Researchers confront the epidemic of loneliness


The woman on the other end of the phone spoke lightheartedly of spring and of her 81st birthday the previous week.

“Who did you celebrate with, Beryl?” asked Alison, whose job was to offer a kind ear.

“No one, I…”

And with that, Beryl’s cheer turned to despair.

Her voice began to quaver as she acknowledged that she had been alone at home not just on her birthday, but for days and days. The telephone conversation was the first time she had spoken in more than a week.

About 10,000 similar calls come in weekly to an unassuming office building in this seaside town at the northwest reaches of England, which houses The Silver Line Helpline, a 24-hour call center for older adults seeking to fill a basic need: contact with other people.

Loneliness, which Emily Dickinson described as “the Horror not to be surveyed,” is a quiet devastation. But in Britain, it is increasingly being viewed as something more: a serious public health issue deserving of public funds and national attention.

Working with local governments and the National Health Service, programs aimed at mitigating loneliness have sprung up in dozens of cities and towns. Even fire brigades have been trained to inspect homes not just for fire safety but for signs of social isolation.

“There’s been an explosion of public awareness here, from local authorities to the Department of Health to the media,” said Paul Cann, chief executive of Age UK Oxfordshire and a founder of The Campaign to End Loneliness, a five-year-old group based in London. “Loneliness has to be everybody’s business.”

Researchers have found mounting evidence linking loneliness to physical illness and to functional and cognitive decline. As a predictor of early death, loneliness eclipses obesity.

“The profound effects of loneliness on health and independence are a critical public health problem,” said Dr. Carla M. Perissinotto, a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco. “It is no longer medically or ethically acceptable to ignore older adults who feel lonely and marginalized.”

In Britain and the United States, roughly one in three people older than 65 live alone, and in the United States, half of those older than 85 live alone. Studies in both countries show the prevalence of loneliness among people older than 60 ranging from 10 percent to 46 percent.

While the public, private and volunteer sectors in Britain are mobilizing to address loneliness, researchers are deepening their understanding of its biological underpinnings. In a paper published earlier this year in the journal Cell, neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified a region of the brain they believe generates feelings of loneliness. The region, known as the dorsal raphe nucleus, or D.R.N., is best known for its link to depression.

Kay M. Tye and her colleagues found that when mice were housed together, dopamine neurons in the D.R.N. were relatively inactive. But after the mice were isolated for a short period, the activity in those neurons surged when those mice were reunited with other mice.

“This is the first time we’ve found a cellular substrate for this experience,” said Dr. Tye, an assistant professor at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at M.I.T. and a senior author of the paper. “And we saw the change after 24 hours of isolation.”


John T. Cacioppo, a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and director of the university’s Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, has been studying loneliness since the 1990s. He said loneliness is an aversive signal much like thirst, hunger or pain.

“Denying you feel lonely makes no more sense than denying you feel hunger,” he said. Yet the very word “lonely” carries a negative connotation, Professor Cacioppo said, signaling social weakness, or an inability to stand on one’s own.

The unspoken stigma of loneliness is amply evident during calls to The Silver Line. Most people call asking for advice on, say, roasting a turkey. Many call more than once a day. One woman rings every hour to ask the time. Only rarely will someone speak frankly about loneliness.

Yet the impulse to call in to services like The Silver Line is a healthy one, Professor Cacioppo said.

On a recent afternoon, Tracey, a Silver Line adviser, listened as a caller in his 80s embarked on a nostalgic trip down his list of favorite films. The next caller serenaded Tracey with “Oh What a Beautiful Morning,” on his harmonica.

Once the harmonica player had hung up, a call came in from an 88-year-old man with an avalanche of memories to share: dogs he had owned, boats he had captained, London during the blitz. Tracey, a former nurse, listened patiently for 30 minutes.

“It can be really fascinating when people talk about things like London during the bombing,” she said after the call ended. “It’s important to remember the rich lives people have led.”

Silver Line workers leave it up to the caller to mention whether they are feeling lonely. Still, the advisers are trained to listen for signs of unhappy isolation, and gently lead the conversation accordingly, perhaps offering to link the caller to a Silver Line Friend, a volunteer who makes weekly phone calls or writes letters to those who request it.

Sophie Andrews, chief executive of The Silver Line, said she was surprised by the explosion of calls shortly after the service began operating nearly three years ago. The Blackpool call center now receives some 1,500 calls a day.

Ms. Andrews said she was most concerned not about those who called The Silver Line, but those who were too depressed by their isolation to pick up the phone. “We need to raise awareness with the people who are the hardest to reach,” she said.

Professor Cacioppo lauds efforts like The Silver Line, yet he warns that the problem of loneliness is nuanced and the solutions not as obvious as they might seem. That is, a call-in line can help reduce feelings of loneliness temporarily, but is not likely to reduce levels of chronic loneliness.

In his research, Professor Cacioppo has shown that loneliness affects several key bodily functions, at least in part through overstimulation of the body’s stress response. Chronic loneliness, his work has shown, is associated with increased levels of cortisol, a major stress hormone, as well as higher vascular resistance, which can raise blood pressure and decrease blood flow to vital organs.

Professor Cacioppo’s research has also shown that the danger signals activated in the brain by loneliness affect the production of white blood cells; this can impair the immune system’s ability to fight infections.

It is only in the past several years that loneliness has been examined through a medical, rather than psychological or sociological, lens. Dr. Perissinotto, the University of California, San Francisco geriatrician, decided to study loneliness when she began to sense there were factors affecting her patients’ health that she was failing to capture.

Using data from a large national survey of older adults, in 2012 Dr. Perissinotto analyzed the relationship between self-reported loneliness and health outcomes in people older than 60. Of 1,604 participants in the study, 43 percent reported feelings of loneliness, and these individuals had significantly higher rates of declining mobility, difficulty in performing routine daily activities, and death during six years of follow-up. The association of loneliness with mortality remained significant even after adjusting for age, economic status, depression and other common health problems.

Dr. Perissinotto is also interested in examining the link between loneliness and suicidal thoughts, as there has been little research in that area. She hopes to study The Friendship Line, a 24-hour, toll-free, loneliness call-in line run by the Institute on Aging in San Francisco that is also a suicide prevention hotline.

Although plenty of research into loneliness takes place in the United States, Britain remains well ahead in addressing the problem.

“In the U.S., there isn’t much recognition in terms of public health initiatives or the average person recognizing that loneliness has to do with health,” said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, whose studies also link loneliness to deteriorating health.

Age UK, an organization similar to AARP in the United States, oversees an array of programs aimed at decreasing loneliness and coordinates efforts with fire brigades to look for signs of loneliness and isolation in the homes they enter.

Another charity, Open Age, runs some 400 activities each week in Central London — sewing circles, current events discussions, book clubs and exercise and computer classes, held at church halls, sport centers, housing projects — and its employees also visit people in their homes to try to get them out and about.

“We try to work out what it is that’s preventing them from leaving the house,” said Helen Leech, the organization’s director.

Men and women differ greatly in how they grapple with loneliness. Seventy percent of the calls to The Silver Line are from women.

“We have this kind of male pride thing,” said Mike Jenn, 70, a retired charity worker who lives in London. “We say, ‘I can look after myself. I don’t need to talk to anyone,’ and it’s a complete fallacy. Not communicating helps to kill us.”

Mr. Jenn runs a “Men’s Shed” in London’s Camden Town district, which aims to bring older men together in a more familiar and comfortable environment — working side by side in a woodworking shop. The concept began in Australia and has since spread to Britain: There are now more than 300 Men’s Sheds throughout England, Scotland and Ireland.

Keith Pearshouse, 70, a retired school principal, discovered the Men’s Shed near his home after moving to London from Norfolk, England, in 2007 and recognizing he was lonely.

“I was a bit anxious walking into a roomful of people,” said Mr. Pearshouse, chatting amid the din created by a table saw, router and lathe at the Camden Town shed, a 700-square-foot workshop in a local community center. “But I immediately thought, ‘Yeah, this is a place that would work for me.'”

Mr. Pearshouse, who had never worked with wood before he discovered the Men’s Shed, showed a visitor a delicate wooden jar he was finishing. The pieces he produces are gratifying, he said, but not nearly as gratifying as the human connections he has made.

While Mr. Pearshouse is still a long way from sharing every little ache and upset with his friends at the shed, he said his life would now feel much emptier without the shoulder-to-shoulder way of confiding he has come to know. As he spoke, he took the lid off his jar, and it gave a slight pop, signifying a perfect fit.

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Do trees have brains and talk to each other? They are intelligent, express emotions and make friends, claims a new book. Barking? Judge for yourself

  • Some research claims trees are able to communicate with each other
  • Forester Peter Wohlleben believes they are able to transmit information
  • Scientists are starting to ask whether trees possess intelligence and brains
There's increasing evidence to show that trees are able to communicate with each other

There’s increasing evidence to show that trees are able to communicate with each other

There’s increasing evidence to show that trees are able to communicate with each other. More than that, trees can learn.

If that’s true — and my experience as a forester convinces me it is — then they must be able to store and transmit information.

And scientists are beginning to ask: is it possible that trees possess intelligence, and memories, and emotions? So, to cut to the quick, do trees have brains?

It sounds incredible, but when you discover how trees talk to each other, feel pain, nurture each other, even care for their close relatives and organize themselves into communities, it’s hard to be skeptical.

I didn’t always feel this way. In fact, when I began as a civil servant with the German forestry commission in the Eighties, I knew next to nothing about the hidden life of trees.

It was my job to look at hundreds of spruces, beeches, oaks and pines every day, to assess their readiness for the lumber mill and their market value.

About 20 years ago, while organizing survival training and log cabin breaks for tourists, I began to rediscover the love of nature I’d had as a six-year-old.

Next, I noticed that visitors were enchanted by crooked, gnarled trees — ones that I would have dismissed because of their low commercial value.

I began to pay attention to more than just the quality of the trunks. I noticed bizarre roots, strangely intertwined branches, mossy cushions on bark . . . all kinds of wonders. Including, unbelievably, evidence of tree friendships.

In the forest that I manage (near the village of Hümmel, east of the Belgian border), I stumbled on a ring of mossy stones, arranged in a circle about five feet across. They were an unusual shape, gently curved with hollowed-out areas.

Scratching at the moss with a knife, I discovered a layer of bark — these were pieces of wood, not stone. But they were hard as rock, and at first I couldn’t understand why they were not decomposing, until I tried to move one . . . and discovered it was rooted into the ground, still alive.

What I’d found was the remains of a tree stump, the vestiges of an ancient forest giant. The moss-covered ‘stones’ had grown where the outer ring had been, and the interior had long rotted away completely. This tree must have been felled at least 400 years ago, perhaps much more, but it was not completely dead.

It had no leaves, however. Without leaves, a tree cannot absorb nourishment from the sunlight.

Living cells must have food in the form of sugar, and they must breathe. The roots of the stump ought to have suffocated and starved to death long ago.

One possible answer existed. The other beeches around the stump had been pumping sugar into it for centuries to keep it alive, through their tangled roots.

Most individual trees of the same species growing in the same copse or stand will be connected through their root systems. It appears that helping neighbours in times of need is the rule, which leads to the conclusion that forests are super-organisms, much like ant colonies.

But the support they give each other is not random. Research by Professor Massimo Maffei at the University of Turin shows trees can distinguish the roots of their own species from other plants, and even pick out their own relations from other trees. Some are so tightly connected at the roots that they even die together, like a devoted married couple.

Diseased or hungry individuals can be identified, supported and nourished until they recover.

When the thick silver-grey beeches in my forest behave like this, they remind me of a herd of elephants. Like the herd, they look after their own, helping the sick and the weak back onto their feet.

And as those mossy wooden ‘stones’ revealed, they are even reluctant, like elephants, to abandon their dead. Of course, this cannot be done for every stump. Most rot and disappear within a couple of hundred years — which is not very long for a tree. But a few are maintained on life support for centuries. It appears to be the closeness of connection, or even affection, that determines how helpful the other trees will be.

It seems many species do this. I have observed oak, fir and spruce stumps as well as beeches that have survived long after the tree was felled. But it’s not just silent support that trees offer each other.

Dr Suzanne Simard of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver has discovered that they can also send warnings using chemical signals and electrical impulses through the fungal networks that stretch under the soil between sets of roots — networks known as the ‘wood wide web’.

These fungi operate like fibre-optic internet cables. Their thin filaments penetrate the earth, weaving through it in almost unbelievable density. One teaspoon of forest soil contains many miles of these tendrils.

Over centuries, if left undisturbed, a single fungus can cover many square miles and create a network throughout an entire forest. Through these links, trees can send signals about insects, drought and other dangers.

News bulletins are transmitted by chemical compounds and also by electricity, traveling at an inch every three seconds.

In comparison with the lightning impulses in mammal bodies, that is extremely slow. But there are species, such as jellyfish and worms, whose nervous systems conduct impulses at similar speeds.

This might help to explain how swarms of insect pests are able to identify trees becoming weak. It’s conceivable that some caterpillars and beetles tune in to the warnings flowing from tree to tree, then test which individuals are failing to pass on the message, by taking a bite of their leaves or bark.

A tree’s silence might indicate that it is cut off from the fungal network, perhaps because it has lost its ability to communicate, and so is unable to prepare for attack or call for help. So not only do trees talk, insects eavesdrop.

Communication between trees and insects isn’t all about defense and illness. There are also the feelgood messages, the perfumed invitations issued by sweet smelling blossom.

These lovely scents are not to please us but to attract bees, which come for the sugar-rich nectar and take away a dusting of pollen, to fertilize other trees.

And it’s not just the smells: blossoms are vivid, gaudy splashes of color. So trees are using displays of erotic perfume and dazzling adornment for sexual purposes — just like many animals and birds.

There’s one more way that animals communicate, through sound. I was dubious at first that trees could deliberately make noises, but the latest scientific research is persuading me otherwise.

Dr Monica Gagliano from the University of Western Australia has been monitoring roots with highly sensitive apparatus, and believes they crackle at a frequency of 220 hertz, which the human ear hears as a low A note.

When this note was played back to seedlings, their roots tilted towards the sound. It appears they could hear it, and were responding.

You might wonder, if trees can talk to each other in so many ways, what they have to discuss.

Among beech trees, at any rate, the conversation might be about when to feed the deer.

Deer are extremely partial to beechnuts, which help them put on a protective layer of fat for winter.

The nuts contain up to 50 per cent oil and starch, making them more nutritious than any other food source. And trees make a lot of them — every beech produces at least 30,000 nuts in a year. It has to, because the odds of a beechnut growing into an adult tree are nearly two million to one. Do the maths: a beech isn’t sexually mature until it’s between 80 and 150 years old, depending on how much light it gets while growing.

Assuming it lives to be 400, it will fruit at least 60 times and produce a total of about 1.8m nuts . . . the minimum number it needs to be sure of spawning one new tree.

But why produce nuts only 60 times in 400 years? Why not every year? The answer is that the trees don’t want to overfeed the deer, because big, hungry herds will strip the forest bare.

No sapling will stand a chance if the deer population explodes.

So the trees must co-operate, to ensure that they all withhold their nuts for several years at a time, and then simultaneously come into fruit together. The deer will have a feast, it’s true, but the herds won’t be able to rely on an annual bounty. Early human farmers spotted this

thousands of years ago. Like the deer, wild pigs gorge on beechnuts, too. Their bodies adapt so their birth rate triples, because they’re getting enough nutrition for big litters of piglets. When the nuts arrive and the boars get fat, it’s known as a ‘mast’ year.

The farmers would release their domestic pigs into forests during mast years.

The porkers gobbled the beech nuts, piled on plenty of meat, and had lots of chubby piglets. Then the farmers would round them up, and there’d be pork on the table throughout winter.

If you think that needs clever communication, think about how umbrella thorn acacias on the African savannah defend themselves against giraffes.

When they start picking at foliage, the acacias begin pumping foul-tasting toxins into the leaves to deter them. It happens in minutes, which for a tree is instantaneous. The giraffes get the message and move on.

But they don’t go to the next acacia. They wander at least 100 yards before trying their luck again. The reason is astonishing. As they come under attack, the acacias give off a warning gas called ethylene that signals a crisis to neighboring trees.

That triggers other acacias to dump toxins into their own leaves, as a defensive measure.

And the giraffes have learned that when one tree tastes bad, others in the vicinity will, too.

The exception is when the wind picks up and only trees downwind detect the ethylene in the air, and react. Giraffes know it too, and head upwind.

Elms and pines use a different tactic. When an insect eats a leaf, electrical signals travel from the damaged area to the roots — just as human tissue sends pain signals along the nervous system.

It takes at least an hour for the roots to react and unleash the defenses, by flowing bitter compounds into the leaf to send the attacker packing. But something even more amazing is also happening: the tree identifies the attacker by its saliva. Armed with this, the tree releases phero-mones to summon specific predators, to prey on the insects. For example, elms and pines call on parasitic wasps that lay their eggs inside leaf-eating caterpillars, condemning them to slow, painful deaths. Trees are prepared to wait for revenge.

The main reason humans cannot perceive how clever and complex they are is because we exist in such short time scales by comparison. There’s a tree in Sweden for instance, a spruce, that is more than 9,500 years old. That’s 115 times longer than the average human lifespan.

A tree’s childhood lasts ten times as long as ours. Activities that take us moments — waking up or stretching our limbs, can last months for a tree.

It’s hardly surprising that most of us see trees as practically inanimate, nothing more than objects. But the truth is very different. They are just as intensely alive as we are . . . and for much, much longer.

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Did you know that intelligence is inherited from mothers?

eredita-intelligenzaSmart people should thank their mothers because, according to researchers, their mothers are the principal responsible for transmitting the intelligence genes. Thus, gender stereotypes that survived over centuries are perhaps about to disappear. Single mothers who want an intelligent son don’t need to look for a Nobel Prize at the nearest sperm bank and it is likely that men begin to re-evaluate the intelligence of women.
At the basis of this idea there are those known as “conditioned genes”, that behave differently depending on their origin. Basically, these genes have a kind of biochemical tag which allows to trace the origin and reveals even if they are active or not within the progeny cells. Interestingly, some of these affected genes work only if they come from the mother. If that same gene is inherited from the father, it is deactivated. Obviously, other genes work the opposite, are activated only if they come from the father.

Mother’s genes go directly to the cerebral cortex, those of the father to the limbic system

We know that intelligence has an hereditary component, but until few years ago we thought that much of it depended on the father as well as on the mother. However, several studies revealed that children are more likely to inherit intelligence from the mother, because intelligence genes are located on chromosome X.
One of the first studies in this area was conducted in 1984 at the University of Cambridge, to this research followed many others over the years. In these studies was analyzed the co-evolution of the brain and the conditioning of the genome, to conclude that the maternal genes contribute most to the development of the thought centers in the brain.
During the first experiment, researchers created the embryos of special rats that only have genes of the mother or the father. But when came the time to transfer them to the uterus of an adult rat, the embryos died. So it was discovered that there are conditioned genes which are activated only when inherited from the mother and that are vital to the proper development of the embryo. On the contrary, the genetic heritage of the father is essential for the growth of the tissue that will form the placenta.
At that time, the researchers hypothesized that if these genes were important for the development of the embryo, it was also likely that they could play a major role in lives of animals and people, maybe they could even result in some brain functions. The problem was how to prove this idea, because embryos with genes from only one parent died quickly.
The researchers found a solution: they discovered that embryos could survive if normal embryonic cells were maintained and the rest were manipulated. This way they created several genetically modified laboratory mice that, surprisingly, did not develop the same way.
Those with an extra dose of maternal genes developed a bigger head and brain, but had little bodies. Conversely, those with an extra dose of paternal genes had small brains and larger bodies.
Deeply analyzing these differences the researchers identified cells that contained only maternal or paternal genes in six different parts of the brain that control different cognitive functions, from eating habits to memory.
In practice, during the first days of the embryo development, any cell can appear anywhere in the brain, but to the extent that the embryos mature and grow, cells that had the paternal genes accumulate in some areas of the emotional brain: hypothalamus, amygdala, the preoptic area and the septum. These areas are part of the limbic system, which is responsible for ensuring our survival and is involved in functions such as sex, food and aggression. However, researchers have not found any paternal cells in the cerebral cortex, which is where they develop the most advanced cognitive functions, such as intelligence, thought, language and planning.

New studies, new lights

Of course, scientists continued to investigate this theory. Robert Lehrke, for example, revealed that most of childrens’ intelligence depends on the X chromosome, and he also showed that since women have two X chromosomes are twice as likely to inherit the characteristics related to intelligence.
Recently, researchers at the University of Ulm, Germany, studied the genes involved in the brain damage and found that many of these, especially those related to cognitive abilities, were on chromosome X. In fact, it is no coincidence that the intellectual disability is 30% more common in males.
But perhaps, one of the most interesting results in this sense comes from a longitudinal analysis conducted by the Medical Research Council Social and Public Health Sciences Unit in the Glasgow, Scotland. In this study they interviewed every year since 1994, 12,686 young people aged between 14 and 22 years. The researchers took into account several factors, from the color of the skin and education to socio-economic status. This way they found that the best predictor of intelligence was the IQ of the mother. In fact, the ratio of young people’s intelligence varied only an average of 15 points from that of their mothers.

Genetics is not the only responsible

If we leave genetics we can also meet other studies that reveal the mother plays an important role in the intellectual development of children, through the physical and emotional contact. In fact, some studies suggest that a secure bond is intimately tied to intelligence.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota, for example, found that children who have developed a strong attachment with their mothers develop a capacity of playing complex symbolic games at the age of two years, are most persevering and show less frustration during the troubleshooting.
This because the strong bond gives the necessary security to allow children explore the world and the confidence to solve problems without losing heart. In addition, these mothers also tend to help the children solving problems, thus helping to further stimulate their potential.
The importance of the emotional relationship for the development of the brain has been demonstrated by researchers at the University of Washington, who revealed for the first time that a secure bond and the love of the mother are crucial for the growth of some parts of the brain. These researchers have analyzed for seven years the way mothers relate with their children and have found that when supported emotionally their children and adequately gratified their intellectual and emotional needs, at age 13 the hippocampus of the kids was 10% greater than that of children of mothers who were emotionally distant. It is worth mentioning that the hippocampus is an area of the brain associated with memory, learning and stress response.

Can we really talk about hereditary intelligence?

It is estimated that between 40-60% of intelligence is hereditary. This means that the remaining percentage depends on environment. stimulation and personal characteristics. In fact, what we call intelligence is nothing more than the ability to solve problems. But the curious fact is that to solve problems, even a simple mathematical or physical one, comes also into play the limbic system, because our brain works as a whole. Thus, even if intelligence is closely linked to the rational thinking function, it is also influenced by intuition and emotions, that genetically speaking, are influenced by the contribution of the father.
Moreover, we must not forget that even if a child has a high IQ, we must stimulate his intelligence and nourish it throughout life with new challenges which are constantly improving. Otherwise intelligence will disperse.
Beyond what was stated by genetics, fathers should not be discouraged, because they also have much to contribute to the development of their children, especially being emotionally present. The IQ with which we are born is important, but not decisive.
Luby, J. L. et. Al. (2012) Maternal support in early childhood predicts larger hippocampal volumes at school age. Journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; 109(8): 2854–2859.
Der, G. et. Al. (2006) Effect of breast feeding on intelligence in children: prospective study, sibling pairs analysis, and meta-analysis. BMJ; 333(7575): 945.
Keverne, E. B.; Surani, M. A. et. Al. (2004) Coadaptation in mother and infant regulated by a paternally expressed imprinted gene. Proc Biol Sci.; 271(1545): 1303–1309.
Zechner, U. et. Al. (2001) A high density of X-linked genes for general cognitive ability: a run-away process shaping human evolution? Trends Genet; 17(12): 697-701.
Gécz, J. & Mulley, J. (2000) Genes for Cognitive Function: Developments on the X. Genome Res; 10: 157-163.
Vines, G. (1997) Mamá, gracias por la inteligencia. El Mundo; 253.
Keverne, E. B.; Surani, M. A. et. Al. (1996) Genomic imprinting and the differential roles of parental genomes in brain development. Brain Res Dev Brain Res; 92(1): 91-100.
Keverne, E. B. et. Al. (1996) Primate brain evolution, genetic and functional considerations. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. (Biol); 264: 1-8.
Allen, N. D. et. Al. (1995) Distribution of parthenogenetic cells in the mouse brain and their influence on brain development and behavior. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. ; 92(23): 10782–10786.
Surani, M. A.; S. C. Barton & M. L. Norris. (1984) Development of reconstituted mouse eggs suggests imprinting of the genome during gametogenesis. Nature; 308: 548–550.
McGrath, J. & Solter, D. (1984) Completion of mouse embryogenesis requires both the maternal and paternal genomes. Cell; 37(1): 179-183.
Barton, S. C.; Surani, M. A. & Norris, M. L. (1984) Role of paternal and maternal genomes in mouse development. Nature; 311:374-376.
Matas, L.; Arend, R. A. & Sroufe, L. A. (1978) Continuity of adaptation in the second year The relationship between quahty of attachment and later competence. Child Development; 49: 547-556.
Lehrke R. (1972) A theory of X-linkage of major intellectual traits. Am J Ment Defic; 76: 611-619.

Psychology Spot ~ 3:47 PM

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Nevada’s mysterious cave of the red-haired giants

gigantes07_01Many Native American tribes from the Northeast and Southwest still relate the legends of the red-haired giants and how their ancestors fought terrible, protracted wars against the giants when they first encountered them in North America almost 15,000 years ago.

Others, like the Aztecs and Mayans recorded their encounters with a race of giants to the north when they ventured out on exploratory expeditions.

Who were these red-haired giants that history books have ignored? Their burial sites and remains have been discovered on almost every continent.

In the United States they have been unearthed in Virginia and New York state, Michigan, Illinois and Tennessee, Arizona and Nevada.

And it’s the state of Nevada that the story of the native Paiute’s wars against the giant red-haired men transformed from a local myth to a scientific reality during 1924 when the Lovelock Caves were excavated.

At one time the Lovelock Cave was known as Horseshoe cave because of its U-shaped interior. The cavern—located about 20 miles south of modern day Lovelock, Nevada, is approximately 40-feet deep and 60-feet wide.

It’s a very old cave that pre-dates humans on this continent. In prehistoric times it lay underneath a giant inland lake called Lahontan that covered much of western Nevada. Geologists have determined the cavern was formed by the lake’s currents and wave action.

The legend

The Paiutes, a Native-American tribe indigenous to parts of Nevada, Utah and Arizona, told early white settlers about their ancestors’ battles with a ferocious race of white, red-haired giants. According to the Paiutes, the giants were already living in the area.

The Paiutes named the giants “Si-Te-Cah” that literally means “tule-eaters.” The tule is a fibrous water plant the giants wove into rafts to escape the Paiutes continuous attacks. They used the rafts to navigate across what remained of Lake Lahontan.

According to the Paiutes, the red-haired giants stood as tall as 12-feet and were a vicious, unapproachable people that killed and ate captured Paiutes as food.<

The Paiutes told the early settlers that after many years of warfare, all the tribes in the area finally joined together to rid themselves of the giants.

One day as they chased down the few remaining red-haired enemy, the fleeing giants took refuge in a cave. The tribal warriors demanded their enemy come out and fight, but the giants steadfastly refused to leave their sanctuary.

Frustrated at not defeating their enemy with honor, the tribal chiefs had warriors fill the entrance to the cavern with brush and then set it on fire in a bid to force the giants out of the cave.

The few that did emerge were instantly slain with volleys of arrows. The giants that remained inside the cavern were asphyxiated.

Later, an earthquake rocked the region and the cave entrance collapsed leaving only enough room for bats to enter it and make it their home.

The excavation

Thousands of years later the cave was rediscovered and found to be loaded with bat guano almost 6-feet deep. Decaying bat guano becomes saltpeter, the chief ingredient of gunpowder, and was very valuable.

Therefore, in 1911 a company was created specifically to mine the guano. As the mining operation progressed, skeletons and fossils were found.

The guano was mined for almost 13 years before archaeologists were notified about the findings. Unfortunately, by then many of the artifacts had been accidentally destroyed or simply discarded.

Nevertheless, what the scientific researchers did recover was staggering: over 10,000 artifacts were unearthed including the mummified remains of two red-haired giants—one, a female 6.5-feet tall, the other male, over 8-feet tall.

Many of the artifacts (but not the giants) can be viewed at the small natural history museum located in Winnemucca, Nevada.

Confirmation of the myth

As the excavation of the cave progressed, the archaeologists came to the inescapable conclusion that the Paiutes myth was no myth; it was true.

What led them to this realization was the discovery of many broken arrows that had been shot into the cave and a dark layer of burned material under sections of the overlaying guano.

Among the thousands of artifacts recovered from this site of an unknown people is what some scientists are convinced is a calendar: a donut-shaped stone with exactly 365 notches carved along its outside rim and 52 corresponding notches along the inside.

But that was not to be the final chapter of red-haired giants in Nevada.

In February and June of 1931, two very large skeletons were found in the Humboldt dry lake bed near Lovelock, Nevada.

One of the skeletons measured 8.5-feet tall and was later described as having been wrapped in a gum-covered fabric similar to Egyptian mummies. The other was nearly 10-feet long. [Nevada Review-Miner newspaper, June 19, 1931.]


Indian confronts the red-haired giants (artist’s conception)

Info on Lovelock Caves from Nevada tourist website

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Obama Silent As Massive Polio Outbreak Sweeps America

poz1A new report prepared by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) circulating in the Kremlin today shockingly states that the Obama regime is remaining “completely silent” on the polio outbreak currently sweeping through the American heartland and has, to date, refused to share their data on this feared enterovirus epidemic with other global experts and scientists.

According to this report, nearly 2,000 American children in the US States of Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Georgia have been struck down by the polio enterovirus in the past month, with Denver’s Children’s Hospital alone stating that they have treated more than 900 children for this disease since 18 August with 86 admitted to hospital.

To the rapid spread of this outbreak, this report continues, Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University, stated this past week that “I don’t believe we’ve ever had an outbreak this extensive before” and Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, a director for infectious diseases at Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Hospital, where about 475 children were recently treated, likewise last week warned, “It’s worse in terms of scope of critically ill children who require intensive care. I would call it unprecedented. I’ve practiced for 30 years in pediatrics, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this”.

Even though this report does note that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified Enterovirus EV-D68 as being the disease infecting these children, it has failed to inform the American public that of the 66 human enterovirus known, this particular one is most associated with the Poliovirus and the cause of the dreaded Poliomyelitis, which is often called polio or infantile paralysis.

Most dangerous about this polio enterovirus currently striking American children down, this report says, is its high mutation rate (takes over DNA makes copies of itself) due to low-fidelity replication (lots of variation possible when the virus is in the body reproducing itself) and frequent recombination (rapidly mutates preventing the body from defending itself) all which prevent the development of an effective vaccine.

Most critical to be asked of the Obama regime relating to this current polio outbreak, this report continues, are why quarantine measures were not undertaken by the US this past February when 25 children in California where struck down and paralyzed by this disease before it could spread into the American heartland?

In outlining the history of this dreaded enterovirus, MNRE scientists grimly note in this report that the “historical similarities” between this current American outbreak and that of the early 20th century are “highly alarming” in that they both had their genesis in the wine and vegetable agricultural regions of California.

Among the earliest polio outbreaks last century were three California clusters – in the agricultural epicenter of the San Joaquin Valley; the San Francisco area; and San Francisco and the wine-growing Napa Valley, locales under intensive commercial farming and early use of the pesticide Lead Hydrogen Arsenate (LHA) in fruits and vegetables and where this pesticide was believed to have caused damage that allowed the polio enterovirus to penetrate the nervous system and reach the spinal cord, where it caused the paralysis called poliomyelitis.

Critical to note, this report says, were that major polio epidemics were unknown before the 20th century and localized paralytic polio epidemics only began to appear in Europe and the US around 1900 with the expanding use of the LHA pesticide in crop production.

The first report of multiple polio cases was published in the US in 1843 and described an 1841 outbreak in Louisiana, this report continues, after which a fifty-year gap occurs before the next US report—a cluster of 26 cases in Boston in 1893 which “coincidentally” occurred as massive amounts of LHA pesticides were used for controlling cranberry pests (fireworm, cranberry girdler) in Massachusetts.

Until the 1930s-1940s, this report says, the LHA pesticide was frequently prepared by American farmers at home by reacting soluble lead salts with sodium arsenate, and with the addition of the DDT pesticide coming into massive use during the late 1940’s, led to the 1952 polio epidemic that would be the worst outbreak in American history, and is credited with heightening parents’ fears of the disease and focusing public awareness on the need for a vaccine. Of the 57,628 cases reported that year 3,145 died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis.

To the current polio epidemic sweeping America, this report warns, the “polio-pesticide” link cannot be ruled out as the current clusters being reported are all in agricultural regions that have been either spraying or harvesting what are called Monsanto “Round Up Ready Crops” and include Roundup Ready Alfalfa, Roundup Ready Soybean and the more than 400,000 pounds of Roundup pesticides applied to California wine grapes.

To the American people being able to protect their children from this current polio epidemic is not likely, this report sadly concludes, as President Obama last year signed a bill called “The Monsanto Protection Act” that effectively bars US Federal Courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of Monsanto’s “Round Up Ready Crops” no matter what health consequences from the consumption of these products or the use of this pesticide may come to light in the future.

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Yellowstone Bison … On the Run!

Strange Animal behavior is usually a good indicator of a seismic event.

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What’s wrong with TED talks?

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