SciTech Briefs

Climate change, Lyme disease linked

Researchers from the Public Health Agency of Canada in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec have discovered evidence that global warming could promote the spread of Lyme disease. They discovered that the spread of mild temperatures between 1971 and 2010 corresponded with the distribution of the deer tick Ixodes scapularis, which carries the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Over the past few decades, the prevalence of Lyme disease has greatly increased. The researchers suggest that if the current climate projections for now until 2070 hold true, Lyme disease will continue to spread.

Source: Science News

U.S. and Mexico restore ecosystem

The United States and Mexico have agreed to open the floodgates of the Morelos Dam near Yuma County, Ariz. on Mar. 23 for almost two months in an attempt to restore the Colorado River Delta ecosystem.

The ecosystem has withered from lack of water since the repeated damming of the Colorado River. Researchers, who have studied the river channel to determine the optimal time for restoration, chose the date. They hope that the deluge will create sandbars that will become a habitat for new seedlings, flush salt from the soil, and replenish groundwater stores.

Source: Science Insider

Calcium to prevent alcoholism relapse

Researchers at the Central Institute of Mental Health and the University of Heidelberg in Mannheim, Germany have gathered data that suggests that the calcium ions present in acamprosate, a drug approved as treatment for alcoholism, could be the active ingredient, not the acamprosate itself. The team previously determined that abstinence from alcohol raises glutamate levels, which makes a person more likely to relapse into alcoholism. The team’s new research suggests that the calcium present in the drug reduces glutamate levels, which suggests that acamprosate itself is inactive.

Source: Science News

Brain distinguishes real vs fake laughs

Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London have discovered that the brain is able to distinguish between sincere and fake laughter and responds differently based on its sincerity. The team monitored the brain responses of participants who listened to people produce genuine laughter from watching funny videos, as well as forced laughter. The researchers found that the participants’ brains had very different responses to genuine laughter versus forced laughter.

Source: Science Daily