Waking Up at Night Could Be Your Brain Boosting Your Memory

We tend to think a good night’s sleep should be uninterrupted, but surprising new research from the University of Copenhagen suggests just the opposite: Brief awakenings may be a sign you’ve slipped well. The study, done on mice, found that the stress transmitter noradrenaline wakes up the brain many times a night. These “microarousals” were … Read more

A Novel Target to Improve Outcomes in Late-Life Depression?

A new study sheds light on the neurologic underpinnings of late-life depression (LLD) with apathy and its frequently poor response to treatment. Investigators headed by Faith Gunning, PhD, of the Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, analyzed baseline and posttreatment brain MRIs and functional MRIs (fMRIs) of older adults with depression who … Read more

No Evidence Low Serotonin Causes Depression?

There is no convincing evidence that low serotonin levels are the primary cause of depression. This is the conclusion of an “exhaustive” review by UK investigators, which upends the widely held belief that depression is the result of lower levels, or reduced activity, of the chemical. Researchers say the results call antidepressant use into question. … Read more

Fear Response Fueling Postural Tachycardia Syndrome?

Some patients with symptoms of postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS) may be experiencing a fear response caused by previous fainting episodes, new research suggests. Investigators compared adult patients with POTS symptoms with healthy controls and found that patients with POTS had higher somatic vigilance and more anxiety. They also had more pronounced anticipatory tachycardia immediately before … Read more

Anxiety Spreads From Mother to Daughter, Father to Son

Transmission of anxiety appears to be sex-specific ― spreading from mothers to daughters and from fathers to sons, new research shows. The new findings suggest that children learn anxious behavior from their parents, study investigator Barbara Pavlova, PhD, clinical psychologist with Nova Scotia Health Authority, told Medscape Medical News. “This means that transmission of anxiety … Read more

Anorexia Linked to Notable Shrinkage of Key Brain Structures

Patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) have not able shrinkage in key brain structures and these deficits are less severe in patients on the path to weight recovery, a new brain imaging study shows. The reductions of cortical thickness, subcortical volumes, and cortical surface area were “very pronounced in acutely underweight anorexia,” Stefan Ehrlich, MD, PhD, … Read more

MRI Plus Deep Learning Models Estimate Brain-Aging

The covered study in this summary was published in bioRxiv.org as a preprint and has not yet been peer reviewed. Key Takeaways Using the Layer-wise Relevance Propagation algorithm and various structural MRI modalities (T1-weighted, fluid-attenuated inversion recovery [FLAIR]and susceptibility-weighted magnitude images [SWI]), brain age can be estimated. The structural abnormalities found were changes in the … Read more

Social Activities May Offset Psychosis Risk in Poor Communities

Social engagement such as participation in community or school-based activities may mitigate psychosis risk in susceptible youth living in disadvantaged communities, new research suggests. A study of more than 170 young participants showed reduced hippocampal volume in those living in poor neighborhoods who had low social engagement vs their peers with greater community engagement. Dr. … Read more

Counterintuitive Effect of Sparring on the Brains of MMA Fighters

Sparring among professional mixed martial arts (MMA) practitioners may have both positive and negative effects on the brain, early research suggests. Investigators found sparring, defined as strategically hitting opponents with kicks, punches, and other strikes during practice sessions, is to increased white matter hyperintensities in the brain, pointing to possible vascular damage from repeated head … Read more

What Can We Do About Mass Shootings?

“It must be mental illness. My mind cannot possibly conceive of an alternative. A rational healthy mind cannot be capable of this, Doc.” These were the opening words of one of many discussions that I had with patients in the wake of yet another gut-wrenching tragedy where we saw innocent children and their teachers murdered … Read more