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I am a physician interested in clinical neuroscience research. I will use this blog to post more detailed analysis of recent studies in addition to my @WRY999 Twitter scientific reading log. I will also post some of my wildlife/sports photography. Aim to educate and amuse. Not selling anything.

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  • July 3, 2014
  • 12:50 PM

Epidemiology of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) contributes significantly to mortality and long-term disability.In the U.S. there are an estimated 52,000 deaths yearly due to TBI with over 1,000,000 emergency room (ER) visits.Understanding the epidemiology of TBI can provides clues to designing prevention programs.Four relevant recent research studies provide insight about the epidemiology of TBI.TBI in hospitalized patients in Scotland Tara Shivaji and colleagues in Scotland examined the prevalence and patte........ Read more »

  • June 24, 2014
  • 01:22 PM

E-cigarettes and Smoking Cessation

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Electronic or e-cigarettes are a tobacco cigarette alternative that is growing in popularity.Proponents of e-cigarettes note the product contains no carbon monoxide, tar or other tobacco residue. The inhaled vapor in e-cigarettes is primarily nicotine.Additionally, some proponents of e-cigarettes declare the product is associated with reduction or cessation of tobacco-based cigarette use.Unfortunately, this is an area where public health trends come before scientific research data is collected. ........ Read more »

Bullen, C., Howe, C., Laugesen, M., McRobbie, H., Parag, V., Williman, J., & Walker, N. (2013) Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation: a randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, 382(9905), 1629-1637. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)61842-5  

  • June 23, 2014
  • 11:52 AM

Varenicline for Smoking Cessation

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Varenicline is a drug designed to assist smokers in cessation. It is marketed in the U.S. as Chantix.Varenicline is one of the first drugs to target the nicotine receptor. It is classified as a partial agonist, meaning it stimulates the nicotine receptor but to a weaker effect than nicotine itself.The mechanism of action of varenicline differs from that of another smoking cessation drug bupropion marked under trade name Zyban in the U.S.One concern with varenicline is the risk for psychiatric ad........ Read more »

  • June 20, 2014
  • 01:07 PM

Maternal Smoking and Child Conduct Disorder Risk

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Conduct disorder is a serious behavioral disorder of childhood characterized by aggression, destruction of property, lying, theft and violation of rules.A significant number of children with conduct disorder go on to adult antisocial personality disorder.Conduct disorder is known to have genetic as well as environmental risk factors.Darya Gaysina from the United Kingdom and colleagues recently published a review of maternal smoking during pregnancy and offspring conduct problems.This review exam........ Read more »

  • June 19, 2014
  • 12:20 PM

Smoking and Abnormal Brain Pleasure Response

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Smoking cessation in those with nicotine dependence is one of the most difficult challenges for patients and their clinicians.Research targeting the neurobiology of smoking cessation provides hope for designing more effective treatments for nicotine dependence.Takeshi Isomura along with colleagues in the U.S. and Japan recently summarized recent findings in the brain pleasure response in nicotine dependence.The brain ventral striatum region is known to be key in nearly all sensations of pleasure........ Read more »

Peters J, Bromberg U, Schneider S, Brassen S, Menz M, Banaschewski T, Conrod PJ, Flor H, Gallinat J, Garavan H.... (2011) Lower ventral striatal activation during reward anticipation in adolescent smokers. The American journal of psychiatry, 168(5), 540-9. PMID: 21362742  

  • June 10, 2014
  • 11:54 AM

Smoking During Pregnancy and Fetal Growth

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Smoking cigarettes during pregnancy is linked to a variety of adverse effects including increased perinatal mortality, gestational bleeding and placenta abruptio and placenta previa.Newborns of smoking mothers weigh less than newborns of nonsmoking mothers.The specific distribution of target organ growth impairment with maternal smoking is less well studied.Devasuda Anblagan and colleagues in the United Kingdom and Canada recently published a study of fetal organ growth in smoking mothers.Using ........ Read more »

Anblagan D, Jones NW, Costigan C, Parker AJ, Allcock K, Aleong R, Coyne LH, Deshpande R, Raine-Fenning N, Bugg G.... (2013) Maternal smoking during pregnancy and fetal organ growth: a magnetic resonance imaging study. PloS one, 8(7). PMID: 23843995  

  • June 9, 2014
  • 12:04 PM

Smoking Linked to Brain White Matter Dysfunction

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Tobacco smoking and nicotine dependence produce harmful effects on the brain.Some of these effects are related to direct effects on vascular health. Vascular changes seen with smoking are known to contribute to increased risk for stroke and dementia.Advances in brain imaging techniques allow for more direct study on smoking's effect on specific brain structures.Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is a relatively recent imaging tool allowing for study of brain white matter function.Brain white matter ........ Read more »

Umene-Nakano W, Yoshimura R, Kakeda S, Watanabe K, Hayashi K, Nishimura J, Takahashi H, Moriya J, Ide S, Ueda I.... (2014) Abnormal white matter integrity in the corpus callosum among smokers: tract-based spatial statistics. PloS one, 9(2). PMID: 24516568  

  • June 4, 2014
  • 11:12 AM

Types of Mathematics Learning Disorders

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Learning mathematics is a complex process that forms a key element in modern education.Significant mathematics learning difficulties emerge in 5 to 10 per cent of all elementary and secondary education students.Struggling to acquire skills in mathematics is more than a single deficit and appears to involve multiple cognitive skills.Giannis Karagiannakis and colleagures recently summarized what is known about mathematics learning disorders and proposed four subtypes. I will summarize these subtyp........ Read more »

Karagiannakis G, Baccaglini-Frank A, & Papadatos Y. (2014) Mathematical learning difficulties subtypes classification. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 57. PMID: 24574997  

  • June 3, 2014
  • 12:14 PM

Executive Cognition in Autism Sprectrum Disorder

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Executive functions (EF) of the brain are processes used to make complex decisions and plans.Deficits in EF can produce significant impairment in the ability to successfully many daily life challenges.EF are felt to be primarily a reflection of workings of the frontal lobe although additional brain regions contribute this cognitive skill.Simonetta Panerai and colleagues from Italy recently examined the key components of EF in a group of children with autism sprectrum disorder (ASD). They adminis........ Read more »

  • June 2, 2014
  • 12:52 PM

Brain Resting Connectivity Deficits in Autism

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Resting connectivity is a measure of brain circuitry obtained by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).This technique is relatively new but there is emerging evidence of the potential value in research and clinical assessment.Research in brain connectivity includes looking for distinct patterns in brain disorders compared to health controls.One such type of study in autism has been published by a group of Japanese researchers.Takashi Itahashi and colleagues recruited 46 adult subjects wit........ Read more »

Itahashi T, Yamada T, Watanabe H, Nakamura M, Jimbo D, Shioda S, Toriizuka K, Kato N, & Hashimoto R. (2014) Altered network topologies and hub organization in adults with autism: a resting-state FMRI study. PloS one, 9(4). PMID: 24714805  

  • May 29, 2014
  • 11:45 AM

The Aging Political Brain: Hillary's Advantage

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

There has been significant public discussion on the topic of politicians running for office at an older age. I wanted to add a few comments to this discussion from a neuroscience perspective on the aging brain.I think there are three key elements in this topic. The first is pretty universal effect of age to produce a reduction in psychomotor speed. The graph above shows norms for the completion of the Trails B Test by age. This test involves connecting an alternating number/letter series of dots........ Read more »

  • May 28, 2014
  • 12:32 PM

Physical Abnormalities in Adults with Autism Spectrum

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

In a previous post, I reviewed a study of minor physical abnormalities in a group of children with autism.This study found that children with autism were more likely to show a variety of physical features including a gap between the large and second toe, facial asymmetry, a high arched palate and attached ear lobes.A more recent Swedish study has been published examining physical features of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).In this study, Irina Manouilenko and colleagues used a scale t........ Read more »

  • May 21, 2014
  • 02:04 PM

Testing Boosts Memory: Brain Region Involvement

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Taking tests provides one method to assess the level of learning in a subject matter.Testing may also be an aid to improving memory and learning.Studies support periodic testing as a superior strategy to restudying learned material. Testing may promote learning by activating memory retrieval.The mechanism for the beneficial effects of testing on memory have received limited research attention.However, a recent fMRI study provides some insight into the specific brain regions involved in memory im........ Read more »

  • May 13, 2014
  • 12:05 PM

Sleep Manipulation to Enhance Cognition

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

In the next series of posts, I will focus on research related to learning, learning disabilities and education.Sleep is known to play a key role in consolidation of memories and and learning.However, there has been relatively little discussion of how the effect of sleep on learning might be enhanced.Susanne Diekelmann reviewed this issue in a recent manuscript published in the journal Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience.In this review, two theories for sleep enhancement of memories are proposed:Ac........ Read more »

Diekelmann, S. (2014) Sleep for cognitive enhancement. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. DOI: 10.3389/fnsys.2014.00046  

  • May 7, 2014
  • 12:01 PM

Sleep, Inflammation and Risk of Depression

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Dr. Michael Irwin at the Warren Neuroscience Lecture Series in Tulsa, OK.Dr. Irwin has been a leader in research related to sleep disturbance, inflammation and depression risk. Here are my notes from the presentation and few related citations.Notes on Irwin PresentationDepression is important because it is prevalent, recurrent and often resistant to treatmentSleep disturbance is common as a symptom of depression, but also may be an independe........ Read more »

  • April 28, 2014
  • 11:04 AM

Religion As A Suicide Protective Factor: Part I

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Risk factors for suicide include male gender, older age, previous suicide attempts and presence of a mental disorder.Factors that reduce risk of suicide or provide a protective effect are less well understood.Two recent studies suggest religious belief and church attendance are linked to reduced risk of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts.Nicole Cushing and colleagues conducted a study of older adults suffering from depression.In this study, a series of subjects over 59 receiving outpatient o........ Read more »

  • April 22, 2014
  • 11:21 AM

Religious Belief Linked to Brain Cortex Thickness

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

In a previous post, I reviewed a longitudinal study of religious belief and major depression.This study by Lisa Miller and colleagues found a reduced risk of depression in subjects who rated religious belief or spirituality as an important factor in their lives.Reduction in depression risk with religiosity/spirituality was largest (90% smaller risk) in those with a family history of depression.This correlation may not be causal and may be explained by some common third factor between religion an........ Read more »

  • April 15, 2014
  • 12:43 PM

Religious Belief and Depression Resilience

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Identifying risk factors for brain disorders is a key element in clinical research.Understanding protective or resilience factors for brain disorders is also important and receiving increased attention in clinical research.Factors that promote resilience to brain disorders may come from a variety of domains. Religious belief is one domain receiving attention as a potential resilience factor.Miller and colleagues recently published a longitudinal study of religious belief and risk for major ........ Read more »

Miller L, Wickramaratne P, Gameroff MJ, Sage M, Tenke CE, & Weissman MM. (2012) Religiosity and major depression in adults at high risk: a ten-year prospective study. The American journal of psychiatry, 169(1), 89-94. PMID: 21865527  

  • April 7, 2014
  • 12:37 PM

The Genetics of Religious Belief

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

In the next few posts, I will review some of the recent brain-related research related to religious belief.Religious belief and religious affiliation run in families. This effect is not surprising as parents influence their children's type of religious experience during development.However, there is increasing evidence that adult religious belief and behavior is also influenced by genetic factors independent of family environment experience.Twin studies represent a powerful research model to tea........ Read more »

  • March 27, 2014
  • 01:51 PM

Is Insomnia Relief Just a Mouse Click Away?

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Cognitive behavioral treatment of insomnia (CBT-I) is increasingly recognized as an important treatment option.However, in some regions of the U.S. and the world, access to this type of therapy is limited and may be cost prohibitive.A recent review of the diagnosis and treatment of insomnia noted the promise of internet-based CBT-I. The promise of internet-based CBT-I is based on several randomized controlled trials.Ritterband and colleagues published a study 44 subjects randomize........ Read more »

Buysse DJ. (2013) Insomnia. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association, 309(7), 706-16. PMID: 23423416  

Ritterband LM, Thorndike FP, Gonder-Frederick LA, Magee JC, Bailey ET, Saylor DK, & Morin CM. (2009) Efficacy of an Internet-based behavioral intervention for adults with insomnia. Archives of general psychiatry, 66(7), 692-8. PMID: 19581560  

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