SciTech Briefs

Doctors explore womb transplants

A group of New York doctors may be able to provide womb transplants to women unable to bear children.

After six months of study, doctors determined that it is medically possible to harvest the womb of a deceased donor. Before surgery, the embryo of the recipient is removed and frozen for preservation. The transplant surgery involves an incision in the lower abdomen of the recipient. Following this procedure, the embryo is returned to the patient and placed in the new womb. After the birth, the uterus is surgically removed to avoid the possibility of rejection.

Source: BBC News

Amnesia patients stuck in the present

Research by scientists at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London suggests that people who damage their hippocampus may have difficulties perceiving future scenarios.

The hippocampus is a portion of the brain involved in the processes of learning and forming memories. The patients studied, who had damaged hippocampuses, had difficulty narrating future situations, such as a hypothetical picnic or day at the beach.

Doctors found that patients were unable to mentally visualize a scene. They could envision separate components of a scene but were unable to put them together. These findings suggest that sufferers of amnesia have no choice but to live in the present, and that the hippocampus has a more significant function in the brain than previously thought.

Source: USA Today

‘Doomsday’ looms closer

On Wednesday, the board behind the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a newsletter that focuses on the possibility of nuclear war, pushed its Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight.

As far as global safety is concerned, the time is now 11:55 p.m., and all is not well. The Bulletin attributed this change to the standoff situations in both Iran and North Korea.

Ever since its creation in 1947, the Doomsday Clock has responded to world threats related to nuclear weapons, but the newsletter added that changes in our global climate could prove to be just as dangerous.

Source: CNN

Multi-tasking may be impossible

Doctors Paul E. Dux and René Marois, two neuroscientists working out of Vanderbilt University, have uncovered new evidence that the human brain may lack the ability to perform two tasks at once.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), scientists observed the neural activity of participants who were asked to simultaneously push a button when they saw a certain image and speak when they heard a certain a noise.

Scientists found that the brain queues one task after another, instead of doing both at once. These results suggest that the brain must queue tasks that involve different senses.

Source: ScienceDaily