Jul 22

The results of a study on candidates’ use of Twitter in the 2010 midterm elections suggest that Republicans and Tea Party members used the social medium more effectively than their Democratic rivals. The University of Michigan study, among the first to examine the Tea Party’s social media strategies, also showed that analyzing Twitter activity can lead to good predictions of election winners.

Various social media tools have become a key part of campaign strategies in recent years. In 2010, nearly a quarter of online adults used social networks including Twitter to engage with the election.

Full article…

Tags: , Elections

Jul 22

Minnesotas new two-year budget contains some tough medicine for nonprofit health plans that manage subsidized care for more than 500,000 poor patients.

The health and welfare spending bill signed into law earlier this week by Gov. Mark Dayton cuts or delays $435 million in payments to HMOs, which together have state contracts worth about $3 billion this year. The HMO cuts account for more than two-fifths of the spending reductions for health and welfare programs. The reductions were part of a budget deal that ended a 20-day government shutdown, the nations longest in at least a decade.

The pinch comes a few months after the Democratic governor put the plans on notice that his administration planned to extract savings through competitive bidding, stepped-up public scrutiny of their state contracts and an agreement to give back some of their profits of this year.

Full article…

Tags: Budget

Jul 22

As a boy, Gary Reiswig would take his grandfather by the hand and guide him on walks around the family farm in western Oklahoma. At 5, Gary knew to avoid the prairie dog town, fearful that his grandfather might stumble over one of the holes that the rodents burrowed into the grassy plain.

Occasionally, his grandfather would stop. His eyes took on an eerie stare that spoke of an empty place — one that once was filled with memories, laughter and toil.

In 1945, nobody knew that Gary’s grandfather had a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease that would strike 10 of Gary’s 14 aunts and uncles, his father and his only brother and sister in the prime of their lives.

Gary’s family has dominantly inherited Alzheimer’s disease.

Full article…

Jul 21

A study has found that people with depression have smaller hippocampal volumes than healthy individuals.

The hippocampus is a brain region involved in learning and memory, spatial navigation, and the evaluation of complex life situations or “contexts”.

However, because in prior studies hippocampal volume was only measured in people once they became depressed, it has been unclear whether a small hippocampus renders a person vulnerable to developing depression, or whether it is a consequence of depression.

A new study has approached that problem by following a large population of elderly individuals over a 10-year period.

Researchers performed an initial imaging scan on subjects to obtain a baseline measurement of their hippocampal volume and then performed follow-up scans 5 and 10 years later.

During this time, they also repeatedly assessed the individuals for both depressive symptoms and depressive disorders.

“We found that persons with a smaller hippocampus were not at higher risk to develop depression. In co

Full article…

Tags: Associated Depression , Depression