One of the hallmarks of obsessive-compulsive disorder is contamination fears and excessive hand-washing. Years ago, a patient with severe OCD came to my office wearing gloves and a mask and refused to sit on any of the “contaminated” chairs. Now, these same behaviors are accepted and even encouraged to keep everyone healthy. This new normal in the face of a deadly pandemic has permeated our culture and will continue to influence it.
Blood vessels can sense the metabolic state of neighboring neural cells, recent work in the lab of Asifa Akhtar in Freiburg has shown. The researchers found that the epigenetic regulator MOF is required for equipping neurons with the right metabolic enzymes needed for processing fatty acids. “Something has to tell neural cells that there are nutrients around and they should turn on the programs needed to process them. MOF goes to the DNA and switches on the genetic programs that allow cells to process fatty acids in the brain," explains Bilal Sheikh, lead author of the study.
The places where we spend time seem to influence our personalities, new research reports. The findings suggest that the places we choose to frequent can affect not only our thinking, feelings, or behavior in the moment, but may actually change our personalities over time. If complying with shelter-in-place orders has made you feel more disorganized or less kind than usual, it may be because that’s what happens when you spend more time at home instead of public spaces, according to a new study.
Among people who have the most common type of lung cancer, up to 40% develop metastatic brain tumors, with an average survival time of less than six months. But why non-small-cell lung cancer so often spreads to the brain has been poorly understood. Now scientists at Wake Forest School of Medicine have found that nicotine, a non-carcinogenic chemical found in tobacco, actually promotes the spread, or metastasis, of lung cancer cells into the brain.
The human brain is bathed in a supportive fluid called the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that provides nutrients and is required for proper brain function. The composition of human CSF and how it is made are poorly understood due to a lack of experimental access. Madeline Lancaster’s group in the Medical Research Council of England’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology Cell Biology Division has now developed a new brain organoid that produces CSF and has the potential to predict whether drugs can access the brain.
Social neuroscience researchers at Aalto University investigated the effects of similarity by showing subjects the film My Sister’s Keeper and asking them to watch the film from either the perspective of the donor sister or the sick sister. The subjects' brain processing was measured by functional MRI, and at the same time eye tracking was carried out, monitoring where the subject’s eyes were looking on the screen. “Understanding another person’s point of view is important to reach consensus.
Our most vivid dreams are a remarkable replication of reality, combining disparate objects, actions and perceptions into a richly detailed hallucinatory experience. How does our brain accomplish this? It has long been suspected that the hippocampus contributes to dreaming, in part due to its close association with memory: according to one estimate, about half of all dreams contain at least one element originating from a specific experience while the subject was awake (Fosse et al.
People suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder report that cannabis reduces the severity of their symptoms by more than half, at least in the short term, according to a recent study led by Carrie Cuttler, a Washington State University assistant professor of psychology. Cuttler and her colleagues analyzed data of more than 400 people who tracked changes in their PTSD symptoms before and after cannabis use with Strainprint, an app developed to help users learn what types of medical cannabis work best for their symptoms.