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Musical and cardiovascular rhythms

Bernardi L, Porta C, Casucci G, et al. Dynamic interactions between musical, cardiovascular, and cerebral rhythms in humans. Circulation. 2009;119(25):3171-80.


Tests were completed to decide whether compositions characterized by variable emphasis could produce parallel instantaneous cardiovascular/ respiratory responses and whether these changes mirrored music profiles. Twenty-four young, healthy subjects participated in the study. Twelve musicians (choristers) and 12 nonmusicians (control subjects), listened (in random order) to music with vocal or orchestral progressive crescendos, more uniform emphasis, 10-second period (that is, similar to Mayer waves) rhythmic phrases, or silence while heart rate, respiration, BPs, middle cerebral artery flow velocity, and skin vasomotion were recorded. Common responses were recognized by averaging instantaneous cardiorespiratory responses regressed against changes in music profiles and by coherence analysis during rhythmic phrases. Vocal and orchestral crescendos produced significant (P = 0.05 or better) correlations between cardiovascular or respiratory signals and music profile, particularly skin vasoconstriction and BPs proportional to crescendo in contrast to uniform emphasis, which induced skin vasodilation and reduction in BPs. Correlations were significant both in individual and group-averaged fluctuations. From this study it appears that music emphasis and rhythmic phrases are tracked consistently by physiological variables.


Migraines may be linked to brain pathology

Scher AI, Gudmundsson LS, Sigurdsson S, et al. Migraine headache in middle age and late-life brain infarcts. JAMA. 2009;301(24): 2594-2595.


Migraine attacks may be associated with pathologic changes in the brain, particularly in the cerebellum. A population-based study of men and women (cohort born 1907-1935; n = 4,689; 57% women) were followed since 1967, examined, and interviewed about migraine symptoms in midlife (mean age, 51 years; range, 33 to 65 years). Between 2002 and 2006, more than 26 years later, magnetic resonance imaging tests (MRIs) were performed on the participants' brains. Participants reporting headaches once or more per month were asked about migraine symptoms including nausea, unilateral location, photophobia, visual disturbance, and numbness. These individuals were classified as having migraine without aura, migraine with aura, or nonmigraine headache. A comprehensive cardiovascular risk assessment was performed at both examinations. The presence of infarct-like lesions (total) and specifically located in the cortical, subcortical, and cerebellar regions were recorded. The study found infarct-like lesions were present in 39.3% of men and 24.6% of women. Compared with those not reporting headaches once or more per month (n = 3,243), those with midlife migraine with aura (n = 361) had an increased risk of late-life infarct-like lesions and specifically reflected an association with cerebellar lesions in women. Migraine without aura and nonmigraine headache were not associated with an increased risk. Researchers concluded that migraine with aura in midlife was associated with late-life prevalence of cerebellar infarct-like lesions on MRI. This association was statistically significant only for women. This is consistent with the hypothesis that migraine with aura in midlife is associated with late-life vascular disease in the cerebellum and in women.


Can condoms prevent HSV-2?

Martin TE, Krantz E, Gottlieb SL, et al. A pooled analysis of the effect of condoms in preventing HSV-2 acquisition. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(13):1233-1240.


It has been unclear whether or not condoms are effective in preventing the transmission of herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2). Recently, scientists performed a large pooled analysis and identified prospective studies with individual-level condom use data and lab-defined HSV-2 acquisition. A review of publications through 2007 identified six studies: three candidate HSV-2 vaccine studies, an HSV-2 drug study, an observational STI incidence study, and a behavioral STI intervention study. At the conclusion, 5,384 people without HSV-2 at baseline contributed 2,040,894 follow-up days. Of these, 415 persons acquired HSV-2 during follow-up. Consistent condom users had a 30% lower risk of HSV-2 acquisition compared with those who never used condoms.