Brain

New research helps bridge an important gap in understanding schizophrenia, providing the best evidence to date that defects in the brain's white matter are a key contributor to the disease, which affects about 1 percent of people worldwide.

When motor neurons damaged by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, inappropriately send the wrong signal, immune cells react by killing the messenger. Their surprising finding provides new direction for therapies to treat ALS.

The study was conducted in the laboratory of Don Cleveland, Ph.D., UCSD Professor of Medicine, Neurosciences and Cellular and Molecular Medicine and member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and will be published online April 27 in advance of publication in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Oregon Health & Science University neuroscientists are eyeing a protein as a potential therapeutic target for multiple sclerosis because de-activating it protects nerve fibers from damage.

Researchers and clinicians already know that alcohol abuse and/or dependence can lead to severe and potentially irreversible brain damage. It is also known that women, when compared to men, seem to become more "damaged" by chronic alcohol abuse within a shorter period of drinking and with less overall consumption. A new study shows that female alcoholics may also sustain greater cognitive damage than male alcoholics.

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is a hormonal system that defends against stress, starvation and illnesses. New findings of alterations in adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol secretion in alcoholic patients, which reflect changes in the HPA axis, prompt recommendations that alcoholics avoid excessive stress – both physical and psychological – during early abstinence.

Results are published in the May issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Imagine a world where damaged organs in your body—kidneys, liver, heart—can be stimulated to heal themselves. Envision people tragically paralyzed whose injured spinal cords can be repaired. Think about individuals suffering from the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s relieved of their symptoms – completely and permanently.

Want to keep kids thin? Clore Laboratory at the University of Buckingham is supplementing infant formula and other baby foods with leptin,the hunger hormone. Researchers say it could provide permanent protection from obesity and diabetes into adulthood and could be on shop shelves soon.

Those who take the foods early in life should remain permanently slim. 'Like those people who are lean by nature even though they overeat ? like we all do – they will tend to be inefficient in terms of using energy,' says Mike Cawthorne, who heads the Metabolic Research group at Clore.

Serotonin is a major signaling chemical in the brain, and it has long been thought to be involved in aggressive behavior in a wide variety of animals as well as in humans. Another brain chemical signal, neuropeptide Y (known as neuropeptide F in invertebrates), is also known to affect an array of behaviors in many species, including territoriality in mice. A new study by Drs. Herman Dierick and Ralph Greenspan of The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego shows that these two chemicals also regulate aggression in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster.

Huntington’s disease, an inherited neurodegenerative disorder that affects roughly 30,000 Americans, is incurable and fatal. But a new discovery about how cells repair their DNA points to a possible way to stop or slow the onset of the disease. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

New research from Columbia's Primate Cognition Laboratory has demonstrated for the first time that monkeys could acquire meta-cognitive skills: the ability to reflect about their thoughts and to assess their performance.