While fast food corporations reap vast fortunes, taxpayers finance $7 billion in public assistance for the workers (While fast food corporations reap vast fortunes, taxpayers finance $7 billion in public assistance for their workers
Ötzi the Iceman has at least 19 living male relatives in the Austrian Tirol, according to a genetic study into the origins of the people who now inhabit the region.
Scientists from the Institute of Legal Medicine at Innsbruck Medical University analyzed DNA samples taken from 3,700 blood donors in the Tyrol region of Austria.
During their study, they discovered that 19 individuals share a particular genetic mutation with the 5,300-year-old mummy, whose full genome was published last year. “These men and the Iceman had the same ancestors,” Walther Parson, the forensic scientist who carried out the study, told the Austrian Press Agency.
The researchers focused on parts of the human DNA which are generally inherited unchanged. “In men it is the Y chromosomes and in females the mitochondria. Eventual changes arise due to mutations, which are then inherited further,” Parson explained.
People with the same mutations are categorized in haplogroups. Designed with letters, haplogroups allow researchers to trace early migratory routes since they are often associated with defined populations and geographical regions.
Indeed, Ötzi’s haplogroup is very rare in Europe. “The Iceman had the halogroup G, sub category G-L91. In our research we found another 19 people with this genetic group and subgroup,” Parson said.
A brain region activated when people are asked to perform mathematical calculations in an experimental setting is similarly activated when they use numbers -- or even imprecise quantitative terms, such as "more than" -- in everyday conversation, according to a study by Stanford University School of Medicine scientists.
Using a novel method, the researchers collected the first solid evidence that the pattern of brain activity seen in someone performing a mathematical exercise under experimentally controlled conditions is very similar to that observed when the person engages in quantitative thought in the course of daily life.
"We're now able to eavesdrop on the brain in real life," said Josef Parvizi, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology and neurological sciences and director of Stanford's Human Intracranial Cognitive Electrophysiology Program. Parvizi is the senior author of the study, published Oct. 15, 2013 in Nature Communications. The study's lead authors are postdoctoral scholar Mohammad Dastjerdi, MD, PhD, and graduate student Muge Ozker.
The finding could lead to "mind-reading" applications that, for example, would allow a patient who is rendered mute by a stroke to communicate via passive thinking. Conceivably, it could also lead to more dystopian outcomes: chip implants that spy on or even control people's thoughts.
"This is exciting, and a little scary," said Henry Greely, JD, the Deane F. and Kate Edelman Johnson Professor of Law and steering committee chair of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics, who played no role in the study but is familiar with its contents and described himself as "very impressed" by the findings. "It demonstrates, first, that we can see when someone's dealing with numbers and, second, that we may conceivably someday be able to manipulate the brain to affect how someone deals with numbers."
The researchers monitored electrical activity in a region of the brain called the intraparietal sulcus, known to be important in attention and eye and hand motion. Previous studies have hinted that some nerve-cell clusters in this area are also involved in numerosity, the mathematical equivalent of literacy.
However, the techniques that previous studies have used, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging, are limited in their ability to study brain activity in real-life settings and to pinpoint the precise timing of nerve cells' firing patterns. These studies have focused on testing just one specific function in one specific brain region, and have tried to eliminate or otherwise account for every possible confounding factor. In addition, the experimental subjects would have to lie more or less motionless inside a dark, tubular chamber whose silence would be punctuated by constant, loud, mechanical, banging noises while images flashed on a computer screen.
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