Why Do We Cheat?

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

Even a child can explain why cheating is wrong. Students are well-warned about the consequences that ensue, and adults know the legal implications. Yet cases of cheating continue to emerge in classrooms, boardrooms and newsrooms. People cheat on tests, for sports and in elections. Why? Microbiologists Ferric C. Fang and Arturo Casadevall attempted to answer this question by exploring the causes of cheating and why people deceive to get ahead.

Cheating is not unique to any area of society. Seventy-five percent of university students surveyed had cheated, one-third of scientists surveyed admitted to irregularities in their research practices, and an estimated 1.6 million Americans cheat on their taxes. Cheating isn’t even exclusive to humans — even single-celled organisms can “steal” products made by others.

The size of a particular part of the brain called the neocortex is directly related to an animal’s intelligence. It is also responsible for conscious thought and language. Additionally, the size of the neocortex is predictive of the degree that animals engage in deception. The more intelligent the animal, the more it exhibits deceptive behavior. Continue reading

You only need a cleaver and a small knife in the kitchen

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Do you remember “Leave it to Beaver,” the 1950s-60s show with the quintessential suburban American family

Beaver was an 8-year-old with more existential crises than any 8-year-old deserves. His punk older brother, Wally, was always in trouble, and neither his mother, June, nor his dad, Ward, would ever, despite their surname, at least on TV, wield a cleaver.

The cleaver is a large, flat-bladed cutting instrument and, as I grew up, my exposure to cleavers was limited to butchers holding a big one threateningly to cut up a dead animal or maniacs using cleavers to dismember their victims, sometimes their own family members. None of that for the wholesome Beaver and his Cleaver family.

None of these images left me with a great feeling about cleavers. Nor did my folks even own one. We killed our chickens with a regular hand hatchet. So when I got one as part of a knife set, I slid it into the back of my drawer not to be seen again for five years.

Then, not long back, I discovered the surprising and easy-to-use aspects of the cleaver for preparation of healthy food. Continue reading

Be cautious with hot water around children, elderly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

No one wants to be burned. Even the smallest burn hurts more than a cut the same size.

Larger burns not only hurt but can result in significant pain, permanent scarring, loss of the use of limbs and even death.

Most scald burns can be prevented. Scald burns occur from accidental spills of hot liquids or from hot tap water.

Scald burns happen most often in children age 5 and younger and the elderly. Several things can be done to prevent these burns.

For accidental spills, always make sure that the handles of pans are turned away so that young children cannot reach up and grab them and extension cords to coffee pots and other electric cookers are not hanging off the counter.

About a 1-second exposure to water at 160 degrees will result in a third-degree burn, which is the most severe burn and will leave a scar. Continue reading

Explore all options with your doctor during menopause

Dr. Tristi Muir

Dr. Tristi Muir

Our Bodies, Our Lives

The change of life sounds so dramatic. Life is always changing.

Hormonally, we have menarche (starting periods), cyclic changes (including premenstrual syndrome), pregnancy and postpartum hormonal changes, and alas — menopause.

It should probably be called meno‘stop’ rather than meno‘pause,’ because the ovaries have sputtered out and are not likely to get going again.

Women spend about one-third of their lives in menopause. The loss of estrogen in our bodies manifests itself in more ways than hot flashes. Estrogen receptors are present throughout our bodies and impact our mind, mood, heart, waistline and sexual function.

Estrogen receptors are abundant in the areas of our brain that are important for working and episodic memory. Limited clinical trial evidence has shown that women undergoing surgical menopause (having their ovaries removed) may benefit from the prompt initiation of estrogen therapy to preserve their ability to remember words.

Additionally, estrogen promotes neuronal growth and formation of synapses, acts as an antioxidant to protect the brain from damaging free radicals and elevates levels of neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin, which can have a profound effect on mood. Continue reading

Learn the lessons of the garden angels

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Something magical happens during that springtime ritual of turning over a spade of dirt in the garden. Garden angels seem to appear from wherever they have been hiding all winter.

While digging in the garden last weekend, I had somewhat of an epiphany due, I believe, to their visitation.

As a lifelong gardener, I have always found deep pleasure and satisfaction in getting dirt under my fingernails, putting seeds in a little line and seeing them sprout next to neatly labeled signs or seed envelopes, and ultimately enjoying the fruits of homegrown produce.

Last week, my granddaughter Serenity, now almost 6, and I played with mixing soil in a big container, set out Gerber Daisies, which seem to bloom forever, and decided where the tomatoes would go. She helped me choose how my colorful new tomato cages — bright purple, yellow, orange, and red from Tom’s Thumb — would be artistically arranged.

I enjoy introducing her each spring to the joys of gardening as part of the cycle and rhythm of life.

So while digging and weeding and planting, several metaphysical principles came to me that I wish to share. Continue reading

Violence against women hurts us all

Dr. Jeff Temple

Dr. Jeff Temple

The arrest in recent weeks of more than 30 fugitives wanted in Harris County on domestic violence charges should bring home the fact that intimate partner violence is widespread. Last year, and the year before, the Harris County District Attorney’s office filed more than 10,500 cases of domestic violence. Thirty people were killed in cases of domestic violence in the county, the most in the state.

Violence against women is a pervasive and widespread plague on our society – one that crosses geographic, economic and racial lines. In the United States alone, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1.3 million women each year are victims of physical violence at the hands of their partners; one in four will be physically assaulted by a boyfriend or husband in her lifetime. Texas is no exception to this problem.

While men also are victims of family violence, women overwhelmingly are the targets. In 2012, which saw nearly 200,000 instances of family violence, 114 women were killed by their partner in the Lone Star State. Continue reading

Human memory might be able to be altered in the future

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News

In the film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” people can request a medical procedure that targets memories pertaining to a specific subject or person and change or delete them.

Several characters choose to have their memories of unrequited love and failed relationships erased.

While the plot is purely fictional, new research does provide intriguing new details on how memories are stored and how they might be manipulated.

Memories are stored in the temporal lobe and the hippocampus of the brain. Experiences produce physical and chemical changes in specific brain cells.

Connections between brain cells that help with memory storage also can change. Scientists can identify the precise cells in a network involved with a specific experience. These are called memory traces or engrams.

Nobel Prize winner Susumu Tonegawa and his team wanted to explore how these memory traces are stored in cells. They used cells from the hippocampus that contained a light-sensitive protein called channelrhodopsin. Continue reading

Chores instill values, teach life skills to children

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

What are chores and why is it important for children to have to do chores?

Chores are simple tasks that help build planning skills and teach basic life skills.

These basic life skills will help your child for the rest of his or her life with such tasks as cleaning, cooking, doing laundry and household maintenance.

The better the parents are able to teach these skills while the child is young, the more capable the child will be able to do more complicated tasks later in life.

It is important for the parent to spend time teaching how to do a chore such as making a bed.

However, it also is important that the parent not spend too much time making the child do it perfectly.

It is more important that the child feel that he or she is part of the family and feels a sense of accomplishment. Continue reading

Organ Farming

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Drs. Norbert Herzog & David Niesel

Medical Discovery News
Imagine that a patient needs an organ, like an airway to the lungs called a trachea. A scientist harvests some of the patient’s cells and attaches them to a scaffold the proper shape and size for the tube. The cells and scaffolds are placed into a tissue reactor and — ta da! — in a week or two there is an organ ready for the surgeon to transplant into the patient. While it sounds like a chapter from “Brave New World,” this science fiction scenario is a growing reality.

Bladders and ears have been grown in the laboratory, and hearts, eyes and kidneys and other organs are in progress. These organs are close to the natural ones they’re copying — some even have their own immune system. In April 2013, surgeons at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois implanted a bioengineered trachea into a 2-year-old child. This was the first surgery of its kind in the United States and one of only six worldwide.

The patient receiving the transplant was a girl named Hannah Warren who was born without a trachea, commonly called a windpipe. Since birth, she’s had a plastic pipe inserted in her mouth that went down into her lungs, allowing her to breathe. She could not eat normally or even speak. With few options available, this type of congenital defect has always meant an early death; only a few children live past the age of 6. Continue reading

Add to value of your lives as a couple

Drs. Victor & Michelle Sierpina

Drs. Victor & Michelle Sierpina

Walking by a beautiful garden, you admire how lovely it looks. How did it get that way?

Of course, the neighbors tended it carefully over the seasons — pruning, weeding, planting, fertilizing and watering.

As a result, they created a wonderful space for themselves and all who pass by to appreciate.

Much the same can be said about a successful marriage. Good relationships, friendships, partnerships and especially marriages require that we — like that dedicated gardener — give the time, mindful effort and hard work to make the magic happen.

Since we married decades ago, Michelle and I have made it a practice to invest time daily in growing our little corner of the marriage world.

Our marriage commitment has involved a number of shared activities that, like that gardener, add to the value of our lives together.

These have included time each morning reading devotional and inspirational literature, journaling and meditating together. At the end of the day, we take time to debrief, listening mindfully to each others’ experiences — the joys, sorrows, challenges and blessings, along with the hopes and dreams. Continue reading