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Success of blood test for autism affirmed

One year after researchers published their work on a physiological test for autism, a follow-up study confirms its exceptional success in assessing whether a child is on the autism spectrum.First physiological test for autism proves high accuracy in second trial

Troy, N.Y. - One year after researchers published their work on a physiological test for autism, a follow-up study confirms its exceptional success in assessing whether a child is on the autism spectrum. A physiological test that supports a clinician's diagnostic process has the potential to lower the age at which children are diagnosed, leading to earlier treatment. Results of the study, which uses an algorithm to predict if a child has autism spectrum disorder (ASD) based on metabolites in a blood sample, published online today, appear in the June edition of Bioengineering & Translational Medicine.

"We looked at groups of children with ASD independent from our previous study and had similar success. We are able to predict with 88 percent accuracy whether children have autism," said Juergen Hahn, lead author, systems biologist, professor, head of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Department of Biomedical Engineering, and member of the Rensselaer Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS). "This is extremely promising." Continue reading

Source: EurekAlert, June 19, 2018


Can Ultrasonic Noise Make You Sick?

Ultrasonic signals from sensors and other devices are all around us, and the health effects of their interactions aren’t clear

The Wall Street Journal

Can what you don’t hear hurt you? Researchers are studying whether the largely inaudible interplay of ultrasound beams from sensors and other devices can trigger headaches and dizziness.
Those were among symptoms reported by some U.S. diplomatic personnel stationed in China and Cuba who returned home in the past year after becoming incapacitated.

Ultrasonic signals are almost everywhere but the side-effects from so many transmissions remain a mystery, several experts said. Ultrasonic sound is the workhorse of electronics, an essential part of devices that are fixtures of public spaces. They include public-address systems, smart street lights and automatic door openers. In hotels, offices and stores, air-quality sensors, motion detectors and automatic light switches often rely on ultrasonic transmitters to relay readings or trigger alarms. Typically, the signals fall outside the range of sound that all but the most sensitive listeners can hear.

Advertisers embed ultrasonic tones into commercials to track consumer behavior across smartphones, TVs, tablets and computers. Shopping-mall operators deploy airborne ultrasound to drive off loitering youngsters, whose hearing is more sensitive to high-frequency noise. At museums, ultrasonic speakers pinpoint commentary or music to a single listener in a room without disturbing anyone else. At concerts, organizers broadcast an inaudible ultrasound signal while musicians play to “water-mark” the performance.

Read article

Source: The Wall Street Journal, June 16, 2018.


The ears have it

Remember to take care of your hearing, like any other aspect of your health.

When you plan your next series of maintenance health tests, don't forget your ears. An ear and hearing exam is not something that needs to be done every year, but you should be aware of changes that could signal serious problems.

"At the very least, a baseline evaluation can help, so you can monitor changes if your hearing declines," says Dr. Stephen W. Hill, an audiologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye & Ear.

A Silent Problem

At age 65, one out of three people has a hearing loss, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America, but sometimes it's not bad enough to interfere with their daily lives, so they just endure it.

But these changes can have an impact in ways you may not notice. For instance, you might have to turn up the TV louder than usual or ask people to repeat themselves, both of which can strain your personal relationships.

Poor hearing also can increase your risk of injuries, according to a study from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, published in the January 2018 JAMA Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery. The researchers found that people who had reported having poor hearing were almost twice as likely to suffer from some type of accidental injury related to driving, work, or leisure or sport compared with those who said their hearing was good or excellent. Continue reading

Source: Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, June, 2018


American Sign Language and English language learners: New linguistic research supports the need for policy changes

A new study of the educational needs of students who are native users of American Sign Language (ASL) shows glaring disparities in their treatment by the U.S Department of Education. The article, "If you use ASL, should you study ESL? Limitations of a modality-b(i)ased policy", by Elena Koulidobrova (Central Connecticut State University), Marlon Kunze (Gallaudet University) and Hannah Dostal (University of Connecticut), will be published in the June, 2018 issue of the scholarly journal Language. A pre-print version of the article may be found at: .

The US legal system offers various protections to children for whom English is an additional language, such as access to focused English instruction to facilitate mastery of the academic curriculum. However, these laws do not protect all multilingual students in the US. One population of bilingual students has been systematically excluded from these protections are those whose native language is ASL. The authors' research shows that ASL has long been considered a system of communication for people with hearing needs and viewed through the prism of disability as opposed to multilingualism. However, as decades of linguistic research have revealed, ASL is a language in its own right and independent from English; it is the primary language of the Deaf community in the US, but there are also many members of the ASL community who are not deaf. Yet, the conflation between the lack of hearing and language drives the linguistic, as well as educational policy, of the US government. Continue reading

Source: EurekAlert, June 11, 2018 (retrieved June 13, 2018)


Why are sight and sound out of sync?

The way we process sight and sound are curiously out of sync by different amounts for different people and tasks, according to a new study from City, University of London.

When investigating the effect the researchers found that speech comprehension can sometimes actually improve by as much as 10 per cent when sound is delayed relative to vision, and that different individuals consistently have uniquely different optimal delays for different tasks.

As a result, the authors suggest that by tailoring sound delays on an individual basis via a hearing aid or cochlear implant -- or a setting on a computer media player -- could have significant benefits for speech comprehension and enjoyment of multimedia. The study is published in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. Continue reading

Source: ScienceDaily, June 11, 2018