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Brain model may help build human-like robot
Can a computer mimic the way the brain works?
November 29th, 2012
02:02 PM ET

Brain model may help build human-like robot

It goes without saying that the human brain is complex, and would be hard to build from scratch. But researchers are looking to simulate how the brain works so that more human-like artificial intelligence can be created and we can better understand damage to our own brains.

Chris Eliasmith of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, led research published in the journal Science on a brain model called SPAUN - the Semantic Pointer Architecture Unified Network.

SPAUN lives inside a computer, can view images with a camera-like eye and can draw responses to questions. For example, show it the number "4" and it will write its own "4." It can even mimic the style of the numeral.

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An Appalachian's guide to triathlons
Rick Morris in the middle of a long run during the 2012 Fit Nation midway trip.
November 29th, 2012
01:59 PM ET

An Appalachian's guide to triathlons

Editor's Note: This time last year, Dr. Sanjay Gupta selected seven lucky viewers to be part of the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge.  Rick Morris, from North Carolina, was one of those viewers, and successfully competed the Nautica Malibu Triathlon in September. Want to be a part of the 2013 team? Apply here

Hi y'all! It's me again. Who, you ask? Well... you know. It's me, Rick Morris. I'm the volunteer-firefighting, web-developing, home-brewing (beer), former smoker who just completed his first triathlon with the 2012 CNN Fit Nation Lucky Seven team.

Come to think of it, I take that back. I now consider myself The New Rick Morris. And I owe it all to CNN.

About a year ago I was sitting on my rump smoking a cigarette (from my second pack, and I just quit that morning) and drinking a jar of my finest when I came across Dr. Sanjay Gupta carrying on about this Fit Nation thing. He was asking for ordinary folk to submit a video application for a spot on the upcoming team.
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This is your brain on smoking
November 28th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

This is your brain on smoking

That cigarette may be doing more damage than meets the eye. If you’ve been smoking for an extended period of time, you’re likely familiar with at least some – if not all – of the bodily symptoms associated with smoking, including but certainly not limited to: Cravings, coughing, shortness of breath and changes to teeth, hair and skin. Coronary heart disease and/or lung cancer might not be far behind.

But a new study published in the journal Age & Ageing concludes that smoking can damage your mind, too. A consistent association was observed between smoking and lower cognitive functioning, including memory.

The bottom line: Smoking and long-term high blood pressure appear to increase the risk of cognitive decline. FULL POST

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Filed under: Addiction • Alzheimer's • Brain • Cancer • Heart • Longevity • Smoking • Stroke

Research: Toxic chemicals in your living room
November 28th, 2012
10:35 AM ET

Research: Toxic chemicals in your living room

Could the couch in your living room be toxic? Some scientists say yes.

A study in this week’s Environmental Science and Technology journal measured just how many toxic flame-retardant chemicals are in our furniture.

Researchers found that 85% of couches contained some combination of flame retardant chemicals in their cushion foam. Aside from upholstered furniture, flame retardant chemicals can also be found in car seats and nursing pillows, or any other product that has polyurethane foam. In addition, it can be used in carpeting and electronics. FULL POST


November 28th, 2012
09:57 AM ET

Gymnastics and acrobatics help performer rise above addiction

Editor's Note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle - injury, illness or other hardship - they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed.  This week we introduce you to Joe Putignano, the "Crystal Man" in Cirque du Soleil's touring show "Totem."  He shares his story of how he was a rising gymnast with Olympic potential, who came crashing down into a life of alcohol, cocaine and heroin addiction.   After two life-threatening overdoses, he finally got clean, and says it was gymnastics that pulled him back to life.  

Spotlights drench over me in a warm glow, and in this illumination I can no longer hide my past from the world - any insecurities will be exposed to an audience of thousands.  In fear I hold my breath, binding myself to the band’s soft prelude, slowly unraveling myself from a tight spinning ball.  Evolutio means “unrolling” in Latin and is the theme of our Cirque du Soleil show Totem.  Evolution is the common thread in my life, from athlete to drug addict to performer.

The voice of my horrific past sings to me over the live music, and my memories of my life with heroin bleed into my performance.  I am reminded of the fine-tipped syringe I held in my hand with the small words printed “Use once and destroy.”  I feel a strong connection to that statement, envious of those who can use once, put it down, and not be destroyed by it. FULL POST


Think you can't tri? Think again!
November 27th, 2012
02:02 PM ET

Think you can't tri? Think again!

Editor's Note: This time last year, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, along with the CNN Fit Nation team of producers selected seven lucky viewers to be part of the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge.  Adrienne (LaGier) Forgette was one of those viewers, and successfully competed alongside Gupta at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon this past September.

What are you waiting for? Thinking about applying for the CNN Fit Nation team but apprehensive that you don’t have what it takes? Do you find the application process daunting? Or are you waiting until the last minute to perfect your entry? Here is my advice to help you change your life:

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CDC: Half of young people with HIV don't know it
November 27th, 2012
01:52 PM ET

CDC: Half of young people with HIV don't know it

Almost a quarter of new HIV cases are seen in young people, and more than half of them don't know they're infected, says a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

According to the report, more than 12,000 new cases occurred in young people aged 13 to 24 in 2010, and close to 60% of them did not know their HIV status.

"That so many young people become infected with HIV each year is a preventable tragedy," wrote CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden in the report. FULL POST


Medicaid: States turning down free money, group says
November 26th, 2012
02:37 PM ET

Medicaid: States turning down free money, group says

It’s flown under the radar, but perhaps the most dramatic element of Obamacare isn’t changes to Medicare, or the requirement for millions to purchase insurance –- it’s the planned expansion of Medicaid.

That expansion would cover an additional 21.3 million people within the next decade, reducing the number of uninsured nearly by half, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, an organization specializing in health care policy.

While that sounds like good news, the sheer size of the expansion has many people worried about cost. Since the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot be forced to participate, eight states have said they won’t expand their current Medicaid programs, and several others say they may follow suit.  But the KFF report says those states may be making life unnecessarily hard for their poorest citizens. FULL POST


Pediatricians: Prescribe teens emergency contraception before they need it
November 26th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Pediatricians: Prescribe teens emergency contraception before they need it

The American Academy of Pediatrics is fighting back against teen pregnancy with revised recommendations on emergency contraception. The organization is encouraging physicians to talk about medications like Plan B and Next Choice in their discussions with their adolescent patients - both boys and girls - on safe sex.

The United States has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy among developed countries.  Nearly 80% of teen pregnancies are unplanned, a result of contraception failure or nonuse, according to the AAP.

The use of emergency contraception has been around since the 1970s, when doctors often advised patients to double up on their regular birth control pills in a method called "Yuzpe." Since then several products have been approved for use by prescription and over-the-counter. Yet lead author Dr. Cora Beurner said there are still many people who don’t know about emergency contraception or have unfounded fears about using it.
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Study: ADHD medication may help curb crime
November 21st, 2012
05:01 PM ET

Study: ADHD medication may help curb crime

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is often associated with the wandering minds and erratic behavior of schoolchildren, but it can have serious consequences for adults as well. A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that people with ADHD who are on medications for the condition are less likely to commit crimes.

"We found the same pattern regardless of which type of crime," said Paul Lichtenstein of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, lead author of the study.

ADHD is associated with conduct problems in children and adults, the study said. People with ADHD commonly stop taking their prescribed medications, particularly adolescents and young adults, according to the study.

ADHD medications control patients' symptoms of impulsiveness, irritability and restlessness. By helping tame impulsive urges, the drugs may be also preventing patients from engaging in illegal acts including violent behaviors, Lichtenstein said. FULL POST


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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