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Monday, January 16, 2017

No Excuses: Real Reason You’re Late May Vary with Age

Young and old use different strategies to estimate passage of time, study finds
Reasons for being late vary with age 
Newswise, January 16, 2017--A song is just a song, but as time goes by, something as random as a song’s length could be the difference in whether you miss an important deadline or arrive late for an appointment, suggests time-management research from Washington University in St. Louis.

The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, shows that people rely heavily on time estimates of past experiences to plan for future tasks and that outside influences, such as background music, can skew our perception of time, causing even the best-laid plans to go awry.

“Our results suggest time estimates of tasks that we need to incorporate into our later plans, like a drive to an appointment, are often based on our memory of how long it took us to perform that same drive previously,” said Emily Waldum, principal author of the paper and a postdoctoral researcher in psychological and brain sciences in Arts & Sciences.

“Even if you think you estimated the duration of events accurately, external factors unrelated to that event can bias time estimates,” she said.

“Something as simple as the number of songs you heard play on your phone during a run can influence whether you over- or under-estimate the duration of the run.”

In a complicated modern world where multitasking is the norm, it’s easy for our game plans to fall apart due to breakdowns in “prospective memory,” a term psychologists use to describe the process of remembering to do something in the future.

Waldum and co-author Mark McDaniel, a professor of psychological and brain sciences, designed this study to tease out differences in how people young and old approach a challenge that requires them to plan ahead and complete a series of time-based tasks by a specific deadline.

The research included 36 college undergraduates and 34 healthy older adults in their 60s, 70s and 80s. It aimed to simulate the complicated time-based prospective memory (TBPM) challenges that people old and young experience in everyday life.

In the first part of the study, participants were asked to keep track of how long it took to complete a trivia quiz. The quiz always ran 11 minutes, but participants had to make their own time estimates without access to a clock. Some completed the quiz with no background noise, while others heard either two long songs or four short songs.

Later, the participants were challenged to put together as many pieces of a puzzle as possible while leaving enough time to complete the same quiz before a 20-minute deadline.

Contrary to previous research, this study found that seniors managed to complete future tasks on time at about the same rate as college undergraduates, although each age group used surprisingly different strategies to estimate how much time they would need to repeat the quiz and finish the next phase of the experiment on deadline.

Older adults reported ignoring songs heard in the background, relying instead on an internal clock to estimate how long it took them to complete the first quiz. 

Consistent with other research on internal clocks and time perception,  seniors in this experiment tended to underestimate time taken on the first quiz. This led them to spend a little too much time on the puzzle and to finish the second quiz a bit beyond deadline.

“When younger adults heard two long songs during the first quiz, they performed a lot like older adults, underestimating the quiz duration and winding up a bit late,” Waldum said.

“When they heard four short songs, younger adults overestimated how much time they would need to repeat the quiz leading them to finish it too early.”

Thus, older adults performed about the same, regardless of whether they heard songs or not. For young people though, background music played a big role in whether they were too early or too late, Waldum said.

While the challenges of being on time may remain largely the same throughout a lifetime, this study suggests that the tricks we use to stay on schedule may evolve as we age.

For college students with young, agile minds and no fear of multitasking, using songs to estimate the passage of time may be a plausible approach when no clock is available.

“In a scenario where the duration of a background event is set, such as a 30-minute television show, this is a very good strategy because it provides useful duration information whether you’re paying attention to the show or not,” Waldum said.

“However, when background events are less predictable, as in the case with songs and many other events, basing a time estimate on them can be risky.”

Older adults, who generally see declines in memory and the speed at which they process information, tended to avoid multitasking throughout the study.

During the first quiz, they ignored songs and relied more on an internal clock to make time estimates. In the second phase of the study when a clock was made available, they were less likely to pause working on the puzzle and quiz to check the clock.

These findings suggest that older adults may actually over-rely on their internal clocks that give us a feeling of elapsed time. Checking a clock when it is available is a much better strategy than relying on a feeling of elapsed time, and indeed increased clock-checking predicts better time-based prospective memory performance in this and many other previous studies.

Therefore, even if checking the clock requires some multitasking, it is worth your time, Waldum said.

No matter what challenges the future brings — getting out the door and to work, finishing walking the dog before the cookies are done or purchasing popcorn before a movie starts — the fundamentals of being on time still apply.

You must remember this: Success requires making accurate estimates of the time needed to complete prerequisite tasks, remembering to carry out these tasks at the appropriate time and avoiding distractions that could prevent you from staying on schedule.

“Our study provides some good news for older adults,” Waldum said. “Our results, while preliminary, suggest that time-management ability and the ability to perform some types of complex time-based tasks in real life may largely be preserved with age.”

Ohio State research seeks to improve safety, reduce injury in elderly drivers

Improving safety for older draivers January 16, 2017--As baby boomers age, their risk of life-threatening injuries from car crashes also increases. Although car seat belts are safe and save the lives of many drivers of different shapes and sizes, they don’t always provide optimal safety for everyone.

In an effort to improve safety and reduce injury in drivers over 65, researchers from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and industry partners are measuring impact and injuries sustained from side car crashes involving elderly drivers who wear seat belts.

John Bolte, associate professor of health and rehabilitation sciences at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and director of Ohio State’s Injury Biomechanics Research Center, is analyzing differences in injuries sustained from side impact car crashes to help improve safety system designs for the 36 million elderly drivers on America’s roads today.

“When seat belts were first designed about four decades ago, safety dummies tested in car crash simulations resembled the average-size male driver of 40 years old and weighing approximately 170 lbs.,” said Bolte, also principal investigator of the study.

Now, thanks to thanks to advanced technology, instrumentation and imagining, we know a lot more about the human body and its bones and how they respond to crashes than we did 20 years ago, yet researchers say the biggest obstacle that remains is human variation.

“Age isn’t the best predictor of how someone responds to injury. We need to move the field away from age and into something more scientifically based, such as looking at properties of the thorax or upper body to better predict how much impact is associated with certain injuries,” Bolte said.

Researchers are conducting newly designed simulations using smaller crash test dummies that are a better representation of the fragile baby boomer population. While measuring impact, they’ll also document position and properties of the upper body to better predict appropriate protection for elderly drivers.

Industry experts say that improperly fitted seat belts save lives, but also can cause injury. To a young driver, some injuries sustained during car crashes won’t always be critical. However, for an elderly driver, fractured ribs or a broken pelvis can quickly become life threatening.

“We’re hopeful our data will assist with safety design modifications to better protect the older, more vulnerable drivers,” Bolte said.

Researchers say, one day, individuals will have a personalized car key fob that activates a customized safety system within their vehicles and adjusts the seat belt based on their individual physiology

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Centenarians Can Still Improve Fitness Levels, Study Finds

Exercise improves fitness for 100 year oldsFit after 100: Training Helps French Bicyclist Beat His Own World Record at 103

Newswise — January 14, 2017—Adults over 100 years old can still increase their athletic performance and physical fitness with regular training, researchers have found. 

The case study of Robert Marchand, the now 105-year-old who recently broke the 100+ cycling record—again—is published ahead of print in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

French researchers followed the cycling training routine of Marchand, a retired gardener and wine dealer who was born in 1911. Marchand cycled regularly between the ages of 15 and 25 but stopped cycling during his working years before starting again at age 70.

For the two years before he attempted a world record for cycling in the 100 and over age group, Marchard cycled more than 3,000 miles each year (5,000 km).

The research team administered exercise tests before and after this two-year training period to measure his cardiovascular fitness, including exertion rate, breathing rate and maximum oxygen consumption. Body weight and muscle mass was also assessed.

Marchand set a world record for cycling 14 miles (24.25 km) in one hour at the age of 101 and broke his own record at age 103, completing 16 miles (26.92 km) in the same time frame.

In the two-year span between these records, his revolution-per-minute (rpm) rate increased from 69 to 90. Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) also increased over the two-year period.

“Indeed, his VO2max was in the same range as those of a sedentary 50-year-old man or those of an active 65-year-old man and an endurance trained 80-year-old man,” the researchers wrote.

“This study shows for the first time that it is still possible to improve performance after one’s 100th birthday by using polarizing training monitored with [rate of perceived exertion] and by focusing on a high pedaling cadence.”

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 11,000 members and publishes 14 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.

Exercise … It Does a Body Good: 20 Minutes Can Act as Anti-Inflammatory

20 minutes of Exercise produces anti-inflammatory reponse
One moderate exercise session has a cellular response that may help suppress inflammation in the body

One 20-minute session of moderate exercise can stimulate the immune system, producing an anti-inflammatory cellular response.

Newswise, January 14, 2017 — It’s well known that regular physical activity has health benefits, including weight control, strengthening the heart, bones and muscles and reducing the risk of certain diseases.

Recently, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine found how just one session of moderate exercise can also act as an anti-inflammatory. The findings have encouraging implications for chronic diseases like arthritis, fibromyalgia and for more pervasive conditions, such as obesity.

The study, recently published online in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, found one 20-minute session of moderate exercise can stimulate the immune system, producing an anti-inflammatory cellular response.

“Each time we exercise, we are truly doing something good for our body on many levels, including at the immune cell level,” said senior author Suzi Hong, PhD, in the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine.

“The anti-inflammatory benefits of exercise have been known to researchers, but finding out how that process happens is the key to safely maximizing those benefits.”

The brain and sympathetic nervous system — a pathway that serves to accelerate heart rate and raise blood pressure, among other things — are activated during exercise to enable the body to carry out work.

Hormones, such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, are released into the blood stream and trigger adrenergic receptors, which immune cells possess.

This activation process during exercise produces immunological responses, which include the production of many cytokines, or proteins, one of which is TNF — a key regulator of local and systemic inflammation that also helps boost immune responses.

“Our study found one session of about 20 minutes of moderate treadmill exercise resulted in a five percent decrease in the number of stimulated immune cells producing TNF,” said Hong.

“Knowing what sets regulatory mechanisms of inflammatory proteins in motion may contribute to developing new therapies for the overwhelming number of individuals with chronic inflammatory conditions, including nearly 25 million Americans who suffer from autoimmune diseases.”

The 47 study participants walked on a treadmill at an intensity level that was adjusted based on their fitness level. Blood was collected before and immediately after the 20 minute exercise challenge.

“Our study shows a workout session doesn’t actually have to be intense to have anti-inflammatory effects. Twenty minutes to half-an-hour of moderate exercise, including fast walking, appears to be sufficient,” said Hong.

 “Feeling like a workout needs to be at a peak exertion level for a long duration can intimidate those who suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases and could greatly benefit from physical activity.”

Inflammation is a vital part of the body's immune response. It is the body's attempt to heal itself after an injury; defend itself against foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria; and repair damaged tissue.
However, chronic inflammation can lead to serious health issues associated with diabetes, celiac disease, obesity and other conditions.

“Patients with chronic inflammatory diseases should always consult with their physician regarding the appropriate treatment plan, but knowing that exercise can act as an anti-inflammatory is an exciting step forward in possibilities,” said Hong.

Study co-authors include Stoyan Dimitrov, and Elaine Hulteng, UC San Diego.

This research was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (R01HL090975, HL090975S) and UCSD Clinical and Translational Science Awards from the National Institutes of Health (UL1RR031980).

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Consumer Behavior Expert Shares Four Savings Goals, Financial Tips for the New Year

Man on top of stack of money
Create an environment that makes it easier to NOT spend money, Baylor professor says
Newswise, January 3, 2017– With 2016 nearly in the rearview mirror, Americans are making resolutions for the New Year. A Baylor University consumer behavior expert suggests that Americans resolve to get in good financial shape in the coming year.

James Roberts, Ph.D., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business, is a nationally recognized researcher on consumer culture and behavior, compulsive buying and credit card use and abuse. Roberts advises Americans to focus on four savings goals in 2017:

1.    Establish an emergency fund ($2,500)
2. Save 3 to 6 months expenses
3. Contribute to your retirement account
4. Start your kid's college fund

In addition, cutting out the use of credit cards would be a great New Year's financial resolution for all Americans, Roberts says, and one that would put us on the road to financial health and well-being.

"This involves creating an environment that makes it easier to not spend money, such as avoiding the malls, shopping without credit cards and only with cash, using a 24-hour cooling off period for big purchases and paying yourself first to help you attain the four savings goals," Roberts says.

Roberts says that Americans have become desensitized to what he calls the "pain of paying," a concept that deals with the different levels of "pain" associated with how we choose to pay for our purchases. Cash, checks and debit cards have an immediate and "painful" impact on our wealth. Credit cards are the next less painful option, but these plastic "spending facilitators" lead most Americans to spend and buy more than necessary.

"Cash is the most painful, and I think we all understand why that is when we pay for things with cash. We have to have it in our pocket, we have to count it out, and when we pay for our purchase, that cash is no longer in our pocket. It's very painful and so we're much less likely to buy things when we pay with cash," he says.

Slightly less painful options are debit cards and checks.

"Debit cards are better than credit cards because we at least have some idea that we are taking money out of an account and that money is no longer there. Debit cards can be used for anything that credit cards are used for (on-line purchases, car rentals, etc.). But still, it's a little less painful than cash. Checks are pretty painful because we have to write down the amount and we know that money is coming out of our checking account," Roberts says.

The ease of credit card use comes with a "buy it now, pay later" mentality that makes it the next less painful option, but there's also a major disadvantage: higher risk of greater debt. Experts say with plastic we're more willing to spend more and likely to buy more than we can afford.

"When we pay with cash or write a check we have to count out that money or write out that amount. We don't have that benefit or barrier with credit cards," Roberts says.

"There's a delayed impact on our wealth when we use credit cards. We have 30 days to figure out how to have the money available to make payments. As human beings we're optimistic that we'll come up with it some way and make that payment, but we got 30 days to think about it."

Credit cards also tend to "super-size" purchases. In fact, researchers have found that bills in fast food restaurants paid by credit card tend to be between 50-100 percent larger than bills paid in cash. And, it's not just that we spend more with plastic but that we are more likely to buy in the first place.

James Roberts, Ph.D., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Marketing in Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, is a nationally known expert on materialism and smartphone addiction. He recently published the new book, 
“Too Much of a Good Thing: Are You Addicted to Your Smartphone?” He has been featured in numerous national and international media, including CBS Early ShowNBC’s Today ShowABC’s World News Tonight and Good Morning AmericaThe O’Reilly FactorNPRCNNThe New York TimesUSA TodayCosmopolitan MagazineThe Wall Street JournalReader’s DigestYahoo! Finance and U.S. News and World Report. He is also the author of the book “Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can't Buy.”

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business provides a rigorous academic experience, consisting of classroom and hands-on learning, guided by Christian commitment and a global perspective. Recognized nationally for several programs, including Entrepreneurship and Accounting, the school offers 24 undergraduate and 13 graduate areas of study. Visit and follow on Twitter at

A Baby Boomer’s New Year Resolution: Ask Your Doctor About Your Medicines

Elderly taking more than 5 pills daily urged to consult with doctors
Credit: Saint Louis University
Milta Little, D.O., a Saint Louis University associate professor of geriatrics, says older patients who take five or more drugs should talk to their doctors to make sure their medications aren't undermining their health.

Newswise, January 3, 2017-- If you’re 65 or older and taking more than four medications, resolve to talk to your doctor about doing a New Year’s triage to make sure too many pills aren’t making you sick, advises Milta Little, D.O., associate professor of geriatrics at Saint Louis University.

As people grow older, they can develop a litany of health problems and see multiple specialists who prescribe various drugs to treat common conditions such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and memory loss.

“Drugs may not play well with each other, and problems can snowball for older adults who take five or more medicines,” Little said.

“As a geriatrician who quarterbacks the health care of my patients, I think six medicines usually is too many, and studies have shown mortality is higher among patients who are taking 10 medicines. I love to analyze medicines my patients are taking because reducing the number of drugs often makes them feel so much better. Many times, less is more.”

Every patient is unique with different health goals and challenges that change as a person ages, which is why one-size-fits-all guidelines don’t work, Little adds. She advocates an annual medicine check-up, where patients ask doctors to assess the drugs they are taking, being mindful that vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter medicines count, too.

“Supplements and other nonprescription medications, which are often less rigorously regulated than prescription medications, are a major cause of dangerous drug-drug interaction in elderly patients,” Little said.

“I don’t recommend a multi-vitamin or gingko for brain health for everyone. The supplements are for specific people, and I prescribe them like anything else, only for those who need them.”

Here are questions Little asks as she analyzes the medicines her patients take:
How old is my patient? Guidelines on what constitutes good health loosen with age. For instance, a good blood pressure for a younger adult – 120/60 – is much lower than a healthy blood pressure for an older adult – 160/90. And a person who has a blood pressure with a top (systolic) number that’s too low – 130 – could fall or become dizzy, which creates additional health risks. “My prescriptions for patients who are 65 are different than those for patients who are 80,” Little said. “For patients who are 100, I probably wouldn’t prescribe any medicine at all. If they’ve lived to be 100, it’s probably nothing doctors did.”
How long has the patient taken the medicine? Prescriptions are not forever, and should be reviewed periodically to make sure they’re still necessary. “It may have been appropriate for you 10 years ago, but may not be today,” she says. “Under your doctor’s guidance, don’t be afraid to try going off your medicine.” For instance, there is no evidence that shows a 76-year-old patient who has high cholesterol but hasn’t had a heart attack or stroke within the last year would benefit from taking a statin, although he might have been prescribed the statin 16 years ago, when it likely could help.
Is the dosage right? As people grow older their bodies change. A smaller dose of medication might yield the same response as a younger adult. Often times, a half-dose of a psychotropic medication works better in older patients than a full dose, as does a smaller dose of medicine for osteoporosis. “Start low and go slow,” Little says. “You can always give more but you can’t take it out of the body once it’s given.”
What are the drug’s side effects? A medicine might address one problem, but create another. For instance, antidepressants can cause frequent urination, which can lead to incontinence. Statins and blood thinners worsen frailty, which makes patient vulnerable to more medical problems. An anti-diuretic for blood pressure can worsen symptoms of gout, which is a form of arthritis.
How well do medicines play with each other? Drugs given for one illness could make another condition worse. Medicine given for acid reflux can reduce the effectiveness of blood thinners because of the way the medicines are broken down in the liver.

“Some older adults believe taking a pill will make them healthier, which is not always the case, particularly when they’re taking many pills for different health issues. Too many medicines can make older adults feel fatigued, and undermine the quality of their lives,” said Little, who is the author of an editorial on overmedication in the elderly that appeared in a 2016 issue of JAMDA.

“We have a lot of evidence that non-medical treatments, such as exercise, yoga and massages, work better in improving a person’s health. But they’re work.”

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: infectious disease, liver disease, cancer, heart/lung disease, and aging and brain disorders.

Scripps Florida Scientists Uncover Cellular Process Behind Premature Aging

Cellular process behind premature aging
Newswise, January 3, 2017– December 21, 2016 – In a new study, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have shown how two genes “balance” each other to maintain normal cell function. A disruption in one of the genes, called spns1, can induce degradation and premature “senescence”—or aging—while the other gene, called atp6v0ca, can jump in to suppress that degradation.

Their experiments in zebrafish suggest that these combined genetic disruptions can counteract premature aging and extend developmental lifespan.

“We found that the dual defects did indeed counteract senescence during development and extended the animal’s survival and life span,” said TSRI Associate Professor Shuji Kishi.

The findings, published recently in the journal Autophagy, could also guide future treatments for diseases that involve the body’s inability to degrade unwanted or harmful compounds.

A Closer Look at Lifespan
Cellular senescence is when cells stop dividing and is a normal part of aging. Interestingly, senescence is not only observed in later aging stages but is also detectable during embryonic development in vertebrates.

In the new study, the researchers took a closer look at the gene spns1. In vertebrates, such as zebrafish and humans, the protein encoded by spns1 is important in a cellular process called autophagy, when the cell moves unwanted material to a cellular structure called the lysosome.

Previous research had shown that defects in this gene can also cause senescence in the embryonic stage and premature aging symptoms in adulthood.

However, Kishi and his colleagues found that a concurrent disruption of another gene— atp6v0ca, whose sole defect still causes senescence—led to suppression of the process induced by the defective spns1 gene.

“Our findings suggest that these two defects actually function at a balance point that is critically involved in the regulation of developmental senescence—and that balance allows for normal cell function,” said Kishi.

Restoring the Balance
The scientists are now considering ways to influence the balance between these genes as a strategy to treat lysosomal storage diseases such as Pompe disease, where the excessive buildup of a substance called glycogen results in severe muscle weakness.

They believe there may also be applications in treating age-associated degenerative diseases linked to late-stage autophagy disruption.

“The use of appropriate inhibitors, selective for key steps in the biosynthesis of cellular macromolecules in general, may restore normal dynamics in the autolysosomal compartment and correct the pathological storage that is the ultimate cause of these types of disease,” said TSRI Research Associate Shanshan Lian, the co-first author of the study.

The findings may also lead to the development of tools to help identify new genes that affect the aging process without the need for performing lengthy adult lifespan analyses.

This approach could be applied to the high-throughput identification of pharmacological agents that control aging and lifespan through enhanced resistance to various stressors, including oxygen radicals.

In addition to Kishi and Lian, other authors of the study, “Autolysosome Biogenesis and Developmental Senescence Are Regulated by Both Spns1 and V-Atpase,” include TSRI’s Tomoyuki Sasaki, a co-first author and Alam Khan; Jesse R. Llop, Andrew V. Samuelson of the University of Rochester; Wenbiao Chen of the Vanderbilt University; and Daniel J. Klionsky of the University of Michigan.
This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grants GM101508 and GM053396).

About The Scripps Research Institute
The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is one of the world's largest independent, not-for-profit organizations focusing on research in the biomedical sciences. TSRI is internationally recognized for its contributions to science and health, including its role in laying the foundation for new treatments for cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, and other diseases. An institution that evolved from the Scripps Metabolic Clinic founded by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps in 1924, the institute now employs more than 2,500 people on its campuses in La Jolla, CA, and Jupiter, FL, where its renowned scientists—including two Nobel laureates and 20 members of the National Academy of Science, Engineering or Medicine—work toward their next discoveries. The institute's graduate program, which awards PhD degrees in biology and chemistry, ranks among the top ten of its kind in the nation. For more information, see