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SALT GENE: A gene linked to blood pressure helps to regulate salt consumption, research has shown.

Removing the gene from the brains of mice caused the animals to develop a strong appetite for salt. 

Offered the choice of water laced with salt, they drank three times more of it than unmodified mice.

Drinking salty water pushed up the blood pressure of mice missing the gene, scientists from the University of Edinburgh found. When the saltwater was removed, their blood pressure returned to normal. 

In humans, the salt-regulating gene is known to be linked to high blood pressure, but the way this mechanism is controlled is unclear.

TODDLERS LEARNING: Toddlers can be set back “decades” if their brains are not adequately stimulated before they start school, experts claim.

Toddlers’ brains form new connections at double the rate of adults, a report from University College London’s Institute of Child Health and the Save the Children charity pointed out.

Failure to develop adequate language skills can leave children struggling to learn in the classroom, said the authors of the Lighting Up Young Brains report.

Evidence showed that play-time can be made “brain-time” with a combination of talking, word games, and singing, said the experts.

Such an approach stimulated early language and communication skills and provided the building blocks for learning.

CONCUSSION TEST: A simple blood test can detect whether or not someone has suffered a concussion, scientists have said. The finding could mean that children who bang their heads may not need to undergo scans to determine if they have suffered a brain lesion.

Researchers from Orlando Health in Florida detected a biomarker released by the brain during injury.

They found that the biomarker can stay in the bloodstream for up to a week — which means patients who suffer delayed symptoms of concussion could easily be identified.

The new study, published in the journal Jama Neurology, shows that when an injury occurs to the brain, a biomarker - the glial fibrillary acidic protein — is released.

The biomarker enters the bloodstream which means it can be detected with a simple blood test.


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