Psychiatric classifications catalogue the many forms of mental ill-health. They define what counts as a disorder and who counts as disordered, drawing the boundary between psychological normality and abnormality. In the past century that boundary has shifted radically. Successive classifications have added new disorders and revised old ones. Diagnoses have increased rapidly as new forms of human misery have been identified. The wider psychiatric classifications cast their net, the more people qualify for diagnoses and the more treatment is considered necessary.
Researchers at Queen’s University have established a method that, for the first time, can detect indirectly when one thought ends and another begins. Dr. Jordan Poppenk and his master’s student, Julie Tseng, devised a way to isolate “thought worms,” consisting of consecutive moments when a person is focused on the same idea. “What we call thought worms are adjacent points in a simplified representation of activity patterns in the brain.
Various diseases of the digestive tract, for example severe intestinal inflammation in humans, are closely linked to disturbances in the natural mobility of the intestine. What role the microbiome plays in these rhythmic contractions of the intestine, also known as peristalsis, is currently the subject of intensive research. It is particularly unclear how the contractions are controlled and how the cells of the nervous system, that act as pacemakers, function together with the microorganisms.
A fatty acid known as dihomogamma-linolenic acid, or DGLA, can kill human cancer cells, according to new research. The study, published in Developmental Cell, found that DGLA can induce ferroptosis in an animal model and in actual human cancer cells. Ferroptosis is an iron-dependent type of cell death that was discovered in recent years and has become a focal point for disease research as it is closely related to many disease processes.
A little-studied liver protein may be responsible for the well-known benefits of exercise on the aging brain, according to a new study in mice by scientists in the UC San Francisco Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research. The findings could lead to new therapies to confer the neuroprotective effects of physical activity on people who are unable to exercise due to physical limitations. Exercise is one of the best-studied and most powerful ways of protecting the brain from age-related cognitive decline and has been shown to improve cognition in individuals at risk of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia — even those with rare gene variants that inevitably lead to dementia.
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.