Recent quotes:

Tanning dependence linked to other addictive behaviors, new study finds -- ScienceDaily

The connections between tanning dependence and other disorders revealed by the study represent an opportunity for clinicians to address those related conditions. "People who are tanning dependent could also be assessed for SAD," said Cartmel. "There are ways of addressing SAD other than indoor tanning. Regarding the alcohol dependence association, it may be possible that addressing that behavior could help address tanning dependence." The underlying mechanisms for the addiction to UV light are not yet fully understood. According to other studies, "The biological rationale for tanning dependence is that exposure to UV light results in both melanin, and endorphin production," said Cartmel. She also added that there was another interesting preliminary finding: those with tanning dependence were five times more likely to exhibit "exercise addiction." She said it is too early, however, to determine the implication. "Exercise addiction" itself has really not been well researched," she said. "One hypothesis behind the finding is that people who exercise excessively do so because they are very aware of their appearance, and they also feel that being tanned improves their appearance. Or it may be that we will eventually find out that these individuals have more of an addictive or risk-taking personality type. If you have one type of dependence, you may be more likely to have another addiction," Cartmel said.

'Smell you later!' Abililty to smell well linked to social life in older women -- ScienceDaily

The researchers compared each NSHAP participant's odor identification score, an established measure of olfactory function, with an aggregated "overall social life" score, which included measures such as participants' number of friends and close relatives, and how often they socialized. The data were adjusted to control for possible confounding variables, including education level, tobacco use, and physical and mental health status. The findings revealed a clear link between an older woman's olfactory ability and her overall social life score: women with good olfactory ability tended to have more active social lives while those with diminished olfactory function were associated with a poorer social life score.

Scientists identify brain circuit that drives pleasure-inducing behavior: Surprisingly, the neurons are located in a brain region thought to be linked with fear -- ScienceDaily

The researchers found that five of these populations stimulate reward-related behavior: When the mice were exposed to light, the mice repeatedly sought more light exposure because these neurons were driving a reward circuit. These same populations all receive input from the positive emotion cells in the BLA.

Weight-bearing exercises promote bone formation in men: Human hormone, protein linked to bone mass are impacted by 12 months of targeted exercise -- ScienceDaily

"People may be physically active, and many times people know they need to exercise to prevent obesity, heart disease or diabetes," Hinton said. "However, you also really need to do specific exercises to protect your bone health." In the study, men 25- to 60-years-old who had low-bone mass were split into two groups. One group performed resistance training exercises such as lunges and squats using free weights. The other group performed various types of jumps, such as single-leg and double-leg jumps. After 12 months of performing the exercises, Hinton then compared the levels of bone proteins and hormones in the blood. "We saw a decrease in the level of sclerostin in both of these exercise interventions in men," Hinton said. "When sclerostin is expressed at high levels, it has a negative impact on bone formation. In both resistance and jump training, the level of sclerostin in the bone goes down, which triggers bone formation." The other significant change Hinton observed was an increase in the hormone IGF-1. Unlike sclerostin, IGF-1 triggers bone growth. The decrease of harmful sclerostin levels and the increase in beneficial IGF-1 levels confirmed Hinton's prior research that found both resistance training and jump training have beneficial effects on bone growth. To increase bone mass and prevent osteoporosis, Hinton recommends exercising specifically to target bone health. While exercises such as swimming and cycling are beneficial to overall health, these activities do not strengthen the skeleton. Hinton suggests also doing exercise targeted for bone health, such as resistance training and jump training. The study, "Serum sclerostin decreases following 12 months of resistance- or jump-training in men with low bone mass," was published in Bone.

Brain 'rewires' itself to enhance other senses in blind people -- ScienceDaily

"Our results demonstrate that the structural and functional neuroplastic brain changes occurring as a result of early ocular blindness may be more widespread than initially thought," said lead author Corinna M. Bauer, Ph.D., a scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass. Eye and Ear and an instructor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. "We observed significant changes not only in the occipital cortex (where vision is processed), but also areas implicated in memory, language processing, and sensory motor functions." The researchers used MRI multimodal brain imaging techniques (specifically, diffusion-based and resting state imaging) to reveal these changes in a group of 12 subjects with early blindness (those born with or who have acquired profound blindness prior to the age of three), and they compared the scans to a group of 16 normally sighted subjects (all subjects were of the same age range). On the scans of those with early blindness, the team observed structural and functional connectivity changes, including evidence of enhanced connections, sending information back and forth between areas of the brain that they did not observe in the normally sighted group. These connections that appear to be unique in those with profound blindness suggest that the brain "rewires" itself in the absence of visual information to boost other senses. This is possible through the process of neuroplasticity, or the ability of our brains to naturally adapt to our experiences.

Hippocampal and prefrontal processing of network topology to simulate the future : Nature Communications

Here we tested the hypotheses that the hippocampus retrieves representations of the topological structure of the environment when new paths are entered in order to support goal-directed navigation and the lateral PFC performs path-planning via a BFS mechanism. We combined a graph-theoretic analysis of the city streets of London with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data collected from participants navigating a film simulation of London’s streets. Our analysis reveals that the right posterior hippocampus specifically tracks the changes in the local connections in the street network, the right anterior hippocampus tracks changes in the global properties of the streets and the bilateral lateral prefrontal activity scales with the demands of a BFS. These responses were only present when long-term memory of the environment was required to guide navigation.

Insulin resistance may lead to faster cognitive decline: Executive function, memory are particularly vulnerable to the effects of insulin resistance, researchers say -- ScienceDaily

nsulin resistance is a condition in which cells fail to respond normally to the hormone insulin. The resistance prevents muscle, fat, and liver cells from easily absorbing glucose. As a result, the body requires higher levels of insulin to usher glucose into its cells. Without sufficient insulin, excess glucose builds up in the bloodstream, leading to prediabetes, diabetes, and other serious health disorders. The scientists followed a group of nearly 500 patients with existing cardiovascular disease for more than two decades. They first assessed the patients' baseline insulin resistance using the homeostasis model assessment (HOMA), calculated using fasting blood glucose and fasting insulin levels. Cognitive functions were assessed with a computerized battery of tests that examined memory, executive function, visual spatial processing, and attention. The follow-up assessments were conducted 15 years after the start of the study, then again five years after that. The study found that individuals who placed in the top quarter of the HOMA index were at an increased risk for poor cognitive performance and accelerated cognitive decline compared to those in the remaining three-quarters of the HOMA index. Adjusting for established cardiovascular risk factors and potentially confounding factors did not diminish these associations.

Satnavs 'switch off' parts of the brain: Using a satnav to get to your destination 'switches off' parts of the brain that would otherwise be used to simulate different routes -- ScienceDaily

When volunteers navigated manually, their hippocampus and prefrontal cortex had spikes of activity when volunteers entered new streets. This brain activity was greater when the number of options to choose from increased, but no additional activity was detected when people followed satnav instructions. "Entering a junction such as Seven Dials in London, where seven streets meet, would enhance activity in the hippocampus, whereas a dead-end would drive down its activity. If you are having a hard time navigating the mass of streets in a city, you are likely putting high demands on your hippocampus and prefrontal cortex," explains senior author Dr Hugo Spiers (UCL Experimental Psychology). "Our results fit with models in which the hippocampus simulates journeys on future possible paths while the prefrontal cortex helps us to plan which ones will get us to our destination. When we have technology telling us which way to go, however, these parts of the brain simply don't respond to the street network. In that sense our brain has switched off its interest in the streets around us."

More trust = giving more, expecting kharma

To measure trust and its reciprocation (trustworthiness) objectively, my team used a strategic decision task developed by researchers in the lab of Vernon Smith, a Nobel laureate in economics. In our experiment, a participant chooses an amount of money to send to a stranger via computer, knowing that the money will triple in amount and understanding that the recipient may or may not share the spoils. Therein lies the conflict: The recipient can either keep all the cash or be trustworthy and share it with the sender. To measure oxytocin levels during the exchange, my colleagues and I developed a protocol to draw blood from people’s arms before and immediately after they made decisions to trust others (if they were senders) or to be trustworthy (if they were receivers). Because we didn’t want to influence their behavior, we didn’t tell participants what the study was about, even though there was no way they could consciously control how much oxytocin they produced. We found that the more money people received (denoting greater trust on the part of senders), the more oxytocin their brains produced. And the amount of oxytocin recipients produced predicted how trustworthy—that is, how likely to share the money—they would be. Since the brain generates messaging chemicals all the time, it was possible we had simply observed random changes in oxytocin. To prove that it causes trust, we safely administered doses of synthetic oxytocin into living human brains (through a nasal spray). Comparing participants who received a real dose with those who received a placebo, we found that giving people 24 IU of synthetic oxytocin more than doubled the amount of money they sent to a stranger.

The Neuroscience of Trust

Respondents whose companies were in the top quartile indicated they had 106% more energy and were 76% more engaged at work than respondents whose firms were in the bottom quartile. They also reported being 50% more productive—which is consistent with our objective measures of productivity from studies we have done with employees at work. Trust had a major impact on employee loyalty as well: Compared with employees at low-trust companies, 50% more of those working at high-trust organizations planned to stay with their employer over the next year, and 88% more said they would recommend their company to family and friends as a place to work.

Cellular jetlag seems to favor the development of diabetes -- ScienceDaily

studied pancreatic ɑ- and β- cells that are in charge of the production of insulin and glucagon, two hormones that regulate glucose levels in the blood. They discovered that already at cellular levels, these internal clocks orchestrate the timing of proper hormone secretion, thus optimizing body metabolism by anticipating the rest-activity and feeding-fasting cycles. Their misalignment would thus favor the occurrence of metabolic diseases. Their discovery, to be read in the journal Genes and Development, highlights an essential factor, yet still poorly understood, which may explain diabetes development as a consequence of circadian misalignments of these cellular clocks.

Rumination: cause rather than effect of depression?

The metacognitive approach offers promising opportunities for addressing these limitations of treatment by directly targeting rumination and its underlying mechanisms that are seen as essential in the development and maintenance of depression (Wells, 2009).

Power of shared pain triggers extreme self-sacrifice -- ScienceDaily

There were five hypotheses: shared experience promotes willingness to perform extreme pro-group action; shared negative experiences make individuals contribute more than euphoric experiences; the more intense the experience the stronger the pro-social effects; the effect of shared negative experiences on pro-social behavior is much stronger where groups compete directly against other groups rather than if they cooperate against nature; and the effects of shared negative experience can be stronger than those of kinship. The hypotheses were then tested empirically in a variety of different study populations, including U.S. military veterans of the Vietnam war, college fraternity and sorority members who had undergone hazing, English Premier League football fans, martial arts practitioners of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who sometimes use painful belt-whipping, and twins to examine the level of fusion. From both the theoretical and empirical research, the study concluded that overall shared negative experiences are a powerful mechanism for promoting pro-social behaviors, which under certain conditions can be extremely costly to the individuals concerned.

Leisure-time physical activity is related to cartilage health and quality health in knee osteoarthritis -- ScienceDaily

"The effects of intermittent impact and compressive loading during gait to knee cartilage may evoke favorable effects in cartilage such as improved fluid flow and nutrient diffusion. Maintaining cartilage health requires daily physical activity, and when performed regularly, walking and Nordic walking together with other activities of daily living can maintain or even improve the quality of knee articular cartilage," says Doctoral student, physiotherapist Matti Munukka.

Wired to Run—and Think 2012

"While early hominins were undergoing intense skeletal and metabolic changes, major changes also occurred in their brains," Spedding and Noakes wrote in a recent commentary in Nature. "We propose that these changes have rendered us dependent on mental and physical exercise to maintain brain health. Exercise doesn’t just help muscles—it activates our brains." It is widely believed that bigger brains resulted from a shift in the hominin diet to include more meat, which requires less digestion than vegetables, freeing up energy to feed the brain instead. Anthropologist Richard Wrangham famously proposed that cooking our food made meals even easier to digest, increasing the potential for bigger brains. But recently, studies into a protein called brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) have uncovered a more basic link between running after prey and growing bigger brains—exercise stimulates BDNF production. This led Spedding and Noakes to propose BDNF as a central factor in both the mental and physical advances as humans evolved to run. Carl Cotman first discovered this link between BDNF and exercise in the early 90s when he was studying aging, and realized that more active elderly people experienced slower mental decline. Thinking that increased blood flow to the brain was not sufficient to explain the phenomenon, he began to look for a more fundamental relationship. He discovered a few studies that described BDNF's essential role in neuronal growth and health, and started experimenting with mice. Sure enough, by exercising the animals in wheels, Cotman found that BDNF levels increased in the brain, particularly in the hippocampus. Further study has revealed just how fundamental BDNF is to maintaining brain health. "It controls things from synaptic plasticity to new synapse growth, promotes neurogenesis in the hippocampus, and plays in part in mediating vascularization," said Cotman. "It's basically like brain fertilizer." Spedding and Noakes believe that it's this relationship that drove human brains to develop as our ancestors started to run away from the trees and towards meat on the open plains. Indeed, BDNF appears to play crucial roles in building brain areas associated with the task of tracking prey in organized social groups. "As humans needed more brain power to track prey, increases in BDNF may have helped to build up the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex—key brain areas that are involved in spatial mapping, decision-making and control of context, fear and emotions, including violence," Spedding and Noakes wrote in their commentary. BDNF comes in several forms, created via alternative splicing patterns of the transcribed gene, and although it is found across the animal kingdom, more varieties are found in humans than any other species. Compared to rodents, regulation of the different BDNF forms is more complex and sophisticated in humans, providing more control over a greater number of BDNF varieties. While the majority of these proteins are found in the brain, they are also in muscle and other tissues, where they can increase protein synthesis and fat metabolism. Restricting BDNF in mice induces obesity and type II diabetes, ailments readily coupled with lack of exercise, but diminishing BDNF is also associated with stress and psychiatric disorders. Conversely, exercise has been linked to many cognitive benefits, including helping to treat mild depression, Alzheimer's disease, and schizophrenia. "Putting it all together, we think that exercise increases BDNF in key areas of the brain, which, in turn, has physiological effects that help to protect humans from psychiatric problems," Spedding and Noakes wrote. But while BDNF levels rise in the bloodstream of people as they exercise, the direct influence on brain function isn't clear. While there is mounting evidence from human studies to support the hypothesis that BDNF was crucial to the developing brain, Noakes said, but this has yet to be shown more definitively. Ongoing work by Cotman and others, such as investigations into the effects of exercise on Alzheimer's, could be the nail in the coffin Spedding and Noakes, both competitive athletes themselves, have been waiting for. But even with details left to be worked out, Spedding and Noakes are pushing the idea of exercise as a way to brain health, as well as bodily health. Cotman agrees. "I think it's an important principle that there is something you are physically doing to your brain that we know is good for it," he said. "I know sometimes when I'm working out I think, 'Oh boy, my BDNF levels are getting a boost!'"

Treadmill Exercise Induced Functional Recovery after Peripheral Nerve Repair Is Associated with Increased Levels of Neurotrophic Factors

We used a peripheral nerve regeneration model that has a good correlation between functional outcomes and number of motor axons that regenerate to evaluate the impact of treadmill exercise. In this model, the median nerve was transected and repaired while the ulnar nerve was transected and prevented from regeneration. Daily treadmill exercise resulted in faster recovery of the forelimb grip function as evaluated by grip power and inverted holding test. Daily exercise also resulted in better regeneration as evaluated by recovery of compound motor action potentials, higher number of axons in the median nerve and larger myofiber size in target muscles. Furthermore, these observations correlated with higher levels of neurotrophic factors, glial derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), in serum, nerve and muscle suggesting that increase in muscle derived neurotrophic factors may be responsible for improved regeneration.

Sustained aerobic exercise increases adult neurogenesis in brain -- ScienceDaily

The results indicate that the highest number of new hippocampal neurons was observed in rats that ran long distances and that also had a genetic predisposition to benefit from aerobic exercise: Compared to sedentary animals, HRT rats that ran voluntarily on a running wheel had 2-3 times more new hippocampal neurons at the end of the experiment. Resistance training had no such effect. Also the effects of HIT were minor. To conclude, only sustained aerobic exercise improved hippocampal neurogenesis in adult animals.

More than half of college football athletes have inadequate levels of vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency linked to muscle injuries -- ScienceDaily

The study, presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Annual Meeting on March 16, included 214 college athletes who took part in the 2015 combine. Baseline data was collected, including age, body mass index (BMI), injury history, and whether they had missed any games due to a lower extremity muscle strain or core muscle injury. The average age of the athletes was 22. Their vitamin D levels were determined with a blood test. Levels were defined as normal (? 32 ng/mL), insufficient (20 -- 31 ng/mL), and deficient (< 20 ng/mL). A total of 126 players (59%) were found to have an abnormal serum vitamin D level, including 22 athletes (10%) with a severe deficiency. Researchers found a significantly higher prevalence of lower extremity muscle strain and core muscle injury in those who had low vitamin D levels. Fourteen study participants reported missing at least one game due to a strain injury, and 86% of those players were found to have inadequate vitamin D levels.

Human skull evolved along with two-legged walking, study confirms -- ScienceDaily

To make their case, Russo and Kirk compared the position and orientation of the foramen magnum in 77 mammal species including marsupials, rodents and primates. Their findings indicate that bipedal mammals such as humans, kangaroos, springhares and jerboas have a more forward-positioned foramen magnum than their quadrupedal close relatives. "We've now shown that the foramen magnum is forward-shifted across multiple bipedal mammalian clades using multiple metrics from the skull, which I think is convincing evidence that we're capturing a real phenomenon," Russo said. Additionally, the study identifies specific measurements that can be applied to future research to map out the evolution of bipedalism. "Other researchers should feel confident in making use of our data to interpret the human fossil record," Russo said.

Whole life

to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.

Tech world aims to tackle the mental health issue next

“Jawbone and Basis have previously used GSR technology in their wearables to determine perspiration levels and heart rate, but I believe that its potential hasn’t been fully explored yet. I continue to believe that next year Fitbit and other major players in the wearables space will start expanding the capabilities of their device by adding additional sensors,” says Jijiashvili.

5 minute bout of walking boosts mood

This may be partly due to the guideline's inclusion of a 10-minute minimum time-bout requirement for PA. Our findings suggest that a shorter, 5-minute bout of PA is adequate to elicit psychological health benefits. This may be encouraging to individuals who perceive “lack of time” as an exercise barrier. Individuals may also perceive this shorter time requirement to be less physically demanding. Notably, the present study demonstrates that mood-related benefits of a 5-minute exercise bout can occur from a self-selected walking pace. A self-selected pace is generalizable, and encouragingly, this may positively influence an individual's confidence in his or her ability to sustain activity and his or her anticipated enjoyment of the activity. Health care providers should consider the positive benefits of a 5-minute bout of exercise when prescribing treatment for patients suffering from mood-related disorders.

The effects and determinants of exercise participation in first-episode psychosis: a qualitative study | BMC Psychiatry | Full Text

Preliminary research has indicated that increasing physical activity and fitness during the first-episode of psychosis (FEP) can improve physical health and support functional recovery [14, 15, 16]. In a recent feasibility trial (the “iBeep” study) of an exercise intervention delivered through EIP services for patients with FEP, significant improvements were observed in cardio-metabolic health, positive and negative symptoms and cognitive functioning after just 10 weeks [17]. Additionally, adherence and retention rates were substantially higher than in previous exercise trials in schizophrenia [8, 17], perhaps due to the nature of the intervention applied, or certain characteristics of the first-episode sample. We conducted a qualitative study of patients who had participated in the iBeep trial. The aim of this investigation was to explore the perceived benefits of exercise as experienced by people with FEP, and to establish the barriers and facilitating factors for increasing physical activity in this patient group. These findings could inform the development of future studies, and the implementation of exercise interventions within EIP services.

The Human Connectome Project: 180 zones per hemisphere

The researchers report that they’ve found a total of 180 distinct areas per hemisphere, regions which are bounded by sharp changes in cortical architecture, function, connectivity, and/or topography.

Groundbreaking fMRI study finds 4 distinct neurological subtypes of depression - ExtremeTech

We found that, superimposed on this shared pathological core, distinct patterns of abnormal functional connectivity differentiated the four biotypes and were associated with specific clinical-symptom profiles. For example, as compared to controls, reduced connectivity in frontoamygdala networks, which regulate fear-related behavior and reappraisal of negative emotional stimuli, was most severe in biotypes 1 and 4, which were characterized in part by increased anxiety. By contrast, hyperconnectivity in thalamic and frontostriatal networks, which support reward processing, adaptive motor control and action initiation, were especially pronounced in biotypes 3 and 4 and were associated with increased anhedonia and psychomotor retardation. And reduced connectivity in anterior cingulate and orbitofrontal areas supporting motivation and incentive-salience evaluation was most severe in biotypes 1 and 2, which were characterized partly by increased anergia and fatigue.

Exercise: a neglected intervention in mental health care? - PubMed - NCBI

exercise is seldom recognized by mainstream mental health services as an effective intervention in the care and treatment of mental health problems.