Tag Archives: brain

Alien Hand Syndrome – a weird neurological problem

Alien Hand Syndrome (Credit: Namco Bandai Games)Alien Hand Syndrome is a rare; probably that’s why a strange, neurological disorder in which a person feels that one of his hands (anarchic hand) is outside of his or her control. This syndrome was first identified in the year 1909. It is also known as “Dr. Strangelove syndrome” as the fictional character Dr. Strangelove was unable to control his hand in making a Nazi salute. Continue reading

No Adverse Cognitive Effects in Kids Breastfed by Moms Using Antiepileptic Drugs

brain (Credit: Slowgogostock/Flickr)Main Point:

Breastfeeding by mothers treated with antiepileptic drug (AED) therapy was not associated with adverse effects on cognitive function in children at 6 years.

Published in:

JAMA Pediatrics

Author:

Kimford J. Meador, M.D., of Stanford University, California, and colleagues for the Neurodevelopmental Effects of Antiepileptic Drugs (NEAD) Study Group.

Background:

Some concern has been raised that breastfeeding by mothers being treated with AED therapy may be harmful to the child because some AEDs can cause neuronal apoptosis (cell death) in immature animal brains.

How the Study Was Conducted:

The study is an ongoing investigation of neurodevelopmental effects of AEDs on cognitive outcomes in children of mothers with epilepsy treated with AEDs. Preliminary results at age 3 years found no difference in IQ for children who breastfed vs. those who did not. However, IQ at age 6 years is more predictive of school performance and adult abilities. The study assessed 181 children at 6 years for whom investigators had both breastfeeding and IQ data. Continue reading

Intertwined evolution of human brain and brawn

Brain (Credit: Growing brain/Flickr)Main Points:

The cognitive differences between humans and our closest living cousins, the chimpanzees, are staggeringly obvious. Although we share strong superficial physical similarities, we have been able to use our incredible mental abilities to construct civilisations and manipulate our environment to our will, allowing us to take over our planet and walk on the moon while the chimps grub around in a few remaining African forests.

Published in:

PLOS Biology

Study Further:

But a new study suggests that human muscle may be just as unique. Scientists from Shanghai’s CAS-MPG Partner Institute for Computational Biology, together with teams from German Max Planck Institutes, investigated the evolution of metabolites – small molecules like sugars, vitamins, amino acids and neurotransmitters that represent key elements of our physiological functions. Their study found that metabolite concentrations evolved rapidly over the course of human evolution in two tissues: in the brain and, more surprisingly, in muscle. An article describing their findings will be published on May 27th in the open-access journal PLOS Biology. Continue reading

Imaging Examines Risky Decision Making on Brains of Methamphetamine Users

Main Point:

Methamphetamine users showed less sensitivity to risk and reward in one region of the brain and greater sensitivity in other brain regions compared with non-users when performing an exercise involving risky decision making.

Published in:

JAMA Psychiatry

Authors:

Milky Kohno, Ph.D., of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues

Background:

Deficiencies in decision making are linked to addiction. Chronic methamphetamine use is associated with abnormalities in the neural circuits of the brain involved in risky decision making. Faulty decision making is targeted in addiction therapy so understanding its causes could help in the development of more effective treatments.

How the Study Was Conducted:

The authors used functional magnetic resonance imaging in a study of 25 methamphetamine users and 27 non-users  (controls). The patients were examined at rest and when performing the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART), which involves the choice to pump up a balloon to increase earnings or cash out to avoid uncertain risk.

Results:

Methamphetamine users earned less than the healthy patients on the BART and they showed less sensitivity to risk and reward in the brain region known as the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (rDLPFC), greater sensitivity in the ventral striatum and greater mesocorticolimbic resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC). The healthy patients had a greater association between the RSFC of the rDLPFC and sensitivity of the rDLPFC to risk during risky decision making. The authors indicate that may suggest that a deficit in rDLPFC connectivity contributes to dysfunction in methamphetamine users.

Discussion:

“These findings suggest that circuit-level abnormalities affect brain function during risky decision making in stimulant users.”

Reference:

Milky Kohno PhD, Angelica M. Morales PhD, Dara G. Ghahremani PhD, Gerhard Hellemann PhD, Edythe D. London PhD. Risky Decision Making, Prefrontal Cortex, and Mesocorticolimbic Functional Connectivity in Methamphetamine Dependence. JAMA Psychiatry. 2014; 71(7):-. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.399

Editor’s Note:

Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Media Advisory:

To contact corresponding author Edythe D. London, Ph.D., call Mark Wheeler at 310-794-2265 or email MWheeler@mednet.ucla.edu.