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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Soldiers of the Future: Genetic Tests Might Help Pinpoint Strengths, Weaknesses

By Linda Geddes





JewishWorldReview.com | Battalions of super-soldiers could be selected for specific duties on the basis of their genetic make-up and then constantly monitored for signs of weakness. So says a report by the U.S. National Academies of Science (NAS).

If a soldier is struggling, a digital "buddy" might step in to warn about nearby threats, or advise comrades to zap the soldier with an electromagnet to increase his alertness. If the whole unit is falling apart, biosensors could warn central commanders to send in a replacement team.

As advances in neuroscience bring all this into the realms of reality, there are ethical issues to consider. In May, the NAS released a report assessing the military potential of neuroscience, providing a rare insight into how the military might invest its money to create future armies.

Sponsored by the U.S. Army and written by a panel of 14 prominent neuroscientists, the report focuses on those areas with "high-payoff potential" -- where the science is sufficiently reliable to turn into useful technologies.



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"A growing understanding of neuroscience offers huge scope for improving soldiers' performance and effectiveness on the battlefield," says the report.

Within five years, biomarkers might be used to assess how well a soldier's brain is functioning, and within 10 years, it should be possible to predict how individuals are likely to respond to environmental stresses like extreme heat and cold, or endurance exercises.

Genetic testing might also enable recruitment officers to determine which soldiers are best for specialist jobs. For example, by combining psychological testing with genetic tests for levels of brain chemicals, a clearer picture of a soldier's competencies might shine through.

"We might say that given this person's high levels of brain serotonin, they're going to be calmer under pressure, so they might make a good sniper," says Paul Zak of Claremont Graduate University in California, who was on the NAS panel. Alternatively, someone with low dopamine might be less likely to take risks, he says, and therefore be better suited as a commanding officer in a civilian area.

Selection by genotype could be fraught with difficulty -- applicants rejected for certain jobs might try to sue on the grounds of genetic discrimination, say. Anders Sandberg, a neuroscientist at the University of Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute, says the military also needs to choose the traits it wants to optimize with care.

"The battlefield is changing quite a lot right now. Wars are becoming more like computer games, which means that in the future having the genes that make you a good physical fighter might not be so important as having excellent hand-eye coordination."

Perhaps more sinister is the possibility of neuroscientists creating cognitively manipulated warriors, whose emotions have been blunted, for example.

Zak emphasizes that the panel was not asked how to turn soldiers into better "killing machines," although "the whole purpose of maximizing and sustaining battlefield capacity is to gain superiority over opponents," admits Floyd Bloom of the Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California, who chaired the panel.

That's not to say someone won't try it, though. Zak's own work focuses on the role of the hormone oxytocin in trust and empathy. If drugs were developed to block oxytocin, the effect might be to reduce a soldier's ability to empathize with enemy combatants or civilians.

"There are lots of stories of soldiers who refuse to shoot other soldiers," says Zak. "If you could get rid of that empathy response you might create a soldier that's more prepared to engage in battle and risk their life."

The panel recognized that such ethical dilemmas might be an inevitable consequence of their work. For this reason, they recommended that the U.S. military should recruit ethicists to examine the ramifications of such developments before they occur. "They need to be explored because at some point someone's going to do them," says Zak. "Controls have to be put in place."

Neuroscience could also help to save lives in a military context. If you could predict which soldiers were particularly susceptible to stress, for example, it might help prevent a tragedy. In May, U.S. Army sergeant John Russell was charged with shooting five of his colleagues dead. Russell had completed a 15-month tour of Iraq and was being treated for stress.

Other research has suggested that Navy recruits whose hypothalamo-pituitary axes (an area of the brain involved in the stress response) are highly reactive to stress are less likely to complete navy SEAL training. Robert Ursano at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland, and his colleagues have hinted that you might be able to predict individual responses to stress by looking at numbers of serotonin receptors, and levels of p11, a protein linked to depression (Progress in Brain Research).

The difficulty is finding predictive markers that are reliable enough, says Simon Wessely at the King's Center for Military Health Research in London, who was not involved in the report.

"Current predictors are too weak, and while they may work statistically in large groups, they cannot say that Private A is vulnerable and Private B isn't." Moreover, "if you wrongly label someone as vulnerable to breakdown, you are damaging his career and robbing the army of much-needed manpower."

A more likely short-term prospect is monitoring whether an individual soldier's mental performance is deteriorating because of stress or tiredness.

Many errors involve lapses of attention, so finding ways to monitor attentiveness could have big benefits. Recent studies have linked variations in blood flow and oxygenation with occasions when observers miss signals, says the report, so sensors in helmets to monitor these variations could alert the soldier and his unit that his attention was fading.

Another possibility might be to use brain imaging to work out which recruits have understood new training concepts. In a recent study, fMRI was used to compare the brain activity of physics students and other students when they watched film clips of two different-sized balls falling at either the same or different rates.

The students were asked if the film they viewed was consistent with their expectations of how the balls should fall. In the non-physics students, an area of the brain associated with error detection lit up when the large and small balls fell at the same rate. For the physics students, the same area lit up when they fell at different rates - suggesting that they had fully grasped the Newtonian concept that different balls should fall at the same rate, regardless of their size.

Bloom emphasizes that while all technologies have the potential to be misused, this is not necessarily a reason for ignoring them. Indeed, military investment could even reap benefits for the wider society. "Investment in such opportunities will be of benefit to the public by improving ways we educate our children and understand ourselves," he says.


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