Study finds sleep improves memory

Sleeping may have more benefits than just health: It may actually improve students” grades.

A new study by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor published last week in the journal Neuron suggests that sleeping rats exhibit brain activity that may resemble human dreams. This discovery may shed light on the link in humans between dreams and memory.

Although scientific studies in the past have shown a link between dream-filled sleep and memory formation, this is the first time scientists have caught a living brain in the act of reviewing the day”s events.

Scientists say this study is the first step in the quest to find out why people dream and how important sleep is for the formation of stable memories.

“One of the possibilities is that in these sleep and dream states, we are reevaluating past experience” said MIT Associate Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Matthew Wilson, who was the lead author of the study.

Grant to curb Native American substance abuse

University of New Mexico student Lawrence Shorty was awarded $75,000 to encourage American Indians to stop smoking outside of ceremonies and to explain the differences between traditional and manufactured tobacco.

Shorty will receive $25,000 per year for three years from the Developing Leadership in Reducing Substance Abuse program to curb substance abuse among American Indians, who he said have the highest tobacco use rates of all major ethnic groups.

Shorty will go to the University of North Carolina for a tobacco-training program sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He will use some of the $75,000 to create anti-tobacco industry commercials for American Indians.

“My messages are primarily focused on identifying that, one, tobacco manufacturers are not our friends, and two, that the products that they make are not traditional tobacco, and three, they can make you sick,” he said.

Scientists develop male fertility test

A team of U.S. and Japanese experts in reproductive medicine has made a major advance in testing for male infertility that could prevent women seeking fertility treatment from taking unnecessary tests or having unnecessary treatments.

The scientists have developed a method that could make diagnosis more accurate and lead to a correct diagnosis in cases where doctors can find no apparent cause for a couple”s inability to conceive.

The method, called sperm-ubiquitin tag immunoassay (SUTI) is based on a small protein called ubiquitin.

Ubiquitination is a process by which the body breaks down and recycles obsolete cellular proteins. The accumulation of ubiquitin in the sperm cells is evidence of damage or defect, indicating a man”s potential infertility.

World”s smallest robot developed

What may be the world”s smallest robot is being developed by researchers at the Department of Energy”s Sandia National Laboratories.

At one quarter of a cubic inch and weighing less than an ounce, it is possibly the smallest autonomous untethered robot ever created.

Powered by three watch batteries, it rides on track wheels and consists of an 8K ROM processor, temperature sensor, and two motors that drive the wheels.

Enhancements being considered include a miniature camera, microphone, communication device and chemical micro-sensor.

Its creators built it for its ability to scramble through pipes or prowl around buildings looking for chemical plumes or human movement.

The robots may be capable of relaying information to a human-manned station and communicating with each other.

From staff and wire reports.

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