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February 13, 2014 | By Oliver Gettell
With its informal setting and freewheeling vibe, the Spirit Awards is known for presenters who wing it and winners who ruffle feathers. This year, maybe literally. Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt, the anointed host of this year's Film Independent extravaganza, has an unorthodox idea for livening up the ceremony: Put some live birds in the mix. On Wednesday, the "Ratatouille" and "Young Adult" star announced that he intends to replace the usual avian-themed trophies with a live bird for each award winner at the March 1 event, a daytime luncheon in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica.
February 12, 2014 | By Amy Hubbard
For Valentine's Day, let's forget love's mysteries and get down to the biological basics that fire some of our fiercest emotions. Jane Austen once wrote: “You pierce my soul. I am half agony and half hope.” Here's why, Jane. Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist, has done extensive research on the topic. In an interview Tuesday with the L.A. Times, the author and Rutgers visiting professor described some of her findings -- culled from longtime married couples still “madly” in love, as well as from love's sad rejects.
February 6, 2014 | By Lance Pugmire
They might not agree on doing business with one another and may compete over fight dates, but fight promoters Top Rank, Golden Boy and Ultimate Fighting Championship are acknowledging the effects of their sports. The companies, along with Bellator MMA and Glory kickboxing, combined to give $600,000 to continue the Cleveland Clinic's brain health study that is in its third year of operation in Las Vegas. “We're all contributing to it, fighters want it and senators are supporting it,” Top Rank Chairman Bob Arum said.
February 6, 2014 | By Geoffrey Mohan
A generic blood pressure drug could prevent hyperactive brain cell firing associated with early stages of autism spectrum disorder, according to a new study. Injecting pregnant mice with Bumetanide, a diuretic, appears to correct a developmental switch flipped during childbirth that reverses the firing characteristics of neurons in newborns, according to a study published online Thursday in the journal Science. Bumetanide mimics the effects of oxytocin, a hormone released during labor that helps protect newborns from the stresses and complications of birth, the study found.
February 5, 2014 | By Melissa Healy
The human hand is a wonder of strength, sensitivity and discrimination - not only because of those four fingers and the opposable thumb, but also because of the human brain that controls it. No wonder, then, that for those who design hand prostheses, re-creating the natural dexterity of the brain-powered hand is a daunting challenge. But a new study demonstrates that, with the aid of some artificial sensors and electrodes sunk into a user's arm, a prosthetic hand can be made to detect the need for a firm grasp or a light touch, to make fine distinctions between an object's texture, weight and size, and to respond accordingly with no detectable delay.
February 4, 2014 | By Ruben Vives
A homeless man who was shot point-blank in the head in Panorama City on Sunday during an argument over $50 has been declared brain dead, according to Los Angeles police. Hospital officials told homicide detectives that Carlos Sanchez Cruz, 31, was declared brain dead at 3 p.m. Monday. “It's sad that a dispute over $50 would lead to a man's death,” said LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon. “I hope the family can find some solace in knowing at least that we have the persons responsible in custody.” Cruz was placed on life support at Holy Cross Hospital following the shooting, which occurred at about 2:30 p.m. on the sidewalk near 9010 Tobias Avenue, police said.
February 4, 2014 | By Geoffrey Mohan, This post has been corrected, as indicated below.
Memory can be altered by new experience, and isn't nearly as accurate as courtroom testimony might have us believe, a new study suggests. The results suggest a cheeky answer to the question posed by comedian Richard Pryor: "Who you gonna believe: me, or your lyin' eyes?" Turns out, Pryor was onto something. The brain behind our eyes can distort reality or verify it, based on subsequent experience. And somewhat paradoxically, the same area of the brain appears to be strongly involved in both activities, according to a study published online Tuesday in the Journal of Neuroscience.
January 31, 2014 | By David Levine
The numbers are staggering: Almost 7% of the U.S. adult population - about 17.6 million people - is diagnosed with depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that depression costs 200 million lost workdays each year at a cost to employers of $17 billion to $44 billion. There are effective treatments for depression, including, researchers said recently, meditation. But neither talk therapy nor the existing medications work for everyone.
January 29, 2014 | By Susan Denley
Fashion blogger and designer Aimee Song of Song of Style and Soul Cycle are hosting a charity ride to benefit the Thompson-Mason Brain Cancer Foundation . The ride consists of a one-hour stationary bike class from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Soul Cycle West Hollywood, 8570 Sunset Blvd. in Sunset Plaza. The event is sponsored by Soffe Apparel . Tickets are $40 and may be purchased on eventbrite . All proceed are earmarked for the foundation, which aims to help low-income patients and their families.
January 29, 2014 | By Melissa Healy, This post has been corrected, as indicated below.
If you know that a small seahorse-shaped structure deep in the brain -- the hippocampus -- is crucial to committing new facts and skills to memory, you have not only your hippocampus to thank; you also owe a debt of gratitude to Henry Gustav Molaison, known to brain scientists worldwide as the amnesic patient "H.M. " A new study shows that in death as in life, the man who lived 55 years virtually unable to form new memories deepened our understanding of what it takes to make them.
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