This Week on NeuroScientistNews: 9 March – 13 March
News Mar 13, 2015
Friday the 13th; combination treatment for addiction; genetic biomarkers for autism, and more.
For some people, Friday the 13th instills fear and dread, while for others it’s just another Friday. But does science support the superstitions behind this apprehension? Should you get out of bed today or tuck yourself back under the covers to stay safe and sound? Over the years, scientists have analyzed the data, dissecting the underlying accident rates of this proposed unlucky day.
Pathological changes to synaptic transmission underlie part of the etiology of different neurological and psychiatric diseases including Parkinson’s disease and drug addiction. Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an effective treatment for tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease. In a recent article published in Science, Creed, Pascoli and Lüscher demonstrate that a combination of DBS and pharmaceuticals leads to long-term improvement in synaptic transmission and addiction-related behavior.
In a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, an international team of scientists report finding a highly accurate blood-based measure that could lead to development of a clinical test for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) risk in males as young as one to two years old. The test could be done in community pediatric settings. The degree of accuracy, they said, out performs other behavioral and genetic screens for infants and toddlers with ASD described in literature.
A promising new natural treatment for Alzheimer's disease is moving toward clinical trials. This will be a major step forward as there is nothing on the market that slows the progression of Alzheimer's. Muraleedharan Nair, Michigan State University natural products chemist, has patented a botanical compound, withanamides. His spinoff company, Natural Therapeutics, will begin the trials as soon as funding is in place.
Time perception is highly subjective and usually depends on the relevant situation so that, for instance, your sense of how fast or slow time is passing can be influenced by whether you are waiting for something or if a deadline is approaching. Patients suffering from depression appear to experience time differently than healthy individuals. Statements made by corresponding patients indicate that for them time seems to pass extremely slowly or even stands still.
When infants are playing with objects, their early attempts to pay attention to things are accompanied by bursts of high-frequency activity in their brain. But what happens when parents play together with them? New research shows for the first time that when adults are engaged in joint play together with their infant, their own brains show similar bursts of high-frequency activity.
Many species of mammals have evolved what appear to be paradoxical behaviours towards their young. Like humans, most exhibit nurturing, protective behaviours, and in some circumstances even act as surrogate parents. However, virgin males often engage in infanticide as a strategy to propagate their own genes. How are these conflicting social behaviours controlled?