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Archive for the ‘Brain Chemicals’ Category

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“Research from McGill University suggests that people who are vulnerable to developing alcoholism exhibit a distinctive brain response when drinking alcohol, according to a new study by Prof. Marco Leyton, of McGill University’s Department of Psychiatry. Compared to people at low risk for alcohol-use problems, those at high risk showed a greater dopamine response in a brain pathway that increases desire for rewards.”

“We found that people vulnerable to developing alcoholism experienced an unusually large brain dopamine response when they took a drink,” said Leyton. “This large response might energize reward-seeking behaviors and counteract the sedative effects of alcohol. Conversely, people who experience minimal dopamine release when they drink might find the sedative effects of alcohol especially pronounced.”

via Alcoholism could be linked to a hyper-active brain dopamine system.

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Depression induced or cured within 10 seconds in rats by turning on or off neurons that release dopamine in the ventral tegmental area of the brain with the help of optogenetics (previously changing neurons to make them be turned on or off by focusing light on them). 10 seconds is shorter than the time that antidepressants usually take to work, which is some weeks. Treatment with magnesium may work within one week, and could be combined for best results with vitamin D, vitamin B12, folic acid, and omega-3.

via Stimulating dopamine-releasing neurons in the ventral tegmental area immediately extinguishes depression in mice. | MIT Technology Review.

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Mayo Clinic researchers have found a novel way to monitor real-time chemical changes in the brains of patients undergoing deep brain stimulation (DBS), using a small neurochemical sensor implanted in the patient’s brain, linked wirelessly to a laptop.

The groundbreaking insight will help physicians more effectively use DBS to treat brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, depression and Tourette syndrome.

Researchers hope to use the discovery to create a DBS system that can instantly respond to chemical changes in the brain. Parkinson’s, Tourette syndrome and depression all involve a surplus or deficiency of neurochemicals in the brain. The idea is to monitor those neurochemicals and adjust them to appropriate levels.

“We can learn what neurochemicals can be released by DBS, neurochemical stimulation, or other stimulation. We can basically learn how the brain works,” says author Su-Youne Chang, Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic Neurosurgery Department. As researchers better understand how the brain works, they can predict changes, and respond before those changes disrupt brain functioning.

via Mayo Clinic creates tool to track real-time chemical changes in brain | KurzweilAI.

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In Conversation with Daniel Kahneman – YouTube.

This public conversation with Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman hosted by LSE and the Hay Festivals will focus on his best selling book Thinking, Fast and Slow. Professor Kahneman will be signing copies of his book after the event.

Daniel Kahneman is Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University and a Professor of Public Affairs Emeritus at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. The recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics for his seminal work in psychology that challenged the rational model of judgment and decision making, his ideas have had a profound and widely regarded impact on many disciplines — including economics, business, law and philosophy. Until now, he has never brought together his many years of research and thinking in one book. His book Thinking, Fast and Slow was published late in 2011.�

Paul Dolan is Professor of Behavioural Science in the Department of Social Policy at the LSE. There are two main themes to his work. The first focuses on developing measures of wellbeing that can be used in policy, particularly in the valuation of non-market goods. Amongst other things, he is currently looking at the happiness hit of the 2012 Olympic Games. The second considers ways in which the lessons from the behavioural sciences can be used to understand and change individual behaviour. This work is focussing on the important role that situational factors play in influencing our behaviour, as summarised in the ‘mindspace’ report for the Cabinet Office.

Evan Davis joined the presenter team on Today in April 2008 following a six-and-a-half year stint as the BBC’s economics editor. He also presents The Bottom Line, Radio 4’s business discussion programme and Dragons’ Den, the BBC Two business reality show. Before his promotion to editor, Evan worked for BBC Two’s Newsnight from 1997 to 2001 and as a general economics correspondent from 1993.

via In Conversation with Daniel Kahneman – YouTube.

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According to a new study by Swedish researchers at GARP (Göteborg Alcohol Research Project), alcohol abuse appears to be much more detrimental to the female brain than to the male brain in the short term. The findings are disturbing, and pretty clear. GARP, a multidisciplinary team, found that both men and women experienced a loss of serotonergic function, but that women showed a significant loss after only four years of excessive alcohol abuse, whereas men showed the same significant loss after 14 years of alcohol abuse.

Alcohol abuse has been associated with reduced serotonin function, dopamine function and a reduction of noradrenaline activity. This was the first time all three functions were investigated in the same alcohol dependent individuals.

Researchers were shocked to note the disparity between females and males. Both showed a 45% decrease in serotonin function, but the decrease was evident in women after just four years of alcohol abuse. Gender difference hasn’t been considered a major factor in the treatment of alcoholism up to this point, but may need to be altered based on these findings. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has enormous influence over many brain functions. Some of the functions it influences are appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, mood, behavior (including sexual and hallucinogenic behavior), cardiovascular function, muscle contraction, endocrine regulation, and depression. the 45% decrease is significant. It is not known how much of the function can return if abstinence is employed, nor whether it can return fully unaided.

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