People experiencing migraines often avoid light and find relief in darkness. A new study led by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has revealed a previously unknown connection between the light-sensitive nerve cells in the eye and centers in the brain that regulate mood and a host of physical parameters such as heart rate, shortness of breath, fatigue, congestion and nausea. The findings, which explain how light can induce the negative emotions and unpleasant physical sensations that often accompany migraine, were published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “While studying the effects of color on headache intensity,Read More →

When asked to talk about images of places, painters are more likely to describe the depicted space as a two-dimensional image, while architects are more likely to focus on paths and the boundaries of the space. “We found that painters, sculptors and architects consistently showed signs of their profession when talking about the spaces we showed them, and all three groups had more elaborate, detailed descriptions than people in unrelated professions,” said senior author Dr Hugo Spiers (UCL Psychology & Language Sciences). For the study, published in Cognitive Science, the researchers brought in 16 people from each of the three professions – they all hadRead More →

Throughout our evolution, viruses have continually infected humans just as they do today. Some early viruses became integrated into our genome and are now known as human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs). Over millions of years, they became inert due to mutations or major deletions in their genetic code. Today, one of the most studied HERV families is the HERV-K family, which has been active since the evolutionary split of humans and chimpanzees with some members perhaps actively infecting humans within the past couple hundred thousand years. HERVs have become a target for HIV researchers because studies have shown that T-cells produce an immune response against HERVsRead More →

Depression presents an enormous disease burden, with a reported 350 million people worldwide suffering from the disease, but traditional SSRI treatments carry a burden of their own – in dollars and side effects. New clinical research published today in PLoS One shows that over-the-counter magnesium appears safe and effective to treat mild to moderate depression. Critical to such body functions as heart rhythm, blood pressure and bone strength, the mineral magnesium plays a role in combating inflammation in the body and has been proven to have an association with depression. However, few clinical trials have studied the supplement’s effects. Emily Tarleton, MS, RD, CD, aRead More →

Religious participation is linked to lower suicide rates in many parts of the world, including the United States and Russia, but does not protect against the risk of suicide in sections of Europe and Asia, finds new research by a Michigan State University scholar. In Catholic-dominant Western and Southern Europe, residents appear to be placing less importance on God and religion and have less confidence in religious institutions. In East Asia, traditional faiths such as Buddhism and Confucianism focus on individual spirituality rather than collective spirituality, which entails social support and moral guidance. “Secularization and the individual pursuit of spirituality are two important factors thatRead More →

Among young adults at risk for suicide, highly variable sleep patterns may augur an increase in suicidal symptoms, independent of depression, a study from Stanford has found. Sleep disturbances can warn of worsening suicidal thoughts in young adults, independent of the severity of an individual’s depression, a study from the Stanford University School of Medicine has found. Sleep problems among young adults at risk for suicide — especially variation in when they went to sleep and when they woke up — emerged as a warning sign of worsening suicidal thoughts in the following days and weeks, the study showed. The study was published online JuneRead More →

Essential tremor is the world’s most common movement disorder, affecting an estimated 7 million people in the U.S. alone. The hallmark of this disease is an involuntary, rhythmic shaking during intentional movement, complicating everyday tasks like writing, eating and drinking. When resting or sleeping, however, most patients have few or no symptoms. The disease can be treated with a surgical procedure called Deep Brain Stimulation, or DBS, where a neurosurgeon implants an electrode deep in the brain; this wire is then tunneled under the skin to a battery in the chest, which provides electrical stimulation that quiets the symptoms. In current use, however, these implantedRead More →

Many people living with dementia reside in long-term care facilities, where the lack of stimulation can result in behaviors such as hitting, screaming, and wandering. Common measures to avoid such “responsive” behaviors, such as antipsychotic medications and personalized recreational and music therapy programs, can cause adverse health effects in the former case and be difficult for staff to find time to carry out in the latter case. A team of human factors/ergonomics researchers helped to evaluate and refine Ambient Activity (or AA; Ambient Activity Technologies Inc.), interactive tools designed to augment existing programs and activities by alleviating boredom and increasing engagement. The team evaluating theRead More →

Imagine being able to take a crystal-clear snapshot of an entire brain, recording what every single neuron was doing at a particular moment as an animal experienced fear or pleasure or any other emotion. Today, that’s just a dream — neuroscientists have to choose between seeing the entire brain in low resolution or seeing a small piece of it in high resolution — but a new technique known as FLARE could bring that dream one step closer to reality. The research emerged, says Alice Ting, PhD, out of neuroscientists’ frustration with their inability to capture a fine-grained picture of what the whole brain was doing inRead More →

When male chimpanzees of the world’s largest known troop patrol the boundaries of their territory in Ngogo, Uganda, they walk silently in single file. Normally chimps are noisy creatures, but on patrol they’re hard-wired. They sniff the ground and stop to listen for sounds. Their cortisol and testosterone levels are jacked 25 percent higher than normal. Chances of contacting neighboring enemies are high: 30 percent. Ten percent of patrols result in violent fights where they hold victims down and bite, hit, kick and stomp them to death. The result? A large, safe territory rich with food, longer lives, and new females brought into the group.Read More →