Research on Serotonin and Depression

Research on Serotonin and Depression

We have known for quite some time that depression and serotonin pathways in the brain are connected in some way. Many of our treatments for depression are based on serotonin and its metabolism in the body. How depression and serotonin may be linked? Well, according to information in the journal Science, interactions between a brain protein and a serotonin receptor seem to have a relationship with depression as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder, drug addiction, anxiety, aggression and sleep disorders. Now, without getting too technical, there are aspects of the finding that are very important. The true value might come from the fact that as we learn more about serotonin, we will be able to attack it more specifically. Remember, we use a lot of serotonin-based drugs. We understand how they work and we can definitely put them in position where they can make a difference for people.

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Research on Brainwave Patterns in Harmonizing Musicians

Research on Brainwave Patterns in Harmonizing Musicians

This is a fascinating study for music lovers. Scientists reporting in the journal BMC Neuroscience have found that when musicians harmonize, they actually have similar brain patterns. The researchers looked at electrical activity in the brains of eight pairs of guitarists as they played. The scientists discovered brainwave similarities within and between the musicians’ brains increased as they listened to the beat of a metronome as they prepared to play and also when they actually began playing together.

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Genetics, Brain Chemicals, and Obesity

Genetics, Brain Chemicals, and Obesity

There is no doubt there is a genetic link for certain people with obesity. The latest study looking at such a connection was conducted at the University Buffalo. What they found is people who genetically had a lower level of the brain chemical dopamine might be driven to eat more food. People who have fewer of the dopamine receptors need to take in more of a rewarding substance, such as food or drugs, to get an effect than other people with less. Now, the report does not mean if you have the genetic makeup that you are doomed to be obese, but it is clear there is a relationship. Naturally, much of this work is done because scientists are looking for ways to help offset obesity.

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Research on the Brain and Recognition

Research on the Brain and Recognition

How do we recognize highly variable pictures of the same person as the same? And how does hearing their voice or name conjure up many of the same feelings of recognition? Previously, researchers had found brain cells in specific parts of the brain in people undergoing brain surgery for epilepsy that seemed to turn on only in response to pictures of individual celebrities. In the present study, researchers have found these brain cells also respond to language. For instance, they found an Oprah brain cell that responds to three pictures of Oprah Winfrey, to her name written on a computer screen, and to computer synthesized voice saying Oprah. Another brain cell turned on to different pictures and the written and pronounced names Luke Skywalker from Star Wars. It’s pretty interesting stuff.

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The Brain Needs Sleep

The Brain Needs Sleep

There are some days that start off with the feeling, “I can’t wait until I go back to sleep.” For some reason, largely unrelated to the amount of sleep we get, we seem to crave more time; we want shut-eye. Researchers have studied this phenomenon and say there is far more to sleep than actual catch-up of sleeping hours. Our brains need the down time as well. Our brains also need time to process memories. They are studying this using functional MRIs. The results are fascinating and clearly there is more to sleep than meets the eye.

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Out of Body Experiences and the Brain

Out of Body Experiences and the Brain

Doctors in Belgium have reported about an unusual patient. He’s a 63-year-old man suffering from severe ringing in the ear. What the doctors did was they implanted electrodes in the man’s brain to cure the ringing. The electrodes provided no relief for the ringing, but they did cause the man to have a so-called out of body experience. The doctors used a special scan called a PET scan to take images of the brain while the man was having this so-called out of body experience. They found that an area of the superior temporal cortex, the area on the side of the head near the top (it’s believed to be important for self-perception) was active during these out of body experiences. So what they believe is they’ve been able to figure out a part of the body that may contribute to the issue.

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Brain Tumor Diagnosis

Brain Tumor Diagnosis

The numbers are startling. Over the next year, more than 200,000 people will be diagnosed with a brain tumor. The tolls are high. Brain tumors are the leading cause of solid tumor cancer deaths in children, they are a problem in women, and they’re the second leading cause of cancer death in people who are in their twenties. One of the most difficult things about brain tumors is that they can dramatically affect the lifestyle of people saddled with them. That’s because tumors can press upon parts of the brain that control everything from our emotions to our ability to walk and talk.

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