BrainHQ Computerized Training Program Improved Cognitive Parameters after Mild TBI

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr.. Mahncke

Dr. Mahncke

Dr. Henry W. Mahncke PhD
Research neuroscientist
CEO of Posit Science Corporation 

MedicalResearch.com: What makes this study newsworthy? 

Response: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) is a complex condition to treat. Patients can report many symptoms (e.g., cognitive deficits, depression, anxiety, stress, fatigue, pain, sleep difficulties, disorientation, emotional issues). Prior to this study, conducted at five military and veterans’ medical centers, there has been no highly-scalable intervention to treat the cognitive deficits associated with mTBI. This study showed that a plasticity-based, computerized, brain-training app can drive statistically and clinically significant gains in overall cognitive performance. Given the number of service members and vets with persistent cognitive deficits from TBIs, that’s a big deal. Continue reading

Combat-Related Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: Magnetoencephalography Can Detect Abnormal Gamma Band

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Mingxiong Huang, PhDProfessor, Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of California, San Diego

Dr. Huang

Dr. Mingxiong Huang, PhD
Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of California, San Diego

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  

Response: Combat-related mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is a leading cause of sustained impairments in military service members and Veterans. Yet, conventional neuroimaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) are typically insensitive to physiological alterations caused by mild and some moderate TBIs.

With funding from the VA, we have pursued in developing sensitive imaging markers based on magnetoencephalography (MEG) for mTBI. This paper reflects the news MEG findings in this research field.  Continue reading

Computerized Brain Training BrainHQ Can Reduce Neglect Symptoms of Stroke and Brain Injury

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Thomas M Van Vleet PhDPosit Science 

Dr. Van Vleet

Thomas M Van Vleet PhD
Posit Science 

Dr. Tom Van Vleet,  presented results on a common symptom of stroke and acquired brain injury (hemi-spatial neglect) at the American Academy of Neurology May 2019

MedicalResearch.com: What makes this study newsworthy?

Response For the first time ever a highly-scalable intervention — computerized brain training (BrainHQ made by Posit Science) —was found to improve symptoms of hemi-spatial neglect, which is a common and often intractable and debilitating problem after stroke or other acquired brain injury.

MedicalResearch.com: What can you tell us about the medical condition (hemi-spatial neglect) investigated in this study?

Response About a third of patients with a brain injury exhibit a complex and debilitating array of neurological deficits known as the “neglect syndrome” (sometimes called, “hemi-spatial neglect” or “neglect”).

The most apparent symptom of neglect is the inability of patients to efficiently process information on the side of space opposite the injury; often completely missing relevant events without awareness. As a result, patients often fail to adopt compensatory strategies or respond to other conventional rehabilitation protocols.

The cost is significant, as patients with neglect experience longer hospital stays and have higher requirements for assistance, including greater skilled nursing home placements relative to patients with similar extent of brain injury without neglect.

To date, there’s been no broadly-applicable and highly-scalable intervention for addressing neglect. An alarming reality given the increasing cost of stroke, which is currently estimated to exceed $34 billion per annum

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Amyloid and Tau Biomarkers Help Distinguish Alzheimer’s from Other Forms of Mild Cognitive Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Lauren McCollum, MDCognitive and Behavioral Neurology FellowPenn Memory Center / Cognitive Neurology DivisionLauren McCollum, MD

Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology Fellow
Penn Memory Center / Cognitive Neurology Division

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  

Response: Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is a heterogenous condition, with considerable variability in cognitive symptoms and progression rates.

One major reason for this heterogeneity is “mixed pathology,” – i.e., both AD- and non-AD pathology. Examples of non-AD pathology include cerebrovascular disease (CVD), Lewy Bodies, and TDP-43. Pathologically, Alzheimer’s Disease is defined by characteristic amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, which can be assessed for in living patients with CSF- or PET-based biomarkers for amyloid and tau, respectively. Classically, amyloid deposition begins years or even decades before pathologic tau accumulation, which is in turn associated with brain atrophy and cognitive decline.

The recently developed NIA-AA “ATN” research framework allows for the classification of individuals with regard to 3 binary biomarkers: Amyloid (A), Tau (T), and Neurodegeneration (N). An individual’s ATN biomarker status indicates where along the “Alzheimer’s Disease continuum” they lie. Additionally, some ATN statuses are on the “typical AD” continuum, while others are not. Research has shown that 15-30% of cognitively normal older adults have elevated amyloid. It stands to reason that some portion of cognitively impaired individuals with elevated amyloid and neurodegeneration have something other than AD driving their neuronal injury. Within the context of the ATN research framework, this subset of people is the A+T-N+ group (i.e., people who have elevated amyloid and neurodegeneration, but are tau-negative), as amyloid alone (that is, amyloid without tau) is not thought to cause significant cognitive impairment or brain atrophy. Our hypothesis was that, compared to A+T+N+ (a set of typical-AD biomarkers), A+T-N+ have cognitive and neuroimaging profiles that deviate from a typical Alzheimer’s Disease pattern – i.e., with less memory loss and less atrophy in AD-signature regions – and may have biomarkers suggestive of alternate non-AD pathologies [e.g., white matter hyperintensities (WMHs), a marker of CVD].

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Some with Elevated Alzheimer’s Biomarkers Interested in Aid-in-Dying Information

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Emily Largent, PhD, JD, RNAssistant Professor, Medical Ethics and Health PolicyPerelman School of MedicineLeonard Davis Institute of Health EconomicsUniversity of Pennsylvania

Dr. Largent

Emily Largent, PhD, JD, RN
Assistant ProfessorMedical Ethics and Health Policy
Perelman School of Medicine
Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics
University of Pennsylvania 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response:  Public support for aid in dying in the United States is rapidly growing.  As a result, we’re now seeing debates about whether to expand access to aid-in-dying to new populations – such as people with Alzheimer’s disease – who wouldn’t be eligible under current laws.

With those debates in mind, we asked currently healthy people who recently learned about their risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease dementia (i.e., due to the presence of amyloid, an Alzheimer’s disease biomarker) whether they would be interested in aid-in-dying.

Our findings suggest that about 20% of individuals with elevated amyloid may be interested in aid-in-dying if they become cognitively impaired.  

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Kids with Head Injuries More Likely to Be Involved with Criminal Justice System

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Joseph A Schwartz PhD Public Affairs and Community Service, Criminology and Criminal Justice University of Nebraska Omaha, 6001 Dodge Street, Omaha, NE

Dr. Schwartz

Dr. Joseph A Schwartz PhD
Public Affairs and
Community Service, Criminology and Criminal Justice
University of Nebraska Omaha, Omaha, NE 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: My larger research agenda is focused on identifying the ways in which environmental and biological influences work collectively to shape behavioral patterns across major stages of the life course. I am particularly interested in identifying environmental influences that can change biological functioning or activity to result in behavioral change.

Brain injury was a natural progression of these interests since brain injury is expected to result in changes in the structure and functioning of the brain, which has been linked to meaningful changes in behavior. There have also been a sizable number of studies that indicate that justice involved populations experience brain injury at a rate that is between five and eight times what is observed in the general population. I was fascinated by this finding and thought that brain injury may be a good candidate influence to investigate further. Continue reading

Is It Always Your Fault? Taking Too Much Responsibility Can Lead to OCD

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Yoshinori SUGIURA Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Hiroshima University
Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences
Behavioural Sciences Section
Higashi-Hiroshima, Japan 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Lengthy worrying or repeated checking if the door is locked are common manifestations of anxiety in the general population. However, if their frequency, intensity, and interference become too much, they are diagnosed as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) respectively.

People with OCD are tortured by repeatedly occurring negative thinking and they take some strategy to prevent i. GAD is a very pervasive type of anxiety. GAD patients worry about everything.

Despite their burden, both are relatively difficult to treat. Furthermore complicated, as they are two different disorders, mental health professionals have to master separate strategies. To overcome such situation, transdiagnostic research, which seeks common causes for different disorders, is now eagerly pursued by psychologists/psychiatrists. As one of such endeavors, we predicted that inflated responsibility is the common predictor of both OCD and GAD symptoms.

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Brief Sexual Contact Between Parents Linked to Greater Risk of Schizophrenia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dolores Malaspina MD, MS, MSPHPROFESSOR | Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Genetics and Genomic SciencesIcahn School of Medicine at Mt SinaiDepartment of PsychiatryNew York, NY 10128, USA

Dr. Malaspina

Dolores Malaspina MD, MS, MSPH
Professor or Psychiatry, Neuroscience,
Genetics and Genomic Sciences
Icahn School of Medicine at Mt Sinai
Department of Psychiatry
New York, NY 10128, USA 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Schizophrenia is a severe disorder that presents in late adolescence or early adulthood with declining function, social withdrawal and psychotic symptoms such as auditory hallucinations and fixed false beliefs. It is a common condition, affecting 1% of the population, which can be not yet be prevented or cured. Its causes are still puzzling.

Evidence from many different research approaches now suggests that an overactive immune system plays some role in causing schizophrenia, but the origins of the immune dysfunction are not known.

We considered that too brief a period of sexual contact between parents could cause immune activation in offspring and thus be a risk factor for schizophrenia.

With repeated sexual contact the maternal immune system develops tolerance to genetic material from the father. Otherwise, inflammatory processes may restrict the placental blood supply between the fetus and mother.

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Early Childhood Infections Associated With Eating Disorders In Adolescence

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lauren Breithaupt, PhDDepartment of PsychologyGeorge Mason UniversityFairfax, Virginia

Dr. Breithaupt

Lauren Breithaupt, PhD
Department of Psychology
George Mason University
Fairfax, Virginia 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Our study provides novel insight into the relationship between the immune system and eating disorders characterized by chronic restriction (e.g., anorexia nervosa) and binge eating and/or purging (e.g., binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa). These findings also add to the growing body of literature linking the immune systems broadly and mental disorders.

We found that infections in early childhood were associated with an increased risk of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other eating disorders such as binge eating disorder in adolescence. These relationships appear to be both time and dose-dependent, meaning that the onset of eating disorder diagnosis is greatest in the first three months following the infection, and the more infections, the greater the risk.    Continue reading

Afraid of Spiders? Maybe Spiderman Can Help

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"xIMG_6547" by platycryptus is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0
Yaakov Hoffman, PhD.
Senior Lecturer and Clinical Psychologist
Interdisciplinary Department of Social Sciences
Max & Anna Webb St. Ramat-Gan, Israel, 5290002

 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  

Foundation: This study was conceptualized during a conversation we had, namely, Dr. Yaakov Hoffman, Interdisciplinary department of social sciences, Bar Ilan University, and Professor Menachem Ben-Ezra School of Social Work, Ariel University, following the release of the Antman movie. We are both psychologists who are also avid Marvel  superhero fans. In this meaningful conversation we discussed the issue of fear of insects which led to the idea that positive exposure to phobic stimuli (exposure to spider or ants) within the context of Marvel superheroes will lead to robust reduction in phobic symptoms. As most of the conventional treatments for specific phobias use exposure to the phobic stimuli in neutral contexts, we thought that framing the exposure in a positive fun, albeit fantasy context would yield robust results, as well as perhaps reducing stigma.

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NYU Researchers Develop Siri-Like Application to Identify PTSD by Speech Analysis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Charles R. Marmar, MDThe Lucius N. Littauer Professor Chair of the Department of PsychiatryNYU Langone School of Medicine

Dr. Marmar

Charles R. Marmar, MD
The Lucius N. Littauer Professor
Chair of the Department of Psychiatry
NYU Langone School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Several studies in recent years have attempted to identify biological markers that distinguish individuals with PTSD, with candidate markers including changes in brain cell networks, genetics, neurochemistry, immune functioning, and psychophysiology. Despite such advances, the use of biomarkers for diagnosing PTSD remained elusive going into the current study, and no physical marker was applied in the clinic.

Our study is the first to compare speech in an age and gender matched sample of a military population with and without PTSD, in which PTSD was assessed by a clinician, and in which all patients did not have a major depressive disorder. Because measuring voice qualities in non-invasive, inexpensive and might be done over the phone, many labs have sought to design speech-based diagnostic tools 

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DNA Copy Number Variants Linked to Increased Risk of Depression

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr Kimberley Kendall MBBChWellcome Trust Clinical Research Fellow

Dr. Kendall

Dr Kimberley Kendall MBBCh
Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Fellow

Professor James WaltersMRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and GenomicsProfessor, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences

Prof. Walters

Professor James Walters
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics
Professor, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences

Cardiff University
 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Copy number variants (CNVs) are the deletion or duplication of large sections of DNA. Large, rare CNVs have been shown to increase the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), intellectual disability (ID), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and schizophrenia. However, the impact of these CNVs on risk of depression was unclear from the existing literature. Continue reading

Stem Cell Therapy Improved Motor Deficit in Traumatic Brain Injury Trial

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. David Okonkwo, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Neurological surgery Director of the Neurotrauma Clinical Trials CenterUniversity of Pittsburgh

Dr. Okonkwo

Dr. David Okonkwo, M.D., Ph.D.,
Professor of Neurological surgery
Director of the Neurotrauma Clinical Trials Center
University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Okonkwo discusses the results from the STEMTRA Phase 2 trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of SB623 in patients with chronic motor deficit from traumatic brain injury.

The results were presented at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), April 2019

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the US and around the globe. The effects of TBI are often long-lasting, with more than one-third of severe TBI patients displaying a neuromotor abnormality on physical examination 2 years following injury and, yet, there are no effective treatments. The public health implications are staggering: there are approximately 1.4 million new cases of TBI in the US annually, resulting in over 50,000 deaths and 80,000 disabilities; over 5 million Americans currently suffer from long-term disability caused by TBI. A successful neuroregenerative or neurorestorative therapy, such as stem cell implantation, would have significant impact.

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Short Rest Periods Are Performance Enhancers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

In a study of healthy volunteers, NIH researchers found that taking short breaks, early and often, may help our brains learn new skills. Courtesy of Cohen lab, NIH/NINDS

In a study of healthy volunteers, NIH researchers found that taking short breaks, early and often, may help our brains learn new skills.
Courtesy of Cohen lab, NIH/NINDS

Leonardo G. Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Investigator

Marlene Bönstrup, M.D.,
Postdoctoral fellow in  Dr. Cohen’s lab
NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Learning a new skill is typically divided into online (during practice) and offline (after practice has ended) components. Particularly motor skill learning occurs to a considerable degree offline, meaning that performance further improves even after practice has ended. A single practice session itself however, is typically divided into short (level of seconds) periods of practice and rest. In this study, we set out to investigate the contribution of those short periods of practice and rest to the learning during a practice session (i.e. online learning). We found that during early motor skill learning, when most of the total learning occurs, performance improvements actually precipitate during short periods of rest whereas during practice periods, performance mostly stagnated. We found a signature of neural activity predictive of those performance improvements during rest: The lower the beta rhythmic activity in the parietofrontal regions of the brain during those short periods of rest, the higher were participant’s performance jumps.  Continue reading

Unhealthy, Binge Behaviors in College Students Disrupts Brain Chemistry

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lina Begdache, PhD, RDN, CDN, CNS-S, FANDAssistant ProfessorHealth and Wellness Studies Department GW 15Decker School of NursingBinghamton University

Dr. Begdache

Lina Begdache, PhD, RDN, CDN, CNS-S, FAND
Assistant Professor
Health and Wellness Studies Department GW 15
Decker School of Nursing
Binghamton University 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: College students engage in activities such as binge drinking, abuse of ADHD medications as “study drugs” or use of illicit drugs during a critical brain developmental window that supports maturation of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) necessary for emotional control, cognitive functions and regulation of impulsive behaviors. These activities not only affect brain function, thus mental health and cognitive functions, but may dampen brain development with potential long-lasting effects.

As for findings, we were able to identify neurobehavioral patterns that associate with mental wellbeing and mental distress in young adults. Based on evidence from the literature, we constructed conceptual models that describe how one behavior may lead to another until virtuous or vicious cycles set-in.  Continue reading

Despair Rising in Young Middle Aged Adults, Regardless of Ethnicity or Education

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Lauren Gaydosh, PhDAssistant ProfessorCenter for Medicine, Health, and SocietyPublic Policy StudiesVanderbilt University 

Dr. Gaydosh

Lauren Gaydosh, PhD
Assistant Professor
Center for Medicine, Health, and Society
Public Policy Studies
Vanderbilt University 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  

Response: Several years ago, life expectancy at birth in the United States declined, and this decline has continued every year since. Part of the cause underlying this decline is that midlife mortality – deaths among those 45-54 – has been rising. This increase in midlife mortality has been attributed by some to the “deaths of despair” – a cluster of causes of death including suicide, drug overdose, and alcohol-related disease – and has been most pronounced among middle-aged white adults with a HS degree or less.

In our research, we wanted to better understand the indicators of despair that would be predictive of these causes of death. Things like depression, substance use, and suicidal ideation. And study them in individuals before the period of elevated risk of death – in other words, before they reached middle age. Our goal was to evaluate whether these markers of despair were rising for a younger cohort, and whether this pattern was isolated to white adults with low education.

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Brain Training Can Strengthen Cognitive Function in Patients With Mild Impairment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman PhDFounder and Chief Director, Center for BrainHealth,Co-Leader, The BrainHealth ProjectUniversity of Texas, Dallas

Dr. Chapman

Dr. Sandra Bond Chapman PhD
Founder and Chief Director, Center for BrainHealth,
Co-Leader, The BrainHealth Project
University of Texas, Dallas

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Finding effective treatments to reverse or slow rates of cognitive decline for those at risk for developing dementia is one of the most important and urgent challenges of the 21st century.

Brain stimulation is gaining attention as a viable intervention to increase neuroplasticity when used in isolation or when combined with cognitive training regimens. Given the growing evidence that certain cognitive training protocols, such as SMART, benefit people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), a population that is vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease, we were interested in exploring whether we could further increase the gains from cognitive training (i.e., SMART) when the training was preceded by brain stimulation using tDCS.  Continue reading

Brain Aging Impacted by Modifiable Risk Factors

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Carla R. Schubert, MS

Researcher,  EpiSense Research Program
Dept. of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences
School of Medicine and Public Health
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI  53726-2336 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Mildlife is an important time-period for health later in life and also when declines in sensory and cognitive functions may begin to occur. Hearing, vision and smell impairments have been associated with cognitive impairments in older adults and with worse cognitive function in middle-aged adults.  These associations may be reflecting the close integration of sensory and cognitive systems as both require good brain function.

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Lead in Topsoil Linked to Cognitive Difficulties in 5 Year Old Boys

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Edson R. Severnini PhDAssistant Professor Of Economics And Public PolicyCarnegie Mellon University

Dr. Severnini

Edson R. Severnini PhD
Assistant Professor Of Economics And Public Policy
Carnegie Mellon University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Although lead has been banned from gasoline, paint, and other substances in the United States and many other countries around the world, the legacy of lead use is a critical environmental and public health issue. Surface soil contamination, in particular, has been long recognized as an important pathway of human lead exposure, and is now a worldwide health concern.

This study estimates the causal effects of exposure to lead in topsoil on cognitive ability among 5-year-old children. We draw on individual level data from the 2000 U.S. Census, and USGS data on lead in topsoil covering a broad set of counties across the United States.

We find that higher lead in topsoil increases considerably the probability of 5-year-old boys experiencing cognitive difficulties such as learning, remembering, concentrating, or making decisions. Living in counties with topsoil lead concentration above the national median roughly doubles the probability of 5-year-old boys having cognitive difficulties. This harmful effect does not seem to extend to 5-year-old girls, potentially due to the natural protection of estrogen.  Continue reading

Verubecestat Failed to Slow Progression of Early Alzheimer’s Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Michael F. Egan, MDVice President,  NeuroscienceGlobal Clinical DevelopmentMerck Research LaboratoriesNorth Wales, PAMichael F. Egan, MD
Vice President,  Neuroscience
Global Clinical Development
Merck Research Laboratories
North Wales, PA 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  

Response: Alzheimer’s disease (AD) appears to be due to the gradual accumulation of amyloid over many years (the “amyloid hypothesis”). At some point, it is thought that amyloid triggers abnormalities in tau, which then forms deposits within neurons and leads to progressive neurodegeneration.

Amyloid is made up of  a small, sticky peptide, Abeta, which is produced when the enzyme BACE cleaves a large protein called APP.  In our trial, we tested whether a potent BACE inhibitor, verubecestat, could slow disease progression in subjects with early AD (or prodromal AD) by blocking formation of Abeta.  A previous trial in subjects with dementia due to AD failed to find evidence of efficacy.

One possible reason for this failure is that subjects had too much amyloid in their brain already.

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Parkinson’s Disease: Mindfulness Yoga and Stretching To Reduce Anxiety and Depression

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Jojo Kwok  R.N., BN(Hons), MPH, Ph.D.
School of Nursing, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
The University of Hong Kong

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Before the study, we knew that mind-body exercises such as yoga and stretching improves the physical health of patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD), however the benefits to their mental health was not known. This study concludes that mindfulness yoga alleviates psychological distress, improves spiritual well-being and quality of life, not to mention motor symptoms and mobility. When it comes to managing the stress and symptoms of Parkinson Disease, what is exciting, is that yoga has now been proven to be a better strategy than just stretching.

Yoga draws together body, mind and spirit through mindful practice of

1) yoga posture,
2) breathing and
3) meditation.

These form the three core components of our Mindfulness Yoga Program. Mindfulness is non-judgemental awareness of the present moment – of one’s physical sensations and thoughts, be they positive or negative.

By adopting a mind-body approach, patients are much better positioned to reframe their illness journey than through physical training alone. By learning to relate non-judgmentally to their physical symptoms and emotions, they develop new coping skills that cultivate openness, acceptance and resilience to these symptoms. They feel better.  Continue reading

Same Autistic Trait Can Be Helpful or Hindering, Depending on Context

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Ginny Russell, PhDCollege of Medicine and Health, University of Exeter Medical SchoolUniversity of Exeter, College HouseExeter United Kingdom

Dr. Russell

Ginny Russell, PhD
College of Medicine and Health, University of Exeter Medical School
University of Exeter
Exeter United Kingdom 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The study was done to find out what autistic adults could tell us about their own abilities. They told us about their abilities and how these abilities had helped them in their everyday lives: at work, in their relationships with other people, and at home.

Hyper focus, attention to detail, and the ability to remember were the abilities that autistic people said benefitted them most often. But autistic adults who were interviewed said although their autistic traits were sometimes helpful, at other times they hindered their progress. So the same trait might be useful in some circumstances and unhelpful in other situations. For example, hypersensitivity led one person to enjoy nature, but was difficult to cope with in crowded streets. The study highlights this interchangeability.

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Is There a Link Between Benzodiazepines During Pregnancy and Childhood ADHD?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Angela Lupattelli, PhDSchool of PharmacyUniversity of Oslo

Dr. Lupattelli

Dr. Angela Lupattelli, PhD
School of Pharmacy
University of Oslo

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Between 1-4% of pregnant women take at least once a benzodiazepine and/or a z-hypnotic medication during the course of gestation. These medications are generally used intermittently in pregnancy, mainly for treatment of anxiety disorders and sleeping problems, which are not uncommon conditions among pregnant women.

However, data regarding the safety of benzodiazepine and/or a z-hypnotic in pregnancy on child longer-term development are sparse. For instance, studies on child motor skills are only available up to toddler age, and little is known in relation to other child developmental domains. So, there is an urgent need to better understand whether prenatal use of benzodiazepine and/or a z-hypnotic medication may pose detrimental longer-term child risks. Continue reading

Medicaid Work Requirements Disproportionately Affect Those with Mental Health or Substance Use Disorders

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hefei Wen, PhDAssistant Professor, Department of Health Management & PolicyUniversity of Kentucky College of Public Health

Dr. Wen

Hefei Wen, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Health Management & Policy
University of Kentucky College of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Work requirements condition Medicaid eligibility on completing a specified number of hours of employment, work search, job training, or community service. Little is known about how behavioral health and other chronic health conditions intersect with employment status among Medicaid enrollees who may be subject to work requirements.

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Insulin Resistance Characterizes a Subset of Schizophrenia Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof Sabine Bahn MD PhD MRCPsych FRSBCambridge Centre for Neuropsychiatric Research

Prof. Bahn


Prof Sabine Bahn MD PhD MRCPsych FRSB

Cambridge Centre for Neuropsychiatric Research

Jakub Tomasik, PhDDepartment of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Dr. Tomasik

Jakub Tomasik, PhD
Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology
University of Cambridge

 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Schizophrenia patients are at increased risk of impaired glucose metabolism, yet the comorbidity between the two conditions cannot be fully explained by known risk factors such as obesity, smoking, stress or antipsychotic medication. Previous family and genome-wide studies have suggested that the co-occurrence between schizophrenia and impaired glucose metabolism might be due to shared genetic factors, as exemplified by increased risk of diabetes in first-degree relatives of schizophrenia patients, but the biological mechanisms underlying this association remain unknown.

We examined the association between insulin resistance, schizophrenia polygenic risk and response to treatment in 58 drug-naive schizophrenia patients and 58 matched healthy individuals while controlling for a range of demographic (age, gender, body mass index), lifestyle (smoking, alcohol and cannabis use) and clinical (psychopathology scores, treatment drug) factors.

We found that insulin resistance, a key feature contributing to the development of type 2 diabetes, significantly correlated with schizophrenia polygenic risk score in patients, with higher genetic risk of schizophrenia associated with increased insulin resistance. Furthermore, we found that patients with higher insulin resistance were more likely to switch medication during the first year of treatment, which implies lower clinical response.  Continue reading

Criminal and Socially Inappropriate Behaviors Could Be Signs of Dementia

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Madeleine Liljegren

Dr. Madeleine Liljegren
Photo: Ingemar Walldén

Madeleine Liljegren, MD
Division of Oncology and Pathology
Department of Clinical Sciences
Lund University Lund, Sweden

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: We know from former studies including patients with a clinical diagnosis of dementia, that criminal and socially inappropriate behaviors can be signs of dementia, sometimes even the first signs of a neurodegenerative disorder.

We wanted to study this relatively large (n=220) cohort of neuropathologically verified Alzheimer disease (AD) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) patients, who had been followed clinically by specialists in cognitive medicine or geriatric psychiatry during their disease period, to see if we could confirm results from previous studies.

In this paper, we further wanted to study potential differences regarding protein pathology and criminal behavior in frontotemporal dementia patients. This has, to our knowledge, never been done before.

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Urban Youth Exposed to Air Pollution Have Greater Risk of Psychotic Experiences

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“air pollution, beijing” by 大杨 is licensed under CC BY 2.0Joanne B. Newbury, PhD
ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow
King’s College London
Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre
Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience
London, United Kingdom

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Urban living is one of the most well-established risk factors for adult psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. However, less is known about the role of the urban environment in subclinical psychotic experiences in childhood and adolescence, such as hearing voices and extreme paranoia. These early psychotic experiences are a developmental risk factor for adult psychotic disorders and a range of other serious mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

It is therefore important that we understand what factors might contribute to the development of early psychotic experiences so that we might be able to intervene and prevent their onset and progression.

In a cohort of over 2000 UK-born children (The Environmental Risk Longitudinal Twin Study), we have previously shown that subclinical psychotic experiences are also around twice as common among children and teenagers raised in urban versus rural settings. We have also shown that this appears to be partly explained by social features in urban neighbourhoods such as higher crime levels and lower levels of social cohesion.

However, no studies have examined the potential link between air pollution and psychotic experiences. This is despite air pollution being a major health problem worldwide (particularly in cities), and despite emerging evidence linking air pollution to the brain.  Continue reading

Marijuana Use During Pregnancy May Increase Risk of Psychosis in Offspring

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jeremy FineB.A. in Philosophy, Neuroscience, and PsychologyWashington University in St. Louis, Class of 2019

Jeremy Fine

Jeremy Fine
B.A. in Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Psychology
Washington University in St. Louis, Class of 201

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Alongside increasingly permissive marijuana use attitudes and laws, the prevalence of marijuana use among pregnant mothers has increased substantially (by 75% between 2002 and 2016), with some evidence that pregnant women may be using cannabis to combat pregnancy-related nausea.

Our data came from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study, which included over 4,000 subjects with data on maternal marijuana use during pregnancy.

Our main finding was that the children of mothers who used marijuana after learning they were pregnant had a small but significant increase in risk for psychosis in their future.

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Anti-Vaccine Groups Are Not Just Worried About Autism

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Beth Hoffman, B.Sc., graduate studentUniversity of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public HealthResearch Assistant,University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health

Beth Hoffman

Beth Hoffman, B.Sc., graduate student
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
Research Assistant,
University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Vaccine refusal is a public health crisis – low vaccination rates are leading to outbreaks of deadly vaccine-preventable diseases. In 2017, Kids Plus Pediatrics, a Pittsburgh-based pediatric practice, posted a video on its Facebook pagef eaturing its practitioners encouraging HPV vaccination to prevent cancer. Nearly a month after the video posted, it caught the attention of multiple anti-vaccination groups and, in an eight-day period, garnered thousands of anti-vaccination comments.

Our team analyzed the profiles of a randomly selected sample of 197 commenters in the hopes that this crisis may be stemmed if we can better understand and communicate with vaccine-hesitant parents.

We determined that, although Kids Plus Pediatrics is an independent practice caring for patients in the Pittsburgh region, the commenters in the sample were spread across 36 states and eight countries.

By delving into the messages that each commenter had publicly posted in the previous two years, we also found that they clustered into four distinct subgroups:

  • “trust,” which emphasized suspicion of the scientific community and concerns about personal liberty;
  • “alternatives,” which focused on chemicals in vaccines and the use of homeopathic remedies instead of vaccination;
  • “safety,” which focused on perceived risks and concerns about vaccination being immoral; and
  • “conspiracy,” which suggested that the government and other entities hide information that this subgroup believes to be facts, including that the polio virus does not exist. 

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Adult Atopic Dermatitis Linked to Anxiety and Depression, Often Undiagnosed

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Jonathan L. Silverberg MD PhD MPH Assistant Professor in Dermatology Medical Social Sciences and Preventive Medicine Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois

Dr. Jonathan Silverberg

Dr. Jonathan L. Silverberg MD PhD MPH
Assistant Professor in Dermatology
Medical Social Sciences and Preventive Medicine
northwesternu, Chicago, Illinois

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Atopic Dermatitis is characterized by chronic and often severe and debilitating itch, skin pain, sleep disturbances, skin lesions and multiple comorbid health conditions. The signs, symptoms and comorbidities of atopic dermatitis can lead to significant psychosocial distress and mental health burden

We performed a cross-sectional, population-based study of 2893 US adults. We found that adults with atopic dermatitis had more severe symptoms scores for anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression anxiety). Adults with atopic dermatitis also had higher prevalences of anxiety and depression. Mean symptom scores and prevalences of anxiety and depression were even higher in adults with moderate and severe atopic dermatitis compared to those with mild atopic dermatitis. All respondents with severe PO-SCORAD, POEM and PO-SCORAD-itch scores had elevated anxiety and depression scores.

Many adults with atopic dermatitis that had elevated anxiety and depression scores reported no diagnosis of anxiety or depression. 

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