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Who needs drugs when you've got music?

It happened again last Saturday. And boy, when it hit me it felt great — though it left me a little shaken. … Time to call Daniel Levitin for some answers. He's the guy who wrote a fascinating book called This is Your Brain on Music. The McGill University professor confirmed that I'm far from alone in experiencing these very strong reactions to music. And it seems my analogy to drugs wasn't far off. "It's not surprising that we have these intense reactions to the environment and that they can be said to be similar to drug states," Levitin told me. "They are drug states.

Published: 18Jan2013

Blood pressure and painkiller mix cause kidney problems

People who take a combination of blood pressure drugs and certain painkillers are at increased risk for serious kidney problems that doctors should watch for, Canadian researchers say. People who are prescribed a combination of blood pressure medications and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs are often at high risk of kidney injury, which is associated with about half of potentially preventable deaths in hospital.

Published: 11Jan2013

Why hackers are so much funnier than you are

The popular stereotype is that hardcore techies are, well, humor-challenged. But software hackers are another matter. Despite his inability to keep a straight face when a reporter calls asking about supreme moral vigilance in the programming world, Bob Nystrom is living proof that hackers thrive on humor in ways other techies rarely do... You’ll hear much the same thing from Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist who spent three years living with hardcore software hackers and recently documented the experience in a book called Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking.

Published: 11Jan2013

Muslims engage in quest to understand evolution

More than 850 delegates flocked to a seminal conference in London on Saturday about the compatibility of modern evolutionary theory and Islamic theology – despite scaremongering and the refusal of Islamic student societies to participate. Determined organisers had overcome pressure to cancel by changing the venue from Imperial College to Logan Hall at the University of London. The event was the brainchild of the Deen Institute, which runs courses to promote critical thinking among Muslim students and kindle rational dialogue within Islam.

Published: 11Jan2013

Accessible learning for students with disabilities

McGill University takes the lead implementing Universal Design… As a McGill University student with a learning disability, Cedric Yarish hates when professors rely on “chalk and talk.” What helps him with his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is when professors engage students in discussion, present their material in a variety of interesting ways and provide options for student evaluation, such as a choice between exams or papers or other types of multimedia projects.

Published: 10Jan2013

McGill study probes secrets of elderly fitness

Why do some seniors struggle to get up off the coach, whereas others hit the gym as if they were decades younger? A husband and wife research team at McGill wondered just that and embarked on a study to try to determine what makes some age better than others.

Published: 10Jan2013

Canada missing out on pharmaceutical research

(John Bergeron): Canada is a strong nation economically, with a $1.7-trillion gross domestic product and spending on research and development in excess of $30 billion annually. By any measure these numbers are among the best in the world. But pharmaceutical research, once strong, is in decline in this country.

Published: 10Jan2013

NHL on its way back, but will hockey fans follow?

After months of waiting and hoping, hockey fans reacted with a mix of emotions Sunday to news of a tentative agreement between the NHL and its players.

Published: 10Jan2013

Regular Cervical Cancer screen should start after 25

Canadian women should start being routinely screened for cervical cancer at a later age than previously recommended and do it less frequently than has been the norm until now, new national guidelines recommend. The guidance suggests cervical cancer screening should begin at age 25 and continue until age 69, at three year intervals. For years, women were advised to get an annual Pap smear, though in recent years a number of countries have lengthened the intervals between tests. Dr.

Published: 10Jan2013

How do environments talk to genes?

A report elucidates the widely recognized, but poorly understood, concept of gene-environment interaction, finding a molecular mechanism in the case of post-traumatic stress disorder: demethylation of a glucocorticoid response element in the stress response regulator FKBP5 that depends on both the risk allele and childhood trauma. [Review on epigenetics and childhood trauma by McGill's Moshe Szyf.]

Read more at Nature Neuroscience

Published: 10Jan2013

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