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Briefs: Older brains find it harder to multitask, researchers say

Older brains find it harder to multitask

As we age, it gets tougher to successfully multitask or to remember to complete one task while distracted by another. Using brain scans, a team of University of California at San Francisco researchers found that people older than 60 are less agile in switching from one neural network to another, which means that brief attention-grabbing interruptions can undermine their ability to recall the original task. "A lot of us feel the need to respond really rapidly to an e-mail or text message," said Dr. Adam Gazzaley, director of the university's Neuroscience Imaging Center and senior author of the study, published in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If older people stop what they're doing to reply, Gazzaley says, "there may be a price to be paid."

Athletes' deaths more common

Sudden cardiac deaths among high school athletes are rare but more common than had been thought. A new study, published last week in the journal Circulation, found there is one sudden cardiac death for every 43,770 NCAA student-athletes each year. Earlier estimates, which relied almost exclusively on news reports, were as low as one in 300,000. The new study, which also drew information from NCAA databases and insurance claims, examined sudden deaths from 2004 to 2008 among NCAA student-athletes ages 17 to 23. The incidence of sudden cardiac death among black athletes was one in 18,000, possibly because of a higher prevalence of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a leading cause of sudden cardiac death.

More children getting CT scans

The number of computed tomography (CT) scans performed on children visiting hospital emergency rooms has increased fivefold in recent years, to 1.65 million in 2008 from 330,000 in 1995. The analysis, published online in the journal Radiology, found that scans were most commonly done on children arriving with head injuries, headaches or abdominal pain. The sharp increase in the use of CT scans did not surprise the authors of the report, who said advances in the technology had resulted in improved images that can greatly aid diagnoses. However, the scans expose patients to high levels of ionizing radiation that can slightly increase the risk of cancer in later years. Lead author Dr. David B. Larson said CT scans should be done when they are truly needed, "but we should be judicious.''

Free tests for STDs offered on Tuesday

This is National STD Awareness Month, and on Tuesday Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida is offering free chlamydia, gonorrhea and rapid HIV tests at its local health centers. At the Tampa Health Center (8068 N 56th St.), testing hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. At the Pinellas Health Center (8950 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, St. Petersburg), hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Go to or call toll-free 1-800-230-7526 to make an appointment, although walk-ins also are welcome. The GYT — Get Yourself Tested — project is co-sponsored by MTV, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Times wires, staff

"I have Tourette's and Asperger's, but Tourette's and Asperger's don't have me."

American Idol contestant James Durbin, who has become a role model to others who share his medical conditions.

Briefs: Older brains find it harder to multitask, researchers say 04/13/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 5:49pm]
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