The ‘death test’? Scientists say they can predict your risks


Biomarkers in a blood test can predict whether you are likely to die within five years, scientists report in PLOS Medicine.

“What is especially interesting is that these biomarkers reflect the risk for dying from very different types of diseases such as heart disease or cancer. They seem to be signs of a general frailty in the body,” says Dr. Johannes Kettunen of the Institute for Molecular Medicine in Finland. Continue reading


The New World’s ‘10,000-year missing link’


The outlines of  Siberia (left) and Alaska (right) — in dashed lines — go head to head. The area in darker green (now submerged by seawater) represents Beringia near the end of the last glacial maximum, when sea levels were low and ice sheets prevented migrants from Siberia from reaching America. | Photo courtesy of Wlliam Manley, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado.

Did you ever wonder how ancient peoples managed to stay warm in bitterly cold weather like this?

Ice-age mammal bones provided a nice fire, researchers say. But to get the fire started, Siberian migrants who began a trek to America 25,000 years ago needed woody shrubs, which were growing in only one region, according to a study in Science. The findings help explain how the migrants survived for 10,000 years in what was thought to be a land devoid of trees and why no archaeological traces of their settlements have been found. Continue reading


His master’s voice: Dogs love it when you’re happy


Researchers at Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary have shown that dogs’ brains light up more when they hear human or canine voices than when they hear other noises.

They were able to check out the canine mind with fMRIs (functional magnetic resonance imaging). When blood flow increases in areas of the brain, it’s a sign of increased activity.
“The very exciting finding is that in both the human brain and the dog brain, these ‘voice areas’ are located in very similar places,” says Attila Andics, a neuroscientist at the university and lead author of the study in Current Biology. “We think this might be able to explain what makes vocal communication between the two species so effortless and successful.”

The coolest part of the study is that when dogs listened to happy sounds (laughter, a dog greeting his master), activity increased in areas of the canine brain consistently. “The more positive the voice, the stronger the response” in the auditory cortex, Andics says.

h/t Smithsonian Magazine