Lucky dip

EUSci now has a fairly extensive archive of fascinating articles- use this page to show you a random selection.

New insights into parasite reproduction aids malaria research

Scientists have found that upsetting the mating pattern of the parasite that causes malaria could stop its spread between people.The tropical disease is caused by the malaria parasite Plasmodium, which can infect both humans and cattle. It is a major problem in Sub Saharan Africa and causes a death toll of one million people every year. Read more »

Health treatments & the 'right' decision

Britain's 'Big Society' is one of responsibility and empowerment, ideals that are particularly relevant to the clinical world where patients want choice and control over their treatments. However, evidence from cognitive psychology suggests that we are far from optimal decision-makers, so decision support systems could help us fare better in taking control successfully. REACT (Risk, Events, Actions and their Consequences over Time) is a tool being developed by a group in Edinburgh.  REACT aims to improve our decision-making abilities. It enables patients to interactively scrutinise the benefits and risks of their treatment options over time. Read more »

The Greatest Show on Earth

Reading The Greatest Show on Earth, it’s hard to avoid the impression that Richard Dawkins is a grumpy old man. Taxonomic naming conventions, the use of the term ‘epigenetics’ and Disney’s portrayal of A.A. Milne’s Eyeore are all subjects of irritation. But maybe you’d be grumpy too if you’d spent significant amounts of time faced with creationists who, despite a wealth of informative fossils, persist in saying things like “show me the fossils”. Read more »

Stay Sharper For Longer

With the advent of old age, incidences of misplaced keys and embarrassing moments of forgotten names occur more often. It is well understood that certain cognitive skills start to decline and others improve as you inch closer to becoming a senior citizen. Yet, there are some 70-year-olds who can still beat those at 50 on a memory test. How do they retain such abilities and how can that knowledge be used to our advantage?

Results emerging from a unique study ‘Midlife in the United States’ (MIDUS), have shown that there might indeed be ways to slow down the inevitable slide. Margie Lachman, psychologist at Brandeis University and principal investigator for MIDUS, found education to be the most essential element of mental fitness. For middle-agers, a university degree obtained during younger days can slow the brain’s aging process by up to a decade. Read more »

Criminal minds: helping the people nobody will help

Q. Did you always want to be a forensic psychiatrist?

Before I did medicine, I did a degree in human sciences, which is really just about human behaviour in general. I was interested in the way people behave: how people behave in society and deviance from society. Forensic psychiatry is just the area of psychiatry that relates to legal issues, and crime and offending, so it’s not a great leap.

Q. What encouraged you to specialize after that?

I wanted to do a PhD, but I found the lab quite removed. At the time, I was working with a lot of doctors who were doing clinical research and going onto wards, and I thought that seemed a lot more interesting. It's nice to have patient interaction. I've had some very interesting and unusual cases, but unfortunately I can't tell you about them - because of confidentiality.

Q. So you can’t talk about cases? Read more »