Brain

How schizophrenia risk gene DISC1 affects the brain

How schizophrenia risk gene DISC1 affects the brain

Scientists have for the first time shown how the disruption of a key gene involved in mental illness impacts on the brain. The discovery could be used in the future to help develop psychiatric drugs.

The DISC1 gene is a risk factor for a number of major mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder.

Neurons in pink and blue. Credit: Dawson original

Mental 'map' and 'compass' are two separate systems

Mental 'map' and 'compass' are two separate systems

If you have a map, you can know where you are without knowing which way you are facing. If you have a compass, you can know which way you're facing without knowing where you are. Animals from ants to mice to humans use both kinds of information to reorient themselves in familiar places, but how they determine this information from environmental cues is not well understood.

Mood instability common to mental health disorders and associated with poor outcomes

A study by researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London has shown that mood instability occurs in a wide range of mental disorders and is not exclusive to affective conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder.

The research, published today in BMJ Open, also found that mood instability was associated with poorer clinical outcomes.

Subconscious learning shapes pain responses

In a new study led from Sweden's Karolinska Institutet, researchers report that people can be conditioned to associate images with particular pain responses - such as improved tolerance to pain - even when they are not consciously aware of the images. The findings are being published in the journal PNAS.

Head injuries could result in neurodegenerative disease in rugby union players

A new article publishing online today in the Quarterly Journal of Medicine has reported the first case showing an association between exposure to head injuries in rugby union players and an increased risk in neurodegenerative disease.

Blood turned into neural cells

Scientists at McMaster University have discovered how to make adult sensory neurons from human patients simply by having them roll up their sleeve and providing a blood sample.

Specifically, stem cell scientists at McMaster can now directly convert adult human blood cells to both central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) neurons as well as neurons in the peripheral nervous system (rest of the body) that are responsible for pain, temperature and itch perception. This means that how a person's nervous system cells react and respond to stimuli, can be determined from his blood.

Antidepressants help women with postpartum depression

Antidepressants are associated with better rates of treatment response and remission for women with postnatal depression, when compared to a placebo, according to a new systematic review by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London.

Smaller volumes in certain regions of the brain could lead to increased likelihood of drug addiction

A study has found that individual differences in brain structure could help to determine the risk for future drug addiction. The study found that occasional users who subsequently increased their drug use compared with those who did not, showed brain structural differences when they started using drugs.

New form of inherited blindness discovered

Scientists from the University of Leeds, in collaboration with researchers from the Institute of Ophthalmology in London and Ghent University in Belgium, have discovered that mutations in the gene DRAM2 cause a new type of late-onset inherited blindness.

Androgen deprivation therapy may lead to cognitive impairment

Cognitive impairment can occur in cancer patients who are treated with a variety of therapies, including radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy. After chemotherapy treatment it is commonly called "chemo brain." Signs of cognitive impairment include forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, problems recalling information, trouble multi-tasking and becoming slower at processing information. The number of people who experience cognitive problems following cancer therapy is broad, with an estimate range of 15 to 70 percent.