Brain Posts

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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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  • March 25, 2014
  • 12:08 PM

When Sleeping Pills Don't Work

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Hypnotics or sleeping pills typically are effective and indicated as an option for the short-term relief of transient insomnia.However, a minority of individuals report persistent insomnia and lack of sleep despite use of a hypnotic.When drugs that typically treat a disorder fail to work, it is important to reconsider the accuracy of the diagnosis.Yun Li and colleagues from China recently published a case report illustrating this issue in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.They reported on a........ Read more »

Li Y, Li Z, Lei F, Du L, & Tang X. (2013) Persistent insomnia despite long-term nightly use of sleeping pills. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 9(8), 834-6. PMID: 23946716  

  • March 19, 2014
  • 01:01 PM

Naptime Stories Boost Word Learning in Children

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Sleep is known to have a beneficial effect on the consolidation of memory.There have been few studies to demonstrate how this effect my be utilized.Williams and Horst recently tested the effect of storybook reading, sleep and word learning in group of 3 year old children.Their study recently published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology randomized 48 three year old children into four groups:Group one: children were read the same story before a napsGroup two: children were read different stori........ Read more »

  • March 18, 2014
  • 12:46 PM

Short Sleep Duration in Children with Autism

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Parents of children with autism and autism spectrum disorder commonly report sleep problems in their child.However, there have been few prospective systematic studies of sleep in this disorder.Joanna Humphreys from Canada and colleagues from England recently published an important manuscript addressing this topic.They used data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. This data set includes prospective data collected from a cohort of over 14,000 children born between April 1991 ........ Read more »

Humphreys JS, Gringras P, Blair PS, Scott N, Henderson J, Fleming PJ, & Emond AM. (2014) Sleep patterns in children with autistic spectrum disorders: a prospective cohort study. Archives of disease in childhood, 99(2), 114-8. PMID: 24061777  

  • March 17, 2014
  • 12:10 PM

Brain Gray Matter Volumes in Primary Insomnia

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Chronic primary insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by delayed sleep onset, reduced total sleep duration and fatigue on morning awakening.In addition, by definition chronic primary insomnia cannot be due to a primary medical or psychiatric disorder. Some patients with chronic primary insomnia also demonstrate subjective and objective impairment in concentration and memory.Eun Yeon Joo and colleagues from South Korea recently published an analysis of brain structural features in 27 su........ Read more »

Joo EY, Noh HJ, Kim JS, Koo DL, Kim D, Hwang KJ, Kim JY, Kim ST, Kim MR, & Hong SB. (2013) Brain Gray Matter Deficits in Patients with Chronic Primary Insomnia. Sleep, 36(7), 999-1007. PMID: 23814336  

  • March 13, 2014
  • 01:11 PM

Outcome in REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

This is the second in series of posts examining recent research in sleep and the brain.Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder is a complex sleep problem seen primarily in older adults.REM, or dream sleep, typically occurs with atonia.  Atonia is the temporary state of muscle paralysis.  This prohibits muscular activity or acting out during dream states.With REM sleep behavior disorder, atonia is not present with REM sleep resulting in motor restlessness, agitation and occasio........ Read more »

Iranzo A, Fernández-Arcos A, Tolosa E, Serradell M, Molinuevo JL, Valldeoriola F, Gelpi E, Vilaseca I, Sánchez-Valle R, Lladó A.... (2014) Neurodegenerative Disorder Risk in Idiopathic REM Sleep Behavior Disorder: Study in 174 Patients. PloS one, 9(2). PMID: 24587002  

  • March 11, 2014
  • 12:09 PM

Depression-related Sleep Abnormalities Vary By Age

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

This month I will be focusing on sleep and the brain. The importance of sleep to normal and abnormal brain functioning is receiving increased research attention.A variety of sleep abnormalities have been described in major depression and bipolar affective disorder. Depression has been linked to delayed sleep onset, reduced time to first rapid eye movement (REM) period, reduced sleep efficiency and disruption of the circadian rhythm of sleep.Sleep physiology also varies throughout the lifesp........ Read more »

Robillard, R., Naismith, S., Smith, K., Rogers, N., White, D., Terpening, Z., Ip, T., Hermens, D., Whitwell, B., Scott, E.... (2014) Sleep-Wake Cycle in Young and Older Persons with a Lifetime History of Mood Disorders. PLoS ONE, 9(2). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087763  

  • March 3, 2014
  • 10:14 AM

Behavioral Weight-Loss in Serious Mental Illness

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are at higher risk for obesity.This risk may be related to physical inactivity, diet or the weight gain commonly associated with psychotropic drug use.Few clinical trials for weight loss have targeted individuals with serious mental illness (SMI). This population may pose specific challenges in recruitment, adherence and outcome.Gail Daumit and colleagues recently published a randomized clinical trial of behavioral weight loss in a cohort with S........ Read more »

Daumit GL, Dickerson FB, Wang NY, Dalcin A, Jerome GJ, Anderson CA, Young DR, Frick KD, Yu A, Gennusa JV 3rd.... (2013) A behavioral weight-loss intervention in persons with serious mental illness. The New England journal of medicine, 368(17), 1594-602. PMID: 23517118  

  • February 24, 2014
  • 09:17 AM

Fish Consumption and Brain Health

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

I have previously examined outcomes for MRI changes known as brain white matter hyperintensities (WMHI).WMHIs are noted in a minority of adults and are not completely understood. The changes are considered subclinical in nature, meaning  they do not reach a threshold for medical significance.However, these subclinical WMHI are linked to higher rates of premature cognitive decline. Absence of WMHI is seen by some as one marker of brain health.Jyrki Virtanen and colleagues from Finl........ Read more »

  • February 20, 2014
  • 10:16 AM

Exercise as a Treatment Following Stroke

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Exercise appears to be therapeutic in treatment of a variety of medical conditions.However, the relative magnitude of the effect of exercise is less well documented. Comparing the magnitude of the therapeutic effect of exercise with that of common drug interventions can be quite informative.Such comparisons provide insight into the relative value of exercise and the role of exercise in comprehensive treatment planning.Huseyin Naci and John Ioannidis recently published a study of the compara........ Read more »

  • February 17, 2014
  • 09:02 AM

Acute Brain Response to Exercise in Healthy Young Adults

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

This month I have been reviewing recent research on the effects of exercise on the brain.Exercise appears to have both acute and chronic effects on brain physiology and function. Newer imaging techniques provide sensitive tools to study exercise and the brain.Bradley Macintosh and colleagues recently paired an aerobic exercise task with measurements of cerebral blood flow and blood oxygen utilization.The key elements of the design of their experiment included the following elements:Subjects........ Read more »

  • February 13, 2014
  • 08:47 AM

Weight Training for Type 2 Diabetes Prevention in Women

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

This is the fifth in a series of articles examining research findings on exercise and the brain.Type 2 diabetes and obesity can contribute to risk for early cognitive decline and dementia.Strategies that reduce risk of Type 2 diabetes may indirectly contribute to brain health.Aerobic exercise and weight loss are known to reduce Type 2 diabetes risk.However, the role of weight training on diabetes risk is less clear.A recent study has shed some light on the potential role for weight training........ Read more »

  • February 11, 2014
  • 09:33 AM

Exercise and a Healthy Hippocampus in Middle Age

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

The beneficial effects of exercise on the brain has received significant research attention in children and older adults.Fewer research studies target young and middle aged adults.William Killgore and colleagues recently addressed this population in a study published in Scientific Reports.They preformed a cross-sectional correlation study of brain structure and self-reported exercise habits.Sixty one men and women between the ages of 18 and 45 years of age were recruited for the study.Subjects w........ Read more »

  • February 5, 2014
  • 11:18 AM

Exercise Trial for Cognitive Impairment in Older Adults

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Current drug treatments for cognitive impairment and dementia show limited effectiveness.Alternative adjunctive treatments in those with early cognitive impairment are needed.In a previous post, I outlined a review of what we know about exercise and cognition in elderly populations.An additional study is relevant to this topic and important.Takao Suzuki and colleagues in Japan conducted a randomized controlled trial of multicomponent exercise in older adults with evidence of mild cognitive impai........ Read more »

  • February 3, 2014
  • 11:12 AM

Aging, Exercise and Brain Plasticity

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Over the next month, I will be focusing on the effects of exercise on the brain.This topic is important for several reasons. Exercise appears to play a preventive role in the effects of brain aging in normal adults.Exercise may aid in the slowing of progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.Exercise is a promising adjunct to treatment of a variety of other brain disorders including depression and anxiety disorder.For this post, I want to highlight wh........ Read more »

Erickson KI, Gildengers AG, & Butters MA. (2013) Physical activity and brain plasticity in late adulthood. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 15(1), 99-108. PMID: 23576893  

  • January 27, 2014
  • 09:09 AM

Vagal Nerve Blockade in Type 2 Diabetes Clinical Trial

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

One of the potential advances in diabetes management is modulation of the vagus nerve.The vagus nerve appears to influence a variety of physiological factors related to calorie intake, metabolism and blood glucose control.Severing the vagus nerve (vagotomy) results in weight loss and increased satiety but can cause gastric retention.An implantable device that can intermittently block vagal nerves may provide favorable metabolic modulation without the adverse effects of vagotomy.An initial study ........ Read more »

Shikora S, Toouli J, Herrera MF, Kulseng B, Zulewski H, Brancatisano R, Kow L, Pantoja JP, Johnsen G, Brancatisano A.... (2013) Vagal blocking improves glycemic control and elevated blood pressure in obese subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Journal of obesity, 245683. PMID: 23984050  

  • January 20, 2014
  • 08:51 AM

Alternate Day Fasting for Weight Loss and Cardioprotection

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

I have previously commented on the alternate day fasting diet for weight loss. Studies have generally supported this strategy.  Alternate day fasting restricts caloric intake to an evening meal of 25% of caloric needs every other day.On non-fasting days, dieters are encouraged to eat a typical diet without restriction.A recent randomized controlled trial of alternate day fasting has been published in Nutrition Journal.Krista Varady and colleagues from the University of Illinois designe........ Read more »

  • January 14, 2014
  • 10:20 AM

Weight Loss Drug Combo Improves Sleep Apnea

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Obesity is a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea. Use of a positive airway pressure (PAP) device is the standard treatment for sleep apnea.However, PAP commonly is only moderately effective in reducing sleep disruption and day time fatigue. A significant number of individuals fail to use their PAP devices due to inconvenience or mask problems.Weight loss alone can improve sleep in those developing sleep apnea. Winslow and colleagues at the Kentucky Research conducted a randomi........ Read more »

  • January 13, 2014
  • 10:48 AM

Low Carb-Mediterranean Diet Combo Sheds Fat in Trial

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

In keeping with this month's theme of obesity, the brain and weight loss I want to look at some clinical trial research.Brain Posts does not endorse any type of diet or weight loss pills or substances. Personal dietary and obesity medication use choices need to be made with a qualified health professional.However, I do post some dietary research that I find interesting. I have previously posted summaries of research related to the Mediterranean diet and beneficial cognitive and cardiovascular ef........ Read more »

  • January 9, 2014
  • 11:58 AM

How the Body Blocks Effect of Exercise After Weight-Loss

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Weight loss with aerobic physical activity does not correspond to a one-to-one relationship.For example if you started to burn 500 calories per day on a seven day per week basis, you might expect to lose one pound per week (3500 calories = one pound).But this is not the case. In a previous post, weight loss does occur with starting a physical exercise program but may be only 10-20% efficient over time.One way the body blocks exercise-induced weight loss is via adjustment in what is known as the ........ Read more »

  • January 8, 2014
  • 11:48 AM

Vigorous Exercise and Weight Loss

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Exercise alone without dieting appears to have a limited effect on weight loss.However, even small amounts of weight loss can lead to improved health and reduction of risk for diabetes and other obesity-related disorders.A recent study examined the effect of a supervised aerobic exercise activity on weight loss.Joseph Donnelly along with colleagues from the University of Kansas recently published their results on weight with exercise.This trial comes from the study known as the Midwest Exercise ........ Read more »

Donnelly JE, Honas JJ, Smith BK, Mayo MS, Gibson CA, Sullivan DK, Lee J, Herrmann SD, Lambourne K, & Washburn RA. (2013) Aerobic exercise alone results in clinically significant weight loss for men and women: midwest exercise trial 2. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 21(3). PMID: 23592678  

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