Migraine and Sleep: New Connections
Attack” is often a word associated with migraine, and for good reason. If you suffer from migraine headaches or know someone who does, you are well aware of its crippling nature. This story focuses on new research that has uncovered an important link between migraine and sleep patterns. A better understanding of the relationships among the body’s circadian rhythms, the brain’s hypothalamus, and a mutated gene holds enormous promise of improved care for millions of people who experience migraine (three times more common in women) and familial advanced sleep phase syndrome (FASP).
Getting High on the Endocannabinoid System
The endogenous cannabinoid system—named for the plant that led to its discovery—is one of the most important physiologic systems involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body and brain and interact with our organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells. By understanding this system, we begin to see a mechanism that could connect brain activity and states of physical health and disease.
Lewy Body Dementia: The Under-Recognized but Common Foe
After Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy body dementia (LBD) is the most prevalent progressive dementia of the many cognitive disorders wreaking unspeakable havoc on millions of lives. LBD is characterized by the presence of Lewy bodies, which are abnormal aggregates of a protein called alpha-synuclein, and are found in regions of the brain that regulate behavior, memory, movement, and personality. Many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and LBD overlap, but LBD is more difficult to diagnose. Underdiagnosis is just part of the reason why LBD is unknown to the public and many health-care providers, and why funding for research lags far behind that for almost every other cognitive disorder.
ADHD: Ten Years Later
Ten years ago a landmark study showed that the structure of the brains of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) differs from that of unaffected children. Since that study, enhancements in imaging have given researchers a better look at key hubs in the brain and how they network—advances that could prove useful in the control and treatment of ADHD in both children and adults.
Do Cytokines Really Sing the Blues?
Evidence suggests several causes for depression, including traumatic life events, disease, poison, and nutritional deficiencies. Many of these causes are associated with elevated levels of inflammatory biomarkers in the blood, which may in turn lead to inflammatory changes in the brain. Our authors examine what the latest research reveals about the link between inflammation in the brain and depression, and how a better understanding of that link can play a critical first step in the personalization of care.
Gut Feelings: Bacteria and the Brain
The gut-brain axis—an imaginary line between the brain and the gut—is one of the new frontiers of neuroscience. Microbiota in our gut, sometimes referred to as the “second genome” or the “second brain,” may influence our mood in ways that scientists are just now beginning to understand. Unlike with inherited genes, it may be possible to reshape, or even to cultivate, this second genome. As research evolves from mice to people, a further understanding of microbiota’s relationship to the human brain could have significant mental-health implications.
Inside the Letterbox: How Literacy Transforms the Human Brain
Few issues are as important to the future of humanity as acquiring literacy. Brain-scanning technology and cognitive tests on a variety of subjects by one of the world’s foremost cognitive neuroscientists has led to a better understanding of how a region of the brain responds to visual stimuli. The results could profoundly affect learning and help individuals with reading disabilities.
Sound the Alarm: Fraud in Neuroscience
By all accounts, scientific misconduct over the last decade is on the rise, especially in the area of journal retractions. In neuroscience, our author—both a leading academic and an experienced neuroscience journal editor—believes the field is detecting “only the tip of the fraud iceberg.” His story addresses the nature, detection, and incentives for fraud, and suggests reforms.
Psychiatric Drug Development: Diagnosing a Crisis
When it comes to funding drug research to treat depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders, the global pharmaceutical industry prefers to invest its research dollars in cancer, metabolism, autoimmunity, and other disease areas. This comes despite the fact that one in five Americans currently take at least one psychiatric drug and that mental disorders are recognized worldwide. The author traces the evolution of psychiatric drug development, the reasons for its retreat, and what needs to change to meet the growing demand.