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October 16, 2006, 9:52 PM CT

Women On Hormone Therapy

Women On Hormone Therapy
Older women on hormone treatment are more sensitive to negative events, confirming speculation that age-related estrogen loss affects the brain's ability to process emotion, an Oregon Health & Science University study shows.

But that sensitivity to negative emotional events, such as viewing a photograph of a dead person, doesn't necessarily mean women taking estrogen remember those events any better.

In the study by scientists in the Cognition & Aging Laboratory at the OHSU School of Medicine's Department of Behavioral Neuroscience, hormone treatment in women appears to reverse the age-related loss of arousal to negative emotional events experienced by the elderly. It also points to specific changes in the brain's arousal system, in the regions that process emotion, and intensification of negative emotions.

The results were presented today at Neuroscience 2006, the Society for Neuroscience's 36th annual meeting at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

Researchers have suspected a link between sex hormones and emotion. Strengthening this theory is the fact that brain regions tuned for processing emotion and storing emotional memory - the amygdala and hippocampus - also respond to sex hormones and contain hormone receptors. Thus, changes in "emotional enhancement" people experience as they age, including a reduction in the ability to remember negative events, may be modified by age-related loss of sex hormones or hormone treatment.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


October 16, 2006, 8:55 PM CT

Could Dreams Be A Mechanism To Help Us Prepare For Danger?

Could Dreams Be A Mechanism To Help Us Prepare For Danger?
Dreams have been interpreted in a number of different ways through the ages: as messages from the gods, repressed sexual fantasies..... or, based on an evolutionist approach that emerged around the turn of the millennium, as a mechanism that helps us to prepare survival strategies in the face of danger.

Antonio Zadra, a professor in the Department of Psychology, likes that last theory. "Among its merits is that it lets us formulate hypotheses that can be tested quite easily," says Zadra, whose initial study tested no fewer than eight hypotheses derived from the new approach.

The theory was developed by Antti Revonsuo, Director of the Consciousness Research Group at the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Turku in Finland. He postulates that dreams developed in our long-ago ancestors to simulate outside threats, enabling the dreamer to put into practice or rehearse avoidance behaviours.

Pleistocene man faced constant threats from predators, rival tribes, and forces of nature. Seeking ways to avoid danger, our ancestors lived in a perpetual state of alert, and so the dream function assumed the form we see today. The theory is also based on the fact that rehearsing an action in your mind can improve the motor skills needed.

Research on dreams lends some credence to the theory. Research in the 1960s showed that 80% of dreams are negative in content, and misfortune occurs seven times more often than good fortune in dreams. In 96% of cases where there is some interaction with an animal, there is aggression. For both men and women, enemies are nearly always strangers - male strangers.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


October 15, 2006, 7:08 PM CT

Adolescent And Fluoxetine

Adolescent And Fluoxetine
New research offers tantalizing clues as to why some teenagers taking common anti-depressants may become more aggressive or kill themselves. The research is reported in the October Behavioral Neuroscience, which is published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Neuroresearchers at the University of Texas at Austin observed that juvenile hamsters given low doses of fluoxetine hydrochloride, which is sold in the United States as Prozac, became more aggressive on low doses of the drug. Juveniles given high doses became somewhat less aggressive, but not as much as adult hamsters, who calmed down on both high and low doses.

Doctoral student and lead author Kereshmeh Taravosh-Lahn, BA, says the findings confirm that juvenile and adult brains are different. Thus, she says, "It is unwise to expect a drug to work the same in juveniles as in adults." .

Fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), is the only medicine approved to treat depression in children and adolescents. However, it has carried an FDA "black box" warning since Fall 2004 due to findings of increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in some children and adolescents on the drugs. Fluoxetine affects the regulation of serotonin, a naturally occuring neurotransmitter believed to be involved in depression, by keeping it available longer in the brain's synapses. It is known to inhibit aggression in adult hamsters. Hamsters are often used as an animal model for studying the neural basis of social behavior, given how the rodents' youthful play fighting develops in clearly understood stages into adult aggression.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


October 15, 2006, 6:53 PM CT

Reward Perception In Cocaine Addiction

Reward Perception In Cocaine Addiction
People addicted to cocaine have an impaired ability to perceive rewards and exercise control due to disruptions in the brain's reward and control circuits, as per a series of brain-mapping studies and neuropsychological tests conducted at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory.

"Our findings provide the first evidence that the brain's threshold for responding to monetary rewards is modified in drug-addicted people, and is directly associated with changes in the responsiveness of the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain essential for monitoring and controlling behavior," said Rita Goldstein, a psychology expert at Brookhaven Lab. "These results also attest to the benefit of using sophisticated brain-imaging tools combined with sensitive behavioral, cognitive, and emotional probes to optimize the study of drug addiction, a psychopathology that these tools have helped to identify as a disorder of the brain".

Goldstein will present details of these studies at a press conference on neuroscience and addiction at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sunday, October 15, 2006, 2 to 3 p.m., and at a SfN symposium on Wednesday, October 18, 8:30 a.m.*.

Goldstein's experiments were designed to test a theoretical model, called the Impaired Response Inhibition and Salience Attribution (I-RISA) model, which postulates that drug-addicted individuals disproportionately attribute salience, or value, to their drug of choice at the expense of other potentially but no-longer-rewarding stimuli -- with a concomitant decrease in the ability to inhibit maladaptive drug use. In the experiments, the researchers subjected cocaine-addicted and non-drug-addicted individuals to a range of tests of behavior, cognition/thought, and emotion, while simultaneously monitoring their brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and/or recordings of event-related potentials (ERP).........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


October 10, 2006, 10:18 PM CT

New Hope For Borderline Personality Disorder

New Hope For Borderline Personality Disorder
For the first time, a major outcome study has shown that a high percentage of patients with Borderline Personality Disorder can achieve full recovery across the complete range of symptoms. The controlled study, appearing in a recent issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry published by the American Medical Association, shows that a new approach -- Schema Therapy -- is more than twice as effective as a widely practiced psychodynamic approach, Transference Focused Psychotherapy (TFP). Schema Therapy was also found to be less costly and to have a much lower drop out rate. Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) has until recent years been considered untreatable, with little scientific justification for longer-term treatment.

This study demonstrates that schema treatment leads to complete recovery in about 50% of the patients, and to significant improvement in two-thirds. The success of the treatment is strongly correlation to its duration and intensity (two sessions a week for 3 years). The results clearly contradict the prevailing opinion that BPD cannot be fully cured, and that longer-term psychotherapy is ineffective.

As per the National Institute of Mental Health, Borderline Personality Disorder is found in about 1 to 2.5 percent of the general population--about 5.8 to 8.7 million Americans, most of whom are young women. Patients with the disorder live life on the edge: they're typically impulsive, unstable, exquisitely sensitive to rejection, have regular outbursts of anger, and live daily with extreme emotional pain. They often self-mutilate and make repeated suicide attempts. Identity problems, low stress tolerance, and fears of abandonment also make the disorder difficult for patients and for those who live with them. A number of with BPD either cannot work or do not function at levels that could be expected in light of their intellectual capacities. As a result, the disorder carries high medical and societal costs, accounting for more than one in every five inpatient psychiatric admissions.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


October 9, 2006, 10:09 PM CT

Teens And Cigarette Ads

Teens And Cigarette Ads
Today alone, more than 4,400 U.S. teenagers will start smoking, as per statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. A number of of these adolescents will be lured to cigarettes by advertisements and movies that feature sophisticated models and actors, suggesting that smoking is a glamorous, grown-up activity. However, teens who are savvier about the motives and methods of advertisers may be less inclined to take to cigarettes, a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study indicates.

Teens with above-average smoking media literacy (SML) are nearly half as likely to smoke as their less media-literate peers, as per the lead study in the current issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. The results not only suggest that SML training could be an effective intervention to decrease teen smoking, but they also provide some of the first quantitative evidence linking SML to smoking.

"A number of factors that influence a teen's decision to smoke like peer influence, parental smoking and risk-seeking tendency are difficult to change," said the study's lead author, Brian Primack, M.D., Ed.M., assistant professor in the School of Medicine's division of general internal medicine. "However, media literacy, which can be taught, may be a valuable tool in efforts to discourage teens from smoking".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


October 8, 2006, 5:47 PM CT

Marijuana's Ingredient May Slow Down Alzheimer's Disease

Marijuana's Ingredient May Slow Down Alzheimer's Disease
Researchers are reporting discovery in laboratory experiments of a previously unknown molecular mechanism in which the active ingredient in marijuana may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Scripps Research Institute's Kim D. Janda and his colleagues used laboratory experiments to show that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) preserves brain levels of the key neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

Existing medications for AD, including donepezil and tacrine, also relieve AD symptoms by inhibiting the enzyme, acetylcholinesterase, which breaks down acetylcholine. THC does so by inhibiting an alternative site on acetylchlolinesterase and at lower concentrations, Janda's group reports in an article in the current (Oct. 2) issue of the ACS bimonthly journal, Molecular Pharmaceutics. Their experiments show that THC also prevents formation of the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of AD and its damage to the brain.

"Our results provide a mechanism whereby the THC molecule can directly impact Alzheimer's disease pathology," they state. They also note that THC may provide a "drug lead" -- a model for developing new and more effective medications with more targeted effects on AD.

The scientists explain that such compounds "may provide an improved therapeutic for Alzheimer's disease, augmenting acetylcholine levels by preventing neurotransmitter degradation and reeducating amyloid beta aggregation, thereby simultaneously treating both the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer's disease".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


October 8, 2006, 5:28 PM CT

Antidepressants After Plastic Surgery

Antidepressants After Plastic Surgery
It has been proven that plastic surgery can improve self-esteem, but can it also act as a natural mood enhancer? A significant number of patients stopped taking antidepressant medicine after undergoing plastic surgery, as per a research studypresented today at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) Plastic Surgery 2006 conference in San Francisco.

"Plastic surgery patients are taking a proactive approach in making themselves happier by improving something that has truly bothered them," said Bruce Freedman, MD, ASPS Member Surgeon and study author. "While we are not saying that cosmetic plastic surgery alone is responsible for the drop in patients needing antidepressants, it surely is an important factor".

In the study, 362 patients had cosmetic plastic surgery 17 percent or 61 patients were taking antidepressants. Six months after surgery, however, that number decreased 31 percent, down to 42 patients. In addition, 98 percent of patients said cosmetic plastic surgery had markedly improved their self-esteem.

All of the patients, who were primarily middle-aged women, had an invasive cosmetic plastic surgery procedure such as breast augmentation, tummy tuck or facelift. The authors did not identify any other major life changes that may have affected patients' use of antidepressants.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


October 6, 2006, 5:09 AM CT

Emotionally Ambivalent Workers Are More Creative

Emotionally Ambivalent Workers Are More Creative
People who experience emotional ambivalence -- simultaneously feeling positive and negative emotions -- are more creative than those who feel just happy or sad, or lack emotion at all, as per a new study.

That's because people who feel mixed emotions interpret the experience as a signal that they are in an unusual environment and thus respond to it by drawing upon their creative thinking abilities, said Christina Ting Fong, an assistant professor at the University of Washington Business School. This increased sensitivity for recognizing unusual associations, which happy or sad workers probably couldn't detect, is what leads to creativity in the workplace, she added.

"Due to the complexity of a number of organizations, workplace experiences often elicit mixed emotions from employees, and it's often assumed that mixed emotions are bad for workers and companies," said Fong, whose study appears in the recent issue of the Academy of Management Journal. "Rather than assuming ambivalence will lead to negative results for the organization, managers should recognize that emotional ambivalence can have positive consequences that can be leveraged for organizational success."

For her research, Fong conducted two studies. In the first, she asked 102 college students to write about certain emotional experiences in their lives with the goal of invoking in them feelings of happiness, sadness, neutrality or ambivalence. She then had them complete a usually used measure of creativity called the Remote Associates Test that explored their ability to recognize common themes among seemingly unrelated words. The results demonstrated that while there were no differences among happy, sad and neutral individuals, people who were feeling emotionally ambivalent performed significantly better on this creativity task.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


October 6, 2006, 5:00 AM CT

Methamphetamine Use On The Rise

Methamphetamine Use On The Rise Methamphetamine pills
Image courtesy of http://www.drugs.indiana.edu
It's cheap, addictive and can harm your smile for life. Its use is also rapidly increasing both nationally and world-wide. It is methamphetamine. As per the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 12 million Americans age 12 and older reported they had tried methamphetamine at least once in their lifetime. The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) advises it is imperative that the public and dental professionals learn about the severe oral health effects the drug is having on a number of users' mouths.

As per a report that will appear in the November/December 2006 issue of General Dentistry, the AGD's clinical, peer-evaluated journal, methamphetamine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant that produces prolonged euphoria and is relatively easy to make, inexpensive to purchase and distribute. Its use is on the rise and can have serious adverse affects on one's oral health, including highly visible widespread cavities and rampant decay.

Meth abuse patients may have a higher tolerance for anesthetics, experience unpleasant effects due to drug interactions or have anxiety regarding dental therapy which combined with meth use can cause serious problems. Their teeth have been described as "blackened, stained, rotting, crumbling, or falling apart," as per information in the study obtained from the American Dental Association (ADA). Some teeth are in such poor condition that they are unsalvageable and must be extracted.........

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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