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Version of ONE gene increases brain size, improves numerical skill

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version of one gene increases brain size improves numerical skill

Variations in a single gene appear to be associated with both the size of grey matter in the part of the brain that handles quantity representation — and your maths ability.

Researchers from Germany studied the genomes and brains of 178 young children — looking for links to their later maths test results after a couple of years at school.

The team found that variants in ROBO1 — a gene which regulates the growth of the brain’s outmost layer of neural tissue — affect the size of the right parietal cortex.

As this brain region is thought to play a role in counting and number processing, its growth could explain previous suggestions that ROBO1 contributes to maths ability.

Variations in one gene you inherit from your parents appear to be associated with the size of grey matter in the brain's right parietal cortex ¿ and your maths ability, pictured

Variations in one gene you inherit from your parents appear to be associated with the size of grey matter in the brain’s right parietal cortex — and your maths ability, pictured

The study was conducted by neuropsychologist Michael Skeide of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, in Leipzig, and his colleagues.

‘We found that ROBO1, a gene known to regulate prenatal growth of cerebral cortical layers, is associated with the volume of the right parietal cortex, a key region for quantity representation,’ the team wrote in their paper.

‘Individual volume differences in this region predicted up to a fifth of the behavioural variance in mathematical ability.’

In their work, the researchers analysed the genomes of 178 children of the ages of 3–6 years — and specifically before they had received any mathematical training.

For each child, they compared this data with measurements of grey matter volume across the whole brain as detected via magnetic resonance imaging. 

They then used a maths test taken when each participant reached the second grade at school — around the ages of 7–9 — to assess which genes and regions of the brain might be related to improved numerical ability. 

Dr Skeide and colleagues focused on 10 genes — including ROBO1 — which previous studies have suggested could play a role in mathematical potential.

The team found that variants in ROBO1 ¿ a gene which regulates the growth of the brain's outmost layer of neural tissue ¿ affect the size of the right parietal cortex. Pictured: clusters in the right parietal cortex that were found to be associated with the growth gene ROBO1. Red represents data from the first 101 children studied; blue from the replication study with 77 kids

The team found that variants in ROBO1 — a gene which regulates the growth of the brain’s outmost layer of neural tissue — affect the size of the right parietal cortex. Pictured: clusters in the right parietal cortex that were found to be associated with the growth gene ROBO1. Red represents data from the first 101 children studied; blue from the replication study with 77 kids

Moreover, children with larger volumes of grey matter in the right parietal cortex at ages 3¿6 were found to perform better in the maths test when aged 7¿9. Pictured: clusters in the right parietal cortex that were found to be associated with both the growth gene ROBO1 and performance in mathematical tests taken between the ages of 7¿9. Red represents data from the first 101 children studied; blue from the replication study with 77 kids

Moreover, children with larger volumes of grey matter in the right parietal cortex at ages 3–6 were found to perform better in the maths test when aged 7–9. Pictured: clusters in the right parietal cortex that were found to be associated with both the growth gene ROBO1 and performance in mathematical tests taken between the ages of 7–9. Red represents data from the first 101 children studied; blue from the replication study with 77 kids

The team found that variations in ROBO1 are significantly associated with an increase in the size of the right parietal cortex.

Moreover, children with larger volumes of grey matter in the right parietal cortex at ages 3–6 were found to perform better in the maths test when aged 7–9.

This, the team wrote, suggests that ‘individual differences in right parietal cortex growth’ might represent the missing link in our understanding of ‘reported associations between DNA variation and behavioural mathematical performance.’

‘This interpretation is compatible with numerous studies showing that the parietal cortex specifically contributes to mathematical cognition from childhood on and keeps this decisive role in adulthood,’ they added.

The full findings of the study were published in the journal PLOS Biology.

Dr Skeide and colleagues focussed on 10 genes including ROBO1 ¿ which previous studies have suggested could play a role in mathematical potential. Only ROBO1 was found to have a significant association with grey matter volumes, as shown on this spider chart. Red represents data from the first 101 children studied; blue from the replication study with 77 kids

Dr Skeide and colleagues focussed on 10 genes including ROBO1 — which previous studies have suggested could play a role in mathematical potential. Only ROBO1 was found to have a significant association with grey matter volumes, as shown on this spider chart. Red represents data from the first 101 children studied; blue from the replication study with 77 kids

‘INTELLIGENCE QUOTIENT’ (IQ) IS A MEASURE OF MENTAL ABILITY

IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient and it is used to measure mental ability.

The abbreviation ‘IQ’ was first coined by psychologist William Stern to describe the German term Intelligenzquotient.

Historically, IQ is a score achieved by dividing a person’s mental age, obtained with an intelligence test, by their age.

The resulting fraction is then multiplied by 100 to obtain an IQ score.

An IQ of 100 has long been considered the median score.

Because of the way the test results are scaled, a person with an IQ of 60 is not half as intelligent as someone with an IQ of 120.

The arrangement of IQ scores also means that results are ‘normally distributed’, meaning just as many people score either side of the average. 

For example, the same amount of people score 70 as people who score 130.

Although the accuracy of intelligence tests is somewhat disputed, they are still widely used.

For Mensa, the acceptance score requires members to be within the top two per cent of the general population.

Depending on the IQ test, this can require a score of at least 130.

Famous people’s IQ scores: 

  • Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking – 160
  • Donald Trump – 156 
  • Emma Watson – 138  
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger – 135 
  • Nicole Kidman – 132
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False widow spiders’ fangs carry harmful bacteria resistant to antibiotic treatments

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false widow spiders fangs carry harmful bacteria resistant to antibiotic treatments

Many fear the bite of a false black widow spider, which can lead to painful swelling, stiffness and large abscesses.

In rare cases it’s been blamed for paralysis, amputations and even death, but a new study confirms it’s not the arachnid’s bite that’s dangerous—it’s the bacteria on its fangs. 

In a new study published in Scientific Reports, researchers found spiders carry bacteria on their fangs that can infect humans.

And the germs the false black widow carries can be resistant to common antibiotics.

‘Antimicrobial resistance is an urgent and growing problem worldwide,’ said co-author Aoife Boyd, a pathologist at NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences. ‘[An approach connecting] human, animal and environmental health is the only way to tackle the problem.’  

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Researchers in Ireland confirmed the false widow spider carries a dozen pathogens that are harmful to humans. Though its bite is fairly harmless, its fangs can transmit antibiotic-resistant bacteria into its human victims.

Researchers in Ireland confirmed the false widow spider carries a dozen pathogens that are harmful to humans. Though its bite is fairly harmless, its fangs can transmit antibiotic-resistant bacteria into its human victims.

Researchers in Ireland confirmed the false widow spider carries a dozen pathogens that are harmful to humans. Though the arachnid’s bite is fairly harmless, its fangs can transmit antibiotic-resistant bacteria into its human victims

Previously, rare ‘skin-eating’ infections following seemingly harmless spider bites were often blamed on victims scratching their bites with dirty fingernails. 

But Boyd and his colleagues theorized the bacteria was coming from the spiders themselves.  

They swabbed some noble false widows for bacteria, and did the same to some lace-weaver and giant house spiders, also both common in the UK.

All the arachnids were rife with germs: Out  22 bacterial species found on the false widows, 12 were potentially pathogenic to humans, according to Science Alert.

She went to the GP and was given antibiotics for the infection

She went to the GP and was given antibiotics for the infection

The false widow spider migrated to the UK in the 1870s but has been spreading globally in recent years 

A false widow spider bite can become infected with bacteria, leading to large pus-filled abscesses. Some strains the false widow carries are multi-drug resistant, 'making them particularly difficult to treat with regular medicine'

A false widow spider bite can become infected with bacteria, leading to large pus-filled abscesses. Some strains the false widow carries are multi-drug resistant, 'making them particularly difficult to treat with regular medicine'

A false widow spider bite can become infected with bacteria, leading to large pus-filled abscesses. Some strains the false widow carries are multi-drug resistant, ‘making them particularly difficult to treat with regular medicine’

‘Our study demonstrates that spiders are not just venomous but are also carriers of dangerous bacteria capable of producing severe infections,’ said Neyaz Khan, an NUI Galway microbiologist,.  

Less than a dozen species of European spiders have fangs strong enough to pierce human skin.

‘But only one of them, the recent invasive noble false widow spider, is considered of medical importance,’ said co-author John Dunbar, zoologist at the Ryan Institute’s Venom System Lab.

WHAT IS A FALSE WIDOW SPIDER? 

False widow spiders, also known as noble widows, are distinctive for their shiny, black flesh, bulbous bodies, thick legs and skull-like patterns.

It’s native to the Canary Islands but migrated to the UK and Europe in the late 1800s, purportedly aboard a shipment of bananas. 

Millions of false widows have been found across the UK and the population is believed to be growing. 

The spiders have also been reported in California and Chile. 

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The species has a brown bulbous abdomen with cream markings that look like a skull. They have long legs and can reach about a half-inch in size.

Also known as steatoda nobilis, the spider is frequently confused for the black widow, which has deadly venom.  

 

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False widow spiders, also known as noble false widows, are distinctive for their shiny, black flesh, bulbous bodies, thick legs and skull-like patterns. 

Typically a noble widow’s bite, which itself is fairly painless, results in just some redness and pain.

But if bacteria is passed along, an infection can occur—in rare cases, serious enough to require antibiotics or a hospital stay.

The biggest threat is some strains the false widow carries are multi-drug resistant, ‘making them particularly difficult to treat with regular medicine,’ said Kahn.

In 2016, a Hampshire woman was believed to have been bitten by a false widow and had to have part of her finger amputated.

The woman, 60, was eventually hospitalized and died of sepsis, the BBC reported.

The noble widow first arrived in the UK from the Canary Islands in the 1870s and has been a regular presence in southern England for more than 150 years.

Now it’s appearing in northern England, Ireland and even France. 

The spiders have also been reported in California and Chile. 

That massive population growth has led to a spike in serious cases, including those hard to treat with common antibiotics, according to the report.

Beyond the danger to humans, experts also worry that the false widow spreading its web across the globe poses a serious threat to wildlife.

Rainer Breitling, a biologist at the University of Manchester, fears they’ll attack ‘vulnerable native species’ in their new environments, in some cases prey much larger than the spider itself.

That, in turn, could disrupt the food chain and affect regional ecosystems.

Researchers in Germany used computer modelling to predict favorable habitats for false widow invasions, based on present patterns.

The model successfully predicted the species would migrate to Normandy.

Mediterranean islands, southern Australia, large parts of New Zealand and South Africa also seem to be likely targets for future expansion.

‘These are areas that are home to a wide range of vulnerable native species, so the potential introduction of Steatoda nobilis, which can overcome prey much larger than its own size, is quite worrying,’ said Breitling.

While the spider’s migration was originally blamed on a shipment of bananas, researchers now believe it hitches a ride on ornamental plants or tourists.

‘So more careful monitoring of plant imports could be useful to control the spread of this species and other invasive spiders,’ said Breitling.  

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Elon Musk’s Boring Company hosts a ‘tunnel rave’ insides its Las Vegas Loop

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elon musks boring company hosts a tunnel rave insides its las vegas loop

Elon Musk’s The Boring Company celebrated the near competition of its Las Vegas Convention Center Loop’s site by hosting a ‘tunnel rave’ inside the facility.

The firm shared a first look inside with three Tesla vehicles parked at the boarding area, along with flashing lights and dance music by the late musician Avici playing in the background.

The video, shared on Twitter,  was shot inside the Loop’s hub where passengers will be transported from one end of the convention center to the other in a Model 3 electric vehicle.

The Boring Company plans to begin operations of the system in January that it says cuts the 15 minute walk from one end of the campus to the other down to just one minute.

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The Boring Company shared a first look inside with three Tesla vehicles parked at the boarding area, along with flashing lights and dance music by the late musician Avici playing in the background

The Boring Company shared a first look inside with three Tesla vehicles parked at the boarding area, along with flashing lights and dance music by the late musician Avici playing in the background

The Boring Company shared a first look inside with three Tesla vehicles parked at the boarding area, along with flashing lights and dance music by the late musician Avici playing in the background

‘During typical peak hours, driving from the Las Vegas Convention Center to Mandalay Bay, for example, can take up to 30 minutes,’ reads the firm’s website.

‘The same trip on Vegas Loop will take approximately 3 minutes.’

The Boring Company claims the Tesla vehicles will reach top speeds of 155 miles per hour, making the trip more of a sprint than a sluggish shuttle ride.

In May, the company completed its excavation of one of two tunnels making up the convention center loop.

Musk shared renders (pictured) earlier this year of what the area will look like once it is complete. Above the tunnels is a display showing passengers when and where their vehicles will depart and, for color, a sprawling wall ad for Las Vegas tourism sporting the city's 'What happens in Vegas, only happens here' slogan

Musk shared renders (pictured) earlier this year of what the area will look like once it is complete. Above the tunnels is a display showing passengers when and where their vehicles will depart and, for color, a sprawling wall ad for Las Vegas tourism sporting the city's 'What happens in Vegas, only happens here' slogan

Musk shared renders (pictured) earlier this year of what the area will look like once it is complete. Above the tunnels is a display showing passengers when and where their vehicles will depart and, for color, a sprawling wall ad for Las Vegas tourism sporting the city’s ‘What happens in Vegas, only happens here’ slogan

The Vegas loop will first included the Las Vegas Convention Center, but the firm plans to expand it to run along the Strip, McCarran International Airport, Allegiant Stadium, downtown Las Vegas and eventually to Los Angeles.

The system was first announced in May 2019, but like most of Musk’s projects the loop hit a three-month delay.

However, the process appears to be moving along, as The Boring Company is currently receiving approval for a number of agreements and is putting the final touches on the 0.8-mile-long tunnels and passenger stations.

And in the spirit of things, the firm decided to through a part in the passenger loading area – complete with strobe lights and dance music.

Musk shared renders earlier this year of what the area will look like once it is complete.

The video, shared on Twitter , was shot inside the Loop’s hub where passengers will be transported from one end of the convention center to the other in a Model 3 electric vehicle

The video, shared on Twitter , was shot inside the Loop’s hub where passengers will be transported from one end of the convention center to the other in a Model 3 electric vehicle

The video, shared on Twitter , was shot inside the Loop’s hub where passengers will be transported from one end of the convention center to the other in a Model 3 electric vehicle

Above the tunnels is a display showing passengers when and where their vehicles will depart and, for color, a sprawling wall ad for Las Vegas tourism sporting the city’s ‘What happens in Vegas, only happens here’ slogan.

The cars will use onboard self-driving software to navigate the tunnels in addition to ‘tracking wheel’ which guide the vehicle along its specific lane.

The renders are, of course, only tentative his point and could change drastically between now and when the station is actually built.

They do, however, show the progression of Musk’s Las Vegas loop, which he said in a corresponding tweet is ‘coming soon.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Robocallers pose as Apple and Amazon support in new scam

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robocallers pose as apple and amazon support in new scam

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning consumers of a new robocall scheme where scammers are posing as Apple and Amazon support.

Robocallers are using recorded messages that tell the person that something is wrong with their account like a suspicious purchase, lost package or their iCloud was breached.

The message prompts them to press ‘one’ to speak with customer service in order to discuss the problem – and this is where the scamming begins.

A fake representative is then connected and will attempt to extract a consumer’s personal information, like their credit card number or account passwords.

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Robocallers are using recorded messages tell the person, along with using their name, that something is wrong with their account like a suspicious purchase, lost package or their iCloud was breached

Robocallers are using recorded messages tell the person, along with using their name, that something is wrong with their account like a suspicious purchase, lost package or their iCloud was breached

Robocallers are using recorded messages tell the person, along with using their name, that something is wrong with their account like a suspicious purchase, lost package or their iCloud was breached 

‘If you get an unexpected call or message about a problem with any of your accounts, hang up,’ the FTC said. ‘Do not press 1 to speak with customer support, do not call a phone number they gave you, do not give out your personal information.’

The FTC found two parts of this scam – a caller acting as an employee of Amazon or Apple.

For the Amazon scheme, unsuspecting victims will be told there’s something wrong with your account. It could be a suspicious purchase, a lost package, or an order they can’t fulfill.

‘An unauthorized purchase of an iPhone XR 64 GB for $749 is being ordered from your Amazon account,’ the recording states.

The message prompts the individual to press 'one' to speak with customer service in order to discuss the problem – and this is where the scamming begins. A robocaller is then connected and will attempt to extract a consumer's personal information, like their credit card number or account passwords

The message prompts the individual to press 'one' to speak with customer service in order to discuss the problem – and this is where the scamming begins. A robocaller is then connected and will attempt to extract a consumer's personal information, like their credit card number or account passwords

The message prompts the individual to press ‘one’ to speak with customer service in order to discuss the problem – and this is where the scamming begins. A robocaller is then connected and will attempt to extract a consumer’s personal information, like their credit card number or account passwords 

‘To cancel your order or to connect with one of our customer support representatives please press one or simply stay on the line.’

In the scam disguised as Apple, the robocaller says: ‘Suspicious activity in your iCloud account, your iCloud account has been breached.’

‘Before you use any Apple device, please contact Apple support adviser.’

And again, prompts the person to press on to connect to the scammer.

Robocalls have become a major issue in the US.

Some 58 billion scam calls were made in 2019, an increase over 11 billion from the previous year.

However, in 2020 the number of calls took a dramatic dive to 30 billion across the nation.

In 2019, Americans, on average were hit with 15 robocalls per person in April, but exactly one year later that number decreased to 8.7 calls per person.

The decrease may stem from anti-robocall measures put into place December 2019.

In addition to fining convicted spammers from $1,500 to up to $10,000, the bill, signed by President Donald Trump, gives authorities more enforcement powers and looks to accelerate measures the industry is already taking to identify robocalls.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said: ‘American families deserve control over their communications, and this legislation will update our laws and regulations to stiffen penalties, increase transparency, and enhance government collaboration to stop unwanted solicitation.’ 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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