Cognitively good and bad

When families spend more than half of their income on housing, their children score lower on reading and math tests. Policy researchers found the best cognitive scores in kids from households that spend about 30 percent of income on shelter. Learn more.

Recalling mistakes speeds learning. In a motor-control experiment, biomedical engineering researchers found that test subjects did not just learn a task from making errors; they also learned a subsequent similar task faster through their memories of past mistakes. Learn more.

To help preserve cognitive function, keep an eye on your blood pressure. A review of data from a longitudinal study of 15,000 adults over a 25-year period found that people who had hypertension when surveyed in midlife had a 6.25 percent steeper age-related decline in cognition by the time they were 70 or older. Learn more.

Elsewhere at Hopkins …

WHAT LIES BETWEEN

Using 10 years' worth of spectroscopic data from 500,000 stars, astronomers created a map of the mysterious material that exists between stars in the Milky Way. The material, composed of atoms left behind when stars die, is known as the interstellar medium. Learn more.

PROGRESS AGAINST KILLERS

Cancer researchers deployed a modified form of the bacterium Clostridium novyi to shrink soft tissue tumors in rats and dogs, as well as a human patient enrolled in a phase I clinical trial. Because C. novyi, like cancer, thrives in oxygen-poor environments, it may be a good targeted therapeutic for malignant tumors. Learn more.

Scientists have come closer to finding an immunization against malaria. They were able to produce anti-malaria antibodies in mice by injecting them with a genetically altered virus. The technique, known as vector immunoprophylaxis, has also shown potential in HIV studies. Learn more.

NEW OLD MATH

An undergraduate engineering student and his professor tinkered with a 19th-century method of solving systems of linear equations and discovered a way to make it 200 times faster. The Jacobi iterative method had fallen into disuse because it was deemed too slow. Learn more.

NOW THE GOOD NEWS

Data accumulated over the last 20 years indicate that long-term use of statins, prescribed to reduce risk of heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis, poses minimal risk and provides a high level of benefits. Researchers pooled analyses of randomized clinical trials of statins that included more than 150,000 subjects. Learn more.

In each of the last two decades, incidence of first-time strokes declined 24 percent, with a 20 percent drop in deaths from stroke. Public health researchers said the reduced rate of strokes was concentrated in people 65 or older, while the decline in mortality occurred in those under 65. Learn more.

Scientists discovered that levels of a single mutated gene, SKA2, were significantly reduced in brain samples of people who had ended their own lives. This raises the possibility of creating a blood test that could signal an elevated risk of suicidal behavior. Learn more.

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