View Full Version : Brain plasticity and isolation

11-11-2012, 06:29 PM
New Form of Brain Plasticity: How Social Isolation Disrupts Myelin Production

ScienceDaily (Nov. 11, 2012) — Animals that are socially isolated for prolonged periods make less myelin in the region of the brain responsible for complex emotional and cognitive behavior, researchers at the University at Buffalo and Mt. Sinai School of Medicine report in Nature Neuroscience online.

This paper reveals that the stress of social isolation disrupts the sequence in which the myelin-making cells, the oligodendrocytes, are formed.

In the experiment, adult mice, normally social animals, were isolated for eight weeks to induce a depressive-like state. They were then introduced to a "novel" mouse, one they hadn't seen before; while mice are normally highly motivated to be social, those who had been socially isolated did not show any interest in interacting with the new mouse, a model of social avoidance and withdrawal.

Brain tissue analysis of the socially isolated animals revealed significantly lower than normal levels of gene transcription for oligodendrocyte cells in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region responsible for emotional and cognitive behavior.

New Form of Brain Plasticity: How Social Isolation Disrupts Myelin Production - Science Daily (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121111153935.htm)

This is pretty neat! It's pretty extraordinary how the brain can adapt.

11-11-2012, 07:49 PM
New Form of Brain Plasticity: How Social Isolation Disrupts Myelin Production - Science Daily (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121111153935.htm)

This is pretty neat! It's pretty extraordinary how the brain can adapt.

You need to go out on a date.

Reading stuff like that....

11-11-2012, 08:34 PM
You need to go out on a date.

Reading stuff like that....

That stuff is more interesting than many of the men I know. :)

I love science. I hated it until I was forced to learn it in university. My attendance rate in high school was about 40%, that's how much I hated basic science. Then I got into my first year intro to bio class and fell in love. There was something very cool about understanding systems.

11-11-2012, 08:54 PM
If you had cut me off from society for eight weeks as a young man I'm pretty sure I would have fallen in love with the first woman I laid eyes on after that.

Now I'm old enough to know better. :grin:

11-12-2012, 10:32 PM
Vegetative patient communicates...
Vegetative patient Scott Routley says 'I'm not in pain'
12 November 2012 - A Canadian man who was believed to have been in a vegetative state for more than a decade, has been able to tell scientists that he is not in any pain.

It's the first time an uncommunicative, severely brain-injured patient has been able to give answers clinically relevant to their care. Scott Routley, 39, was asked questions while having his brain activity scanned in an fMRI machine. His doctor says the discovery means medical textbooks will need rewriting. Vegetative patients emerge from a coma into a condition where they have periods awake, with their eyes open, but have no perception of themselves or the outside world.

Mr Routley suffered a severe brain injury in a car accident 12 years ago. None of his physical assessments since then have shown any sign of awareness, or ability to communicate. But the British neuroscientist Prof Adrian Owen - who led the team at the Brain and Mind Institute, University of Western Ontario - said Mr Routley was clearly not vegetative. "Scott has been able to show he has a conscious, thinking mind. We have scanned him several times and his pattern of brain activity shows he is clearly choosing to answer our questions. We believe he knows who and where he is."

Prof Owen said it was a groundbreaking moment. "Asking a patient something important to them has been our aim for many years. In future we could ask what we could do to improve their quality of life. It could be simple things like the entertainment we provide or the times of day they are washed and fed." Scott Routley's parents say they always thought he was conscious and could communicate by lifting a thumb or moving his eyes. But this has never been accepted by medical staff.

Prof Bryan Young at University Hospital, London - Mr Routley's neurologist for a decade - said the scan results overturned all the behavioural assessments that had been made over the years. "I was impressed and amazed that he was able to show these cognitive responses. He had the clinical picture of a typical vegetative patient and showed no spontaneous movements that looked meaningful." Observational assessments of Mr Routley since he responded in the scanner have continued to suggest he is vegetative. Prof Young said medical textbooks would need to be updated to include Prof Owen's techniques.

More http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-20268044

11-12-2012, 10:53 PM
Good find Walt.

11-13-2012, 09:24 PM
Report on schizophrenia find shortcomings in care...
'Catastrophic failings' in schizophrenia care
13 November 2012 - Alternative ways of caring for patients with schizophrenia are needed, says the inquiry

An independent inquiry says a major overhaul is needed in the system for caring for people with schizophrenia. The Schizophrenia Commission, which was set up a year ago, says patients spend too long in "demoralised and dysfunctional" hospital wards. Its analysis suggests the condition costs society almost £12bn a year - and treatment budgets could be spent more wisely to stop people from getting ill. The government says mental health is one of its high priorities. A spokesman said: "We are clear that people with mental health problems should be treated with the same high quality and dignified care as anyone else and we expect the NHS to make this happen."

The commission, which was established by the charity Rethink Mental Illness, says too much is spent on secure care - 19% of the mental health budget in England last year - with many people staying too long in expensive units. Among the 42 recommendations, the report calls for a better use of "recovery houses" in the community, to provide an alternative to hospital admission. The average cost of a night in a mental health in-patient bed is £321 - meaning a typical admission of 38 days costing more than £12,000. The commission says early intervention teams, which aim to help people before their hallucinations or delusions become severe, are popular and should be extended. The report claims some teams are being cut or diluted at the moment.


Prof Sir Robin Murray from King's College London, which chaired the commission, said: "If you have psychosis and your mind is disturbed, you need a period of respite and calm. "But especially in inner cities, you get admitted to something like a madhouse. The nurses are often overwhelmed. "If patients have had a bad experience and then a further relapse, it's more likely they will then have to be admitted by compulsion. "The system is pervaded by pressure. People are locked up too often and for too long. "There's a preoccupation with risk, and the idea that this is a madman with an axe. But people with schizophrenia are actually more likely to be attacked themselves. "There's no other condition where such an emphasis is put on the risk of an effect on other people." The report says care of people with schizophrenia and psychosis is falling "catastrophically short". An economic analysis for the commission highlighted an "exceptionally low" employment rate for people with schizophrenia of 7%, as well as disrupted education - because the illness often develops in young adulthood.

The authors said some of the costs of schizophrenia were unavoidable - but effective interventions, such as family therapy and making a concerted effort to find people jobs, were not being widely used. Paul Jenkins, head of the charity Rethink Mental Illness, was also a member of the commission. He said: "It's been over 100 years since the term 'schizophrenia' was first coined, but care and treatment are still nowhere near good enough. "It is a scandal that in 2012 people with schizophrenia are dying 15-20 years earlier than the general population." The report said tackling those worse chances of physical ill health would take many years, but made economic sense. And it highlighted poor prescribing practice as another problem faced by people with schizophrenia, saying patients were not always receiving the most effective medication. The report - titled The Abandoned Illness - concludes patients can be given hope and support, with the aim of stability or recovery.


11-14-2012, 05:50 PM
'Intellectual & Emotional Capabilities' Slowly Eroding...
Mutations in the human brain are making us stupider, new research shows
Monday, November 12, 2012, A Stanford University professor presented evidence Monday that mutations in the human brain — brought on by advances in society that have made survival less stressful — are eroding our intellectual and emotional capabilities.

We've become so smart, we’re getting stupid, new research shows. A Stanford University professor presented evidence Monday that mutations in the human brain — brought on by advances in society that have made survival less stressful — are eroding our intellectual and emotional capabilities. Gerald Crabtree, lead author of the study published in the journal Trends in Genetics, claims the brain drain has been going on for centuries.

Crabtree, a professor of pathology and developmental biology, suggested our intellectual peak came when humans were mostly nonverbal and were stressed out trying to think of ways to not get eaten by wild animals. He said survival was once a driving force for intelligence. But the development of agriculture and the rise in urban living has probably weakened the natural selection towards intelligence and made us less smart. Luckily, the loss of brain wattage is so slow that advances in technology should solve our problems before we all turn completely stupid.

Crabtree estimated that within 3,000 years, humans will endure two or more mutations harmful to our intellectual and emotional stability. “I think we will know each of the millions of human mutations that can compromise our intellectual function and how each of these mutations interact with each other and other processes as well as environmental influences,” Crabtree said. “At that time, we may be able to magically correct any mutation that has occurred in all cells of any organism at any development stage,” he said. “Thus, the brutish process of natural selection will be unnecessary.”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/human-beings-stupider-research-article-1.1200985#ixzz2CEwBKzv4