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November 30, 2012 | By Melissa Healy
Cocaine dependence is a devilishly difficult addiction to break, owing to the drug's unique chemical ability both to reward users and to disrupt their impulse-control mechanisms. But a surprising drug combination may offer an equally clever way to loosen cocaine's hold on an addict, a new study has found. The experimental treatment regime used a mix of topiramate -- an anti-seizure drug that has shown promise in breaking dependence on nicotine and alcohol -- and stimulant drugs -- amphetamines -- which, in addition to being widely abused, are used to treat attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.
October 23, 2012 | By Jon Bardin
Ron Blackwell didn't enter the hospital expecting to see his doctor's face melt before his eyes. But that's exactly what happened when researchers electrically stimulated a small part of his brain, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of Neuroscience. The doctor's face did not actually melt, of course. Instead, the researchers argue, the stimulation short-circuited a brain area called the fusiform gyrus. Previous studies have linked a part of that area to face processing by showing that it becomes active when people perceive faces.
September 11, 2012 | By David Pierson, Los Angeles Times
BEIJING — China reported weak trade activity in August, raising pressure on the central government to stimulate the nation's slowing economy. Imports fell 2.6% from a year earlier after growing 4.6% in July, underscoring China's softening demand for commodities and raw materials. Exports grew 2.7% from a year earlier, up slightly from 1% growth in July. The weak trade figures, announced Monday, come a day after China said industrial production had expanded at its slowest pace in three years.
August 25, 2012 | By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke defended the central bank's efforts to stimulate the economy, even as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized those steps and said that, if elected, he wouldn't reappoint Bernanke to the post. Bernanke defended the Fed's efforts in a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) released Friday. The Fed is considering another round of bond-buying to boost the sluggish recovery. "There is scope for further action by the Federal Reserve to ease financial conditions and strengthen the recovery," Bernanke said in the letter to Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
April 10, 2012 | By David Pierson, Los Angeles Times
China's inflation rate rose slightly in March, raising concerns about the government's ability to stimulate the economy should growth falter in coming months. Rising food and fuel prices helped drive China's consumer price index up 3.6% from the same month last year, China's National Bureau of Statistics said Monday. That was up from a 3.2% rate in February. China raised its retail prices for gasoline and diesel March 20 for the second time in six weeks, increases that probably contributed to the rising food costs.
February 13, 2012 | By Aaron Wiener, Los Angeles Times
As Europe tries to climb its way out of a debt crisis, the continent's largest and strongest economy, Germany, has pushed its neighbors to reduce budget deficits and pledge to keep long-term public spending under control. But with the Eurozone facing a recession, Germany's insistence on austerity — also known as fiscal consolidation — has drawn criticism from those who subscribe to British economist John Maynard Keynes' formula of increasing public spending during economic slowdowns to spark demand and economic recovery, and then reining in spending during prosperous times.
January 4, 2012 | By Don Lee, Los Angeles Times
The Federal Reserve, taking an innovative step in its public statements, will start providing a quarterly forecast of when it plans to make a shift in the key short-term interest rate that it sets — its latest effort to spur the sluggish economy and calm volatile stock markets. The projections, to start late this month, could act as an economic stimulus by offering a tentative financial road map to consumers and businesses to encourage them to borrow and take risks. It also could help ease market tension and push down already historically low yields on long-term bonds.
December 18, 2011 | By Jack Shakely
Psst: Want to know a way to reduce our national debt by a quarter of a trillion dollars over the next decade, and remove an often abused and possibly unconstitutional section of the tax code? Are you sure you do? You may want to sit down. Get rid of the federal charitable-giving tax deduction. I know that statement will create a firestorm. I ran the California Community Foundation for 25 years, and the foundation — not to mention your alma mater, the Girl Scouts, the AARP and many other charities — think pretty highly of the tax deduction.
October 10, 2011 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog
 Even when vision has failed, the mind's eye can see, given just the right voltage to just the right place in the brain, says a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study , which used rhesus monkeys with intact vision, demonstrated one way to restore something akin to sight in the blind. It showed that direct stimulation to the brain's visual cortex can create the perception of shapes, colors and contrasts -- even when the eyes cannot see them.
June 24, 2011 | By Neela Banerjee and Walter Hamilton, Los Angeles Times
A surprise move to tap government oil reserves could slash painfully high gasoline prices this summer and give the U.S. economy a much-needed boost, but the rare action underscores the challenge posed by the weakening recovery. The price of oil tumbled Thursday after the U.S. and other industrialized countries, citing the loss of oil from Libya, said they would release 60 million barrels of crude from emergency stockpiles and sell it on the energy markets over the next 30 days. Half of the oil is to come from the U.S. government's Strategic Petroleum Reserve on the Gulf Coast.
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