Tiny Blood Vessels in the Brain Could Be the Key in Treating Vascular Dementia

Tiny blood vessels in the brain could be the key in treating vascular dementia

Researchers from the University of Southampton are to study tiny channels embedded in the walls of blood vessels in the brain to assess their impact on dementia.

Dementia is the loss of mental ability due to the gradual death of brain cells. Vascular dementia is the second most common type of dementia and is estimated to affect about 150,000 people in the UK, accounting for almost 20 per cent of all dementia cases.

It is caused by problems with the small vessels of the brain. These vessels have two functions: to supply blood to the brain and to remove toxic waste. The removal of waste is along tiny pathways called basement membranes that are extremely thin: a millionth of the thickness of one human hair.

These pathways are anchored to the cells that make up the walls of the vessel, making them very difficult to see and investigate.

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Moderate-intensity physical activity could protect the brain from Alzheimer’s disease

Moderate-intensity physical activity could protect the brain from Alzheimer's disease
Credit: University of Wisconsin-Madison.

People at risk for Alzheimer’s disease who do more moderate-intensity physical activity, but not light-intensity physical activity, are more likely to have healthy patterns of glucose metabolism in their brain, according to a new UW-Madison study.

Results of the research were published today online in Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

The research involved 93 members of the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP), which with more than 1,500 registrants is the largest parental history Alzheimer’s risk study group in the world.

Your Brain Has a “Delete” Button—and Using It Couldn’t Be Easier

Hint: It’s all in your head… No expensive gadgets needed!

Ever wish you could banish a painfully embarrassing moment from your brain forever? Good news! Now you can actually trick yourself into erasing a memory, science says.

Experts call this mind hack “synaptic pruning,” but Fast Company dubbed it a “delete” button for short. So, how does it work? Imagine your brain as a garden, where synaptic connections between neurons grow instead of flowers or vegetables. As you learn and experience things, your brain builds more and more neurological connections.

“Glial cells” are the gardeners of your brain, Fast Company says; they both speed up the signals between neurons as well as erase the ones that are no longer needed. Your brain does all of this while you sleep, creating more space in your brain to build new and stronger connections in the future. Hence the reason why a good, deep night’s sleep is so important.

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Aerobic Exercise Improves Cognition in Depression

COPENHAGEN, Denmark ― Adding aerobic exercise to multimodal antidepressant therapy appears to improve cognitive function in clinically depressed inpatients, new research suggests.

Investigators led by Christian Imboden, MD, Psychiatric Services Solothurn, in Switzerland, found that 6 weeks of exercise three times a week significantly improved scores on a measure of working memory for patients enrolled in a control stretching program, although there was no additional impact on symptom severity.

The team said regular aerobic exercise as an add-on to multimodal antidepressant therapy «may contribute to an improved course of cognitive symptoms among clinically depressed patients.»

Although exercise did not affect symptom severity, they believe that «this may be due to ceiling effects caused by an already highly effective multimodal treatment regime.»

 The findings were presented here as a poster at the 13th World Congress of Biological Psychiatry.

Little Data on Cognitive Function

Although there have been studies on the effects of aerobic exercise on symptom severity in patients with mild to moderate depression, there is a general lack of data on the effect of exercise on cognitive function in patients with depression.

To investigate further, the team studied inpatients who had been diagnosed with depression and who had a score greater than 16 on the Hamilton Depression Scale (HDRS-17). The patients were randomly assigned to either endurance exercise or a standardized stretching and coordination program.

Probiotics Promising for Mild to Moderate Depression

COPENHAGEN, Denmark ― Probiotics may be effective in reducing core depressive symptoms in treatment-naive patients with a mild to moderate form of the disorder, results of a new pilot study suggest.

Investigators led by Caroline Wallace, PhD candidate, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, found that symptoms of mood, anhedonia, and sleep disturbance were significantly reduced with probiotic therapy after just 4 weeks, with results maintained at 8 weeks.

The findings are of particular interest because probiotics are not associated with any of the adverse effects of current antidepressant therapies and can be safely taken over long periods.

These results, the investigators note, «suggest that probiotics may be effective in alleviating depressive symptoms such as mood, anhedonia, and sleep quality.»

Nevertheless, they acknowledge that the open-label nature of the study means that «these findings are susceptible to bias; thus, further blinded studies are warranted.» To address these limitations plans for a larger randomized controlled trial are underway.

Results from preclinical and clinical studies suggest that probiotics improve symptoms of depression. The hypothesis is that the effects are mediated via the gut-brain axis by reducing inflammation and increasing serotonin levels.

To assess the efficacy of probiotics in treatment-naive patients with depression, the researchers carried out a pilot study using Probio’Stick, a probiotic supplement that combines two different strains known to act on the gut-brain axis ― Lactobacillus helveticus R0052and Bifidobacterium longum R0175.

The 8-week, single-arm, open-label intervention pilot study involved 10 treatment-naive patients with major depressive disorder who were experiencing a current episode of depression.

After an initial screening period, the participants were assessed for a range of clinical symptoms of depression, including mood, anhedonia, anxiety, and subjective sleep disturbance, at baseline and at weeks 2, 4, and 8 using the Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression protocol.

Molecular markers of inflammation were assessed and tryptophan and serotonin levels were determined. The patients underwent polysomnographic assessment to measure objective sleep.

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Have You Thanked Your Brain’s Astrocytes Today?

Increasing evidence suggests defects in astrocyte–neuron communication are associated with a number of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, stroke, epilepsy, and schizophrenia. Astrocytes are vitally important cells in the human brain.

Virginia Tech engineers are forging new computational tools to shed light on the role of vitally important cells in the human brain called astrocytes. Increasing evidence suggests defects in astrocyte-neuron communication are associated with a number of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, stroke, epilepsy, and schizophrenia.

Guoqiang Yu, an assistant professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering, is leading a project, “Decoding astrocyte signaling in neural circuitry with novel computational modeling and analytical tools.” Yu is collaborating with experimental neuroscientists from the University of California, Davis, and Yue (Joseph) Wang, the Grant A. Dove Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The collaborative team has been awarded a $2.5 million National Institutes of Health grant for the project.

Astrocytes, from the Greek “star cells” in reference to their shape, are workhorses of the central nervous system. They wrap around neurons, nursing and protecting them; help to repair damaged tissue; maintain ion balance; and provide nutrients to the nervous tissue.

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To Train an Athlete, Add 12 Minutes of Meditation to the Daily Mix

CreditGetty Images

If athletes practice meditation for a few minutes a day, they may become better able to withstand the mental demands of hours of strenuous physical training, according to an interesting new study of Division I college football players.

The study, which compared different types of mental training for stress resilience, could have relevance for anyone planning to start exercising or competing more intensely this summer.

Exercise, as most of us know, is a form of stress. The demands of exercise require our bodies to respond and adapt, and the greater the intensity of the exercise relative to our current fitness, the greater the level of stress it generates.

Much of this strain is physical, but some of it also involves the mind, says Amishi Jha, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Miami in Florida, who led the new study. Prolonged, strenuous training “requires attention,” she says, and a stern focus on continuing to exercise when it might be more pleasant to stop. Leer Más

Deixa chorar ou dá colo? Neurocientista explica que negligenciar choro das crianças pode ser perigoso

Professora da Universidade Drexel, nos Estados Unidos, Andreia Mortensen, diz que a norma cultural é a de que o choro não deve ser atendido imediatamente, mas não dar atenção à forma de se comunicar das crianças (principalmente os bebês) pode impactar a vida adulta

por Valéria Mendes 19/06/2015 10:40

AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO e Reprodução Twitter / Sarah Blackwood
Além de episódios que ganham espaço nos jornais e promovem o debate público, é no ambiente privado onde se consolida a ideia de que o choro de um bebê ou de uma criança não merece atenção (foto: AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO e Reprodução Twitter / Sarah Blackwood)

Recentemente a cantora canadense Sarah Blackwood, da banda Walk Off the Earth, usou as redes sociais para desabafar ao ser expulsa de um voo São Francisco (EUA)-Vancouver (Canadá) porque seu filho de apenas 2 anos chorava muito alto (saiba mais aqui). No início de junho, portais de notícias brasileiros estamparam em suas páginas virtuais fotos do festival ‘Baby Cry Sumo’ que ocorre há mais de 400 anos no Japão. A disputa consiste em colocar dois bebês frente a frente, segurados por lutadores de sumô, para saber quem chora primeiro. Se nenhum dos dois chora, um árbitro entra no “ringue” para tentar assustá-los com ruídos altos. Segundo a tradição, o choro traz saúde e prosperidade para os bebês. Também dentro de um avião, outro episódio que repercutiu no Brasil foi a história de um casal norte-americano que distribuiu brindes aos passageiros do trajeto Miami-Dallas junto com um pedido de desculpa antecipado para o caso de um bebê de 8 meses chorar durante a viagem.

Além de episódios que ganham espaço nos jornais e promovem o debate público, é no ambiente privado onde se consolida a ideia de que o choro de um bebê ou de uma criança não merece atenção. Para além dos manuais que pregam “deixa chorar até dormir” como técnica para ensinar um bebê a adormecer sozinho no berço, é a própria família que ressoa conceitos como “não dê colo, seu filho vai ficar mimado” ou “deixa fazer birra, ela está te manipulando”. Se de um lado, a cultura naturaliza a negligência ao choro de um bebê, por outro, esse mesmo choro (ou birra) é motivo de constrangimento para os pais que se vêem diante de uma situação pública tendo que lidar ao mesmo tempo com as lágrimas de sua criança e o julgamento social de que aquela situação demonstraria uma falta de controle dos cuidadores sobre os filhos.
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