The News – 7 July 2014

Overview

  • A US study published in the journal Science shows that most volunteers who were asked to spend no more than 15 minutes alone in a room doing nothing but sitting and thinking found the task onerous
  • Researchers at the Australian National University have uncovered the exact way pain relief drugs work on the body, which could lead to truly targeted pain medication.
  • Two oyster growers on Tasmania’s east coast have stopped production after the discovery of a shellfish toxin in the area.



Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 7th July 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/07/04/4039348.htm

So you say all you want to do is to take a few minutes to sit down and think without anyone or anything bugging you? Maybe that is true, but some people would rather give themselves an electric shock than contemplate the sound of silence.

A US study published in the journal Science shows that most volunteers who were asked to spend no more than 15 minutes alone in a room doing nothing but sitting and thinking found the task onerous.

In fact, some of the volunteers, men in particular, in one of the 11 experiments preferred to administer mild electrical shocks to themselves rather than sit and do nothing.

“Many people find it difficult to use their own minds to entertain themselves, at least when asked to do it on the spot,” says study lead author Professor Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia.

“In this modern age, with all the gadgets we have, people seem to fill up every moment with some external activity.”

The researchers say the findings may explain why many people seek to gain better control of their thoughts with meditation.

In some experiments, college volunteers were asked to sit alone in a bare laboratory room and spend six to 15 minutes doing nothing but thinking or daydreaming. They were not allowed to have a mobile phone, music player, reading material or writing implements and were asked to remain in their seats and stay awake. Most reported they did not enjoy the task and found it hard to concentrate.

Researchers then had adult and college student volunteers do the same thing in their homes, and got the same results. In addition, a third of volunteers cheated by doing things like using a mobile phone or listening to music.

The researchers did an experiment to see if the student volunteers would even do an unpleasant task rather than just sit and think. They gave them a mild shock of the intensity of static electricity.

Volunteers were asked whether, if given $5, they would spend some of it to avoid getting shocked again. The ones who said they would be willing to pay to avoid another shock were asked to sit alone and think for 15 minutes but were given the option of giving themselves that same shock by simply pushing a button.

Many did so, especially men: …

“Sometimes negative stimulation is preferable to no stimulation.”

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-04/pain-relief-discovery-could-lead-to-more-effective-drugs/5570798?section=act

Researchers at the Australian National University have uncovered the exact way pain relief drugs work on the body, which could lead to truly targeted pain medication.

The team from ANU developed a computer model revealing how a local anaesthetic and an anti-epilepsy drug enter nerve cells.

Dr Ben Corry is part of the team which developed the computer model.

Dr Corry said the discovery will help scientists develop drugs which target specific areas of chronic pain.

He said pharmaceutical companies want to develop drugs which can target proteins found in different parts of the body, redesigning drugs without the current side-effects.

But Dr Corry warned it may be years before new targeted pain relief drugs are developed.

The research, published in the latest edition of the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Computational Biology, could also be used to develop new antibiotics.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-05/oyster-growers-stop-production-amid-toxin-fears/5574488?section=tas

Two oyster growers on Tasmania’s east coast have stopped production after the discovery of a shellfish toxin in the area.

People have been warned not to eat wild shellfish from the Great Oyster Bay area on the east coast and Norfolk Bay in Tasmania’s south.

The toxin was also detected at permissible levels at Greater Swanport.

Health authorities discovered the potentially fatal toxin during routine testing.

State manager for environmental health Stuart Heggie said no affected commercial product had been put out into the Tasmanian market.

Neil Stump from the Seafood Industry Council said it is too early to know the impact the discovery will have on the industry.

Authorities say it will be costly for the producers who have had to close down.

“They have to cease production and can’t sell any product so it will impact directly on them,” Mr Stump said.

Mr Stump said there have been no reports of anyone eating contaminated fish.

The warnings come in the midst of recreational scallop season and people are warned against eating wild fish from the affected areas.

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