Author Interviews, Emory, Neurological Disorders / 15.04.2015

Erwin G. Van Meir, PhD Professor, Departments of Neurosurgery and Hematology & Medical Oncology Leader, Winship Cancer Institute Cancer Cell Biology Program Founding Director, Graduate Program in Cancer Biology Director, Laboratory for Molecular Neuro-Oncology Emory University School of Medicine Atlanta GA 30322MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Erwin G. Van Meir, PhD Professor, Departments of Neurosurgery and Hematology & Medical Oncology Leader, Winship Cancer Institute Cancer Cell Biology Program Founding Director, Graduate Program in Cancer Biology Director, Laboratory for Molecular Neuro-Oncology Emory University School of Medicine Atlanta GA 30322 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Van Meir: In this study we queried the role of the BAI1 protein in normal physiology. To do this we generated a transgenic mouse, which lacks the expression of the Bai1 gene. The mice had no obvious anomalies and reproduced according to mendelian rules. Since BAI1 is strongly expressed in the brain, including in neurons, we wondered whether they might have some cognitive defect that would only be revealed under specific testing conditions. We had the mice perform in an experiment that tests their ability to orient themselves in space and memorize the location of a hidden platform in a water maze. This experiment clearly demonstrated that the Bai1 deficient mice had deficits in spatial learning and memory. We then further probed the electrophysiological, anatomical and biochemical basis of this abnormal physiologic behavior and showed that hippocampal neurons had abnormal synaptic plasticity, reduced thickness of the post synaptic density and that this was associated with an increased degradation of a key PSD protein called PSD-95. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews / 20.03.2015

Kamen Tsvetanov, PhD Centre for Speech, Language and the Brain Department of Psychology University of Cambridge Downing Street Cambridge, United KingdomMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Kamen Tsvetanov, PhD Centre for Speech, Language and the Brain Department of Psychology University of Cambridge Downing Street Cambridge, United Kingdom   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Tsvetanov: Older brains may be more similar to younger brains than previously thought! In our study we have shown that changes in the aging brain previously observed using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) – one of the standard ways of measuring brain activity – may be due to changes in our blood vessels, rather than changes in the activity of our nerve cells, our neurons. Given the large number of fMRI studies used to assess the aging brain, this has important consequences for understanding how the brain changes with age and it challenges current theories of ageing. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews / 05.02.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: V. Zlokovic, MD, PhD Professor and Chair Department of Physiology and Biophysics Keck School of Medicine of USC.V. Zlokovic, MD, PhD Professor and Chair Department of Physiology and Biophysics Keck School of Medicine of USC.   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Zlokovic: Our team used high-resolution imaging of the living human brain to show for the first time that the brain’s protective blood barrier becomes leaky with age, starting at the hippocampus, a critical learning and memory center that is damaged by Alzheimer’s disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues / 02.02.2015

Dr. BidelmanMedicalResearch.com Interview with Gavin M. Bidelman, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Institute for Intelligent Systems School of Communication Sciences & Disorders University of Memphis Memphis, TN  38105 MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bidelman: Musical training as been shown to enhance brain function and impact behavioral skills (e.g., speech and language functions) in younger adults. In the current study, we investigated whether or not these advantages extend to older brains, which are thought to be less "plastic" (i.e., less malleable to experience/training). Older adults also often experience reduced speech recognition abilities later in life so we wanted to see if musicianship can serve as an effective means to bolster speech listening skills that decline across the lifespan. Main findings: 1) On average, older musicians were 20% faster in identifying speech sounds behaviorally than their nonmusician peers. Interestingly, this is similar to the benefit we have observed in young people with musical training. 2) We were able to predict how well people classify/identify speech via (EEG) brain activity in both groups. However, this brain-behavior correspondence was ~2-3x better in older musicians. In other words, old musicians' brains provide a much more detailed, clean, and accurate depiction of the speech signal which is likely why they are much more sensitive to speech behaviorally. 3) We compared neural responses generated from multiple levels of the auditory system and found that musicians had more coordination (significantly higher correlations) between different regions. This implies that the "musical brain" operates more in concert than in non-musicians. All of these findings challenge conventional views that older brain's are no longer plastic, are somehow noisier, and show poorer coordination across brain regions. In fact we show just the opposite. In older brains, musicianship does produce pervasive plasticity, provides cleaner (less noisy) representations of speech, and orchestrates more neural coordination. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, PNAS / 14.01.2015

Dr Christos Pliatsikas PhD Lecturer in Cognitive Psychology School of Psychology University of Kent Canterbury KentMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Christos Pliatsikas PhD Lecturer in Cognitive Psychology School of Psychology University of Kent Canterbury Kent Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: It has been proposed that lifelong bilingualism preserves the white matter structure of older bilinguals because of the increased cognitive demands that come with handling two languages for their entire life. We wanted to extend this by investigating whether active (or "immersive") bilingualism in younger late bilinguals would give similar results. We showed increased white matter integrity (or myelination) in several white matter tracts that have also been shown to be better preserved in older lifelong bilinguals, compared to monolinguals.  Based on our findings, we propose that any benefit of bilingualism to the brain structure is simply an effect of actively handling two languages without presupposing lifelong usage- our participants were only about 30 years old and had been active bilinguals for only about 7-8 years. In other words, immersive bilingualism, even in late bilinguals, leads to structural changes that can bring about benefits in older age, by assisting in the preservation of the white matter structure in the brain. (more…)
Author Interviews, Nature, Neurological Disorders / 30.12.2014

György Buzsáki, M.D., Ph.D. Biggs Professor of Neural Sciences NYU Neuroscience Institute New York University Langone Medical Center New York, NY 10016MedicalResearch.com Interview with: György Buzsáki, M.D., Ph.D. Biggs Professor of Neural Sciences NYU Neuroscience Institute New York University Langone Medical Center New York, NY 10016 Medical Research: What is the background for the NeuroGrid device? Dr. Buzsaki: The main form of communication among neurons in the brain occurs through action potentials (‘spikes’). Understanding the mechanisms that translate spikes of individual neurons into perceptions, thoughts, and actions requires the ability to monitor large populations of neurons at the spatial and temporal resolution of their interactions. We developed a novel, organic material-based, ultra-conformable, biocompatible and scalable neural interface array (the ‘NeuroGrid’) with neuron-size density electrodes capable of acquiring action potential of individual neurons from the surface of the brain. The NeuroGrid has several innovative characteristics that overcome limitations in current methods of surface recording: (i) light-weight and conformable architecture to establish stable electrical and mechanical contacts, thereby ensuring minimal damage to underlying tissue; (ii) efficient abiotic/biotic interface resulting in a high signal to noise ratio and the ability to resolve spikes. This is achieved by using conducting polymers as the interfacing material. Conducting polymers are mix conductors, they can conduct electronics and ionic currents hence they can efficiently transduce ion based neural activity into electronic signals (iii) scalable neuron-size density electrodes to allow isolation and characterization of multiple individual neurons’ action potential across the cortical surface. (more…)
General Medicine, Toxin Research / 21.08.2014

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ying-wei Qiu, MD Department of Medical imaging Guangdong No. 2 Provincial People’s Hospital Guangzhou, China; Medical Research: What are the main findings of this study? Dr. Ying-wei Qiu: The main findings include:
  1.  White matter (WM) integrity is abnormal in the IFO of bilateral temporal-occipital regions and right frontal region, and in the right corona radiata white matter in chronic Codeine-Containing Cough Syrups users.
  2. The abnormal white matter integrity related to the higher impulsivity in codeine-containing cough syrups users.
  3. The abnormal white matter integrity related to duration of Codeine-Containing Cough Syrups abuse in codeine-containing cough syrups users.
(more…)
Author Interviews, General Medicine, Mental Health Research, Nutrition / 09.08.2014

James T. Becker, Ph.D. Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and NeurologyMedicalResearch.com Interview with: James T. Becker, Ph.D. Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neurology University of Pittsburgh Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. Becker: We found that people who eat baked or broiled (but not fried) fish at least once every week had significantly larger brain volumes in areas critical for memory and cognition, namely, hippocampus, precuneus, posterior cingulate cortex, and orbital frontal cortex. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, JAMA, Neurological Disorders / 28.05.2014

MedicalResearch.com Interview with Dr. Edythe  D.London PhD Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, and Molecular and Medical Pharmacology David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA Dr. Edythe  D.London PhD Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, and Molecular and Medical Pharmacology David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study? Dr. London: Brain function related to risky decision-making was different in stimulant users  (methamphetamine users) than in healthy control subjects. In healthy controls, activation in the prefrontal cortex (right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) during risk-taking in the laboratory was sensitive to the level of risk. This sensitivity of cortical activation was weaker in stimulant users, who instead had a stronger sensitivity of striatum activation. The groups also differed in circuit-level activity (network activity) when they were not performing a task but were “at rest.”  Stimulant users showed greater connectivity within the mesocorticolimbic system, a target of abused drugs. This connectivity was negatively related to sensitivity in the prefrontal cortex to risk during risky decision-making. In healthy control subjects, connectivity between the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and striatum was positively related to sensitivity of prefrontal cortical activation to risk during risky decision-making. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Surgical Research / 22.04.2014

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Rustam Al-Shahi Salman Professor of clinical neurology and MRC senior clinical fellow, University of Edinburgh Honorary consultant neurologist, NHS Lothian upcoming JAMA publication:MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Rustam Al-Shahi Salman Professor of clinical neurology and MRC senior clinical fellow University of Edinburgh Honorary consultant neurologist, NHS Lothian MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study? Prof. Al-Shahi Salman: Patients with arteriovenous malformations (abnormal connection between arteries and veins) in the brain that have not ruptured had a lower risk of stroke or death for up to 12 years if they received conservative management of the condition compared to an interventional  treatment. Interventional treatment for brain arteriovenous malformations (bAVMs) with procedures such as neurosurgical excision, endovascular embolization, or stereotactic radiosurgery can be used alone or in combination to attempt to obliterate bAVMs. Because interventions may have complications and the untreated clinical course of unruptured bAVMs can be benign, some patients choose conservative management (no intervention). Guidelines have endorsed both intervention and conservative management for unruptured brain arteriovenous malformations. Whether conservative management is superior to interventional treatment for unruptured bAVMs is uncertain because of the lack of long-term experience, according to background information in the article. (more…)