Advertisements

We're a little crazy, about science!

Posts tagged “neurochemistry

A microRNA plays role in major depression

mental health

mental health

A tiny RNA appears to play a role in producing major depression, the mental disorder that affects as many as 250 million people a year worldwide. Major depression, formally known as major depressive disorder, or MDD, brings increased risk of suicide and is reported to cause the second-most years of disability after low-back pain.

(more…)

Advertisements

Neural stem cells control their own fate

brain

brain

To date, it has been assumed that the differentiation of stem cells depends on the environment they are embedded in. A research group now describes for the first time a mechanism by which hippocampal neural stem cells regulate their own cell fate via the protein Drosha.

(more…)


The first line of defense? Think Mucus

Mucus -- the first line of defense

By licking a wound it heals faster — this is not simply popular belief, but scientifically proven. Our saliva consists of water and mucus, among other things, and the mucus plays an important role. It stimulates white blood cells to build a good defense against invaders, according to a group of researchers at Lund University in Sweden together with colleagues from Copenhagen and Odense in Denmark.

(more…)


Body fat can send signals to brain, affecting stress response

stress eating

The brain’s effect on other parts of the body has been well established. Now, a group of researchers has found that it’s a two-way street: Body fat can send a signal that affects the way the brain deals with stress and metabolism. While the exact nature of those signals remains a mystery, researchers say simply knowing such a pathway exists and learning more about it could help break a vicious cycle: Stress causes a desire to eat more, which can lead to obesity. And too much extra fat can impair the body’s ability to send a signal to the brain to shut off the stress response.

(more…)


Long-term memories are maintained by prion-like proteins

memories in the brain

memories in the brain

Research from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has uncovered further evidence of a system in the brain that persistently maintains memories for long periods of time. And paradoxically, it works in the same way as mechanisms that cause mad cow disease, kuru, and other degenerative brain diseases.

(more…)


REM sleep critical for young brain development; medication interferes

REM sleep and dreaming

Rapid eye movement or REM sleep actively converts waking experiences into lasting memories and abilities in young brains reports a new study. The finding broadens the understanding of children’s sleep needs and calls into question the increasing use of REM-disrupting medications such as stimulants and antidepressants.

(more…)


New epigenetic mechanism revealed in brain cells

Epigenetics in the brain

For decades, researchers in the genetics field have theorized that the protein spools around which DNA is wound, histones, remain constant in the brain, never changing after development in the womb. Now, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have discovered that histones are steadily replaced in brain cells throughout life – a process which helps to switch genes on and off.

(more…)


Omega-3 supplements and antioxidants may help with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimers

Here’s more evidence that fish oil supplementation and antioxidants might be beneficial for at least some people facing Alzheimer’s disease. A new report describes the findings of a very small study in which people with mild clinical impairment, such as those in the very early stages of the disease, saw clearance of the hallmark amyloid-beta protein and reduced inflammation in neurological tissues. Although the findings involved just 12 patients over the course of 4 to 17 months, the findings suggest further clinical study of this relatively inexpensive and plentiful supplement should be conducted.

(more…)


This is your brain, on video games

Kids playing video games

A new study shows that while video game players (VGPs) exhibit more efficient visual attention abilities, they are also much more likely to use navigation strategies that rely on the brain’s reward system (the caudate nucleus) and not the brain’s spatial memory system (the hippocampus). Past research has shown that people who use caudate nucleus-dependent navigation strategies have decreased grey matter and lower functional brain activity in the hippocampus.

(more…)


(More) bad news for Vets: PTSD linked to accelerated aging

Veterans suffer from PTSD

Vietnam Vet: A Hero’s Welcome
Image credit goes to: Mike Cherim via Getty Images

Before PTSD had a name there was shellshock. It was mysterious and much like today, not everyone showed symptoms so — for the most part — it was written off. In recent years however, public health concerns about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have risen significantly, driven in part by affected military veterans returning home. While this has opened the door for better care for people suffering from PTSD, it has also lead to some startling revelations about the extent of damage. New research that was just released, sad to say, doesn’t bode well for people with PTSD either.

(more…)


Kids with ADHD must squirm to learn

Cats with adhd

For decades, frustrated parents and teachers have barked at fidgety children with ADHD to “Sit still and concentrate!” But new research shows that if you want ADHD kids to learn, you have to let them squirm. The foot-tapping, leg-swinging and chair-scooting movements of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are actually vital to how they remember information and work out complex cognitive tasks.

(more…)


Neuronal disorders and energy metabolism

Neuron energy metabolism
Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90 percent of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth. ATP energy is produced when the mitochondria transfers glucose and oxygen into water and carbon dioxide. How ATP is produced and delivered to intricate neuronal dendrites has been a mystery.
Image credit goes to: Mineko Kengaku, Kyoto University’s Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS)

Scientists in Japan have have discovered how nerve cells adjust to low energy environments during the brain’s growth process. Their study may one day help find treatments for nerve cell damage and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

(more…)