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July 16, 2007, 10:19 PM CT

Reanimating Paralyzed Faces

Reanimating Paralyzed Faces
A surgical technique known as temporalis tendon transfer, in conjunction with intense physical treatment before and after surgery, may help reanimate the features of those with facial paralysis, as per a report in the July/recent issue of Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

The rehabilitation of facial paralysis is one of the greatest challenges faced by reconstructive surgeons today, the authors write as background information in the article. It is an unfortunate fact that there is no ideal procedure that leads to the return of fully normal facial function. Furthermore, every case of facial paralysis is different in the cause of the paralysis, the degree and location of the paralysis and the resulting condition of the facial musculature and surrounding soft tissue envelope. A number of patients have excessive movement in some areas of the face and no movement in others; as a result, surgeons treating this condition must be able to perform multiple types of procedures and understand the underlying neurologic dysfunction.

Patrick J. Byrne, M.D., and his colleagues at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, report the results of seven facial paralysis patients treated with temporalis tendon transfer. This technique typically involves an incision beginning at the ear and ending 3 to 4 centimeters into the hairline at the temple. The temporalis muscle, a fan-shaped muscle on the side of the head, is cut at the point that it connects to the jawbone and released from the tissue surrounding it. Then, it is stretched to the point where the muscles of the mouth join together. The tendon that previously connected the temporalis muscle to the jawbone is cut free and then stretched horizontally for 3 to 4 centimeters; it is sutured to the surrounding muscles and deep skin tissue. Physical treatment to retrain facial muscles begins before the surgery and continues beginning seven days after the procedure.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 16, 2007, 10:15 PM CT

Chemical In Curry For Alzheimer's

Chemical In Curry For Alzheimer's
FINDINGS: Scientists isolated bisdemethoxycurcumin, the active ingredient of curcuminoids a natural substance found in turmeric root that may help boost the immune system in clearing amyloid beta, a peptide that forms the plaques found in Alzheimers disease. Using blood samples from Alzheimers disease patients, scientists observed that bisdemethoxycurcumin boosted immune cells called macrophages to clear amyloid beta. In addition, scientists identified the immune genes linked to this activity.

IMPACT: The study provides more insight into the role of the immune system in Alzheimers disease and points to a new therapy approach. Scientists say that it may be possible to test a patients immune response with a blood sample in order to individualize therapy. The genes involved in the process, called MGAT III and Toll-like receptors, are also responsible for many other key functions in the immune system. The results also suggest a new drug development approach for the disease that differs from the amyloid-beta vaccine. The new approach relies on the innate immune system, which is present at birth rather than on antibodies produced by B cells, which is a later developed part of the active immune system.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 16, 2007, 10:13 PM CT

Poor Sleep And Cognitive Decline

Poor Sleep And Cognitive Decline
Women who experienced cognitive decline over a 13 to 15 year period after age 65 were more likely to sleep poorly than women whose cognition did not decline, as per a research studyled by scientists at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC).

The womens cognitive decline was linked to interrupted or fitful sleep. Total sleep time per night made no difference, says lead author Kristine Yaffe, MD, chief of geriatric psychiatry at SFVAMC and professor of psychiatry, neurology, epidemiology, and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

This indicates that its not how long you sleep, but how well you sleep, she says.

The study appears in the July 17, 2007 issue of Neurology.

Yaffe speculates that there are three possible explanations for the association between cognitive decline and disturbed sleep. She says the first and most likely reason is that whatever neurodegenerative condition is starting to cause cognitive decline, such as Alzheimers disease, is also affecting areas of the brain that govern sleep.

Sleep is very complex, notes Yaffe. It involves a coordinated series of neurologic functions that we dont entirely understand. Its not unlikely that early neurodegenerative disease could start having an effect on sleep centers as well.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 12, 2007, 5:35 AM CT

How the brain and an iPhone differ

How the brain and an iPhone differ
UO psychologist Edward Awh and colleagues have found that people with high IQs may be able to remember more than the four objects an average person can store in short-term memory, but they may not be able to recall the objects with clarity.
Credit: Photo by Jim Barlow
How many simple objects can you think about at once? Even though people feel they have rich visual experiences, researchers have found that the average person is only aware of about four items at a time.

This ability, say researchers at the University of Oregon, varies from person to person, and theyve found that an individuals capacity of short-term memory is a strong predictor of IQ and scholastic achievement. People with high IQs can think about more things at once.

Because the capacity of the short-term memory system seems to underlie a core aspect of intelligence, cognitive psychologists have been interested in determining what causes a four-item limit for most people. One reasonable idea, which researchers have been tossing about, is that memory capacity might be influenced by the complexity of items being stored.

For example, a four-gigabyte iPhone, the popular new Apple cell phone, might be able to hold about 1,000 four-minute songs, but, of course, far fewer songs would fit in storage if the songs were all 20 minutes in length, explained UO psychology professors Edward Awh and Edward Vogel, co-authors with recent UO graduate Brian Barton on a study published in the July issue of Psychological Science.

Does human memory work the same way? Their study drew some surprising conclusions on the topic. Even when very complex objects had to be remembered by subjects participating in laboratory experiments, participants, who ranged in age from 18 to 30, still were able to hold four items in active memory. However, Awh said, the clarity of those items was not perfect, and some people had much clearer memories than others.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 10, 2007, 4:48 AM CT

Risks, Benefits Of Folic Acid Fortification

Risks, Benefits Of Folic Acid Fortification
Folic acid fortification may prevent neural tube defects, but it may increase the rate of colon cancer.
Since the institution of nationwide folic acid fortification of enriched grains in the mid 1990s, the number of infants born in the United States and Canada with neural tube defects has declined by 20 percent to 50 percent. Concurrent with the institution of fortification, however, the rate at which new cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed in men and women increased, report scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition.

Research Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University. Joel Mason, MD, director of the USDA HNRCAs Vitamins and Carcinogenesis Laboratory, and his colleagues analyze the temporal association between folic acid fortification and the rise in colorectal cancer rates, and present their resulting hypothesis in an article in the recent issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.

Nationwide fortification of enriched grains is generally considered one of the greatest advances in public health policy, says Mason, who is also an associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts. But since the time that the food supply in North America was fortified with folic acid, we have been experiencing four to six additional cases of colorectal cancer for every 100,000 individuals each year in comparison to the trends that existed before fortification.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 8, 2007, 10:33 PM CT

New Risk Factors Discovered for Alzheimer's Disease

New Risk Factors Discovered for Alzheimer's Disease
A recent study in Journal of Neuroimaging suggests that cognitively normal adults exhibiting atrophy of their temporal lobe or damage to blood vessels in the brain are more likely to develop Alzheimer's disease. Elderly adults showing signs of both conditions were seven-times more likely to develop Alzheimer's than their peers.

"Alzheimer's disease, a highly debilitating and ultimately fatal neurological disease, is already linked to other risk factors such as poor cognitive scores, education or health conditions," says study author Caterina Rosano. "This study, because it focused on healthy, cognitively normal adults, shows that there other risk factors we need to consider."

MRI images of participants' brains were examined to identify poor brain circulation, damaged blood vessels and/or atrophy of the medial temporal lobe. Subjects showing any one or a combination of these symptoms were more likely to develop Alzheimer's in the following years.

"Similarly to heart disease, brain blood vessel damage is more likely to occur in patients with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes," says Rosano. "Since we know that prevention of these conditions can lower risk of heart attack and stroke, it is likely that it would also lower the risk of developing Alzheimer's".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 5, 2007, 8:52 PM CT

Paying attention to attention

Paying attention to attention
Every kid knows that moms have eyes in the back of their heads. We are adept at fixing our gaze on one object while independently directing attention to others. Salk Institute neurobiologists are beginning to tease apart the complex brain networks that enable humans and other higher mammals to achieve this feat.

As per a research findings reported in the July 5, 2007 issue of Neuron, the scientists report two classes of brain cells with distinct roles in visual attention, and highlight at least two mechanisms by which these cells mediate attention. This study represents a major advance in our understanding of visual cognition, because it is the first study of attention to distinguish between different classes of neurons, says system neurobiologist John Reynolds, Ph.D., associate professor in the Systems Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute.

In the experiments, animals learned how to play a sophisticated video game, which challenged their visual attention-focusing skills. During the game, the Salk scientists recorded electrical activity from individual neurons in part of the visual cortex that has been implicated in mediating visual attention. (Please see video.).

http://www.snl.salk.edu/~jude/attentiontask.avi.

As illustrated in the demonstration, the neurons respond when a stimulus appears within a window (indicated by the circle) covering a small part of the visual field that the eye sees. This window is known as the neurons receptive field. Whenever the stimuli entered the neurons receptive field, the cell produced a volley of electrical spikes, known as action potentials, indicated by vertical tick marks in the demonstration.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 3, 2007, 9:36 PM CT

fireworks that spark seizures

fireworks that spark seizures
Bright light that flickers frequently or rapidly, like a strobe light, can trigger seizures in some people a phenomenon documented in nearly 700 children who were hospitalized in Japan 10 years ago after watching a Pokemon cartoon. The condition is much on the mind of a neurologist specializing in seizure disorders as the 4th of July holiday with all its fireworks approaches.

While Giuseppe Erba, M.D., is not aware of any instance where fireworks have actually caused a person to have a seizure, the doctor at the University of Rochester Medical Center says that a few people who are extremely sensitive to flashing light might be at risk during holiday celebrations this week, and he recommends a few precautions.

Like a number of seizure specialists, Erba treats patients with photosensitivity an extreme sensitivity to bright, rapidly flickering light that is experienced by some patients with epilepsy and a few otherwise healthy people. In 2004 he led an international committee on behalf of the Epilepsy Foundation that established standards for the video gaming industry to help prevent seizures among gamers, and recently he explained how an animation of a diver used last month to publicize the upcoming 2012 Olympic games in London can cause seizures.

In most people, the brain is able to handle the flood of visual information presented by rapidly flashing lights and repeating patterns. But in some people, the extra stimulation floods the brain and sends cells called neurons into a frenzy in which they fire uncontrollably, causing seizures. The phenomenon can occur when people watch TV, play video games, dance at a concert or club, or even ride in a car, when they are exposed to rapidly flickering light coming through the trees as the car moves along.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 27, 2007, 5:40 PM CT

New Imaging Technique for Early Detection of Multiple Sclerosis

New Imaging Technique for Early Detection of Multiple Sclerosis
Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation
Scientists from Purdue University have studied and recorded how myelin degrades real-time in live mice using a new imaging technique. Myelin is the fatty sheath coating the axons, or nerve cells, that insulate and aid in efficient nerve fiber conduction. In diseases such as multiple sclerosis, the myelin sheath has been found to degrade.

This unprecedented feat of looking real-time at the actual progress of demyelination will advance understanding of and perhaps promote early detection of conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

Using a technique called coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering microscopy, or CARS, researchers injected a compound called lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) into the myelin of a mouse. Then, using CARS, they observed an influx of calcium ions into the myelin. This influx is now believed to start the process of myelin degradation.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


June 27, 2007, 6:00 AM CT

A New Line Of Communication Between Neurons

A New Line Of Communication Between Neurons
In a host of neurological diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS) and several neuropathies, the protective covering surrounding the nerves an insulating material called myelin is damaged. Scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science have now discovered an important new line of communication between nervous system cells that is crucial to the development of myelinated nerves a discovery that may aid in restoring the normal function of the affected nerve fibers.

Nerve cells (neurons) have long, thin extensions called axons that can reach up to a meter and or more in length. Often, these extensions are covered by myelin, which is formed by a group of specialized cells called glia. Glial cells revolve around the axon, laying down the myelin sheath in segments, leaving small nodes of exposed nerve in between. More than just protection for the delicate axons, the myelin covering allows nerve signals to jump instantaneously between nodes, making the transfer of these signals quick and efficient. When myelin is missing or damaged, the nerve signals cant skip properly down the axons, leading to abnormal function of the affected nerve and often to its degeneration.

In research published recently in Nature Neuroscience, Weizmann Institute scientists Prof. Elior Peles, graduate student Ivo Spiegel, and their colleagues in the Molecular Cell Biology Department and in the United States, have now provided a vital insight into the mechanism by which glial cells recognize and myelinate axons.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
The drug Ativan is better than Valium or Dilantin for controlling severe epileptic seizures, according to a new review of studies.Ativan, or lorazepam, and Valium, or diazepam, are both benzodiazepines, the currently preferred class of drugs for treating severe epileptic seizures. Dilantin, or phenytoin, is an anticonvulsant long used for the treatment of epileptic seizures.

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