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Archives Of Neurology News Blog From Medicineworld.Org


September 13, 2006, 4:52 AM CT

Preventing Epileptic Seizures

Preventing Epileptic Seizures
Scientists at MIT are in the process of developing a device that could detect and prevent epileptic seizures before they become debilitating.

Epilepsy affects about 50 million people worldwide, and while anticonvulsant medications can reduce the frequency of seizures, the drugs are ineffective for as a number of as one in three patients.

The new therapy builds on an existing therapy for epilepsy, the Cyberonics Inc. vagus nerve stimulator (VNS), which is often used in patients who do not respond to drugs. A defibrillator typically implanted under the patient's collar bone stimulates the left vagus nerve about every five minutes, which has been shown to help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in a number of patients.

The MIT scientists and his colleagues at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) seek to improve the therapy by combining it with a detector that measures brain activity to predict when a seizure is about to occur. The new device would sense the oncoming seizure and then activate the VNS, in principle halting the seizure before it becomes manifest.

"Our contribution is the software that decides when to turn the stimulator on," said John Guttag, MIT's Dugald C. Jackson Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Guttag developed the system along with Ali Shoeb, a graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


September 13, 2006, 4:33 AM CT

Black-white IQ Gap Has Narrowed

Black-white IQ Gap Has Narrowed Image courtesy of www.careerplanners.net
In a paper would be reported in the October issure of the journal Psychological Science, William Dickens and James Flynn show that the gap in measured cognitive ability between blacks and whites has narrowed by at least a quarter since 1972. The scientists analyzed nationally representative samples of blacks and whites on four different tests of cognitive ability. On all four tests, blacks show large gains relative to whites with results varying somewhat across the different tests. Pooling the results, the scientists find that blacks have gained an average of.18 IQ points a year on whites from 1972 to 2002 for a total gain of 5.4 IQ points. Further, blacks have gained on whites at all points in the distribution of ability, with gains being only modestly lower for those in the top 10 percent.

These gains in cognitive ability have come during a time when blacks have made notable progress towards social and economic equality in some areas and suggest the possibility that further progress will bring further IQ gains.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


September 11, 2006, 9:59 PM CT

Do Not Rely Only On What Young Athletes Say

Do Not Rely Only On What Young Athletes Say
When it comes to managing concussions in sports, relying only on an athlete's self report of symptoms is inadequate and likely to result in under-diagnosing the injury and the athlete unsafely returning to play following the concussion, warn doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Along with assessing symptoms, the doctors stress, using computer-based neurocognitive function testing is crucial for accurate, objective evaluation of concussion and determining a safe return-to-play time for the athlete.

"Because of the tendency of some athletes to under-report their symptoms, presumably in an attempt to speed their return to the playing field, neurocognitive testing following suspected concussion is especially important in keeping kids safe," said Mark Lovell, Ph.D., director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Research has shown at least one in 10 high school or college athletes sustains a concussion each year.

Dr. Lovell's alert is based on a recent UPMC study of concussed high school and college athletes that showed unreliability of the athletes' self-reported symptoms and demonstrated the value of neurocognitive testing in significantly increasing the capacity to detect post-concussion abnormalities, decreasing the potential of exposure to additional injury. Prior research has shown that young concussed athletes who are returned to play too soon, before their brains have healed, are highly vulnerable to further injury, including post-concussion syndrome, or in rare cases, fatal second-impact syndrome. The current study is published in the upcoming issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine, available online at www.ajsm.org........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


September 7, 2006, 4:49 AM CT

Migraine Prevention In Women

Migraine Prevention In Women
Migraines are more common in the United States than diabetes, osteoarthritis or asthma. Of the 28 million people who experience migraines in this country, 18 million are women. Eventhough prevention is very effective in managing this disorder, only 3 percent to 5 percent of women seek preventive treatment.

To better understand this issue and provide guidance for physicians treating female migraine patients, Mayo Clinic in Arizona Women's Health Internal Medicine physicians evaluated all the major studies on the disorder reported in the past five years. They compiled study results into a concise review for clinicians, reported in the August 2006 issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

"Most people with migraines first seek help from their primary care provider instead of a neurologist or a specialist. The purpose of our paper is to provide more information for primary care physicians who typically manage these cases," says Beverly Tozer, M.D., who led the review.

The review emphasized preventive therapies for migraines at different stages of a female's life. As per Dr. Tozer, good evidence suggests that hormonal changes effect migraine development, with migraines being most prevalent during the reproductive years.

"Almost one-fourth of women in their reproductive years experience migraines," Dr. Tozer says. "During these years, women are building both their families and their careers. The predominance of this disorder in women with its associated social, functional and economic consequences makes migraine an important issue in women's health".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


September 5, 2006, 7:52 PM CT

Epilepsy Breakthrough In Progress

Epilepsy Breakthrough In Progress
Scientists at MIT are in the process of developing a device that could detect and prevent epileptic seizures before they become debilitating.

Epilepsy affects about 50 million people worldwide, and while anticonvulsant medications can reduce the frequency of seizures, the drugs are ineffective for as a number of as one in three patients.

The new therapy builds on an existing therapy for epilepsy, the Cyberonics Inc. vagus nerve stimulator (VNS), which is often used in patients who do not respond to drugs. A defibrillator typically implanted under the patient's collar bone stimulates the left vagus nerve about every five minutes, which has been shown to help reduce the frequency and severity of seizures in a number of patients.

The MIT scientists and his colleagues at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) seek to improve the therapy by combining it with a detector that measures brain activity to predict when a seizure is about to occur. The new device would sense the oncoming seizure and then activate the VNS, in principle halting the seizure before it becomes manifest.

"Our contribution is the software that decides when to turn the stimulator on," said John Guttag, MIT's Dugald C. Jackson Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Guttag developed the system along with Ali Shoeb, a graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


September 4, 2006, 10:15 PM CT

Anticipation And Human Memory

Anticipation And Human Memory
Psychology experts have long known that memories of disturbing emotional events - such as an act of violence or the unexpected death of a loved one - are more vivid and deeply imprinted in the brain than mundane recollections of everyday matters.

Probing deeper into how such memories form, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have observed that the mere anticipation of a fearful situation can fire up two memory-forming regions of the brain - even before the event has occurred.

That means the simple act of anticipation may play a surprisingly important role in how fresh the memory of a tough experience remains.

The findings of the brain-imaging study, which appear in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, have important implications for the therapy of psychological conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety, which are often characterized by flashbacks and intrusive memories of upsetting events.

"The main motivation for this study was a clinical one, in terms of understanding and applying knowledge about memory so that we can better inform the therapy of disorders that have a large memory component, like PTSD," says lead author Kristen Mackiewicz, a graduate student at the University of Colorado who worked on the anticipation study while a student at UW-Madison.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


September 3, 2006, 7:37 AM CT

Combined therapies for brain tumors

Combined therapies for  brain tumors
One treatment for treating brain tumors alerts the immune system to the presence of foreign material. A second treatment enhances the first and prolongs the immune system's response. Now, in an animal study conducted at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, scientists have combined the two in a form that appears effective when injected directly into a cancerous brain tumor.

The result, extended length of survival, even after "rechallenge," is detailed in the Sept. 1 issue of the journal Cancer Research.

Dendritic cell immunotherapy, pioneered at the Institute in the therapy of deadly, recurring brain tumors called gliomas, is one component of the experimental procedure. The therapy is commonly performed after a patient's tumor has been surgically removed. Proteins from the tumor are collected, cultured and introduced in a Petri dish to dendritic cells taken from the patient's blood. The "new" dendritic cells are then injected into the patient's bloodstream. When they encounter lingering tumor cells, they initiate an immune response.

Dendritic cells are specialized "antigen-presenting cells" responsible for alerting the immune system to foreign matter and eliciting an attack. They normally exist in the body to clear debris, such as dead cells, detecting antigens in the process.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


September 1, 2006, 4:52 AM CT

stimulating stem cell growth in the brain

stimulating stem cell growth in the brain
Researchers at Harvard University have identified key compounds that stimulate stem cell growth in the brain, which may one day lead to restored function for people affected by Parkinson's disease, strokes, multiple sclerosis, and a wide range of neurological disorders. These findings, which appear in the September 2006 issue of The FASEB Journal, provide important clues as to which compounds may be responsible for causing key brain cells, neurons, to regenerate and ultimately restore brain function.

The research study focused on two compounds--LTB4 and LXA4. Both play a role in inflammation and are regulators of proliferation of several cell types. When stem cells isolated from the brains of mouse embryos were exposed to LTB4 they proliferated and differentiated, giving rise to additional stem cells and to differentiated neurons with limited or absent capacity to divide. When exposed to LXA4, these cells experienced decreased growth and apoptosis.

"This study opens doors to new therapeutic approaches for a wide range neurological disorders and injuries that were once considered incurable," said Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal.

The study also provided so insight into the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved when LTB4 stimulates neuronal stem cells. As per the study, cells generated as the result of LTB4 exposure had high levels of LTB4 receptors, whereas the level of LTB4 receptors was considerably lower in similar cells not generated by LTB4 stimulation. The researchers were further able to show that LTB4 up-regulated several molecules involved in cell cycling and growth, such as cyclins and epidermal growth factor receptor, and decreased those such as caspase 8 which play a role in apoptosis. LXA4 had the opposite effects.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


August 31, 2006, 5:34 AM CT

Focus on stroke

Focus on stroke
We examined whether the location of brain damage, neurocognitive deficits, and/or the number of clinical features identified during a swallowing study affected stroke patients' swallowing outcomes. Identification of at least four of six clinical features (cough after swallow, voice change after swallow, abnormal volitional cough, abnormal gag reflex, dysphonia, and dysarthria) was associated with poor swallowing outcomes at admission and discharge from the hospital. In addition, specific neurocognitive deficits seemed to be related to swallowing outcomes; however, location of brain damage was not associated. More information about clinical indictors, neuroanatomical locations, and behavioral features will lead to earlier detection of swallowing disorders.

Does motor lateralization have implications for stroke rehabilitation? pg. 311.

This article describes current findings on the usefulness of dominance retraining strategies in poststroke patients with dominant-arm hemiplegia. We found consistent differences in control strategies used by both the dominant and nondominant hemisphere/limb systems. However, the nondominant arm may not spontaneously become an efficient dominant manipulator, indicated by persistent deficits in chronic stroke patients. Because ipsilesional deficits are usually mild compared with contralesional, they are not normally addressed in rehabilitation. We propose that the previously nondominant limb impeded by motor deficits could benefit from remedial therapy to help switch to a dominant controller.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink


August 31, 2006, 5:24 AM CT

Discover Memory Molecule

Discover Memory Molecule
Researchers at SUNY Downstate Medical Center have discovered a molecular mechanism that maintains memories in the brain. In an article in Science magazine, they demonstrate that by inhibiting the molecule they can erase long-term memories, much as you might erase a computer disc.

Furthermore, erasing the memory from the brain does not prevent the ability to re-learn the memory, much as a cleaned computer disc may be re-used. This finding may some day have applications in treating chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and memory loss, among other conditions.

The SUNY Downstate scientists published in the August 25 issue of Science that an enzyme molecule called "protein kinase M zeta" preserves long-term memories through persistent strengthening of synaptic connections between neurons. This is analogous to the mechanism storing information as 0's and 1's in a computer's hard disc. By inhibiting the enzyme, researchers were able to erase a memory that had been stored for one day, or even one month. This function in memory storage is specific to protein kinase M zeta, because inhibiting related molecules did not disrupt memory.

These findings may be useful for the therapy of disorders characterized by the pathological over-strengthening of synaptic connections, such as neuropathic pain, phantom limb syndrome, dystonia, and post-traumatic stress. On the other hand, the identification of the core molecular mechanism for memory storage may focus effort on the development of specific therapeutic agents that enhance memory persistence and prevent memory loss. Earlier this year, SUNY Downstate researchers reported that PKMzeta was bound up in the tangles of Alzheimer's disease, thus perhaps blocking its function in memory storage.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         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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