A study published this week could help doctors to identify patients with brain injuries, in seemingly unresponsive states, who are more likely to recover.
In the study, published in the journal Brain on Monday, researchers identified what may be the source of a curious phenomenon known as "hidden consciousness" or cognitive motor dissociation (CMD).
Hidden consciousness is seen in patients with acute brain injury who appear to be in a coma or other unresponsive state.
Patients with CMD seem to be able to hear and comprehend verbal commands even though they cannot carry out those instructions because the body does not respond, study author Jan Claassen, a researcher at Columbia University and critical care neurologist at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, said in a statement.
The CMD phenomenon has only been identified in the past few years and is still poorly understood.
Methods have been developed to detect CMD in unresponsive patients. These include analyzing changes in electrical activity or cerebral blood flow recorded by an electroencephalogram (EEG) or functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) respectively. But both of these methods currently have their limitations.
Nevertheless, it is thought that around 15 to 20 percent of patients who appear to be in a coma or another unresponsive state display signs of CMD when evaluated with such methods, Claassen told Newsweek. The detection of CMD is reshaping our understanding of patients in comatose or other unresponsive states.
Clinicians define when a patient is in a "coma" purely based on the clinical examination, Claassen said. They apply this label to patients who display a complete absence of arousal (for example, eye opening) and awareness.
Patients with CMD do not seem to be able to follow commands and may in clinical examination appear to be in a coma.
But an analysis of EEG or functional MRI, recorded while patients are given verbal commands, reveals that the brains of these unresponsive patients are being activated in a similar way to conscious patients, Claassen said. This supports the interpretation that patients with CMD are to some degree conscious.
Identifying patients with CMD has important clinical implications for interactions, communication with families and the guidance of therapeutic decisions, according to the study.
Importantly, in prior research, Claassen and colleagues have been able to associate CMD with the recovery of consciousness and long-term recovery of independence in brain-damaged patients.
Researchers have been trying to develop more effective screening methods to identify which patients are likely to be in a state of hidden consciousness. But progress has been hampered by the fact that the brain mechanisms underlying the phenomenon have remained a mystery. This is where the latest study comes in.
In previous research, Claassen and colleagues found that subtle brainwaves detectable with EEG are the strongest predictor of hidden consciousness and eventual recovery for patients with brain injuries.
For the latest study, the scientists used EEG to examine 107 unresponsive patients with acute brain injury. Almost half of the patients appeared comatose, while one quarter were in a vegetative state—i.e. their eyes were open but they could not follow commands.
The remaining patents were in a minimally conscious state—meaning they could track an examiner with their eyes or look at them but were not able to follow any commands.
Using the EEG, scientists can identify when patients are trying, but are unable, to respond to a command such as "keep opening and closing your right hand."
This method detected CMD in 21 of the patients. The scientists then analyzed structural MRI brains scans from all the patients.
Using a special analysis technique, the team were able to identify patterns of brain injury that the patients with CMD shared and contrast those to the individuals who did not display signs of hidden consciousness.
The researchers found that all of the CMD patients had intact brain structures related to arousal and command comprehension. This supports the idea that they were able to hear and understand the verbal commands.
But they also found that the CMD patients had damage to brain regions responsible for integrating and carrying out motor commands, which is why they were unable to take action.
"Our study suggests that patients with hidden consciousness can hear and comprehend verbal commands, but they cannot carry out those commands because of injuries in brain circuits that relay instructions from the brain to the muscles," Claassen said in the statement.
The findings could lead to more frequent and earlier diagnosis of CMD. This, in turn, could help better predict which brain-injured individuals are more likely to recover with rehabilitation, according to the scientists.
More research is required before the approaches documented in the study can be applied to clinical practice. But the latest study shows that it may be possible to screen for CMD using widely available structural brain-imaging techniques.
Due to the technical complexity of CMD detection, at this time it is only available in a few academic centers. As a result, the vast majority of patients with hidden consciousness in the United States and around the world remain undiagnosed.
"Not every critical care unit may have resources and staff that is trained in using EEG to detect hidden consciousness, so MRI may offer a simple way to identify patients who require further screening and diagnosis," Claassen said in the statement.
AI has gotten a lot of attention lately, especially services like ChatGPT, which can be used for everything from finding a good recipe to writing a blog post. A new study shows that it also might be a powerful tool in helping bad writers Boost their skills.
In a study published this week in Science, two MIT researchers examined whether ChatGPT could be used to reduce gaps in writing ability between employees. The duo recruited 453 data analysts, marketers, and college-educated professionals and asked them to perform two different writing tasks normally associated with their jobs—writing press releases or a short report, for instance.
Half of the participants were given the option of using ChapGPT to help them complete the second of the two tasks. Afterward, their work was graded by other professionals who worked in the same field on a scale of one to seven, with seven being the best result.
Overall, the participants who used ChatGPT did better than those who didn’t. ChatGPT users took 40% less time to complete their task than their counterparts, and their completed work scored 18% higher in evaluations than the work of those who didn’t use it.
The researchers note that while ChatGPT is powerful, it can also introduce errors, so people who use it to write for them will need to double-check that everything written by the AI tool is correct.
That said, the workers who participated in the study said they were more likely to use the tool in the future. "Workers exposed to ChatGPT during the experiment were 2 times as likely to report using it in their real job 2 weeks after the experiment and 1.6 times as likely 2 months after the experiment," the study found.
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They say that there's no sense in crying over spilled milk. But what do they know? Crying can get you another glass of milk if you do it loud enough. Plus, crying may serve a real physiologic purpose, according to a study published recently in Emotion, meaning the journal and not in an Emo-kind of way.
For the study, three researchers from the University of Queensland (Leah S. Sharman, Genevieve A. Dingle, and Eric J. Vanman) and one from Tilberg University (Ad J. J. M. Vingerhoets) recruited 197 female undergraduate students. They said that they choose all women rather than including men because pilot testing of sad videos had revealed that more women than men cried or at least more women revealed that they were crying. This did not account for the men who cried inside or used some bro-language or high fives to hide the crying.
The research team then showed each of the study participants either a video that are supposed to make them feel sad (sad videos) or a video that was not supposed to elicit any emotion (neutral videos) like something from a documentary or a ted talk. Each video lasted for close to 18 minutes. After the video, the researchers noted whether or not each participant had cried while watching the video. Ultimately, 65 participants watched the neutral video, 71 watched the sad video and cried during it, and 61 watched the sad video and did not cry. Presumably, no one cried during the neutral video. But then again, actor Bryce Dallas Howard was able to cry when Conan O'Brien talked about Home Depot in this Conan clip:
Then, each participant underwent a Cold Pressor Stress Test (CPT), which involved placing the participant's left hand, up to the wrist, in cold 0° to 5°C water. Unless you are the Iceman or Killer Frost, this is supposed to be painful. The research team measured how long each participant could stay in this position until pulling her hand out of the water. During the study, the research team continuously measured each participant's heart rate and respiratory rate and periodically measured cortisol levels from saliva samples. Cortisol is a stress-hormone that's produced by the body.
Also, at four points during the study, participants answered questions from the Positive and Negative Affect Scale short form (PANAS). These questions asked the degree to which the participant was experiencing ten different emotions and to rank each on a five-point scale that ranged from a one (very slightly or not at all) to a five (extremely).
When it came to cortisol levels and how long the participants could keep their hands submerged in the cold water, the study ended up finding not much difference between the neutral video watchers, the sad video non-criers, and the sad video criers. So if you are about to dunk yourself in cold water or take a cold shower, it may not help to cry first.
But here's a difference that the study found. Are you ready? Take a deep breath. The difference was breathing rates. While watching the videos, the non-criers tended to have elevations in their breathing rates, whereas, by contrast, the criers tended to maintain their initial breathing rates. In other words, tearing up could have helped participants better control their breathing rates. This provides further evidence that crying may help you better regulate arousal, serving as an emotional release.
Another interesting finding was that right before crying, participants tended to experience decreases in their heart rates, seemingly in anticipation of the crying. Once the crying began, their heart rates then tended to creep back up but not above where their heart rates had been before everything began. This may be further evidence that crying has a beneficial regulatory effect on your physiology.
So perhaps next time you start crying you can tell people that you are regulating your physiology. You've probably heard of people saying that they had a good cry and feel better after they've let the tears flow. It can be important to find reasonable ways to periodically release your emotions. Otherwise, you may end up bottling everything up like a hot air balloon that can explode when you least expect it.
Moreover, crying can be a way of communicating. It's really the only way that babies can express their needs before they learn how to say things like "why you throwing shade on me," or "I'm not Gucci." Crying can help communicate to others that you need more sympathy, comfort, or help. Of course, this can be misused. You don't want to cry every time your order at a restaurant doesn't come out right. And of course, there is the whole concept of crocodile tears: people crying to get something when they don't really mean it.
Crying can also be a way of communicating with yourself. Even when you cry alone, you may be telling yourself about your own state because, like many people, you could be terrible at studying your own emotions and situation. Tears could be your body's way of saying, "hey, take a break," or "something's not right," or "take care of yourself." Tearing up can then be a way of your body literally crying out to you.
Your body is a complex system. Crying can be complex. Your tears can flow when you are very sad, very angry, or even very happy. Better understanding what causes us to cry and what happens as a result could help us better handle our emotions and stress.
Researchers are proposing using artificial intelligence technology to help diagnose autism spectrum disorder.
In a accurate article published in Scientific Reports, researchers from Brazil, France and Germany reportedly used magnetic resonance imaging to train a machine learning algorithm.
The work – in which the "quantitative diagnostic method" is proposed – was based on brain imaging data for 500 people, with more than 240 that had been diagnosed with autism.
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Machine learning techniques were applied to the data.
"We began developing our methodology by collecting functional magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI] and electroencephalogram [EEG] data," Francisco Rodrigues, the last author of the article and a professor at the University of São Paulo’s Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science, explained in a statement.
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"We compared maps of people with and without ASD and found that diagnosis was possible using this methodology," he added.
The machine learning algorithm was fed with the maps, and the system was able to determine which brain alterations were associated with autism with above 95% mean accuracy.
While previous research proposes methods for diagnosing autism based on machine learning, the article notes it often uses a single statistical parameter that is not brain network organization.
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Analyzing the fMRI data showed changes in certain brain regions associated with cognitive, emotional, learning and memory processes, and the cortical networks of autism patients showed more segregation, less distribution of information and less connectivity compared to controls.
"Until a few years ago, little was known about the alterations that lead to the symptoms of ASD. Now, however, brain alterations in ASD patients are known to be associated with certain behaviors, although anatomical research shows that the alterations are hard to see, making diagnosis of mild ASD much harder. Our study is an important step in the development of novel methodologies that can help us obtain a deeper understanding of this neurodivergence," Rodrigues said.
The methodology is under development and will take years to implement, according to the São Paulo Research Foundation, which supported the research.
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About one in 36 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Diagnosing the developmental disability can be difficult because there is no medical test, like a blood test, to do so.
Puzzles, chess and writing journals may be more than pure amusements to pass the time. These brain activities could help reduce the risk of dementia.
According to a accurate study in JAMA Network Open, activities related to adult literacy, such as taking classes, using a computer or writing journals, as well as active mental tasks like games, cards, or crossword puzzles, were related to a reduced dementia risk over 10 years.
The study looked at 10,318 adults in Australia who were 70 years old or older, who were generally healthy and without major cognitive impairment at enrollment.
The participants who engaged in literacy activities and active mental activities had an 11% and 9% lower, respectively, risk of dementia.
To a lesser extent, participating in creative artistic activities, such as crafts, woodwork, and painting or drawing, and in passive mental activities such as reading, watching TV or listening to the radio was also associated with reduced dementia risk, the study found. Creative artistic and passive mental activities both conferred a 7% decrease, according to the study.
“These results suggest that engagement in adult literacy, creative art, and active and passive mental activities may help reduce dementia risk in late life,” the study said.
The people in the study who developed dementia were older, more likely to be men and have lower levels of physical activity and to be in poorer health than individuals without dementia, the study said.
In 2022, there were 55 million individuals worldwide living with dementia, with 10 million new cases emerging annually, the study said. There’s no cure for dementia. As a result, “identifying new strategies to prevent or delay dementia onset among older individuals is a priority,” the study said.
These findings can help inform strategies for dementia prevention later life in terms of modifying daily routines and activities, the study said.
When you need to remember something important, it makes sense to look around for hacks and tricks to maximize your recall. And plenty of those are out there, but do they actually work? One popular tip involves chewing a certain flavor of gum or spraying an specific scent in the air while you study or work, then using the same gum or scent when it’s time to perform, such as when you’re taking a text or presenting the material you went over. The tip relies on the so-called Proust Effect and if you use it, your mileage may vary.
Marcel Proust, a 20th-century writer you may already be familiar with, was the man who came up with the term “involuntary memory” to describe being hit with a memory because of a scent, taste, sound, or other sense-based trigger. As a reward for his efforts, he got this effect named after himself.
It’s a real thing that happens to the best of us: A sensory stimuli, like walking by someone wearing the perfume your mom used to wear, can jolt us into a vivid memory of the past. The phenomenon has resulted in a lot of research, because it’s deeply human but also deeply physiological and scientific.
When you search for studying and memory tips, this one comes up a lot. The University of Nebraska Kearney, for instance, recommends using unfamiliar scents as a “brain booster” by spraying a different scent every time you study a unique subject. Before your test in that subject, spray the corresponding scent because, they say, “this can help you recall information.”
Here’s the thing: Involuntary memories are more emotional than they are practical. Research shows that olfactory cues are much more effective at triggering emotional memories than visual cues are. The scent of a spray or the taste of a gum might transport you back to when you were studying, but it’s not guaranteed to help you remember the details of what you were studying so much as make you feel the way you felt when you were doing that.
It’s similar to the idea of changing into a designated “study outfit” when it’s time to hit the books in that way: Scents can help you compartmentalize and get in the zone, which can have a positive impact on your focus and output, but they aren’t the magic cure-all to make you remember entire passages of text.
Chewing strawberry gum while you study for chemistry and again when taking your chemistry test is more likely to help you feel like you’re in your chemistry zone than anything, which, again, can be helpful. To really remember what you studied, though, make sure to double up on hacks by using a study technique, such as interleaving or the primacy effect.
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Adding a blue-light filter to your eyeglasses may not ease eye strain from computer work, protect the retina or help with sleep at night, according to a new review of existing research.
“We found there may be no short-term advantages with using blue-light filtering spectacle lenses to reduce visual fatigue associated with computer use,” said senior author Laura Downie in a statement. Downie is an associate professor of optometry and vision sciences and director of the anterior eye, clinical trials and research translation unit at the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia.
“It is also currently unclear whether these lenses affect vision quality or sleep-related outcomes, and no conclusions could be drawn about any potential effects on retinal health in the longer term,” Downie said. “People should be aware of these findings when deciding whether to purchase these spectacles.”
In reality, it’s not the blue-light emission from our devices that is causing eye strain for most people, said ophthalmologist Dr. Craig See, a cornea specialist at Cole Eye Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
“Most people have computer vision syndrome, which is related to sitting at a computer screen for a long period of time,” said See, who was not involved in the study.
Symptoms of computer vision syndrome include dry eyes, watery eyes, blurry vision, light sensitivity, burning or itchy eyes, and difficulty concentrating and keeping your eyes open, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Eye strain from presbyopia, which is the gradual loss with age of the ability of the eye to focus on nearby objects, can contribute, as can neck and shoulder pain, See said.
“I don’t typically recommend blue-light filters to my patients,” See said. “There’s no reason to think that blue-light filtering is harmful, other than the cost associated with adding it to your glasses. The takeaway here is that it may not be doing as much as we were hoping.”
The report, published Thursday in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, analyzed data from 17 randomized controlled clinical trials conducted in six countries that lasted from a few days to a few months. The review is part of the nonprofit Cochrane Collaboration, an independent, international network of researchers that uses some of the highest standards in evidence-based research.
The brevity of the clinical trials affected the reviewers’ ability to consider longer-term outcomes, Downie said. “Our certainty in the reported findings should be interpreted in the context of the quality of the available evidence.”
In addition, blue-light filtering lenses only filter between 10% and 25% of blue light from artificial devices such as computer screens, and that blue light is only “a thousandth of what we get from natural daylight,” said first author Dr. Sumeer Singh, a postdoctoral clinical research fellow in the anterior eye, clinical trials and research translation unit at the University of Melbourne.
“Filtering out higher levels of blue light would require the lenses to have an obvious amber tint, which would have a substantial effect on colour perception,” he said in a statement.
The review was conducted to answer an ongoing debate on whether blue-light filtering lenses have any merit in ophthalmic practice, Downie said.
“Research has shown that these lenses are frequently prescribed to patients in many parts of the world, and a range of marketing claims exist about their potential benefits, including that they may reduce eye strain associated with digital device use, Boost sleep quality and protect the retina from light-induced damage,” she said.
“Our findings do not support the prescription of blue-light filtering lenses to the general population,” Downie said. “These results are relevant to a broad range of stakeholders, including eye care professionals, patients, researchers and the broader community.”
There are a number of actions you can take to ease or prevent eye strain, See said. First, if you haven’t had your eyes checked in the last year or two, visit a specialist right away. Your eyes may have weakened, making a new prescription necessary.
“When you visit the eye doctor, go in with a measurement of how far away your face is from your computer screen, so the doctor can maximize your prescription,” See said. “You should be arm’s length from the screen. And if you’re using a laptop, consider getting a larger external display that you can plug into.”
Having a bigger screen can ease eye strain by increasing text size and may also reduce headaches and neck strain from bending over the laptop, See explained.
“If your text is difficult for you to read, it’s going to take you longer to read it,” he said. “You will be affecting your posture to do so, and you’ll be blinking even less if you’re straining to read things. Having a bigger screen can help with that.”
The eye stops blinking regularly as computer time increases, See said, so taking regular breaks from work at the computer is also important. Try using the 20-20-20 rule — every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet (6 meters) away for 20 seconds, which can encourage your eyes to blink at their normal rate. Better yet, get up and walk away, because constant sitting will increase neck and back strain.
If dry eyes are part of the problem, a warm compress applied to your eyes can offer relief, as can over-the-counter artificial tears. But keep the use to a minimum – many contain preservatives and should be used no more than four times a day.
“If you need them more often, you need to move to preservative-free tears, which come in a vial,” See said. “I will say if you need artificial teardrops more than four times a day, then I think it’s a good idea to see an eye doctor for your condition.”
Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a formal recognition of expertise in the areas of financial planning, taxes, insurance, estate planning, and retirement saving.
Owned and awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., the designation is awarded to individuals who successfully complete the CFP Board's initial exams, then continue ongoing annual education programs to sustain their skills and certification.
CFPs are there to help individuals manage their finances. This can include a variety of needs, such as investment planning, retirement planning, insurance, and education planning. The most important aspect of a CFP is to be a fiduciary of your assets, meaning that they will make decisions with your best interests in mind.
CFPs are all-encompassing, particularly when compared to investment advisors. CFPs will usually start the process by evaluating your current finances, including any cash, assets, investments, or properties, to come up with an estimate of your income and net worth. They also take a look at your liabilities, such as mortgages and student debt.
From this point on they work with you to come up with an individualized financial plan. For example, say you are nearing retirement, the CFP will create a financial plan that can see you through your retirement years. Or perhaps you have a child that will be starting college. The CFP can help create a financial plan to manage that cost.
A CFP is a financial adviser who has earned a certification that indicates in-depth knowledge of financial planning. The requirements to become a CFP are some of the most difficult and stringent in the financial industry.
All CFPs are held to the standard of fiduciary duty. That means they must always put your interests as a client ahead of their own. For example, if they would more money selling one product over another, but the product that made them less money was better for you, that is the product they must recommend.
A CFP's fiduciary duty is clearly laid out by the CFP Board and states "At all times when providing financial advice to a client, a CFP professional must act as a fiduciary, and therefore, act in the best interest of the client."
The board goes on to state that three duties must be met by an adviser with a fiduciary duty. These are (1) duty of loyalty, (2) duty of care, and (3) duty to follow client instructions.
Earning the CFP designation involves meeting requirements in four areas: formal education, performance on the CFP exam, relevant work experience, and demonstrated professional ethics.
The education requirements comprise two major components. The candidate must hold a bachelor's or higher degree from an accredited university or college. Second, the candidate must complete a list of specific courses in financial planning, as specified by the CFP Board.
Much of this second requirement is typically waived if the candidate holds certain accepted financial designations, such as a chartered financial analyst (CFA) or certified public accountant (CPA) designation, or has a higher degree in business, such as a master of business administration (MBA).
As for professional experience, candidates must prove they have at least three years (or 6,000 hours) of full-time professional experience in the industry, or two years (4,000 hours) in an apprenticeship role.
Lastly, candidates and CFP holders must adhere to the CFP Board's standards of professional conduct. They must also regularly disclose information about any involvement in criminal activity, inquiries by government agencies, bankruptcies, customer complaints, or terminations by employers. The CFP Board conducts an extensive background check on all candidates before granting the certification.
Even successful completion of the above steps doesn't ensure receipt of the CFP designation. The CFP Board has final discretion on whether to award the designation to an individual.
The CFP exam includes 170 multiple-choice on more than 100 syllabus related to financial planning. The scope includes professional conduct and regulations, financial planning principles, education planning, risk management, insurance, investments, tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning.
The various course areas are weighted, and the most accurate weighting is available on the CFP Board website. Further questions test the candidate's expertise in establishing client-planner relationships and gathering relevant information, and their ability to analyze, develop, communicate, implement, and monitor the recommendations they make to their clients.
Here's some additional information on the administration, costs, and scoring of the CFP exam:
Though a certified financial planner (CPA) and a chartered financial analyst (CFA) may sound similar, they are different certifications with different job functions and clients. A CFP works with individuals, often retail clients, helping them achieve their financial goals. This includes help in investing and retirement planning.
A CFA works with corporations performing investment analysis. CFAs focus on financial reporting, analysis, and portfolio management. They can trade financial products, such as derivatives, and help in mergers and acquisitions. CFA's usually work for investment banks and hedge funds.
If you are just looking to invest money in stocks and bonds, a CFP probably isn't needed.
If you are looking to manage your finances, investment choices, estate planning, and retirement planning, a CFP can help you with all of those needs.
A CFP is a step above a non-designated financial advisor and has demonstrated expertise in financial planning.
How much a CFP costs will depend on your specific needs.
On average, a CFP charges between $1,800 and $2,500 for preparing a full financial plan. You also should expect $4,000 for a flat-fee retainer or $250 per hour for hourly services.
No, CFP and CFA are not the same.
A CFP is a certified financial planner who provides financial planning advice to individuals. This includes help with investing, retirement planning, estate planning, and tax law.
A CFA is a chartered financial analyst who may work for an investment bank or hedge fund and performs financial analysis, modeling, trading, and portfolio management services.
No, a CFP is not equivalent to an MBA.
A certified financial planner (CFP) is qualified to advise individuals on financial planning.
The holder of a master of business degree has studied the way businesses operate.
The career paths differ. A CFP works in financial consulting or wealth management. An MBA may be a business manager, portfolio manager, financial analyst, financial strategist, or even an entrepreneur.
The CFP exam requires a lot of preparation and covers a wide range of syllabus in depth. The best way to ensure you pass the CFP exam is by preparing for it well in advance and sticking to a study schedule.
Becoming a CFP takes education and experience, as well as a strong grasp of financial ethics. The test to gain this distinction is comprised of 170 questions and is split into two three-hour sessions.
Even if candidates pass the test and meet all the requirements, the CFP Board still has the final say about whether to award this distinction. Given the stringent requirements, CFPs can be assumed to have an in-depth understanding of financial planning.
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