By recreating phobias and panic attacks, neuroscientists aim to improve anxiety therapies

Researchers are using virtual reality to test participants’ reactions to threats such as dogs or falling rocks to understand more about the brain mechanisms linked to anxiety. Image credit - needpix.com, public domain

by Fintan Burke Tracking the brain’s reaction to virtual-reality-simulated threats such as falling rocks and an under-researched fear reduction strategy may provide better ways of treating anxiety disorders and preventing relapses. Hippocrates described them as ‘masses of terrors,’ while French physicians in the 18th century labelled them as ‘vapours’ and ‘melancholia.’ Nowadays we know that panic … Read more

Making coal from food waste, garden cuttings – and even human sewage

Millions of tonnes of organic waste are currently dumped in landfill, where it decomposes and gives off greenhouse gases. Image credit - Pixabay/Ben_Kerckx, licenced under Pixabay licence

Food waste, garden cuttings, manure, and even human sewage can be turned into solid biocoal for energy generation, and, if scaled up, could help match the industrial demand for carbon with the need to get rid of organic waste and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Europe has a biowaste problem. Rather than using the carbon-rich material … Read more

For world’s poorest, coronavirus loss of income threatens ability to eat

Urgent action is needed to feed people who can no longer buy food due to the pandemic and loss of income and to prevent hunger levels from soaring, say experts. Image credit - Pixabay/tyaqakk, licenced under Pixabay licence

by Alex Whiting The world’s poorest – who have lost their incomes from illness or because of lockdowns – are disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and, unless they receive enough support, hunger levels will soar and some countries may see rising violence, experts say. Already 135 million people are on the brink of starvation … Read more