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See Inside June 2007

News Scan Briefs

NEUROSCIENCE
Brain Damage for Easier Moral Choices
How long would you hesitate before pushing someone in front of a runaway train to keep it from killing five other people? The answer may be no time at all, if you have damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC)--a region in the forebrain associated with emotional response. Researchers confronted volunteers with such scenarios and found that those with VMPC injury were three times more likely than healthy people to advocate throwing the person to certain death for the good of the many&

PLANETARY SCIENCE
Martian Cave Dwellings
Seven football field--size caves may have been discovered on Mars. Analysis of photographs from NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter revealed black spots near the massive Martian volcano Arsia Mons that do not look like impact craters because they lack blast patterns and raised rims. Scientists at Northern Arizona University and their colleagues say the possible caverns range from 330 to 825 feet wide and are 425 feet deep and have named them after their loved ones: Dena, Chloe, Wendy, Annie, Abbey, Nikki and Jeanne...

EPIDEMICS
Stick It to the Kids
When flu epidemics loom, the long-standing recommendation of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is to vaccinate the elderly first, because they are at greater risk of dying if they contract the virus. New evidence suggests that youngsters should take priority. Work at Yale University and Rutgers University underlines that children are the group most responsible for spreading the flu: they carry the virus into the home and infect adults, who then bring the flu into the workplace...

PALEONTOLOGY
Collagen from T. Rex
Researchers have extracted collagen protein from a 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex femur, which two years ago was revealed to have soft tissue. Chemical analysis of the protein yielded seven sequences of about 10 to 20 amino acids in length. Three sequences matched collagen peptide scripts from chickens, one matched a frog and another a salamander; the other two matched multiple organisms, including chickens and salamanders...

BEHAVIOR
Brain Brakes
So what stops you from pressing that send button for an e-mail that tells off your boss? Three distant brain regions connected by "hyperdirect cables," believe scientists at the University of California, San Diego. They asked participants to plan an action, listen for a stop signal and decide whether to obey or continue as planned...

VISION
Rodent Roy G. Biv
Mice, like most mammals, normally view the world in colors limited to yellows, blues and grays, similar to what people with red-green color blindness see. By introducing a single human gene into mice, scientists endowed the animals with full-color vision. Humans and closely related primates possess an extra light-sensitive pigment permitting them to see red...

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