Brain

Spray yourself with a DEET-based insect repellent and the mosquitoes will leave you alone. But why? They flee because of their intense dislike for the smell of the chemical repellent and not because DEET jams their sense of smell, report researchers at the University of California, Davis.

Their groundbreaking findings will be published Monday, Aug. 18, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

In up to 20 percent of people infected with HIV, the virus manages to escape from the bloodstream and cross into the brain, resulting in HIV-associated dementia and other cognitive disorders. Now, scientists at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have found strong evidence that a component of the cell walls of intestinal bacteria—a chemical present in high levels in the blood of HIV-infected people—helps HIV to penetrate the usually-impregnable blood brain barrier (BBB).

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Recently, Harvard researchers reported that children with autism have a wide range of genetic defects, making it nearly impossible to develop a simple genetic test to identify the disorder. Now, University of Missouri researchers are studying 3-D imaging to reveal correlations in the facial features and brain structures of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which will enable them to develop a formula for earlier detection of the disorder. The researchers anticipate their work also will reveal genetic clues that can direct additional research.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – People with epilepsy appear to have a much higher risk of drowning compared to people without epilepsy, according to a study published in the August 19, 2008, issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Previous studies have shown a higher risk most likely due to seizures but this study is one of the first to show exactly how high the risk may be.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — New research challenges a growing trend toward holding kids out of kindergarten until they're older, arguing that academic advantages are short-lived and come at the expense of delaying entry into the workforce and other costs.

The findings show older kindergartners fare better academically largely because they learn more before starting school, not because age improves aptitude, said Darren Lubotsky, a University of Illinois economics professor who co-wrote the study.

You're about to leave work at the end of the day when your cell phone rings: it's your spouse, asking that you pick up a gallon of milk on the way home. Before you head out the door, though, your spouse calls again and asks you to stop by the hardware store too. Based on your knowledge of the area and rush-hour traffic, you decide to get the milk first and the toilet plunger second. But whoops! The phone rings again. This time, it's your boss, asking you to work late. That means another change of plans.

Platelets – those tiny, unassuming cells that cause blood to clot and scabs to form when you cut yourself – play an important early role in promoting cerebral malaria, an often lethal complication that occurs mostly in children. Affecting as many as half a billion people in tropical and subtropical regions, malaria is one of the oldest recorded diseases and the parasite responsible for it, Plasmodium, among the most studied pathogens of all time. Still, cerebral malaria, which results from a combination of blood vessel and immune system dysfunction, is not well understood.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A growing body of research suggests that there is a potent way to fight symptoms of depression that doesn't involve getting a prescription.

This potent weapon? Hope.

"We're finding that hope is consistently associated with fewer symptoms of depression. And the good news is that hope is something that can be taught, and can be developed in many of the people who need it," said Jennifer Cheavens, assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University.

The underperformance in examinations of UK medical students from ethnic minorities could be partly down to a psychological phenomenon called 'stereotype threat', according to new UCL research published today in the British Medical Journal.

Medical students from ethnic minority backgrounds make up approximately 30 per cent of the UK medical student population, but significantly underperform in assessments compared to their white counterparts. Similar findings have been reported in the USA and Australia

BINGHAMTON, NY - While U.S students continue to lag behind many countries academically, national statistics show that teachers have responded by assigning more homework. But according to a joint study by researchers at Binghamton University and the University of Nevada, when it comes to math, piling on the homework may not work for all students.

August 13, 2008 – Oakland, Calif. – A new study conducted by researchers at Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland shows that a century-old drug, methylene blue, may be able to slow or even cure Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Used at a very low concentration – about the equivalent of a few raindrops in four Olympic-sized swimming pools of water - the drug slows cellular aging and enhances mitochondrial function, potentially allowing those with the diseases to live longer, healthier lives.

McLEAN, VA (August 18, 2008) – Cocoa flavanols, the unique compounds found naturally in cocoa, may increase blood flow to the brain, according to new research published in the Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment journal. The researchers suggest that long-term improvements in brain blood flow could impact cognitive behavior, offering future potential for debilitating brain conditions including dementia and stroke.

Asian Americans whose families experience a high degree of interpersonal conflict have a three-fold greater risk of attempting suicide when compared with Asian Americans overall, according to a new study by University of California, Davis, researchers. The risk is tripled even among those who have never had a diagnosis of depression.

The findings will be reported during a 2 p.m. (EDT) poster session, "Improving Our Practice --Focus on Ethnic Psychology," on Sunday, Aug. 17, at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Boston.

The largest genetic analysis of its kind to date for bipolar disorder has implicated machinery involved in the balance of sodium and calcium in brain cells. Researchers supported in part by the National Institute of Mental Health, part of the National Institutes of Health, found an association between the disorder and variation in two genes that make components of channels that manage the flow of the elements into and out of cells, including neurons.

Ninety years after the sweeping destruction of the 1918 flu pandemic, researchers at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt have recovered antibodies to the virus – from elderly survivors of the original outbreak.

In addition to revealing the surprisingly long-lasting immunity to such viruses, these antibodies could be effective treatments to have on hand if another virus similar to the 1918 flu breaks out in the future.