Brain

Move on mosquitoes. Step aside sweat bees. Before long, another unwelcome, but predictable, pest will return: the dreaded, oft-spotted flu bug.

But as this year’s sniffling-sneezing season approaches, there’s also a hint of hope present in the pre-germ-season air. In a study scheduled for publication in the August issue of the American Journal of Chinese Medicine, a team of kinesiologists at the University of Illinois suggest that older adults who adopt an exercise regimen combining Taiji and Qigong may get an extra boost from their annual flu shot.

Scientists are trying a plumber’s approach to rid the brain of the amyloid buildup that plagues Alzheimer’s patients: Simply drain the toxic protein away.

The striking differences between humans and chimps aren’t so much in the genes we have, which are 99 percent the same, but in the way those genes are used, according to new research from a Duke University team.

It’s rather like the same set of notes being played in very different ways.

In two major traits that set humans apart from chimps and other primates – those involving brains and diet – gene regulation, the complex cross-talk that governs when genes are turned on and off, appears to be significantly different.

The long-term risk of suicide is tripled for women who have undergone cosmetic breast implant surgery, concludes a study in the August Annals of Plastic Surgery, published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health. This long-term study further confirms the link between breast implants and a strikingly high risk of suicide and other related causes of death.

Scientists have discovered that leptin, one of the key hormones responsible for reducing hunger and increasing the feeling of fullness, also controls our fondness for food.

A University of Cambridge team, headed by Dr Sadaf Farooqi and Dr Paul Fletcher, have discovered that the appetising properties of food have strong effects on the same key brain regions responsible for rewarding emotions and desires. Using brain imaging technology, they show that these areas of the brain “light up” when individuals deficient in leptin are shown images of food.

Women see ‘masculine’ men as unsuitable long-term partners, new research suggests. Conversely, the psychologists from Durham and St Andrews Universities found that men with feminine facial features are seen as more committed and less likely to cheat on their partners.

The usefulness of established molecular imaging/nuclear medicine approaches in identifying the “hows” and “whys” of brain dysfunction and its potential in providing immediately useful information in treating depression are emphasized in a study in the August Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Many common diseases exhibit gender bias and gender differences have been observed in the development of high blood pressure (hypertension) and heart (cardiovascular) disease. Previous studies have reported that gender may affect vascular physiology and the body’s response to some types of blood pressure medications. Although gender is usually accounted for in association studies, newer research has focused on identifying autosomal (not on the X or Y chromosomes) genes that contribute differentially to complex traits (blood pressure) or diseases (hypertension).

A parent’s struggle with stress or depression can lower a child’s quality of life -- and it could hinder an overweight youngster’s attempts to lose weight, too, University of Florida researchers say.

Parent distress, peer bullying and childhood depression can propel a cycle that makes it more difficult for children to adopt healthier lifestyles, UF researchers report in the current issue of the journal Obesity.

A variant of the dopamine receptor gene may be associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and with thinner tissue in areas of the brain that handle attention, but also appears associated with better clinical outcomes among individuals with the disorder, according to a report in the August issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) show a blunted response to the drug methylphenidate (Ritalin), which increases brain dopamine levels, according to a report in the August issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. This suggests that dopamine dysfunction may be involved with ADHD symptoms and may contribute to substance abuse that often occurs simultaneously.

Physical exercise is known to be good for the aging brain, but what about mental stimulation" Does enrichment that helps older people work well for the young and middle aged, or do they need something else" A report in the August issue of Behavioral Neuroscience tells how, in an animal experiment, older adults appear to benefit from either or both mental and physical enrichment. For the young and middle-aged, exercise is key.

Behavioral Neuroscience is published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

MIT neuroscientists exploring how memory formation differs between children and adults have found that although the two groups have much in common, maturity brings richer memories.

In the August 5 advance online edition of Nature Neuroscience, the MIT team reports that children rival adults in forming basic memories, but adults do better at remembering the rich, contextual details of that information. The MIT study provides new insights into how children learn that are not only theoretically important, but could also inform practical learning in everyday settings.

There exists a direct relationship between the consumption of MDMA, or Ecstasy, at a high ambient temperature and an increase in the neural damage which this drug provokes. This was the conclusion of the research carried out by Beatriz Goñi at the School of Pharmacy of the University of Navarra.

A planet orbiting a giant red star has been discovered by an astronomy team led by Penn State's Alex Wolszczan, who in 1992 discovered the first planets ever found outside our solar system. The new discovery is helping astronomers to understand what will happen to the planets in our solar system when our Sun becomes a red-giant star, expanding so much that its surface will reach as far as Earth's orbit. The star is 2 times more massive and 10 times larger than the Sun.