Have fun with brains, hit the road to avoid crazy health care prices, and why your best excuse for not exercising is totally bogus – it’s all in this edition of :DP’s healthcare news roundup.
Your Brain Is A Word Cloud
How do our brains process the endless flow of words that are directed at it daily? A group of scientists from the University of California, Berkley decided to find out.
They mapped how brains work with spoken language, and discovered that brains store words in clusters based on commonalties. As an example: tooth, brush, paste, floss, dentist, cleaning, cavities, fillings are likely to be part of the “dental” cluster stored in your brain.
The results of the study were made into a thesaurus-like map showing how the brain processes words. You can explore an interactive version of this map online.
The research shows that the brain doesn’t devote a single section to storing word meaning clusters, instead the information is distributed across the cerebral cortex, in 100 different areas that span both hemispheres.
Specific regions of the brain store the information about particular word meanings. The research team’s scans of brain activity showed that hearing a word about places activates a different area of the brain than hearing words about people or numbers.
This research is just beginning. The team scanned the brains of only seven people, all from the same locale and all native English-speakers. Future studies are planned to see whether the results vary for speakers of other languages, and whether the research proves true across a much wider range of people.
The team hopes the learnings from their research can be used to help people communicate after a brain injury such as a stroke, and to assist those whose brains process language/words differently. And yes, in theory, the research could be used to create a mind-reading machine.
Healthcare Road Trip
A new report by the Health Care Cost Institute can be your road atlas if you’re looking to save money on your healthcare.
The “National Chartbook on Health Care Prices” uses claim and payment data from three of the nation’s largest insurance companies to analyze how prices for medical procedures vary from state to state, and city to city.
What the researchers learned is that healthcare fees in America make absolutely no sense whatsoever.
The reports compare average prices for 242 medical services — from basic checkups to coronary bypasses, knee replacements to foot x-rays by state.
Compared to the national average, Alaska has the highest average health care prices, followed by Wisconsin, North Dakota, New Hampshire and Minnesota. In New Hampshire and Wisconsin, over 20 percent of health care services are twice the national average price.
In Arizona, Florida, Maryland and Tennessee, over 90 percent of health care services are priced lower than the national average.
But prices also vary wildly across a single state. Prices for knee replacements varied most in California, with a $27,243 average price difference between Riverside ($30,261) and Sacramento ($57,504). In Ohio, the average price of a pregnancy ultrasound in Cleveland was almost three times that of Canton ($522 and $183 respectively), even though the two cities are only 60 miles apart. In Florida, you can get a knee transplant for $17,000 less in Miami than you’d pay less than 200 miles away in Palm Bay.
Get fit fast
You say you have no time for exercise? Well, you can kiss that excuse goodbye. A new study has discovered that just 1 minute of sprinting, combined with 9 minutes of light exercise, boosts your health and fitness as much as a 50-minute workout conducted at a moderate pace.
“Most people cite ‘lack of time’ as the main reason for not being active”, study co-author Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario, said in a statement. “Our study shows that an interval-based approach can be more efficient — you can get health and fitness benefits comparable to the traditional approach, in less time.”
Nevertheless, there are a few people who really want to know if they have RBF, Macbeth said. Since Tuesday, when people started discovering they can get their face analyzed, Noldus Information Technology has received more than 150 photos from people asking to see if they have RBF
Another way to see if you have RBF, or if you will have it in the future, can be as easy as looking at your relatives, Youn said. “The biggest predictor of those who have RBF is if your parents have it,” he said.
If you fear you have that face and are worried why so many people think you look angry all the time, you can share your photo with Noldus and find out if you have RBF.