In brief
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Body of knowledge

A summary of recent findings in clinical, translational and basic science research at UC Davis.

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In a review published in The Carlat Report, UC Davis psychiatry researchers found listening to music reduces the overall severity of insomnia, improves sleep quality and helps to initiate sleep. The effect was comparable to prescription sleep medications such as Z-drugs and benzodiazepines. Participants preferred familiar tunes without lyrics and songs with slow tempos, regular rhythms, bass tones and tranquil melodies. But one study showed music participants picked themselves — including pop — helped just as much as classical music.

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UC Davis Health study that looked at acute bone loss in mice who had COVID-19 showed that SARS-CoV-2 infection can cause significant changes in bone structure. The study, published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research, is the first to suggest that people with COVID-19 may experience long-term orthopedic issues, such as decreased bone mass, increased fracture risk and other musculoskeletal complications.

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New UC Davis Health research reveals a significant association between the length of stay in the emergency department and the development of incident delirium in older adults. The retrospective study of 5,886 patients aged 65 and older, published in the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, was conducted by a team of emergency medicine physicians. For each additional hour a patient spent in the ED, the odds of experiencing delirium increased by approximately 2%.

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Volunteering in late life is associated with better cognitive function, according to findings of a study UC Davis Health presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2023. Volunteering was associated with better baseline scores on tests of executive function and verbal episodic memory, even after adjusting for age, sex, education, income, practice effects and interview mode (phone versus in-person). Those who volunteered several times per week had the highest levels of executive function. The study examined an ethnic and racially diverse population of 2,476 older adults.

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A team of UC Davis and University of Oxford researchers have developed SparkMaster 2, opensource software that allows scientists to analyze normal and abnormal calcium signals in cells automatically. Calcium is a key signaling molecule in all cells, including muscles like the heart, and the new software enables automatic analysis of distinct patterns of calcium release in cells. This includes calcium “sparks,” microscopic releases of calcium within cardiac cells associated with arrhythmia. An article demonstrating the software’s capabilities was published in Circulation Research.