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November 7, 2007, 5:06 AM CT

Link between asthma and depressive disorders

Link between asthma and depressive disorders
Young people with asthma are about twice as likely to suffer from depressive and anxiety disorders than are children without asthma, as per a research studyby a research team in Seattle. Prior research had suggested a possible link in young people between asthma and some mental health problems, such as panic disorder, but this study is the first showing such a strong correlation between the respiratory condition and depressive and anxiety disorders. The findings are reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The study was conducted by scientists at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Group Health Cooperative, and Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute. The scientists interviewed more than 1,300 youths, ages 11 to 17, who were enrolled in the Group Health Cooperative health maintenance organization. Of the participants, 781 had been diagnosed with or treated for asthma, and the rest were randomly selected youths with no history of asthma.

About 16 percent of the young people with asthma had depressive or anxiety disorders, the scientists found, in comparison to about 9 percent of youth without asthma. When controlling for other possible variables, youth with asthma were about 1.9 times as likely to have such depressive or anxiety disorders.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 6, 2007, 10:24 PM CT

Blood pressure drug curbs brain damage from PTSD

Blood pressure drug curbs brain damage from PTSD
A drug used to treat hypertension and enlargement of the prostate may protect the brain from damage caused by post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer's disease, depression and schizophrenia.

Prazosin, also prescribed as an antipsychotic medication, appears to block the increase of steroid hormones known as glucocorticoids, Oregon Health & Science University and Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center scientists have found. Elevated levels of glucocorticoids are linked to atrophy in nerve branches where impulses are transmitted, and even nerve cell death, in the hippocampus.

The hippocampus is the elongated ridge located in the cerebral cortex of the brain where emotions and memory are processed.

"It's known, from human studies, that corticosteroids are not good for you cognitively," said co-author of study S. Paul Berger, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience, OHSU School of Medicine and the PVAMC. "We think prazosin protects the brain from being damaged by excessive levels of corticosteroid stress hormones".

The study, titled "Prazosin attenuates dexamethasone-induced HSP70 expression in the cortex," is being presented during a poster session today at Neuroscience 2007, the annual Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 5, 2007, 9:19 PM CT

Floating effective for stress and pain

Floating effective for stress and pain
Relaxation in large, sound- and light-proof tanks with high-salt water floating is an effective way to alleviate long-term stress-related pain. This has been shown by Sven-ke Bood, who recently completed his doctorate in psychology, with a dissertation from Karlstad University in Sweden.

The dissertation confirms what earlier studies have indicated: sleep was improved, patients felt more optimistic, and the content of the vitalizing hormone prolactin increased. Anxiety, stress, depression, and perception of pain declined. Those who took part in the research project all had some form of stress-related pain, and after only twelve therapys in the floating tank, their condition improved.

Through relaxing in floating tanks, people with long-term fibromyalgia, for instance, or depression and anxiety felt substantially better after only twelve therapys. Relaxing in a weightless state in the silent, warm floating tank activates the bodys own system for recuperation and healing. The stress hormone decreases, as does blood pressure. The findings confirm and reinforce our earlier studies on the effects of relaxing in a floating tank," says Sven-ke Bood.

A number of people experience improvement

His dissertation comprises four studies that all involve the therapy of pain and stress-related disorders with the aid of a floating tank. A control group that was not treated in a floating tank experienced no improvement in their health. After a period of therapy lasting a total of seven weeks, 22 percent of the participants in the floating group were entirely free of pain, and 56 experienced a clear improvement. Nineteen percent felt no change and 3 percent felt worse. And the effect persists after the therapy is completed. The research project has been under way for four years and has included 140 individuals, all with some form of diagnosis involving stress-related long-term pain.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 5, 2007, 8:23 PM CT

Children with gene show reduced cognitive function

Children with gene show reduced cognitive function
Children who possess a gene known to increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease already show signs of reduced cognitive function, an Oregon Health & Science University study has observed.

Researchers in the OHSU School of Medicine discovered that 7- to 10-year-olds with a member of a family of genes implicated in development, nerve cell regeneration and neuroprotection display reduced spatial learning and memory, linked to later-life cognitive impairments.

Results of the study, presented today at Neuroscience 2007, the 37th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, suggest that changes predisposing a person to Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia might occur much sooner in the brain than previously thought.

"One of our questions has been is this a risk that only happens with age, or is it already - early on - the cause of differences in performance," said co-author of study Jacob Raber, Ph.D., associate professor of behavioral neuroscience and neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine. "This study suggests there already are cognitive differences very early on in life."

The results also mean therapeutic interventions that delay the effects of cognitive decline may be possible at a much younger age, Raber says.

Prior studies have shown that a member of the apolipoprotein E gene family, apoE4, increases a person's risk of age-related cognitive decline and cognitive injury from such "environmental" challenges as brain trauma. Mice expressing human apoE4 developed progressive, age-dependent impairments in spatial learning and memory.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 4, 2007, 9:22 PM CT

Emotional Intelligence and the use of tobacco and cannabis

Emotional Intelligence and the use of tobacco and cannabis
The term Emotional Intelligence could be defined as the capacity to perceive, comprehend and regulate one's own emotions and those of others so as to be able to distinguish between emotions and use this information as a guide for one's thoughts and actions. One of the important benefits of developing this type of intelligence is the ability to learn how to interact with others and to face an ever changing social and cultural world more effectively.

The Stress and Health Research Group (GIES) of the UAB Department of General, Development and Educational Psychology has carried out a research entitled "Perceived emotional intelligence and its relation to tobacco and cannabis use among university students".The objective of this research consisted in analysing the possible relation between EI and the use of tobacco and cannabis among 133 UAB psychology students with an average age of 21.5.

As per the research, students who had started smoking either tobacco or cannabis at a younger age and who regularly smoked these substances obtained lower scores in questions correlation to emotional regulation. Thus students who are less able to regulate their emotional state are more tempted to consume tobacco and/or cannabis and regular consumption of these substances is a way of making up for this emotional shortage.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 4, 2007, 8:00 PM CT

Older adults not more distractible

Older adults not more distractible
Despite prior research suggesting that elderly adults are more distractible, new research shows they are no more distractible than younger adults when asked to focus their attention on their sense of sight or sound, or when asked to switch their attention from one sense to the other.

The research, performed at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, focused on the effects of age on multisensory attention, or the way the senses work together. It is part of the PROMISE (Processing of Multiple Individual Senses in the Elderly) study, funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and was presented today at the 37th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, Calif.

Attention works in two main ways, as per Christina E. Hugenschmidt, a Ph.D. candidate at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, who presented the results. It speeds up the brain's processing of what you want to pay attention to, and slows down the processing of what you want to ignore.

"Most research has focused on distractors that occur in one sense at a time, like ignoring only certain red signs or recognizing one sound that is different in a series of sounds," said Hugenschmidt. "However, we all know that distractions can come across sensory systems as well. We often do things automatically to minimize this multisensory distraction, like turning down the radio in the car to concentrate on finding an address."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 1, 2007, 7:52 PM CT

Are We Programmed to Laugh When Tickled?

Are We Programmed to Laugh When Tickled?
Do we learn to laugh when tickled or is it an innate response? That is the question psychologist Professor Clarence Leuba set himself to examine using his own children, no less, as experimental subjects.

In 1933 he decided that he would not laugh in the presence of his first child while tickling him (Leuba, 1941). Everyday life in the Leuba household, therefore, was devoid of tickling except for one special experimental period. During this period he would cover his own face with a mask while tickling his son so his facial expression was hidden.

Even the tickling was experimentally controlled. First he would tickle lightly, then more vigorously. First under the armpit, then the ribs, followed by chin, neck, knees and feet.

Courtesy to Original source

Mrs Leuba slips up.

Reportedly all went well until late April 1933 when his wife suddenly forgot all the protocols. After her son''s bath she accidentally administered a short bout of bouncing up and down on her knee with laughter while using the words: "Bouncy, bouncy"!

Was the experiment ruined? Leuba wasn''t sure. But after seven months, with only one bout of laughter associated with tickling the results were in. His son happily laughed away when tickled. It appeared that laughing when tickled is an innate response.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 31, 2007, 8:22 PM CT

Opium and marijuana research go underground

Opium and marijuana research go underground
The worlds leading expert on the opium poppy has joined forces with scientists working on another infamous drug-producing plant cannabis in hopes of finding new uses for the much-maligned sources of heroin and marijuana.

Peter Facchini, professor of Biological Sciences and Canada Research Chair in Plant Biotechnology, has received a $650,000 NSERC Strategic Project Grant to create new varieties of opium poppy and cannabis that can be used for medicinal and industrial purposes, but will have no value as illicit drugs. And his work is taking him where few Canadians have gone before: Deep underground into the countrys ultra high-security medicinal marijuana growth facility.

Its certainly unusual for a plant biochemist to work in a copper mine hundreds of metres underground, Facchini said. This is a really great project that involves two of the worlds most important medicinal plants and is clearly unique in the plant biology field.

Facchini and a new team of U of C postdoctoral scientists have teamed up with Saskatoon-based Prairie Plant Systems Inc., the National Research Council Plant Biotechnology Institute, the Alberta Research Council and the University of Saskatchewan to create and study mutant varieties of opium poppy and cannabis in an unused portion of a copper and zinc mine near Flin Flon, Manitoba. Prairie Plant Systems produces medicinal marijuana under contract with Health Canada in this state-of-the-art facility.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 31, 2007, 7:54 PM CT

Can your perspective influence your motivation?

Can your perspective influence your motivation?
Students, athletes and performing artists are often advised to imagine themselves performing successfully. That strategy is believed to motivate them for future exams, games, and shows. But is that motivation influenced by what perspective they take when imagining their performance? Research published by SAGE in the recent issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin explores that question.

The three studies explored in the article looked at two ways to visualize future performances first person (watching oneself through ones own eyes) and third person (watching oneself from the perspective of another person). The authors, Noelia A. Vasquez, at York University (Canada) and Roger Buehler, at Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada), observed that the third person perspective resulted in greater motivation to succeed at the task, particularly when people imagined themselves performing well. The increased third person perspective appears to assign greater meaning to the task.

Mental imagery is usually used as a preparation strategy in a wide range of performance domains (school, sports, performing arts, public speaking, licensure exams as well less institutionalized future performances, such as bringing up a difficult issue with a boss, or resisting temptations such as food or cigarettes), commented the authors. These studies suggest that if someone needs a motivational boost to prepare, they may be well advised to envision themselves from the perspective of their audience.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 30, 2007, 10:23 PM CT

Treadmill training helps Down syndrome babies walk

Treadmill training helps Down syndrome babies walk
Starting Down syndrome infants on treadmill training for just minutes a day can help them walk up to four or five months earlier than with only traditional physical treatment, a new study from the University of Michigan says.

The study also suggests that infants who do high intensity treadmill training may walk even sooner.

Getting infants walking is critical because so a number of other skills arise from locomotion: social skills, motor skills, advancement of perception and spatial cognition, says professor Dale Ulrich of the University of Michigan Division of Kinesiology and principal investigator on the treadmill training project.

"The key is if we can get them to walk earlier and better then they can explore their environment earlier and when you start to explore, you learn about the world around you," Ulrich said. "Walking is a critical factor in development in every other domain".

Infants with typical development learn to walk independently at about 12 months of age. Babies with Down syndrome typically learn to take independent steps at 24-28 months.

In the study, 30 infants were randomly assigned lower intensity, generalized treadmill training, or high intensity, individualized treadmill training, implemented in the homes by their parents. The training was used as a supplement to physical treatment.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         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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