News » Archives » December 2012

REM sleep enhances emotional memories, study shows


Sleeping on a train

Witnessing a car wreck or encountering a poisonous snake are scenes that become etched in our memories.

But how do we process and store these emotional scenes so that they’re preserved more efficiently than other, more neutral memories?

In a new study published recently in “Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience,” University of Notre Dame researchers Jessica Payne and Alexis Chambers found that people who experienced rapid eye movement (REM) sleep soon after being presented with an emotionally-charged negative scene — a wrecked car on a street, for example — had superior memory for the emotional object compared to subjects whose sleep was delayed for at least 16 hours.

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Senior math major finds a passion for medicine through volunteerism

Author: Stephanie Healey

Alex Jarocki

While many math majors spend their time pondering about complex mathematical equations, senior Alex Jarocki also spends several hours a week volunteering at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center (SJRMC). 

“Although I am a math major, I am very interested in pursuing a career in medicine,” explained Jarocki. “I had some friends who volunteered at the local hospitals, so I thought I would try it and see how I liked it. I also thought this would be a good way to give back to the community.”

Jarocki has volunteered at SJRMC since his sophomore year.  He started in the emergency room department, changing over rooms and preparing them for incoming patients. He now works in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU), where he gives patient updates from the doctors and nurses to the patient’s family members.

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Verizon Foundation grant boosts Ugandan health team with mobile technology

Author: Elizabeth Lawton

Women and children in Uganda

Can text messaging improve the health of Ugandan village residents? An $85,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation promises to help the University of Notre Dame’s Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity find out.

The grant will provide improved information and communication technology to the village health team in Uganda’s Nnindye Parish.

The Ford mobile health project — “m-Health” for short — will equip the local health center with cell phone-messaging software and low-power computers, making it an effective hub for monitoring community health. Health team members will receive training in mobile literacy — including texting — and then pass on their new skills to hundreds of other Nnindye residents.

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Notre Dame research may have important implications for combating diabetes

Author: William G. Gilroy

Anthony S. Serianni

Research by University of Notre Dame biochemist Anthony S. Serianni is providing new insights that could have important implications for understanding and treating diabetes.

Serianni points out that biological compounds known as dicarbonyl sugars are produced inside the human body from the natural breakdown of the simple sugar glucose. The formation of these sugars is enhanced in diabetic patients because glucose concentrations in the blood and plasma of diabetics are significantly elevated.

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Cargill expands support of Notre Dame Haiti Program

Author: William G. Gilroy


The Notre Dame Haiti Program and Cargill have renewed their partnership to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in Haiti.

After donating salt to the program two years ago, Cargill is now offering its technical and operations expertise in salt production. Cargill has committed $150,000 over the next three years to the Notre Dame Haiti Program to help establish a sustainable salt-fortification venture in Haiti. The salt is fortified with potassium iodate and diethylcarbamazine citrate and is designed to stop LF, while also preventing iodine deficiency disorder.

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Notre Dame’s Reilly Center highlights emerging ethical dilemmas and policy issues in science and technology

Author: William G. Gilroy

John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Values

As a new year approaches, the University of Notre Dame’s John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Values has announced its inaugural list of emerging ethical dilemmas and policy issues in science and technology for 2013.

The center aimed to present a list of items for scientists and laypeople alike to consider in the coming months and years as new technologies develop. It will feature one of these issues on its website each month in 2013, giving readers more information, questions to ask and resources to consult.

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Psychology Professor Seeks Clues to Psychiatric Disorders in DNA

Author: Aaron Smith

Gitta Lubke

Data, data everywhere. In genomics research, there is a data deluge, and so innovative ways to analyze all that information will play a critical role in future breakthroughs.

Gitta Lubke, associate professor of psychology at Notre Dame, is at the forefront of developing new statistical methods to help find DNA markers that are related to psychiatric disorders—and spur further research regarding individual patients’ conditions.

“Understanding the biological causes of psychiatric disorders and their interplay with environmental risk factors is a prerequisite of a successful, personalized approach to treatment,” Lubke says.

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