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Some astronauts at risk for cognitive impairment, animal studies suggest

Some astronauts at risk for cognitive impairment, animal studies suggest

Johns Hopkins scientists report that rats exposed to high-energy particles, simulating conditions astronauts would face on a long-term deep space mission, show lapses in attention and slower reaction times, even when the radiation exposure is in extremely low dose ranges. The cognitive impairments — which affected a large subset, but far from all, of the animals — appear to be linked to protein changes in the brain, the scientists say. The findings, if found to hold true in humans, suggest it may be possible to develop a biological marker to predict sensitivity to radiation’s effects on the human brain before deployment to deep space Continue reading

Financial incentives help economically-disadvantaged pregnant smokers quit, improve fetal growth

Financial incentives help economically-disadvantaged pregnant smokers quit, improve fetal growth

Smoking during pregnancy — particularly among economically-disadvantaged women — leads to a host of poor pregnancy outcomes, including miscarriage, preterm birth, SIDS, and additional adverse effects later in life. Without a formal treatment intervention, women in this population continue to smoke, and their babies suffer Continue reading

Proposal: Managing most troubling symptoms of dementia, lessen use of drugs

Proposal: Managing most troubling symptoms of dementia, lessen use of drugs

A new approach to handling agitation, aggression and other unwanted behaviors by people with dementia may help reduce the use of antipsychotics and other psychiatric drugs in this population, and make life easier for them and their caregivers, a team of experts says. Publishing their recommendations under the easy-to-remember acronym of “DICE”, the panel of specialists in senior mental health hope to spark better teamwork among those who care for dementia patients at home, in residential facilities and in hospitals and clinics Continue reading

Treating depression in Parkinson’s Disease patients: New research

Treating depression in Parkinson’s Disease patients: New research

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Published in the journal Psychiatry Research , the study, which assessed cognitive function in depressed and non-depressed patients with PD, found that the dopamine replacement therapy commonly used to treat motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease was associated with a decline in cognitive performance among depressed Parkinson patients. In contrast, non-depressed Parkinson patients’ cognitive function improved on dopamine replacement therapy Continue reading

Treating depression in Parkinson’s Disease patients: New research

Treating depression in Parkinson’s Disease patients: New research

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Published in the journal Psychiatry Research , the study, which assessed cognitive function in depressed and non-depressed patients with PD, found that the dopamine replacement therapy commonly used to treat motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease was associated with a decline in cognitive performance among depressed Parkinson patients. In contrast, non-depressed Parkinson patients’ cognitive function improved on dopamine replacement therapy Continue reading

Impact of childhood bullying still evident after 40 years

Impact of childhood bullying still evident after 40 years

The negative social, physical and mental health effects of childhood bullying are still evident nearly 40 years later, according to new research by King’s College London. Continue reading

Obesity: Are lipids hard drugs for the brain?

Obesity: Are lipids hard drugs for the brain?

Why can we get up for a piece of chocolate, but never because we fancy a carrot? Serge Luquet’s team at the “Biologie Fonctionnelle et Adaptative” laboratory (CNRS/Université Paris Diderot) has demonstrated part of the answer: triglycerides, fatty substances from food, may act in our brains directly on the reward circuit, the same circuit that is involved in drug addiction. Continue reading

Finding the switch: Researchers create roadmap for gene expression

Finding the switch: Researchers create roadmap for gene expression

In a new study, researchers from North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill and other institutions have taken the first steps toward creating a roadmap that may help scientists narrow down the genetic cause of numerous diseases. Their work also sheds new light on how heredity and environment can affect gene expression. Continue reading

Finding the switch: Researchers create roadmap for gene expression

Finding the switch: Researchers create roadmap for gene expression

In a new study, researchers from North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill and other institutions have taken the first steps toward creating a roadmap that may help scientists narrow down the genetic cause of numerous diseases. Their work also sheds new light on how heredity and environment can affect gene expression Continue reading

Splice variants reveal connections among autism genes

Splice variants reveal connections among autism genes

A team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Center for Cancer Systems Biology (CCSB) at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has uncovered a new aspect of autism, revealing that proteins involved in autism interact with many more partners than previously known. These interactions had not been detected earlier because they involve alternatively spliced forms of autism genes found in the brain. In their study, published in the April 11, 2014 online issue of Nature Communications , the scientists isolated hundreds of new variants of autism genes from the human brain, and then screened their protein products against thousands of other proteins to identify interacting partners. Continue reading