Ritalin may pose brain risks for young people without ADHD, study shows (Fox News):
“Smart” drugs, like Ritalin, also known as nootropics, are known to increase a person’s attention span, memory and ability to stay alert. As a result, they have become increasingly abused by students seeking an extra edge in their studies. According to a report from The Partnership at Drugfree.org and the MetLife Foundation, approximately 1.3 million American teenager Read the rest of this entry »
DIY Brain Stimulation Raises Concerns (Medscape Today):
“Recent increased interest in the electricity-based brain stimulation method of transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) as a means of improving cognitive ability has some experts raising concerns about the neuroethical issues surrounding the technique — particularly its ease of use as a make-it-yourself home device…
Those wishing to play it a little safer Read the rest of this entry »
‘Chemo Brain’: MRI Shows Brain Changes After Chemotherapy (Medscape):
- “Breast cancer survivors who have been treated with chemotherapy show significant changes in brain activity, measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), according to a study published in the November issue of the Archives of Neurology.”
- “The finding validates patients’ claims of reduced cognitive function after receiving chemotherapy, a phenomenon referred to as “chemo brain,” said lead author Shelli R. Kesler, PhD, from Stanford University School of Medicine in California.”
Link to study Prefrontal Cortex and Executive Function Impairments in Primary Breast Cancer (Archives of Neurology): Read the rest of this entry »
By: Dana Foundation
(Editor’s note: Pathways responsible for higher-order thinking in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), or executive center of the brain, remain vulnerable throughout life—during critical early-life developmental windows, when the PFC fully matures in the early 20s, and finally from declines associated with old age. At all ages, physical activity and PFC-navigated social connections are essential components to maintaining brain health. The Experience Corps, a community-based social-engagement program, partners seniors with local schools to promote purpose-driven involvement. Participating seniors have exhibited immediate short-term gains in brain regions vulnerable to aging, such as the PFC, indicating that people with the most to lose have the most to gain from environmental enrichment.)
Over the last decade, scientists made two key discoveries that reframed our understanding of the adult brain’s potential to benefit from lifelong environmental enrichment. First, they learned that the adult brain remains plastic; it can generate new neurons in response to physical activity and new experiences. Second, they confirmed the importance of social connectedness to late-life cognitive, psychological, and physical health. The integration of these findings with our understanding of individuals’ developmental needs throughout life underscores the importance of the “social brain.” The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is particularly integral to navigating complex social behaviors and hierarchies over the life course. Read the rest of this entry »
Charting Brain Growth in Humans and Chimps (New York Times):
– “Although baby humans and baby chimpanzees both start out with undeveloped forebrains, a new study reports that the human brain increases in volume much more rapidly early on.“
– “The growth is in a region of the brain known as the prefrontal cortex and is part of what makes humans cognitively advanced compared with other animals, including the chimpanzee, our closest relative. The prefrontal cortex plays a major role in decision-making, self-awareness and creative thinking.”
–> To learn more about study Differential Prefrontal White Matter Development in Chimpanzees and Humans: click Here (requires subscription).
–> To explore what may have happened otherwise, you may want to watch the new movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
By: Alvaro Fernandez
The current issue of Cerebrum –a great publication of the Dana Foundation– includes the excellent in-depth article Promoting Healthy, Meaningful Aging Through Social Involvement: Building an Experience Corps, written by researcher Michelle Carlson:
“Over the last decade, scientists made two key discoveries that reframed our understanding of the adult brain’s potential to benefit from lifelong environmental enrichment. First, they learned that the adult brain remains plastic; it can generate new neurons in response to physical activity and new experiences. Second, they confirmed the importance of Read the rest of this entry »
By: Dr. Pascale Michelon
The brains of children with neurological disorders seems to exhibit signs of neuroplastic changes, suggesting compensatory mechanisms for the disorder. This result opens up the possibility that brain training may be useful to help these patients control their symptoms.
The disorder studied was Tourette syndrome (TS), which usually become evident in early childhood or adolescence before the age of 18 years. The symptoms are involuntary movements (tics) as well as verbal tics or vocalizations. These tics are frequent, repetitive and rapid. Most cases of TS are mild and people lead productive lives.
Participants in the study (average age of 14) performed a motor task with high levels of manual conflict (they had to obey instructions such as press a left key in response to an arrow pointing to the right and vice-versa). Children with TS were much faster than control children (without TS) in such a task. This supports the idea that children with TS have more control over motor activity in general, due to the constant requirement to suppress their tics. Read the rest of this entry »