Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

‘Gut Instinct’ May Stem From the Heart

HealthDay news image

‘Gut Instinct’ May Stem From the Heart

Study probes what prompts people to make the decisions they do

From a January 6, 2011 Health Day news item  by Robert Preidt

THURSDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) — Everyone feels gut instincts at one time or another: Marry that guy! Don’t take that job. Stay inside during this snowstorm! Now, a new study suggests there is indeed a link between your heartbeat and the decisions you make.

“These findings can help explain how we make key choices in life — for example, which house to buy, which job to go for — for better or for worse,” explained study author Barnaby D. Dunn, a clinical psychologist who works with the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, England.

The findings don’t indicate that your heart is very good at giving you insight into what to do. And the research doesn’t point to any particular way to get better at decision making. Still, the study does manage to find evidence that there’s something to the idea of trusting your heart.

“I work as a clinical psychologist, and I have been struck in my therapy practice how clients often describe their emotions and decisions in terms of what is happening in their bodies — for example, feeling brokenhearted or following their gut instincts,” Dunn said. “I wanted to see if there was a scientific basis to the idea that what happens in our bodies shapes our minds.”

The researchers tried to find a link between heart and mind by first testing participants to see if they could estimate how fast their hearts were beating. “Participants are instructed to try to ‘feel’ their heart internally and not to directly measure their pulse with their fingers,” Dunn said. “Most people say they are guessing at the tracking task and are unconfident in their performance, and yet there are marked differences in how accurate their estimates are. Only around one-fifth of people show high levels of accuracy.”

Researchers then tried to elicit emotions from the participants by showing them photos of happy things (like a cute puppy) and not-so-happy things (a disgusting plate of food). They then tried to link people’s responses to their ability to monitor their heart rates.

“People’s arousal turned out to be related to changes in their heart rate,” Dunn said. “And this link was stronger in people who were more aware of their own heartbeat. So how people felt depended in part on how well they could sense the status of their own bodies.”

“This suggests that what happens in our bodies really does shape how we feel emotionally,” he said.

In a second experiment, the participants played a card game that emphasized intuition instead of strategy. “The quality of the advice that people’s bodies gave them varied,” Dunn said. “Some people’s gut feelings were spot on, meaning they mastered the card game quickly. Other people’s bodies told them exactly the wrong moves to make, so they learned slowly or never found a way to win. This link between gut feelings and intuitive decision making was stronger in people who were more aware of their own heartbeat.”

What’s the connection between the heart and brain? Dunn said one theory goes like this: “The ’emotional’ parts of the brain generate the bodily response in the first place. The ‘rational’ parts of the brain then listen in to these bodily responses to find out what the ’emotional’ parts of the brain are doing. This allows both logic and emotion to shape our choices.”

Dunn said better understanding of the link between the body and the mind might eventually help people who struggle with depression and anxiety.

“We know that anxious people are hyper-aware of the body, whereas those who are depressed are out of touch with the body,” he said. “Training the ability to tune in and out of the body may be beneficial for these individuals.”

The study was published in the December issue of Psychological Science.

SOURCES: Barnaby D. Dunn, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, England; December 2010 Psychological Science

January 21, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Agriculture and Public Health Gateway


The Agriculture and Public Health Gateway allows researchers, journalists, advocates, and educators to explore the links between agriculture and public health by searching several databases simultaneously, or by browsing a vetted collection of reports, journal articles and other resources.
This gateway is A project of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

From the About page:

he Agriculture & Public Health Gateway connects visitors to numerous information sources within topic areas that link these two fields. It can be a powerful tool for researchersjournalistsadvocates and educators, providing access to recommended resources linked from the site, as well as to powerful database search capabilities.

The two primary means of accessing information through the Gateway are the Browse by Subject collections and our Database Search:

Browse by Subject

Find collections of recommended resources on specific public health and agriculture topics. Each collection is divided into four categories:

  • Reports & Other Documents – white papers, reports from government agencies or non-governmental organizations, fact sheets, brochures, or other “gray” literature on a topic.
  • Peer-reviewed Journal Articles – a sampling of some of the best research on each topic.
  • Relevant Organizations – includes governmental and non-governmental agencies, academic centers, and private-sector sources that are considered key information resources within a topic area.
  • Other Tools & Resources – databases, books, films, videos, slide presentations, newspaper articles, or consumer guides, as well as other organizations’ lists of resources or Web links.

Search Databases

Concurrently search these key electronic libraries (and the Gateway site itself):

  • AGRICOLA – National Agricultural Library collection includes more than 3.3 million bibliographic records of journal articles, theses, patents, software, and technical reports related to agriculture from 1979 to the present.
  • PubMed – A service of the National Library of Medicine that includes more than 18 million citations for biomedical articles dating to the 1950s. Includes links to full-text articles.
  • NASD – the National Agricultural Safety Database, a project of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
  • EarthTrends – environmental database by the World Resources Institute that tracks environmental, social, and economic trends.

Link to Other Resources

Other Gateway resources include links to glossaries, listservs and newsletters, online photos and images, and event listings related to agriculture and public health.

Register as a Gateway Member

Additional services are available to users who register with the Gateway. For more details, visit Benefits of Registration

The gateway also provides links to factsheets, listservs and newsletters, images, and events.

January 21, 2011 Posted by | Biomedical Research Resources, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Health Information Technology Resources from NN/NLM

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM), Greater Midwest Region has a Web page devoted to health information technology resources. It includes links to pdf files of the presentations at the December 2010 meeting – “EHRs and Librarians: A Symposium”.

From the web page

Health information technology (Health IT or HIT) describes the management and secure exchange of health information among consumers, providers, government entities, and insurance agencies. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are a special focus of HIT. EHR’s can assist in maintaining an accurate picture of a patient’s health and to more securely share information between doctors. Using an EHR can replace paper medical records to maintain your health information.

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and Personal Health Records (PHRs)

In December 2010, the GMR held a meeting called “EHRs and Librarians: A Symposium” before the fall RAC meeting in December 2010. Below are pdf files of the presentations.

Regional Extension Centers – David Sweet
Summary: Overview about what Regional Extension Centers (RECs) are doing to assist health professionals with implementation of electronic health records; what AHIMA is doing related to RECs, and possible roles for librarians.

Using New Digital Resources to Promote and Understand PHRs – Allison Vance
Summary: Learn about AHIMA’s consumer education campaign, my Personal Health Record (myPHR), and the various digital resources available to librarians interested in assisting patients and community members with learning more about PHRs and larger health literacy issues.

Implementation of a Patient Portal and MedlinePlus Connect in a Low-Income Population – Maxine Rockoff, Ph.D.
Summary: The Institute for Family Health, a network of Federally Qualified Health Centers in Manhattan, the Bronx, and the Mid-Hudson Valley, has had an electronic medical record (EMR) since 2002. In 2008, the Institute implemented the patient portal for its EMR. This talk will present research findings to date from focus groups, a Health IT Readiness Survey, usability studies, a survey of providers & staff, and a statistical analysis of patients who received access codes and those who didn’t. The talk will also describe the process of developing MedlinePlus Connect with the National Library of Medicine, as well as some preliminary information on the classes developed for patients to teach them how to use these tools.

MedlinePlus Connect: Linking Patients to Health Information – Joyce Backus
Summary: Overview and background for developing MedlinePlus Connect, a new service from the National Library of Medicine that allows electronic health records (EHR) systems to link users to information in MedlinePlus. MedlinePlus Connect delivers information about conditions and disorders, health and wellness, and prescription and over-the-counter medications to patients, families, and health care providers when it is needed. MedlinePlus Connect accepts requests for information on diagnoses (problem codes) and medications. For problem codes, MedlinePlus accepts ICD-9-CM and SNOMED CT CORE. For medications, MedlinePlus Connect accepts RXCUIs and NDCs. The API for this service conforms to the HL7 Context-Aware Knowledge Retrieval (Infobutton) Knowledge Request URL-Based Implementation specification.

The GMR has set up a listserv to continue the conversation about EHRs and PHRs. To subscribe to EMR-GMR, send the command SUBSCRIBE EMR-GMR BARACK OBAMA to listserv at, replacing “Barack Obama” with your first and last name. Make sure the subject line is left blank.

Links to Health Information Technology Resources are also given

January 21, 2011 Posted by | Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources, Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , | Leave a comment

Environmental Health Student Portal

Environmental Health Student Portal

Air PollutionChemicalsClimate ChangeWater Pollution

From a National Library of Medicine Public Health Partners News email list item

The Environmental Health Student Portal introduces middle school students to environmental health science within

the context of current middle school science curriculum standards. This

newest edition to the family of NLM resources for students is free and

does not require a subscription. The web site has links to government and

other reviewed and selected sites and provides a safe and reliable

environment for teachers and students to study the environment and its

impact on health. The Environmental Health Student Portal allows students

to conduct research, play games related to environmental health, locate

science fair projects, and view videos. Teachers can use the site to

locate links to relevant content and lesson plans from resources like the

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of

Environmental Health Sciences.

January 21, 2011 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | Leave a comment

Two New Health/Science Research Guides From the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress Science Reference Services has recently published these two research guides

Health Effects of Obesity
This guide includes

General Titles
Specialized Titles
Related Titles
Journal Articles
Internet Resources

A complete listing of all Science Reference guides with links may be found here.

Olfaction: The Sense of Smell

This guide is a review of the literature and vetted online resources on the subject of smell. It is designed, as the name of the series implies, to put the reader ‘on target.’ This and other recent Tracer Bullets are available in print and also online from Science Reference Services at:

January 21, 2011 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Finding Aids/Directories | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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