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October 16, 2007, 7:38 PM CT

How schizophrenia develops

How schizophrenia develops
Schizophrenia may occur, in part, because of a problem in an intermittent on/off switch for a gene involved in making a key chemical messenger in the brain, researchers have found in a study of human brain tissue. The scientists observed that the gene is turned on at increasingly high rates during normal development of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in higher functions like thinking and decision-making but that this normal increase may not occur in people with schizophrenia.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Healths National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The gene, GAD1, makes an enzyme essential for production of the chemical messenger, called GABA. The more the gene is turned on, the more GABA synthesis can occur, under normal circumstances. GABA helps regulate the flow of electrical traffic that enables brain cells to communicate with each other. It is among the major neurotransmitters in the brain.

Abnormalities in brain development and in GABA synthesis are known to play a role in schizophrenia, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are unknown. In this study, researchers discovered that defects in specific epigenetic actions biochemical reactions that regulate gene activity, such as turning genes on and off so that they can make substances like the GAD1 enzyme are involved.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 15, 2007, 9:52 PM CT

Oxytocin Level and Mother-Child Bond

Oxytocin Level and Mother-Child Bond
Humans are hard-wired to form enduring bonds with others. One of the primary bonds across the mammalian species is the mother-infant bond. Evolutionarily speaking, it is in a mother's best interest to foster the well-being of her child; however, some mothers just seem a bit more maternal than others do. Now, new research points to a hormone that predicts the level of bonding between mother and child.

In animals, oxytocin, dubbed "the hormone of love and bonding," is critically important for the development of parenting, is elicited during sexual intercourse, and is involved in maintaining close relationships. Animals with no oxytocin exhibit slower pup retrieval and less licking and self-grooming. These findings implicate oxytocin in the bonding process, but little research has been done on this relationship in humans.

Ruth Feldman, psychology professor at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, conducted the first study to demonstrate the links between oxytocin and bonding in human mothers. Feldman and his colleagues measured plasma oxytocin from sixty-two pregnant women during their first trimester, third trimester, and the first postpartum month.

They also observed the mother and child interact, defining the level of attachment along four aspects: gaze, affect, touch, and vocalization. Stronger attachment would mean that the mother focused her gaze mostly on the child, exhibited a positive energy towards the child, maintained constant affectionate and stimulating touch with the child, used a "motherese" speech with the child, and these species-typical maternal behaviors were adapted to the infant's alert state.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 12, 2007, 5:12 AM CT

Rejection sets off alarms for folks with low self-esteem

Rejection sets off alarms for folks with low self-esteem
Researchers used paintings to stimulate a variety of emotions, with the paintings reflecting (clockwise from top left) inclusion, rejection, positive and negative themes.
Few can tolerate such romantic or professional rebuffs as "It's not you, it's me" and "we regret to inform you that your application was not successful." But while a healthy dose of self-esteem can absorb the shock of rejection, poor self-esteem can trigger the primal fight-or-flight response, as per a new study from the University of California, Berkeley.

That doesn't mean people with low self-esteem are doomed to respond defensively to criticism and rejection. The UC Berkeley study suggests that those among them who are better at controlling their impulses are less vulnerable to rejection. This lays the groundwork for further investigation into what people who feel they don't measure up can do to cope with disappointment and maintain close relationships.

"Social rejection is inevitable in society," said Anett Gyurak, a graduate student who co-authored the study with Ozlem Ayduk, a UC Berkeley assistant professor of psychology. "But our findings suggest that if people with low self-esteem can improve their attention control skills, they might feel less terrible about themselves and counter the negative effects of rejection."

While remedies to improve attention control require further study, scientists speculate that training the mind to focus for extended time periods and behavioral treatment that teaches people with low self-esteem to take a more positive or contextual approach to disappointment may help.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 2, 2007, 10:07 PM CT

Female Academic Performance Lies In The (gender) Balance

Female Academic Performance Lies In The (gender) Balance
Have you ever felt outnumbered? Like there are just not that a number of people like you around? We've all felt outnumbered in one situation or another and walking into a situation in which you sense the possibility of being ostracized or isolated can be quite threatening.

One group that may experience this kind of threat is women who participate in math, science, and engineering (MSE) settings- settings in which the gender ratio is approximately 3 men to every 1 woman. Recently, in the wake of comments made by former Harvard University President, Larry Summers, suggesting that women may not possess the same "innate ability" or "natural ability" in these fields as do men, several leading scientific institutions and university presidents publicly lamented the underrepresentation of women in Math, Science and Engineering fields and put out a call to study the reasons for the numbers gap in these areas.

While prior research offers biological and socialization explanations for differences in the performance and representation of men and women in these fields, Stanford psychology experts, Mary Murphy and Claude Steele argue that the organization of Math, Science and Engineering environments themselves plays a significant role in contributing to this gap. Murphy contends that situational cues (i.e. being outnumbered) may contribute to a decrease in women's performance expectations, as well as their actual performance.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 2, 2007, 9:55 PM CT

On-screen smoking in movies and young adult smoking

On-screen smoking in movies and young adult smoking
New study findings show that exposure to on-screen smoking in movies has a strong correlation with beginning to smoke or becoming established smokers among young adults 18-25, a critical age group for lifelong smoking behavior.

The research was conducted by a team from the University of California, San Francisco. Prior studies from around the world observed that viewing on-screen smoking was associated with recruitment of adolescent smokers, but this is the first time that smoking among young adults has been linked to their exposure to smoking scenes on screen, said senior author Stanton Glantz, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

Ages 18 to 25 are critical years, when one-third of smokers start and others who began smoking as adolescents either stop smoking or become regular smokers, he said.

The research team found a dose-response relationship between exposure to smoking on screen and the likelihood of having smoked in the past 30 days in a sample of 1,528 young adults. The study findings appear in the recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Young adults who saw the most smoking on screen have a 77 percent greater chance of having smoked at least once in the last 30 days (a measure of smoking initiation) and an 86 percent increased chance of being regular established smokers in comparison to young adults who saw little smoking in movies, the study showed. Established smokers are defined as those who have smoked 100 cigarettes or more and currently smoke.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 1, 2007, 5:42 AM CT

Childhood TV viewing a risk for behavior problems

Childhood TV viewing a risk for behavior problems
Daily television viewing for two or more hours in early childhood can lead to behavioral problems and poor social skills, as per a research studyof children 2.5 to 5.5 years of age conducted by scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Hopkins scientists observed that the impact of TV viewing on a childs behavior and social skills varied by the age at which the viewing occurred. More importantly, heavy television viewing that decreased over time was not linked to behavior or social problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under age 2 watch no television while children age 2 and older are limited to no more than two hours of daily viewing. The study is reported in the October 2007 issue of Pediatrics.

Many studies have demonstrated negative effects of heavy television viewing. However, timing of exposure is an important consideration as reducing viewing to acceptable levels can reduce the risk of behavioral and social problems, said Kamila Mistry, MPH, lead author of the study and a doctoral candidate in the Bloomberg Schools Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health.

For the study, the research team analyzed data for 2,707 children collected from the Healthy Steps for Young Children national evaluation. Parents were surveyed about their childs television viewing habits and behavior at 2.5 and at 5.5 years of age.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 1, 2007, 5:35 AM CT

Don't sleep more, don't sleep less

Don't sleep more, don't sleep less
The first study to assess the stability of three aspects of sleep behavior in relation to long-term mortality finds an increased risk of mortality in short sleep, long sleep and frequent use of medications, as per a research studyreported in the October 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.

The study, authored by Christer Hublin, MD, PhD, of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki, Finland, focused on the responses of 21,268 twins to questionnaires administered in 1975 and 1981. The subjects were categorized as follows:
  • Short sleepers (less than seven hours)
  • Average sleepers
  • Long sleepers (more than eight hours)
  • Sleeping well
  • Sleeping fairly well
  • Sleeping fairly poorly/poorly
  • Not users of hypnotics and/or tranquilizers
  • Infrequent users of hypnotics and/or tranquilizers
  • Frequent users of hypnotics and/or tranquilizers


As per the results, significantly increased risk of mortality was observed both for short sleep in men (+26 percent) and in women (+ 21 percent), and for long sleep (+24 percent and +17 percent respectively), and also frequent use of hypnotics/tranquilizers (+31 percent in men and +39 percent in women). The effect of sleep on mortality varied between age groups, with strongest effects in young men.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


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


October 1, 2007, 5:31 AM CT

Women with severe PMS have poor sleep quality

Women with severe PMS have poor sleep quality
Women with severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) perceive their sleep quality to be poorer in association with their symptoms in the late luteal (premenstrual) phase, despite there being no specific alterations in sleep structure linked to premenstrual symptoms, as per a research studyreported in the October 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.

The study, authored by Fiona C. Baker, PhD, of the Human Sleep Research Program at SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif., and the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, focused on nine women with PMS or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and 12 controls. The subjects, all 18-40 years of age, had laboratory-based polysomnographic recordings at two phases of the menstrual cycle: follicular phase and late luteal phase.

As per the results, women with severe PMS reported a significantly poorer subjective sleep quality during the late luteal phase, but there was no evidence of disturbed sleep based on the polysomnogram specific to premenstrual symptom expression. Both groups of women had increased wakefulness after sleep onset and increased sigma power in the late luteal phase compared with the follicular phase.

There were, however, some group differences in electroencephalographic measures regardless of menstrual phase, including decreased delta incidence and increase theta incidence and amplitude in women with PMS, suggesting the possibility of sleep electroencephalogram trait markers in women with PMS.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


September 26, 2007, 8:41 PM CT

Autism symptoms can improve into adulthood

Autism symptoms can improve into adulthood
Hallmarks of autism are characteristic behaviors - repetitive motions, problems interacting with others, impaired communication abilities - that occur in widely different combinations and degrees of severity among those who have the condition.

But how those behaviors change as individuals progress through adolescence and adulthood has, until now, never been fully scientifically documented. In a new study, reported in the September Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, scientists have observed that symptoms can improve with age.

"On average, people are getting better," says Paul T. Shattuck, an assistant professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis who worked on the study as a graduate student and post-doctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Waisman Center and is the first author of the paper. "It is a hopeful finding, but the fact remains that those with severe autism will depend on others for their everyday needs and care for the rest of their lives".

Autism is a widespread condition in the United States, affecting an estimated one in 150 children and an unknown number of adults.

The new publication is part of a groundbreaking longitudinal study of more than 400 adolescents and adults with autism and their families led by Marsha Mailick Seltzer, a Wisconsin professor of social work and the director of the UW-Madison Waisman Center. "This project is one of the largest long-term studies of autism and it represents the collaborations of a team of scientists who together are investigating how autism changes across the life course," Seltzer explains.........

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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