New technology allows researchers to precisely, flexibly modulate brain

New technology allows researchers to precisely, flexibly modulate brain

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain Human brain diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, involve damage in more than one region of the brain, requiring technology that could precisely and flexibly address all affected regions simultaneously.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have developed a noninvasive technology combining a holographic acoustic device with genetic engineering that allows them to precisely target affected neurons in the brain, creating the potential to precisely modulate selected cell types in multiple diseased brain regions.

Hong Chen, associate professor of biomedical engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering and of neurosurgery in the School of Medicine, and her team created AhSonogenetics, or Airy-beam holographic sonogenetics, a technique that uses a noninvasive wearable ultrasound device to alter genetically selected neurons in the brains of mice. Results of the proof-of-concept study were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on June 17.

AhSonogenetics brings together several of Chen’s group’s recent advances into one technology. In 2021, she and her team launched Sonogenetics, a method that uses focused ultrasound to deliver a viral construct containing ultrasound-sensitive ion channels to genetically selected neurons in the brain. They use low-intensity focused ultrasound to deliver a small burst of warmth, which opens the ion channels and activates the neurons. Chen’s team was the first to show that sonogenetics could modulate the behavior of freely moving mice.

In 2022, she and members of her lab designed and 3D-printed a flexible and versatile tool known as an Airy beam-enabled binary acoustic metasurface that allowed them to manipulate ultrasound beams. She is also developing Sonogenetics 2.0, which combines the advantage of ultrasound and genetic engineering to modulate defined neurons noninvasively and precisely in the brains of humans and animals. AhSonogenetics brings them together as a potential method to intervene in neurodegenerative diseases.

“By enabling precise and flexible cell-type-specific neuromodulation without invasive procedures, AhSonogenetics provides a powerful tool for investigating intact neural circuits and offers promising interventions for neurological disorders,” Chen said.

Sonogenetics gives researchers a way to precisely control the brains, while airy-beam technology allows researchers to bend or steer the sound waves to generate arbitrary beam patterns inside the brain with a high spatial resolution. Yaoheng (Mack) Yang, a postdoctoral research associate who earned a doctorate in biomedical engineering from McKelvey Engineering in 2022, said the technology gives the researchers three unique advantages.

“Airy beam is the technology that can give us precise targeting of a smaller region than conventional technology, the flexibility to steer to the targeted brain regions, and to target multiple brain regions simultaneously,” Yang said.

Chen and her team, including first authors Zhongtao Hu, a former postdoctoral research associate, and Yang, designed each Airy-beam metasurface individually as the foundation for wearable ultrasound devices that were tailored for different applications and for precise locations in the brain.

Chen’s team tested the technique on a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. With AhSonogenetics, they were able to stimulate two brain regions simultaneously in a single mouse, eliminating the need for multiple implants or interventions. This stimulation alleviated Parkinson’s-related motor deficits in the mouse model, including slow movements, difficulty walking and freezing behaviors.

The team’s Airy-beam device overcomes some of the limits of sonogenetics, including tailoring the design of the device to target specific brain locations, as well as incorporating the flexibility to adjust target locations in a single brain.

Hu said the device, which costs roughly $50 to make, can be tailored in size to fit various brain sizes, expanding its potential applications.

“This technology can be used as a research platform to speed neuroscience research because of the capability to flexibly target different brain regions,” Hu said. “The affordability and ease of fabrication lower the barriers to the widespread adoption of our proposed devices by the research community for neuromodulation applications.”

More information: Chen, Hong, Airy-beam holographic sonogenetics for advancing neuromodulation precision and flexibility, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2024). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2402200121 . doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2402200121

Provided by Washington University in St. Louis

Read more at medicalxpress.com

Could pomegranates help aid memory and ease Alzheimer’s symptoms?

Could pomegranates help aid memory and ease Alzheimer’s symptoms?

A natural compound found in pomegranates could help alleviate Alzheimer’s symptoms, research suggests. Tanja Ivanova/Getty Images Urolithin A is a natural compound shown to support memory and cognitive function and reduce brain inflammation.

A new study in mice suggests that urolithin A may have therapeutic properties in treating Alzheimer’s disease.

Consuming certain polyphenols, abundant in pomegranates, can increase gut bacteria’s production of urolithin A.

Experts recommend enhancing the body’s production of urolithin A through diet rather than supplementation.

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that primarily affects individuals over the age of 65 and is the leading cause of dementia in older adults.

Research indicates that Mediterranean and MIND diets may protect against Alzheimer’s, potentially due to lower intake of inflammatory saturated fats and sugars and higher consumption of vitamins, minerals, omega-3s , and antioxidants.

Since Alzheimer’s is associated with elevated oxidative stress , increased antioxidant intake might be especially beneficial. Antioxidants counteract free radical damage, possibly mitigating disease effects.

A recent study published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia explored urolithin A, a natural compound produced by gut bacteria when they process certain polyphenolic compounds found in pomegranates.

Urolithin A has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, along with other potential benefits for brain health.

Researchers treated various Alzheimer’s mouse models with urolithin A for 5 months to assess long-term effects on brain health.

The results showed that urolithin A could enhance learning and memory, reduce neuroinflammation, and improve cellular cleanup processes in Alzheimer’s disease mice.

Although animal studies do not directly translate to humans, experts believe urolithin A may have potential as a future preventive or therapeutic agent for Alzheimer’s disease. Urolithin A shows promise in mouse models of Alzheimer’s

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark conducted a study to understand the benefits of long-term urolithin A treatment in Alzheimer’s disease.

Using three mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease, they combined urolithin A treatment with behavioral, electrophysiological, biochemical, and bioinformatic experiments.

After five months of urolithin A treatment, they observed improvements in memory, protein build-up, cell waste processing, and DNA damage in the brains of Alzheimer’s mice.

Additionally, important markers of brain inflammation were reduced, making the treated mice more similar to healthy ones.

The study revealed that urolithin A treatment lowered the excessive activity of microglia, a type of immune cell in the brain.

The researchers also suggest that urolithin A: reduces cathepsin Z, which is elevated in Alzheimer’s and could be a target for Alzheimer’s treatment

decreases amyloid beta protein levels and inflammation associated with Alzheimer’s disease development

promotes mitophagy, the cleaning out of damaged mitochondria, which is reduced in Alzheimer’s disease

The mitophagy effects from urolithin A may be similar to those seen with nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) supplements in Alzheimer’s disease .

Some of the researchers in this study have connections to several companies, including ChromaDex, which is known for its NAD supplement. It’s unclear how these ties might influence the present study’s results. How does urolithin A support brain health?

Medical News Today spoke with Thomas M. Holland, MD, MS , a physician-scientist and assistant professor at the RUSH Institute for Healthy Aging, RUSH University, College of Health Sciences, who was not involved in the study.

He noted that, in the present mouse model study, urolithin A “treatment positively impacted several aspects of brain health, such as improving memory function, reducing harmful protein build-up, decreasing brain inflammation, enhancing cellular waste removal, and preventing DNA damage in key brain regions.” “Collectively [the results] mean that [urolithin A] can act as a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent to help clear [amyloid beta, which] prevents the onset of cognitive deficits associated with the pathological [amyloid beta] deposition [and can] regulate cellular energy homeostasis and cell death.”
— Thomas M. Holland, MD, MS In other words, urolithin A may have multiple mechanisms of action contributing to its positive effects on the brain.

Specifically, Urolithin A may help protect against cognitive decline by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress and promoting the clearance of harmful proteins and damaged mitochondria from the brain. A new intervention for Alzheimer’s?
MNT also spoke with Alyssa Simpson, RDN, CGN, CLT , a registered dietitian, certified gastrointestinal nutritionist, and owner of Nutrition Resolution in Phoenix, Arizona, who was not involved in the study.She noted the study’s strengths and weaknesses : “While the study provides important insights into urolithin A’s potential benefits for Alzheimer’s, it is limited by its reliance on animal models and its narrow focus on specific pathways, possibly overlooking broader systemic interactions. However, its strengths lie in the thorough assessment of multiple pathological mechanisms and investigation of long-term treatment effects, which significantly advances our understanding of urolithin A’s therapeutic role in Alzheimer’s.” “The research indicates that urolithin A treatment shows potential as a new intervention for Alzheimer’s disease by addressing various pathological mechanisms like neuroinflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction, lysosomal dysfunction, and DNA damage, potentially slowing down the progression of the disease,” Simpson added. However, “[w]hile research on urolithin A offers promise for Alzheimer’s intervention, additional studies, particularly clinical trials, are required to validate its efficacy and safety in humans,” she cautioned. Holland agreed but highlighted challenges in determining urolithin A’s outcomes and optimal dosage through randomized controlled trials.He explained that controlling for diet, gut microbiota , and individual health conditions is difficult, and these factors can influence urolithin A absorption and utilization in the body.Additionally, Holland said that if subjects consume other polyphenol-rich foods , it complicates isolating the effects of the administered urolithin A from that produced naturally through diet. Best food sources of urolithin A More research is needed to determine the best urolithin A doses, and the potential risks of long-term supplement use since both of these are unknown. “There could be risks associated with trying urolithin A pills for Alzheimer’s intervention since there is limited research on their safety and effectiveness,” cautioned Simpson. Promoting the body’s urolithin A production through diet may be a more natural and safe approach.Holland explained that urolithin A is a natural compound produced by gut bacteria […]

Read more at www.medicalnewstoday.com

Study links balanced neural activity to enhanced cognitive abilities in youth

Study links balanced neural activity to enhanced cognitive abilities in youth

In a world where external and internal stimuli can throw our entire body system off balance, how does our brain prevent itself from becoming overly stimulated?

The answer lies in our brain’s ability to maintain the balance of neural excitation (E) and inhibition (I), known as the E/I ratio. By regulating the E/I ratio, the brain prevents over-stimulation and under-stimulation.

The E/I ratio of children decreases with healthy development. Children with a lower E/I ratio were observed to have better performance than their peers in cognitive tests such as memory and intelligence, according to studies by researchers from the Centre for Sleep and Cognition at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine).

With the aim of drawing meaningful connections between E/I ratio and brain maturation, the study team, led by fourth-year PhD student Zhang Shaoshi, Associate Professor Thomas Yeo from the Centre for Sleep and Cognition at NUS Medicine, Assistant Professor Bart Larsen from the University of Minnesota and Associate Professor Theodore Satterthwaite from the University of Pennsylvania, looked at how E/I ratio changes in youths, by studying the MRI brain scans of 885 children, adolescents and young adults from the United States of America and 154 children from Singapore. E/I ratio is an aspect that is continually changing and developing throughout childhood and adolescence. The Singaporean data cohort were obtained from GUSTO, Singapore’s largest and most comprehensive birth cohort study that seeks to help the next generation become healthier.

Described as the Yin and Yang of the brain, researchers have found that too much excitation or excessive inhibition can be harmful, leading to a higher risk of developing brain disorders, such as autism, Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.

In less severe situations, someone with too much excitation might overthink in social situations, resulting in anxiety. Indeed, a common drug for reducing anxiety symptoms is Xanax, which increases neural inhibition, thus reducing neural excitation. In more severe scenarios, over-excitation can cause an epileptic seizure.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, too much inhibition indicates an absence of brain activity, effectively putting the person in a vegetative state. Therefore, inhibition is needed to balance excitation. Overall, a balanced E/I ratio is important for a well-functioning brain.

Despite E/I’s importance for brain health, it is hard to measure its ratio in the human brain without using invasive techniques. Therefore, the team developed a technique, combining artificial intelligence and biophysical modeling to infer E/I ratios from non-invasive, non-radioactive MRI scans. The team demonstrated the validity of their estimated E/I ratios through an experiment, during which participants ingested anti-anxiety medication (Xanax) or a placebo.

The team’s hypothesis is that once Xanax is ingested, inhibition will increase, so the overall E/I ratio decreases. To test this hypothesis, the research team scanned healthy individuals on two separate occasions. A participant is given Xanax before one MRI session and placebo in another MRI session. For some participants, Xanax might be administered in the first session, while for others Xanax might be administered in the second session. All parties involved in this experiment were not privy to whether an MRI session involved the placebo or the anti-anxiety drug. The team found that estimated E/I ratio markers were indeed lower after participants had ingested Xanax, compared with the placebo, and thus validating their technique.

The study team then proceeded to use MRI brain scans to study brain development in a large sample of more than 1000 children, adolescents and young adults from Singapore and the United States of America. They discover that E/I ratios decrease with healthy development. Next, to establish the link between E/I ratios and cognitive function, the team divided participants, ranging from age 7 to 23, into high and low-performance groups based on their scores on certain cognitive tests. They found that the high performing groups had lower E/I ratios than their peers of the same age, suggesting that cognitive abilities improve as the E/I ratio matures during development.

Beyond their study on neurodevelopment, the team is keen on applying their approach to gain mechanistic insights into various brain disorders, by studying how the E/I ratio differs between healthy participants and patients battling mental disorders. The team also aims to study how the E/I ratio changes as people age, to gain insights into neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Assoc Prof Thomas Yeo, who is also from the NUS College of Design and Engineering and Principal Investigator of this study, adds, “Our findings enhance our understanding of brain development and highlight potential avenues for understanding the emergence of psychopathology in youth. Hopefully, these findings will lead us to figure out which brain circuits get over-excited or over-inhibited easily, or pinpoint certain abnormal brain regions specific to an individual patient. This could shed more light on how medication or brain stimulation can be customised according to individuals, that would shape the course of treatment of brain disorders in the long run.”

This study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, titled ‘In vivo whole-cortex marker of excitation-inhibition ratio indexes cortical maturation and cognitive ability in youth’.

Source:

National University of Singapore, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine

Journal reference:

Zhang, S., et al . (2024). In vivo whole-cortex marker of excitation-inhibition ratio indexes cortical maturation and cognitive ability in youth. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2318641121 .

Read more at www.news-medical.net

Neuroscientists Make Breakthrough Memory-and-Sleep Discovery

Neuroscientists Make Breakthrough Memory-and-Sleep Discovery

Scientists have made a breakthrough in our understanding of how memories form in the brain and how this process may be disrupted by not getting enough sleep.

The findings offer exciting insights into how our brains work and may lead to new targeted treatments to improve memory formation in the future.

Getting enough sleep is essential for our mental and physical well-being. It helps us consolidate our memories and aids physical recovery, and not getting enough has been shown to contribute to heart disease, obesity, neurodegenerative disorders and depression.

Now, new research suggests that not getting enough sleep might permanently disrupt the formation and retrieval of waking memories. Photo of a woman sleeping. Sleep plays an important role in our mental and physical wellbeing, and not getting enough can significantly alter how we process memories. The neurons that make up the “wires” in our brains rarely act alone. Instead, they are highly interconnected and often fire together in rhythmic and repetitive patterns. One example of this rhythmic firing is known as the sharp-wave ripple, which is sort of like a “stadium wave” in your brain.

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Previous research has shown that sharp-wave ripples in an area of the brain called the hippocampus play an important role in memory retrieval and consolidation. However, the impact of sleep deprivation on these brain patterns is less well understood.

In a new study, published in the journal Nature , researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School recorded brain activity in the hippocampus of seven rats as they explored mazes over the course of several weeks. Some animals were regularly disturbed during sleep while others were allowed to sleep freely.

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Both groups of mice showed similar levels of sharp-wave ripple activity. In fact, they were actually slightly higher among the group of sleep-deprived rodents. But the firing of these ripples in the sleep-deprived group was weaker and less organized than the patterns observed in the brains of the well-rested rats.

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The sleep-deprived rats were then given two days to recover and demonstrated improvements in strength and organization of the sharp-wave ripple activity. However, they were unable to reach the same levels of activity as the rats with normal sleep schedules. In other words, sleep deprivation permanently altered the rats’ ability to process specific memories.

“The memories that are formed prior to sleep deprivation will not undergo the same memory processing as those before sleep,” lead author Kamran Diba, told Newsweek . “Other studies from ours have previously shown that such memories won’t be remembered in the same way.”

This study adds to a growing body of evidence that memories continue to be processed after they are experienced, and that sleep appears to play a really important role in this processing. So pulling an all-nighter to revise before a big exam might not be a very effective strategy.

Not only does this research highlight the importance of sleep in memory formation, but the team hopes that their findings may inform future strategies to stave off memory decline.

“One possibility is that if we can identify interventions that confer resilience to reactivation and replay (i.e. allow them to fully rebound during the eventual recovery sleep after sleep loss) then we may be able to circumvent memory decline, at least in the short term,” Diba said.

This mechanism may also go some way to explain the associations we see between sleep deprivation and cognitive decline. “While we did not investigate the case of chronic sleep deprivation, diminished reactivation and replay indeed represent a potential mechanism for cognitive decline, though I think there will likely be other links in the chain (such as protein signaling and gene expression),” Diba said.

Is there a health issue that’s worrying you? Let us know via health@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.

Request Reprint & Licensing Submit Correction View Editorial Guidelines About the writer Pandora Dewan Pandora Dewan is a Senior Science Reporter at Newsweek based in London, UK. Her focus is reporting on science, health … Read more To read how Newsweek uses AI as a newsroom tool, Click here.

Read more at www.newsweek.com

Studies uncover the critical role of sleep in the formation of memories

Science News

from research organizations

FULL STORY

Imagine you’re a student, it’s finals week, and you’re preparing for a big exam: do you pull an all-nighter or do you get some rest?

As many a groggy-eyed person who’s stared blankly at a test knows, a lack of sleep can make it extraordinarily difficult to retain information.

Two new studies from University of Michigan uncover why this is and what is happening inside the brain during sleep and sleep deprivation to help or harm the formation of memories.

Specific neurons can be tuned to specific stimuli.

For example, rats in a maze will have neurons that light up once the animal reaches specific spots in the maze. These neurons, called place neurons, are also active in people and help people navigate their environment.

But what happens during sleep?

“If that neuron is responding during sleep, what can you infer from that?” said Kamran Diba, Ph.D., associate professor of Anesthesiology at U-M Medical School.

A study, summarized in the journal Nature and led by Diba and former graduate student Kourosh Maboudi, Ph.D., looks at neurons in the hippocampus, a seahorse shaped structure deep in the brain involved in memory formation, and discovered a way to visualize the tuning of neuronal patterns associated with a location while an animal was asleep.

A type of electrical activity called sharp-wave ripples emanate from the hippocampus every couple of seconds, over a period of many hours, during restful states and sleep.

Researchers have been intrigued by how synchronous the ripples are and how far they travel, seemingly to spread information from one part of the brain to another.

These firings are thought to allow neurons to form and update memories, including of place.

For the study, the team measured a rat’s brain activity during sleep, after the rat completed a new maze.

Using a type of statistical inference called Bayesian learning, they were for the first time able to track which neurons would respond to which places in the maze.

“Let’s say a neuron prefers a certain corner of the maze. We might see that neuron activate with others that show a similar preference during sleep. But sometimes neurons associated with other areas might co-activate with that cell. We then saw that when we put it back on the maze, the location preferences of neurons changed depending on which cells they fired with during sleep,” said Diba.

The method allows them to visualize the plasticity or representational drift of the neurons in real time.

It also gives more support to the long-standing theory that reactivation of neurons during sleep is part of why sleep is important for memories.

Given sleep’s importance, Diba’s team wanted to look at what happens in the brain in the context of sleep deprivation.

In the second study, also published in Nature , the team, led by Diba and former graduate student Bapun Giri, Ph.D., compared the amount of neuron reactivation — wherein the place neurons that fired during maze exploration spontaneously fire again at rest — and the sequence of their reactivation (quantified as replay), during sleep vs. during sleep loss.

They discovered that the firing patterns of neurons involved in reactivating and replaying the maze experience were higher in sleep compared to during sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation corresponded with a similar or higher rate of sharp-wave ripples, but lower amplitude waves and lower power ripples.

“In almost half the cases, however, reactivation of the maze experience during sharp-wave ripples was completely suppressed during sleep deprivation,” said Diba.

When sleep deprived rats were able to catch up on sleep, he added, while the reactivation rebounded slightly, it never matched that of rats who slept normally. Furthermore, replay was similarly impaired but was not recovered when lost sleep was regained.

Since reactivation and replay are important for memory, the findings demonstrate the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on memory.Diba’s team hopes to continue looking at the nature of memory processing during sleep and why they need to be reactivated and the effects of sleep pressure on memory.Additional authors include Hiroyuki Miyawaki, Caleb Kemere, Nathaniel Kinshy, Utku Kaya and Ted Abel. RELATED TOPICS Mind & Brain Insomnia Sleep Disorders Obstructive Sleep Apnea Disorders and Syndromes Brain Injury Neuroscience Memory Intelligence RELATED TERMS Sleep deprivation Circadian rhythm sleep disorder Night terror Rapid eye movement Sleep Sleep disorder Delayed sleep phase syndrome Narcolepsy (sleep disorder) Story Source: Materials provided by Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan . Original written by Kelly Malcom. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Read more at www.sciencedaily.com

Neural balance in the brain is associated with brain maturity and better cognitive ability

In a world where external and internal stimuli can throw our entire body system off balance, how does our brain prevent itself from becoming overly stimulated?

The answer lies in our brain’s ability to maintain the balance of neural excitation (E) and inhibition (I), known as the E/I ratio. By regulating the E/I ratio, the brain prevents over-stimulation and under-stimulation.

The E/I ratio of children decreases with healthy development. Children with a lower E/I ratio were observed to have better performance than their peers in cognitive tests such as memory and intelligence, according to studies by researchers from the Centre for Sleep and Cognition at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine).

With the aim of drawing meaningful connections between E/I ratio and brain maturation, the study team, led by fourth-year PhD student Zhang Shaoshi, Associate Professor Thomas Yeo from the Centre for Sleep and Cognition at NUS Medicine, Assistant Professor Bart Larsen from the University of Minnesota and Associate Professor Theodore Satterthwaite from the University of Pennsylvania, looked at how E/I ratio changes in youths, by studying the MRI brain scans of 885 children, adolescents and young adults from the United States of America and 154 children from Singapore. E/I ratio is an aspect that is continually changing and developing throughout childhood and adolescence. The Singaporean data cohort were obtained from GUSTO, Singapore’s largest and most comprehensive birth cohort study that seeks to help the next generation become healthier.

Described as the Yin and Yang of the brain, researchers have found that too much excitation or excessive inhibition can be harmful, leading to a higher risk of developing brain disorders, such as autism, Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. In less severe situations, someone with too much excitation might overthink in social situations, resulting in anxiety. Indeed, a common drug for reducing anxiety symptoms is Xanax, which increases neural inhibition, thus reducing neural excitation. In more severe scenarios, over-excitation can cause an epileptic seizure.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, too much inhibition indicates an absence of brain activity, effectively putting the person in a vegetative state. Therefore, inhibition is needed to balance excitation. Overall, a balanced E/I ratio is important for a well-functioning brain.

Despite E/I’s importance for brain health, it is hard to measure its ratio in the human brain without using invasive techniques. Therefore, the team developed a technique, combining artificial intelligence and biophysical modeling to infer E/I ratios from non-invasive, non-radioactive MRI scans. The team demonstrated the validity of their estimated E/I ratios through an experiment, during which participants ingested anti-anxiety medication (Xanax) or a placebo.

The team’s hypothesis is that once Xanax is ingested, inhibition will increase, so the overall E/I ratio decreases. To test this hypothesis, the research team scanned healthy individuals on two separate occasions. A participant is given Xanax before one MRI session and placebo in another MRI session. For some participants, Xanax might be administered in the first session, while for others Xanax might be administered in the second session. All parties involved in this experiment were not privy to whether an MRI session involved the placebo or the anti-anxiety drug. The team found that estimated E/I ratio markers were indeed lower after participants had ingested Xanax, compared with the placebo, and thus validating their technique. The study team then proceeded to use MRI brain scans to study brain development in a large sample of more than 1000 children, adolescents and young adults from Singapore and the United States of America. They discover that E/I ratios decrease with healthy development. Next, to establish the link between E/I ratios and cognitive function, the team divided participants, ranging from age 7 to 23, into high and low-performance groups based on their scores on certain cognitive tests. They found that the high performing groups had lower E/I ratios than their peers of the same age, suggesting that cognitive abilities improve as the E/I ratio matures during development.

Beyond their study on neurodevelopment, the team is keen on applying their approach to gain mechanistic insights into various brain disorders, by studying how the E/I ratio differs between healthy participants and patients battling mental disorders. The team also aims to study how the E/I ratio changes as people age, to gain insights into neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

Assoc Prof Thomas Yeo, who is also from the NUS College of Design and Engineering and Principal Investigator of this study, adds, “Our findings enhance our understanding of brain development and highlight potential avenues for understanding the emergence of psychopathology in youth. Hopefully, these findings will lead us to figure out which brain circuits get over-excited or over-inhibited easily, or pinpoint certain abnormal brain regions specific to an individual patient. This could shed more light on how medication or brain stimulation can be customised according to individuals, that would shape the course of treatment of brain disorders in the long run.”

This study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, titled ‘In vivo whole-cortex marker of excitation-inhibition ratio indexes cortical maturation and cognitive ability in youth’.

Read more at www.sciencedaily.com

Children’s book giant Scholastic releases LGBT guide for K-12 teachers

Children’s book giant Scholastic releases LGBT guide for K-12 teachers

Tags: brainwashed , campus insanity , education system , gay mafia , gender , gender confused , gender issues , groomer , groomers , indoctrination , K-12 students , LGBT , LGBT guide , obey , public education , reading guide , Scholastic Children’s book publisher Scholastic, which is known for its book fairs in schools, has released a radical LGBT guide for K-12 teachers .

Doug Mainwaring of LifeSiteNews reported on the development: “Scholastic is unequivocal in its pro-LGBT stance, devoted to obscuring timeless truths about the complementarity of the sexes while undermining children’s healthy identities as boys and girls. In fact, Scholastic goes so far as warning against the communication of immutable truths about nature and science to children.”

“Books and literature are never neutral,” the publisher declares. “By engaging with queer literature for children and young adults, you are disrupting the status quo that implies being cisgender, heterosexual and allosexual are the default.”

The 12-page guide also asserts that the word “queer” is “an umbrella term to refer to the breadth” of so-called “LGBTQIA+ identities.” It adds: “Everyone benefits from books with authentic representation of queer identities.”

However, Mainwaring noted that the LGBT guide is “aimed at driving woke neo-Marxist ideology deep into kids’ hearts and souls through the trusted adults in their lives.”

“The guide isn’t aimed at converting those adults. It merely seeks to overwhelm them with misinformation normalizing the notion of fabricated sexual and gender identities for children. Scholastic wants the adults in children’s lives to push kids into embracing woke identities so that they can become part of any one of a growing number of new victim classes defined by sexual depravity and confusion.”

We are building the infrastructure of human freedom and empowering people to be informed, healthy and aware. Explore our decentralized, peer-to-peer, uncensorable Brighteon.io free speech platform here . Learn about our free, downloadable generative AI tools at Brighteon.AI . Every purchase at HealthRangerStore.com helps fund our efforts to build and share more tools for empowering humanity with knowledge and abundance.

The LifeSiteNews journalist ultimately denounced Scholastic for being “an unapologetic ally in a political movement with deep Marxist roots that wields identity politics as a weapon of mass destruction, undermining and obfuscating timeless truth and upending immutable definitions about marriage, man and woman, boy and girl, son and daughter.” Scholastic’s LGBT guide doesn’t even hide its radical agenda

Mainwaring wasn’t the only journalist who issued an open rebuke of the publisher’s LGBT guide for teachers. Sarah Holliday, reporter for the Washington Stand , voiced out her disdain in a June 4 piece .

“Scholastic’s 2024 [LGBT] guide … [is] full of extreme LGBT ideology, and it makes no attempt to mask the progressive agenda,” she wrote. Holliday also pointed out that Scholastic’s claim of everyone benefiting from LGBT children’s books is a blatant lie as they “target kids at an age where they don’t fully understand what reality is.”

According to the Stand reporter, the guide’s recommended books contain questionable content that promotes concepts like transgenderism; same-sex couples and parents; the concept of “friends with benefits”; traveling to a “spirit realm”; and taking relationships “to the next level” with sexual intercourse.

“These books expose innocent, young and vulnerable children to inappropriate, explicit content. No child needs to be reading a book about LGBT ideology, much less books discussing pornographic content.” (Related: “Queer” American Library Association head wants to destroy traditional family values by filling children’s minds with pornography depicting “gay people doing gay things.” )

David Closson, director of the Family Research Council’s (FRC) Center for Biblical worldview, told the Stand that Scholastic is “seeking to mainstream and normalize ideologies what would have made no sense to any previous generation.” He ultimately warned that the publishing giant “is seeking to sow confusion amongst society’s most vulnerable population, which is our children.”

“The newspaper-like Scholastic magazines we poured over as children is no longer the Scholastic school children and teachers today experience,” lamented Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for education studies at the FRC. ” Books designed to indoctrinate children with divisive or sexualized messaging are … dangerous.”

Closson ultimately exhorted parents, especially Christian ones, to be vigilant against this grooming happening in schools. He concluded: “I would especially argue that Christian parents have a discipleship responsibility to protect their children from these dangerous ideologies. If left unopposed, these ideologies will reap irreparable harm on younger generations and confuse them about some of the most basic concepts of human existence.”

Head over to Groomers.news for similar stories.

Watch this clip of a teacher unabashedly grooming her students through the LGBT books she proudly makes them read .

This video is from the Self-Government channel on Brighteon.com . More related stories:

LGBTQ-themed books top list of most challenged library books of 2023.

Mississippi mayor refuses to distribute funds to libraries that display LGBT books for kids.

Appeals court REJECTS request by Maryland parents to allow kids to opt out of reading LGBT BOOKS.

Sources include:

LifeSiteNews.com

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How does oxygen depletion disrupt memory formation in the brain?

How does oxygen depletion disrupt memory formation in the brain?

The aLTP process is activated when the brain is deprived of oxygen When we learn something new, our brain cells (neurons) communicate with each other through electrical and chemical signals. If the same group of neurons communicate together often, the connections between them get stronger. This process helps our brains learn and remember things and is known as long-term potentiation or LTP .

Another type of LTP occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen temporarily – anoxia-induced long-term potentiation or aLTP . aLTP blocks the former process, thereby impairing learning and memory. Therefore, some scientists think that aLTP might be involved in memory problems seen in conditions like stroke.

Researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) and their collaborators have studied the aLTP process in detail. They found that maintaining aLTP requires the amino acid glutamate, which triggers nitric oxide (NO) production in both neurons and brain blood vessels. This process forms a positive glutamate-NO-glutamate feedback loop. Their study, published in iScience , indicates that the continuous presence of aLTP could potentially hinder the brain’s memory strengthening processes and explain the memory loss observed in certain patients after experiencing a stroke.

The brain’s response to low oxygen

When there is a lack of oxygen in the brain, glutamate, a neurotransmitter, is released from neurons in large amounts. This increased glutamate causes the production of NO. NO produced in neurons and brain blood vessels boosts glutamate release from neurons during aLTP. This glutamate-NO-glutamate loop continues even after the brain gets enough oxygen.

“We wanted to know how oxygen depletion affects the brain and how these changes occur,” Dr. Han-Ying Wang, a researcher in the former Cellular and Molecular Synaptic Function Unit at OIST and lead author of the study, stated. “It’s been known that nitric oxide is involved in releasing glutamate in the brain when there is a shortage of oxygen, but the mechanism was unclear.”

During a stroke, when the brain is deprived of oxygen, amnesia – the loss of recent memories – can be one of the symptoms. Investigating the effects of oxygen deficiency on the brain is important because of the potential medicinal benefits. “If we can work out what’s going wrong in those neurons when they have no oxygen, it may point in the direction of how to treat stroke patients,” Dr. Patrick Stoney, a scientist in OIST’s Sensory and Behavioral Neuroscience Unit and former member of the Cellular and Molecular Synaptic Function Unit, explained.

Brain tissues from mice were placed in a saline solution, mimicking the natural environment in the living brain. Normally, this solution is oxygenated to meet the high oxygen demands of brain tissue. However, replacing the oxygen with nitrogen allowed the researchers to deprive the cells of oxygen for precise lengths of time.

The tissues were then examined under a microscope and electrodes were placed on them to record electrical activity of the individual cells. The cells were stimulated in a way that mimics how they would be stimulated in living mice.

Stopping memory and learning activity

The scientists found that maintaining aLTP requires NO production in both neurons and in blood vessels in the brain. Collaborating scientists from OIST’s Optical Neuroimaging Unit showed that in addition to neurons and blood vessels, aLTP requires the activity of astrocytes, another type of brain cell. Astrocytes connect and support communication between neurons and blood vessels.

“Long-term maintenance of aLTP requires continuous synthesis of nitric oxide. NO synthesis is self-sustaining, supported by the NO-glutamate loop, but blocking molecular steps for NO-synthesis or those that trigger glutamate release eventually disrupt the loop and stop aLTP,” Prof. Tomoyuki Takahashi, leader of the former Cellular and Molecular Synaptic Function Unit at OIST, explained.

Notably, the cellular processes that support aLTP are shared by those involved in memory strengthening and learning (LTP). When aLTP is present, it hijacks molecular activities required for LTP and removing aLTP can rescue these memory enhancing mechanisms. This suggests that long-lasting aLTP may obstruct memory formation, possibly explaining why some patients have memory loss after a short stroke.

Prof. Takahashi emphasized that the formation of a positive feedback loop formed between glutamate and NO when the brain is temporarily deprived of oxygen is an important finding. It explains long-lasting aLTP and may offer a solution for memory loss caused by a lack of oxygen.

​ Journal

iScience DOI

10.1016/j.isci.2024.109515 Method of Research

Experimental study Subject of Research

Animal tissue samples Article Title

Anoxia-induced hippocampal LTP is regeneratively produced by glutamate and nitric oxide from the neuro-glial-endothelial axis Article Publication Date

19-Apr-2024

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

Read more at www.eurekalert.org

The brain can store nearly 10 times more data than previously thought, study confirms

The brain can store nearly 10 times more data than previously thought, study confirms

The amount of information the brain can store is greater than once thought, new research suggests. The brain may be able to hold nearly 10 times more information than previously thought, a new study confirms.

Similar to computers, the brain’s memory storage is measured in “bits,” and the number of bits it can hold rests on the connections between its neurons, known as synapses. Historically, scientists thought synapses came in a fairly limited number of sizes and strengths, and this in turn limited the brain’s storage capacity. However, this theory has been challenged in recent years — and the new study further backs the idea that the brain can hold about 10-fold more than once thought.

In the new study, researchers developed a highly precise method to assess the strength of connections between neurons in part of a rat’s brain. These synapses form the basis of learning and memory , as brain cells communicate at these points and thus store and share information.

By better understanding how synapses strengthen and weaken, and by how much, the scientists more precisely quantified how much information these connections can store. The analysis, published April 23 in the journal Neural Computation , demonstrates how this new method could not only increase our understanding of learning but also of aging and diseases that erode connections in the brain..

Related: The brain has a ‘tell’ for when it’s recalling a false memory, study suggests

“These approaches get at the heart of the information processing capacity of neural circuits,” Jai Yu , an assistant professor of neurophysiology at the University of Chicago who was not involved in the research, told Live Science in an email. “Being able to estimate how much information can potentially be represented is an important step towards understanding the capacity of the brain to perform complex computations.”

In the human brain , there are more than 100 trillion synapses between neurons. Chemical messengers are launched across these synapses, facilitating the transfer of information across the brain. As we learn, the transfer of information through specific synapses increases. This “strengthening” of synapses enables us to retain the new information. In general, synapses strengthen or weaken in response to how active their constituent neurons are — a phenomenon called synaptic plasticity . Sign up for the Live Science daily newsletter now

Get the world’s most fascinating discoveries delivered straight to your inbox.

Contact me with news and offers from other Future brandsReceive email from us on behalf of our trusted partners or sponsorsBy submitting your information you agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and are aged 16 or over. Synapses facilitate the communication of information between neurons. However, as we age or develop neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s , our synapses become less active and thus weaken, reducing cognitive performance and our ability to store and retrieve memories.

Scientists can measure the strength of synapses by looking at their physical characteristics . Additionally, messages sent by one neuron will sometimes activate a pair of synapses, and scientists can use these pairs to study the precision of synaptic plasticity. In other words, given the same message, does each synapse in the pair strengthen or weaken in exactly the same way?

Measuring the precision of synaptic plasticity has proven difficult in the past, as has measuring how much information any given synapse can store. The new study changes that.

To measure synaptic strength and plasticity, the team harnessed information theory , a mathematical way of understanding how information is transmitted through a system. This approach also enables scientists to quantify how much information can be transmitted across synapses, while also taking account of the “background noise” of the brain.

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This transmitted information is measured in bits, such that a synapse with a higher number of bits can store more information than one with fewer bits, Terrence Sejnowski , co-senior study author and head of the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory at The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, told Live Science in an email. One bit corresponds to a synapse sending transmissions at two strengths, while two bits allows for four strengths, and so on.

The team analyzed pairs of synapses from a rat hippocampus , a region of the brain that plays a major role in learning and memory formation. These synapse pairs were neighbors and they activated in response to the same type and amount of brain signals. The team determined that, given the same input, these pairs strengthened or weakened by exactly the same amount — suggesting the brain is highly precise when adjusting a given synapse’s strength.

The analysis suggested that synapses in the hippocampus can store between 4.1 and 4.6 bits of information. The researchers had reached a similar conclusion in an earlier study of the rat brain, but at that time, they’d crunched the data with a less-precise method. The new study helps confirm what many neuroscientists now assume — that synapses carry much more than one bit each, Kevin Fox , a professor of neuroscience at Cardiff University in the U.K. who was not involved in the research, told Live Science in an email.

The findings are based on a very small area of the rat hippocampus, so it’s unclear how they’d scale to a whole rat or human brain. It would be interesting to determine how this capacity for information storage varies across the brain and between species, Yu said.

In the future, the team’s method could also be used to compare the storage capacity of different areas of the brain, Fox said. It could also be used to study a single area of the brain when it’s healthy and when it’s in a diseased state.

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An active brain can protect you from dementia, but stress might eat up your ‘cognitive reserve’ – new study

An active brain can protect you from dementia, but stress might eat up your ‘cognitive reserve’ – new study

Some people have the biological hallmarks of Alzheimer’s – proteins called amyloid and tau that gum up the brain – but have no disease symptoms. Researchers suggest that this could be because some people build up a “cognitive reserve” – the brain’s ability to find new ways to handle and overcome problems.

People with greater cognitive reserve seem to be better at staving off dementia symptoms, but when stress levels are high or persistent, they can weaken this reserve by making it less likely that they will socialise and less likely that they will be physically active – both of which are known to protect against dementia.

Stress itself has also been linked to faster cognitive decline and an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease .

In a recent study , we examined the relationship of cognitive reserve with cognition, and Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers – the previously mentioned tau and amyloid. We assessed whether the potential benefits of cognitive reserve vary by stress.

For our study, we looked at 113 participants from a memory clinic in Sweden. They were part of the Cortisol and Stress in Alzheimer’s Disease cohort study.

There are many ways cognitive reserve can be built up, such as staying mentally active throughout life. This could be by spending more years in formal education, playing bridge, learning a new language or having a complex job. Being physically active and maintaining healthy social relationships are important too.

To get an overall measure of cognitive reserve, we created an index by combining different information on the level of lifelong education participants had acquired, the complexity of the longest-held job, and engagement in physical, leisure activity and social interactions in later life. Stress

We also looked at participants’ stress levels. Both subjective and biological measures were taken.

Subjective stress was measured using a questionnaire. People rated how much they perceived their life to be uncontrollable and unpredictable, and whether or not they had too much to deal with during the previous month.

For an objective measure of stress, we used salivary cortisol , a stress hormone. Cortisol follows a rhythm. It typically increases rapidly as soon as we wake up, peaks 30 minutes later (known as “cortisol awakening response”), and then decreases during the remainder of the day. It is lowest at nighttime, as our body gets ready to sleep.

Salivary cortisol was taken at different times of the day to measure these patterns. Previous studies have shown that a disruption of the cortisol pattern may increase Alzheimer’s disease risk. Stress eats up your cognitive reserves. We found greater cognitive reserve improved cognition in memory clinic patients, but when we factored physiological stress (cortisol) into the equation, the beneficial association of cognitive reserve was weakened – in other words, cortisol seems to deplete cognitive reserve.

Interestingly, though, subjective stress did not change the relation in a similar manner. So subjective stress doesn’t seem to use up cognitive reserve in the same way as biological stress seems to. We don’t know why this is. It could be that subjective and biological measures assess different aspects of stress.

Participants who had a good balance of morning and evening cortisol levels improved their working memory, but this wasn’t true for those who had an imbalance. Working memory stores information for short periods but allows us to actively process and manipulate the information. For example, we rely on working memory to solve a maths problem.

If cortisol levels are too high in the evening, it affects sleep. And if they are too low in the morning, it can affect morning alertness. The right balance is essential.

In those with unusually high amounts of cortisol shortly after waking up, having a higher cognitive reserve was linked to increased tau – a protein that forms tangles in brain cells, thereby disrupting their function. It could be that tau protein accumulation might make a person more prone to be stressed or stress itself may bring about changes to tau . This might lower a person’s ability to control and avoid actions that support the development of cognitive reserve.

Higher chronic stress may lessen the cognitive advantages of stimulating activities and enriching experiences in later life. Adding stress management techniques, such as mindfulness and meditation into your daily routine may contribute to overall brain health and slow cognitive decline.

Read more at theconversation.com

Study reveals B VITAMINS may reduce glaucoma risk

Study reveals B VITAMINS may reduce glaucoma risk

Tags: b vitamins , eye diseases , eye health , glaucoma , goodhealth , macular degeneration , natural cures , natural health , natural medicine , nutrients , prevention , remedies , research , Riboflavin , risk , senses , supplements , supplements.report , thiamine , vitamin b1 , vitamin B2 , vitamins Glaucoma is a condition affecting the eyes that poses significant risks if left undetected and untreated. The condition is characterized by damage to the optic nerve that could potentially result in vision loss, often irreversible. Glaucoma becomes more prevalent with an aging population.

But recent studies have indicated that incorporating specific B vitamins into one’s diet may notably lower the likelihood of developing glaucoma. One such study published in Nature on April 12 looked into data from over 5,000 Americans aged 40 and older who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a comprehensive population-based study in the United States.

Its focus was on exploring whether the daily consumption of B vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cobalamin) and the synthetic form of B9 (folic acid), could mitigate the risk of developing glaucoma.

The study authors from China found that the intake of vitamins B1 and B2 was associated with a decreased glaucoma among men. They also found that vitamin B2 showed a particularly notable effect, linked to a 28 percent reduction in glaucoma risk per one-milligram increase of riboflavin. “In our study, the relationship between vitamin B1, B2 intake, and self-reported glaucoma seemed more pronounced in males,” the researchers wrote.

In contrast, women did not observe the same glaucoma risk reduction with increased B vitamin intake. They further observed that in females, the association between vitamin B2 intake and glaucoma risk was non-linear– indicating a decrease in risk with higher intake. (Related: B vitamins are CRUCIAL to heart health, brain health and eye health .)

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Ophthalmologist Dr. Alina Djougarian told the Epoch Times that the findings of the Nature study, which drew from the robust NHANES dataset and its substantial sample size, corroborated previous research linking B vitamins to a diminished risk of glaucoma.

Nevertheless, the eye doctor at Northwell Health in New York state, who was not involved in the study, emphasized the necessity for large-scale, prospective studies with extensive follow-up periods to elucidate the impact of B vitamin supplementation on glaucoma progression and its long-term effects on optic nerve health. Long-term research needed to confirm efficacy of B vitamins for glaucoma treatment

Djougarian pointed out, however, that the dosages of B vitamins used in recent studies about glaucoma surpass the recommended daily limits – potentially posing toxicity hazards. “It is important to consult a physician before taking supplements,” she advised.

Meanwhile, ophthalmologist and glaucoma specialist Dr. Robert A. Honkanen highlighted the ambiguous nature of using vitamins for eye ailments, describing it as a “gray zone.” Despite certain vitamins being recommended to prevent macular degeneration, he stressed the absence of validated, long-term research confirming their efficacy for glaucoma treatment.

“While some vitamins possess antioxidant or neuroprotective properties, the definitive evidence supporting their benefits remains elusive,” explained the eye doctor at Stony Brook Medicine, also in New York state.

Given this uncertainty, Honkanen suggested exercising caution and seeking medical advice to mitigate the risk of overdosing, especially considering the potential effects on blood clotting associated with other vitamins, such as vitamin E. He also underscored the importance of a healthy lifestyle, comprising habits like refraining from smoking, regular physical activity, and maintaining a balanced diet, which has been demonstrated to lower the risk of glaucoma development.

Head over to EyeHealth.news for similar stories.

Watch the following video about boosting your overall health with foods rich in B vitamins .

This video is from the Natural News channel on Brighteon.com . More related stories:

B vitamins, your mental health & your wellbeing .

Multivitamins explained: Supplementing can help you reach optimal health .

Vitamin B12 so powerfully beneficial for brain health that psychiatric drugs could become OBSOLETE .

Study: Goji berries boost eye health, help prevent vision problems, study concludes .

B vitamins are CRUCIAL to heart health, brain health and eye health .

Sources include:

TheEpochTimes.com

Nature.com

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Pill that study says can improve memory by 10% available soon

Pill that study says can improve memory by 10% available soon

Technician, Emily Naray at work in Green Bioactives lab. (Nigel Iskander via SWNS) By Stephen Beech via SWNS

A pill that can improve memory function by 10 percent is due to go on sale in Britain next month.

GBL-Memory, launched by Scotland-based Green Bioactives , includes two plant extracts which when combined and taken for a month can “significantly improve” the memory of older people, according to a new study.

The health supplement may be able to address the process of cognitive decline in an increasingly aging population, say Scottish scientists.

It contains the natural plant-derived molecules Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and L Theanine, which are found in as onion, chicory, garlic, asparagus and bananas.

The combination was found to assist memory in both animals and humans following clinical trials.

Previous research has shown that the risk of cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia doubles every five years after the age of 65. GBL’s memory product. (Nigel Iskander via SWNS) And up to one in 14 people aged 60 or older experience significant cognitive impairment.

The new study, published in the journal Food Science and Nutrition , was led by the late Gary Loake, Professor of Molecular Plant Sciences at the University of Edinburgh and Chief Scientific Officer at Green Bioactives.

It explored the effects of taking GBL-Memory, a supplement containing L-theanine and FOS, over a 30-day period.

A total of 120 healthy participants were divided into two groups, with half taking the supplement and half taking a placebo.

There were “significant” advancements of up to 10 percent in the supplement group, according to the findings.

Researchers used the Clinical Memory Scale (CMS) to assess the benefits of taking the supplement, which contributes to the improvement in total memory.

The CMS was adapted by the Institute of Psychology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and is composed of five tests.

The areas assessed were improvements in directed memory, associate learning, meaningless image recognition, graphic memory and portrait retrieval.

After the test, the original scale was converted into scores in relation to age and educational background, according to the guidelines.

Dr. Richard Stratton, a Welsh GP and Assistant Medical Director of the Powys Health Board says that mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is becoming a big issue among patients within his practice in Powys and nationwide. Morinda plant that has high Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) levels. (Nigel Iskander via SWNS) He said: “The issue of mild cognitive impairment is getting worse and is medically underreported

“Many people who experience mild cognitive impairment are often unaware of the issue – and friends and family accommodate their memory by filling in the gaps.

“This means that MCI is often not brought to the attention of medical professionals until the condition may have developed into something worse like dementia,

“In my experience as a GP, many people reaching the age of 70 will naturally experience MCI, but unfortunately there are no prescribable drugs we can offer unless medically diagnosed with dementia.”

Dr. Stratton added: “This paper showing improvement in animal and human memory is very encouraging and potentially offers people with MCI some hope of improving their memory.

“The interesting thing about this study is that because it’s a botanical formulation, safety issues are very unlikely and it offers people with memory issues something they can do to help the condition.

GBL-Memory is the first product launched by Green Bioactives and will be available in the UK next month.

It has already been launched in Germany, under the name Memocentrix, and will then be available in the UK from June through Known Nutrition. Dr David McElroy, CEO of Green Bioactives. (Nigel Iskander via SWNS) German man Rudi Neidhardt, who took GBL-Memory as part of an early trial, said: “I’ve noticed remarkable improvements in my daily life.

“I can now remember where I leave my wallet and keys, and I even recall names from my past with ease.

“Those changes are only the tip of the iceberg and it feels like my brain is working better than 10 years ago in all areas of unlocking stored memory.

“The clarity and confidence this brings is truly life-changing.”Dr. David McElroy, CEO of Green Bioactives , said: “We are thrilled to announce the successful clinical validation and launch of Green Bioactives’ innovative GBL-Memory comprising our proprietary blend of L-theanine and Fructooligosaccharides.”This milestone underscores our commitment to advancing natural, scientifically backed solutions for better health and well-being.”He added: “The significant improvements reported across diverse cognitive areas affirms the potential of GBL-Memory to make a meaningful positive impact on enhancing memory and to contribute towards improving overall brain function.”

Read more at www.bloomeradvance.com

Want to Get Smarter? Neuroscience Says 1 Uncomfortable Habit Will Help You Learn Faster and Retain More

Want to Get Smarter? Neuroscience Says 1 Uncomfortable Habit Will Help You Learn Faster and Retain More

There are plenty of ways to get smarter . You can harness the power of interleaving by learning several things in succession. You can vary the way you study. You can test yourself. Oddly enough, simply getting more sleep can actually make you smarter .

What do you know, and what do you do with what you know ? Learning more quickly, and retaining more of what you learn?

Yep: Getting smarter is a business superpower.

Especially if you consider which type of “smart” you focus on. There’s Smart, and Then There’s Smart

While intelligence can be described in a number of ways, let’s focus on two.

The first, crystallized intelligence, is accumulated knowledge: facts, figures. In short, “educated.” Which is a good thing.

Except we all know people who are “book smart” but not necessarily smart smart.

That’s where the second form, fluid intelligence, comes into play. Fluid intelligence is the ability to learn and retain new information — but also to use that knowledge to solve a problem, to learn a new skill, to recall existing memories and modify them with new knowledge … In short, to have “applied intelligence.”

Becoming more educated? That’s not easy, but the process is reasonably simple. Improving fluid intelligence can be harder, which is one reason why “brain games” –crossword puzzles, Sudoku, brain training apps, etc. –are fairly popular.

But do they make you smarter?

More to the point, do they improve your fluid intelligence? Probably not.

A 2007 study published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences assessed the impact of brain training games on fluid intelligence. After participants played Tetris for several weeks, cortical thickness and cortical activity increased. Both are signs of an increase in neural connections and learned expertise.

In simple terms, the participants’ brains bulked up and got smarter. But after those first few weeks, cortical thickness and activity started to decrease, eventually returning to pre-Tetris mastery pursuit level, even though their skill levels remained high. They didn’t lose brain power.

Instead, their brains became so efficient at playing Tetris that those increased neural connections became unnecessary. Nor was it necessary to use more mental energy. As with most things, once they figured it out, it got easy. (Or as a friend says, “Everything is hard the first time.”)

Unfortunately, no matter how much work it takes to learn new information or gain new skills, “easy” doesn’t translate to improved fluid intelligence. Once knowledge or skill is in your pocket, you certainly benefit from the increase in crystallized intelligence, but your fluid intelligence soon returns to a more baseline level.

While the analogy sounds goofy, it’s like performing a physical task using muscle memory, although in this case, you’re using “brain memory.”

That’s the problem with, say, brain-training games. Solving Sudoku puzzles — and only solving Sudoku puzzles — won’t improve your fluid intelligence in any other areas, no matter how much of a Soduku master you become. It only makes you better at solving Sudoku puzzles.

The same is true for business skills. Learning how to use QuickBooks to keep your books will improve your fluid intelligence until you master it. Learning to use a new CRM application will improve your fluid intelligence until you master it. Once you achieve a level of (skill) comfort, your brain no longer has to work as hard, and all that new mental muscle starts to atrophy. And Then There’s Uncomfortable

Which leads us to the (literally) uncomfortable point.

To keep improving your fluid intelligence, once you master a new process, a new routine, a new skill, a new anything, you need to focus on learning something else. The key is to stay uncomfortable and keep challenging yourself.

Then you get to double-dip. You gain new knowledge, new skill, and new experience, and you keep your brain “bulked up” since it’s forced to continue forging new neural connections.

That double-dip also makes it easier to keep getting smarter at a biological and neurological level. The more you know, the more you can leverage the power of associative learning, the process of relating something new to something you already know. In simple terms, associated learning is like saying, “I get it: (This) is basically like (that).” The more you learn, the more likely you will be able to associate “old” knowledge with new things.

This means you only have to learn differences or nuances, and will be able to apply additional context — context that also helps with memory storage and retrieval — to the new information you learn.

All of this makes learning even easier, which a study published in Intelligence shows results in being able to learn even more quickly and retain a lot more. As the researchers write : The fastest learners, despite having the fewest number of study opportunities, remembered more and relearned faster. Win-win.

Keep pushing yourself to learn new things about your business, your customers, your industry, etc. In a broader sense, keep pushing yourself to learn new things about whatever interests you.

Not only will that help you become more successful, but you’ll also get to increase your crystallized intelligence and improve your fluid intelligence.Which will likely make you even more successful.

Read more at www.inc.com

Does sleep clear more toxins from the brain than when we’re awake? Latest research casts doubt on theory

Does sleep clear more toxins from the brain than when we're awake? Latest research casts doubt on theory

Credit: CC0 Public Domain Evidence also supports the notion that the brain gets rid of more toxic waste when we’re asleep than when we’re awake. This process is believed to be crucial in getting rid of potentially harmful things such as amyloid, a protein whose build-up in the brain is linked to Alzheimer’s disease .

However, a recent study in mice has come to the opposite conclusion. Its authors suggest that in mice, brain clearance is actually lower during sleep—and that previous findings could also be re-interpreted in this way. The brain’s cleaning system

Since the brain is an active tissue—with many metabolic and cellular processes happening at any moment—it produces a lot of waste. This waste is removed by our glymphatic system.

Cerebrospinal fluid is a crucial part of the glymphatic system. This fluid surrounds the brain, acting as a liquid cushion that protects it from damage and provides it nourishment, so the brain can function normally.

During the waste removal process, our cerebrospinal fluid helps transfer old and dirty brain fluid—full of toxins, metabolites and proteins—to outside the brain, and welcomes in new fluid. The waste that has been removed then ends up in the lymphatic system (a part of your immune system), where it’s ultimately eliminated from your body.

The glymphatic system was only discovered in the last decade or so . It was first observed in mice, using dyes injected into their brains to study the movement of fluids there. The existence of the glymphatic system has since been confirmed in humans with the use of MRI scans and contrast dyes .

Based on the results of animal experiments , scientists concluded the glymphatic system is more active at night, during sleep or when under anesthesia, than during the day. Other studies have shown this waste removal activity may also vary depending on different conditions—such as sleep position , the type of anesthetic used, and whether or not the subject’s circadian rhythm was interrupted. Challenging old interpretations

The recent study used male mice to examine how the movement of brain fluid differed when animals were awake, asleep and anesthetized. The researchers injected dyes into the animals’ brains to track the flow of fluid through the glymphatic system.

In particular, they examined whether an increase in dye indicated a decrease in fluid movement away from an area, rather than an increase in movement to the area as previous studies had suggested. The former would mean lower clearance via the glymphatic system—and hence less waste being removed.

More dye was found in brain areas after three hours and five hours of being asleep or anesthetized than when awake. This indicated that less dye, and therefore fluid, was being cleared from the brain when the mouse was asleep or anesthetized.

Although the findings are interesting, there are a number of limitations with the study’s design. As such, this can’t be considered absolute confirmation that the brain doesn’t flush out as much waste during the night than in the day. Limitations to this study

First, the study was conducted using mice. The results from animal studies don’t always translate to humans, so it’s difficult to say whether the same will be true for us.

The study also only looked at male mice that were kept awake for a few hours before being allowed to sleep. This may have disturbed their natural sleep-wake rhythm, which could have partially influenced the results. Studies have shown that interrupted or bad sleep is linked with an increase in stress levels—which in turn lowers brain fluid flow from the glymphatic system.

In contrast, in the first (2013) study that showed more brain toxins were removed during sleep, the mice were observed during their natural sleep time.

Different methods were also used in this study compared with previous ones—including what types of dye were injected and where. Previous studies also used both male and female mice. These differences in study methods could have influenced the results.

The glymphatic system might also behave differently depending on the brain region—with each producing different types of waste when awake or asleep. This may also explain why this study’s results were different from previous ones.

Virtually no studies looking at the glymphatic system and the effects of sleep in mice have examined the contents of the fluid excreted from the brain. So, even if the amount of fluid flowing out of the brain was lower during sleep or anesthesia, this fluid could still be removing important waste products in different amounts.

A handful of studies have found disturbances in both glymphatic system function and sleep in people with neurological conditions—including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s . A study in humans also indicates that more amyloid is found in the brain after even one night of sleep deprivation .

The glymphatic system is important when it comes to how the brain works—but it may very well function differently depending on many factors. We need more research that aims to replicate the latest study’s findings, while also examining the reasons behind its surprising conclusions. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article . Study shows that opportunity costs influence when people leave social interactions 21 minutes ago Bloody insights: Organs-on-chip ready to help snake venom research 2 hours ago Five-minute test leads to better care for people with dementia in the primary care setting 2 hours ago Researchers develop technology that may allow stroke patients to undergo rehab at home 3 hours ago Wearable brain imaging provides a precise picture of children’s developing brains 4 hours ago Researchers identify first step in allergic reactions, paving the way for preventative strategies 10 hours ago Study: High excess death rates in the West for 3 years running since start of pandemic despite containment and vaccines 12 hours ago

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How Brain Waves Influence Your Memory

How Brain Waves Influence Your Memory

Key points

Brain waves influence cognitive control and memory formation, informing how the brain manages memory.

Working memory stores and manipulates information temporarily for tasks like learning and decision-making.

Phase-amplitude coupling neurons synchronize with brain waves, aiding cognitive control and memory retrieval.

New findings have implications for therapies and cognitive enhancement strategies.

Have you ever put your keys down and then completely forgotten where to find them? The brain has to work hard to protect information in your working memory from distractions. How this process works has, until recently, been unclear. A study published in Nature looked at the interactions between the front part of the brain that controls thoughts and the hippocampus, which is important for memory. They found that individual brain cells are influenced by the theta and gamma brain waves passing between these two parts of the brain and those cells have a role in cognitive control. These findings give fresh insights into how the brain manages memory, with implications for those who wish to improve their attention , decision-making , or memory retrieval. What is working memory?

Working memory is a type of short-term memory that temporarily stores and manipulates information needed for cognitive tasks such as learning, reasoning, and comprehension. It acts as a mental workspace where information is held and processed before being encoded into long-term memory or forgotten.

Working memory is limited to holding a small amount of information (around seven items) for a brief period ranging from a few seconds to several minutes, depending on the task and the individual’s cognitive abilities. Working memory coordinates the simultaneous storage and processing of information from multiple sources and plays a crucial role in higher cognitive functions like problem-solving, decision-making, and following instructions. How does the brain make memories?

The brain makes memories through a complex process involving multiple brain regions and mechanisms. Memories are initially encoded in the hippocampus region of the brain. This process involves strengthening the connections (synapses) between neurons through repeated stimulation.

The hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex are two important brain regions in memory formation. During memory formation, the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex communicate via brain waves of different frequencies (beta and theta). Beta waves reinforce correct associations, while theta waves weaken incorrect ones, guiding what the brain learns.

The coordination of interactions between the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex is called theta-gamma phase-amplitude coupling. They work together, creating a certain rhythm. Theta waves are slower while gamma waves are faster. They are synched so that when one gets stronger, so does the other. This coordination may facilitate neural dynamics for memory and cognitive processing, integrating local sensory information processing with brain-wide cognitive control. Studying working memory and memory retrieval

To understand the ways neurons involved in theta-gamma phase-amplitude coupling influence memory and thinking, a team of researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Toronto Western Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Hospital, conducted a study on 36 epilepsy patients undergoing surgery for drug-resistant epilepsy using magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalograms.

In the task, participants observed 140 rounds of different pictures. Each round started with a cross, and then one or three pictures appeared for the patient to remember. They had to hold them in memory when prompted, and later identify if a new picture matched any from that round by pressing a button.

Each session used new pictures from various categories like faces, animals, and cars, ensuring freshness. Harder rounds challenged patients with three pictures instead of one, maintaining consistent time limits for memory recall. Mixing categories prevented reliance on familiarity, encouraging active memory use over recognition.

Electrodes with at least eight wires recorded brain activity across various frequencies. The researchers examined how phase-amplitude coupling varied from trial to trial; they identified specific neurons that were sensitive to different categories of visual stimuli presented during the task that helped explain how individual neurons responded to specific types of images. Findings and Implications

The study reveals a direct link between theta-gamma phase-amplitude coupling and the firing patterns of single neurons. Neurons showing phase-amplitude coupling synchronize with frontal theta waves, particularly when working memory load is higher, leading to faster reaction times. This suggests that phase-amplitude coupling neurons play a role in cognitive control.

To accurately retain and access memories is the main goal of cognitive control. The study demonstrated that phase-amplitude coupling neurons contribute to this process by introducing noise correlations, which improves information content at the population level. Noise correlations enhance the decodability of working memory content, particularly when involving phase-amplitude coupling neurons.

The findings of this study support a model where frontal control processes regulate working memory maintenance in brain areas like the hippocampus. The interactions between phase-amplitude coupling neurons in the broader theta-gamma phase-amplitude coupling phenomenon represent a general mechanism for top-down control in various cognitive functions beyond working memory such as attention, decision-making, speech comprehension, and long-term memory retrieval.

Understanding the memory process can lead to the development of therapies for conditions involving memory deficits or those suffering from neurological disorders. It can also lead to strategies for enhancing cognitive performance by targeting specific neural mechanisms involved in memory and cognitive control and optimizing learning and memory retention in academic settings. In summary, the study examines the connection between brain waves, cognitive control, and memory, offering promising ways to understand the neurological basis of cognition as well as opportunities to develop innovative interventions to enhance memory and cognitive function.

Read more at www.psychologytoday.com

Does sleep clear more toxins from the brain than when we’re awake? Latest research casts doubt on this theory

Does sleep clear more toxins from the brain than when we’re awake? Latest research casts doubt on this theory

Eleftheria Kodosaki does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Partners

University College London provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation UK.

View all partners Email X (Twitter) Facebook LinkedIn Print There’s no doubt sleep is good for the brain. It allows different parts to regenerate and helps memories stabilise . When we don’t get enough sleep, this can increase stress levels and exacerbate mental health issues .

Evidence also supports the notion that the brain gets rid of more toxic waste when we’re asleep than when we’re awake. This process is believed to be crucial in getting rid of potentially harmful things such as amyloid, a protein whose build-up in the brain is linked to Alzheimer’s disease .

However, a recent study in mice has come to the opposite conclusion. Its authors suggest that in mice, brain clearance is actually lower during sleep – and that previous findings could also be re-interpreted in this way. The brain’s cleaning system

Since the brain is an active tissue – with many metabolic and cellular processes happening at any moment – it produces a lot of waste. This waste is removed by our glymphatic system.

Cerebrospinal fluid is a crucial part of the glymphatic system. This fluid surrounds the brain, acting as a liquid cushion that protects it from damage and provides it nourishment, so the brain can function normally.

During the waste removal process, our cerebrospinal fluid helps transfer old and dirty brain fluid – full of toxins, metabolites and proteins – to outside the brain, and welcomes in new fluid. The waste that has been removed then ends up in the lymphatic system (a part of your immune system), where it’s ultimately eliminated from your body.

The glymphatic system was only discovered in the last decade or so . It was first observed in mice, using dyes injected into their brains to study the movement of fluids there. The existence of the glymphatic system has since been confirmed in humans with the use of MRI scans and contrast dyes .

Based on the results of animal experiments , scientists concluded the glymphatic system is more active at night, during sleep or when under anaesthesia, than during the day. Other studies have shown this waste removal activity may also vary depending on different conditions – such as sleep position , the type of anaesthetic used, and whether or not the subject’s circadian rhythm was interrupted. Challenging old interpretations

The recent study used male mice to examine how the movement of brain fluid differed when animals were awake, asleep and anaesthetised. The researchers injected dyes into the animals’ brains to track the flow of fluid through the glymphatic system.

In particular, they examined whether an increase in dye indicated a decrease in fluid movement away from an area, rather than an increase in movement to the area as previous studies had suggested. The former would mean lower clearance via the glymphatic system – and hence less waste being removed. The researchers found less dye was being cleared from the brain during sleep. More dye was found in brain areas after three hours and five hours of being asleep or anaesthetised than when awake. This indicated that less dye, and therefore fluid, was being cleared from the brain when the mouse was asleep or anaesthetised.

Although the findings are interesting, there are a number of limitations with the study’s design. As such, this can’t be considered absolute confirmation that the brain doesn’t flush out as much waste during the night than in the day. Limitations to this study

First, the study was conducted using mice. The results from animal studies don’t always translate to humans, so it’s difficult to say whether the same will be true for us.

The study also only looked at male mice that were kept awake for a few hours before being allowed to sleep. This may have disturbed their natural sleep-wake rhythm, which could have partially influenced the results. Studies have shown that interrupted or bad sleep is linked with an increase in stress levels – which in turn lowers brain fluid flow from the glymphatic system.

In contrast, in the first (2013) study that showed more brain toxins were removed during sleep, the mice were observed during their natural sleep time.

Different methods were also used in this study compared with previous ones – including what types of dye were injected and where. Previous studies also used both male and female mice. These differences in study methods could have influenced the results.

The glymphatic system might also behave differently depending on the brain region – with each producing different types of waste when awake or asleep. This may also explain why this study’s results were different from previous ones.

Virtually no studies looking at the glymphatic system and the effects of sleep in mice have examined the contents of the fluid excreted from the brain. So, even if the amount of fluid flowing out of the brain was lower during sleep or anaesthesia, this fluid could still be removing important waste products in different amounts.

A handful of studies have found disturbances in both glymphatic system function and sleep in people with neurological conditions – including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s . A study in humans also indicates that more amyloid is found in the brain after even one night of sleep deprivation .

The glymphatic system is important when it comes to how the brain works – but it may very well function differently depending on many factors. We need more research that aims to replicate the latest study’s findings, while also examining the reasons behind its surprising conclusions.

Read more at theconversation.com

Contraceptive Pills Have a Curious Effect on The Fear-Promoting Area of The Brain

Contraceptive Pills Have a Curious Effect on The Fear-Promoting Area of The Brain

(danilo.alvesd/Unsplash) Scientists have found a possible link between using oral contraceptives and changes in parts of the brain that process fear. The findings may help explain fear-related mechanisms that disproportionately affect women .

Hormonal changes during a menstrual cycle are currently understood to affect the fear circuitry in the brain . So Canadian researchers looked into the effects of combined oral contraceptive (COC) use to learn more about the relationship between sex hormones our bodies make naturally and synthetic versions of those hormones.

Over 150 million people use oral contraceptives, with COCs (containing synthetic versions of estrogens and progestogens ) being highly popular. The study found that a brain region called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) was thinner in women who currently use COCs compared to men.

This effect appeared to be reversible. A comparison with those who stopped using contraceptives or those who had never used contraceptives indicated this physiological change didn’t seem to be lasting.

To be clear, these are just associations, and there are no known negative effects linked to the change in size of certain brain regions. But the authors think it could be worth exploring further.

“This part of the prefrontal cortex is thought to sustain emotion regulation, such as decreasing fear signals in the context of a safe situation,” explains Alexandra Brouillard, a physiologist at the University of Quebec in Montreal.

“Our result may represent a mechanism by which combined OCs could impair emotion regulation in women.”

Brouillard and colleagues studied healthy adults aged 23 to 35, including 139 women: 62 who were currently using COCs, 37 who had previously used only COCs, and 40 who had never used any hormonal contraceptives. The total sample also included 41 men.

Because women are more likely than men to have anxiety and stress disorders, researchers compared these groups to see if COC use was linked to short-term or long-term changes in the brain and if there are differences between sexes.

The scientists measured levels of natural and synthetic sex hormones in participants’ saliva and used magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI ) to scan their brains, specifically looking at regions involved in processing fear.

They found levels of both natural and synthetic sex hormones were linked to changes in the size and thickness of the vmPFC compared to the same anatomy in men. However, only women who were currently using oral contraceptives had a thinner vmPFC than that in men.

The researchers also found the structure in a fear-promoting brain region – the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) – varied between men and women. This was noticeable regardless of COC use, emphasizing one way naturally-produced sex hormones can influence brain structure.

“Given our results that men have smaller dACC volume than women and thicker vmPFC than COC users, these findings may represent structural vulnerabilities to psychopathologies that predominantly affect women,” the team writes .

“Specifically, a larger dACC could represent a female predisposition to fear promotion, whereas COC use could exacerbate this vulnerability by potentially inducing a thinning of a fear-inhibiting region such as the vmPFC.”

Notably, the researchers found that this effect seemed to go away when COC use stopped, though they emphasize that more research is needed to delve into the impacts. Just because a brain region changes in size doesn’t necessarily mean there are negative effects. We can’t draw firm conclusions about an individual’s emotions or behavior based on the findings about brain structure.

Ongoing exclusion of women from animal and human research contributes to the gap in our understanding of why women are more likely than men to have anxiety and stress-related disorders.

This underrepresentation of women is primarily due to a perception that changes in sex hormones would make results more variable. The bias towards studying men has led to some pretty grave consequences .

“When prescribed COCs, girls and women are informed of various physical side effects, for example that the hormones they will be taking will abolish their menstrual cycle and prevent ovulation,” Brouillard explains .

“The objective of our work is not to counter the use of COCs, but it is important to be aware that the pill can have an effect on the brain.”

The study has been published in Frontiers .

Read more at www.sciencealert.com

Naturally occurring substance in pomegranates can improve treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

A substance naturally occurring in i.a. pomegranates, strawberries and walnuts can improve memory and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, a new study conducted at the University of Copenhagen concludes.

Forgetfulness, difficulty finding words and confusion about time and place. These are some of the most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Now researchers at the University of Copenhagen have discovered that an ordinary fruit can help.

“Our study on mouse models with AD shows that urolithin A, which is a naturally occurring substance in i.a. pomegranates, can alleviate memory problems and other consequences of dementia,” says Vilhelm Bohr, who is Affiliate Professor at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Copenhagen and prevoiusly Department Chair at the US National Institute on Aging.

This is good news for patients with dementia — a disease that is difficult to treat.

“Even though the study was conducted on mouse models, the prospects are positive. So far, research has shown promising results for the substance in the muscles, and clinical trials on humans are being planned.”

Substance improves brain function

The researchers previously discovered that a specific molecule, nicotinamide riboside (NAD supplement) , plays a key role in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as it actively helps remove damaged mitochondria from the brain.

“Many patients with neurodegenerative diseases experience mitochondrial dysfunction, also known as mitophagy. This means that the brain has difficulties removing weak mitochondria, which thus accumulate and affect brain function. If you are able to stimulate the mitophagy process, removing weak mitochondria, you will see some very positive results,” Vilhelm Bohr explains.

The results of the new study show that a substance found in pomegranates, urolithin A, removes weak mitochondria from the brain just as effectively as NAD supplement.

Possible preventive effect

The researchers still don’t know how much urolithin A is needed to improve memory and alleviate symptoms of i.a. Alzheimer’s.

“We still cannot say anything conclusive about the dosage. But I imagine that it is more than a pomegranate a day. However, the substance is already available in pill form, and we are currently trying to find the right dosage,” Vilhelm Bohr says.

He also hopes the substance can be used for preventive purposes with no significant side effects.

“The advantage of working with a natural substance is the reduced risk of side effects. Several studies so far show that there are no serious side effects of NAD supplementation. Our knowledge of urolithin A is more limited, but as I mentioned, clinical trials with Urolithin A have been effective in muscular disease, and now we need to look at Alzheimers disease. ,” he says and adds:

“If we are going to eat something in the future to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, which we talk a lot about, we have to make sure there are no significant side effects.”

Read more at www.sciencedaily.com

Hitting the target with non-invasive deep brain stimulation: Potential therapy for addiction, depression and OCD

Hitting the target with non-invasive deep brain stimulation: Potential therapy for addiction, depression and OCD

by Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne A model image of the targeted deep brain zone, the striatum, a key player in reward and reinforcement mechanisms. Credit: EPFL Neurological disorders, such as addiction, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), affect millions of people worldwide and are often characterized by complex pathologies involving multiple brain regions and circuits. These conditions are notoriously difficult to treat due to the intricate and poorly understood nature of brain functions and the challenge of delivering therapies to deep brain structures without invasive procedures.

In the rapidly evolving field of neuroscience, non-invasive brain stimulation is a new hope for understanding and treating a myriad of neurological and psychiatric conditions without surgical intervention or implants. Researchers, led by Friedhelm Hummel, who holds the Defitchech Chair of Clinical Neuroengineering at EPFL’s School of Life Sciences, and postdoc Pierre Vassiliadis, are pioneering a new approach in the field, opening frontiers in treating conditions like addiction and depression.

Their research, leveraging transcranial Temporal Interference Electric Stimulation (tTIS), specifically targets deep brain regions that are the control centers of several important cognitive functions and involved in different neurological and psychiatric pathologies. The research, published in Nature Human Behaviour , highlights the interdisciplinary approach that integrates medicine, neuroscience, computation, and engineering to improve our understanding of the brain and develop potentially life-changing therapies.

“Invasive deep brain stimulation (DBS) has already successfully been applied to the deeply seated neural control centers in order to curb addiction and treat Parkinson’s, OCD or depression,” says Hummel. “The key difference with our approach is that it is non-invasive, meaning that we use low-level electrical stimulation on the scalp to target these regions.”

Vassiliadis, lead author of the paper, a medical doctor with a joint Ph.D., describes tTIS as using two pairs of electrodes attached to the scalp to apply weak electrical fields inside the brain.

“Up until now, we couldn’t specifically target these regions with non-invasive techniques, as the low-level electrical fields would stimulate all the regions between the skull and the deeper zones—rendering any treatments ineffective. This approach allows us to selectively stimulate deep brain regions that are important in neuropsychiatric disorders,” he explains.

The innovative technique is based on the concept of temporal interference, initially explored in rodent models, and now successfully translated to human applications by the EPFL team. In this experiment, one pair of electrodes is set to a frequency of 2,000 Hz, while another is set to 2,080 Hz. Thanks to detailed computational models of the brain structure, the electrodes are specifically positioned on the scalp to ensure that their signals intersect in the target region. A model image of the targeted deep brain zone, the striatum, a key player in reward and reinforcement mechanisms. Credit: EPFL It is at this juncture that the magic of interference occurs: the slight frequency disparity of 80 Hz between the two currents becomes the effective stimulation frequency within the target zone. The brilliance of this method lies in its selectivity; the high base frequencies (e.g., 2,000 Hz) do not stimulate neural activity directly, leaving the intervening brain tissue unaffected and focusing the effect solely on the targeted region.

The focus of this latest research is the human striatum, a key player in reward and reinforcement mechanisms. “We’re examining how reinforcement learning , essentially how we learn through rewards, can be influenced by targeting specific brain frequencies,” says Vassiliadis. By applying stimulation of the striatum at 80 Hz, the team found they could disrupt its normal functioning, directly affecting the learning process.

The therapeutic potential of their work is immense, particularly for conditions like addiction, apathy and depression, where reward mechanisms play a crucial role. “In addiction, for example, people tend to over-approach rewards. Our method could help reduce this pathological overemphasis,” Vassiliadis, who is also a researcher at UCLouvain’s Institute of Neuroscience, points out.

Furthermore, the team is exploring how different stimulation patterns can not only disrupt but also potentially enhance brain functions. “This first step was to prove the hypothesis of 80 Hz affecting the striatum, and we did it by disrupting it’s functioning. Our research also shows promise in improving motor behavior and increasing striatum activity, particularly in older adults with reduced learning abilities,” Vassiliadis adds.

Hummel, a trained neurologist, sees this technology as the beginning of a new chapter in brain stimulation, offering personalized treatment with less invasive methods. “We’re looking at a non-invasive approach that allows us to experiment and personalize treatment for deep brain stimulation in the early stages,” he says.

Another key advantage of tTIS is its minimal side effects. Most participants in their studies reported only mild sensations on the skin, making it a highly tolerable and patient-friendly approach.

Hummel and Vassiliadis are optimistic about the impact of their research. They envision a future where non-invasive neuromodulation therapies could be readily available in hospitals, offering a cost-effective and expansive treatment scope.

More information: Non-invasive stimulation of the human striatum disrupts reinforcement learning of motor skills., Nature Human Behaviour (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41562-024-01901-z

Provided by Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

Read more at medicalxpress.com

Turning Back Time: Study Links Key Nutrients to Slower Brain Aging

Turning Back Time: Study Links Key Nutrients to Slower Brain Aging

A novel study highlights the critical role of specific nutrients found in the Mediterranean diet in promoting brain health and slowing cognitive decline, providing a foundation for future nutritional interventions. Participants whose brains aged more slowly had a nutrient profile that was similar to that of the Mediterranean diet.

Scientists have been extensively researching the brain to promote healthier aging. Although there is considerable knowledge about risk factors that speed up brain aging, there is less understanding of how to prevent cognitive decline.

There is evidence that nutrition matters, and a novel study published on May 21 in the journal Nature Aging , from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign further signals how specific nutrients may play a pivotal role in the healthy aging of the brain.

The team of scientists, led by Aron Barbey, director of the Center for Brain, Biology, and Behavior, with Jisheng Wu, a doctoral student at Nebraska, and Christopher Zwilling, research scientist at UIUC, performed the multimodal study — combining state-of-the-art innovations in neuroscience and nutritional science — and identified a specific nutrient profile in participants who performed better cognitively. Study Design and Findings

The cross-sectional study enrolled 100 cognitively healthy participants, aged 65-75. These participants completed a questionnaire with demographic information, body measurements, and physical activity. Blood plasma was collected following a fasting period to analyze the nutrient biomarkers. Participants also underwent cognitive assessments and MRI scans. The efforts revealed two types of brain aging among the participants — accelerated and slower-than-expected. Those with slower brain aging had a distinct nutrient profile. Principal investigator Aron Barbey, psychology professor and director of the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with doctoral student Jisheng Wu. Credit: Craig Chandler/University Communication and Marketing/University of Nebraska–Lincoln

The beneficial nutrient blood biomarkers were a combination of fatty acids (vaccenic, gondoic, alpha-linolenic, eicosapentaenoic, eicosadienoic, and lignoceric acids); antioxidants and carotenoids including cis-lutein, trans-lutein, and zeaxanthin; two forms of vitamin E and choline. This profile is correlated with nutrients found in the Mediterranean diet, which research has previously associated with healthy brain aging.

“We investigated specific nutrient biomarkers, such as fatty acid profiles, known in nutritional science to potentially offer health benefits. This aligns with the extensive body of research in the field demonstrating the positive health effects of the Mediterranean Diet, which emphasizes foods rich in these beneficial nutrients,” Barbey, Mildred Francis Thompson Professor of Psychology, said. “The present study identifies particular nutrient biomarker patterns that are promising and have favorable associations with measures of cognitive performance and brain health.” Christopher Zwilling is a research scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Barbey noted that previous research on nutrition and brain aging has mostly relied on food frequency questionnaires, which are dependent on participants’ own recall. This study is one of the first and the largest to combine brain imaging, blood biomarkers, and validated cognitive assessments.

“The unique aspect of our study lies in its comprehensive approach, integrating data on nutrition, cognitive function, and brain imaging,” Barbey said. “This allows us to build a more robust understanding of the relationship between these factors. We move beyond simply measuring cognitive performance with traditional neuropsychological tests. Instead, we simultaneously examine brain structure, function, and metabolism, demonstrating a direct link between these brain properties and cognitive abilities. Furthermore, we show that these brain properties are directly linked to diet and nutrition, as revealed by the patterns observed in nutrient biomarkers.” Future Research and Implications

The researchers will continue to explore this nutrient profile as it relates to healthy brain aging. Barbey said it’s possible, in the future, that the findings will aid in developing therapies and interventions to promote brain health.

“An important next step involves conducting randomized controlled trials. In these trials, we will isolate specific nutrients with favorable associations with cognitive function and brain health, and administer them in the form of nutraceuticals,” Barbey said. “This will allow us to definitively assess whether increasing the levels of these specific nutrient profiles reliably leads to improvements in cognitive test performance and measures of brain structure, function, and metabolism.”

Barbey is also co-editing an upcoming special collection for the Journal of Nutrition, “Nutrition and the Brain — Exploring Pathways to Optimal Brain Health Through Nutrition,” which is currently inviting submissions for consideration, and articles will begin publishing next year.

“There’s immense scientific and medical interest in understanding the profound impact of nutrition on brain health,” Barbey said. “Recognizing this, the National Institutes of Health recently launched a ten-year strategic plan to significantly accelerate nutrition research. Our work directly aligns with this critical initiative, aiming to contribute valuable insights into how dietary patterns influence brain health and cognitive function.”

Reference: “Investigating nutrient biomarkers of healthy brain aging: a multimodal brain imaging study” by Christopher E. Zwilling, Jisheng Wu and Aron K. Barbey, 21 May 2024, npj Aging .
DOI: 10.1038/s41514-024-00150-8

The study was funded by Abbott Nutrition.

Read more at scitechdaily.com

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