Friday, 10 March 2017

Itchy Feat?

Some interesting studies on 'contagious scratching' have been made using mice at Washington University ( Their animals started scratching when housed with a scratching conspecific but did not respond in this way when paired with a non-scratcher. Even more remarkably (given that their vision is not good), the mice started scratching when viewing a video-recording of a scratching mouse. The scientists suggested that scratching is 'hard-wired' in the brain establishing a role for a brain area called the suprachiasmatic nucleus and  gastrin releasing peptide (mice without the ability to manufacture this peptide showed little scratching but the activity was induced by injecting the hormone). It was suggested that scratching was a potential defence against disease. Whilst there is no absolute reason why 'contagious scratching' should be controlled by precisely the same mechanism in primates (including ourselves), the study does raise several lines for investigation

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Poisoning the Air We Breathe?

The 25% increase in asthma deaths appears to be clearly related to chronic illegal levels of air pollution (