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News Briefs II

Democrats Look to Gain Ten Senate Seats in 2000 Elections

The Washington Post

In the wake of President Clinton's impeachment and acquittal at a Senate trial, Democratic campaign strategists have targeted 10 Republican senators for defeat. The Democrats are determined to portray these incumbents as trapped in a renegade party controlled by an ideological right wing and defiant of voters who twice elected Clinton.

All 10 senators represent states that cast 1996 pluralities or majorities for Clinton, and seven found Clinton guilty of one or both articles of impeachment. The top six targeted are Senators Rod Grams (Minn.), Spencer Abraham (Mich.), John D. Ashcroft (Mo.), Rick Santorum (Pa.), Slade Gorton (Wash.) and Mike DeWine (Ohio). They are joined by Sen. William V. Roth Jr. (Del.), who voted "guilty" on both articles.

"They had a choice" between voting to acquit the president and risk a primary challenge from their right, or voting to convict and face a tougher general election, said Sen. Robert G. Torricelli (N.J.), who heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "They took the risk of a general election, and my job is to accommodate that risk."

The three other targeted senators, who voted to acquit the president of both articles of impeachment, are Sens. John H. Chafee (R.I.), James M. Jeffords (Vt.) and Olympia J. Snowe (Maine). Defeating Snowe, Torricelli acknowledged, would be a long shot for Democrats.

Physical and Mental Exercise May Increase Growth of Brain Cells

Los Angeles Times

Regular running and intensive mental exercise may revitalize the mind by spurring the growth of new brain cells responsible for learning and memory, new animal experiments suggest.

The research, made public Monday, sheds light on how the effects of daily experience can foster new brain cells in adult mammals from mice to human beings. In essence, the research suggests that an active life physical or mental can have a positive impact on the brain.

In separate studies published in Nature Neuroscience, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego and at Princeton University discovered that some kinds of physical and mental exercise promoted the growth of new neurons, while also measurably prolonging the survival of existing brain cells. The changes took place in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is crucial to the formation of new memories.

"That is terribly exciting, given that we know the hippocampus plays a role in the memory of new facts and new events," said Neal J. Cohen, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Illinois. "It is clear the adult brain continues to be modified structurally and functionally by experience."

The Salk researchers, to their surprise, found that adult mice exercising on a running wheel regularly developed twice as many new brain cells in the hippocampus as mice housed in standard cages. The scientists had designed their experiment to test the effects of learning and had only included the running wheels as one of several different variables.