Brain

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is a hormonal system that defends against stress, starvation and illnesses. New findings of alterations in adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol secretion in alcoholic patients, which reflect changes in the HPA axis, prompt recommendations that alcoholics avoid excessive stress – both physical and psychological – during early abstinence.

Results are published in the May issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Imagine a world where damaged organs in your body—kidneys, liver, heart—can be stimulated to heal themselves. Envision people tragically paralyzed whose injured spinal cords can be repaired. Think about individuals suffering from the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s relieved of their symptoms – completely and permanently.

Want to keep kids thin? Clore Laboratory at the University of Buckingham is supplementing infant formula and other baby foods with leptin,the hunger hormone. Researchers say it could provide permanent protection from obesity and diabetes into adulthood and could be on shop shelves soon.

Those who take the foods early in life should remain permanently slim. 'Like those people who are lean by nature even though they overeat ? like we all do – they will tend to be inefficient in terms of using energy,' says Mike Cawthorne, who heads the Metabolic Research group at Clore.

Serotonin is a major signaling chemical in the brain, and it has long been thought to be involved in aggressive behavior in a wide variety of animals as well as in humans. Another brain chemical signal, neuropeptide Y (known as neuropeptide F in invertebrates), is also known to affect an array of behaviors in many species, including territoriality in mice. A new study by Drs. Herman Dierick and Ralph Greenspan of The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego shows that these two chemicals also regulate aggression in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster.

Huntington’s disease, an inherited neurodegenerative disorder that affects roughly 30,000 Americans, is incurable and fatal. But a new discovery about how cells repair their DNA points to a possible way to stop or slow the onset of the disease. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

New research from Columbia's Primate Cognition Laboratory has demonstrated for the first time that monkeys could acquire meta-cognitive skills: the ability to reflect about their thoughts and to assess their performance.

Adolescents who are chronically exposed to family turmoil, violence, noise, poor housing or other chronic risk factors show more stress-induced physiological strain on their organs and tissues than other young people.

However, when they have responsive, supportive mothers, they do not experience these negative physiological changes, reports a new study from Cornell.

But the research group also found that the cardiovascular systems of youths who are exposed to chronic and multiple risk factors are compromised, regardless of their mothers' responsiveness.

Yale School of Medicine and University of Crete School of Medicine researchers report in Cell April 20 the first evidence of a molecular mechanism that dynamically alters the strength of higher brain network connections.

This discovery may help the development of drug therapies for the cognitive deficits of normal aging, and for cognitive changes in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Researchers of the heart and headaches at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital are combining efforts to determine if a common heart defect may be the cause of some forms of migraine headaches.

Scientists know little about how the brain assigns cells to participate in encoding and storing memories. Now a UCLA/University of Toronto team has discovered that a protein called CREB controls the odds of a neuron playing a role in memory formation. The April 20 edition of Science reports the findings, which suggest a new approach for preserving memory in people suffering from Alzheimer's or other brain injury.