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Spending long hours in dim light may affect learning ability

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Dim light learning
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New York, Feb 6: Do you use dim lights at home? If yes, then you should stop doing it as researchers have found that too much dim light in our surrounding might impair learning ability.

According to the researchers, spending too much time in dimly lit rooms might change the brain’s structure and hurt one’s ability to remember and learn.

For the study, published in the journal Hippocampus, researchers studied the brains of Nile grass rats — which, like humans, are diurnal and sleep at night — after exposing them to dim and bright light for four weeks.

The rodents exposed to dim light lost about 30 per cent of capacity in the hippocampus, a critical brain region for learning and memory and performed poorly on a spatial task they had trained on previously.

“When we exposed the rats to dim light, mimicking the cloudy days of Midwestern winters or typical indoor lighting, the animals showed impairments in spatial learning,” said Antonio “Tony” Nunez, Professor at Michigan State University in the US.

The study is the first to show that changes in environmental light, in a range normally experienced by humans, leads to structural changes in the brain, the researchers said.

The researchers mentioned that sustained exposure to dim light led to significant reductions in a substance called brain derived neurotrophic factor — a peptide that helps maintain healthy connections and neurons in the hippocampus — and in dendritic spines, or the connections that allow neurons to “talk” to one another.

“Since there are fewer connections being made, this results in diminished learning and memory performance that is dependent upon the hippocampus. In other words, dim lights are producing dimwits,” said Joel Soler, lead author of the study.

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All you need to know about Nipah Virus

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Nipah Virus

New Delhi, May 21: Nipah Virus is an emerging infectious zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. It was first reported in Malaysia in 1998.

It is spread by fruit bats and can be transferred from a human through close contact, body fluids, saliva and cough.

Nipah Virus first appeared in domestic pigs and has been found among several species of domestic animals including dogs, cats, goats, horses and sheep.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a newly emerging zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus.

At present, there is no vaccine for either humans or animals. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care.

NiV infection in humans has a wide range of clinical presentations, from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis.

Generally, the human infection presents as an encephalitic syndrome marked by fever, headache, drowsiness, disorientation, mental confusion, coma, and potentially death.

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Exercise 4-5 times daily to delay ageing

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New York, May 21: Want to stay young for long? If so, start exercising four to five times a day as it may help keep your heart stay healthy and slow down ageing, according to researchers.

Research showed that different sizes of arteries are affected differently by varying amounts of exercise.

While exercising for about two to three days a week for about 30 minutes may be sufficient to minimise stiffening of middle-sized arteries, exercising for about four to five days a week is required to keep the larger central arteries youthful.

The study would help “develop exercise programmes to keep the heart youthful and even turn back time on older hearts and blood vessels”, said one of the study authors, Benjamin Levine from the University of Texas.

With age, arteries — which transport blood in and out of the heart — become prone to stiffening, increasing the risk of heart diseases.

For the study, published in The Journal of Physiology, the team examined 102 people over 60 years old, with a consistent lifelong exercise history.

The participants were divided into four groups depending on their exercise history — Sedentary: less than 2 exercise sessions per week; Casual Exercisers: 2-3 exercise sessions per week; Committed Exercisers: 4-5 exercise sessions per week and Masters Athletes: 6-7 exercise sessions per week.

A lifelong history of casual exercise (two-three times a week) resulted in more youthful middle-sized arteries, which supply oxygenated blood to the head and neck.

However, committed exercisers (4-5 times per week) also had more youthful large central arteries, which provide blood to the chest and abdomen, in addition to healthier middle-sized ones.

Larger arteries need more frequent exercise to slow down ageing, the researchers said.

The findings will help see “if we can reverse the ageing of a heart and blood vessels by using the right amount of exercise at the right time”, Levine explained.

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Nipah virus claims six lives in Kerala

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Kozhikode, May 21: According to the health department of Kerala, at least six people lost their lives due to Nipah virus.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday informed that the state government is closely monitoring the outbreak of Nipah virus in the region and taking every possible step to prevent its further spread.

CM Pinarayi Vijayan has informed that Government is closely monitoring the spread of the Nipah virus. The health department is doing everything possible to save the lives of the infected & prevent the advance of the virus,” the CMO Tweeted.

Meanwhile, the Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J.P Nadda directed to constitute a team of highly efficient doctors to probe into the matter.

Following this, a high-level team of doctors from the national capital has also been rushed by the Union health ministry to take stock of the situation in state’s northern districts.

Earlier in a day, the health department held emergency meetings in Kozhikode on Monday under Minister of Health and Family Welfare JP Nadda along with Secretary Health over the deaths.

Nipah virus is spread by fruit bats and causes severe disease in both animals and humans. It can be transferred from a human through close contact, body fluids, saliva and cough.

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