Are you finding yourself itching your legs all too often? You’re already slathering on that lotion, but it doesn’t seem to help?
Surprisingly, the same nerve cells that tell your brain that it’s time to itch also tell your brain that your body is experiencing burning pains.
Klas Kullander, a professor in the Department of Neuroscience at Uppsala University examined how the nerve cells that alert the brain of heat pain affect mice. He concluded that when the nerve cells lost the ability to signal, the mice reacted less to heat and began to constantly itch.
According to Professor Kullander, these results connect the pain from a burn to monitoring sensitivity to itching; an important finding when itching is often overlooked.
Extreme itching is common after an operation or burn. Disorders such as eczema also lead to uncomfortable itching. With the knowledge leading from this study, new forms of treatment have a better chance of being developed. Professor Kullander and his coworkers hope to be able to develop techniques which will allow them to be able to stop the itch at its source.
According to researcher Robbert Havekes and his colleagues, there is hope for those suffering from constant sleep deprivation and the connected health effects, such as forgetfulness, memory problems and impaired learning.
Havekes and his colleagues conducted a study in which mice were kept awake for five hours. The mice showed increased levels of the enzyme PDE4 and lower levels of molecule cAMP, which plays a crucial role in the brain’s ability to learn.
The scientists repressed the activity of the PDE4 enzyme and found that sleep deprivation was then counteracted. The lack of sleep caused increased PDE4 activity, which then blocked the activity of the cAMP molecule. Therefore, fewer connections were being formed or strengthened in the brain.
This discovery displays the effect of sleep deprivation and how it can be eliminated. According to Havekes, drugs that stimulate cAMP may make counteracting the effects of sleep deprivation possible, relieving the millions of people suffering from the uncomfortable disorder.
According to John Spence, a behavioral scientist in the faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta, Canada, habits that lead to obesity develop at the pre-school age.
Spence examined the connection with food and the relationship with body weight in 1730 children between the ages of four and five. Their parents were asked to fill out a survey based on statements about how their children responded to food, such as “My child eats more when worried.”
Even in children at such a young age, results showed significant differences between children in different weight groups based on the statements their parents showed. For example, children who demonstrated approach behaviors, such as eating when upset or bored, we are much higher risk of being overweight than children who demonstrated avoidance behaviors, such as fussy or slow eating.
Spence believes that the main influence on eating behavior is the household environment. There are family dynamics that lead children to be more approach or avoid-based about food. Examples of such dynamics are exposure to food and the prevention or promotion of physical activity.
In the United States, the child obesity rate is growing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, currently around 20 percent of children and adolescents living in the United States are obese. Obesity is a serious health concern, as it can lead to coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, liver disease, and infertility.
For more information and tips on how to prevent obesity, visit NorthShore University HealthSystem.
According to researchers from the Centre de Neuroscience Cognitive (Cognitive Neuroscience Center) in Lyon, France, the orbitofrontal cortex, which is located in the anterior ventral part of the brain, is comprised of distinct regions that respond to rewards like money and chocolate.
Every day we must make reward choices. In order to do so, we have to compare their value on a single scale, which hints that all rewards are assessed in the same area. However, at the same time it is possible that different rewards activate different brain areas, depending on the characteristics of the reward.
To study the brain areas associated with rewards, scientists conducted a game as an experiment. Participants were rewarded with money and their cerebral activity was measured with an FMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scanner.
The experiment concluded that reward association is shared between the cerebral regions known as the ventral striatum, insula, mesencephalon and the anterior cingulated cortex. Scientists also found that there is dissociation between primary and secondary awards, which supports the hypothesis of different brain areas responding to various gratifications.
According to a recent article published in the journal Neurology, mild cognitive impairment, which occurs with aging, is more common among men. People who experience mild cognitive impairment have problems with short term memory and difficulty keeping conversations flowing. Several indicators include misplacing items or remembering what they want to say.
The study used to compile the article concludes that men are 1.5 times more likely than women to experience mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which frequently leads to Alzheimer’s disease.
Ronald Petersen, MD, PhD from the Mayo Clinic was in charge of executing the study. Peterson and his team interviewed 2,050 people between the ages of 70 and 89. Variables included data collected about the participants’ memory and medical history.
Results showed MCI was present in approximately 14 percent of the patients, and dementia in approximately 10 percent. 76 percent demonstrated normal memory and thinking. 19 percent of the men had MCI, compared with 14 percent of the women. Also, MCI rates were higher among participants who never married and those who had lower education levels.
According to Petersen, the combined rates of MCI and dementia (22 percent) represent the great impact of the two conditions, as well as the need to find treatments for them. The higher male rate was unexpected for Petersen, as Alzheimer’s disease rates are higher in women. This study suggests that 25 percent of the population age 70 and older experience dementia, or are at risk of developing the disorder in the future. This statistic highlights the importance of early detection and research for treatment improvement.
According to researchers at the University of Warwick, and the Federico II University Medical School in Naples, Italy, sleep saves lives. Their study showed that people who sleep less than six hours a night are 12 percent more likely to die prematurely, than those who get 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
The scientists studied relationships between sleeping too little and too much, and the associated risk of dying prematurely. They reviewed sixteen studies from the United Kingdom, United States and various European and East Asian countries. The studies included 1.3 million participants, spanned over 25 years and recorded more than 100,000 deaths.
Their research concludes that there is a direct link between short durations of sleep and dying prematurely. Additionally, their research indicated that sleeping more than nine hours every night puts people at risk of developing serious and potentially fatal diseases.
According to Professor Francesco Cappuccio, leader of the Sleep, Health and Society Programme at the University of Warwick, 6 to 8 hours of sleep per night is the optimal amount for living a healthy lifestyle.
ADHD is a condition that affects children and adults across the globe. According to Healthcentral.com a classroom with 30 students will have between 1 and 3 children with ADHD, and one fourth of children with ADHD have serious learning disabilities such as: oral expression, listening skills, reading comprehension and/or math.
According to scientists at Cardiff University, children with ADHD are more likely to have segments of their DNA missing or duplicated. There is a clear genetic link between the same segments and other neurological disorders.
The scientists analyzed the genomes of 366 children, all diagnosed with ADHD. They found that children with ADHD are more likely to have a parent with the condition. Also, a child whose identical twin has the syndrome has a 75 percent chance of having ADHD.
People often believe that ADHD is developed as a result of poor parenting or a bad diet. However, the disorder is actually one of the most common child mental health disorders. Children who have ADHD are very restless, impulsive and easy distractible. They often experience difficulty learning. Treatment typically includes medication and behavioral therapy.
The findings will help scientists gain a better understanding of the disorder, which could lead to a better diagnosis and improved treatment options.
According to scientists at the Baycrest Rotman Research Institute and the University of California, the location of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), also referred to as frontotemporal dementia (FTD) in the brain is influenced by career choice.
Scientists examined 588 patients diagnosed with the disease, which causes personality and behavior changes and a decline in memory and language skills. The disease is found on one side of the brain and becomes more widespread over time. Researchers assessed the patients’ occupations based on verbal, physical and visuospatial skills. They found that patients whose professions required high verbal skills, such as a CEO or school principal, developed FTD on the right side of the brain. Those whose professions required low verbal skills, such as flight engineers, experienced the disease on the left.
According to Dr. Nathan Spreng from the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, the disease affected the patient’s side of the brain that was used the least in their career. One explanation is that the brain hemisphere used most in one’s career becomes stronger, and thus the disease attacks the weaker. For example, hours of utilizing the left side of the brain, which is responsible for language and verbal skills, strengthens connections and makes the hemisphere less susceptible to damage. Another explanation is that there could be functional impairment related to the disease that causes patients to be biased towards a certain career long before they experience FTD effects. Further research will be needed in order to determine an exact cause.
Conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois, the study measured the size of brain structures in 49 children by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. The researchers particularly focused on the hippocampus, a structure within the brain which is used in learning and memory.
Previous research studying the hippocampus involved animal subjects, and showed that exercise significantly impacts the growth of new neurons and the survival of cells. The new study concludes that this can also be applied to humans.
The study revealed that children that were more physically fit had 12 percent bigger hippocampal volume. They performed better on tests that measured their ability remembering information. For this reason, researchers were able to determine that exercise has an important effect on the brain and improvement of memory and learning.
According to researchers from Oxford University in England, large daily doses of vitamin B reduce the rate of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia onset by 50%.
Patients developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are known to experience mild cognitive impairment, a disorder that allows them to function in daily activities, but causes them to develop memory problems over time. 16% of people over 70 years old are affected by cognitive impairment.
The blood concentration of homocysteine, the amino acid responsible for cognitive impairment, can be dramatically lowered by high doses of B vitamins.
This finding gives great hope to patients experiencing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and provides scientists with further information to develop treatment plans accordingly.