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January 14, 2010, 7:50 AM CT

Eye test could detect Alzheimer's

Eye test could detect Alzheimer's
A simple and inexpensive eye test could aid detection and diagnosis of major neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's at an earlier stage than is currently possible, as per new research by UCL scientists.

The research, led by Professors Francesca Cordeiro & Stephen Moss and published recently in Cell Death & Disease, demonstrates a new technique that enables retinal, and therefore brain cell death, to be directly measured in real time. The method, demonstrated in an animal model, could not only refine diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders and help track disease progress; it could also aid the evaluation and development of new therapys.

The technique uses fluorescent markers that attach themselves to the relevant cells and indicate the stage of cell death. The retina is then observed using a customised laser ophthalmoscope. Until now, this kind of technique has only been used in cells in the lab, rather than in live animals. This research is therefore the first ever in vivo demonstration of retinal nerve cell death in Alzheimer's Disease.

Professor Cordeiro, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, said: "The death of nerve cells is the key event in all neurodegenerative disorders but until now it has not been possible to study cell death in real time. This technique means we should be able to directly observe retinal nerve cell death in patients, which has many advantages in terms of effective diagnosis. This could be critically important since identification of the early stages could lead to successful reversal of the disease progression with therapy.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 13, 2010, 8:23 AM CT

Hypertension Linked to Dementia

Hypertension Linked to Dementia
Older women with high blood pressure are at increased risk for developing brain lesions that cause dementia during the later part of life, as per data from the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS). The findings were reported in the December 2009 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Hypertension.

The research was conducted as part of the Women' Health Initiative (WHI), the largest multi-site longitudinal study looking at health risks among postmenopausal women. WHIMS, which involves a subgroup of the women enrolled in WHI, looks at the influence of hormone treatment on thinking and memory. All the women in WHIMS were 65 or older.

Upon enrolling in the trial and annually during their participation in it, the women had their blood pressure measured and underwent tests to measure their cognitive ability. Some of the WHIMS participants - 1,403 of them - also underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at 14 U.S. academic centers in 2005 and 2006. All of these women were free of dementia when they enrolled. Examination of the data on these 1,403 women was led by Lewis H. Kuller, M.D., Dr.P.H., of the University of Pittsburgh, in conjunction with scientists at other WHI centers, including Dr. Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and population health and the Dorothy and William Manealoff Foundation & Molly Rosen Chair in Social Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Wassertheil-Smoller is also the principal investigator of Einstein's WHI and WHIMS studies.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 12, 2010, 8:56 AM CT

ADHD: Disconnect Between Brain Regions

ADHD: Disconnect Between Brain Regions
This research provides the first direct evidence that brain connectivity is missing in people with ADHD.
Two brain areas fail to connect when children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder attempt a task that measures attention, as per scientists at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain and M.I.N.D. Institute.

"This is the first time that we have direct evidence that this connectivity is missing in ADHD," said Ali Mazaheri, postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Mind and Brain. Mazaheri and colleagues made the discovery by analyzing the brain activity in children with ADHD. The paper appears in the current online issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry.

The scientists measured electrical rhythms from the brains of volunteers, particularly the alpha rhythm. When part of the brain is emitting alpha rhythms, it shows that it is disengaged from the rest of the brain and not receiving or processing information optimally, Mazaheri said.

In the experiments, children with diagnosed ADHD and normal children were given a simple attention test while their brain waves were measured. The test consisted of being shown a red or blue image, or hearing a high or low sound, and having to react by pressing a button. Immediately before the test, the children were shown either a letter "V" to alert them that the test would involve a picture (visual), or an inverted "V" representing the letter "A" to alert them that they would hear a sound (auditory).........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 11, 2010, 8:00 AM CT

Why migraine headaches get worse with light exposure?

Why migraine headaches get worse with light exposure?
BOSTON Ask anyone who suffers from migraine headaches what they do when they're having an attack, and you're likely to hear "go into a dark room." And eventhough it's long been known that light makes migraines worse, the reason why has been unclear.

Now researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have identified a new visual pathway that underlies sensitivity to light during migraine in both blind individuals and in individuals with normal eyesight. The findings, which appear today in the Advance On-line issue of Nature Neuroscience, help explain the mechanism behind this widespread condition.

A one-sided, throbbing headache linked to many symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and fatigue, migraines are notoriously debilitating and surprisingly widespread, affecting more than 30 million individuals in the U.S. alone. Migraine pain is believed to develop when the meninges, the system of membranes surrounding the brain and central nervous system, becomes irritated, which stimulates pain receptors and triggers a series of events that lead to the prolonged activation of groups of sensory neurons.

"This explains the throbbing headache and accompanying scalp and neck-muscle tenderness experienced by a number of migraine patients," explains the study's senior author Rami Burstein, PhD, Professor of Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine at BIDMC and Harvard Medical School.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 6, 2010, 7:49 AM CT

Childhood trauma may cause migraine

Childhood trauma may cause migraine
Scientists from the American Headache Society's Women's Issues Section Research Consortium observed that occurence rate of childhood maltreatment, particularly emotional abuse and neglect, are prevalent in migraine patients. The study also observed that migraineurs reporting childhood emotional or physical abuse and/or neglect had a significantly higher number of comorbid pain conditions compared with those without a history of maltreatment. Full findings of the study appear in the recent issue of Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, published on behalf of the American Headache Society by Wiley-Blackwell.

As per a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, state and local child protective services (CPS) investigated 3.2 million reports of child abuse or neglect in 2007. CPS classified 794,000 of these children as victims with 59% classified as child neglect; 4% were emotional abuse; 8% as sexual abuse; and 11% were physical abuse cases. Both population- and clinic-based studies, including the current study, have demonstrated an association between childhood maltreatment and an increased risk of migraine chronification years later.

To conduct this study, Gretchen E. Tietjen, M.D, from the University of Toledo Medical Center, and his colleagues, recruited a cross-sectional survey of headache clinic patients with physician-diagnosed migraine at 11 outpatient headache centers. Childhood maltreatment was assessed using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ), a 28-item self-reported quantitative measure of childhood abuse (physical, sexual, and emotional) and neglect (physical and emotional). Self-reported physician-diagnosed history of comorbid pain conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia (FM), interstitial cystitis (IC), and arthritis was recorded on the survey.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 29, 2009, 8:08 AM CT

A controller of brain circuitry

A controller of brain circuitry
A pyramidal neuron in the mouse cerebral cortex is labeled using the Golgi technique.

Credit: Image by Tracy Tran, David Ginty and Alex Kolodkin of Johns Hopkins Medicine
By combining a research technique that dates back 136 years with modern molecular genetics, a Johns Hopkins neuroscientist has been able to see how a mammal's brain shrewdly revisits and reuses the same molecular cues to control the complex design of its circuits.

Details of the observation in lab mice, published Dec. 24 in Nature, reveal that semaphorin, a protein found in the developing nervous system that guides filament-like processes, called axons, from nerve cells to their appropriate targets during embryonic life, apparently assumes an entirely different role later on, once axons reach their targets. In postnatal development and adulthood, semaphorins appear to be regulating the creation of synapses those connections that chemically link nerve cells.

"With this discovery we're able to understand how semaphorins regulate the number of synapses and their distribution in the part of the brain involved in conscious thought," says David Ginty, Ph.D., a professor in the neuroscience department at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "It's a major step forward, we believe, in our understanding of the assembly of neural circuits that underlie behavior."

Because the brain's activity is determined by how and where these connections form, Ginty says that semaphorin's newly defined role could have an impact on how researchers think about the early origins of autism, schizophrenia, epilepsy and other neurological disorders.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 23, 2009, 11:03 PM CT

Sleeping Off Childhood?

Sleeping Off Childhood?
Are your 11- and 12-year-olds staying up later, then dozing off at school the next day? Parents and educators who notice poor sleeping patterns in their children should take note of new research from Tel Aviv University ? and prepare themselves for bigger changes to come.

Prof. Avi Sadeh of TAU's Department of Psychology suggests that changes in children's sleep patterns are evident just before the onset of physical changes linked to puberty. He counsels parents and educators to make sure that pre-pubescent children get the good, healthy sleep that their growing and changing bodies need.

"It is very important for parents to be aware of the importance of sleep for their developing children and to maintain their supervision throughout the adolescent years," says Sadeh, who reported his research findings in a recent issue of the journal Sleep. "School health education should also provide children with compelling information on how insufficient sleep compromises their well-being, psychological functioning and school achievements".

Every minute counts

Results of the study, supported by the Israel Science Foundation, show that over a two-year period, sleep onset was significantly delayed by an average of 50 minutes in the study subjects, and sleep time was significantly reduced by an average of 37 minutes. Girls also had higher sleep efficiency and reported fewer night wakings than boys. For both, initial levels of sleep predicted an increase in pubertal development over time. This suggests that the neurobehavioral changes linked to puberty appears to be seen earlier in sleep organization than in bodily changes.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 23, 2009, 11:01 PM CT

Anti-inflammatory drugs interfere with aspirin

Anti-inflammatory drugs interfere with aspirin
A newly released study conducted at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) reveals that Celebrex and other anti-inflammatory coxib medications may counter the positive effects of aspirin in preventing blood clots.

The research, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), indicates that people who are taking aspirin and coxibs together are in fact inhibiting the aspirin's effectiveness in preventing heart attacks and strokes.

"This finding strongly suggests that humans who are consuming coxibs and a low dose of aspirin simultaneously are exposed to a greater risk of cardiovascular events," said Professor Gilad Rimon, Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.

In the past decade, a new group of anti-inflammatory drugs, coxibs, which include Celebrex and Arcoxia was developed to treat arthritis as well as other pain. Arthritis patients who take Celebrex are instructed to take low-dose aspirin to counteract Celebrex's own potential clot-promoting effect.

Aspirin is the oldest and one of the most effective non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is also well known for its ability to prevent the blood clots that can potentially lead to heart attack and stroke. Therefore, doctors often advise patients who are more prone to heart-related illnesses to take a daily tablet of low dose aspirin (81 mg). Approximately, 50 million Americans take aspirin every day to reduce their risk of cardiovascular diseases.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 15, 2009, 11:27 PM CT

Decoding memory-forming brain cell conversations

Decoding memory-forming brain cell conversations
The conversations neurons have as they form and recall memories have been decoded by Medical College of Georgia scientists.

The breakthrough in recognizing in real time the formation and recollection of a memory opens the door to objective, thorough memory studies and eventually better therapies, said Dr. Joe Tsien, neuroscientist and co-director of MCG's Brain & Behavior Discovery Institute. He is corresponding author on the study published Dec. 16 in PLoS ONE (see http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0008256).

"It's a beginning, a first glimpse of a memory," Dr. Tsien said. "For the first time it gives us the ability to look at the brain dynamic and tell what kind of memory is formed, what are the components of the memory and how the memory is retrieved at the network level." The finding could help pinpoint at what stage memory formation is flawed and whether drugs are improving it.

For their studies, MCG researchers combined new technology and computational methods with century-old Pavlovian conditioning.

In the memory center of the brain, they used 128 electrodes capable of monitoring a handful of neurons each to simultaneously record the conversations of 200 to 300 neurons as mice learned to associate a certain tone with a mild foot shock 20 seconds later.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 10, 2009, 7:51 AM CT

Secrets to new epilepsy treatments

Secrets to new epilepsy treatments
A team of researchers from The University of Alabama used worms to reel in information that they hope will lead to a greater understanding of cellular mechanisms that appears to be exploited to treat epilepsy. In a new research report in the journal GENETICS (http://www.genetics.org), the scientists explain how the transparent roundworm, C. elegans, helped them identify key "molecular switches" that control the transport of a molecule (gamma-aminobutyric acid or "GABA") that if manipulated within our cells, might prevent the onset of seizures.

"It is our hope that this work serves to accelerate the path toward the identification of genetic factors that cause a susceptibility to epilepsy," said Guy A. Caldwell, Ph.D., co-author of the study from the Department of Biological Sciences at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. "Simultaneously, this work has the potential to uncover new avenues toward therapeutic development to control or prevent seizures in the future."

To make this finding, the scientists conducted experiments involving drugs known to affect neuronal activity in combination with DNA mutations in genetic factors shared between C. elegans and humans. Changes in the worm's neuronal activity led to repetitive convulsions thought to besimilar to those experienced in epilepsy. These convulsions were observed under a microscope, and videos of those events were used to evaluate the severity of the neuronal changes. At the same time, the scientists used a green fluorescent protein to "tag" or "label" the cellular locale and delivery of GABA in neurons. This tagging allowed the scientists to see the specific genetic factors that led to abnormal movement of GABA in neurons as they coincided with worm seizures and to make appropriate comparisons with worms from the control group.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
The drug Ativan is better than Valium or Dilantin for controlling severe epileptic seizures, according to a new review of studies.Ativan, or lorazepam, and Valium, or diazepam, are both benzodiazepines, the currently preferred class of drugs for treating severe epileptic seizures. Dilantin, or phenytoin, is an anticonvulsant long used for the treatment of epileptic seizures.

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