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  • October 9, 2015
  • 11:26 PM

Pain is in the brain

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Chronic pain results from disease or trauma to the nervous system. Damaged nerve fibres with heightened responses to normal stimuli send incorrect messages to pain centres in the brain. This phenomenon, called “peripheral and central sensitization” is one of the key mechanisms involved in the condition which touches people with diabetes, cancer, and those suffering from multiple sclerosis, among others.... Read more »

  • October 9, 2015
  • 06:41 AM

The neuroscience of traumatic brain injury

by neurosci in Neuroscientifically Challenged

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as 1.7 million people in the United States experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year, over 15% of which are thought to be sports-related. Despite the relatively high prevalence of these injuries, however, it seems we are just beginning to appreciate the true extent of the effects they can have on the brain. Awareness of previously unrecognized consequences to TBI and repeated TBI--along with the realization that........ Read more »

  • October 9, 2015
  • 05:31 AM

The Poor, Unhappy, Chain-smoking Brain

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A thought-provoking new paper from Oxford neuroscientists Stephen Smith and colleagues reports a correlation between a certain pattern of brain activity and, well, a great many things.

The researchers took 461 resting state fMRI scans from the open Human Connectome Project (HCP) database. Associated with each scan is a set of 'meta-data' about the volunteer who had the scan. These 158 variables (listed here) cover everything from age and gender, to mental health status, income, and 'times use... Read more »

Smith SM, Nichols TE, Vidaurre D, Winkler AM, Behrens TE, Glasser MF, Ugurbil K, Barch DM, Van Essen DC, & Miller KL. (2015) A positive-negative mode of population covariation links brain connectivity, demographics and behavior. Nature Neuroscience. PMID: 26414616  

  • October 8, 2015
  • 01:21 PM

Sex change hormonal treatments alter brain chemistry

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Hormonal treatments administered as part of the procedures for sex reassignment have well-known and well-documented effects on the secondary sexual characteristics of the adult body, shifting a recipient’s physical appearance to that of the opposite sex. New research indicates that these hormonal treatments also alter brain chemistry.... Read more »

Kranz, G., Wadsak, W., Kaufmann, U., Savli, M., Baldinger, P., Gryglewski, G., Haeusler, D., Spies, M., Mitterhauser, M., Kasper, S.... (2015) High-Dose Testosterone Treatment Increases Serotonin Transporter Binding in Transgender People. Biological Psychiatry, 78(8), 525-533. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.09.010  

  • October 8, 2015
  • 12:06 PM

Behold, The Blue Brain

by neuroecology in Neuroecology

The Blue Brain project releases their first major paper today and boy, it’s a doozy. Including supplements, it’s over 100 pages long, including 40 figures and 6 tables. In order to properly understand everything in the paper, you have to go back … Continue reading →... Read more »

Markram et al. (2015) Reconstruction and Simulation of Neocortical Microcircuitry. Cell. info:/

  • October 8, 2015
  • 11:36 AM

Brain Reward and Anabolic Steroids

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Pine Cone and Peacocks from Vatican MuseumTestosterone displays effects on brain function in both males and females.Emanuela Mhillaj and colleagues recently published a nice summary of what is currently known about the effects of anabolic-androgen steroids (AAS) on the brain.Their review highlighted the potential for AAS to modulate brain reward function and potentially lead to a drug dependence type of abuse pattern.Here are some of my notes on their discussion of AAS and the brain reward syste........ Read more »

Mhillaj E, Morgese MG, Tucci P, Bove M, Schiavone S, & Trabace L. (2015) Effects of anabolic-androgens on brain reward function. Frontiers in neuroscience, 295. PMID: 26379484  

Yates WR, Perry PJ, & Andersen KH. (1990) Illicit anabolic steroid use: a controlled personality study. Acta psychiatrica Scandinavica, 81(6), 548-50. PMID: 2378247  

  • October 7, 2015
  • 10:53 AM

Leading Causes of Early Death in U.S. 1990-2010

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

The manuscript in this post is two years old but I thought it was worthy of comment.The Global Burden of Disease study seeks to provide an estimate of the relative contribution of a variety of medical disorders on disability and death.I have summarized data with an original chart with data abstracted on the leading causes of early death in the U.S. This is provided by the chart in numbers (x1000). The most recent estimate rates heart disease as the continuing cause of years of life lost (2010 es........ Read more »

Murray CJ, Atkinson C, Bhalla K, Birbeck G, Burstein R, Chou D, Dellavalle R, Danaei G, Ezzati M, Fahimi A.... (2013) The state of US health, 1990-2010: burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors. JAMA, 310(6), 591-608. PMID: 23842577  

  • October 6, 2015
  • 01:51 PM

American placebo – An increase in the placebo response, but only in America?

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A new study finds that rising placebo responses may play a part in the increasingly high failure rate for clinical trials of drugs designed to control chronic pain caused by nerve damage. Surprisingly, however, the analysis of clinical trials conducted since 1990 found that the increase in placebo responses occurred only in trials conducted wholly in the U.S.; trials conducted in Europe or Asia showed no changes in placebo responses over that period.... Read more »

  • October 6, 2015
  • 11:22 AM

Do Baseball Players Live Longer?

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

The Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs begin today. I did a PubMed search for recent research related to baseball.One interesting abstract examined the body of research related to elite athletes and longevity.This review article examined 54 peer-reviewed manuscripts that addressed the mortality and longevity of elite athletes. Sixteen of these studies examined longevity in MLB players.I will summarize some of the conclusions from this review.MLB players tended to have longer lifespan than cont........ Read more »

  • October 5, 2015
  • 06:48 PM

Gut bacteria population, diversity linked to anorexia nervosa

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers at the UNC School of Medicine found that people with anorexia nervosa have very different microbial communities residing inside their guts compared to healthy individuals and that this bacterial imbalance is associated with some of the psychological symptoms related to the eating disorder.... Read more »

Kleiman, S., Watson, H., Bulik-Sullivan, E., Huh, E., Tarantino, L., Bulik, C., & Carroll, I. (2015) The Intestinal Microbiota in Acute Anorexia Nervosa and During Renourishment. Psychosomatic Medicine, 1. DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000247  

  • October 4, 2015
  • 01:39 PM

Brain networking: behind the cognitive control of thoughts

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The human brain does not come with an operating manual. However, a group of scientists have developed a way to convert structural brain imaging techniques into “wiring diagrams” of connections between brain regions. Three researchers from UCSB’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences — Michael Miller, Scott Grafton and Matt Cieslak — used the structure of neural networks to reveal the fundamental rules that govern which parts of the brain are most able to exert cognitive control ........ Read more »

Gu, S., Pasqualetti, F., Cieslak, M., Telesford, Q., Yu, A., Kahn, A., Medaglia, J., Vettel, J., Miller, M., Grafton, S.... (2015) Controllability of structural brain networks. Nature Communications, 8414. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9414  

  • October 2, 2015
  • 07:47 PM

High-fructose diet slows recovery from brain injury

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Well bad news for those of us who have a sweet tooth, a diet high in processed fructose sabotages rat brains’ ability to heal after head trauma, UCLA neuroscientists report. While this doesn’t necessarily translate to humans quite yet, it should still raise a few eyebrows given the results from the study.... Read more »

Rahul Agrawal, Emily Noble1, Laurent Vergnes, Zhe Ying1, Karen Reue, & Fernando Gomez-Pinilla. (2015) Dietary fructose aggravates the pathobiology of traumatic brain injury by influencing energy homeostasis and plasticity. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow . info:/10.1177/0271678X15606719

  • October 2, 2015
  • 10:41 AM

Academic Performance in Adolescents: Behavioral Correlates

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Galileo Bust in Galileo Museum, Florence (wryates photo)There is a significant level of interest in the best behavioral activity balance in adolescents.Adolescents currently live in an environment of expanding opportunities for spending time watching TV, surfing the internet and playing video games.Understanding the best balance of study, exercise and time in front of a screen is an important topic.Kristen Corder and colleagues recently examined adolescent behavioral activity patterns and perfor........ Read more »

  • October 1, 2015
  • 02:41 PM

Coincidence or conspiracy? Studies investigate conspiracist thinking

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

In pop culture, conspiracy believers — like FBI agent Fox Mulder on The X Files or professor Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code — tend to reject the notion of coincidence or chance; even the most random-seeming events are thought to result from some sort of intention or design. And researchers have suggested that such a bias against randomness may explain real-world conspiracy beliefs. But new research from psychological scientists shows no evidence for a link between conspiracist thinking ........ Read more »

  • September 30, 2015
  • 10:09 PM

Scientists identify key receptor as potential target for treatment of autism

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have uncovered a significant–and potentially treatable–relationship between a chemical that helps transmit signals in the brain and genetic mutations present in a subset of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The new research findings focus on the role that the neurotransmitter serotonin plays in the development of social behavior.... Read more »

  • September 30, 2015
  • 11:29 AM

iPad Intervention Boosts Cognition in Schizophrenia

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

In a previous post, I summarized some of the current thinking on the use of cognitive enhancement drugs in Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, ADHD and schizophrenia.This summary was based on a review by Gabe Howard and colleagues. The review also included a summary of a clinical trial using an iPad cognitive training app for the treatment of cognition in schizophrenia.Here are the key elements of the study and the results.Study sample: 22 adults with a diagnosis of DSM-5 schizophrenia, sc........ Read more »

Sahakian BJ, Bruhl AB, Cook J, Killikelly C, Savulich G, Piercy T, Hafizi S, Perez J, Fernandez-Egea E, Suckling J.... (2015) The impact of neuroscience on society: cognitive enhancement in neuropsychiatric disorders and in healthy people. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 370(1677). PMID: 26240429  

  • September 30, 2015
  • 08:00 AM

Going Up That Hill: Cardiovascular Health and Hiking in Older Adults

by Rodney Steadman in Gravity's Pull

Researchers from Europe investigated the cardiovascular effects of a single episode of physical activity (hiking uphill) in older adults.... Read more »

Button K, Ioannidis J, Mokrysz C, Nosek B, Flint J, Robinson E, & Munafò M. (2013) Power failure: why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 14(5), 365-376. DOI: 10.1038/nrn3475  

Gatterer H, Raab C, Pramsohler S, Faulhaber M, Burtscher M, & Netzer N. (2014) Effect of weekly hiking on cardiovascular risk factors in the elderly. Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie, 48(2), 150-153. DOI: 10.1007/s00391-014-0622-0  

  • September 29, 2015
  • 02:37 PM

Scientists to bypass brain damage by re-encoding memories

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Researchers at USC and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have developed a brain prosthesis that is designed to help individuals suffering from memory loss. The prosthesis, which includes a small array of electrodes implanted into the brain, has performed well in laboratory testing in animals and is currently being evaluated in human patients.... Read more »

  • September 29, 2015
  • 11:04 AM

Cognitive Enhancers in Neuroscience Medicine

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

Neuropsychiatric disorders cause impairment via multiple pathways. One pathway to impairment is cognitive impairment via attention problems, cognitive slowing and memory disruption.Barbara Sahakian and colleagues recently published an interesting manuscript examining the issue of cognitive enhancement.Their review begins by summarizing some of the research related to cognitive enhancement in four neuropsychiatric syndromes. I will summarize their main points by specific disorder.Alzheimer's Dise........ Read more »

Sahakian BJ, Bruhl AB, Cook J, Killikelly C, Savulich G, Piercy T, Hafizi S, Perez J, Fernandez-Egea E, Suckling J.... (2015) The impact of neuroscience on society: cognitive enhancement in neuropsychiatric disorders and in healthy people. Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 370(1677). PMID: 26240429  

  • September 28, 2015
  • 07:22 PM

Connecting Alzheimer’s disease and the immune system

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

The role of the immune system in Alzheimer’s disease is a hot topic, but exactly how the two are connected and what interventions could help lower risk remain a mystery. In a new study, researchers in the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) investigate how genetic risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease may influence a key type of immune cell. Their results lay the groundwork for designing better therapeutic strategies and better prediction tools fo........ Read more »

Chan, G., White, C., Winn, P., Cimpean, M., Replogle, J., Glick, L., Cuerdon, N., Ryan, K., Johnson, K., Schneider, J.... (2015) CD33 modulates TREM2: convergence of Alzheimer loci. Nature Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1038/nn.4126  

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