Brain

Inflammation in the brain resulting from infection or injury may accelerate the progress of dementia, research funded by the Wellcome Trust suggests. The findings, published this week in the journal Biological Psychiatry, may have implications for the treatment and care of those living with dementia.

A new study finds that following minor spinal cord injury, rats that had to use impaired limbs showed full recovery due to increased growth of healthy nerve fibers and the formation of new nerve cell connections. Published in the September 17 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, these findings help explain how physical therapy advances recovery, and support the use of rehabilitation therapies that specifically target impaired limbs in people with brain and spinal cord injuries.

DALLAS – Sept. 16, 2008 – Patient history and physical examination, traditionally the cornerstone diagnostic tool for medical care, may still be among the most accurate and cost-efficient methods to assess patients with congestive heart failure, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have found.

Such time-honored techniques have diminished in importance in recent years as doctors have come to rely on high-tech diagnostic approaches, such as imaging and measuring biomarkers.

Standardized testing is an inescapable part of modern education; however, these tests often fail to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities. Vanderbilt University Learning Sciences Institute researchers Stephen N. Elliott, Peter A. Beddow and Ryan J. Kettler have developed a decision-making instrument called the Test Accessibility and Modification Inventory (TAMI) to address the issue of accessibility for students with special needs.

Those wide-eyed babies are taking in and using more information than previously believed. In fact, new research by psychologists at the University of Washington's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences indicates 12- and 18-month-old babies not only are observing what is going on around them but also are using their own visual self-experience to judge what other people can and cannot see.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – In the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers report a significant relationship between urine concentrations of the environmental estrogen bisphenol A (BPA) and cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and liver-enzyme abnormalities. In an accompanying editorial, Frederick vom Saal, a University of Missouri scientist, urges the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to follow recent action by Canadian regulatory agencies, which have taken significant steps to limit human and environmental exposures to BPA.

A study at the University of Leicester into how to improve child and young adult witnesses' evidence has looked at several issues that affect witnesses' accuracy.

The investigation, carried out in Estonia by postgraduate psychologist Kristjan Kask, looked at issues such as police officers' interviewing methods with children; young adults' skill in describing people; and the ability of both children and young adults to identify faces with different racial features.

In infancy, genes are the key influence on a child's ability to deal with stress. But as early as 6 months of age, parenting plays an important role in changing the impact of genes that may put infants at risk for responding poorly to stress.

That's the message from a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Pennsylvania State University, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and North Carolina State University. It appears in the September/October 2008 issue of the journal Child Development.

Children who worry about how their parents get along with each other are more likely than other children to have psychological problems. Now a new study says that children who worry a lot about conflicts between their parents are more likely to have problems in school because they have more difficulty paying attention to the tasks before them.

Low-income families who participated in a brief, tailored intervention program designed to improve parenting saw less problem behavior in their toddlers than families who did not take part. That's the finding of a new study published in the September/October 2008 issue of the journal Child Development. The research was conducted at the University of Oregon, University of Pittsburgh, Case Western Reserve University, Oxford University, and the University of Virginia.

WASHINGTON – Compared to their younger counterparts, older problem gamblers who ask casinos to bar them from returning are three to four times more likely to do so because they fear they will kill themselves if they don't stop betting, according to a new study.

Johns Hopkins scientists report success in significantly suppressing levels of the "hunger hormone" ghrelin in pigs using a minimally invasive means of chemically vaporizing the main vessel carrying blood to the top section, or fundus, of the stomach. An estimated 90 percent of the body's ghrelin originates in the fundus, which can't make the hormone without a good blood supply.

DALLAS – Sept. 16, 2008 – Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have designed a way to improve electrical stimulation of nerves by outfitting electrodes with the latest in chemically engineered fashion: a coating of basic black, formed from carbon nanotubes.

The nanotube sheathing improves the signals received and transmitted by electrodes, which researchers say is a potentially critical step for advancing electrical nerve stimulation therapy. This type of therapy increasingly shows promise for diseases ranging from epilepsy to depression to chronic leg and back pain.

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – First, he discovered a gene that controls innate fear in animals. Now Rutgers geneticist Gleb Shumyatsky has shown that the same gene promotes "helicopter mom" behavior in mice. The gene, known as stathmin or oncoprotein 18, motivates female animals to protect newborn pups and interact cautiously with unknown peers.

Prosthetic ears appear to improve hearing and speech recognition in noisy environments, according to a report in the September/October issue of Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.