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We’re back. And better than ever! This world, after all our science and sciences, is still a miracle; wonderful, inscrutable, magical and more, to whosoever will think of it.

Snow, Christmas and psychiatric patients!

Winter can be such a touching time, until it turns you insane! The season in which a baby is born apparently influences the risk of developing mental disorders later in life, suggests a large new study. So if you are born in winter you may want to continue reading to see how mental you are. (Or get someone to read it for you if you are already

a bit psychotic). The season of birth may affect everything from eyesight and eating habits to birth defects and personality later in life. Past research has also hinted the season you are born in might affect mental health, with scientists suggesting a number of reasons for this effect. "For example infections — a mother may be more likely to have the flu over the winter

when it is really really cold. Does this increase risk?" said a researcher with a very long name. "Or diet. Depending on the season, certain foods — fruits, vegetables — are more or less available, and this may impact on the developing baby." "Or another key candidate is vitamin D, which is related to sunshine exposure," Added the scientist with the long name.

Psycho Mr. Frost "During the winter, with a lack of sunshine, mums tend to be very deficient in vitamin D." She went on to add after recording that if you live in England this effect may be the same all year due to the fact that there is never any sun!!!!!!!! However, this effect appears very small, and since past studies only looked at several thousand people at a time, there was a chance the link between birth month and later mental health might only be a statistical illusion. Also, prior research often got data from different nations, making analysis much harder, since population trends can change a lot between countries.

name and his colleagues with even longer names analyzed a very large number of births, all from the same country. The scientists investigated whether the risk of a lot of mental health diseases was influenced by month of birth in England. This included nearly 58,000 patients with the disorders and more than 29 million people from the country's general population. The researchers found that all the mental disorders they looked at showed seasonal distributions. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder had statistically significant peaks in January, and significant lows in July, August and September. Depression saw an almost significant May peak and a significant November deficit. "This result is further confirmation of seasonal variations in births of those later diagnosed with mental diseases," said William Grant at the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center at San Francisco, who did not take part in this research. "This implicates conditions during pregnancy. The two most likely factors are vitamin D status and temperature." Therefore if you are born in the winter months you may need to be on the lookout for symptoms of the various mental disorders. Either that, or you may need to be careful that you don’t go crazy but if your reading this chances are that your already pretty strange, because lets be honest I don’t actually know anyone who reads therefore I am writing to myself which may means I am probably going mad but I guess you knew that already. Thanks for reading, or at least pretending to. By Grand Master Cozens

To pin down whether or not there was a link between seasons and the mind, the scientist with long

Fetch, Sit, Roll Over! We all like to have obedient dogs, but have we ever stopped to wonder how exactly they understand what we are saying? By Warry94 A recent study into the hearing of dogs suggests that they hear things differently than we do. This is because dogs can learn the names of objects, but they tend to focus on different features when learning words than humans do, new research finds. When toddlers learn words for objects, they focus on shape. This means that once a kid gets that a tennis ball is called a "ball," they're quick to realize the same word applies to beach balls, basketballs and golf balls. Kids wouldn't, however, assume that a stuffed teddy bear is a ball just because it has the same fuzzy texture as a tennis ball. Nor would they call something a ball just because it is the same size as the balls they are familiar with. This tendency to categorize objects based on shape above other features is called "shape bias." University of Lincoln researcher Emile van der Zee and his colleagues were interested in finding out whether dogs have this shape bias, too. Plenty of evidence suggests dogs can learn words; Rico, a Border Collie that died in 2008, reportedly understood more than 200 simple words. An investigation of Rico published in 2004 in the journal Science found that he did indeed have an extensive vocabulary. Other Border Collies have been reported to have similar talents. What's not clear is whether dogs comprehend words the same way humans do. To find out, van

der Zee and his colleagues tested a 5-year-old Border Collie named Gable. They created objects of various shapes and textures and taught Gable made-up words such as "dax" to describe them. The researchers found that when asked to go retrieve a specific object, Gable generalized the word based on size. When given a choice between a dax -size object and a larger object and told to "get the dax," Gable picked the dax-size object every time, regardless of texture or shape. A second experiment gave Gable the choice between an object shaped like the one he was asked

for and an object of the same size. A human would go for the similar shape, but Gable again based his decisions on size. When given a toy for several months and then tested, Gable began to associate the word for that object with texture more than size, the researchers found. Clearly, the dog's word learning works very differently than it does in humans, they conclude today (Nov. 21) in the open-access journal PLoS ONE. "Where shape matters for us, size or texture matters more for your dog," the researchers wrote. "This study shows for the first time that there is a qualitative difference in word comprehension in the dog compared to word comprehension in humans."

By Jack Warrington

Congratulations to the following scientists of the month. Year 7 - Elliot Wollaston Year 8 - Zhania Zamora Year 9 - Stephen Caunt Year 10 - Charlotte Rowlands Year 11 - Cambell Downie Year 12 - Elliot Bailey Year 13 - Emily Hollinshead Please see Mr Downing Friday breaktime at the Science prep room for a prize.

Prism Magazine Nov 2012