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April 30, 2008, 5:55 PM CT

Salk study links diabetes and Alzheimer's disease

Salk study links diabetes and Alzheimer's disease
Diabetic individuals have a significantly higher risk of developing Alzheimers disease but the molecular correlation between the two remains unexplained. Now, scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies identified the probable molecular basis for the diabetes Alzheimers interaction.

As per a research findings reported in the current online issue of Neurobiology of Aging, researchers led by David R. Schubert, Ph.D., professor in the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, report that the blood vessels in the brain of young diabetic mice are damaged by the interaction of elevated blood glucose levels characteristic of diabetes and low levels of beta amyloid, a peptide that clumps to form the senile plaques that riddle the brains of Alzheimers patients.

Eventhough the damage took place long before the first plaques appeared, the mice suffered from significant memory loss and an increase in inflammation in the brain. Eventhough the toxic beta amyloid peptide was first isolated from the brain blood vessels of Alzheimers patients, the contribution of pathological changes in brain vascular tissue to the disease has not been well studied, says Dave R. Schubert, Ph.D., professor and head of the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory. Our data clearly describe a biochemical mechanism to explain the epidemiology, and identify targets for drug development.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 24, 2008, 5:08 AM CT

Every fifth adolescent smokes

Every fifth adolescent smokes
As a number of as 20% of adolescents from 11 to 17 years of age smoke. This was the result of the nationwide German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS), performed by the Robert Koch Institute and presented by the sociologist Thomas Lampert in the current edition of Deutsches rzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2008; 105[15]: 265-71).

The analysis of tobacco consumption by children and adolescents covered almost 7,000 girls and boys aged 11 to 17. Data on the current smoking status and on exposure to passive smoking were collected for the years 2003 to 2006. Possible factors influencing the findings were examined, including the social status of the family, the type of school attended by the adolescents, and the smoking status of parents and friends.

Thomas Lampert's study shows that friends and the type of school have greater influence on smoking behavior than the parents do. The probability that an adolescent starts smoking is markedly greater when his or her friends smoke. The risk is hardly increased if the parents smoke. Conversely, students at general secondary schools (Hauptschule), intermediate schools (Realschule) or comprehensive schools (Gesamtschule) smoke much more frequently than do pupils at high school (Gymnasium).........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 24, 2008, 5:01 AM CT

Environment influences when drinking begins

Environment influences when drinking begins
The influence of genetics increases as young women transition from taking their first drink to becoming alcoholics. A team of scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis observed that eventhough environment is most influential in determining when girls begin to drink, genes play a larger role if they advance to problem drinking and alcohol dependence.

The scientists studied 3,546 female twins ages 18 to 29 to ferret out the influences of genes and environment in the development of alcohol dependence. Their findings are reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

The road to alcohol dependence involves transitions through a number of stages of drinking behaviors: from the first drink to the first alcohol-related problems (such as drinking and driving, difficulty at school or work correlation to alcohol use) to alcohol dependence.

Environmental factors the twins shared, such as exposure to conflict between parents or alcohol use among peers in school, exerted the largest influence on initiation of alcohol use. The study observed that females who had their first drink at an earlier age were more likely to develop serious alcohol problems. The scientists observed that all transitions were attributable in part to genetic factors, increasing from 30 percent for the timing of first drink to 47 percent for the speed at which women progressed from problem drinking to alcohol dependence. But genetics did not explain everything.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 21, 2008, 9:07 PM CT

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke or Pepsi?
A can of Coke next to the word awesome; a can of Pepsi next to a picture of a happy couple. Seem too basic to be effective advertising" Previous research has shown that reported attitudes towards brands are not affected by such simple juxtapositions. However, a new paper in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research examines our implicit opinions and finds that we may actually be more susceptible than we think.

Bryan Gibson (Central Michigan University) showed undergraduate psychology students pairings of well-known cola brands with words and images. Some had positive associations: a field of flowers, the word awesome, or a mother holding a child. Others had negative associations: people at a gravesite, the word terrifying, or a person in a contamination suit.

Participants were then distracted by an unrelated cognitive task memorizing an eight-digit number and offered a can of Coke or Pepsi to take home with them.

When distracted, those who were initially neutral towards both brands strongly tended to choose the brand that had been paired with positive images or words in the earlier task. Importantly, this happened even when the participant couldnt remember which brand had been paired with positive information, Gibson reports.

Those who had an established preference for one brand before the experiment, as established by a pre-test, were not affected by the inclusion of a distracting task while making their choices.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 21, 2008, 7:54 PM CT

Why teens get hooked on cocaine more easily

Why teens get hooked on cocaine more easily
New drug research suggests that teens may get addicted and relapse more easily than adults because developing brains are more powerfully motivated by drug-related cues. This conclusion has been reached by scientists who observed that adolescent rats given cocaine a powerfully addicting stimulant were more likely than adults to prefer the place where they got it. That learned association endured: Even after experimenters extinguished the drug-linked preference, a small reinstating dose of cocaine appeared to rekindle that preference but only in the adolescent rats.

The research, performed at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical Schools largest psychiatric facility, was published in the recent issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, published by the American Psychological Association.

Evidence that younger brains get stuck on drug-related stimuli reinforces real-world data. Epidemiological studies confirm that of people in various age groups who experiment with drugs, teens are by far the most likely to become addicted. Thus, the new findings may be useful in developing new therapys for youthful addiction.

In the study, psychology experts Heather Brenhouse, PhD, and Susan Andersen, PhD, who directs McLeans Developmental Psychopharmacology Laboratory, introduced rats that were 38 or 77 days old (equivalent to 13 or 20 human years) to an apparatus with one central and two larger side chambers that had different flooring, wall colors and lighting. For three days in a row, the scientists injected the rats with saline solution in the morning and placed them in one side chamber for an hour. Four hours later, they injected them with a preference-forming dose of cocaine (either 10 or 20 mg per kg of weight, to assess two doses known to be habit-forming) and placed them in the opposite-side chamber for an hour. Conditioning this way kept the rats from associating the symptoms of withdrawal with the non-drug chamber.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 21, 2008, 6:34 PM CT

Brain reacts to fairness as it does to money and chocolate

Brain reacts to fairness as it does to money and chocolate
The human brain responds to being treated fairly the same way it responds to winning money and eating chocolate, UCLA researchers report. Being treated fairly turns on the brain's reward circuitry.

"We may be hard-wired to treat fairness as a reward," said co-author of study Matthew D. Lieberman, UCLA associate professor of psychology and a founder of social cognitive neuroscience.

"Receiving a fair offer activates the same brain circuitry as when we eat craved food, win money or see a beautiful face," said Golnaz Tabibnia, a postdoctoral scholar at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and lead author of the study, which appears in the recent issue of the journal Psychological Science.

The activated brain regions include the ventral striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Humans share the ventral striatum with rats, mice and monkeys, Tabibnia said.

"Fairness is activating the same part of the brain that responds to food in rats," she said. This is consistent with the notion that being treated fairly satisfies a basic need, she added.

In the study, subjects were asked whether they would accept or decline another person's offer to divide money in a particular way. If they declined, neither they nor the person making the offer would receive anything. Some of the offers were fair, such as receiving $5 out of $10 or $12, while others were unfair, such as receiving $5 out of $23.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 21, 2008, 6:03 PM CT

Counseling trauma victims causes secondary trauma

Counseling trauma victims causes secondary trauma
Hearing repeated stories of suffering from trauma victims causes serious psychological stress in clinical social workers, a new Geisinger-led study suggests.

In a study appearing in the May edition of Research on Social Work Practice, Geisinger Senior Investigator Joseph Boscarino, PhD, MPH and his co-scientists examined psychological stress, job burnout and secondary trauma among 236 New York City social workers following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Secondary trauma includes experiencing symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress such as having nightmares or flashbacks, being easily startled and avoiding situations that remind one of the original trauma. Sometimes called vicarious trauma, it can seriously impact the mental health of counselors, first responders, critical care nurses and others in healthcare professions involved with treating those exposed to traumatic events, Boscarino said.

The study observed that involvement in World Trade Center recovery effort was the primary reason why social workers experienced secondary trauma.

The research also showed that a positive work environment for social workers helped reduce secondary trauma and prevent job burnout.

Listening to a persons traumatic experiences can be a very difficult experience for a clinician, Boscarino said. Sometimes caregivers need emotional support of their own and if they dont get it, they can become emotionally ill.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 17, 2008, 7:46 PM CT

Parents stricter with older kids to set example

Parents stricter with older kids to set example
Parents are more likely to punish their teen's risky behavior when there are younger kids in the family, driven by a desire to set a strict example for these siblings, says new game theory research from the University of Maryland, Duke University and The Johns Hopkins University.

The research team used economic game theory to predict levels of parental discipline. Parental concern for their reputation as a disciplinarian with the younger children would be a powerful motivator, they predicted.

Their study, reported in the April edition of the Economic Journal, concludes that the exercise of parental control is effective in modifying the risky adolescent behavior.

This is particularly true in the case of the older children, who expect stronger penalties because their parents are making an example of them.

But as the younger siblings grow up and the games get played out a second or third time, the parents resolve tends to dwindle, the scientists say.

Tender-hearted parents find it harder and harder to engage in tough love as they have fewer young children in the house, since they have less incentive to uphold reputations as disciplinarians, says University of Maryland economist, Ginger Gin, one of three co-authors of the study, and herself an older sister and a parent of two. As a result, the theory predicts that last-born and only children, knowing that they can get away with much more than their older brothers and sisters, are, on average, more likely to engage in risky behaviors.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


April 13, 2008, 9:08 PM CT

Disparities in depression

Disparities in depression
Older Puerto Ricans have higher rates of depression than other Hispanics living in the United States, as per a new study by scientists at Hebrew SeniorLifes Institute for Aging Research (IFAR).

Nearly 7 percent of Puerto Ricans, who make up 11 percent of the Hispanics 65 and older in the U.S., suffer from major depression, in comparison to Mexican Americans, Cuban Americans, and Hispanics from Central and South America. Only 2.8 percent of Mexican Americans (46.7 percent of the older Hispanic population) and 2.5 percent of Cuban Americans (13 percent) suffer from major depression.

We found the prevalence of depression across Hispanic groups in the United States to be highest in Puerto Ricans, even though this was the smallest group, the scientists wrote in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences.

Funded in part by the National Institute on Aging, the study was conducted by IFAR researchers Frances M. Yang, Ph.D., and Richard N. Jones, Sc.D., along with Yamileth Cazorla-Lancaster of the University of North Texas School of Public Health.

The scientists examined differences in the levels of depressive symptoms and the presence of depression in 759 Hispanics over the age of 59. Data was obtained from the University of Michigans Health and Retirement Study and its Asset of Health Dynamics of the Oldest Old (AHEAD) study.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


April 13, 2008, 9:05 PM CT

Autism and muscle weakness

Autism and muscle weakness
Some kids with autism may have a genetic defect that affects the muscles, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology 60th Anniversary Annual Meeting in Chicago, April 1219, 2008.

The study looked at 37 children with autism spectrum disorders who were evaluated for mitochondrial disease,.

which causes muscle weakness and prevents a child from being able to participate in physical activities and.

sports. Mitochondrial disease occurs when genetic mutations affect the mitochondria, or the part of the cell that releases energy.

A total of 24 of the children, or 65 percent, had defects in the process by which cells produce and synthesize energy in the muscles, or oxidative phosphorylation defects in the skeletal muscles.

Most children with autism spectrum disorders do not have recognizable abnormalities when you look at.

genetic tests, imaging, and metabolic tests, said study author John Shoffner, MD, owner of Medical.

Neurogenetics, LLC in Atlanta, GA, and member of the American Academy of Neurology. But a subset of these children does have significant defects in this area. Identifying this defect is important for understanding how genes that produce autism spectrum disorders impact the function of the mitochondria.........

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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