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August 9, 2006, 11:18 PM CT

High Blood Sugar May Cause Cognitive Impairment

High Blood Sugar May Cause Cognitive Impairment
A four-year study of elderly women has observed that chronically elevated blood sugar is linked to an increased risk of developing either mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia.

The study was the first to investigate the association over time between glycosylated hemoglobin - a long-term measure of blood sugar - and the risk of cognitive difficulties, and the first to investigate that association in people without diabetes. It appears in the Volume 10, Number 4 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging.

"We already know there's a correlation between diabetes and cognitive problems," says lead author Kristine Yaffe, MD, a staff doctor at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and a professor of psychiatry, neurology, and epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco. "We were interested in what this measurement would tell us about a group of women with and without diabetes who were followed for four years. Nobody has really looked at that before."

The glycosylated hemoglobin test measures the percentage of hemoglobin - the oxygen-bearing protein in red blood cells - that is bound to glucose. Unlike the standard diabetic blood sugar test, which measures blood sugar at the moment of testing, glycosylated hemoglobin is considered an accurate measure of blood sugar levels over the course of two to four months preceding the test. A result of seven percent or less indicates good long-term blood sugar control.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 9, 2006, 10:27 PM CT

Behaviors That Can Lead To Poor Health

Behaviors That Can Lead To Poor Health
Adolescents who feel dissatisfied with their bodies are at higher risk for future binge eating, smoking, poor eating, and decreased physical activity, as per new research from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

A study reported in the August 2006 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health found lower levels of body satisfaction among teenagers can predict the use of unhealthy weight control behaviors, which can lead to weight gain and poorer overall health.

Teenage girls who weren't satisfied with their bodies were more likely to binge eat, participate in less physical activity, eat less fruits and vegetables, take diet pills, and induce vomiting five years later. Adolescent boys with low body satisfaction were also more prone to these unhealthy habits and more likely to start smoking in the future. In contrast, teenagers with a positive body image were more likely to take care of themselves through healthy eating and exercise.

"This study shows that teens who have negative feelings about their bodies don't turn to healthy weight management," said Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., lead author and professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. "Instead, they use weight control behaviors that put them at a higher risk for obesity and poor health down the road. With this in mind, interventions with teens should strive to boost self-confidence so they will want to take care of themselves the right way".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 9, 2006, 10:16 PM CT

Antioxidants against tick-borne illness

Antioxidants against tick-borne illness Ixodid tick
For hikers, campers and others who enjoy the outdoors, summer can bring concerns about tick bites and related illnesses such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Scientists are investigating the role that antioxidants -- alpha-lipoic acid and potentially others like green tea and vitamins C and E, for example might play in preventing or treating the deadly rickettsia bacteria.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, part of the National Institutes of Health, awarded the University of Rochester Medical Center $2 million for a five-year study of the antioxidant theory. The grant caps more than a decade of rickettsia research led by Sanjeev Sahni, Ph.D.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most frequently reported illness in the United States caused by the rickettsia bacteria, which is transmitted by tick parasites. It commonly afflicts otherwise healthy adults and children who are bitten by wood ticks or dog ticks. The illness can become life threatening if left untreated, and spotted fever can be difficult for physicians to diagnose because the earliest signs mimic less-serious viral illnesses. Limiting exposure to ticks is the best way to prevent the disease. If it does develop, in most cases doctors can treat it with antibiotics. Typhus is another rickettsial disease spread by lice or fleas. Eventhough less common, typhus remains a threat in crowded jails and in other poor hygienic environments.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


August 9, 2006, 7:09 AM CT

Transcendental Meditation And Pain

Transcendental Meditation And Pain
Twelve healthy long-term meditators who had been practicing Transcendental Meditation for 30 years showed a 40-50% lower brain response to pain in comparison to 12 healthy controls, reported by a latest NeuroReport journal article, published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (Vol.17 No.12; 21 August 2006:1359-1363). Further, when the 12 controls then learned and practiced Transcendental Meditation for 5 months, their brain responses to pain also decreased by a comparable 40-50%. www.neuroreport.com Current issue (Aug 9).

Transcendental Meditation could reduce the brain's response to pain because neuroimaging and autonomic studies indicate that it produces a physiological state capable of modifying various kinds of pain. In time it reduces trait anxiety, improves stress reactivity and decreases distress from acute pain.

As per Orme-Johnson, lead author of this research, "Previous research indicates that Transcendental Meditation creates a more balanced outlook on life and greater equanimity in reacting to stress. This study suggests that this is not just an attitudinal change, but a fundamental change in how the brain functions".

Pain is part of everyone's experience and 50 million people worldwide suffer from chronic pain. Transcendental Meditation would have a long term effect in reducing responses in the affective component of the pain matrix. Future research could focus on other areas of the pain matrix and the possible effects of other meditation techniques to relieve pain.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


August 8, 2006, 9:59 PM CT

Social Stresses Overlooked

Social Stresses Overlooked
When thinking about the well-being of elderly adults, most people focus on medical care, but mental health care is a growing, pressing concern for elderly adults and their families. "At least one in five elderly adults suffer from a mental disorder and experts in geriatric mental health anticipate an 'unprecedented explosion' of elderly adults with disabling mental disorder," says Enola K. Proctor, Ph.D., a mental health care expert and professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis.

"While elderly adults may receive adequate medical and psychiatric care, they rarely receive the care necessary to deal with the general 'problems with living,' or social stresses. These psychosocial problems, such as isolation and family stress, may exacerbate psychiatric problems, depression in particular, and contribute to functional decline."

Just as the quality of medical care has become a major national concern, the quality of mental health care has become a primary focus of the Institute of Medicine and other national policy groups. In a new study reported in the current issue of The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research (Vol. 33), Proctor and his colleagues examined the quality of follow-up care for 186 patients discharged from the geropsychiatric unit of a large urban hospital after therapy for depression.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 8, 2006, 9:55 PM CT

Teamwork: Where The Weak Help The Strong

Teamwork: Where The Weak Help The Strong
Group work is the name of the game in a number of companies. The thinking is that workers will learn more and help each other when they are put into groups composed of people with a variety of expertise. But does this always happen? Some recent research suggests that it may not. at least not always.

"In order to understand how things happen in groups, you need to be aware of the group's hierarchy of status and influence," said Stuart Bunderson, associate professor of organizational behavior at the Olin School of Business at Washington University in St. Louis. "Those hierarchies can actually get in the way of some really important group goals like member-to-member helping and knowledge exchange."

In a co-authored study, Bunderson observed that group status hierarchies that form around perceptions of relative expertise can have some dysfunctional side effects. Specifically, he observed that group members felt more committed to and were more likely to help those members who were perceived to have a higher level of expertise - and were therefore higher status. In other words, the less expert members were helping the more expert members instead of the other way around! And this propensity to ingratiate oneself with the more expert members was particularly pronounced for members who were themselves perceived to be more expert.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


August 8, 2006, 9:36 PM CT

Exploring Alzheimer's Causes

Exploring Alzheimer's Causes Li-Huei Tsai Photo / Cynthia Henshall, Picower Institute
Some people live to be 100 without falling victim to Alzheimer's disease. Li-Huei Tsai, who joined MIT this spring as Picower Professor of Neuroscience, wants to know why.

Amyloid beta or Abeta (a protein fragment that accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer's patients) is a telltale sign of the disease, which affects 4 million Americans, most over age 65. Normally, the body manages to break down and eliminate these fragments, but in the aging brain, they tend to form insoluble plaques.

To add to the mystery, some people function relatively normally with plaques nestled among their neurons, while others are virtually incapacitated. "There are people with a significant plaque load who can keep up with their daily lives," said Tsai, who has appointments in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory. "Obviously, other factors are determining whether they have full-blown Alzheimer's."

Tsai, who as a child in Taipei witnessed her beloved grandmother's descent into dementia, is determined to unravel the thorny questions linked to neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders.

Tsai uses a combination of molecular, cellular and biochemical approaches to study Alzheimer's disease and psychiatric and developmental disorders. She focuses on a kinase (kinases are enzymes that change proteins) called Cdk5. Cdk5, paired with the protein p35, helps new neurons form and migrate to their correct positions during brain development. But Cdk5, paired with an aberrant form of p35 called p25, also is implicated in age-related neurodegenerative diseases.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


August 8, 2006, 8:50 PM CT

Brain's Visual Area: How Behavior Is Organized

Brain's Visual Area: How Behavior Is Organized
A brain region that focuses on vision also receives signals that may help configure the operation of the brain, neuroresearchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report.

If the brain is thought of as an army, the new signals may give researchers a unique opportunity to trace how messages from the high command reach all the way down to individual soldiers in a particular platoon and affect their activities.

That's because the brain region in question, called V1, has already been the focus of detailed studies at the level of individual brain cell interactions and how they encode and analyze data from the eyes.

"To really understand how a control signal works, you first have to know how the mechanism being controlled works, and we already have a fairly detailed feel for that in V1," says Anthony I. Jack, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow and lead author of a study that appeared last month in the journal Neuron. "This provides us with a potential way of understanding a major puzzle: on a minute scale, how do control signals change how neurons process incoming information?".

Much of the human brain's power derives from its ability to take one stimulus and process it in different ways to meet a variety of needs. Different parts of the brain have specialized abilities that can contribute in various ways to completion of different tasks. They just need to be told when to shift from one task to the next.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


August 8, 2006, 8:42 PM CT

Nutrition's Role In Genes And Birth Defects

Nutrition's Role In Genes And Birth Defects
Expectant mothers may someday get a personalized menu of foods to eat during pregnancy to complement their genetic makeup as a result of new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Scientists used transparent fish embryos to develop a way to discover how genes and diet interact to cause birth defects.

"By the time most women know they are pregnant, the development of the fetus' organs is essentially complete," said Bryce Mendelsohn, co-author and an M.D./Ph.D. student in the Medical Scientist Training Program at Washington University School of Medicine. "Since we currently do not understand the interaction between genetics and nutrition, the goal of this research was to understand how the lack of a specific nutrient, in this case copper, interacts with an embryo's genetics during early development."

Mendelsohn is doing the research in the laboratory of Jonathan D. Gitlin, M.D., the Helene B. Roberson Professor of Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine, director of genetics and genomic medicine at St. Louis Children's Hospital and scientific director of the Children's Discovery Institute.

Mendelsohn and collaborators Stephen L. Johnson, Ph.D., associate professor of genetics at the School of Medicine, and graduate student Chunyue Yin, working with Lila Solnica-Krezel, associate professor of biology at Vanderbilt University, studied the impact of copper metabolism on the development of zebrafish, a vertebrate that develops similarly to humans. Zebrafish have become staples of genetic research because the transparent embryos grow outside of the mother's body, which allows development to be easily observed.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


August 8, 2006, 0:18 AM CT

New Learning Strategy

New Learning Strategy In the Thoroughman laboratory, volunteers play games on a computer screeen using a robotic arm so that Thoroughman and his colleagues can study how people learn motor skills.
Central to being human is the ability to adapt: We learn from our mistakes. Prior theories of learning have assumed that the size of learning naturally scales with the size of the mistake. But now biomedical engineers at Washington University in St. Louis have shown that people can use alternative strategies: Learning does not necessarily scale proportionally with error.

In so doing, Kurt Thoroughman, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Washington University, and his graduate student, Michael Fine, have discovered a new learning strategy they call categorical adaptation in which steps of learning are sensitive to the direction of error, but do not scale proportionally with the size of the error. Eventually, their findings could have an impact in the rehabilitation of people with neurological ailments such as strokes by making use of different learning environments.

If you make a movement error in one direction, in makes sense that your next movement would correct toward the opposite direction, in exact proportion to the error. An example would be a pitcher correcting to the right, after missing home plate to the left with a pitch.

"We show that learning does not necessarily scale with error," said Thoroughman. "I think we have uncovered a part of human adaptation that certainly doesn't do that. We are not claiming that all prior theories are false in the behaviors that were captured. It's just that we have for the first time found a part of human adaptation that clearly does not scale with the size of the error."........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source



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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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