Oxytocin Reduces Activation of Brain Areas Linked to Stimulation by High Calorie Food Images

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Liya Kerem, MDFellow, Pediatric Endocrine UnitMassachusetts General Hospital for ChildrenHarvard Medical School

Dr. Kerem

Liya Kerem, MD
Fellow, Pediatric Endocrine Unit
Massachusetts General Hospital for Children
Harvard Medical School

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

Response: The hypothalamic neurohormone Oxytocin (OXT), shown to decrease food intake in animals and humans, is a promising novel treatment for obesity. We previously showed that in men with overweight/obesity, intranasal (IN)OXT reduced the fMRI activation in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), the origin of the mesolimbic dopaminergic reward system, in response to high-calorie food vs non-food visual stimuli.

Here, we employed fMRI functional connectivity analysis, which better characterizes the exchange in information between neural systems in a context-dependent manner. We hypothesized that Oxytocin would reduce the functional connectivity of the VTA with food motivation brain areas in response to high-calorie foods.  Continue reading

Childhood Speech Disorder Apraxia: Underlying Brain Pathway Identified

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. Angela Morgan PhDNHMRC Practitioner Fellow and Leads the Speech and Language GroupMurdoch Children's Research Institute

Prof. Morgan

Prof. Angela Morgan PhD
NHMRC Practitioner Fellow and
Leads the Speech and Language Group
Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

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

Response: Approximately 5% of school-aged children have a communication impairment that affects speech, language, or both. There are many subtypes of speech sound disorders, but the most severe is  (CAS), which impacts sequencing of speech movements. Childhood apraxia of speech  occurs in around 1 in 1000 children. In persistent cases of CAS, speech cannot easily be understood throughout life. Although CAS is rare, unravelling its neurobiological causes is likely to identify brain networks crucial to more common and less severe forms of speech disorders.

Here we provide comprehensive speech and neuroimaging data on a large novel family where one parent and 11 children presented with features of childhood apraxia of speech. Brain MRI scanning revealed changes in core parts of the brain responsible for speech production. Even though CAS manifests as a problem with talking, we found disruptions in an underlying pathway of the brain normally associated with language (the meaning and grammar of what we say), rather than speech production. Our findings identify disruption of the dorsal language stream as a novel finding in developmental speech disorders. Overall, our data confirm the early role of this stream in auditory-to-articulation transformations.  Continue reading

Genes Linked To Large Brains in Humans Identified

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“The human Brain” by Kristian Mollenborg is licensed under CC BY 2.0David Haussler PhD

Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Distinguished Professor, Biomolecular Engineering
Scientific Director, UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute
Scientific Co-Director, California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences  and

Sofie Salama, PhD
Research Scientist in BIomolecular Engineering
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Senior Scientist

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

Dr. Haussler:  Researchers specializing in this area are interested understanding which evolutionary changes in our genome underlie human-specific brain features including our large (3X greater than chimpanzee) brain.

It has been my personal dream to peer into human evolution at the level of individual genes and gene functions.  Continue reading

Scientists Block Cocaine Addiction in Mice by Increasing Cadherin “glue” at Synapses

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Andrea K. Globa, Ph.D. Candidate Graduate Program in Neuroscience Life Sciences Institute University of British Columbia Vancouver, BC, Canada

Andrea Globa

Andrea K. Globa, Ph.D. Candidate
Graduate Program in Neuroscience
Life Sciences Institute
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC, Canada

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

Response: Addiction is a complex disease, characterized by continued substance use despite serious negative consequences, increased drug tolerance, and withdrawal. In fact, the statistics show that over 40 million Americans abuse or are addicted to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs. This is a huge public health issue, so naturally, scientists are interested in figuring out why people get addicted, and in particular why certain people are more prone to addiction than others.

Studies examining genetic differences in addicted populations have shown that there are many mutations in genes that are important for brain function. One group of genes affected encode proteins that act as ‘glue’ to hold cells together. These proteins are called cadherins. In the brain, cadherins are important for holding brain cells together at spots where they communicate with one another – and these points where brain cells talk to one another are called synapses.

Many neuroscientists believe that addiction is actually a type of “pathological” learning, where there are changes at synapses in a brain circuit involved in reward and motivation. So we decided to examine the molecular mechanisms that are important for the strengthening of synapses in this brain circuit.

To put it very simply, to learn something you have to make your synapses stronger, and this involves adding more cadherin or ‘glue’ to the synapse. We wanted to see if these same rules held true in addiction.

Continue reading

Brain-Based Signatures May Help Optimize Anesthesia Dose

Srivas Chennu, PhD Senior Research Associate Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge Visiting Scientist, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit College Research Associate, Homerton College

Dr. Srivas Chennu

More on Anesthesiology on MedicalResearch.com
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Srivas Chennu, PhD
Senior Research Associate
Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge
Visiting Scientist, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit
College Research Associate, Homerton College

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Chennu:  Scientific understanding of how brain networks generate consciousness has seen rapid advances in recent years, but the application of this knowledge to accurately track transitions to unconsciousness during general anaesthesia has proven difficult. Crucially, one reason for this is the considerable individual variability in susceptibility to anaesthetic dosage. 

To better understand the factors underlying this variability, we measured interconnected, oscillatory brain activity (‘brain networks’), using non-invasive, high-density electroencephalography (EEG) from healthy volunteers while they were sedated with the common anaesthetic propofol. Alongside, we measured their behavioural responsiveness, and the actual concentration of the drug in their blood plasma.  Continue reading