Nerve endings on our fingertips have the same ability of performing complex neural computations as we can find in our brain. Read more…
Breastfeeding by mothers treated with antiepileptic drug (AED) therapy was not associated with adverse effects on cognitive function in children at 6 years.
Kimford J. Meador, M.D., of Stanford University, California, and colleagues for the Neurodevelopmental Effects of Antiepileptic Drugs (NEAD) Study Group.
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. Read more…
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.
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. Read more…
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.
Milky Kohno, Ph.D., of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues
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.
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.
“These findings suggest that circuit-level abnormalities affect brain function during risky decision making in stimulant users.”
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
Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.
To contact corresponding author Edythe D. London, Ph.D., call Mark Wheeler at 310-794-2265 or email MWheeler@mednet.ucla.edu.
- Older migraine sufferers may be more likely to have silent brain injury.
- Ischemic silent brain infarctions are symptomless brain injuries and are a risk factor for future strokes.
- Researchers suggest people who have both migraines and vascular risk factors pay close attention to lifestyle factors that can reduce their chance of stroke.