A community for people who want to remain as healthy as possible as we age.

More Information and Recent Research on the Brain and Behavior

(University of California, Los Angeles) New research conducted by UCLA psychiatrists helps explain how placebos can have … a powerful effect on depression. "In short," said Andrew Leuchter, the study's first author…, "if you think a pill is going to work, it probably will."… "These results suggest a unique role for people's expectations about their medication in engendering a placebo response," Leuchter said. "Higher expectations of medication effectiveness predicted an improvement in placebo-treated subjects, and it's important to note that people's expectations about how effective a medication may be were already formed before they entered the trial."
Community: As I’ve been saying, the placebo effect is very powerful. The more we know about it, the better chance we have of harnessing it to help people get and stay healthy. And the Chicago Tribune has this, “Spontaneous cancer remission rare, but worth study.”
(Baylor University) People struggling with mental illness often turn to pastors for help, but seminaries do very little to train ministers how to recognize serious psychological distress and when to refer someone to a doctor or psychologist, according to a Baylor University study. As a result, "many people in congregations continue to suffer under well-meaning pastors who primarily tell them to pray harder or confess sin in relation to mental health problems," said lead researcher Matthew S. Stanford, Ph.D.
(The Conversation) There is no "gene for intelligence" – instead, cognitive performance is likely to be influenced by thousands of genes, each having a small effect. While the individual effect of the genetic variants are extremely small, their identification may lead to knowledge of the biological pathways involved in cognitive performance and cognitive ageing. This insight may eventually lead us into a better understanding of the mechanism involves in memory loss and dementia.
(University of Sydney) The gray matter volume of a region in the right posterior parietal cortex is significantly predictive of individual risk attitudes, new research has found.
(UPI) A new study shows that the brain can even perform seemingly complex processes -- like classifying a word as real or nonsense -- while asleep.
(USA Today) The cerebellum is a pretty important part of the brain — it plays a key role in walking, among other movements — so doctors in China were more than a little surprised when a 24-year-old patient who lives a relatively normal life turned out not to have one… This case "shows that … [w]hen a person is born with an abnormality ... the rest of the brain tries to reconnect and to compensate for that loss or absence."
More . . .
Brain Inflammation Dramatically Disrupts Memory Retrieval Networks, Study Finds
(Science Daily) Brain inflammation can rapidly disrupt our ability to retrieve complex memories of similar but distinct experiences, according to scientists. The study specifically identifies how immune system signaling molecules, called cytokines, impair communication among neurons in the hippocampus, an area of the brain critical for discrimination memory. The findings offer insight into why cognitive deficits occurs in people undergoing chemotherapy and those with autoimmune or neurodegenerative diseases.
(California Institute of Technology) Humans with autism often show a reduced frequency of social interactions and an increased tendency to engage in repetitive solitary behaviors. Autism has also been linked to dysfunction of the amygdala, a brain structure involved in processing emotions. Now Caltech researchers have discovered antagonistic neuron populations in the mouse amygdala that control whether the animal engages in social behaviors or asocial repetitive self-grooming. This discovery may have implications for understanding neural circuit dysfunctions that underlie autism in humans.
(UPI) National Football League players have a nearly 30 percent chance of developing Alzheimer's or dementia, according to new report.
(University of Iowa) A new class of compounds has now been shown to protect brain cells from the type of damage caused by blast-mediated traumatic brain injury (TBI). Mice that were treated with these compounds 24-36 hours after experiencing TBI from a blast injury were protected from the harmful effects of TBI, including problems with learning, memory, and movement.
Community: Once again, torturing mice. Makes me shudder.
(Shaili Jain, M.D., Psychology Today) Can social media bolster the social networks of post-disaster survivors and, in turn, prevent the negative mental health consequences of exposure to disaster?
(PsychCentral.com) Neurons in schizophrenia patients secrete greater amounts of dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine — three neurotransmitters commonly linked to a range of psychiatric disorders. The findings … [confirm and enhance] the theory of a chemical basis for schizophrenia. “The study provides new insights into neurotransmitter mechanisms in schizophrenia that can lead to new drug targets and therapeutics,” said senior author Vivian Hook, Ph.D.
(Science Daily) Using a zebrafish model of a human genetic disease called neurofibromatosis, researchers have found that the learning and memory components of the disorder are distinct features that will likely need different treatment approaches.


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