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Large Imaging Study Confirms Brain Differences in ADHD

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with the delayed development of five brain regions, and should be considered a brain disorder, according to a study published in The Lancet Psychiatry.

The study is the largest ever to look at the brain volumes of people with ADHD, involving more than 3,200 people. The authors say the findings could help improve understanding of the disorder, and might be important in challenging beliefs that ADHD is a label for difficult children or the result of poor parenting.


ADHD symptoms include inattention and/or hyperactivity and acting impulsively. The disorder affects more than one in 20 (5.3%) under-18 year olds, and two-thirds of those diagnosed continue to experience symptoms as adults.

Previous studies have linked differences in brain volume with the disorder, but small sample sizes mean results have been inconclusive. Areas thought to be involved in ADHD are located in the basal ganglia – a part of the brain that controls emotion, voluntary movement and cognition – and research has previously found that the caudate and putamen regions within the ganglia are smaller in people with ADHD.

Different brains

The new international study measured differences in the brain structure of 1,713 people with a diagnosis of ADHD and 1,529 people without, all aged between four and 63 years old.

All 3,242 people had an MRI scan to measure their overall brain volume, and the size of seven regions of the brain that were thought to be linked to ADHD...

The study found that overall brain volume and five of the regional volumes were smaller in people with ADHD – the caudate nucleus, putamen, nucleus accumbens, amygdala and hippocampus.

[...] “The results from our study confirm that people with ADHD have differences in their brain structure and therefore suggest that ADHD is a disorder of the brain,” added Dr Hoogman. “We hope that this will help to reduce stigma that ADHD is ‘just a label’ for difficult children or caused by poor parenting. This is definitely not the case, and we hope that this work will contribute to a better understanding of the disorder.” [...]

Learn more>>

► The study "Subcortical brain volume differences in participants with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and adults: a cross-sectional mega-analysis", published in The Lancet Psychiatry >>

Image: MRI head scan (stock image). The findings from this study could help improve understanding of ADHD, and might be important in challenging beliefs that this disesase is a label for difficult children or the result of poor parenting.
Credit: © science photo / Fotolia
Source: ScienceDaily

#Neuroscience, #ADHD, #Brain, #Research

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Gene that Helps Form Trauma-Related Memories May Also Help Prevent Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

A specific gene that helps form memories from traumatic events can be manipulated—and in doing so may actually help prevent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a new study led by NYU Langone Medical Center and recently published in Neuropharmacology.

Specifically, the findings explain how a particular gene*—called _*fkbp5_—is involved in a phenomenon known as “fear extinction,” through which animals and humans disassociate with fearful memories of a traumatic experience, such as war, assault, or a natural disaster. Most people recover with no ill effects, but approximately 1 out of 10 go on to develop PTSD.

The new study, in collaboration with Harvard Medical School, Emory University School of Medicine, and other organizations, examined fear extinction patterns in mice and humans. They found that dexamethasone, a widely prescribed steroid for inflammatory conditions, affects the expression of fkbp5 in the brain, preventing the formation of the fearful memories that are the hallmark of PTSD.

“The interaction between fkbp5 and dexamethasone could enable us to enhance fear extinction,” says Isaac Galatzer-Levy, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone and its Steven and Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center, and the lead investigator on the study. “If dexamethasone works well in humans, we could potentially use it to prevent fearful memories in soldiers on the battlefield, patients in emergency rooms, or anywhere else where healthcare providers provide treatment within hours of traumatic events.”

Learn more>>

► The study "A cross species study of heterogeneity in fear extinction learning in relation to FKBP5 variation and expression: Implications for the acute treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder", published in Neuropharmacology>>

Photo credit: Mehmet Pinarci>>

#Neuroscience, #MentalHealth, #PTSD, #Genefkbp5, #Neurology, #Brain

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UW Sleep Research High-Resolution Images Show how the Brain Resets during Sleep

Striking electron microscope pictures from inside the brains of mice suggest what happens in our own brain every day: our synapses – the junctions between nerve cells – grow strong and large during the stimulation of daytime, then shrink by nearly 20 percent while we sleep, creating room for more growth and learning the next day.

The four-year research project published in Science offers a direct visual proof of the “synaptic homeostasis hypothesis” (SHY) proposed by Drs. Chiara Cirelli and Giulio Tononi of the Wisconsin Center for Sleep and Consciousness.

This hypothesis holds that sleep is the price we pay for brains that are plastic and able to keep learning new things.

When a synapse is repeatedly activated during waking, it grows in strength, and this growth is believed to be important for learning and memory. According to SHY, however, this growth needs to be balanced to avoid the saturation of synapses and the obliteration of neural signaling and memories. Sleep is believed to be the best time for this process of renormalization, since when asleep we pay much less attention to the external world and are free from the “here and now.” -

Learn more at>>

► The study "Ultrastructural evidence for synaptic scaling across the wake/sleep cycle", published in Science>>

Image explanation: This picture shows 3D reconstructions of electron microscope images of tree branch-like dendrites. At the end of the branches are cup-like structures called the spines, and in the tips of the spines are synapses. By studying thousands of images like these, the Wisconsin researchers showed that the synapses shrink after the mouse sleeps and grow again during the next wakeful period.
Credit: Wisconsin Center for Sleep and Consciousness

#Neuroscience, #Brain, #Synapses, #SleepResearch, #Dendrites, #Spines

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LSD Alters Perception via Serotonin Receptors

Researchers from UZH have discovered how the perception of meaning changes in the brain under the influence of LSD. The serotonin 2A receptors are responsible for altered perception. This finding will help develop (we hope) new courses of pharmacotherapy for psychiatric disorders such as depression, addictions or phobias.

The acid tests of 1960s San Francisco have morphed into something quite different in today’s Silicon Valley. Mind-altering trips have given way to subtle productivity boosts purportedly caused by tiny amounts of LSD or other psychedelic drugs. Fans claim that this ‘microdosing’ boosts creativity and concentration, but sceptics doubt that ingesting or inhaling one-tenth of the normal dose could have an effect.

Science could soon help to settle the matter.

A team of the Zürich University Hospital for Psychiatry in Switzerland reported, January 26, 2017, in Current Biology that it has pinpointed the molecular go-between that creates the perception of deep meaning experienced during acid trips.

The group — led by Katrin Preller, a psychopharmacologist at the mentioned University Hospital for Psychiatry Zurich — examined the root of certain acid experiences in a study of 22 healthy university students.

Preller was interested in the biological basis of one aspect of tripping that involves the assignment of ‘meaning’, which is based on personal relevance.
“If you have a spider phobia, then the sight of a spider is meaningful,” Preller says. “But if you don’t have a phobia it doesn’t trigger much within you.”

Preller’s team asked study participants to list songs that were personally meaningful to them. Then each person was randomly given LSD, a placebo or LSD with ketanserin, a drug that stops LSD from binding to a serotonin receptor similar to 5-HT2B.

Preller says: "We found that personal meaning attribution and its modulation by LSD is mediated by the 5-HT2A receptors and cortical midline structures that are also crucially involved in enabling the experience of a sense of self."

Preller hopes that the finding will trigger research on drugs to treat symptoms of schizophrenia that stem from a dysfunctional assignment of meaning — such as the paranoia that occurs when an individual interprets an irrelevant object or person as dangerous.

“We desperately need new drugs in psychiatry,” Preller says, “so all of this work is important.”

► Go to the findings "The Fabric of Meaning and Subjective Effects in LSD-Induced States Depend on Serotonin 2A Receptor Activation", published in Current Biology>>

► Photograph: Fredrik Skold/Alamy

Further reading and references

► LSD alters perception via serotonin receptors>>

► First look at LSD in Action Reveals Acid-Trip Biochemistry>>

► Answers to how our brains make meaning, with the help of a little LSD>>

#Neuroscience, #serotonin2Areceptor, #lysergicaciddiethylamide, #personalrelevance, #meaning, #music, #dopamine, #ketanserin, #brain

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Our Ability to Recognize Faces Improves from Infancy to Adulthood

A comparison of kid brains and grown-up brains may explain why our ability to recognize faces keeps getting better until about age 30.

Brain scans of 25 adults and 22 children showed that an area devoted to facial recognition keeps growing long after adolescence, researchers report in the journal Science.

The area didn't acquire more neurons, says Jesse Gomez, a graduate student in neurosciences at Stanford University and the study's lead author. Instead the brain region became more densely populated with the structures that connect and support neurons.

Understanding how facial recognition develops throughout childhood could make it easier to figure out why some people have difficulty recognizing faces, researchers say.

Gomez hopes to scan the brains of people with "face blindness," a disorder that can leave a person unable to recognize even familiar faces.

And Suzy Scherf, an assistant professor of psychology at Penn State University, wants to know whether people with autism, who often struggle to recognize faces, have abnormal development in the facial recognition area of their brains.

► The study "Microstructural proliferation in human cortex is coupled with the development of face processing" published in the journal Science>>

► Image source>>

Further reading and references

► Brain Area That Recognizes Faces Gets Busier And Better In Young Adults>>

► Brain’s face recognition area grows much bigger as we get older>>

#Neuroscience, #Brain, #BrainScans, #FacialRecognition, #Research, #HumanCortex

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Vitamin D Deficiency Increases Risk of Chronic Headache

Vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of chronic headache, according to a new study from the University of Eastern Finland. The findings were published in Scientific Reports.

The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, KIHD, analysed the serum vitamin D levels and occurrence of headache in approximately 2,600 men aged between 42 and 60 years in 1984–1989. In 68% of these men, the serum vitamin D level was below 50 nmol/l, which is generally considered the threshold for vitamin D deficiency. Chronic headache occurring at least on a weekly basis was reported by 250 men, and men reporting chronic headache had lower serum vitamin D levels than others.

When the study population was divided into four groups based on their serum vitamin D levels, the group with the lowest levels had over a twofold risk of chronic headache in comparison to the group with the highest levels. Chronic headache was also more frequently reported by men who were examined outside the summer months of June through September. Thanks to UVB radiation from the sun, the average serum vitamin D levels are higher during the summer months.

The study adds to the accumulating body of evidence linking a low intake of vitamin D to an increased risk of chronic diseases. Low vitamin D levels have been associated with the risk of headache also by some earlier, mainly considerably smaller studies.

In Finland and in other countries far from the Equator, UVB radiation from the sun is a sufficient source of vitamin D during the summer months, but outside the summer season, people need to make sure that they get sufficient vitamin D from food or from vitamin D supplements.

Read more>>

► The study "Low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D is associated with higher risk of frequent headache in middle-aged and older men" in open access version>>

► Image source>>

Further reading

► The Role of Vitamin D in the Aging Adult>>

#medicine, #Vitamin D, #headache, #UniversityofEasternFinland, #brain, #Neuroscience

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Our Brains Have a Basic Algorithm That Enables Our Intelligence

Our brains have a basic algorithm that enables us to not just recognize a traditional Thanksgiving meal, but the intelligence to ponder the broader implications of a bountiful harvest as well as good family and friends.

“A relatively simple mathematical logic underlies our complex brain computations,” said Dr. Joe Z. Tsien, neuroscientist at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, co-director of the Augusta University Brain and Behavior Discovery Institute and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Cognitive and Systems Neurobiology.

Tsien is talking about his Theory of Connectivity, a fundamental principle for how our billions of neurons assemble and align not just to acquire knowledge, but to generalize and draw conclusions from it.

“Intelligence is really about dealing with uncertainty and infinite possibilities,” Tsien said. It appears to be enabled when a group of similar neurons form a variety of cliques to handle each basic like recognizing food, shelter, friends and foes. Groups of cliques then cluster into functional connectivity motifs, or FCMs, to handle every possibility in each of these basics like extrapolating that rice is part of an important food group that might be a good side dish at your meaningful Thanksgiving gathering. The more complex the thought, the more cliques join in.

That means, for example, we cannot only recognize an office chair, but an office when we see one and know that the chair is where we sit in that office.

► Read the full story>>

► The paper "Brain Computation Is Organized via Power-of-Two-Based Permutation Logic", published in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience>>

► Image source>>

#Neuroscience, #brain, #mathematical_logic, #Intelligence, #IntelligenceBasicAlgorithm, #Neurobiology, #Research

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Brain Technique Improves Cognitive Control

A cutting edge, non-invasive brain stimulation technique could improve cognitive control for people with conditions such as schizophrenia and autism.

Researchers at The University of Queensland’s Centre for Clinical Research have found the technique – which applies high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation to a particular area of the brain – improves cognitive and conflict control.

PhD candidate Oyetunde Gbadeyan said the study provides the basis to explore potential benefits for people with impaired cognitive control associated with schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“Cognitive control is the collective term for the processes by which people take in relevant information, but tune out distracting or irrelevant information to achieve goal-directed behaviour,” Mr Gbadeyan said.

“The smaller electrodes allowed researchers to better pinpoint the target region, in this case the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

“The improvement was greater with active brain stimulation than with placebo stimulation and, for the first time, established a direct causal involvement of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in cognitive control in humans.

“This method could improve the way people with impaired cognitive control process conflicting information but more research is needed to better understand the mechanisms of how it works.”

Read the whole news for knowing more>>

► The study “Stimulation of Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex Enhances Adaptive Cognitive Control: A High-Definition Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Study” in Journal of Neuroscience, published online December 14, 2016>>

► Image comes from the University of Queensland press release.

#Brain, #Neuroscience, #AdaptiveControl, #Autism, #CognitiveControl, #Research, #Schizophrenia

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Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Shows Promise for Depression Therapy

Small amounts of electricity similar to the output of a common 9-volt battery could improve life for people living with major depression, the most common mood disorder.

A new study at the University of Kansas will investigate the potential of transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS, whereby a safe, low current of electricity is applied to the brain by placing electrodes on a person’s scalp. The painless technique may be a useful as a therapy for depression, especially in conjunction with antidepressant medications.

“It’s a technology that allows us to influence the chance that cells in the brain will fire using moderate amounts of electricity,” said Evangelia Chrysikou, assistant professor of psychology.

Chrysikou recently earned a $70,000 grant from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation to study the potential of tDCS in people experiencing depression. She’ll use proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy and functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure changes in brain chemistry and neural activity among 40 subjects receiving tDCS, half healthy and half experiencing major depressive disorder. Participants will be recruited from the KU Psychological Clinic on KU’s Lawrence campus and the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Chrysikou said that a number of smaller pilot studies have shown the promise of tDCS for patients experiencing major depression, but her research will push forward knowledge of how the treatment can be most effective.

“It’s a promising technique,” she said. “We want to increase understanding of how it works at the brain level. What’s the mechanism that underlies these positive changes? If we understand the mechanism, we could boost the effects of medication with this intervention. For example, if some patients don’t respond to antidepressants, we can combine them with non-invasive brain stimulation and potentially increase the likelihood that the drugs will work as intended.”

Read the full story for knowing more>>

#Neuroscience, #Neurobiology , #Neurochemistry , #Health , #Brain , #Research , #NeuralActivity  

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Depression in Young People Affects the Stomach, Anxiety the Skin

Mental disorders and physical diseases frequently go hand in hand. For the first time, psychologists at the University of Basel and Ruhr University Bochum have identified temporal patterns in young people: arthritis and diseases of the digestive system are more common after depression, while anxiety disorders tend to be followed by skin diseases.

Physical diseases and mental disorders affect a person’s quality of life and present a huge challenge for the healthcare system. If physical and mental disorders systematically co-occur from an early age, there is a risk that the sick child or adolescent will suffer from untoward developments.

Data from 6,500 teenagers

In a project financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation, a research group led by PD Dr. Marion Tegethoff in collaboration with Professor Gunther Meinlschmidt from the University of Basel’s Faculty of Psychology has now examined the temporal pattern and relationship between physical diseases and mental disorders in children and young people.
In the journal PLOS ONE, they analyzed data from a representative sample of 6,483 teenagers from the US aged between 13 and 18.

The researchers noted that some physical diseases tend to occur more frequently in children and adolescents if they have previously suffered from certain mental disorders. Likewise, certain mental disorders tend to occur more frequently after the onset of particular physical diseases. Affective disorders such as depression were frequently followed by arthritis and diseases of the digestive system, while the same relationship existed between anxiety disorders and skin diseases. Anxiety disorders were more common if the person had already suffered from heart disease. A close association was also established for the first time between epileptic disorders and subsequent eating disorders.

Read the full story>>

► The paper Chronology of Onset of Mental Disorders and Physical Diseases in Mental-Physical Comorbidity - A National Representative Survey of Adolescents, published in PLOS ONE>>

Image source>>

#Neuroscience, #depression, #mentaldisorders, #brain, #physicaldiseases, #epilepticdisorders, #skindiseases, #anxietydisorders, #Research
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