Posted by WBHI on Mar 31, 2012 in Think Twice
Why depression is more common among women
by Roxana Parsa for The McGill Daily
It should come as no surprise that depression is the most common mental illness and leading cause of disability in the world. But it does not effect everyone equally. Consistent findings show that depression is a highly gendered problem; the prevalence of depression is 1.5 to 3 times greater in women than in men. Explanations as to why this discrepancy exists are often problematic, but new attitudes toward mental health show promise.
The most common explanation is predicated upon the biomedical model that currently dominates our understanding of psychiatric – and physiological – illness. These theories explain that the different hormones and neurochemicals distributed between the sexes make women more vulnerable to depression.
It is hard to deny the fact that depression itself has a chemical and biological basis. A better understanding of the way deficiencies or excesses of certain neurochemicals can affect behaviour has led to a widespread understanding of mental illness as something that people cannot control on their own.
Posted by WBHI on Mar 30, 2012 in Think It Over
by Medical XPress
The deposition of amyloid beta in the brain of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease is the focus of much research into both its cause and treatment.
While there may not be a consenus as to whether the deposition contributes to the disease or is a consequence of the disease, there is agreement that it is not favoured thermodynamically, meaning that something else is promoting the process.
Other proteins are often co-deposited in vivo with amyloid beta and one such protein is serum amyloid P component (or SAP).
Recent evidence has suggested that SAP is elevated in Alzheimer’s disease and a team of researchers from Keele University in Staffordshire, UK, led by Professor Chris Exley, has shown that physiologically-significant concentrations of SAP promote the deposition of amyloid beta under conditions approaching those found in vivo.
Posted by WBHI on Mar 30, 2012 in Sooner Than You Think
by Zee News
Researchers have produced the first atlas of the surface of the human brain based upon genetic information.
The atlas reveals that the cerebral cortex – the sheet of neural tissue enveloping the brain – is roughly divided into genetic divisions that differ from other brain maps based on physiology or function. The genetic atlas provides scientists with a new tool for studying and explaining how the brain works, particularly the involvement of genes.
“Genetics are important to understanding all kinds of biological phenomena,” said William S. Kremen, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and co-senior author with Anders M. Dale, PhD, professor of radiology, neurosciences, and psychiatry, also at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.
“If we can understand the genetic underpinnings of the brain, we can get a better idea of how it develops and works, information we can then use to ultimately improve treatments for diseases and disorders,” said Chi-Hua Chen, PhD, first author and a postdoctoral fellow in the UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry.
Posted by WBHI on Mar 30, 2012 in Great Minds Think Alike
by Traci Pedersen for Psych Central
Make time for games, puzzles, and handicrafts as you enter old age.
A new study published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Medicine shows that these activities reduce the risk, and help slow down the progress, of dementia in healthy elderly people.
The study revealed that healthy older adults were able to improve specific skills, such as reasoning, memory, language and hand-eye coordination with cognitive training.
Estimates show that by 2050 the number of people over 65 years old will have increased to 1.1 billion worldwide, and that 37 million of these will have dementia.
Previous research has shown that mental activity can lower a person’s risk of dementia, but the effect of cognitive training on healthy people is less well understood. To investigate this further, researchers from China studied the use of cognitive training as protection against mental decline for healthy elderly people who live independently.
Posted by WBHI on Mar 30, 2012 in Come To Think Of It
by Dementia Today
People with AD gradually suffer memory loss and a decline in thinking abilities, as well as major personality changes. These losses in cognitive function are accompanied by changes in the brain, including the build-up of amyloid plaques and tau-containing neurofibrillary tangles, which result in the death of brain cells and the breakdown of the connections between them.
Amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles are the primary hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. Plaques are dense deposits of protein and cellular material outside and around the brain’s nerve cells. Tangles are twisted fibers that build up inside the nerve cells.
Scientists have known about plaques and tangles since 1906, when a German physician, Dr. Alois Alzheimer, first identified them in the brain of woman who had died after suffering paranoid delusions and psychosis. Intensive research efforts of the last two decades have revealed much about their composition, how they form, and their possible roles in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
Posted by WBHI on Mar 30, 2012 in Sooner Than You Think
by The Hindu
Scientists claim to have moved a step closer to developing a vaccine against Alzheimer’s, after they discovered a way to identify which proteins in the brain mutate and cause memory loss.
A team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston claims the vaccine could be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease or even prevent the most common form of dementia from taking hold in the first place by giving it to patients in the early stages of the illness.
In fact, the scientists claim to have already developed new antibodies to both diagnose and treat Alzheimer’s, the ’Daily Express’ reported.
These target Alzheimer’s-causing protein of a type known as tau and raise the possibility of an immunisation jab given at an early stage of the disease. Normally, tau protein is a hard-working participant in memory and brain functioning.
But in Alzheimer’s and other neuro-degenerative diseases, it not only stops playing a productive role in brain health, it becomes a misshapen attacker that destroys brain cells.
Posted by WBHI on Mar 29, 2012 in Sooner Than You Think
by Medical Xpress
Under normal circumstances, the tau protein is a hard-working participant in memory and normal brain functioning.
But as is becoming increasingly evident, in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases, tau not only ceases to play a productive role in brain health, but actually undergoes a Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation to become a misshapen villain that destroys brain cells.
Now a novel antibody technology developed by a scientific team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) provides the first clear distinction between two tau isoforms – one healthy and one disease-causing – and demonstrates that only the disease-causing isoform is found in the neurons of Alzheimer’s patients and is exhibited at a very early stage of disease.
Described in the March 30, 2012 issue of the journal Cell, the findings raise the intriguing possibility that the development of antibodies and vaccines that target only the disease-causing tau isoform could be used to diagnose, treat and potentially even prevent Alzheimer’s before the onset of debilitating symptoms.
Posted by WBHI on Mar 29, 2012 in Great Minds Think Alike
by Sharon Kirkey for The Gazette
Bilingualism helps protect the aging brain and may even postpone signs of dementia, a new review of recent studies indicates.
The paper by Canadian researchers, published Thursday, suggests that bilingual people have higher cognitive reserves as they get older. Higher cognitive reserve is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and other memory-destroying dementias.
More than half the world’s population is bilingual, the researchers write in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences. In the United States and Canada, about 20 per cent of the population speaks a language other than English at home.
Lead author and psychologist Ellen Bialystok, of Toronto’s York University, had already begun accumulating evidence that the bilingual advantages seen in children could also be found in healthy adults. In a 2004 study, her team reported that bilingual adults, young and old, performed better than monolinguals on “conflict tasks” — situations where people need to ignore distracting stimuli to perform properly. (Think of driving on a busy highway).
In hundreds of interviews with reporters and science writers, Bialystok said, she kept being asked one question: What about dementia?
Posted by WBHI on Mar 28, 2012 in Great Minds Think Alike
by Jessica Oswald for The Times News
Chocolate has been getting a lot of buzz recently, and it’s good news for chocolate lovers.
In the past few years, dark chocolate has been linked to numerous health benefits, and now there’s scientific evidence linking heart health and cocoa.
The cocoa bean contains compounds that are called flavanols. Flavanols have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve circulation, increase HDL (the “good” cholesterol), and reduce your overall risk for heart disease.
In the past several months, scientists have come to the conclusion that flavanols work. They believe that part of the reason that flavanols work is because they stimulate the production of nitric oxide, which works to relax your blood vessels.
But there is a catch: It is not known yet how much cocoa is needed for these positive benefits. You’ve also got to remember that it’s the cocoa that contains the benefits, and while cocoa is a component of chocolate, not all chocolates are made equally.
Typically, chocolate is listed with a cocoa percentage on the label. Milk chocolate can contain as little as 10 percent cocoa while dark chocolate bars are typically 50 to 60 percent cocoa. The more cocoa in the chocolate, the higher the flavanol content, and the higher the heart healthy benefit.
There are some other health benefits related to cocoa:
Posted by WBHI on Mar 28, 2012 in Think About It
by Rich Nauert PhD for Psych Central
Emerging research suggests the primary method of treatment used today — prescription drugs — for the delusions experienced by individuals with dementia may be doing more harm than good.
Dementia is characterized by an acute loss of cognitive ability and is often associated with memory loss, decreased attention span, and disorientation.
In a new study, researchers investigate the practice of prescribing psychotropic drugs to mitigate symptoms such as delusions.
According to Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, Ph.D., many of the delusions experienced by dementia patients may have a rational basis and could be more effectively treated through behavioral therapy than by medications.