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Brain's 'clock' less accurate with aging
by Staff Writers
Los Angeles (UPI) Jul 19, 2011

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Age-related decline in the brain's circadian clock may be why some older people have difficulty sleeping and adjusting to time changes, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at UCLA say their study of the brain's master circadian clock -- known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus -- shows a key pattern of rhythmic neural activity begins to decline by middle age.

The SCN is the central circadian clock in humans and other mammals and controls the timing of the sleep-wake cycle and many other rhythmic and non-rhythmic processes in the body, a UCLA release said Monday.

"Aging has a profound effect on circadian timing," said Gene Block, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences. "It is very clear that animals' circadian systems begin to deteriorate as they age, and humans have enormous problems with the quality of their sleep as they age, difficulty adjusting to time-zone changes and difficulty performing shift-work, as well as less alertness when awake.

"There is a real change in the sleep-wake cycle."

Large numbers of people over the age of 65 regularly take sleeping pills, but the effects of taking such pills over many years is not known, researcher Christopher Colwell said, adding the new research could lead to other options for getting a good night's sleep.

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New material could offer hope to those with no voice
Boston MA (SPX) Jul 20, 2011
In 1997, the actress and singer Julie Andrews lost her singing voice following surgery to remove noncancerous lesions from her vocal cords. She came to Steven Zeitels, a professor of laryngeal surgery at Harvard Medical School, for help. Zeitels was already starting to develop a new type of material that could be implanted into scarred vocal cords to restore their normal function. In 2002, ... read more

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