April 23, 2019

    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

    Children can effortlessly learn a second language by the age of 18, but to have a similar level with a native speaker they must start before the age of 10
    Study identifies the best age for children to learn a second language - short science news

    It is a well-known fact that children learn a language much faster than adults. However, it is unclear until when do they have this ability? A new study tried to define the optimal age interval for children to easily learn a second language. This is called the critical period and is the time frame during which the brain can quickly absorb new information. According to the study, children are skilled at learning grammar until the age of 18 years, much longer than previously believed. However, to achieve perfection they must start learning it before the age of 10. The study involved nearly 670,000 people.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Cognition

    Germ free upbringing could increase likelihood of mental illness
    Growing up in cities without pets could increase mental illness vulnerability - short science articles

    Children who are raised in rural environments and grow surrounded by animals and bacteria-rich dust, have a more stress-resilient immune system and also lower risk of mental illness than their city living pet free counterparts. This adds to the increasing evidence for the 'hygiene hypothesis' which states that excessively sterile environments lead to higher health problems. This exaggerated immune response could be associated with the higher development of depression and PTSD later in life. Researchers propose that if not exposed to microbes in our childhood, our immune system doesn't develop adequately leading to a low-grade chronic inflammation making us vulnerable to psychiatric conditions.

    Read the full story: University of Colorado Boulder
    Scientific publication: PNAS

    Religious fundamentalism correlated with higher error sensitivity
    Higher sensitivity to errors is observed in religious fundamentalism - short science articles

    Scientists have started to explore the relationship between religious fundamentalism and cognitive processes. In a preliminary investigation, it was found that religious fundamentalism is associated with a intense processing of error-related stimuli.
    The research was conducted in 34 participants in whom the EEG recordings were conducted to examine their brain activity while performing a Stroop task in which a person has to identify the colour in which a word in written and not the word itself. Researchers observed that people who were religious fundamentalist show an increased N400 response to error related words which is an electrical pattern of brain activity seen due to the processing of unexpected or inappropriate information.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Frontiers in Psychiatry

    Spinal cord stimulation could help restore some voluntary movement
    Two paraplegic patients gain voluntary movement with spinal cord stimulation - short science articles

    Researchers were able to restore voluntary movement in two paraplegic patients by spinal cord stimulation who had an injury between C6 and T10 vertebrae and the injury was more than one year old. Paraplegic patients frequently suffer from hypotension and this therapy could restore their blood pressure too. Further, there was an improvement in the muscle strength measured by the EMG within just first five follow-ups. Also, there was a partial restoration of bowel bladder control in these patients. This is probably the first evidence that spinal cord stimulation could help restore some normal body functions in paraplegic patients.

    Read the full story: Neuroscience News

    Work-life imbalance affects all equally
    Work life balance needs to be taken seriously for all - short science articles

    Most of us spend at least one-third of our day working and hence having a good work-life balance is important to our overall wellbeing. Researchers found that work-life balance is an issue not only for working mothers but also for men and those without children and some employees feel that their careers will suffer if they take time off from work for personal commitments. These individuals tend to not only have a lower work satisfaction but also have more likelihood of leaving their jobs. This can negatively affect all other employees too and hence marks the importance of changing the work structure so that employees do not feel threatened when they try to balance their work and home life; the home life being whether or not they have children.

    Read the full story: ScienceBriefss
    Scientific publication: Sociological Perspectives

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