Survey Analyzes The Public Perception On The Use Of Gene Editing

public perception on gene editing illustration

A new survey looked to determine the public perception of the use of CRISPR and gene editing.

In January, researchers part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted a survey to learn about the public perception towards the use of gene editing. This is becoming increasingly relevant as gene editing technology is taking leaps and bounds. Scientists in Oregon announced in early August that they had successfully corrected a genetic defect in human embryos. A separate announcement this week revealed the birth of 37 pigs that have been genetically modified to provide organ transplants for humans. These feats of genetic engineering come after the development of CRISPR/Cas9, a gene editing tool derived from bacterial immune systems.

Public Perception Towards Gene Editing

Dietram Scheufele, the leader of the Wisconson-Madison study, told media sources that, “There’s probably much more optimism than pessimism about this technology overall.”

This new survey involved 1,600 participants. While three-quarters of the questioned people disapproved of using gene editing to make inheritable aesthetic changes, such as altering the eye color or height, the majority of participants (two-thirds) approved of using the technology to eliminate diseases.

Also, the researchers noted that people might appear more or less accepting of the use of gene editing depending on how the survey questions are presented. For example, there is a lower approval rating when the word “embryos” is used. CRISPR/Cas9 technology typically does involve editing organisms at the embryonic stage, a fact that many in the general public may not be aware of.

The ability to edit the genomes of individuals is no longer a figment of science fiction. While this technology has the potential to eliminate horrible genetic diseases, it comes with a set of challenging ethical questions. Scientists and lawmakers feel that it is important to understand the public perception regarding gene editing technology to make moral decisions about its use. No doubt the topic will generate much controversy and debate in the years to come.

The survey results were made available in a paper in the journal Science. 

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People With Psychopathic Traits Find It Easier To Lie

psychopathic traits lies

People with psychopathic traits seemingly find it easier to learn how to lie.

According to a new study, lying doesn’t come innately to people with psychopathic traits. Instead, they simply find it easier to lie after learning how to.

University of Hong Kong psychologists are behind this new research, which analyzed both the habit of lying and the ratio of rather psychopathic tendencies.

The study asked its participants to give a series of truthful or untruthful answers. They had to recognize, or not, the subjects in a collection of images. Readily established cues alerted them whether they should respond truthfully to each photograph.

All of the participants performed each of the tests twice. But in between testing, they were also taught how to lie more efficiently and believable.

The proxy for a participant’s ability to lie was their response time when issuing a false response, as prompted.

Psychopathic Traits Were Also Factored In

Before the study, the participants also underwent a series of personal tests. These showed that only those that presented psychopathic traits returned significant improvements in their ability to lie. After being taught how to lie better, their response time when giving false answers was significantly higher.

“The stark contrast between individuals with high and low levels of psychopathic traits in lying performance following two training sessions is remarkable, given that there were no significant differences in lying performance between the two groups prior to training,” stated Dr. Tatia Lee, a UHK cognitive scientist part of the study.

According to the research, people with psychopathic traits find it easier to lie after being trained how to. The team believes that the deceitfulness differences could be tied to brain processes and how they perceive untruthful data.

Lee stated that lying requires a series of specific processes in the brain. These include working memory, attention, conflict resolution, and inhibitory control. These seemed to be more reduced in people with high levels of psychopathic tendencies.

Those with low such traits found seemingly found it harder to suppress truthful data.

Study results can be accessed in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

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New Study Suggests People Find It Hard To Detect Fake Images

fake images of a tree

People are not as good at detecting fake images as initially believed.

A recently released study suggests that people actually find it quite hard to detect fake images, especially if these seem contextually appropriate.

Research results showed that people actually identified only about a third of the photos manipulated as part of the study. Their ability to spot the fakes was also quite influenceable, as the participants were more or less successful, depending on the picture’s context.

University of Warwick, UK, researchers led by Sophie Nightingale conducted this new study. Their study involved almost 700 participants between the ages of 13 to 70. These were asked to look at banks of images in which no picture repeated itself. This, in turn, made it harder to detect if the photos had been altered or not.

Human Capacity of Spotting Fake Images Still Not Fully Understood

The images utilized were real-life situations and depicted everyday scenes. Among the picture banks, half of the photos were real, and the remaining ones had been altered. Nonetheless, these digital modifications were subtle changes.

Namely, the research team airbrushed faces, for example. Or they added or subtracted items. Still, they also made some implausible changes such as incorrectly placed shadows or weird angles.

As the participants were shown banks of 10 images, chance performance for this task was 50 percent. In comparison, the people did not do such a splendid job, as they were only able to correctly identify 65 percent of the fake images. They also accurately identified just 58 percent of the original photos.

When asked to explain why they had made such a choice, the participants were even less successful. However, additional tests had people identify possibly altered areas of an image. The participants fared better in this task, as they correctly spotted 56 percent of the manipulations.

This also seems to suggest that, given time and by catching a hint of something being wrong, people might be able to spot fakes even if the alterations are subtle or barely visible.

“So the challenge now is to try and find ways to help people improve at this task. For instance, fake images often contain tell-tale signs that they have been manipulated,” states Nightingale.

Now, the team is conducting a new research in the same area. They are trying to determine if, given these signs, people can become better at detecting manipulated or fake imagery.

Current study results are available in the journal Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications.

Image Source: Pixabay

Could House Dust Be Influencing Weight Gain?

house dust on window

House dust and the chemicals it contains may be another factor at play in gaining weight.

Weight gain is already known to be influenced by the lack of physical activity and an improper diet. However, a newly released study claims that the dust in the house may also be a factor in this process. According to research results, common environmental pollutants known as ECDs can lead to an increase in triglycerides or fat.

Duke University scientists conducted this new study. They based their findings on data and samples gathered from 11 homes in North Carolina.

Even Small Amount of House Dust Can Contain Many ECDs

The researchers collected samples of indoor dust which contained endocrine-disrupting chemicals (ECDs). These are either human-made or naturally occurring chemicals which can interfere with the hormone production and functioning.

ECDs can be found in various common, everyday household products, for example, food packaging, cosmetics, pesticides, or household cleaning products. Flame retardants, bisphenol A, and phthalates are some of the most common such chemicals.

Previous studies indicated that the exposure in early life to some ECDs could potentially lead to weight gain later on. As such, these started being called “obesogens”. Another result was the reduced use of ECDs in some products.

Now, the latest research tested the effects of these same chemicals, gathered from house dust, on mice. Their extracts were screened in a mouse preadipocyte cell model or 3T3-L1 cells. These are commonly used to test compounds for their possible effects on triglycerides, a type of fat.

Results showed that seven out of the eleven dust samples triggered a response in the preadipocyte cells. These started developing into mature cells and also began accumulating triglycerides.

Also, extracts taken from nine of the samples determined cell division, which created a large pool of precursor fat cells. Among all the tested house dust samples, only one had no effect.

Research also tested 44 individual house dust contaminants in the same model. Among them, three were noted to have the strongest fat=producing effects. These are the pyraclostrobin pesticide, DBP, a commonly used plasticizer, and the TBPDP flame-retardant.

Based on their finds, the study team suggests that house dust exposed to chemicals may be a factor in the disruption of the metabolic health, especially in children.

Research results are available in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

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Snorting Chocolate Might Be The New Trend

snorting chocolate

Coco Loko is a recently released cacao-powder joining the latest trend of snorting chocolate.

A cocoa-based powder called Coco Loko was recently released on the market, with the announcement that it can be snorted. The powder will supposedly give the users a rush without the use of chemicals or other additives. A 10-serving tin can of Coco Loko cost only $24,99.

Snorting chocolate powder – are there any risks?

The founder of the Legal Lean company, which produces the Coco Loko powder, stated that he was inspired by a chocolate-snorting trend in Europe. With the Coco Loko powder, he tried reproducing the product and make it into his own blend.

According to him, by snorting the powder, the users will feel the rush of an energy drink from 30 minutes to an hour. Moreover, the product description claims that it will also produce a serotonin and endorphin rush in the body.

This will make the users feel positive, happy and euphoric. This is the result of the guarana and taurine used in the mix. At the same time, the raw cacao will give the users a sense of calm, as it supposedly reduces anxiety and stress.

On the other hand, it is known that the inside of the nose is a very sensitive area. One protected by the natural secretions and linings of the membrane. Thus, foreign objects that the inside of the nose cannot process might lead to injuries. By snorting the chocolate powder, there is the risk of disrupting the natural defenses. In turn, this could harm the body.

The US Environmental Protection Agency advised avoiding inhaling anything that is made of tiny particles as it is a direct link to respiratory diseases. Still, the exact effects of snorting chocolate and over a certain period of time have not been studied so currently, there is no final answer.

While the powder is already available on Amazon, it was still not approved by the FDA.

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Pictures Of Baby Animals Proven To Have Positive Effects On People

baby animals puppies

New research found that looking at pictures of baby animals could potentially improve relationships.

According to the latest study, looking at pictures of baby animals was proven to have a positive effect on people, possibly even going as far as helping somewhat improve their relationships.

The research team set out to determine if people could become ‘conditioned by repeated associations’. They did so to test out the theory that advances the following idea; can outside sources influence behavioral exchanges between partners?

As the team points out, misattributions processes can lead to an association between an event and a different source.

Baby Animals Pictures to Help Improve Relationships

The Florida State University research team employed the help of 144 married couples. These had been together for no more than 5 years, and the partners were younger than 40. Experiment participants were split into two groups. One of them, the control part, was shown “neutral” images.

The others were presented with “positive” stimuli, ones that showed them puppy pics and photographs of their spouses. It also used words such as “wonderful” or “superb”. The two groups were asked to view their stimuli three times a week, over 6 weeks.

Participants in “positive” incentives group returned a more “positive automatic reaction” to their partners when compared to those shown neutral images, such as a button. At the same time, the first category also presented an overall boost, and better relation, when compared to the beginning of the study. This applied even in cases when the situation was not that happy, to begin with, according to results.

“All the theory I reviewed on evaluative conditioning suggested it should, but existing theories of relationships, and just the idea that something so simple and unrelated to marriage could affect how people feel about their marriage, made me skeptical, ” stated James McNulty.

As such, McNulty, who is the study lead, also expressed his actual surprise at the positive results.

Study findings are available in the journal Psychological Science.

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New Study Offers New Statistics For Young People With ADHD

young people behind the wheel

Young people with ADHD present a higher risk of car crashes, but this can be managed through some simple steps.

The most recent research on the matter returned some new statistics regarding young people with ADHD and their performances behind the wheel. This study found that such drivers present a 36 percent higher risk of crashing when compared to other newly licensed youth. However, this value is significantly lower when compared to the previous report on the matter.

Young People with ADHD Present Manageable Crash Risks

The new survey was conducted by specialists at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Research results are available in a paper in the JAMA Pediatrics.  

The CHOP research is based on data gathered from 18,500 electronic health records. These target children born in between 1987 to 1997. Almost 2,500 among them have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

“Our results indicate that newly licensed adolescents with ADHD have a greater risk of crashing than other young drivers, but that this is a manageable risk,” said Allison E. Curry.

She is the principal investigator of the CHOP study. According to Curry, the study results indicate that while the crash risk is higher than in general, it is also a manageable situation. Namely, the team considers that the situation can be turned around. Special program for youth diagnosed with ADHD that want to drive could be created.

Namely, they could receive an evidence-based training. They could also be instructed as to the risks and additional requirements of such an activity.

The study team was also reportedly surprised to note the low number of young drivers with ADHD which were prescribed medication, namely, just 12 percent. Previous studies claimed that such a treatment could help reduce crash risks. Still, this method can only be useful if people also take the prescribed medication.

A treatment plan can also be therapeutic and doesn’t necessarily have to depend on medicine. However, researchers consider that youth with ADHD interested in getting behind the wheel should follow one such therapy. Also, they should be informed about the seriousness of operating a car and of the extra attention it requires.

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Playing Video Games Can Seemingly Be Good For College Students

people playing video games

Research claims that playing video games for a moderate number of hours can improve and help develop academic skills.

A new study goes to contradict the common belief that playing video games, at least on a moderate scale, can impose on a student’s academic results. Research claims that such an activity can actually be helpful as it encourages the development of mental adaptability and also communication skills.

Playing Video Games Can Help Academics

This study was conducted by researchers part of the University of Glasgow and led by Matthew Barr. Results are available in a paper in Computer & Education. Research involved the participation of 36 undergraduate students in Arts and Humanities. These were randomly split into units, one of which acted as a control group. Members of the other were asked to log in 120 minutes of play on a number of games.

These had to be achieved over a period of eight weeks, and in total represented 14 hours of gameplay. Participants were offered commercial titles, not targeted at developing skills or learning. The games included Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Minecraft, Borderlands 2, and others.

The study did not impose game hours or a specific number of minutes per day. Instead, they opened a drop-in basis game lab, open in between specific hours, on particular days. On them, the students could come in and play, but the time management was their own responsibility.

“This work demonstrates that playing commercial video games can have a positive effect on communication ability, adaptability, and resourcefulness in adult learners, suggesting that video games may have a role to play in higher education,” states Barr.

He adds that video games can actually have positive effects for their kids. Barr points out that these commercial video games can help develop and encourage critical thinking and reflective learning. They can also improve adaptability, communication, and problem solving, to state just a few.

The study underlines that this activity can be helpful with academics. But the gained qualities are also featured as desirable attributes and extra points in employability.

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Tips on Surviving the Stress of This Election Day

i voted sticker on dark background

Specialists confirmed that election day stress is real and it affects the majority of voters.

The presidential race has never featured two candidates that were more different. The entire nation has been split not between Republicans and Democrats, but Trump and Clinton supporters. Now that Election Day is finally upon us, the stress of knowing that in a couple of hours the fate of the country will be decided could affect the voters.

After a grueling campaign that feels like it lasted for years, yesterday, both Trump and Clinton held their final speeches before Americans went to bed, preparing themselves for one of the most decisive days in American history.

Remember That a President Is Nothing Without a Country

America has been through an Independence War, a Civil War, and two World Wars. The country’s uniqueness is given by its people so no matter who wins this round of elections, the people will always stand between the future president and a wrong decision.

Don’t Torture Yourself by Watching the News

The level of stress is directly connected to the number of influencing factors. If you remove the source, then you could be able to enjoy a fairly normal Tuesday.

Moreover, there is no need to torture yourself with predictions. Enjoy some good quality with your friends after casting your vote and be at peace with yourself that you have done your duty.

Voting Is the Best Cure for Election Day Stress

Researchers have found that election stress is caused by a multitude of factors, indecisiveness being one of the main ones. By voting, the affected individuals reach catharsis. Once the deed is done, there is no more responsibility pressing on their shoulders.

Moreover, since we are on the topic of voting, you can take advantage of the fact that you exercised your constitutional right by searching for freebies. Lots of restaurants offer free meals, side dishes, deserts or any other food items for those who sport the “I Voted” sticker.

Take Action and Fight for Your Beliefs

The best way to combat anxiety is to fight for a cause that you firmly believe in. If the results of the elections are not what you expected them to be, start getting involved in more projects. Fight for your beliefs, take action and prove to yourself that the world can be changed by a single person.

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The Consequences of Prostate Cancer Treatment

prostate cancer has its unique consequences

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men after skin cancer

After the disease is dealt with, the side-effects of prostate cancer treatment are not uncommon, and individuals must learn how to manage them, so they do not become a lingering problem that influences their normal activities.

Prostate cancer is known to have its unique secondary results following the treatment. Of course, there are the emotional side-effects encountered by all cancer patients and the physical ones that the sufferer must deal with. Learning how to handle the side-effects gives the patient the opportunity to get on with the rest of their life.

Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer men are diagnosed with after skin cancer. People who have survived the disease usually find themselves on an emotional roller coaster ranging from joy to anxiety that cancer could return. The feelings are normal and are expected to fade away as the patient continues to feel better after the treatment. However, if the feelings persist, sufferers are advised to discuss all the problems with their physician or mental health care provider if the negative thoughts continue to affect their lives.

Reducing the risk of any future cancer recurrence by choosing healthy lifestyles and gaining confidence in yourself after the cancer treatment are all part of the process.

The most common physical side effects of the cancer treatment are urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Urinary incontinence represents the failure to control your urine. Men might experience the incontinence depending on age, doctor’s experience or bladder function.

There are many types of incontinence which include overflow incontinence, the failure to fully empty the bladder or stress incontinence, urine leakage that happens when laughing, coughing, exercising, or sneezing. These are the most common types of incontinence that men usually encounter after surgery. It could last up to twelve months for some patients. However, treatment is available based on the severity and type of incontinence.

The erectile dysfunction (ED) represents the failure to obtain an erection or an erection that could sustain a sexual intercourse. The surgery that treated the prostate cancer is usually the cause of ED because surgery could damage the nerves that control the blood flow to the penis. The prostate gland is enclosed by nerves that help obtain an erection.

The possibility of ED after prostate cancer treatment is influenced by a man’s health, age, stage of the disease, sexual functions before treatment and whether the nerves were saved after surgery.

Image source: Pexels