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“Wakefulness” Part of the Brain Attacked First in Alzheimer’s, Study Says

Lea Grinberg, a neuropathologist and associate professor at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center in San Francisco’s Mission Bay, holds slides of brain tissue used for research on August 15, 2019. (Lindsey Moore/KQED)

People who donate their bodies to science might never have dreamed what information lies deep within their brains.

Even when that information has to do with sleep.

Scientists used to believe that people who napped a lot were at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. But Lea Grinberg with the UCSF Memory and Aging Center started to wonder if “risk” was too light a term — what if, instead, napping indicated an early stage of Alzheimer’s?

About a decade ago, Grinberg — a neuropathologist and associate professor — was working with her team to map a protein called tau in donated brains. Some of their data, published last week, revealed drastic differences between healthy brains and those from Alzheimer’s patients in the parts of the brain responsible for wakefulness.

Lea Grinberg uses a program that takes a microscope’s magnification of brain tissue on a slide and projects it on a computer screen on August 15, 2019. The different colors represent different biological features in the brain tissue sample, including neurons and tau protein. (Lindsey Moore/KQED)

Wakefulness centers in the brain showed the buildup of tau — a protein that clogs neurons, Grinberg says, and lets debris accumulate. Gradually, these clogged neurons die. Some areas of the diseased brains had lost as much as 75% of their neurons. That may have led to the excessive napping scientists had observed before. Although the team only studied brains from 13 Alzheimer’s patients and 7 healthy individuals, Grinberg says that the degeneration caused by Alzheimer’s was so profound they were sure of its significance.

“We are kind of changing our understanding of what Alzheimer’s disease is,” she says. “It’s not only a memory problem, but it’s a problem in the brain that causes many other symptoms.”

Although these symptoms aren’t as severe as complete loss of memory or motor functions, Grinberg says they can still hold real consequences for a person’s quality of life. “Because if you don’t sleep well every day and if you… are not in the mood to do things like you were before, it’s very disappointing, right? My grandparents were like this.”

Grinberg says it’s important to know whether napping could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s, for treating symptoms and developing drugs that could slow the progression of the disease. Although there are no prescription drugs available to treat tau buildup, she says, a few are in clinical trials.

Lea Grinberg holds boxes filled with samples of brain tissue for study on August 15, 2019. (Lindsey Moore/KQED)

A public health professor and neuroscientist at UC Berkeley says the new information offers hope to researchers. William Jagust, who has studied Alzheimer’s for over 30 years, says the results could help select patients for clinical trials of new drugs that require early treatment. “It’s also just very important for understanding the evolution of Alzheimer’s disease with the hope that we eventually will have a drug,” he adds.

It’ll be awhile before doctors can diagnose anyone with Alzheimer’s based on how often they doze off. “There’s no practical application of this to clinical medicine as of today,” Jagust says, “but I think it’s on the cutting edge of the very, very important questions.”

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Source: “Wakefulness” Part of the Brain Attacked First in Alzheimer’s, Study Says

What is Alzheimer’s disease? Alzeimer’s (Alzheimer) disease is a neurodegenerative disease that leads to symptoms of dementia. Progression of Alzheimer’s disease is thought to involve an accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. Find more videos at http://osms.it/more. Study better with Osmosis Prime. Retain more of what you’re learning, gain a deeper understanding of key concepts, and feel more prepared for your courses and exams. Sign up for a free trial at http://osms.it/more. Subscribe to our Youtube channel at http://osms.it/subscribe. Get early access to our upcoming video releases, practice questions, giveaways and more when you follow us on social: Facebook: http://osms.it/facebook Twitter: http://osms.it/twitter Instagram: http://osms.it/instagram Osmosis’s Vision: Empowering the world’s caregivers with the best learning experience possible.

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Reversing the Damage of a Stroke

For one patient, a decade of recovery took determination, persistence and the courage to weather repeated setbacks.

Strange as it may seem, the stroke Ted Baxter suffered in 2005 at age 41, leaving him speechless and paralyzed on his right side, was a blessing in more ways than one. Had the clot, which started in his leg, lodged in his lungs instead of his brain, the doctors told him he would have died from a pulmonary embolism.

And as difficult as it was for him to leave his high-powered professional life behind and replace it with a decade of painstaking recovery, the stroke gave his life a whole new and, in many ways, more rewarding purpose.

Before the stroke, Mr. Baxter’s intense work-focused life as a globe-trotting executive in international finance had eroded his marriage and deprived him of fulfilling relationships with family and friends. Unable to relax even on vacation, he rarely took time to smell the roses. Now, he told me, he leads a richer, calmer, happier life as a volunteer educator for stroke victims and their caregivers and for the therapists who treat them.

The stroke began with a cramping pain in his leg after a long international flight during which he wore compression hose to support his varicose veins. He didn’t take the pain seriously until suddenly he couldn’t talk or move the right side of his body. The clot that caused his leg pain had broken loose and cut off blood flow to the left side of his brain.

He nearly died. But once stabilized, the doctors discovered that he was born with a hole in his heart that had allowed the clot to bypass his lungs and go directly to his brain. Two of his siblings turned out to have the same defect, called patent foramen ovale, which they subsequently had repaired.

Mr. Baxter readily admits that his Type A personality, which was the driving force behind his professional success, was also a major factor that helped him reverse the extensive losses he suffered when the clot severely damaged his brain. And it inspired him to recount his 14 years of recovery and renewal in a fascinating book, “Relentless: How a Massive Stroke Changed My Life for the Better,” an apt title for what it took for him to regain full physical function, comprehension and intelligible speech.

His mantra, which could help many others facing a devastating health setback, is that recovery takes determination, focus, resiliency, persistence and courage — the courage to weather repeated setbacks and frustrations. He admits, however, that it can also take the financial resources and personal support he had to get the kind of help that can make a difference.

At first, his goal was to get right back in the saddle, working nonstop in finance. But after months of intense rehab, he still could neither use nor understand language, spoken or otherwise.

“It took seven or eight months for me to realize I wasn’t going back to my job,” he said. “I didn’t even understand that the words coming from my mouth weren’t making any sense.”

The learning curve was steep: “I couldn’t read; I couldn’t write. I could see the hospital signs, the elevator signs, the therapists’ cards, but I couldn’t understand them,” he wrote. The aphasia — the inability to understand or express speech — “had beaten and battered” his pride.

But he refused to give up. With age and prestroke physical conditioning on his side, he had convinced himself that “100 percent recovery was possible as long as I pushed hard enough.”

Mr. Baxter figured if he could get his body functioning again, his language facility might also return. The brain, he learned, was plastic and capable of renewal. So he devoted countless hours to physical therapy, worked out in the gym long and hard, and had his left arm tied behind his back, forcing himself to use the right. He found that as his physical abilities improved, so did his comprehension and communication skills.

When what he tried to say came out garbled, many people assumed he was either mentally slow or a foreigner with limited English. As one of his speech therapists said of people with aphasia, “It’s hard to understand that they have their intellectual faculties and know what they want to say, but they don’t have the ability to communicate it.”

Mr. Baxter researched and enrolled in several different aphasia programs throughout the country. For many hours a day, he did language practice, starting with books and flash cards for preschoolers and doing endless repetitions to relearn speech until eventually — after years of hard work — he was finally able to read books and have real conversations.

His original therapists at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, admittedly amazed at the progress he made, asked what benefited him the most and solicited his help developing a new, intensive aphasia program. He was also invited to participate in Archeworks, a design program in Chicago for students working to solve urban problems.

“I faced the challenge of using my right hand, making new friends, and communicating effectively with a team,” he wrote. He was building things with his hands and tools and suddenly he realized he was problem-solving, a skill he had used often in finance.

Sports also aided his recovery. As he slowly regained use of his right side, he took lessons in golf and boxing, aided by watching others do things correctly.

“If I could see somebody do something, then I could follow it and mimic what they did,” he wrote. “I had to focus on visualization — picturing the task, the actions needed to perform that task, and the intended result.”

Art therapy was another helpful pursuit, which he said reduced his stress, countered depression and improved his self-esteem and emotional health. With art as a new source of fulfillment came an invitation to join a museum board that gave him additional conversational practice and “withered away my aphasia every day.”

Gradually, Mr. Baxter said he “started to realize that by doing more for others, I’d be happier with myself.”

Living now in Newport Beach, Calif., with his second wife, the 55-year-old stroke survivor devotes his life to inspiring other survivors and their caregivers. “I go to universities and hospitals to present my story — what I had experienced, how I rehabbed myself, how it changed my life for the better, and what it took to get my life back,” he wrote.

“Sometimes, I can’t believe how far I’ve come,” he said. He credited family members and friends who “never gave up on my recovery, nor did they ever treat me as if I were lost, and because of that, I never felt lost. None of it would have worked without a positive attitude.”

 

 

Source: Reversing the Damage of a Stroke

Stress Changes The Brain, And This Could Be How It Happens

The results of a new brain imaging study may have just answered a big question about how stress changes the brain. Using a combination of genetic editing and brain scanning in mice, researchers found that stress triggers a chemical cascade that radically changes how brain networks communicate, and the results could sharpen our understanding of anxiety disorders in humans.

Breaking down the research

Stress serves an important purpose in preparing us to react to danger. Anything the brain perceives as threatening triggers multiple brain networks to synchronize and communicate, all in just a fraction of a second. With systems humming, we make immediate decisions to survive the threat.

But what facilitates all of those brain networks to connect and communicate? That’s been a difficult question to answer in the human brain, because doing so would require examining brain function during the split-second window of facing a threat.

Enter our friends the mice to help solve the problem. Researchers followed a trail of previous studies and zeroed in on the neurotransmitter noradrenaline (aka norepinephrine, a chemical that floods the brain during stress) as a likely facilitator of brain-network connectivity.

The twist was that they had genetically manipulated the rodents’ brains to allow for selectively controlling when noradrenaline was released (not possible in human brains). While controlling the chemical faucet, they also scanned the mouse brains using fMRI to see what would happen.

And what happened, it turns out, was pretty amazing. The release of noradrenaline “rewired” the mouse brains, allowing different brain networks to instantly cross-communicate. But the neurotransmitter wasn’t just facilitating communication, it was restructuring neural connections beyond anyone’s expectations.

“I couldn’t believe that we were seeing such strong effects,” said the study’s first author Valerio Zerbi, a brain imaging specialist from the University of Zurich.

The researchers found the strongest rewired effects in brain areas responsible for processing sensory stimuli (auditory and visual, for example), and in the amygdala, the epicenter of the brain’s threat response system.

What does this mean for us?

It’s the part about threat response that may hold the most promise for better understanding what stress does to our brains.

Allowing for the fact that this was research in mice, the particular dynamic studied here is probably quite similar between us and our rodent counterparts. If noradrenaline rewires the human brain as it appears to rewire the brains of mice, it’s possible the long-term effects of stress are more profound than we’ve realized.

Previous research has linked the flood of noradrenaline to changes in brain connectivity, but it seems likely we’ve underestimated the effects, especially in the small but powerful part of our brain sitting at the center of anxiety disorders: the amygdala.

At a minimum, this research opens new doors for better understanding how both acute and chronic stress effects the brain, and could enlighten new ways of deconstructing anxiety conditions, now the most prevalent mental health disorders worldwide. The study was published in the journal Neuron.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

David DiSalvo is the author of the best-selling book “What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite”, which has been published in 15 languages, and the books “Brain Changer: How Harnessing Your Brain’s Power to Adapt Can Change Your Life” and “The Brain in Your Kitchen”. His work has appeared in Scientific American Mind, Forbes, Time, Psychology Today, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Esquire, Mental Floss and other publications, and he’s the writer behind the widely read science and technology blogs “Neuropsyched” at Forbes and “Neuronarrative” at Psychology Today. He can be found on Twitter @neuronarrative and at his website, daviddisalvo.org. Contact him at: disalvowrites [at] gmail.com.

Source: Stress Changes The Brain, And This Could Be How It Happens

What Stress, Change, And Isolation Do To Your Brain – Christine Comaford

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Change happens. Adversity happens. Conflict happens. Then your brain and body tries to cope with it. Your brain releases stress hormones, like cortisol, which then fire up excessive cell-signaling cytokines which alter your physiology. Suddenly your ability to regulate your behavior and emotions is compromised. Your ability to pay attention is compromised, your memory, learning, peace, happiness are all compromised. Why? Because all that change has caused your system to be overloaded with stress…….

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinecomaford/2018/10/20/what-stress-change-and-isolation-do-to-your-brain/#2f51c4481940

 

 

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7 Riddles That Will Test Your Brain Power – Bright Side

These 7 puzzles will trick your brain.  Take this fun test to check the sharpness and productivity of your brain. Try to answer these questions as quickly as possible and see the results!  Our brain is a mysterious thing. We know more about stars than about the things inside our heads! But what we do know about the brain is that it gets less sharp and productive with age.

You have a maximum of 20 seconds for each task, but try to answer the questions as fast as possible. TIMESTAMPS What is the mistake two photos have in common? 0:45 How many holes does the T-shirt have? 1:53 How would you name this tree? 2:40 Can you solve this riddle one in 5 seconds? 3:21 Do you see a hidden baby? 4:26 Which line is longer? 5:12 Can you spot Mike Wazowski? 6:30 SUMMARY If it took you more than 20 seconds to answer each question, or you didn’t manage all the tasks, it means that you have the brain of a mature person.

It ‘s hard for you to make your mind see beyond the obvious and you can’t handle change easily. If took you less than 20 seconds, your brain is quite young, and you can approach tasks from different angles. If you answered each question correctly in less than 5 seconds, your brain is very young and flexible! You can notice the tiniest details right away and adapt to new situations easily! What is your result? Tell us in the comment section below!

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Why Sitting May Be Bad for Your Brain – Gretchen Reynolds

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Sitting for hours without moving can slow the flow of blood to our brains, according to a cautionary new study of office workers, a finding that could have implications for long-term brain health. But getting up and strolling for just two minutes every half-hour seems to stave off this decline in brain blood flow and may even increase it.

Delivering blood to our brains is one of those automatic internal processes that most of us seldom consider, although it is essential for life and cognition. Brain cells need the oxygen and nutrients that blood contains, and several large arteries constantly shuttle blood up to our skulls.

Because this flow is so necessary, the brain tightly regulates it, tracking a variety of physiological signals, including the levels of carbon dioxide in our blood, to keep the flow rate within a very narrow range.

But small fluctuations do occur, both sudden and lingering, and may have repercussions. Past studies in people and animals indicate that slight, short-term drops in brain blood flow can temporarily cloud thinking and memory, while longer-term declines are linked to higher risks for some neurodegenerative diseases, including dementia.

Other research has shown that uninterrupted sitting dampens blood flow to various parts of the body. Most of those studies looked at the legs, which are affected the most by our postures, upright or not. Stay seated for several hours, and blood flow within the many blood vessels of the legs can slacken.

Whether a similar decline might occur in the arteries carrying blood to our brains was not known, however.

So for the new study, which was published in June in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers at Liverpool John Moores University in England gathered 15 healthy, adult, male and female office workers.

The scientists wanted to recruit people who habitually spent time at a desk since, for them, long hours of sitting would be normal.

The researchers asked these men and women to visit the university’s performance lab on three separate occasions. During each, they were fitted with specialized headbands containing ultrasound probes that would track blood flow through their middle cerebral arteries, one of the main vessels supplying blood to the brain.

They also breathed briefly into masks that measured their carbon dioxide levels at the start of the session, so that scientists could see whether levels of that gas might be driving changes in brain blood flow. Blood carbon dioxide levels can be altered by changes in breathing, among many other factors

Then the men and women spent four hours simulating office time, sitting at a desk and reading or working at a computer.

During one of these sessions, they never rose unless they had to visit the bathroom, which was close by.

During another visit, they were directed to get up every 30 minutes and move onto a treadmill set up next to their desks. They then walked for two minutes at whatever pace felt comfortable, with an average, leisurely speed of about two miles an hour.

In a final session, they left their chairs only after two hours, but then walked on the treadmills for eight minutes at the same gentle pace.

Scientists tracked the blood flow to their brains just before and during each walking break, as well as immediately after the four hours were over. They also rechecked people’s carbon dioxide levels during those times.

As they had expected, brain blood flow dropped when people sat for four continuous hours. The decline was small but noticeable by the end of the session.

It was equally apparent when people broke up their sitting after two hours, although blood flow rose during the actual walking break. It soon sank again, the ultrasound probes showed, and was lower at the end of that session than at its start.

But brain blood flow rose slightly when the four hours included frequent, two-minute walking breaks, the scientists found.

Interestingly, none of these changes in brain blood flow were dictated by alterations in breathing and carbon dioxide levels, the scientists also determined. Carbon dioxide levels had remained steady before and after each session.

So something else about sitting and moving was affecting the movement of blood to the brain.

Of course, this study was small and short-term and did not look into whether the small declines in blood flow to people’s brains while they sat impaired their ability to think.

It also was not designed to tell us whether any impacts on the brain from hours of sitting could accumulate over time or if they are transitory and wiped away once we finally do get up from our desks for the day.

But the results do provide one more reason to avoid sitting for long, uninterrupted stretches of time, says Sophie Carter, a doctoral student at Liverpool John Moores University, who led the study.

They also offer the helpful information that breaks can be short but should be recurrent.

“Only the frequent two-minute walking breaks had an overall effect of preventing a decline in brain blood flow,” she says.

So consider setting your computer or phone to beep at you every half-hour and get up then, she suggests. Stroll down the hall, take the stairs to visit a restroom a floor above or below your own, or complete a few easy laps around your office.

Your brain just might thank you years from now, when you’re no longer tied to that office chair.

 

 

 

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The Neuroscience of Depression in the Brain – Emma Allen

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Depression is a multifaceted and insidious disorder, nearly as complex as the brain itself. As research continues to suggest, the onset of depression can be attributed to an interplay of the many elements that make us human—namely, our genetics, the structure and chemistry of our brains, and our lived experience. Second only, perhaps, to the confounding mechanics of anesthesia, depression is the ultimate mind-body problem; understanding how it works could unlock the mysteries of human consciousness.

Emma Allen, a visual artist, and Dr. Daisy Thompson-Lake, a clinical neuroscientist, are fascinated by the physical processes that underlie mental health conditions. Together, they created Adam, a stop-motion animation composed of nearly 1,500 photographs. The short film illuminates the neuroscience of depression while also conveying its emotive experience.

“It was challenging translating the complicated science into an emotional visual story with scenes that would flow smoothly into each other,” Allen told The Atlantic.

“One of the most complex issues we had to deal with,” added Thompson-Lake, “is that there no single neuroscientific explanation for depression…While scientists agree that there are biological and chemical changes within the brain, the actual brain chemistry is very unique to the individual—although, of course, we can see patterns when studying large numbers of patients.” As a result, Allen and Thompson-Lake attempted a visual interpretation of depression that does not rely too heavily on any one explanation.

The film’s first sequence depicts the brain’s vast network of neuronal connections. Neurons communicate via synapses, across which electrical and chemical signals are exchanged. In a depressed patient’s brain, some of these processes are inefficient or dysfunctional, as the animation illustrates. Next, we see a positron emission tomography (PET) scan of a depressed brain, demarcated by darkened areas. Finally, the animation shows activity in the hippocampus and the frontal lobe. Abnormalities in the activity of both of these areas of the brain have been implicated in depression by recent research.

For Allen, one of the main objectives in creating Adam was to help dispel the notion that depression is a character flaw. “A common misconception is that the person is at fault for feeling this way, and that to ask for help is a weakness or embarrassing,” Allen said. “But depression has a physical component that needs treating.”

“The shame surrounding mental health still exists,” Allen continued. “In fact, in the case of Kate Spade, it was reported that she was concerned about the stigma her brand might face if this were made public.”

And who, exactly, is Adam? “Daisy lost a friend to suicide,” said Allen, “so the film is named in his memory.”

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