February 19, 2019

    Derivative from Cannabis could treat rare epilepsy syndromes
    Seizures in severe epilepsy decreased by cannabidiol - short science articles

    A new large-scale, randomized clinical trial has shown that cannabidiol, a compound obtained from cannabis which doesn't produce the characteristic 'high', significantly decreases the number of seizures in patients with the severe Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Researchers reported decrease by 37.2% - 41.9% in 'drop seizures', typical seizures seen in this syndrome where the person losses his/her entire muscle tone. Similarly, cannabidiol has been shown to decrease epilepsy in Dravet syndrome, another rare untreatable condition by 39% which lead to the US-FDA approval of this drug. Patients suffer only mild to moderate side effects such as diarrhoea, sleepiness, vomiting etc. An affliction of the liver was observed in a few patients but it was reversible. This gives new hope for treatment of rare forms of epilepsy.

    Read the full story: NYU Langone Health
    Scientific publication: NEJM


    Gut microbial byproducts could help in decreasing neurodenegerative diseases
    How the gut microbes influence neurological diseases - short science articles

    Researchers have found new links between the gut and the brain and decipher how the byproducts of microorganisms residing in the gut could influence the progress of neurological diseases. Two cells play an important role in the CNS, namely microglia and astrocytes. Microglia can secrete several products which can induce inflammation and affect the astrocytes. Now, researchers have been able to show that microbes that break-down dietary tryptophan could limit this inflammation. This could play a role in reducing neurodegeneration seen in multiple sclerosis.

    Read the full story: Medical Express
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Reconstruction of a neuron in the human hippocampus. The hairs sticking out are the dendrites.
    Link between epilepsy and autism discovered - neuroscience news

    One third of the children with autism also are epileptic, and now scientists have discovered why this is. It turns out that the gene cntnap2, a risk factor for autism, stabilizes the dendritic arbors (sort of antennas) of neurons that inhibit neural activity. Cntnap2 achieves this through recruitment of an enzyme in the inhibitory neurons, known as CASK. Mutations in cntnap2 and / or CASK in autistic patients make it impossible to maintain the dendritic arbor of the inhibitory neurons, which will then become less active and stop giving instructions to the other neurons that they should calm down. The other neurons become too active, so that epilepsy can occur.

    Read the full story: Northwestern University
    Scientific publication: Molecular Psychiatry


    Arguments with spouse could worsen pain symptoms
    Love literally hurts: arguments with a spouse worsens chronic pain - short science articles

    While we have always felt it, researchers have now found evidence that a fight with your spouse especially in those with chronic health conditions like arthritis or diabetes could lead to worsening of pain symptoms on those days. Participants of this study kept daily diaries of their mood and their interaction with spouse and found that severity of the patients' pain was correlated with tensions with their spouses. This is a significant finding because it is important to know which factors influence worsening of symptoms of chronic diseases since patients with osteoarthritis who experience greater pain become disabled rather quickly and diabetics with uncontrolled condition accelerate towards developing complications.

    Read the full story: Penn State
    Scientific publication: Annals of Behavioural Medicine


    Magnetic brain stimulation could decrease addiction cue reactivity and hence help in decreasing relapse
    Using magnetic brain stimulation to decrease addiction responses - short science articles

    While extensive research is being conducted for addiction treatments, even after 50 years there isn't any brain circuit-based treatment. Now, researchers have used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) targetted to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex dampens brain activity to drug cues in chronic alcohol and chronic cocaine addicts. Brain imaging done before and after TMS showed that on exposure to alcohol-related cues like a liquor bottle, there was a significant reduction in drug cue reactivity even after a single session of TMS. Since reactivity to drug cues is associated with relapse, TMS treatment could offer a new hope for treatment in addiction.

    Read the full story: Elsevier
    Scientific publication: Biological Psychiatry


    Scientists are looking for genetic risk factors for Alzheimers's disease
    Risk gene for Alzheimer’s disease identified - neuroscience news

    In the search for genetic risk factors that predispose someone to Alzheimer’s disease (AD), scientists have found that inheritable changes of a protein called PM20D1 induce a loss of neuroprotection against AD. In a mouse model of AD, PM20D1 is increased following neurotoxic insults that are typical for AD, and PM20D1 levels are higher in human patients with AD who are carriers of the non-risk form of PM20D1. Up- or down-regulating the expression of the protein in the mouse AD model reduced or worsened AD symptoms, which led the researchers to conclude that PM20D1 can prevent damage to neurons, and therefore reduce or prevent AD symptoms in humans.

    Read the full story: Institut d’Investigatio Biomedica de Bellvitge (Idibell)
    Scientific publication: Nature Medicine


    Too many extracurricular activities do more harm than good
    Excessive after-school activities do more harm than good - short science articles

    Children are always under constant pressure to do several extracurricular activities to stay ahead of the curve putting excessive pressure on the family too. Now, researchers have found that parents begin several activities for their children so that they fall in the societal norm of 'good parents' and about 88% of children take part in organized evening activities 4-5 days/week. However, while children experience some benefits, this puts considerable strain on the family resources and could also harm the child's development and well-being. Families were also spending less quality time together and there is a need for increasing awareness amongst families of this fallacy thinking.

    Read the full story: Taylor and Francis
    Scientific publication: Sports Education and Society


    Memory transfer in snails done by injecting RNA
    Sci-fi realization - Biologists transfer a memory by injecting RNA - short science articles

    Researchers have been able to create an artificial memory by injecting RNA from one marine snail to another, thereby transferring memory. Researchers extracted RNA from the nervous system of snails who received tail shocks and injected this RNA into other snails who did not receive a tail shock. Interestingly, the snails in whom this RNA was injected started displaying defensive behaviour like those snails that had received a tail shock. Also, researchers added this RNA to Petri dishes containing neurons extracted from snails who had never received a shock. The sensory neurons in the Petri dish showed increased excitability adding to the evidence that the memory could be transferred.

    Read the full story: UCLA
    Scientific publication: eNeuro


    Drugs could be developed from Fungus for treatment of epilepsy
    Epilepsy drugs could be developed from red sea fungus - short science articles

    New treatments for epilepsy are extremely important to be developed since current medications aren't as effective. Now researchers have found that two chemicals γ-lactams, produced by the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus found in the Red Sea could decrease the length and the number of seizures in zebrafish. These chemicals namely, pseurotin A2 and azaspirofuran A could also decrease the seizures in a mouse-model of epilepsy. Importantly, researchers propose that these chemicals could be used in the treatment of drug-resistant epilepsy, but further research on higher mammals and humans is necessary.

    Read the full story: ACS Chemistry
    Scientific publication: ACS Chemical Neuroscience


    Depression could affect the brain structural and could worsen with ageing
    Older depressed individuals have smaller brains and memory problems - short science articles

    Researchers have found that depressed elderly not only have smaller brain volumes but also have 55% higher chance of brain small artery lesions. The research points out that depression and brain ageing might occur simultaneously and the higher symptoms of depression could affect brain health by the vascular lesions of small arteries in the brain. Greater depression symptoms were associated with a worse baseline episodic memory (Episodic memory is the ability of a person to remember specific events in life). Researchers are optimistic that since depression symptoms can be treated, it could also be possible to treat memory problems associated with it.

    Read the full story: American Academy of Neurology
    Scientific publication: Neurology


    Membrane receptors bind endogenous opioids, but opioids for the treatment of pain can bind receptors inside neurons
    Paradigm shift : Opioids for the treatment of pain bind to receptors inside neurons - brain science news

    While convential wisdom states that molecules bind to receptors on the cell membrane, i.e. on the outside of the cell, a new biosensor has revealed that opioids used to treat pain bind to receptors inside neurons. These receptors were found in endosomes and the Golgi apparatus, and were not activated by endogenous opioids (that is, those that are produced by our own neurons). This surprising finding might help to find new molecular targets for developing safer pain medications, without side effects that may occur by activating the extracellular opioid receptors.

    Read the full story: National Institute on Drug Abuse
    Scientific publication: Neuron


    Marijuana smoke in pregnancy leads to premature birth and irritable child
    Exposure to marijuana before birth affects infant behaviour and size - short science articles

    Smoking during pregnancy has been associated with several childhood health disorders. Now, researchers have shown that marijuana use during pregnancy especially when combined with tobacco results in premature birth and also lower birth weight. Further, these children also tend to be more irritable and easily frustrated later in infancy. Also, women who display symptoms of anger, stress and aggression during pregnancy were more likely to continue tobacco and marijuana use through pregnancy and these mothers had higher chances of giving birth to babies smaller in size who could be easily irritable. So, interventions for such mothers should also focus on decreasing stress levels and help them cope with negative emotions.

    Read the full story: University at Buffalo
    Scientific publication: Child Development


    A past negative event can induce unnecessary anxiety if over-generalization of the experience occurs in the brain
    Taking a decision when there is a risk of pain or loss induces anxiety - science news in brief

    A new study investigated how past negative or positive experiences influence decision making. We often generalize past experiences, as a mechanism for survival, however, sometimes over-generalization occurs. The study found that higher generalization occurred after a negative experience (pain or financial loss) compared to a positive one. Those people who generalized more from the negative events reported higher anxiety and intrusive thoughts. To understand better, imagine that you touch a flower and a bee that was there stings you. It is likely that in the future you will avoid touching any flowers, because of the generalization of fear. If this anxiety is not controlled, it may have negative consequences. The study also analyzed the brain regions involved in this process.

    Read the full story: Eureka Alert
    Scientific publication: eLife


    Excessive air pollution could lead to genetic damage in the brain
    Long-term exposure to air pollution causes genetic changes in the brain - short science articles

    Researchers from the Cedars-Sinai Institute have now found that excessive exposure to particulate matter in the Los Angeles Basin triggers an inflammatory reaction with the emergence of cancer-related genes in rat brains. Certain materials found in air pollution, especially nickel could play a vital role in inducing these genetic changes. The study found that the particulate matter found its way in the body system through two routes, one through the lungs where these trace metals entered the blood and then reached the brain. Another route was through the nose, where this material could be absorbed directly to the brain.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Hearing loss by sudden loud sounds can be prevented by a simple ear injection
    Minimizing hearing loss due to loud noise by a simple injection - short science articles

    Researchers have discovered that after exposure to loud noise, the sensory cells which detect sound, die, and the inner ear gets filled with excessive fluid leading to neuronal death. This buildup of fluid in the inner ear occurs over a few hours and contains a high concentration of potassium. However, injecting a salt or sugar based solution in the middle ear up to three hours after noise exposure prevents the neuronal damage by osmotic stabilization. This treatment prevents the neuronal loss by 45-64% which could hence preserve the hearing function. This could be used by soldiers to prevent hearing damage after exposure to loud sounds of blasts and bombs.

    Read the full story: Keck Medicine of USC
    Scientific publication: PNAS


    Diabetics could be at a higher risk of depression and negative emotions
    Problems in blood sugar regulation could increase negative feeling in diabetics - short science articles

    Researchers have found that people living with Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes are more likely to have a strong emotional response to threat and negative things which affects the quality of life and increase the risk of depression. Scientists analyzed the startle response, brain activity, cortisol levels and assessed the cognitive measures of these patients. People with higher insulin resistance startled more to negative picture exposure. Also, these people had a higher activity on the right side of the brain which is associated with depression and negative emotions. There was also a lower level of cortisol which indicated chronic stress exposure further supporting the findings.

    Read the full story: Iowa State University
    Scientific publication: Psychosomatic Medicine


    Negative feeling rose a day after election results in college students.
    A day after 2016 election college students experienced increased anxiety, stress and poor sleep - short science articles

    Researchers have found that, University students experienced an increase in fear, stress, marginalization and poor sleep a day after 2016 election. The study comprised the data of 85 students and tracked their mental health, mood and stress symptoms. Interestingly, the study participants also reported an increase in the age, gender and race discrimination. While a few emotions lasted for only a day, some feelings of anger, fear and marginalization lasted much longer.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Psychology Reports


    Autism might be diagnosed earlier by looking at the pupillary reflex in infants
    Pupillary light reflex in infancy is predictive of autism - brain science news

    Infants who are later diagnosed with autism appear to react stronger to sudden changes in light, as measured by their pupillary light reflex. Autism has originally been considered to be a disorder of social impairments, but it is becoming increasingly clear that sensory processing is affected in autism patients, and is in fact one of the earliest symptoms of the disorder. Therefore, these new findings are important as they point to basic brain functions that can be addressed to estimate the risk for autism development, making early treatment options possible.

    Read the full story: Uppsala Universitet
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Some parts of the brain of this rat are organised differently than those of a mouse
    Rat and mouse brain networks can be wired differently - brain science news

    Neurons that produce dopamine in the hypothalamus of rats are connected through small channels, while those of mice are not. Rat dopamine cells can therefore synchronise their activity better than their mouse counterparts. Synchronisation is important for the functioning for the brain, and is involved in memory and learning, sleep, and the regulation of hormone secretion to name but a few. This surprising difference between the closely related rodent species makes it on the one hand possible to study the function of the channels more closely, but on the other hand asks for caution to extrapolate experimental findings from one species to another or to humans.

    Read the full story: Karolinska Institutet
    Scientific publication: eLIFE


    Second hand smoke could increase ED visits of children
    Impact of secondhand marijuana and tobacco smoke on children emergency department visits - short science articles

    Marijuana is the most common illicit substance abused in the US. Researchers wanted to study the impact of second hand marijuana smoke on children health. A total of 1500 caregivers participated in the study and they were classified into four group: only marijuana, only tobacco, both and none. Researchers found that children who were exposed to both secondhand marijuana and tobacco smoke reported increased visits to the emergency department and recurrent middle ear infections. However, this association wasn't seen in children exposed to only marijuana or only tobacco smoke.

    Read the full story: Pediatric Academic Societies


    Interacting with parents during childhood could prevent early adulthood alcohol abuse and emotional eating
    Regularly speaking with your teenage child could protect children against long term alcohol use - short science articles

    Researchers found that regular communication between parents and their children enhances the development of brain circuits. The study was conducted in a rural African-American population and children between the age of 11-13 years reported on their interactions with their parents like frequency of discussions and arguments. At the age of 25 years, 91 of these children underwent a functional MRI to study a brain network called the anterior salience network (ASN). Interestingly, a better parent-child communication in early adolescence correlated with a greater connectivity of the ASN at the age of 25 years which also correlated with lower alcohol misuse and emotional eating problems.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Biological Psychiatry


    Even a brief period of maternal deprivation could have long term consequences on the child
    Early life brief material deprivation modifies adult brain function and cognition - short science articles

    Researchers have found that when a baby is taken away from its mothers even if for a brief period of time, this event alters the future development significantly. This was observed in a rat study in which the pups were taken away from their mother at 9 days of age for just 24 hours. The changes in the brain of these pups in their adulthood were similar to the brain structural differences seen in people at risk of neuropsychiatric disorders like schizophrenia. There were signs of memory impairment as well as decreased communication between different brain regions. This could increase the risk of mental illness and addiction later in life.

    Read the full story: IUPUI
    Scientific publication: Translational Psychiatry


    rTMS could decrease suicidal thoughts in depressed patients
    Brain stimulation decreased suicidal thoughts in people with difficult to treat depression - short science articles

    Researchers have found that brain stimulation by means of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is extremely effective in reducing suicidal thoughts in these difficult-to-treat depressed patients. This study included 156 patients who reported suicidal thoughts. The rTMS was targetted to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex 5 times a week for 3-6 weeks. Participants received rTMS, bilaterally, unilaterally or a sham rTMS which meant to be the control. The bilateral rTMS showed the most effective results with 40% of patients receiving it did not experience any more suicidal thoughts. This was higher than the 27% who received unilateral rTMS and 19% who received sham rTMS. Further, bilateral rTMS was also effective in avoiding the emergence of suicidal thoughts in patients not experiencing them at the beginning of the study.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Journal of Clinical Psychiatry


    Fear or courage depends on a switch in the brain
    Switching between fear and courage - brain science news

    Scientists have found two adjacent groups of cells in the mouse brain that can either provoke fear or courage when facing a threat. These two cell groups are located in the thalamus. One group projects to the amygdala, the fear center of the brain, to promote fear, and the other one sends information to the cortex to induce courage. A threat will activate one these two thalamic cell groups, acting like a switch. The same cell groups are found in the human brain. These findings may therefore have implications for understanding and treatment of stress- and anxiety-related neural disorders.

    Read the full story: Stanford Medicine
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Regular sauna baths could decrease the risk of stroke
    Frequent sauna baths could decrease strokes - short science articles

    A team of scientists have found that regular sauna bathing is associated with reduced risk of stroke.
    The research involved 1628 men and women who were between the age of 53-74 years and were inhabitants of east Finland. These people were followed up for a period of 15 years. The risk of stroke in people taking sauna 2-3 times a week had a 14% lower chance, while those taking 4-7 times a week had a staggering 61% lower chance of stroke as compared to those individuals taking it only once per week. The plausible mechanisms for all the health benefits could be a reduction in blood pressure, positively affecting the autonomic nervous system and the immune system, as well as improvement in cardiovascular function.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Neurology


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