Brain

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have found that cerebral malaria is related to long-term cognitive impairment in one of four child survivors. The research is published in the current issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Malaria is a leading cause of death for children in sub-Saharan Africa. Cerebral malaria, which affects more than 750,000 children a year, is one of the deadliest forms of malaria. It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to contract the disease that directly affects the brain, causing fever, vomiting, chills, and coma.

BOSTON (July 29, 2008) — The tendency toward obesity is directly related to the brain system that is involved in food reward and addictive behaviors, according to a new study. Researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) and colleagues have demonstrated a link between a predisposition to obesity and defective dopamine signaling in the mesolimbic system in rats. Their report appears in the August 2008 issue of The FASEB Journal.

Philadelphia, PA, July 29, 2008 – Strong cravings for alcohol can be sparked by the mere sight, smell and taste of a person's favorite drink. Responses to such cues that are associated with the positive effects of drinking are a lead cause of relapse in abstinent alcoholics. Using a behavioral animal model, researchers of a new study, scheduled for publication in the August 1st issue of Biological Psychiatry, have found that the physical surroundings where alcohol cues are experienced can greatly influence the ability of those cues to trigger relapse.

The field of robotics could be poised for a breakthrough, leading to a new generation of intelligent machines capable of taking on multiple tasks and moving out of the factory into the home and general workplace. The great success of robots so far has been in automating repetitive tasks in process control and assembly, yielding dramatic cuts in production, but the next step towards cognition and more human-like behaviour has proved elusive.

Medical College of Wisconsin researchers in Milwaukee have reported that children of Alzheimer's patients who are carriers of a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease have neurological changes that are detectable long before clinical symptoms may appear.

Three decades after an accident at a chemical factory in Seveso, Italy in 1976, which resulted in exposure of a residential population to the most dangerous type of dioxin, newborn babies born to mothers living in the contaminated area at the time of the accident are over six times more likely to have altered thyroid function than those born to mothers in a non-contaminated area. The study finding these results is published in the open access journal PLoS Medicine this week by Andrea Baccarelli (of the University of Milan) and colleagues from the United States and Italy.

Waltham, MA—Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a fatal neurodegenerative disease caused by the death of motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord that control muscle movements from walking and swallowing to breathing. In a groundbreaking study this week in PLoS Biology, Brandeis and Harvard Medical School scientists report key findings about the cause and occurrence of the familial form of ALS.

Penn State researchers have used computed tomography (CT) technology to virtually glue newly-discovered skull fragments of a rare extinct lemur back into its partial skull, which was discovered over a century ago. Alan Walker, Evan Pugh Professor of Anthropology and Biology at Penn State, and Research Associate in Anthropology Timothy Ryan, led the research. The different fragments of this lemur's skull are separated by thousands of miles, with the partial skull in Vienna and the pieces of frontal bone in the United States.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---People at high risk for dementia who took cholesterol-lowering statins are half as likely to develop dementia as those who do not take statins, a new study shows.

Women with low or high levels of the hormone thyrotropin, which affects thyroid gland function and thyroid hormone levels, appear to have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, according to a report in the July 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

You may want to soak your brown rice.

Researchers have found that a compound that helps rice seed grow, springs back into action when brown rice is placed in water overnight before cooking, significantly reducing the nerve and vascular damage that often result from diabetes.

Strange things are happening in the lowland tropical forests of Panama and Costa Rica. A tiny parasitic fly is affecting the social behavior of a nocturnal bee, helping to determine which individuals become queens and which become workers.

Getting old isn't just about body aches and pains. As we get older, our risk of falling greatly increases. Old bones don't heal like young ones, and for senior citizens, falls are a leading cause of death.

Philadelphia, PA, July 28, 2008 – Oxytocin was originally studied as the "milk let-down factor," i.e., a hormone that was necessary for breast-feeding. However, there is increasing evidence that this hormone also plays an important role in social bonding and maternal behaviors. A new study scheduled for publication in the August 1st issue of Biological Psychiatry now shows that one way oxytocin promotes social affiliation in humans is by enhancing the encoding of positive social memories.

A new analysis of a 2005 survey of American schoolchildren has identified factors that may be used to help improve school safety. The research, published in BioMed Central's open access journal Annals of General Psychiatry, gives detailed information about the carrying of guns, blades and clubs.

13,707 students participated in the study, 6,664 (50.5%) were male and 7,193 (49.5%) were females. Overall, 10.2% of males and 2.6% of females reported carrying a weapon on school property. An estimated 29.8% of males and 19.3% of females had carried weapons elsewhere.