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September 4, 2006, 9:51 PM CT

Trust Your Intuition

Trust Your Intuition
Risk and uncertainty are part of modern life, but why does the possibility of terrorist bombs on aeroplanes, a new generation of nuclear power stations and a flu pandemic trigger public distrust in the powers-that-be? What can the government do to re-build trust in politicians and scientists?

Risk scientists say the answer lies in emotions, not reason, particularly when the perceived risk is correlation to health, the environment, new technologies and energy. "There is a lot of evidence that concern about risk is directly correlation to lack of knowledge and the extent to which the event is dreaded," says Professor Peter Taylor-Gooby, Director of the Economic and Social Research Council Social Context and Responses to Risk Network (SCARR) at the University of Kent. "And trust always involves emotion as well as reason".

"The way that information about a particular risk is transmitted and interpreted by various audiences is also important in determining how people respond," Peter Taylor-Gooby explains. "Government should be certainly thinking about building trust, but it is very difficult to do. People need to feel they are being taken seriously and it would help if there was more reporting back after public consultations. Transparency is the key, especially when mistakes have been made".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 30, 2006, 4:55 AM CT

Repeated Alcohol Exposures Can Affect Brain

Repeated Alcohol Exposures Can Affect Brain
Scientists at the University at Buffalo studying the effects of alcohol on the brain, using zebrafish as a model, have identified several novel central nervous system proteins that are affected by chronic alcohol exposure.

They also confirmed the involvement of additional proteins previously suggested as targets of alcohol toxicity, and observed abnormal behavior in the fish resulting from chronic alcohol exposure.

Results of the research appeared in the Aug. 15 online edition of the European Journal of Pharmacology.

Five proteins were found to be overexpressed and three were found to be underexpressed. These proteins are believed to be involved in critical mechanisms such as programmed cell death, cholesterol balance, amino acid metabolism, oxidative stress and signal transduction.

"Identification of proteins that show selective changes in abundance after alcohol exposure has the potential to unlock new pathways both for understanding the mechanisms of alcoholism and alcohol toxicity, as well as its amelioration," said Richard A. Rabin, Ph.D., professor in the UB Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and senior author on the study.

Senthilkumar Damodaran, doctoral student in pharmacology, is first author.

The study involved 16 long-fin striped zebrafish, in two trials of eight each, which were placed as a group in a tank with ethyl alcohol for four weeks. Rabin said the scientists chose zebrafish because they are easy to breed and maintain, their DNA sequences are similar to that of humans and they are sensitive to alcohol concentrations.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 29, 2006, 9:15 PM CT

Stress And Alzheimer's Disease

Stress And Alzheimer's Disease
Stress hormones appear to rapidly exacerbate the formation of brain lesions that are the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, as per scientists at UC Irvine. The findings suggest that managing stress and reducing certain medications prescribed for the elderly could slow down the progression of this devastating disease.

In a study with genetically modified mice, Frank LaFerla, professor of neurobiology and behavior, and a team of UCI scientists observed that when young animals were injected for just seven days with dexamethasone, a glucocorticoid similar to the body's stress hormones, the levels of the protein beta-amyloid in the brain increased by 60 percent. When beta-amyloid production increases and these protein fragments aggregate, they form plaques, one of the two hallmark brain lesions of Alzheimer's disease. The researchers also observed that the levels of another protein, tau, also increased. Tau accumulation eventually leads to the formation of tangles, the other signature lesion of Alzheimer's. The findings are published in this week's issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

"It is remarkable that these stress hormones can have such a significant effect in such a short period of time," LaFerla said. "Eventhough we have known for some time that higher levels of stress hormones are seen in individuals in the early stages of Alzheimer's, this is the first time we have seen how these hormones play such a direct role in exacerbating the underlying pathology of the disease".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


August 28, 2006, 9:41 PM CT

Serious Mental Illness In Katrina Survivors

Serious Mental Illness In Katrina Survivors New Orleans Katrina survivors take the bus to schools Houston. (Photo DOD)
As per the most comprehensive survey yet completed of mental health among Hurricane Katrina survivors from Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, the proportion of people with a serious mental illness doubled in the months after the hurricane in comparison to a survey carried out several years before the hurricane. The study also observed that thoughts of suicide did not increase despite the dramatic increase in mental illness. The authors suggest that this low rate of suicide thoughts is due to optimistic beliefs about the success of future recovery efforts. The research, which was published recently in a special online edition of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, was led by scientists from Harvard Medical School (HMS).

"The increase in mental illness among Katrina survivors is not surprising, but the low suicidality is a surprise," says Ronald Kessler, PhD, professor of health care policy at HMS and lead author of the study. "Our concern, though, is that this lowering of suicidal tendencies appears to be strongly linked to expectations for recovery efforts that might not be realistic."

This report is the first in a planned series based on the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group, a statistically representative sample of hurricane survivors participating in ongoing tracking surveys to monitor the pace and mental health effects of hurricane recovery efforts. The project is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 27, 2006, 7:56 PM CT

Identifying People Most At Risk For Alcoholism

Identifying People Most At Risk For Alcoholism
Scientists at the Molecular Neurobiology Branch of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health, have completed the most comprehensive scan of the human genome to date associated with the ongoing efforts to identify people most at risk for developing alcoholism. This study represents the first time the new genomic technology has been used to comprehensively identify genes associated with substance abuse. The study can be viewed online and would be reported in the December 2006 issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B (Neuropsychiatric Genetics).

"Tools such as pooled data genome scanning give us a completely new way of looking at complex biological processes, such as addiction," says Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, director of the National Institutes of Health. "The ability to pinpoint genes in the human genome responsible for disease has the potential to revolutionize our ability to treat and even prevent diseases." .

"Prior studies established that alcoholism runs in families, but this research has given us the most extensive catalogue yet of the genetic variations that may contribute to the hereditary nature of this disease," says NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow. "We now have new tools that will allow us to better understand the physiological foundation of addiction."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 27, 2006, 7:19 PM CT

Acamprosate may help abstinent alcoholics sleep better

Acamprosate may help abstinent alcoholics sleep better
Alcoholics generally don't sleep well. Nor does abstinence improve the situation much. In fact, sleep difficulties during alcohol abstinence may be responsible for a relapse to alcoholism as individuals attempt to self medicate their sleeping problems. New findings show that an alcoholism-treatment drug called acamprosate, widely used in Europe, can alleviate post-withdrawal sleep disturbances by influencing glutamatergic transmission.

Results are published in the September issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"During chronic and excessive use of alcohol, short periods of deep sleep become interrupted by brief periods of restlessness," said Luc Staner, director of the Sleep Laboratory of the Centre Hospitalier de Rouffach. "This may also be accompanied by sleep terrors, sleepwalking and exacerbation of loud snoring or sleep apnea. During the day, alcohol intake can exacerbate sleepiness, which disrupts performance and contributes to accidents even when an individual is not significantly intoxicated." Staner is also a researcher at FORENAP, an organization that specializes in early drug development and research in neuroscience, located in Rouffach, France.

Sleep dysfunction does not necessarily improve with abstinence from alcohol, added Staner, who is also the corresponding author for the study. "Sleep is initially characterized by occasional nights of very little sleep and nightmares, followed by either progressive improvement or, very often, long-lasting sleep difficulties," he said. "If the latter, consequences may include decreased attention, vigilance, energy and concentration; increase in fatigue and malaise, irritability, etc. These often protracted symptoms lead some patients to resume drinking in an attempt to self-medicate their sleep problems. Probably for this reason, persistent post-withdrawal sleep complaints have been shown to predict relapse to alcoholism." ........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 24, 2006, 10:20 PM CT

Better exam results?

Better exam results?
Local Education Authorities in England achieve better GCSE examination results when they set targets and when central government provides financial incentives for achieving them, as per research at Cardiff University. The Cardiff Business School scientists compared the performance of local education authorities with such targets against the performance of those without them.

Professor George Boyne and Dr Alex Chen, Centre for Local and Regional Government Research, evaluated the impact of Round One Local Public Service Agreements between local authorities and central government. The purpose of the agreements is to enhance performance in a variety of key public service areas, including education.

Financial rewards are divided into 'Pump Priming Grants' and the 'Performance Reward Grant'. A Pump Priming Grant is paid at the start of the delivery period to assist local areas in delivering improvements, though they are also expected to contribute their own resources. And, a Performance Reward Grant is paid at the end as financial reward for achievement of the agreed outcomes.

The agreements are a major experiment for the UK public sector in "payment by results". In Round One Local Public Service Agreements, local authorities negotiated typically twelve targets with central government in exchange for a maximum reward of 2.5 percent of their net budget requirements. If all the first generation targets are achieved local authorities collectively would stand to receive in the region of an extra 1.3 billion.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 24, 2006, 10:17 PM CT

Psychology Of Aggressive Students

Psychology Of Aggressive Students
As the disturbing trend of school violence continues to plague our education system, it is important for caregivers, educators, and doctors to join forces to be proactive in its prevention. A study in the recent issue of The Journal of Pediatrics shows that students displaying violent behaviors often have untreated learning disorders and psychiatric illnesses.

Dr. Nancy Rappaport, a child psychiatry expert at Cambridge Health Alliance, and his colleagues from Harvard University reviewed 33 students in an urban public school district who were referred by school staff due to their aggressive behavior. The participants' ages ranged from 5 to 18 years old. The authors identified substance abuse in 11 students and at least one medical problem in 13 students. 28 of the 33 students (85%) reviewed had experienced a significant family crisis (such as sickness or death of a parent). 23 had participated in brief or intermittent psychosocial interventions, 5 of which included hospitalizations. 6 of the 18 students (33%) with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder had never received any kind of therapy for it.

These findings reflect the need for health care professionals, caregivers, and teachers to be able to identify potentially dangerous behavior patterns in aggressive students so that proper evaluations and diagnoses can be provided and subsequent therapys be made accessible.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 24, 2006, 9:34 PM CT

Save Money While Treating Drug Abuse

Save Money While Treating Drug Abuse
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently released a landmark report containing 13 specific principles and recommendations to rehabilitate drug offenders and ultimately provide substantial financial savings to communities. The publication, Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations, is based in part on the work of University of Kentucky Scientists Michele Staton-Tindall, Assistant Professor in the Department of Behavioral Science and Center on Drug and Alcohol Research (CDAR) and Carl Leukefeld, Professor of Behavioral Science and Director of CDAR.

Findings from Staton-Tindall's 2003 Kentucky study were used to profile the substance use, mental health problems, health problems and therapy history of incarcerated women. These findings point out the unique issues of women in criminal justice settings. The article is one of only two peer-evaluated articles cited in the entire NIH report.

Staton-Tindall and Leukefeld's research is part of the NIDA/NIH-funded Central States Criminal Justice Drug Abuse Treatment Research Systems (CJ-DATS) Center in Lexington. It is one of nine such centers in the U.S. The CJ-DATS Center studies drug abuse interventions in the criminal justice system. The goal of the research is to develop, implement, and test interventions to reduce recidivism, drug abuse and crime.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 23, 2006, 5:00 AM CT

Why soldiers were not expressing war traumas?

Why soldiers were not expressing war traumas?
After the Second World War, Finnish psychiatry experts felt that soldiers had readapted to civilian society very well. The reason was not that Finnish soldiers were exceptionally strong, but that war psychiatry experts put the blame for long-term psychological problems on the soldiers themselves. Thus explains researcher Ville Kivimäki, who is involved in the research project "The War That Follows Peace" funded by the Academy of Finland.

Soldiers very rarely sought compensation for psychological war injuries. As per Kivimäki, this does not indicate the non-existence of the problem: "Refusing to talk about traumatic war experiences is correlation to a deep-seated culture of shame and very limited resources for veterans to express their traumas. War psychiatry had a profound impact on the creation of this culture. Even though the restrictive and stigmatising aspects of war psychiatry might seem repulsive, it did establish a certain type of reality, defined possibilities for the existence of soldiers and veterans, and created tension between traumatic war experiences and the culturally acceptable forms of expressing them".

As per Kivimäki, war psychiatry experts were not just quacks, but primarily emphasised that soldiers presenting with psychological problems be quickly brought back from the front lines for therapy. Disabled patients were not forcibly returned to the front lines, at least as per official directives. They were given assignments in which they could best serve their country.........

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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