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April 28, 2009, 5:17 AM CT

Psychological effects of inadequate sleep

Psychological effects of inadequate sleep
A recent Finnish study suggests that children's short sleep duration even without sleeping difficulties increases the risk for behavioral symptoms of ADHD.

During the recent decades, sleep duration has decreased in a number of countries; in the United States a third of children are estimated to suffer from inadequate sleep. It has been hypothesised that sleep deprivation may manifest in children as behavioral symptoms rather than as tiredness, but only few studies have investigated this hypothesis.

The scientists at the University of Helsinki and National Institute of Health and Welfare, Finland, examined whether decreased sleep leads to behavioral problems similar to those exhibited by children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

280 healthy children (146 girls and 134 boys) took part in the study.

The scientists tracked the children's sleep using parental reporting as well as actigraphs, or devices worn on the wrist to monitor sleep.

The children whose average sleep duration as measured by actigraphs was shorter than 7.7 hours had a higher hyperactivity and impulsivity score and a higher ADHD total score, but similar inattention score than those sleeping for a longer time. In multivariate statistical models, short sleep duration remained a statistically significant predictor of hyperactivity and impulsivity, and sleeping difficulties were linked to hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. There were no significant interactions between short sleep and sleeping difficulties.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 24, 2009, 5:05 AM CT

How cigarettes calm you down

How cigarettes calm you down
The calming neurological effects of nicotine have been demonstrated in a group of non-smokers during anger provocation. Scientists writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Behavioral and Brain Functions suggest that nicotine may alter the activity of brain areas that are involved in the inhibition of negative emotions such as anger.

Jean Gehricke led a team of scientists from the University of California who studied the effect of nicotine patches on the subjects' tendency to retaliate in response to anger provocation. The subjects played a computer game and could see a video screen of another player who they thought to betheir opponent, although, in fact, they were playing alone. After each round, the victor could give his opponent a burst of unpleasant noise at a duration and volume set by the winner. In some of the subjects, nicotine was linked to a reduced tendency to retaliate, even after provocation by the 'opponent'.

As per Gehricke, "Participants who showed nicotine-induced changes in anger task performance also showed changes in brain metabolism. Nicotine-induced reductions in length of retaliation were linked to changes in brain metabolism in response to nicotine in brain areas responsible for orienting, planning and processing of emotional stimuli".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 22, 2009, 5:16 AM CT

Think memory worsens with age?

Think memory worsens with age?
Thinking your memory will get worse as you get older may actually be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Scientists at North Carolina State University have observed that senior citizens who think older people should perform poorly on tests of memory actually score much worse than seniors who do not buy in to negative stereotypes about aging and memory loss.

As per a research findings published earlier this month, psychology professor Dr. Tom Hess and a team of scientists from NC State show that elderly adults' ability to remember suffers when negative stereotypes are "activated" in a given situation. "For example, elderly adults will perform more poorly on a memory test if they are told that older folks do poorly on that particular type of memory test," Hess says. Memory also suffers if senior citizens believe they are being "stigmatized," meaning that others are looking down on them because of their age.

"Such situations appears to be a part of elderly adults' everyday experience," Hess says, "such as being concerned about what others think of them at work having a negative effect on their performance and thus potentially reinforcing the negative stereotypes." However, Hess adds, "The positive flip side of this is that those who do not feel stigmatized, or those in situations where more positive views of aging are activated, exhibit significantly higher levels of memory performance." In other words, if you are confident that aging will not ravage your memory, you are more likely to perform well on memory-related tasks.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 21, 2009, 5:28 AM CT

We're all pot heads deep inside

We're all pot heads deep inside
U.S. and Brazilian researchers have just proven that one of Bob Dylan's most famous lines"everybody must get stoned" is correct. That's because they've discovered that the brain manufactures proteins that act like marijuana at specific receptors in the brain itself. This discovery, published online in The FASEB Journal (http://www.fasebj.org), may lead to new marijuana-like drugs for managing pain, stimulating appetite, and preventing marijuana abuse.

"Ideally, this development will lead to drugs that bind to and activate the THC receptor, but are devoid of the side effects that limit the usefulness of marijuana," said Lakshmi A. Devi of the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York and one of the senior scientists involved in the study. "It would be helpful to have a drug that activated or blocked the THC receptor, and our findings raise the possibility that this will lead to effective drugs with fewer side effects".

Researchers made their discovery by first extracting several small proteins, called peptides, from the brains of mice and determining their amino acid sequence. The extracted proteins were then compared with another peptide previously known to bind to, but not activate, the receptor (THC) affected by marijuana. Out of the extracted proteins, several not only bound to the brain's THC receptors, but activated them as well.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 21, 2009, 5:16 AM CT

How does lithium work in bipolar disease?

How does lithium work in bipolar disease?
Lithium has been established for more than 50 years as one of the most effective therapys for bipolar mood disorder.

However, researchers have never been entirely sure exactly how it operates in the human brain.

Now, new research from Cardiff University researchers suggests a mechanism for how Lithium works, opening the door for potentially more effective therapys.

Laboratory tests on cells have shown that Lithium affects a molecule called PIP3 that is important in controlling brain cell signalling. Lithium suppresses the production of inositol, a simple sugar from which PIP3 is made.

Lithium inhibits inositol monophosphatase (IMPase) an enzyme mandatory for making inositol. Importantly, this research shows that increasing the amount of IMPase causes higher levels of PIP3. This can then be reduced by lithium therapy.

High levels of IMPA2, a gene for a variant of IMPase, has previously been associated with bipolar mood disorder. This new result suggests that Lithium could counteract the changes in IMPA2.

Professor Adrian Harwood of Cardiff School of Biosciences, who led the research, said: "We still cannot say definitively how Lithium can help stabilise bipolar disorder. However, our research does suggest a possible pathway for its operation. By better understanding Lithium, we can learn about the genetics of bipolar disorder and develop more potent and selective drugs.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 15, 2009, 5:12 AM CT

Sleeplessness leads to increased cancer pain

Sleeplessness leads to increased cancer pain
A study in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine suggests that sleep problems lead to increased pain and fatigue in cancer patients. The results indicate that interventions aimed at trouble sleeping would be expected to improve both pain and fatigue in this patient population.

Results show that more than half the sample reported having trouble sleeping, with 26 percent reporting moderate or severe trouble sleeping. Compared with patients who reported no trouble sleeping, patients with moderate to severe trouble sleeping reported significantly more fatigue, pain and depressed mood. Using structural equation modeling analysis to evaluate causal relations and directions of effect, the best-fitting model indicates that trouble sleeping led to increased ratings of pain.

As per the authors, the relationship between pain and sleep often has been assumed to be reciprocal. In the present study, however, a model of reciprocal causation could not be fit to the data, and models in which pain caused trouble sleeping did not fit as well as the model in which trouble sleeping caused pain.

"We believed we would find a bi-directional relationship between insomnia and pain, but instead observed that trouble sleeping was more likely a cause, rather than a consequence, of pain in patients with cancer," said main author Edward J. Stepanski, chief operational officer at the Accelerated Community Oncology Research Network in Memphis, Tenn.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 15, 2009, 5:10 AM CT

Melatonin for sleep problems in children with autism

Melatonin for sleep problems in children with autism
Westchester, Ill. - A study in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine determined that over-the-counter melatonin medicine can shorted the length of time it takes for children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), Fragile X Syndrome (FXS), or both to fall asleep at the beginning of the night.

Results of the study indicated that children who received over-the-counter melatonin therapys experienced significant improvements in total night sleep durations, sleep latency times, and sleep-onset times. Mean sleep duration was longer on melatonin than placebo by 21 minutes, sleep-onset latency was shorter by 28 minutes and sleep-onset time was earlier by 42 minutes.

As per the senior author, Beth L. Goodlin-Jones, PhD of the M.I.N.D Institute at the University of California Davis Health System in Sacramento, Calif., therapy with over-the-counter melatonin supplements benefits children of all ages, which helps alleviate some of the additional stress that parents of special-needs children experience.

"Sleep onset problems at the beginning of the night are very troublesome for children and their families," said Goodlin-Jones. "Sometimes children may take one to two hours to fall asleep and often they disrupt the household during this time."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 8, 2009, 5:19 AM CT

Love at first sight?

Love at first sight?
Leave it to geneticists to answer a question that haccording toplexed humanity since the dawn of time: does love at first sight truly exist? As per a research studyreported in the April 2009 issue of the journal GENETICS (http://www.genetics.org), a team of researchers from the United States and Australia discovered that at the genetic level, some males and females are more compatible than others, and that this compatibility plays an important role in mate selection, mating outcomes, and future reproductive behaviors. In experiments involving fruit flies, the scientists observed that before mating, females experience what amounts to "genetic priming," making them more likely to mate with certain males over others.

"Our research helps to shed light on the complex biochemistry involved in mate selection and reproduction," said Mariana Wolfner, Professor of Developmental Biology at Cornell University and the senior scientist involved in the study. "These findings may lead to ways to curb unwanted insect populations by activating or deactivating genes that play a role in female mating decisions," she added.

To reach their conclusions, researchers mated two different strains of fruit fly females to males either from their own strain or to males from the other strain. They noted the males with which females of each strain tended to mate and then examined whether the females showed differences in behavior soon after mating and in reproduction-related activities, such as how a number of offspring were produced and how a number of sperm were stored. They also examined the females' RNA to compare the genes expressed in females mated to males of different strains. They observed that despite observed differences in mating behaviors and reproduction activities in females mated to different strains of males, there were only negligible mating-dependent differences in gene expression between the groups. This suggests that genetic changes involved in mate choice and reproduction were in place before mating began.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 6, 2009, 9:34 PM CT

You Wear Me Out

You Wear Me Out
Exerting self-control is exhausting. In fact, using self-control in one situation impairs our ability to use self-control in subsequent, even unrelated, situations. What about thinking of other people exerting self-control? Earlier research has shown that imagining actions can cause the same reactions as if we were actually performing them (e.g., simulating eating a disgusting food results in a revolting face, even if no food has been eaten) and psychology experts Joshua M. Ackerman and John A. Bargh from Yale University, along with Noah J. Goldstein and Jenessa R. Shapiro from the University of California, Los Angeles explored what affect thinking about other people's self-control has on our own thoughts and behavior.

Participants were presented with a story about a hungry waiter who was surrounded by delicious food, but was not allowed to sample any, for fear of being fired. Half of the participants simply read the story and the other half were told to imagine themselves in the waiter's shoes. Next, all of the participants were shown images of mid- to high-priced items (e.g., cars and TVs) and were to indicate how much they would pay for them. In a follow-up experiment, some of the participants read the same story and others read a similar story in which the waiter was not hungry and did not have to use self-control. Just as in the first experiment, some of the participants read the story while others imagined themselves as the waiter. All of these volunteers then participated in a word game and a memory task.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 6, 2009, 8:09 PM CT

Stress management improves mood

Stress management improves mood
Brief stress management sessions previous to and immediately after surgery may have both short- and long-term benefit for men undergoing a radical prostatectomy for early-stage prostate cancer, as per research from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The study, in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is the first to examine the benefits of psychosocial intervention for patients with prostate cancer previous to surgery. It observed that men who participated in the sessions experienced less short-term mood disturbance and better long-term quality of life, in comparison to patients who had the procedure but did not have any behavioral intervention.

Most psychosocial interventions in cancer of any type have been studied after patients have completed surgery, explained Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., the study's senior author and professor in M. D. Anderson's Departments of Behavioral Science and General Oncology, and director of the Integrative Medicine Program.

"We know that for men with early-stage prostate cancer, the time when they are making therapy decisions is very stressful," said Cohen. "A radical prostatectomy is not without possible, very personal, consequences, including urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Patients may also be worried about the uncertainty that the surgery will cure their cancer.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Too little evidence exists to recommend or rule out estrogen as a treatment for schizophrenia in women, a new review of studies finds.People diagnosed with schizophrenia suffer distorted perceptions of reality and hallucinations. Today, estrogen is strictly an experimental therapy for the psychotic symptoms associated with the mental illness.

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