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October 1, 2007, 5:34 AM CT

Children having trouble falling asleep more than maintaining

Children having trouble falling asleep more than maintaining
Children have more difficulty initiating sleep than maintaining sleep. Further, parents tend to underestimate their childrens sleep problems. This highlights the importance of having therapy options available to help a child overcome a sleep disorder, as per a research studyreported in the October 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.

The study, authored by Leonie Fricke-Oerkermann, PhD, of the University of Cologne in Gera number of, centered on 832 children and their parents, who were surveyed using questionnaires three times on an annual basis. The average age of the children was 9.4, 10.7 and 11.7 years at the three assessments.

As per the results, in child and parental reports, about 30 to 40 percent of the children had problems falling asleep at the first assessment. One year later, the child and parental reports indicated that about 60 percent of those children continued to have difficulties initiating sleep.

One of the striking results of the study, notes Dr. Fricke-Oerkermann, is the difference between the children and their parents in the assessment of the childrens sleep problems. Children described significantly more difficulties initiating and maintaining sleep than what their parents reported on their behalf. For example, in the parental reports, four to six percent of the children often had difficulties initiating sleep, whereas up to five to 10 percent of the children reported difficulties initiating sleep. About 40 percent of the children reported difficulties initiating sleep which occur sometimes, in comparison to 25 to 30 percent of what the parents reported for their children. Sleep onset problems in all surveys were present in 13.5 percent of the children as per their parents and 24 percent of the children as per the childrens ratings.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 27, 2007, 10:11 PM CT

Music and Language are Processed by the Same Brain Systems

Music and Language are Processed by the Same Brain Systems
Scientists have long debated whether or not language and music depend on common processes in the mind. Now, scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center have found evidence that the processing of music and language do indeed depend on some of the same brain systems.

Their findings, which are currently available on-line and will be published later this year in the journal NeuroImage, are the first to suggest that two different aspects of both music and language depend on the same two memory systems in the brain. One brain system, based in the temporal lobes, helps humans memorize information in both language and music- for example, words and meanings in language and familiar melodies in music. The other system, based in the frontal lobes, helps us unconsciously learn and use the rules that underlie both language and music, such as the rules of syntax in sentences, and the rules of harmony in music.

"Up until now, scientists had observed that the processing of rules relies on an overlapping set of frontal lobe structures in music and language. However, in addition to rules, both language and music crucially require the memorization of arbitrary information such as words and melodies," says the study's principal investigator, Michael Ullman, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience, psychology, neurology and linguistics.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 18, 2007, 5:30 AM CT

New way to diagnose Alzheimer's disease

New way to diagnose Alzheimer's disease
Physicians may be able to detect and treat Alzheimers Disease (AD) in its earliest stages, when patients are experiencing only mild degrees of cognitive impairment, thanks to new diagnostic criteria proposed by an international group of researchers.

Published in Lancet Neurology, the development of new guidelines was co-led by Dr. Howard Feldman, head of the Div. of Neurology in the University of British Columbias Faculty of Medicine.

Feldman, who directs the Clinic for Alzheimers Disease and Related Disorders at Vancouver Coastal Health, co-authored the paper with French researcher Dr. Bruno Dubois and researchers from countries that include Japan, the U.S. and England. Feldman is a member of Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI).

The proposed criteria are based on examining the structure and function of the brain using advanced brain imaging techniques as well as looking at spinal fluid for the imprint of the disease. Early detection will allow scientists to test vaccines that might be used preventively or to treat fully affected individuals, or other drug therapys that are directed at the earliest stages of the disease the best time to reduce symptoms.

Existing criteria, established in 1984, involve a two-step approach of evaluating functional disability and then looking for a cause, meaning diagnosis and therapy is delayed until patients have significant dementia symptoms.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 12, 2007, 8:27 PM CT

After MS patients stop drug

After MS patients stop drug
People with multiple sclerosis who stop taking the drug natalizumab may experience a rebound increase in disease activity, as per a research studypublished September 12, 2007, in the online edition of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study involved 21 people who had MRI scans of their brains taken before taking natalizumab and again an average of 15 months after receiving the last infusion of the drug. The drug is given by IV infusion once a month. The participants were divided into two groups: one group took the drug for an average of three years, and the other group took the drug for an average of two months.

The participants developed more than three times as a number of brain lesions, or areas of damage in the brain that are a marker of MS disease activity, in the 15-month period after discontinuing the drug than they had developed before they started taking the drug. The results were most pronounced for those who took the drug for only a short time; they developed five times as a number of brain lesions after stopping the drug than they did before they started taking it.

More research needs to be done with larger numbers of patients before any recommendations can be made about use of the drug, as per study author Machteld Vellinga, MD, of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. For now the recommendations remain the samepatients and their doctors should choose the most applicable therapy for them, she said.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 12, 2007, 6:41 PM CT

building blocks of memory

building blocks of memory
A new contact is established between nerve cells within minutes after a learning stimulus. Yet it takes up to one day until information can be exchanged. It is highly probable that already existing contacts will be displaced by the new connection.
Image: Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology, Martinsried
"I really have to strain my brain to understand this!" - Who hasn't experienced this, or something like it, when it comes to trying to understand something complicated? Researchers have only recently been able to show that this is not very far-fetched. For whenever we learn something new, regardless of how complicated it is, our "little grey cells", or neurons, grow new contacts to their neighboring cells. If the new information is retained, then such contacts become stable. However, what is the time frame for the development of these connections? Is the exchange of information possible immediately after two nerve cells make contact? And what happens in the brain when new information dispels old information, for example, when learning a new language, which can result in the fading of knowledge of a previously learned language? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology are now able to provide some answers to these questions.

The Martinsried-based neurobiologists, in cooperation with colleagues in Zurich, have been investigating the relation between the development of new cell contacts, called "spines", and the creation of functional synapses. Synapses enable the transfer of information between cells. The researchers have been focusing their experiments on nerve cells from the hippocampus, the brain region that is essential for learning and memory processes. In order to intentionally cause the nerve cells to react, the researchers stimulated a group of neurons via a short electrical impulse of high frequency. It is a known fact that this type of electrical stimulation causes the formation of new spines - similar to what happens during learning processes. The key question, however, whether and when these new spines actually form functional synapses and thus play a role in memory functions has, thus far, remained unanswered.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 12, 2007, 6:39 PM CT

Area responsible for self-control

Area responsible for self-control
Brain area in the fronto-median cortex that was activated when participants intentionally withhold a planned action in the last moment

Image: Max Planck Instiute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences
The results illuminate a very important aspect of the brain's control of behavior, the ability to hold off doing something after you've developed the intention to do it-one might call it 'free won't' as opposed to free will," says Martha Farah, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania. "It is very important to identify the circuits that enable 'free won't' because of the a number of psychiatric disorders for which self-control problems figure prominently-from attention deficit disorder to substance dependence and various personality disorders." Farah was not involved in the experiment.

The findings broaden understanding of the neural basis for decision making, or free will, and may help explain why some individuals are impulsive while others are reluctant to act, says lead author Marcel Brass, PhD, of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences and Ghent University. Brass and Patrick Haggard, PhD, of University College London, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the brain activity of participants pressing a button at times they chose themselves. They compared data from these trials to results when the participants prepared to hit the button, then decided to hold back or veto the action.

Fifteen right-handed participants were asked to press a button on a keyboard. They were asked to choose some cases in which they stopped just before pressing the button. Participants also indicated on a clock the time at which they intended to press the button or decided to hold back. When Brass and Haggard compared fMRI images of the two scenarios, they observed that pulling back yielded activity in the dorsal fronto-median cortex (dFMC), an area on the midline of the brain directly above the eyes, which did not show up when participants followed through and made the action. In addition, those who chose to stop the intended action most often showed greatest contrast in dFMC activity.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 10, 2007, 9:31 PM CT

Implantable device to detect, stop seizures

Implantable device to detect, stop seizures
A small device implanted in the skull that detects oncoming seizures, then delivers a brief electrical stimulus to the brain to stop them is under study at the Medical College of Georgia.

Credit: Medical College of Georgia
A small device implanted in the skull that detects oncoming seizures, then delivers a brief electrical stimulus to the brain to stop them is under study at the Medical College of Georgia.

MCG is among 28 U.S. centers participating in a study to determine if the neurostimulator device can help patients whose seizures are not well controlled by drugs.

The device constantly monitors electrical activity of the brain, gets accustomed to what is normal for that patient and, when it detects activity that is abnormal, within a few milliseconds, sends out a small electrical stimulus to stop it, says Dr. Yong Park, MCG pediatric epileptologist and a principal investigator.

At MCG Medical Center, the RNS System, developed by California-based medical device manufacturer NeuroPace, will be used in about 10 patients age 18-70 who have failed to get their seizures controlled with at least two medications. About 240 patients are expected to enroll nationwide.

Eligible participants must have at least three seizures per month and no more than two seizure foci in the brain. Seizure activity is closely monitored through a diary and monthly doctor visits for three months before patients become eligible.

Participants have a device implanted in the skull, with up to two wires containing electrodes placed near the seizure focus. A modified laptop computer looks at electrical activity picked up by the neurostimulator, then is used to program the device to recognize a patients seizure activity. Physicians can continue to fine-tune the detection and stimulation patterns.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 31, 2007, 5:08 AM CT

The science of growing neurons

The science of growing neurons
Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a method for culturing mammalian neurons in chambers not much larger than the neurons themselves. The new approach extends the lifespan of the neurons at very low densities, an essential step toward developing a method for studying the growth and behavior of individual brain cells.

The technique is described this month in the journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry - Lab on a Chip.

"This finding will be very positively greeted by the neuroscience community," said Martha Gillette, who is an author on the study and the head of the cell and developmental biology department at Illinois. "This is pushing the limits of what you can do with neurons in culture".

Growing viable mammalian neurons at low density in an artificial environment is no easy task. Using postnatal neurons only adds to the challenge, Gillette said, because these cells are extremely sensitive to environmental conditions.

All neurons rely on a steady supply of proteins and other "trophic factors" present in the extracellular fluid. These factors are secreted by the neurons themselves or by support cells, such as the glia. This is why neurons tend to do best when grown at high density and in the presence of other brain cells. But a dense or complex mixture of cells complicates the task of characterizing the behavior of individual neurons.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


August 29, 2007, 9:49 PM CT

Influence of sex and handedness on brain

Influence of sex and handedness on brain
Capuchin monkeys are playful, inquisitive primates known for their manual dexterity, complex social behavior, and cognitive abilities. New research now shows that just like humans, they display a fundamental sex difference in the organization of the brain, specifically in the corpus callosum, the region that connects the two cerebral lobes.

A recently published paper by Associate Professor of Psychology and Biology Kimberley A. Phillips (Hiram College), Chet C. Sherwood (George Washington University) and Alayna L. Lilak (Hiram College), reports finding both sex and handedness influences on the relative size of the corpus callosum. The scientists contribution appears in PLoS ONE, the online, open-access journal of the Public Library of Science. The paper can be read at: http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0000792.

In the study, thirteen adult capuchins underwent magnetic resonance imaging of the brain to determine the size of their corpus callosum, which is the major white matter tract connecting the left and right cerebral hemispheres. The monkeys were later given a task to determine hand preference. The authors results led them to conclude that, as in humans, male capuchins have a smaller relative size of the corpus callosum than females, and right-handed individuals have a smaller relative size of the corpus callosum than left-handed individuals.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 21, 2007, 6:08 PM CT

Vaccine thwarts the tangles of Alzheimer's

Vaccine thwarts the tangles of Alzheimer's
A new study by NYU Medical Center scientists shows for the first time that the immune system can combat the pathological form of tau protein, a key protein implicated in Alzheimers disease. The researchers, led by Einar Sigurdsson Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pathology at New York University School of Medicine, created a vaccine in mice that suppresses aggregates of tau. The protein accumulates into harmful tangles in the memory center of the brains of Alzheimers patients.

The vaccine successfully slowed the deterioration of motor abilities produced by excessive amounts of tau in the central nervous system of mice, as per the study reported in the August 22, 2007 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. Dr. Sigurdsson plans to conduct follow-up studies using mice that slowly develop tangles and cognitive impairments without movement problems.

The study used mice that were genetically engineered to produce abnormal tau proteins early in life. These became entangled in several regions of the central nervous system. The resulting loss of motor coordination was significantly reduced in those immunized with a specific piece of the detrimental tau protein. By producing antibodies that could enter the brain and bind to irregular tau, the immune system prevented their harmful aggregation and associated behavioral impairments.........

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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