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May 11, 2007, 5:06 PM CT

Dynamin's Role in Nerve Cell Function

Dynamin's Role in Nerve Cell Function
An unexpected finding on how nerve cells signal to one another could rewrite the textbooks on neuroscience, says a collaborative team of scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College and Yale University.

Their study, published as a high-profile research article in the journal Science, suggests that a key cellular enzyme called dynamin 1 is not essential to all synaptic transmission, as experts had previously assumed.

Dynamin has long been a focus of research for its role in packaging chemical signals, called neurotransmitters, into tiny synaptic vesicles within the cell.

The new study finds that the enzyme is not always necessary for this process. Instead, dynamin 1 goes into action only when the synapse enters moments of particularly high activity.

"In that sense, dynamin 1 remains crucial, allowing the synapse the freedom to function under all conditions," explains co-senior author Dr. Timothy Ryan, professor of biochemistry at Weill Cornell Medical College.

The discovery is a potentially important new piece of the puzzle for researchers investigating neurological injury and disease.

"In the long run, what we're trying to achieve here is a kind of biochemical 'repair manual' for the brain and brain cells," Dr. Ryan explains. "So, in the future, if we find out that a particular illness is caused by a flaw in dynamin 1 function or proteins that interact with dynamin 1, we'll have answers on hand to help fix that".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 6, 2007, 5:20 PM CT

Antidepressants stimulate new nerve cells

Antidepressants stimulate new nerve cells
In adult monkeys, an antidepressant therapy has induced new nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, a brain area responsible for learning and memory. A similar process may occur in humans, the research suggests, and may help explain the effectiveness of antidepressant therapys.

The results, the first from nonhuman primates, are similar to those previously seen in rodents. They suggest that creation of new nerve cells, a process known as neurogenesis, is an important part of antidepressant treatment. Researcher Tarique Perera, MD, at Columbia University, and his colleagues observed changes in the number of brain cells in the dentate gyrus region of the hippocampus. The study is reported in the May 2 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience

The growth of new nerve cells in the hippocampus has been suggested as the way antidepressants work in rodents, says Eric Nestler, MD, PhD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. "However, the clinical relevance of this action has remained controversial, in part, because of uncertainty as to whether similar neurogenesis occurs in humans," he says. "This finding further supports the potential clinical relevance of changes in neurogenesis seen in rodent models."

Perera and the team treated a group of monkeys with electroconvulsive shock (ECS), an animal version of the highly effective clinical antidepressant electroconvulsive treatment. They saw an increase in new nerve cells in the hippocampus. Over four weeks, a majority of these cells became mature neurons.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 6, 2007, 5:10 PM CT

CTA useful in detecting ruptured cerebral aneurysms

CTA useful in detecting ruptured cerebral aneurysms
CT angiography (CTA) has a nearly 100% detection rate in acute ruptured, cerebral aneurysms, as per a recent study conducted at the Health Sciences Center in Winnipeg, Canada.

The study consisted of 171 patients with acute subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) who underwent preoperative 3D CTA.

CTA correctly detected the ruptured aneurysm in 170 cases when in comparison to intraoperative findings, Bijal Patel, MD, lead author of the study. Of the 22 cases where there was more than one aneurysm, CTA correctly identified the ones that were ruptured every time. As per the study, the sensitivity of CTA was 99.4% in detecting the ruptured aneurysm in the setting of acute SAH. "In the one case where CTA initially did not demonstrate the ruptured aneurysm, the study was severely degraded with motion artifact," said Dr. Patel.

"While CTA provides detailed information on the features of the aneurysm, its true accuracy in the clinical setting could only be determined when in comparison to surgical findings," said Dr. Patel "As in our institution and undoubtedly a number of others, it is the standard of practice to follow a confirmed SAH with a CTA. We felt it was important to perform a study that would evaluate the utility of CTA as the primary diagnostic investigation in detecting acute ruptured cerebral aneurysms using correlation with intraoperative findings," said Dr. Patel.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 6, 2007, 5:04 PM CT

Ultra-high-field MRI for earlier diagnosis of multiple sclerosis

Ultra-high-field MRI for earlier diagnosis of multiple sclerosis A standard MRI machine
Ultra-high-field (7T) MRI can detect multiple sclerosis lesions better than MRI which can lead to possible earlier diagnosis and therapy, as per a new study by scientists from Ohio State University in Columbus, and Columbia University in New York.

For the study, the scientists analyzed post-mortem brain slices from a multiple sclerosis patient using both 3T and 7T MRI. 7T MRI made it possible to detect numerous multiple sclerosis lesions that were not detectable at 3T MRI, said Steffen Sammet, MD, PhD, lead author of the study.

"Multiple sclerosis is difficult to diagnose in its early stages," said Dr. Sammet. The greater sensitivity of 7T MRI for multiple sclerosis can delay disease conversion, and may lead to improved monitoring of neurological deficits in multiple sclerosis. MRI at 7T can give additional information about the lesion microstructure to help us better understand the disease," said Dr. Sammet.

"Ultra-high field strength has been an experimental methodology evolving over the last decade. In recent years, and particularly as part of the OSU-based effort of the Wright Center of Innovation, we have been pushing, to evolve ultra-high field into a clinically capable imaging method. The significant advantage of higher field strength is the gain in signal that can be used in a number of different ways to increase sensitivity and increase the speed of acquisition or to increase resolution," said Dr. Sammet.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


May 6, 2007, 4:39 PM CT

Some hypertension drugs may help reduce dementia risk

Some hypertension drugs may help reduce dementia risk
Some hypertension medicines may help protect elderly adults from declines in memory and other cognitive function, as per new research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine, reported today at the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society in Seattle.

The drugs that scientists believe are protective are part of a class known as ACE inhibitors specifically those types that reach the brain and may help reduce the inflammation that might contribute to Alzheimer's disease.

"For elderly adults who are going to take an ACE inhibitor drug for blood pressure control, it makes sense for their doctors to prescribe one that goes into the brain," said Kaycee Sink, M.D., M.A.S., lead researcher and an assistant professor of internal medicine gerontology.

Some ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors are known as centrally acting because they can cross the blood brain barrier, a specialized system of tiny blood vessels that protects the brain from harmful substances in the blood stream. Centrally acting drugs include captropril (Capoten), fosinopril (Monopril), lisinopril (Prinivil or Zestri), perindopril (Aceon), ramipril (Altace) and trandolapril (Mavik).

The study found a link between taking centrally active ACE inhibitors and lower rates of mental decline as measured by the Modified Mini-Mental State Exam, a test that evaluates memory, language, abstract reasoning and other cognitive functions. For each year that participants were exposed to ACE inhibitors that cross the blood brain barrier, the decline in test results was 50 percent lower than the decline in people taking other kinds of hypertension pills.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 30, 2007, 6:59 PM CT

Study shows children less prone to false memories

Study shows children less prone to false memories
In the 1980's, a spate of high profile child abuse convictions gave way to heightened concern about false memory reports given by children. Take, for example, the case of Kelly Michaels, a preschool teacher who was convicted on 115 counts of sexual abuse based on the testimony of 20 of her pupils. After serving seven years of her 47 year sentence, Michaels' conviction was overturned after the techniques used to interview the children were shown to be coercive and highly suggestive.

Since then, a sizeable literature on children's false memories has accumulated and until recently, the picture that had emerged was quite consistent: false memories of events were found to decrease with age throughout childhood and adolescence. In other words, as we grow into adulthood, our memory accuracy improves.

However, psychology experts Charles Brainerd and Valerie Reyna of Cornell University think that the relationship between age and memory accuracy may not be so simple. Drawing upon fuzzy-trace theory the popular psychological theory that humans encode information on a continuum from verbatim to "fuzzy" traces that convey a general meaning Brainerd and Reyna predicted that false memories may actually increase with age under certain circumstances. In other words, adults would have less accurate memories than children.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 29, 2007, 7:15 PM CT

Concealed Intentions In Human Brain

Concealed Intentions In Human Brain Image: Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience Berlin
Our secret intentions remain concealed until we put them into action -so we believe. Now scientists have been able to decode these secret intentions from patterns of their brain activity. They let subjects freely and covertly choose between two possible tasks - to either add or subtract two numbers. They were then asked to hold in mind their intention for a while until the relevant numbers were presented on a screen. The scientists were able to recognize the subjects intentions with 70% accuracy based alone on their brain activity - even before the participants had seen the numbers and had started to perform the calculation.

Participants made their choice covertly and initially did not know the two numbers they were supposed to add or subtract. Only a few seconds later the numbers appeared on a screen and the participants could perform the calculation. This ensured that the intention itself was being read out, rather than brain activity correlation to performing the calculation or pressing the buttons to indicate the response. "It has been previously assumed that freely selected plans might be stored in the middle regions of the prefrontal cortex, whereas plans following external instructions could be stored on the surface of the brain. We were able to confirm this theory in our experiments", Haynes explained.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 29, 2007, 4:47 PM CT

Cortex Area Thinner in Youth with Alzheimer's-Related Gene

Cortex Area Thinner in Youth with Alzheimer's-Related Gene Cerebral cortex
A part of the brain first affected by Alzheimer's disease (http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/) is thinner in youth with a risk gene for the disorder, a brain imaging study by scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has found. A thinner entorhinal cortex, a structure in the lower middle part of the brain's outer mantle, may render these youth more susceptible to degenerative changes and mental decline during the later part of life, propose Drs. Philip Shaw, Judith Rapoport, Jay Giedd, and NIMH and McGill University colleagues. They report on how variation in the gene for apoliproprotein (ApoE), which plays a critical role in repair of brain cells, affects development of this learning and memory hub in the June, 2007 Lancet Neurology.

"People with the Alzheimer's-related variant of the ApoE gene might not be able to sustain much aging-related tissue loss in the entorhinal cortex before they cross a critical threshold," explained Shaw. "But the early thinning appears to be a harmless genetic variation rather than a disease-related change, as it did not affect youths' intellectual ability. Only long-term brain imaging studies of healthy aging adults will confirm whether this anatomical signature detectible in childhood predisposes for Alzheimer's".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 23, 2007, 11:04 PM CT

Cortex area thinner in youth with Alzheimer's-related gene

Cortex area thinner in youth with Alzheimer's-related gene Credit: Philip Shaw, M.D., NIMH Child Psychiatry Branch
A part of the brain first affected by Alzheimers disease is thinner in youth with a risk gene for the disorder, a brain imaging study by scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has found. A thinner entorhinal cortex, a structure in the lower middle part of the brains outer mantle, may render these youth more susceptible to degenerative changes and mental decline during the later part of life, propose Drs. Philip Shaw, Judith Rapoport, Jay Giedd, and NIMH and McGill University colleagues. They report on how variation in the gene for apoliproprotein (ApoE), which plays a critical role in repair of brain cells, affects development of this learning and memory hub in the June, 2007 Lancet Neurology.

"People with the Alzheimers-related variant of the ApoE gene might not be able to sustain much aging-related tissue loss in the entorhinal cortex before they cross a critical threshold," explained Shaw. "But the early thinning appears to be a harmless genetic variation rather than a disease-related change, as it did not affect youths intellectual ability. Only long-term brain imaging studies of healthy aging adults will confirm whether this anatomical signature detectible in childhood predisposes for Alzheimers." .........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


April 23, 2007, 5:26 PM CT

Progress On MS research and care

Progress On MS research and care
'Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders' has just been published by the International Pediatric MS Study Group as a supplement to the journal Neurology. The Group was founded by the National MS Society (USA) to foster global cooperation in studying and addressing the challenges linked to what is generally thought of as an adult neurological disease when it occurs in a non-adult population. It is estimated that there are at least 8,000 10,000 children who have MS and another 10,000-15,000 who have experienced what may be symptoms of MS.

The compendium that offers nine peer-evaluated papers describes the current state of clinical care, research and knowledge correlation to pediatric MS and lays out research and clinical directions for the future. Until recently, there was little attention or understanding about the occurrence of MS in children and its management.

The compendium of papers (Neurology 2007; 68 {Suppl 2} http://www.neurology.org/content/vol68/16_suppl_2/#PREFACE) includes the first proposed consensus definitions for pediatric MS and related disorders. It also reviews published research on topics such as the use of MRI brain scans in diagnosis, and the psychosocial impacts of MS including issues correlation to school, social milestones and family life.........

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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