(Photo: kalavinka via Flickr)

(Photo: kalavinka via Flickr)

Do you ever leave a room to get an item or take care of a task in another room, but forget what you came for once you get to the other room?

It turns out walking through a doorway may be to blame for this memory lapse.

At least that’s what a Notre Dame University psychology professor says.

In a study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, Gabriel Radvansky says entering or exiting through a doorway sets into motion something he calls an “event boundary” in your mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away.

Radvansky explains that “recalling the decision or activity that was made in a different room is difficult because it has been compartmentalized.”

Radvansky conducted three experiments in both real and virtual environments and had his subjects, all college students, perform memory tasks while crossing a room and exiting a doorway.

Past research shows environmental factors can affect memory and that information we learn in one environment is best retrieved when the retrieval happens in the same context.

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Researchers find improved way to treat nerve damage

(Image: US Veteran's Administration)

(Image: US Veteran's Administration)

A new method of electrical stimulation could help treat damaged nerves while minimizing painful side effects.

The technique was discovered  by a plastic surgery research team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and an engineering team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

They wanted to address the shortcomings of a  therapeutic technique called Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES), which was developed to help patients with injuries to the spinal cord, upper or lower extremities and other nerve damage related injuries.

The devices stimulate neuronal activity in nerve-damaged patients, but the electrical currents needed to make the treatment work can send errant signals to surrounding nerves, resulting in painful side effects.

The BIDMC and MIT teams developed a new method of nerve stimulation that reduces the stimulation device’s electrical threshold by 40 percent as compared with traditional FES therapy.

In Advance On-line issue of the journal Nature Materials, the researchers report their findings could help others develop a safer, more efficient FES therapy with fewer side effects.

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Getting the coldest drink of water possible

(Photo: Jau Kay Kiang via Flickr)

(Photo: Jau Kay Kiang via Flickr)

On a really hot day there’s nothing like a really ice cold glass of water.

Did you ever wonder how cold you can get that water before it starts to freeze?  Researchers in Utah  came up with an answer.

Chemists from the University of Utah found that the temperature water can get to 55 degrees below zero Fahrenheit before it absolutely must freeze.

That’s colder than what most people consider the freezing point of water, which is 32 degrees (Fahrenheit).

According to the research, the supercooled liquid water becomes ice at -55 F not just because of the extreme cold, but because at that temperature, the actual molecular structure of water changes physically to form tetrahedron shapes, with each water molecule loosely bonded to four others.

The researchers say that their findings, published in Nature, suggest that a structural change from liquid to something they call “intermediate ice” explains the mystery of what determines the temperature at which water is going to freeze.

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Lose weight by chewing gum

(Photo: Greatist via flickr)

(Photo: Greatist via flickr)

Soon you might be able to lose weight just by chewing a stick of gum or by taking a pill.

A team of scientists led by Syracuse University chemist Robert Doyle has demonstrated, that a hormone which helps people feel full after eating can be delivered into the bloodstream orally.

Called human PYY, the hormone is part of our chemical system that regulates appetite and energy.

Whenever you eat or exercise, the PYY is released into your bloodstream. The amount of this hormone that’s released into your system increases with the number of calories you consume. So, the more calories you take in, the more PYY hormones are produced and released.

Past research shows that people who are obese tend to have lower concentrations of PYY in their bloodstream than their thinner friends, both after eating and even when they’re fasting.

The research team found that an intravenous infusion of PYY, into a volunteer group of both obese and non-obese individuals, increased the serum levels of the hormone while lowering the number of calories both groups consumed, suggesting that when the amount of the PYY hormone is increased, you’ll eat less.

But, there’s a problem that the research team must address before they can continue their work developing this potential weight loss method.

It turns out that when the PYY hormone is taken orally, it gets destroyed in the stomach and that any amount of PYY that isn’t destroyed has difficulty getting into the bloodstream through the intestines.

So, the researchers’ next step is to find ways to get around this problem and deliver the PYY hormone into the system by using items such as chewing gum or an oral tablet to help people to lose weight.

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