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November 18, 2009, 11:51 PM CT

Activation of immune system in schizophrenia

Activation of immune system in schizophrenia
Goran Engberg
Photo: Bildmakarna
Scientists at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have discovered that patients with recent-onset schizophrenia have higher levels of inflammatory substances in their brains. Their findings offer hope of being able to treat schizophrenia with drugs that affect the immune system.

The causes of schizophrenia are largely unknown, and this hinders the development of effective therapys. One theory is that infections caught early on in life might increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, but to date any direct evidence of this has not been forthcoming.

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have now been able to analyse inflammatory substances in the spinal fluid of patients with schizophrenia, instead of, as in prior studies, in the blood. The results show that patients with recent-onset schizophrenia have raised levels of a signal substance called interleukin-1beta, which can be released in the presence of inflammation. In the healthy control patients, this substance was barely measurable.

"This suggests that the brain's immune defence system is activated in schizophrenia," says Professor Goran Engberg, who led the study. "It now remains to be seen whether there is an underlying infection or whether the immune system is triggered by some other means".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 17, 2009, 8:10 AM CT

Parental Monitoring to Reduce Marijuana Use

Parental Monitoring to Reduce Marijuana Use
Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug by adolescents, with almost 42% of high school seniors admitting to having experimented with it. Continued marijuana use may result in many serious consequences including depression, cognitive impairment, cardiovascular disease, and certain forms of cancer. As such, it is critical to prevent marijuana use by adolescents and numerous behavioral and medical researchers have been trying to establish the best means of prevention.

A number of studies have focused on parents as being the best avenue for preventing adolescent marijuana use. Specifically, parental monitoring (when the parents know where their children are, who they are with, and what they are doing) has been seen as attenuating many negative adolescent behaviors, including gambling, sexual activity, and drug use. However, the strength of the relationship between monitoring and marijuana usage has been unclear; for example, if adolescents use marijuana, they appears to be more likely to hide that from their parents, in comparison to other behaviors. Despite this uncertainty, millions of dollars are spent annually on programs and media campaigns that urge parents to monitor their children's behavior.

Psychology experts Andrew Lac and William Crano from Claremont Graduate University evaluated numerous studies to examine the correlation between parental monitoring and adolescent marijuana use. For this review, Lac and Crano selected 17 studies from the literature, which contained data on over 35,000 participants. Criteria the scientists used for selecting studies included adolescent participants, that the research focused exclusively on marijuana, and that parental monitoring was reviewed by adolescent self-reports, not parents' reports of their own monitoring behavior.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 17, 2009, 7:36 AM CT

Those in coed college housing engage in more binge drinking

Those in coed college housing engage in more binge drinking
A newly released study in the Journal of American College Health finds that students placed by their universities in coed housing are 2.5 times more likely to binge drink each week than students placed in all-male or all-female housing.

More than 500 students from five college campuses around the country took part in the study:

- 42 percent of students in coed housing reported binge drinking on a weekly basis.

- 18 percent of students in gender-specific housing reported binge drinking weekly.

While that doesn't put coed housing on par with fraternity and sorority houses, the scientists note that binge drinking isn't exclusively a "Greek problem".

"In a time when college administrators and counselors pay a lot of attention to alcohol-related problems on their campuses, this is a call to more fully examine the influence of housing environment on student behavior," said Jason Carroll, a study coauthor and professor of family life at Brigham Young University. BYU was not one of the participating campuses.

Carroll's former student Brian Willoughby is the main author of the study, which will be published Nov. 17. Willoughby recently earned a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and returned to BYU as a visiting professor.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 16, 2009, 8:12 AM CT

Just looking at your loved ones

Just looking at your loved ones
"The very thought of you the mere idea of you".

from the song "The Very Thought of You" by Ray Noble.

Can the mere thought of your loved one reduce your pain? .

Yes, as per a newly released study by UCLA psychology experts that underscores the importance of social relationships and staying socially connected.

The study, which asked whether simply looking at a photograph of your significant other can reduce pain, involved 25 women, mostly UCLA students, who had boyfriends with whom they had been in a good relationship for more than six months.

The women received moderately painful heat stimuli to their forearms while they went through many different conditions. In one set of conditions, they viewed photographs of their boyfriend, a stranger and a chair.

"When the women were just looking at pictures of their partner, they actually reported less pain to the heat stimuli than when they were looking at pictures of an object or pictures of a stranger," said co-author of study Naomi Eisenberger, assistant professor of psychology and director of UCLA's Social and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory. "Thus, the mere reminder of one's partner through a simple photograph was capable of reducing pain." .

"This changes our notion of how social support influences people," she added. "Typically, we believe that in order for social support to make us feel good, it has to be the kind of support that is very responsive to our emotional needs. Here, however, we are seeing that just a photo of one's significant other can have the same effect." .........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 13, 2009, 8:18 AM CT

How long they stay in school

How long they stay in school
Queen's University researcher Steven Lehrer has won a prestigious international award in recognition of his contributions to health economics.

A professor in Queen's School of Policy Studies and Department of Economics, Dr. Lehrer shares the RAND Corporation's Victor R. Fuchs Research Award with Jason Fletcher of Yale University. Their prize-winning paper, recently reported in the journal Forum for Health Economics & Policy, examines the effects of adolescent health on educational outcomes.

"Our study shows that poor mental health in children and teenagers has a large impact on the length of time they will stay in school," says Dr. Lehrer. He notes a large number of school-based programs have recently been introduced to prevent childhood obesity through changes in lifestyle, but suggests the net should be cast more widely. "It's important for policymakers to target health conditions that are not the easiest to identify like inattention but may have larger impacts on one's future".

The findings provide good evidence that inattentive symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in childhood and depression in adolescents are associated with the number of years of completed schooling. Dr. Lehrer says this points to potentially large benefits from childhood and adolescent health interventions that have still not been identified. "We focus on the link between health and education because unraveling the mechanisms linking the two will have important implications for policy design."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 13, 2009, 8:03 AM CT

How youths view parental control?

How youths view parental control?
A newly released study has observed that young people feel differently about two types of parental control, generally viewing a type of control that's believed to be better for their development more positively. However, when parents are very controlling, young people no longer make this distinction and view both types of parental control negatively.

The study, conducted in the United States by scientists at rebro University in Sweden, appears in the November/December 2009 issue of the journal Child Development Unlike a lot of previous research on parenting that's focused on control, this study looked at how adolescents view and react to parental control.

Scholars tell us that parental control falls into two categories: behavioral control (when parents help their children regulate themselves and feel competent by providing supervision, setting limits, and establishing rules) and psychological control (when parents are manipulative in their behavior, often resulting in feelings of guilt, rejection, or not being loved). It's thought that behavioral control is better for youngsters' development.

But the study, which asked 67 American children (7th and 8th graders, as well as 10th and 11th graders) to respond to hypothetical scenarios involving both kinds of control, observed that the youths put a negative spin on both types of control when the parents in the scenarios exercised a lot of control. Specifically, when parents showed moderate levels of control, they saw psychological control more negatively than behavioral control, but when parents were very controlling, they viewed both types of control negatively.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 11, 2009, 10:11 PM CT

Use dark chocolate to fight stress

Use dark chocolate to fight stress
The "chocolate cure" for emotional stress is getting new support from a clinical trial published online in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research It observed that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed. Everyone's favorite treat also partially corrected other stress-related biochemical imbalances.

Sunil Kochhar and his colleagues note growing scientific evidence that antioxidants and other beneficial substances in dark chocolate may reduce risk factors for heart disease and other physical conditions. Studies also suggest that chocolate may ease emotional stress. Until now, however, there was little evidence from research in humans on exactly how chocolate might have those stress-busting effects.

In the study, researchers identified reductions in stress hormones and other stress-related biochemical changes in volunteers who rated themselves as highly stressed and ate dark chocolate for two weeks. "The study provides good evidence that a daily consumption of 40 grams [1.4 ounces] during a period of 2 weeks is sufficient to modify the metabolism of healthy human volunteers," the researchers say.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 10, 2009, 8:40 AM CT

Handwriting is real problem for children with autism

Handwriting is real problem for children with autism
Handwriting skills are crucial for success in school, communication, and building children's self-esteem. The first study to examine handwriting quality in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has uncovered a relationship between fine motor control and poor quality of handwriting in children with ASD, as per research reported in the November 10, 2009, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study, conducted by scientists at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, compared handwriting samples, motor skills, and visuospatial abilities of children with ASD to typically developing children. The scientists observed that overall, the handwriting of children with ASD was worse than typically developing children. Specifically, children with ASD had trouble with forming letters, however in other categories, such as size, alignment, and spacing, their handwriting was comparable to typically developing children. These findings build on prior studies examining motor skills and ASD conducted in 2009 by Kennedy Krieger researchers.

Parents of children with ASD are often the first ones to observe their child's poor handwriting quality. This study identifies fine motor control as a root source of the problem and demonstrates that children with ASD may not experience difficulties across all domains, just forming letters. By identifying handwriting as a legitimate impairment, parents, teachers and therapists will now be able to pursue techniques that will improve children's handwriting.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 5, 2009, 8:33 AM CT

Handedness May Effect Body Perception

Handedness May Effect Body Perception
There are areas in the brain devoted to our arms, legs, and various parts of our bodies. The way these areas are distributed throughout the brain are known as "body maps" and there are some significant differences in these maps between left- and right-handed people. For example, in left-handed people, there is an equal amount of brain area devoted to the left and right arms in both hemispheres. However, for right-handed people, there is more cortical area linked to right arm than the left.

Psychology experts Sally A. Linkenauger, Jonathan Z. Bakdash, and Dennis R. Proffitt of the University of Virginia, along with Jessica K. Witt from Purdue University, and Jeanine K. Stefanucci from The College of William and Mary wanted to see if this difference in body maps leads to differences in how we perceive the length of our arms. For this study, volunteers were brought to the lab and estimated their perceived arm length and how far they could reach with their arms. To estimate arm length, the volunteers would hold out each arm while a researcher standing in front of them would adjust a tape measure-the volunteers had to indicate when they thought the tape was the same length as their arm. To see how far volunteers could reach with each arm, they sat at a table with a plastic chip on it. The volunteers would instruct the experimenter to move the position of the chip to estimate how far they could reach.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 2, 2009, 8:47 AM CT

Sleep disturbances improve after retirement

Sleep disturbances improve after retirement
A study in the Nov.1 issue of the journal Sleep shows that retirement is followed by a sharp decrease in the prevalence of sleep disturbances. Findings suggest that this general improvement in sleep is likely to result from the removal of work-related demands and stress rather than from actual health benefits of retirement.

Results show that the odds of having disturbed sleep in the seven years after retirement were 26 percent lower (adjusted odds ratio of 0.74) than in the seven years before retiring. Sleep disturbance prevalence rates among 14,714 participants fell from 24.2 percent in the last year before retirement to 17.8 percent in the first year after retiring. The greatest reduction in sleep disturbances was reported by participants with depression or mental fatigue previous to retirement. The postretirement improvement in sleep also was more pronounced in men, management-level workers, employees who reported high psychological job demands, and people who occasionally or consistently worked night shifts.

Main author Jussi Vahtera, professor in the department of public health at the University of Turku in Finland, noted that the participants enjoyed employment benefits rarely seen today, including guaranteed job stability, a statutory retirement age between 55 and 60 years, and a company-paid pension that was 80 percent of their salary.........

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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