20 from the local community, as controls. Lead author Johanna Bick, a clinical psychologist at the Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues in the BEIP group used an MRI technique called diffusion tensor imaging to look at the microstructure of 48 white matter tracts in each child, comparing results at 2 years and 8 years of age.The analysis found that the children who stayed in orphanages were consistently worse off—with less mature development in four key sets of white matter. The most affected tracts included nerve circuits involved in general cognitive performance, emotion, maintaining attention and executive function, and sensory processing. Another analysis suggested that the foster care group was more like the community group in brain development, but this finding appears to be less robust.Other nonrandomized studies have reported broad cognitive deficits or reduced white matter in adults and some children who suffered neglect or maltreatment in the past. They highlighted “the same regions that we find affected by early life neglect. These results and those from BEIP converge,” Bick claims.More important, Bick says, the comparison with those children taken in by foster parents suggests that white matter losses may be reversible. What worked in Romania to improve brain development—moving children into a supportive family environment—might work elsewhere as a remedy for child neglect. “This has really important implications,” she says: It suggests that the harm that takes place in a family setting may reversible, too.In a prepared statement, psychiatric researcher Andrea Danese of King’s College London praised the study but noted that more research is needed to determine how such changes in white matter are related to changes in behavior.Bick agrees on that point. “What I’m really interested in investigating right now,” she says, “is whether the improvements [seen in the foster children’s white matter profiles] actually support improvements in higher order abilities,” such as IQ, attention, and control of emotion. BEIP plans to collect new neurological data this year from the Romanian orphans as they turn 16.Related content: “An experiment in zero parenting”last_img read more

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