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Health Highlights Food and Drug Administration has approved the first noninvasive brain stimulator to treat depression. It works by beaming magnetic pulses through the skull, triggering small electrical charges that prompt brain cells to fire, the Associated Press reported. The device, called transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS, is intended for patients who got no relief from their first antidepressant, offering them a different option than trying an assortment of drugs. It also doesn't pose the risks of surgically implanted electrodes or the treatment of last resort, shock therapy, the news service said. The FDA cleared the prescription-only NeuroStar based on research that found that patients did modestly better when treated with TMS than when they received a placebo treatment that mimicked the magnet. About 24 percent of patients who received TMS scored significantly better on standard depression measures after six weeks, compared with 12 percent of those who got the placebo, the AP said. That's about as well as patients respond to a single antidepressant, said Dr. Philip Janicak of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, who helped lead the NeuroStar study. TMS isn't cheap, however: It's expected to cost $6,000 to $10,000, depending on how many treatments a patient needs, Janicak said. While that's a lot more than antidepressant therapy, it's thousands of dollars less than invasive depression devices, the AP said. Bad Habits Linked to Lower Grades Bad habits equal bad grades, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota's Boynton Health Service who studied more than 9,000 undergraduates from 14 Minnesota schools. Low grades were more common among students who lacked sleep, didn't exercise, gambled, watched too much TV, and drank alcohol or smoked cigarettes. Students who suffered stress, asthma, injury or mental illness also had lower grades, the St. Ed Ehlinger, Boynton's director and chief health officer. "If you're investing a lot of time and money in your education, do you really want to waste your investment on behaviors that interfere with your academic success?" The study, released Monday, doesn't prove cause and effect. For example, while watching too much TV may lead to lower grades, it's also possible that lower grades cause students to watch more TV. It may also be that TV offers an escape from anxiety or depression, which could be the real cause of lower grades, the newspaper reported. The world's top mountain climbers may suffer minor brain damage every time they scale the Earth's highest peaks, say Italian researchers who compared MRI scans of nine male climbers before and after major climbs achieved without the use of extra oxygen. While the climbers showed no outward signs of new neurological problems, the scans revealed changes in brain tissue density and volume that were most likely caused by lack of oxygen at high altitudes, BBC News reported. "The climbers in our study did not suffer any significant neuropsychological changes after the expedition," said study leader Dr. Margherita Di Paola. But she added that some abnormal results on both "before" and "after" tests of brain function and memory might be the result of small, progressive brain damage caused by repeated exposure to high altitudes, BBC News reported.