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New Parent? Join the Conversation Parents holding newborn

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center now has a blog that is addressing the real issues of new parents. Called "Baby Know How," the blog discusses everything from having a pet that isn't getting along with the new addition to ways to soothe your newborn's crying.

"New parents have lots of questions," says Christine Sweeney, who runs a parent support network and writes the blog for the Obstetrics Department at BIDMC. "This gives them a format to get information, but also to connect with each other about their experiences."

The blog is updated weekly. Experience Baby Know How >>

Study Explains why Older Drivers Experience Problems

Consider the amount of activity you encounter every time you get behind the wheel of a car: There may be cars coming toward you. There may be bicyclists traveling at your side. Traffic lights may be changing, and signs and scenery are beckoning from afar. Senior woman driving

Luckily, our brains contain a built-in mechanism that enables us to filter objects in the foreground from objects and motion in the background. For drivers, this means that that they can readily focus on what's important to the task at hand - taking a turn or passing a car, for example -- without being sidetracked by the multitude of activity and distractions surrounding them.

Neurologists have known that this filtering ability, called spatial suppression, grows weaker with age, and that this may be why many elderly individuals have difficulty driving. But they didn't know why.

Now, research conducted in BIDMC's Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation helps provide the answer. Published earlier this year in the Journal of Neuroscience, the new findings show that the problem lies in the brain's middle temporal (MT) region, a discovery that was made by using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

"These findings could have relevance for older individuals, as well as individuals with schizophrenia or depression, conditions that are also characterized by higher-than-normal detection of background information," explains Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD, Director of the Berenson-Allen Center.

The investigators tested six individuals between the ages of 22 and 32. They used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a technique in which magnetic coils are strategically placed on subjects' scalps to safely generate electrical stimulation - to temporarily modify the functioning of the brain's MT area. Following the TMS sessions, the researchers then tested how well subjects identified the motions of smaller and larger objects that appeared on a computer screen, similar to the objects that would appear in the foreground and background when driving.

"We found that when this MT brain region was inhibited, study subjects were more likely to focus on the background objects," says Pascual-Leone. "As a result, they weren't paying adequate attention to the objects in the foreground. This suggests to us that there could be ways to minimize these spatial difficulties that can develop with aging."

He adds that this research could also help doctors in diagnosing schizophrenia and depression. "If a person [suspected of having one of these conditions] exhibits better-than-normal detection of background motion, this could help confirm such a diagnosis."

Putting a Medical Spin on Sports Gary Gillis

As a 30-year veteran sports journalist in Boston, Gary Gillis has covered just about everything. From Super Bowls to Stanley Cups, NBA Finals to World Series, Gillis has reported on the achievements of Boston's best teams and athletes.

Now as red sox season gets underway, he is writing about sports as it intertwines with health on The columns, which are fun and informative, live on a special page within the site and use BIDMC experts to help inform and give perspective on the various ailments.

"Last year there was A LOT to write about," says Gillis. "Practically every week there was a new injury or issue with the team. It's fascinating to explore the medical techniques and new technologies that help keep these ballplayers on the field."

Even if you'll never play professional baseball, you might be surprised how much you have in common with the players, health-wise that is.

"We're never going to come close to throwing like Josh Beckett, but when it comes to throwing out our backs a lot of people can relate. It's great to have the experts at BIDMC to turn to for information and advice."

BID-Needham Showcases New Emergency Department

Recognized by the American Heart and American Stroke Associations for lifesaving stroke care, the Emergency Department at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham is known for its advanced medical technology, shorter wait times, and a direct link to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Take a look inside our new, award-winning Emergency Department at BID-Needham.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted March 2011

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