Probiotics either taken by themselves or when combined with prebiotics, may help to ease depression, suggests a recent review of the available evidence. But whether they might help to lessen anxiety isn’t yet clear, say the researchers in the paper, published in BMJ Nutrition. Foods that broaden the profile of helpful bacteria in the gut are collectively known as probiotics, while prebiotics are compounds that help these bacteria to flourish.
After exposure to cannabis, behavioral changes related to sociability occur as a result of the activation of specific cannabinoid receptors, located in star-shaped cells of the central nervous system called astrocytes, new work shows. Regular exposure to cannabis may have a harmful impact on sociability. For some consumers, studies show that it may lead to withdrawal and reduced social interactions. However, the brain network and the mechanisms involved in this relationship were unclear until now.
The commonly prescribed asthma drug salbutamol may offer potential as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, a new study indicates. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting 47 million people worldwide and its prevalence is expected to triple to more than 130 million cases by 2050. No effective treatments that cure the disease or slow down its progression have been discovered. However, this new early-stage study has revealed that repurposing an existing drug, salbutamol, offers significant potential as a low cost and rapid response option.
Patterns of sound – such as the noise of footsteps approaching or a person speaking – often provide valuable information. To recognize these patterns, our memory holds each part of the sound sequence long enough to perceive how they fit together. This ability is necessary in many situations: from discriminating between random noises in the woods to understanding language and appreciating music. Memory traces left by each sound are crucial for discovering new patterns and recognizing patterns we have previously encountered.
Cases of neurological disease linked to COVID-19 are happening across the globe, a new review by University of Liverpool researchers shows. The study found that strokes, delirium and other brain complications are reported from most countries where there have been large outbreaks of the disease. COVID-19 has been associated mostly with problems like difficulty breathing, fever and cough. However, as the pandemic has continued, it has become increasingly clear that other problems can occur in patients.
In recent years, scientists have discovered that the brain’s dedicated immune cells, called microglia, can help get rid of unnecessary connections between neurons, perhaps by engulfing synapses and breaking them down. But a new study finds microglia can also do the opposite — making way for new synapses to form by chomping away at the dense web of proteins between cells, clearing a space so neurons can find one another.
Tiny eye movements can be used as an index of humans' ability to anticipate relevant information in the environment independent of the information’s sensory modality, a team of scientists has found. The work reveals a connection between eye movements and the sense of touch. “The fact that tiny eye movements can hinder our ability to discriminate tactile stimuli, and that the suppression of those eye movements before an anticipated tactile stimulus can enhance that same ability, may reflect that common brain areas, as well as common neural and cognitive resources, underlie both eye movements and the processing of tactile stimuli," explains Marisa Carrasco, a professor of psychology and neural science at New York University and the senior author of the paper.
Many people will be familiar with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) as a historical treatment for “mental illness”, in which an electrical current is passed through the brain to trigger seizures, with the aim of somehow treating the illness. In fact, ECT is still being administered to about a million people each year to treat severe depression, including about 2,500 in England, under anaesthetic. The majority are women, and over 60 years of age.