Archive | Music

'Noise' is Symptom of Coral Reef Health

BRISTOL, England, Sept. 20 (UPI) — Coral reefs can be surprisingly noisy places and the noise level is a good indication of the reef’s overall health, U.K. scientists say.

Researchers at the University of Bristol in England say coral reef inhabitants, such as fish and invertebrates, produce clicks and grunts that add up to considerable cacophonies, a university release reports.

Analyzing recordings of coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean near Panama, Bristol marine biologists found some reefs are noisier than others, and these differences provide useful information about the state of the reef.

Healthier reefs were louder, with a clear association between overall noise level generated and the amount of living coral, the researchers found.

“This study provides evidence that reef generated sound contains a real richness of information,” Bristol University scientist Steve Simpson said.

“This would provide fish and invertebrates with the cues they need to assess the quality of potential settlement sites before they can see them, a bit like wandering around a music festival eavesdropping on different bands before choosing where to pitch your tent.

“It may even provide the information that enables some fish to return to the very reef on which they were originally spawned.”

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Music Helps Treat Emotional, Physical Pain

GLASGOW, Scotland, Sept. 11 (UPI) — Music helps regulate a person’s mood and may help alleviate symptoms for people dealing with physical pain, researchers in Scotland say.

Study leader Dr. Don Knox, an audio engineering specialist at Glasgow Caledonian University, says the development of music-based therapies to help address depressive illnesses may lead doctors to prescribe a type of music on a prescription — tailored to suit the needs of an individual.

“The impact of a piece of music on a person goes so much further than thinking that a fast tempo can lift a mood and a slow one can bring it down. Music expresses emotion as a result of many factors,” Knox says in a statement. “These include the tone, structure and other technical characteristics of a piece. Lyrics can have a big impact too.”

Knox and Raymond MacDonald of Glasgow Caledonian University carried out an unprecedentedly detailed audio analysis of pieces of music, identified as expressing a range of emotions by a panel of volunteers.

“We look at parameters such as rhythm patterns, melodic range, musical intervals, length of phrases, musical pitch and so on,” Knox says. “For example, music falling into a positive category might have a regular rhythm, bright timbre and a fairly steady pitch contour over time.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Study: Music Training 'primes' the Brain

EVANSTON, Ill., July 21 (UPI) — Musical instruction can “prime” the brain to improve human skills in language, speech, memory and attention, U.S. researchers say.

A study at Northwestern University found the effects of musical training on the nervous system can build meaningful patterns important to all types of learning, ScienceDaily.com reported Tuesday.

Researchers studied music training’s effect on neuroplasticity, defined as the brain’s ability to adapt and change as a result of training and experience over the course of a person’s life.

An active engagement with musical sounds not only enhances neuroplasticity, Nina Kraus, director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, said, but also creates permanent patterns important to all learning.

“The brain is unable to process all of the available sensory information from second to second, and thus must selectively enhance what is relevant,” Kraus said.

“A musician’s brain selectively enhances information-bearing elements in sound,” Kraus said, and “the nervous system makes associations between complex sounds and what they mean.”

These efficient sound-to-meaning connections are important not only for music but for other aspects of communication, she said.

“The effect of music training suggests that, akin to physical exercise and its impact on body fitness, music is a resource that tones the brain for auditory fitness,” the study said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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TV, Video Games May Rob Students of Focus

AMES, Iowa, July 8 (UPI) — Grade-school and college students who watch TV and play video games for more than 2 hours a day have increased attention problems, U.S. researchers found.

Lead researcher Edward Swing, an Iowa State University psychology doctoral candidate, said the study involved 1,323 children in third-, fourth- and fifth-graders and 210 college-age participants, who exceeded the 2 hours per day of screen time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Those with more than 2 hours of screen time were 1.5 to 2 times more likely to display more than average attention problems.

“There isn’t an exact number of hours when screen time contributes to attention problems, but the recommendation of no more than 2 hours a day provides a good reference point,” Swing said in a statement. “In our sample, the total average time with television and video games is 4.26 hours per day — low compared to the national average.”

The research team said some speculate that “the MTV effect” may be at work.

“When MTV came on, it started showing music videos that had very quick edits — cuts once every second or two,” Douglas Gentile, an associate professor of psychology at Iowa State, said. “Consequently, the pacing of other television and films sped up too, with much quicker edits.”

The findings are scheduled to be published in the August print issue of Pediatrics.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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To Get a Date, Music Makes a Difference

MORBIHAN, France, June 22 (UPI) — Men who want to ask women on a date increase their odds if a love ballad is playing in the background, researchers in France found.

Nicolas Gueguen and Celine Jacob of the Universite de Bretagne-Sud, along with Lubomir Lamy of Universite de Paris-Sud, set up a study in which 87 young women each spent time in a waiting room with background music playing either a love ballad or a neutral tune.

During a delay, before the female study subject was to move into another room — ostensibly to discuss food products — an “average” young man said:

“My name is Antoine, as you know, I think you are very nice and I was wondering if you would give me your phone number. I’ll phone you later and we can have a drink together somewhere next week.”

The study, published in the journal Psychology of Music, found 52 percent of the single young women responded to Antoine’s advances under the influence of the love ballad, while 28 percent responded under the influence of the neutral song.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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CDC: Overdoses Reported at LA Raves

ATLANTA, June 10 (UPI) — There have been reports of Ecstasy and other drug overdoses at Los Angeles raves, and it warrants prevention strategies, federal health officials said.

The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released Thursday said clusters of raves — large parties where people dance to music played by disc jockeys or live performances often accompanied by light shows — in Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve ended up with 13 taken to hospital emergency rooms, with three hospitalized and one in critical condition.

“Although the initial concern was possible adulteration or contamination of drugs at the rave, the investigation concluded that the Ecstasy overdose was the primary reason for the severe symptoms,” the report said.

“Evidence from drug treatment databases and crime labs suggest that Ecstasy use has been steadily increasing in Los Angeles County for the last five years.”

Health officials said drug overdose is a preventable death and police, fire and emergency medical services should develop prevention strategies to reduce the number of overdoses.

While raves may not reach the crowd numbers of 20,000 they used to, smaller raves do occur regularly on several cities, especially on the West Coast.

One person died and 10 others were sickened, five critically, apparently after taking tainted drugs at a May 29 rave in Daly City, Calif. The San Jose Mercury News reported police said the victims were among about 16,500 people who attended the POP 2010 The Dream festival.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Hip-hop Video Says Healthy Eating is Cool

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., May 29 (UPI) — A senior film student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham created a 60-second video with a message to kids: Eating healthy is cool.

Anna Lloyd, 22, said her 60-second Internet video “Fresh Grown,” features five children rapping and dancing at a grocery store and at the Pepper Place Farmers’ Market, both in Birmingham.

The pint-size rappers, surrounded by rows of carrots, tomatoes and strawberries, sing the lyrics “I like fresh grown fruits and vegetables.”

The Jefferson County Childhood Obesity Task Force contacted the university to develop a social marketing project Jones Valley Urban Farm, a non-profit organization that grows organic produce and flowers on a 3-acre vacant lot in downtown Birmingham.

Lloyd surveyed fourth-graders at a downtown Birmingham about nutrition, music and their favorite Web sites and television shows.

“I realized that the kids already knew what they should be eating, but they said it just wasn’t cool to eat healthy,” Lloyd said in a statement.

“So, I wanted a video that would make healthy foods cool, and that’s where the idea for a hip-hop video came from.”

The video is at: www.youtube.com/uabnews.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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UPI NewsTrack Health and Science News

No evidence Alzheimer’s prevention works

BETHESDA, Md., April 28 (UPI) — U.S. medical investigators said Wednesday there is no firm evidence any preventive measures for cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s disease are effective.

An independent panel convened by the National Institutes of Health said many preventive measures including mental stimulation, exercise and a variety of dietary supplements have been studied over the years. But the experts said the value of such strategies for delaying the onset or reducing the severity of decline or disease has never been demonstrated by rigorous studies.

“Alzheimer’s disease is a feared and heart-breaking disease,” said Dr. Martha Daviglus, the panel’s chairwoman and a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University. “We wish we could tell people that taking a pill or doing a puzzle every day would prevent this terrible disease, but current evidence doesn’t support this.”

The panel’s members said they found no evidence of even moderate scientific support associating any dietary supplement, prescription or non-prescription drug, diet, exercise or social engagement with reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The panel said evidence surrounding risk reduction for cognitive decline is similarly limited, although low-grade evidence shows weak associations between many lifestyle choices and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline.

“These associations are examples of the classic chicken or the egg quandary,” Daviglus said. “Are people able to stay mentally sharp over time because they are physically active and socially engaged or are they simply more likely to stay physically active and socially engaged because they are mentally sharp?” Daviglus said.

The panel included experts in preventive medicine, geriatrics, internal medicine, neurology, neurological surgery, psychiatry, mental health, nutrition, pharmacology, genetic medicine, nursing, health economics, health services research and family care-giving.

The report is available at http://www.ahrq.gov/downloads/pub/evidence/pdf/alzheimers/alzcog.pdf.

Phosphate in soda may accelerate aging

BOSTON, April 28 (UPI) — High levels of phosphates — found in sodas and processed food — may accelerate signs of aging, U.S. researchers suggest.

The study, published in the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, also finds high phosphate levels may increase the prevalence and severity of chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular calcification and skin atrophy.

“Humans need a healthy diet and keeping the balance of phosphate in the diet may be important for a healthy life and longevity,” Dr. M. Shawkat Razzaque of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine says in a statement. “Avoid phosphate toxicity and enjoy a healthy life.”

Razzaque and a colleague examined the effects of high phosphate levels in mice missing the gene klotho, which when absent, causes mice to have toxic levels of phosphate in their bodies. These mice lived from eight to 15 weeks.

Mice fed a high phosphate diet also died within 15 weeks, while mice not fed a high phosphate diet lived for 20 weeks.

Webb telescope passes key design review

WASHINGTON, April 28 (UPI) — NASA says scientists have determined the James Webb Space Telescope will meet all of its scientific and engineering requirements for its mission.

Space agency officials said that evaluation was part of the telescope’s most significant mission milestone to date — the Mission Critical Design Review.

“I’m delighted by this news and proud of the Webb program’s great technical achievements,” said Eric Smith, NASA’s Webb telescope program scientist. “The independent team conducting the review confirmed the designs, hardware and test plans for Webb will deliver the fantastic capabilities always envisioned for NASA’s next major space observatory. The scientific successor to Hubble is making great progress.”

Officials said the project’s schedule will undergo a review during the next few months. The spacecraft design, which passed a preliminary review in 2009, will continue toward final approval next year.

“The Webb is the premier next-generation space observatory for exploring deep space phenomena from distant galaxies to nearby planets and stars,” NASA said. “The telescope will provide clues about the formation of the universe and the evolution of our own solar system, from the first light after the Big Bang to the formation of star systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth.”

The telescope is a joint project of NASA and the European and Canadian Space Agencies.

Study: Handclapping aids cognitive skills

BEER-SHEVA, Israel, April 28 (UPI) — Israeli scientists say they’ve conducted the first study to show a link between handclapping songs and development of important cognitive skills in people.

Idit Sulkin, a researcher at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, said she found a direct link between participation in handclapping songs and development of major skills in children and young adults.

“We found children in the first, second and third grades who sing these songs demonstrate skills absent in children who don’t take part in similar activities,” Sulkin said. “We also found children who spontaneously perform handclapping songs … during recess have neater handwriting, write better and make fewer spelling errors.”

Music psychologist Warren Brodsky, who supervised Sulkin’s research, said the findings suggest, “Children who don’t participate in such games may be more at risk for developmental learning problems like dyslexia and dyscalculia.

Sulkin said she also discovered handclapping song activity has a positive effect on adults: University students reported that after taking up such games, they became more focused and less tense.

“These techniques are associated with childhood, and many adults treat them as a joke,” she said. “But once they start clapping, they report feeling more alert and in a better mood.”

She said the study’s findings, part of her dissertation, suggest handclapping songs should be an integral part of education for children aged 6 to 10 to provide motor and cognitive training.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Education, Engineering, Music, Other, Solar0 Comments

Study: Handclapping Aids Cognitive Skills

BEER-SHEVA, Israel, April 28 (UPI) — Israeli scientists say they’ve conducted the first study to show a link between handclapping songs and development of important cognitive skills in people.

Idit Sulkin, a researcher at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, said she found a direct link between participation in handclapping songs and development of major skills in children and young adults.

“We found children in the first, second and third grades who sing these songs demonstrate skills absent in children who don’t take part in similar activities,” Sulkin said. “We also found children who spontaneously perform handclapping songs … during recess have neater handwriting, write better and make fewer spelling errors.”

Music psychologist Warren Brodsky, who supervised Sulkin’s research, said the findings suggest, “Children who don’t participate in such games may be more at risk for developmental learning problems like dyslexia and dyscalculia.

Sulkin said she also discovered handclapping song activity has a positive effect on adults: University students reported that after taking up such games, they became more focused and less tense.

“These techniques are associated with childhood, and many adults treat them as a joke,” she said. “But once they start clapping, they report feeling more alert and in a better mood.”

She said the study’s findings, part of her dissertation, suggest handclapping songs should be an integral part of education for children aged 6 to 10 to provide motor and cognitive training.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Repeal Term Limits

With spectacular Pacific coastline, Sierra alpine peaks, the best music, movies, food and wine in the world, with ongoing world high-tech leadership and trend-setting culture, California is the Athens of the 21st century. But California has allowed a gaping hole to be rent into the fabric of its democracy, through the enactment of term limits for California’s state legislators. This unhealthy condition here in California not only causes grievous harm to our great state, it spreads ripples around the planet.

Every member of every powerful special interest influencing California’s government has an unlimited term. Every corporate chief, every union boss, and every agency bureaucrat has a job that can last for decades, but the elected leaders who are supposed to balance these special interests are automatically and routinely terminated, often well before their time, by term limit laws. The good politicians are eliminated with the bad. No visionary leader can arise to represent their constituents, when the only way to make a lifetime committment to a career in politics is to jump from one district to another.

California’s veteran legislators are now vagabonds, who hop from district to district each time they are termed out. They can never know their constituents the way a long-term legislator could, and they are more beholden instead to their party for funding and support. Because they must rotate districts, they are less likely to have grassroots support of their own. Term limits kill off powerful and independent legislators before they can realize their potential, and the effect of this is to shift power away from the voters and into the hands of party bosses and public bureaucrats.

If you are a legislator in California, you may be completely committed to the district where you have your own home and family. But unless you abandon your home and take over another electoral seat, you will only serve six years if you are a California State Assemblyperson (3x 2 year terms), or eight years if you are a California State Senator (2x 4 year terms).

Not only do term limits undermine the connection between legislators and their constituents, it guarantees a higher percentage of office holders are either ineffective novices or party hacks. It takes about 6-8 years just to know what’s going on in Sacramento’s state legislative chambers. What bill was brokered off the floor last year, and why, and why is it back now? What to do with the myriad of special interest lobbyists, and let’s not forget that registered lobbyists have no term limits. By the time you have acquired competence and established a reputation in California’s legislature, and can exercise the leadership that our democracy counts on to survive, you are termed out. This subverts democracy because excellent and powerful elected representatives are automatically killed off. Term limits are good for government bureaucrats and special interests, and bad for the rest of us.

The reason term limits were enacted was because incumbents were wielding too much power. Particularly when there are gerrymandered districts where all seats are safe. In California the districts are so gerrymandered that in California’s last general election, 2004, not one seat in California’s Assembly or Senate changed party hands. But term limits don’t alleviate, they compound the problems caused by gerrymandering. Both must end.

Towards the end of the California legislature’s 2006 session, a bill came very close to passing that would have done this – it would have eliminated term limits at the same time as it ceded redistricting authority to a nonpartisan commission – something that probably would spell an end to gerrymandered electoral districts. That this bill almost passed into law is encouraging to anyone who would like to see California’s democracy revitalized.

Given California’s visibility in the world, it would be an especially good thing if their voters and legislators and judges would act to put an end to gerrymandering and repeal term limits. The only term limits that should exist in a democracy are the ones enforced at the ballot box.

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