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Researchers Say Playing Mario 64 Can Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

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In a new study carried out by researchers from the University of Montreal, scientists examined the link between 3D-platform games and growth in different brains areas among older people. They were particularly interested in the gray matter in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is used for memory building. The loss of gray matter in the hippocampus is associated with neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

Their findings indicated that the Super Mario 64 training led to increased gray matter in the hippocampus, along with another structure called the cerebellum, which is important for motor control and balance.

The scientists hypothesized that 3D platformers are good because they ask people to explore a new environment, and to memorize it. When people do that, they form a cognitive map, meaning an internal representation of the environment, which they can then use to navigate. We know from past research involving both humans and rodents that this promotes activity in the hippocampus.

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New York City Council Passed Legislation To Address Algorithm Discrimination

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The New York City Council yesterday passed legislation seeking to address problems with Algorithms which can determine which school a child can attend, whether a person will be offered credit from a bank, what products are advertised to consumer, and whether someone will receive an interview for a job. Government officials also use them to predict where crimes will take place, who is likely to commit a crime and whether someone should be allowed out of jail on bail. The algorithms used in facial recognition technology, for example, have been shown to be less accurate on Black people, women, and juveniles.

The new bill seeking the signature of Mayor Bill de Blasio. States:

This bill would require the creation of a task force that provides recommendations on how information on agency automated decision systems may be shared with the public and how agencies may address instances where people are harmed by agency automated decision systems.

The task force would need to be formed within three months of the bill’s signing, and importantly it must include “persons with expertise in the areas of fairness, accountability and transparency relating to automated decision systems and persons affiliated with charitable corporations that represent persons in the city affected by agency automated decision systems.”

The New York division of the ACLU has argued in favor of it.

See The bill Here,

Those Sinking Medicare Margins

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Payment shifts and regulatory mandates are putting hospital Medicare margins on a downhill slope. Hospital executives say the chasm between the two has widened in recent years due to a number of factors: federal mandates to deploy expensive health information technology systems under the meaningful use program, a 2% across-the-board cut to provider Medicare payments under the Budget Control Act of 2011, reductions in Medicare disproportionate-share hospital payments and the move to alternative-payment models. Layoffs and reductions in services have been common coping mechanisms to avoid the income drop

While expanded coverage is a net positive, hospital leaders still complain that the government payment programs do not cover costs. For Medicare, hospitals received 88 cents for every dollar spent caring for beneficiaries in 2015 and 90 cents for Medicaid patients, according to the American Hospital Association. Combined underpayments from the government programs were $57.8 billion in 2015. This includes a shortfall of $41.6 billion for Medicare and $16.2 billion for Medicaid, the association reported.

Attempts to move Medicare from a fee-for-service system to a value-based model pose perhaps the most serious challenge to hospitals and health systems struggling with low Medicare margins.

In 2015, the Obama administration announced it wanted 30% of payments for traditional Medicare benefits to be tied to alternative-payment models such as accountable care organizations by the end of last year and 50% by the end of 2018.

The first goal was met, but since the Trump administration took over in January, CMS officials have been coy about their own goals for the shift beyond noting they want the move to be voluntary.

Overall, hospital leaders believe they are getting mixed messages from the Trump administration over whether it still supports the move away from fee-for service Medicare, given that it has canceled or scaled back several new pay models created under the Obama administration.

medicare margins take a dive

There are things Congress can do to stabilize and lessen the financial pressures hospitals now face. The Medicare recovery audit contractor program could be overhauled. Under the program, private companies audit the medical records of hospitals and doctors to find instances of improper billing or erroneous payment from the government.

Hospital executives argue that claims are often mistakenly flagged as being improper in some way. Of the claims that have completed the appeals process, 62% were overturned in favor of the provider, according to the AHA. The association found that 43% of all hospitals reported spending more than $10,000 managing the RAC process during the third quarter of 2016, 24% spent more than $25,000 and 4% spent over $100,000.

Despite those concerns, the program has scored big for the federal government. RACs have recouped $8 billion in improper payments since its inception in 2009, according to the CMS.

The other recurring request from hospitals is that Congress preserve the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. A proposal to repeal the mandate is included in the Senate version of tax reform legislation.

 

 

Substitute Phones For Restless Fingers & Cell Phone Addiction

 Klemens Schillinger’s Substitute Phones are made of high-quality, heavy-duty plastic designed to mimic the look and feel of a traditional smartphone. The devices feature stone beads which are designed to simulate the various gestures one would make on their smartphone. They’re like phone-shaped fidget spinners. The same tactile urge to touch and swipe like your actual smartphone does, is fulfilled, but will give you a break from the constant text messages and notifications.The calming limitation can also offer help for smartphone addicts to cope with withdrawal symptoms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Internet of Things & Insurance

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Health is an area where Internet of Things devices are already being used to lower insurance premiums for those who agree to wear the devices and to share data with insurance companies.  wearables like FitBit have been tied to several insurance premiums.

 Other areas of consumer related lifestyle data include the use of vehicle telematics devices (devices that enhance navigation, safety and communication features). Those who agree to have these devices integrated with their vehicles can see lower car insurance costs.
Networked smoke detectors for informal settlements, in the townships of South Africa have been developed by the company Lumkani. Lumkani is described as “the world’s first networked heat-detector designed specifically for a slum environment.
Lumkani devices are networked to each other using radio frequency. When a fire is detected, the alarm sounds in all homes within a 40 meter radius. A variable sound is used signal to users when a fire is in a separate dwelling.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips are tracking livestock for insurance, such as the IFFCO-Tokio system. IFFCO-Tokio is piloting a cattle insurance project targeting more than 25,000 poor farmers and their families in the Indian states of Gujarat, Punjab, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Orissa.

Designer Babies Right Around The Corner

Designer pets” are already within reach; mice have been turned green. Beagles have been doubled in muscle mass. Pigs have been shrunk to the size of cocker spaniels with “designer fur.” Woolly mammoths are being attempted.

Illustration: Chelsea Beck/GMG

They are predicting that half of the population with decent health care will–have eggs grown from human skin and fertilized with sperm, then have the entire genome of about 100 embryo samples sequenced, peruse the highlights, and pick the best model to implant.

traits could changed in a designer baby

Gender

Appearance

Intelligence

Disease

Personality

 Trait selection

Embryo screening involves a process called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). Embryos are created by in-nitro fertilization and grown to the eight-cell stage, at which point one or two cells are removed. Scientists then examine the DNA of these cells for defects, and only normal embryos are replaced in the womb.

Three-parent baby

Three-parent babies are human offspring with three genetic parents, created through a specialized form of In vitro fertilization in which the future baby’s mitochondrial DNA comes from a third party. The procedure is intended to prevent mitochondrial diseases including muscular dystrophy and some heart and liver conditions. 

Pros and Cons of Designer Babies

Pros

Reduces risk of genetic diseases

Reduces risk of inherited medical conditions

Keep pace with others doing it

Better chance the child will succeed in life

Better understanding of genetics

Increased life span

Can give a child genes that the parents do not carry

Prevent next generation of family from getting characteristics/diseases

Cons

Termination of embryos

Could create a gap in society

Possibility of damage to the gene pool

Baby has no choice in the matter

Genes often have more than one use

Geneticists are not perfect

Loss of Individuality

Other children in family could be affected by parent’s decision

Only the rich can afford it

Some scientists disagreed over whether certain types of gene-editing would be important for helping patients, with one prominent researcher contending the technology would not often be needed, while another described dire current clinical needs for it. 

CRISPR is a powerful technology that allows editing—by way of replacing or repairing—of multiple genes at once in animal, plant and human cells. This biological tool could help unlock understanding of basic human biology and also help patients in need of medical care. However, This method has also sparked new ethical controversy.

Gene editing could include altering genes in one person—say to treat disease or make a cosmetic change—but, more controversially, it could also include making changes to the germ line that would then alter the genome for an individual’s children, grandchildren and the following generations, with potentially unknown repercussions.

 

Scientist Creating Low fat Bacon With Pig & Mice Genes

Outlets are reporting that Chinese scientists have genetically altered pig embryos (using added genes from mice) to create “skinny pigs” who have a lower percentage of body fat and could be used, one day, to produce what some headlines are deeming “healthy bacon.

Genetically modified (GM) foods continue to be a contentious subject. Proponents believe that it could help feed millions of hungry people amid climate change and population growth. Others balk at the idea of eating science experiments.

The World Health Organization reports that the safety of GM foods depends on how the genes were tweaked, which will ultimately leave each item to be rated on a case-by-case basis. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has approved genetically engineered salmon. And apples not prone to browning are expected to be available soon.

UH!

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