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July 31, 2006, 6:44 AM CT

Interventions Should Start After The First Puff

Interventions Should Start After The First Puff
In this research study, Gervais and his colleagues describe the sequence and timing of 12 milestones (6 correlation to cigarette use and 6 to symptoms of nicotine dependence) among grade 7 students. They observed that symptoms of nicotine dependence can take hold long before regular smoking, even after the first puff in some cases.

This information needs to be incorporated into intervention programs aimed at young smokers.

In a related commentary, Klein discusses the challenges in helping young smokers quit and the need for stronger public health efforts to keep youth from starting in the first place.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


July 29, 2006, 8:12 PM CT

meditation and cognitive impairment

meditation and cognitive impairment
Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine are examining the effectiveness of meditation on early cognitive impairment. Once this new study is completed, the results could help answer lingering questions over whether or not stress-reducing techniques and mind exercises can lessen or even prevent cognitive decline. This is the first study at Penn's new "Center for Spirituality and the Mind," which evolved from work initiated in Penn's Department of Radiology to embrace and encourage scientists from the fields of medicine, pastoral care, religious studies, social work, nursing, and bioethics to expand our knowledge of how spirituality may affect the human brain.

"We'll be looking at patients with mild cognitive impairment or symptoms of early Alzheimer's disease," explains Andrew Newberg, MD, Associate Professor of Radiology, Psychiatry, and Religious Studies, who also directs the Center's investigations and is Principal Investigator of this pilot study. "We'll combine their meditation with brain imaging over a period of time to see if meditation improves cognitive function and is linked to actual change in the brain's activity levels. Specifically, we'll be looking for decreased activity in specific areas of the brain".

The dementia process causes a decreased function of neurons in the brain and can result in problems with memory, visual-spatial tasks, and handling emotional issues. As it worsens in a patient, it can also eventually lead to the need for round-the-clock care.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


July 28, 2006, 9:35 PM CT

Brain In Action

Brain In Action
For the first time, researchers have been able to watch neurons within the brain of a living animal change in response to experience.

Thanks to a new imaging system, scientists at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have gotten an unprecedented look into how genes shape the brain in response to the environment. Their work is published in the July 28 issue of Cell.

"This work represents a technological breakthrough," said first author Kuan Hong Wang, a research scientist at the Picower Institute who will launch his own laboratory at the National Institute of Mental Health in the fall. "This is the first study that demonstrates the ability to directly visualize the molecular activity of individual neurons in the brain of live animals at a single-cell resolution, and to observe the changes in the activity in the same neurons in response to the changes of the environment on a daily basis for a week."

This advance, coupled with other brain disease models, could "offer unparalleled advantages in understanding pathological processes in real time, leading to potential new drugs and therapys for a host of neurological diseases and mental disorders," said Nobel laureate Susumu Tonegawa, a co-author of the study.

An unexpected finding.

Tonegawa, director of the Picower Institute and the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience at MIT, Wang and his colleagues observed that visual experience induces a protein that works as a molecular "filter" to enhance the overall selectivity of the brain's responses to visual stimuli.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


July 26, 2006, 5:09 PM CT

New Genetic Findings To Understanding Of OCD

New Genetic Findings  To Understanding Of OCD
Obsessive-compulsive disorder tends to run in families, causing members of several generations to experience severe anxiety and disturbing thoughts that they ease by repeating certain behaviors. In fact, close relatives of people with OCD are up to nine times more likely to develop OCD themselves.

Now, new research is shedding new light on one of the genetic factors that may contribute to that pattern. And while no one gene "causes" OCD, the research is helping researchers confirm the importance of a particular gene that has been suspected to play a major role in OCD's development.

In two papers published simultaneously in the Archives of General Psychiatry, scientists from the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Chicago and the University of Toronto report finding an association between OCD patients and a glutamate transporter gene called SLC1A1.

The gene encodes a protein called EAAC1 that regulates the flow of a substance called glutamate in and out of brain cells. So, variations in the gene might lead to alterations in that flow, perhaps putting a person at increased risk of developing OCD.

The new findings are particularly important not only because of the simultaneous discoveries published in the papers, but also because of prior studies that show a functional link between glutamate and OCD. Brain imaging and spinal fluid studies have shown differences in the glutamate system between OCD patients and healthy volunteers, including in areas of the brain where the EAAC1 protein is most common.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


July 25, 2006, 8:56 PM CT

Save Money And Reduce Crime

Save Money And Reduce Crime
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health, today released a landmark scientific report showing that effective therapy of drug abuse and addiction can save communities money and reduce crime. Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations outlines some of the proven components for successful therapy of drug abusers who have entered the criminal justice system, leading to lower rates of drug abuse and criminal activity.

"This report is part of our ongoing commitment to using scientific research to provide solutions to some of the most complex public health and safety issues of our time," said Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, NIH Director. "Not only does it offer research-based therapy solutions to judges and communities, it also provides information on how the criminal justice system can help reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases among drug abusing offenders--all critically important issues in today's society".

Untreated substance abuse adds significant costs to communities, including violent and property crimes, prison expenses, court and criminal costs, emergency room visits, child abuse and neglect, lost child support, foster care and welfare costs, reduced productivity, unemployment, and victimization. The cost to society of drug abuse in the year 2002 was $181 billion--$107 billion linked to drug-related crime.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


July 25, 2006, 8:20 PM CT

Screen New mothers for postpartum depression

Screen New mothers for postpartum depression
Physicians should screen mothers for postpartum depression regularly for at least a year following childbirth to better identify women who develop symptoms throughout the year and those whose depression persists, University of Rochester Medical Center scientists say.

"If you only screen early or if you only screen once, you will miss some," said Linda Chaudron, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology at the Medical Center who is leading a series of studies focusing on postpartum depression.

In a recent analysis of records from a pediatric clinic that uses a common postpartum questionnaire to screen mothers, Chaudron and the research group observed that of women who scored high on a depression screening scale sometime in the postpartum year, 26 percent did not develop high symptom levels of postpartum depression until after three months and that 33 percent had high levels throughout the year. The results of the study are reported in the July/recent issue of the journal Ambulatory Pediatrics.

"I was surprised at the high percentage of women who continued to be depressed throughout the year," Chaudron said.

Earlier this year, New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine signed legislation requiring health care professionals providing postnatal care to screen new mothers for postpartum depression, and requiring health care professionals to educate women and their families about the disorder. Health care providers in several other states have adopted similar screening programs.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


July 24, 2006, 6:58 AM CT

People Unconsciously Use Verbal Gestures

People Unconsciously Use Verbal Gestures
University of Chicago researchers have determined that people spontaneously use a system of communicating when they speak that either reinforces their message or provides additional information that is not conveyed by words alone. Dubbed "analog acoustic expression," this previously uninvestigated form of communication is described as a sort of verbal gesturing.

Like gestures, analog acoustic expression expands people's capacity to communicate and typically happens with little intention on the part of the speaker, eventhough it is possible to use this expression explicitly to dramatize an utterance.

Eventhough scientists have been aware that people modulate their speech, they assumed that some of this modulation was intentional and was merely meant to emphasize points or communicate emotion. The new discovery is the first experimental evidence showing that people unconsciously modulate their voices in ways that provide an additional channel of expression understood by listeners, the scientists said.

"I think we've all noticed this form of communication, but have not paid too much attention to it," said co-author Howard Nusbaum, Chairman of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago "Someone will raise his voice slightly at the end of the sentence when saying, 'the stock market is going up' or lower it when saying 'the stock market is going down'." The modulations also make telephone conversations and words spoken on the radio more comprehensible, he added.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


July 23, 2006, 10:21 PM CT

Chronic Stress And Ovarian Cancer

Chronic Stress And Ovarian Cancer
When mice with ovary cancer are stressed, their tumors grow and spread more quickly, but that effect can be blocked using a medicine usually prescribed for heart disease, as per a preclinical study by scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The finding, reported in the journal Nature Medicine, now available on-line, provides the first measurable link between psychological stress and the biological processes that make ovarian tumors grow and spread. Specifically, the scientists showed that stress hormones bind to receptors directly on tumor cells and, in turn, stimulate new blood vessel growth and other factors that lead to faster and more aggressive tumors.

"This study provides a new understanding of how chronic stress and stress factors drive tumor growth," says Anil Sood, M.D., associate professor of gynecologic oncology and cancer biology and director of ovary cancer research.

In fact, when the scientists blocked the stress hormone receptors in their experimental system using a heart disease drug called propranolol, also known as a "beta blocker," they were able to stop the negative effects of stress on tumor growth. The scientists used the beta blocker because the same hormone receptors, called beta adrenergic receptors, are found in the heart and normally work to maintain blood flow.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


July 19, 2006, 10:03 PM CT

Autism: Fewer Neurons For Processing Emotion

Autism: Fewer Neurons For Processing Emotion
For the first time, research has shown that the autistic brain has fewer neurons in an area correlation to emotion and social behavior, as per a new study reported in the July 19 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

This study provides quantitative evidence linking autism to an abnormality of the amygdala, particularly the lateral nucleus-a major emotion-processing area with connections to parts of the brain responsible for higher cognitive functions.

"These new findings, based on cell counting, complement other independent studies that suggest amygdala abnormalities likely contribute significantly to the primary core deficit in social function that defines this disorder," says Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom, MD, professor of pediatric neurology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Authors Cynthia Schumann, PhD, of the University of California, San Diego, and David Amaral, PhD, director of the M.I.N.D. Institute at the University of California, Davis, counted and measured neurons in the amygdala of nine postmortem autistic male brains and 10 age-matched male postmortem non-autistic brains. Ages ranged from 10 to 44 years old. Unlike prior postmortem studies, the sample excluded brains of individuals with epilepsy or similar disorders linked to cell loss in the amygdala.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


July 19, 2006, 9:56 PM CT

Prevention Program For Childhood Obesity

Prevention Program For Childhood Obesity
The waistlines of children continue to grow, along with the concern about the problem. Two University of Cincinnati scientists are recruiting a school, parents and children in fighting obesity as they test a new prevention program in Meade County, Ky. After spending spring conducting focus groups with children and their parents, the 12-week program, geared toward 129 fifth-graders, will be launched at an elementary school in Brandenburg, Ky., when school begins this fall.

The obesity intervention program is the creation of Megan Canavera, a registered dietician and master's degree candidate in the program of health promotion and education, UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services, and her advisor, Manoj Sharma, associate professor of health promotion and education.

The UC scientists are coordinating with the Brandenburg school's physical education teacher as they test the intervention program developed around four specific components:
  • Regular physical activity.
  • Enforcing healthy eating habits, such as limiting portion size, cutting soft drink consumption and adding fruits and vegetables to the children's diet.
  • Cutting back on time watching TV.
  • Improving parent-child communication to reinforce behaviors that cut back on obesity.
  • ........

    Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         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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