London - A team of researchers has found that the processing of visual information is altered in depressed people, a phenomenon most likely linked with the processing of information in the cerebral cortex.
In the study, published in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, the processing of visual information by patients with depression was compared to that of a control group by utilising two visual tests.
In the perception tests, the study subjects compared the brightness and contrast of simple patterns.
"What came as a surprise was that depressed patients perceived the contrast of the images shown differently from non-depressed individuals," said researcher Viljami Salmela from the University of Helsinki.
Patients suffering from depression perceived the visual illusion presented in the patterns as weaker and, consequently, the contrast as somewhat stronger, than those who had not been diagnosed with depression.
"The contrast was suppressed by roughly 20 percent among non-depressed subjects, while the corresponding figure for depressed patients was roughly 5 percent," Salmela explains.
Identifying the changes in brain function underlying mental disorders is important in order to increase understanding of the onset of these disorders and of how to develop effective therapies for them, the team said.
The researchers consider it necessary to carry out further research on altered processing of visual information by the brain caused by depression.
"It would be beneficial to assess and further develop the usability of perception tests, as both research methods and potential ways of identifying disturbances of information processing in patients," Salmela said.
Perception tests could, for example, serve as an additional tool when assessing the effect of various therapies as the treatment progresses.
"However, depression cannot be identified by testing visual perception, since the observed differences are small and manifested specifically when comparing groups," Salmela noted. (IANS)
New York, Feb 7 (IANS) When award-winning actor Tom Hanks announced his Covid-19 diagnosis last year on March, many Americans were still learning about the virus and its severity. However, Hanks' social media posts shaped people's behaviour toward the virus, a new study suggests.The researchers, including Jessica Gall Myrick from the Pennsylvania State University in the US, surveyed around 700 people about their attitudes and behaviours toward the virus the day after Hanks posted the news on social media on March 11, 2020.Just under 90 per cent of the people surveyed had heard about Hanks' social media posts saying he contracted the virus, and approximately half of that group reported it changed their attitudes and behaviours. "There is a growing body of research about how celebrity behaviour and social media posts can affect public health," Myrick said in the study published in the journal Health Communication. "Celebrities can have a huge reach, often more so than typical scientists or doctors or the health department. If they are encouraging positive health behaviour change, then it can serve as a de facto public health intervention," Myrick added.According to the study, the people who had heard the news reported Hanks' diagnosis "highlighted the reality of Covid-19" and broadened their understanding of not only the severity of the situation but also their susceptibility to the illness.Nearly half of the participants who had heard the news when surveyed reported a range of emotional responses, according to the study. Responses included "surprise, fear, anger, sadness and hope." The respondents who reported making changes said Hanks' disclosure inspired them to seek more information and/or take stricter precautions.The half of respondents who heard the news and said Hanks' diagnosis did not change their thoughts or behaviours reported thinking the actor would recover from the illness. They also noted they were already aware of Covid-19 and its effects and did not think Hanks' announcement changed their outlook or intentions regarding the virus.The researchers conducted a statistical analysis to see if and what characteristics could predict whether people's attitudes and behaviours changed after learning Hanks' diagnosis. The results indicated that people who identified with Hanks or said they knew him were more likely to change their thoughts or Covid-related behaviours due to the announcement.--IANSvc/rs
Washington, July 9 (IANS) Researchers have found that older adults with both hearing and visual impairments--or dual sensory impairment--had a significantly higher risk for dementia.The study, published in the journal Alzheimer's & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, said that hearing and vision loss are independently associated with dementia, but the impact of dual sensory impairment on dementia risk is not well understood."Evaluation of vision and hearing in older adults may predict who will develop dementia and Alzheimer's," said study lead author Phillip H Hwang from the University of Washington in the US."This has important implications on identifying potential participants in prevention trials for Alzheimer's disease, as well as whether treatments for vision and hearing loss can modify risk for dementia," Hwang added.In the study of 2,051 older adults (22.8 per cent with hearing or visual impairment and 5.1 per cent with both impairments) who were followed over eight years, dual sensory impairment was associated with an 86 per cent higher risk for dementia compared with having no sensory impairments. During follow-up, dementia developed in 14.3 per cent in those with no sensory impairments, 16.9 per cent in those with one sensory impairment, and 28.8 per cent in those with dual sensory impairment.The findings showed that participants with dual sensory impairment were also twice as likely to develop Alzheimer's disease (the most common form of dementia) than those without sensory impairments."Dual sensory impairment was independently and strongly associated with an increased risk of allacause dementia and Alzheimer's disease," the study author wrote.The researchers noted that further research is needed to characterise the exact role of sensory impairments and whether treatments that improve sensory function, such as surgery or sensory aids, devices, and prostheses, can modify this risk.--IANSbu/sdr/
London, June 5 (IANS) Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have revealed that people with severe vision loss can less accurately judge the distance of nearby sounds, potentially putting them more at risk of injury.The research from Anglia Ruskin University's Vision and Eye Research Institute (VERI) in the UK tested participants with different levels of vision loss, presenting them with speech, music and noise stimuli, and different levels of reverberation (echoes)."Vision loss means people rely more on their hearing for awareness and safety, communication and interaction, but it was not known how hearing is affected by the severity of partial vision loss," said study researcher Shahina Pardhan, Director of VERI.For the findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, participants were asked to judge the distance of the different sounds, as well as the size of the room.The study showed that people with severe visual loss judged closer sounds more inaccurately compared to those whose vision loss is less severe, who in turn, were less accurate when compared to people with normal sight.For more distant sounds, people with severe visual loss judged these to be twice as far away when compared to normally sighted individuals.According to the researchers, participants with severe sight loss also judged the rooms to be three times larger than the control group of normally sighted individuals."The results demonstrate that full blindness is not necessary for judged auditory distance and room size to be affected by visual loss and that changes in auditory perception are systematic and related to the severity of a visual loss," Pardhan said."Our research found that more severely visually impaired people were less accurate in judging the distance of closer sounds, which may make it harder for them in real-life situations, for example, such as crossing busy streets," Pardhan noted.--IANSbu/sdr/
Beijing, April 11 (IANS) Long-term experience of action real-time strategy games such as World of Warcraft, Age of Empires, and Total War can cause long-term changes in the brain and leads to improvements in temporal visual selective attention, according to a study.These games, which can be won through strategic planning, selective attention, sensorimotor skills, and teamwork place considerable demands on the brain.Published in the journal, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, the study shows that expert players of real-time strategy games have faster information processing, allocate more cognitive power to individual visual stimuli and allocate limited cognitive resources between successive stimuli more effectively through time."Our aim was to evaluate the long-term effect of experience with action real-time strategy games on temporal visual selective attention," said study researcher Diankun Gong from University of Electronic Science and Technology of China."In particular, we wanted to reveal the time course of cognitive processes during the attentional blink task, a typical task used by neuroscientists to study visual selective attention," Gong added.To study the effect of gaming on temporal visual selective attention, the research team selected 38 volunteers, healthy young male students.Half of the volunteers were expert players of the typical action real-time strategy game League of Legend, where teammates work together to destroy the towers of an opposing team. They had played the game for at least two years and were masters, based on their ranking among the top seven per cent of players.The others were beginners, with less than six months experience of the same game, and ranked among the bottom 30-45 per cent.All volunteers were seated in front of a screen and tested in a blink task, with 480 trials over a period of approximately two hours.The greater a volunteer's tendency to "blink" targets, the less frequently he would press the correct button when one of the two targets appeared on the screen, and the worse he did overall in the task.The volunteers also wore EEG electrodes on the parietal (i.e. sides and top) region of their scalp, allowing the researchers to measure and localise the brain's activity throughout the experiment."We found that expert League of Legend players outperformed beginners in the task. The experts were less prone to the blink effect, detecting targets more accurately and faster, and as shown by their stronger P3b (positive-going amplitude), gave more attentional cognitive resources to each target," said study co-author Weiyi Ma from the University of Arkansas in the US.--IANSbu/na
Mumbai. The Maharashtra government will provide free spectacles for all school students aged between 6-18 years, an official said here on Wednesday.
The project will cost Rs 20 crore plus a recurring expenditure of around Rs 5 crore per annum. The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
The official said that as per the central government's Rashtriya Bal Swasthaya Programme, all school students undergo a health checkup every year.
This year, 1,195 medical teams on the job found that the incidence of visual problems has increased significantly among the school students, the official said.
Around 8 percent of the 1.22 crore school students in the state suffer from visual problems and providing them with free eye-glasses would help improve their academics.
The government plans to provide spectacles, estimated to cost around Rs 200 each to affected students, of which 25 percent would need higher power glasses after a year.
The state Health Department plans to deliver the spectacles to the students either at school or their homes from the funds made available, said the official.
Besides Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu provides free spectacles to schoolkids in the age group of 6-12 in certain districts. (IANS)
READ MORE >>> Cabinet okays Bill to protect women's reproductive rights