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Male twin Vietnam veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were more than twice as likely as those without PTSD to develop heart disease during a 13-year period, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health. This is the first long-term study to measure the association between PTSD and heart disease using objective clinical diagnoses combined with cardiac imaging techniques. “This study provides further evidence that PTSD may affect physical health,” said Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., director of the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which partially funded the study. “Future research to clarify the mechanisms underlying the link between PTSD and heart disease in Vietnam veterans and other groups will help to guide the development of effective prevention and treatment strategies for people with these serious conditions.” The findings appear online today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and in the September 10 print issue. Researchers from the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta, along with colleagues from other institutions, assessed the presence of heart disease in 562 middle-aged twins (340 identical and 222 fraternal) from the Vietnam Era Twin Registry. The incidence of heart disease was 22.6 percent in twins with PTSD (177 individuals) and 8.9 percent in those without PTSD (425 individuals). Heart disease was defined as having a heart attack, having an overnight hospitalization for heart-related symptoms, or having undergone a heart procedure. Nuclear scans, used to photograph blood flow to the heart, showed that individuals with PTSD had almost twice as many areas of reduced blood flow to the heart as individuals without PTSD.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 18317 - Posted: 06.26.2013

By Scicurious Say you are out on a camping trip with some friends. You’re in the woods, the tents are up, the beer is out, the sun is down, the campfire is starting up. As you sit there, you hear the campfire crackling loudly. To most people, the crackling of the campfire is just that: a campfire. Nothing threatening at all. But for someone with a severe anxiety disorder such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the crackling of the campfire may be associated with terrible memories, a huge conflagration during house to house fighting or a house fire that destroyed all they loved, causing them horrible distress and terrible anxiety. A campfire during a camping trip and the horrible things they endured are entirely dissimilar things, but in severe anxiety disorders, that makes no difference at all. No, this post is not about whether or not anxiety disorders are being over diagnosed. Rather, it’s about how over-generalization within the brain might influence the development of anxiety disorders. What is the difference between a house fire and a campfire? How does your brain know? It’s the idea of pattern separation, an idea that the authors of this review believe could be incredibly important in treating some types of anxiety disorders. Pattern separation is one of the many actions of the hippocampus, the large, curved area in the interior of the brain which is thought to play a role in things like memory and in disorders such as anxiety and depression. Pattern separation was originally observed related to memory, but the authors of this review propose that it may also relate to things like anxiety. © 2013 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 18089 - Posted: 04.29.2013

By Emily Chung, CBC News Having a stressed-out mom may give baby squirrels a competitive edge, a new study suggests. Red squirrels who were stressed out during pregnancy had babies that out-competed their peers by growing significantly faster without any extra food, reported the study, published online in Science Express. "What that suggests is that they're first able to predict what sort of environment their offspring will encounter… and they're preparing them for what their offspring are going to face," said Ben Dantzer, lead author of the study he worked on while he was a Ph.D. student at Michigan State University under the supervision of Guelph University biologist Andrew McAdam. Further investigation uncovered a link between faster growth among the baby squirrels and higher levels of stress hormones in their mothers during the pregnancies. That link may explain how environmental conditions cue the animals to respond and adapt. Canadian researchers, including Stan Boutin at the University of Alberta, Murray Humphreys at McGill University in Montreal and McAdam at the University of Guelph, had been studying red squirrels near Kluane Lake, Yukon, for 22 years to find out how they are affected by changes in resources such as food over time. © CBC 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18049 - Posted: 04.20.2013

By DENISE GRADY SAN FRANCISCO — Scientists are trained to be skeptics, and Elizabeth H. Blackburn considers herself one of the biggest. Show her the data, and be ready to defend it. But even though she relishes the give and take, Dr. Blackburn admits to impatience at times with the questions some scientists have raised about one of her ventures. “It’s just such a no-brainer, and yet people have such difficulty understanding it,” she said. At issue is a lab test that measures telomeres, stretches of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes and help keep cells from aging too soon. Unusually short telomeres may be a sign of illness, and Dr. Blackburn, who shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine for her work on telomeres (TEEL-o-meers), thinks measuring them could give doctors and patients a chance to intervene early and maybe even prevent disease. A company she helped found expects to begin offering tests to the public later this year. Other researchers have raised doubts about the usefulness of the measurement, which does not diagnose a specific disease. But Dr. Blackburn, 64, a professor of biology and physiology at the University of California, San Francisco, says she has been convinced by a decade of data from her own team and others, linking short telomeres to heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other diseases, and to chronic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder. With studies that explore the connections among emotional stress, health and telomeres, she has delved into questions that she would have shied away from earlier in her career, as a woman trying to establish herself in science. But now, she has enough confidence and autonomy to follow the leads that intrigue her. The scope of her research has expanded tremendously, from a tight focus on molecular biology to broader questions about the implications of her work for health and public policy. © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 18005 - Posted: 04.09.2013

Pregnant women who experienced financial, emotional, or other personal stress in the year before their delivery had an increased chance of having a stillbirth, say researchers who conducted a National Institutes of Health network study. Stillbirth is the death of a fetus at 20 or more weeks of pregnancy. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, in 2006, there was one stillbirth for every 167 births External Web Site Policy. The researchers asked more than 2,000 women a series of questions, including whether they had lost a job or had a loved one in the hospital in the year before they gave birth. Whether or not the pregnancy ended in stillbirth, most women reported having experienced at least one stressful life event in the previous year. The researchers found that 83 percent of women who had a stillbirth and 75 percent of women who had a live birth reported a stressful life event. Almost 1 in 5 women with stillbirths and 1 in 10 women with livebirths in this study reported recently experiencing 5 or more stressful life events. This study measured the occurrence of a list of significant life events, and did not include the woman’s assessment of how stressful the event was to her. Women reporting a greater number of stressful events were more likely to have a stillbirth. Two stressful events increased a woman’s odds of stillbirth by about 40 percent, the researchers’ analysis showed. A woman experiencing five or more stressful events was nearly 2.5 times more likely to have a stillbirth than a woman who had experienced none. Women who reported three or four significant life event factors (financial, emotional, traumatic or partner-related) remained at increased risk for stillbirth after accounting for other stillbirth risk factors, such as sociodemographic characteristics and prior pregnancy history.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 17962 - Posted: 03.28.2013

by Sara Reardon When she returned from serving in the Gulf conflict in 1991, US Air Force nurse Denise Nichols experienced sudden aches, fatigue and cognitive problems, but had no idea 'what was causing them. They grew worse: even helping her daughter with multiplication tables became difficult, she says, and eventually she had to quit her job. Nichols wasn't alone. About a third of Gulf war veterans – possibly as many as 250,000 – returned with a similar set of symptoms. Now an imaging study has found that these veterans have what appear to be unique structural changes in the wiring of their brains. This fits with the scientific consensus that Gulf War syndrome (GWS) is a physical condition rather than a psychosomatic one, and should be treated with painkilling drugs instead of counselling. The military in various countries has in the past consistently denied that there is a physical basis to GWS. Although the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) now officially accepts that the disorder is physical, the issue has been mired in controversy. Earlier this month, Steven Coughlin, a former senior epidemiologist at the VA, testified to a Congressional panel that the VA had suppressed and manipulated research data so as to suggest that the disorder was psychosomatic. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 2: Functional Neuroanatomy: The Nervous System and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 2: Cells and Structures: The Anatomy of the Nervous System
Link ID: 17928 - Posted: 03.23.2013

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS For most people, exercise elevates mood. Repeated studies with humans and animals have shown that regular workouts can increase stress resistance, decrease anxiety, lessen symptoms of depression and generally leave people cheerful. But what if someone sincerely dislikes exercise and works out only under a kind of emotional duress, deeming that he or she must do so, perhaps because a doctor or worried spouse has ordered it? In that case, which is hardly uncommon, does the stress of being, in effect, forced to exercise reduce or cancel out the otherwise sturdy emotional benefits of physical activity? That issue has been of considerable interest to exercise scientists for some time, particularly those who work with animals, since in some experiments, animals are required to exercise at intensities or for durations that they don’t control. Such intense exercise greatly increases their stress, as measured by certain behaviors and by physiological markers like increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. But no study had directly compared the emotional effects of forced and voluntary exercise on anxiety and emotional resilience. So scientists at the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Colorado at Boulder recently decided to conduct one. They began by gathering a group of healthy adult male rats of a type that generally enjoys running. Then they gave some of the animals access to unlocked running wheels and let them exercise whenever and for as long as they liked. The exercise was fully under the animals’ control. Copyright 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 17899 - Posted: 03.13.2013

By Neuroskeptic “Layered Voice Analysis” (LVA) is a controversial technology promoted as a tool for helping detect stress and other emotions by analysis of the human voice. According to the company behind the method, Nemesysco: LVA technology enables better understanding of your suspect’s mental state and emotional makeup at a given moment by detecting the emotional cues in his or her speech. The technology identifies various types of stress levels, cognitive processes, and emotional reactions that are reflected in different properties of the voice… it provides the professional user easy access to truth verification in real time or from recorded data, during face to face and over the phone, during a free or structured investigation session. Long-term Neuroskeptic readers will remember LVA and Nemesysco from way back in 2009. That was when I blogged about the company’s legal moves against two Swedish academics who had published a paper critical of LVA. That contentious article is still available online. Now, a newly published study evaluated whether LVA is an effective truth verifying tool: The Accuracy of Auditors’ and Layered Voice Analysis (LVA) Operators’ Judgments of Truth and Deception During Police Questioning. The authors, led by Michigan Professor Frank Horvath, studied 74 suspects who were interviewed by the Michigan State Police. Audio recordings of the interviews were made. Which of the suspects were being deceptive? Two investigators used LVA (after receiving the manufacturer’s recommended 40 hours of training) to try to judge deception from the records. Three other investigators just listened to the recordings, and formed an opinion based on their own intuition and experience.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 17885 - Posted: 03.11.2013

By Marilynn Marchione, Associated Press Stress does bad things to the heart. New studies have found higher rates of cardiac problems in veterans with PTSD, New Orleans residents six years after Hurricane Katrina and Greeks struggling through that country's financial turmoil. Disasters and prolonged stress can raise "fight or flight" hormones that affect blood pressure, blood sugar and other things in ways that make heart trouble more likely, doctors say. They also provoke anger and helplessness and spur heart-harming behaviors like eating or drinking too much. "We're starting to connect emotions with cardiovascular risk markers" and the new research adds evidence of a link, said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center and an American Heart Association spokeswoman. She had no role in the studies, which were discussed Sunday at an American College of Cardiology conference in San Francisco. The largest, involving 207,954 veterans in California and Nevada ages 46 to 74, compared those with PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, to those without it. They were free of major heart disease and diabetes when researchers checked their Veterans Administration medical records from 2009 and 2010. Checked again about two years later, 35 percent of those with PTSD but only 19 percent of those without it had developed insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes and hardening of the arteries. © 2013 NBCNews.com

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 17884 - Posted: 03.11.2013

By JAN HOFFMAN Physically active children generally report happier moods and fewer symptoms of depression than children who are less active. Now researchers may have found a reason: by one measure, exercise seems to help children cope with stress. Finnish researchers had 258 children wear accelerometers on their wrists for at least four days that registered the quality and quantity of their physical activity. Their parents used cotton swabs to take saliva samples at various times throughout a single day, which the researchers used to assess levels of cortisol, a hormone typically induced by physical or mental stress. There was no difference in the cortisol levels at home between children who were active and those who were less active. But when the researchers gave the children a standard psychosocial stress test at a clinic involving arithmetic and storytelling challenges, they found that those who had not engaged in physical activity had raised cortisol levels. The children who had moderate or vigorous physical activity showed relatively no rise in cortisol levels. Those results indicate a more positive physiological response to stress by children who were more active, the researchers said in a study that was published this week in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The children who were least active had the highest levels. “This study shows that children who are more active throughout their day have a better hormonal response to an acute stressful situation,” said Disa Hatfield, an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Rhode Island, who was not involved in the study. Copyright 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 11: Motor Control and Plasticity
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 5: The Sensorimotor System
Link ID: 17882 - Posted: 03.09.2013

By Kali Tal A few weeks ago an article in the Scientific American Twitter stream caught my eye. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) once again debuted as a “promising new treatment” for PTSD. EMDR, which has been repeatedly called “promising” over the last two decades, works only about as well for PTSD as other psychological treatment modalities with which it competes, primarily cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy. These so-called trauma focused treatments (TFT) all garner similar results. TFT have large effects in clinical trials, with two important caveats: 1) the enthusiasm of their various advocates bias the study results towards the treatment the researchers prefer; and, 2) they are effective for a significant number of carefully selected PTSD patients. The sad truth, however, is that current short-term treatments are not the solution for most patients with PTSD. Trial criteria often exclude those with comorbid disorders, multiple traumas, complex PTSD, and suicidal ideation, among others. Even when they are included, comorbid patients drop out of treatment studies at a much higher rate than those with simple PTSD, a problem that has implications for clinical practice. The large majority of those with PTSD also have other psychological disorders (commonly, substance abuse, depression, and anxiety disorders) and many of these patients have complex PTSD, which is both harder to treat, and more prone to relapse (see Fig. 1). Those who suffer from both PTSD and substance abuse (64%-84% of veterans, for example) often perceive the disorders as “functionally correlated.” Similarly, depression and PTSD are mutually reinforcing; each compounds the symptoms of the other. Both substance abuse and depression are notoriously difficult to treat, and harder to treat when comorbid with PTSD. Multiple studies document the long-term failure of PTSD treatment for veterans, but there are fewer on the effectiveness of therapies in treating comorbid PTSD in civilian populations. Existing studies challenge the assumption that PTSD treatments effective for simple PTSD, are also effective for combined PTSD and substance abuse, or PTSD and depression. © 2013 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 17857 - Posted: 02.27.2013

By JAMES DAO Over the past decade, about half a million veterans have received diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. Thousands have received both. Yet underlying the growing numbers lies a disconcerting question: How many of those diagnoses are definitive? And how many more have been missed? A series of articles and videos chronicling the experiences of military veterans who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan but continue to confront the medical and psychological scars of battle. No one can say. Though PTSD is hardly new, diagnoses still largely rely on self-reported symptoms. And while severe brain injuries are often clearly diagnosable, finding evidence of mild T.B.I.’s, particularly older ones, can be all but impossible. It means that for a soldier who, five years after duty in Iraq, still feels “not right,” with symptoms from headaches to sleeping problems to irritability, doctors can only guess at the cause. Maybe PTSD. Maybe T.B.I. Maybe both. Now, in one of the largest studies of its kind, a team of researchers based out of New York University’s medical school have begun a five-year study to find biological signals, known as biomarkers, that could provide reliable, objective evidence of those so-called invisible injuries of war. © 2013 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 17777 - Posted: 02.09.2013

By Ian Chant Stress and neglect at home take an obvious toll on kids as they grow up. Many decades of research have documented the psychological consequences in adulthood, including struggles with depression and difficulties maintaining relationships. Now studies are finding that a troubled home life has profound effects on neural development. Kids' brains are exquisitely sensitive. Even sleeping infants are affected by family arguments, a new study concludes. Researchers at the University of Oregon showed with functional MRI scans that infants from families who reported more than the usual levels of conflict in the home were more sensitive to aggressive or angry voices. While asleep, these babies had an uptick in brain activity in response to sentences read in an angry tone of voice, with most of the activity clustered in the parts of the brain responsible for regulating emotions and stress. “Infants are constantly absorbing and learning things, not just when we think we're teaching them,” says Alice Graham, a doctoral student who led the study, forthcoming in the journal Psychological Science. “We should expect that what's going on in the environment is literally shaping the physical connections in their brains.” As with family fighting, neglect leaves no external marks but powerfully affects the architecture of the brain. A Yale University study of teenagers found evidence using MRI scans that neglect and emotional abuse during childhood reduces the density of cells in emotion-regulating regions of the brain later on. The teens in the study did not meet the criteria for full-blown psychiatric disorders, according to the paper published in 2011 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, yet many experienced emotional problems such as impulsive behavior and risk taking. © 2013 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17762 - Posted: 02.05.2013

Emotional behaviour in childhood may be linked with heart disease in middle age, especially in women, research suggests. A study found being prone to distress at the age of seven was associated with a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease in later life. Conversely children who were better at paying attention and staying focused had reduced heart risk when older. The US researchers said more work was needed to understand the link. Their study looked at 377 adults who had taken part in research as children. At seven they had undergone several tests to look at emotional behaviour. They compared the results from this with a commonly used risk score for cardiovascular disease of participants now in their early 40s. After controlling for other factors which might influence heart disease risk, they found that high levels of distress at age seven were associated with a 31% increased risk of cardiovascular disease in middle-aged women. For men with high levels of distress in childhood - which included being easily frustrated and quick to anger - the increased risk of cardiovascular disease was 17%. For 40-year-olds who had been prone to distress as a child, the chances of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years increased from 3.2% to 4.2% for women and 7.3 to 8.5% for men. The researchers also looked at positive emotional factors such as having a good attention span and found this was linked with better cardiovascular health, although to a lesser degree. Other studies have linked adversity in childhood with cardiovascular disease in adults. BBC © 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17745 - Posted: 02.02.2013

by Andy Coghlan For the first time, genes chemically silenced by stress during life have been shown to remain silenced in eggs and sperm, allowing the effect to be passed down to the next generation. The finding, obtained from detailed DNA scans in developing mouse eggs and sperm, backs up mounting indirect evidence from statistical studies that the genetic impacts of environmental factors such as smoking, diet, stressed childhoods, famine and psychiatric disease can be passed down to future generations through a process called epigenetic inheritance. Many geneticists had considered this an impossibility. Genes can be switched off by altering DNA through a chemical process called methylation, in which enzymes respond to environmental factors by marking genes with methyl groups that prevent them from working. But the idea that genes carrying these epigenetic markings could be inherited is controversial. Previous studies had shown that as sperm and eggs develop, any markings added to genes during life are erased to provide a genetic "blank slate" from which the next generation develops. Any remaining marks were also thought to be erased when an egg is fertilised. Now a team led by Jamie Hackett at the University of Cambridge has challenged this picture. The researchers extracted the DNA from mouse primordial germ cells – the precursors to sperm and eggs – at various stages of their development and used markers to spot any methylated genes. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17718 - Posted: 01.28.2013

By Nathan Seppa Digestive enzymes that escape from the intestines into adjacent tissues and the bloodstream may be a key player in triggering shock, the dangerous condition that sometimes occurs after major medical trauma. A new study finds that giving enzyme inhibitors to rats in the throes of shock can alleviate the potentially lethal condition. The findings could shed some much needed light on shock, which typically shows up as the end result of some other medical problem such as hemorrhage, sepsis, a heart attack or a systemic allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. In all cases, blood pressure plummets, sabotaging circulation and threatening tissue viability. The new study, in the Jan. 23 Science Translational Medicine, suggests that digestive enzymes play a role in this crisis. The enzymes normally help break down food, but they need to be confined to the ducts in the pancreas, where they are made, or the small intestine, where they digest food. If not, the enzymes can digest a person’s own tissue. A mucosal lining in the intestines keeps the enzymes from escaping the gastrointestinal tract and from damaging the intestines themselves. But hemorrhage, sepsis and other conditions disrupt blood flow to the intestinal wall and hinder maintenance of this barrier, says Geert Schmid-Schönbein, a bioengineer at the University of California, San Diego in La Jolla. If digestive enzymes stray into the rest of the body, he hypothesizes, they could damage vital organs and trigger massive inflammation. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2013

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 17712 - Posted: 01.26.2013

By Jason G. Goldman Among animal welfare professionals, those who work at zoos might have the toughest jobs. Keepers and curators at zoo must alternately serve as biologists, psychologists, trainers, chefs, janitors, and educators. Often, those hardworking individuals take on multiple roles at once. Another important job that keepers and curators perform at the zoo is that of gerontologist. Gerontology, or the study of aging, is a field that has only been formally defined for forty years, and is becoming a more important consideration for the welfare of captive animals. With the exception of animals raised in a specific breeding program who are destined for reintroduction, animals that are born in zoos will typically live out their lives, and ultimately die, in zoos. Zoos need to therefore adequately prepare to deliver proper care – both physical and psychological – for their aging residents. Providing that sort of proper veterinary care might involve making adjustments to an animal’s environment, routine, or social groupings. Those changes, while made in the service of an animal’s welfare, could nonetheless result in psychological distress. Like any health care provider, a zoo’s animal care staff has to balance the medical health requirements of their charges with their psychological well-being. Human doctors can simply ask their patients how they feel; veterinarians do not have this option. Instead, zoo researchers conduct detailed observations of their animals to determine what consequences might follow any major change in management procedures. Tigers are typically thought of as solitary creatures. In the wild, according to common knowledge, if you see two or more tigers together (and it isn’t mating season), you can bet its a mother and her cubs. However, the social systems of big cats may be more malleable than once thought. © 2013 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 17711 - Posted: 01.26.2013

By DAVID DOBBS Psychological trauma dims tens of millions of lives around the world and helps create costs of at least $42 billion a year in the United States alone. But what is trauma, exactly? Both culturally and medically, we have long seen it as arising from a single, identifiable disruption. You witness a shattering event, or fall victim to it — and as the poet Walter de la Mare put it, “the human brain works slowly: first the blow, hours afterward the bruise.” The world returns more or less to normal, but you do not. In 1980, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defined trauma as “a recognizable stressor that would evoke significant symptoms of distress in almost everyone” — universally toxic, like a poison. But it turns out that most trauma victims — even survivors of combat, torture or concentration camps — rebound to live full, normal lives. That has given rise to a more nuanced view of trauma — less a poison than an infectious agent, a challenge that most people overcome but that may defeat those weakened by past traumas, genetics or other factors. Now, a significant body of work suggests that even this view is too narrow — that the environment just after the event, particularly other people’s responses, may be just as crucial as the event itself. The idea was demonstrated vividly in two presentations this fall at the Interdisciplinary Conference on Culture, Mind and Brain at the University of California, Los Angeles. Each described reframing a classic model of traumatic experience — one in lab rats, the other in child soldiers. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17637 - Posted: 12.27.2012

By JAMES DAO Reviving a 20-year debate over illnesses of veterans of the 1991 Persian Gulf war, a new scientific paper presents evidence that nerve agents released by the bombing of Iraqi chemical weapons depots just before the ground war began could have carried downwind and fallen on American troops staged in Saudi Arabia. The paper, published in the journal Neuroepidemiology, tries to rebut the longstanding Pentagon position, supported by many scientists, that neurotoxins, particularly sarin gas, could not have carried far enough to sicken American forces. The authors are James J. Tuite and Dr. Robert Haley, who has written several papers asserting links between chemical exposures and gulf war illnesses. They assembled data from meteorological and intelligence reports to support their thesis that American bombs were powerful enough to propel sarin from depots in Muthanna and Falluja high into the atmosphere, where winds whisked it hundreds of miles south to the Saudi border. Once over the American encampments, the toxic plume could have stalled and fallen back to the surface because of weather conditions, the paper says. Though troops would have been exposed to low levels of the agent, the authors assert that the exposures may have continued for several days, increasing their impact. Though chemical weapons detectors sounded alarms in those encampments in the days after the January 1991 bombing raids, they were viewed as false by many troops, the authors report. © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 17605 - Posted: 12.14.2012

A specific pattern of neuronal firing in a brain reward circuit instantly rendered mice vulnerable to depression-like behavior induced by acute severe stress, a study supported by the National Institutes of Health has found. When researchers used a high-tech method to mimic the pattern, previously resilient mice instantly succumbed to a depression-like syndrome of social withdrawal and reduced pleasure-seeking — they avoided other animals and lost their sweet tooth. When the firing pattern was inhibited in vulnerable mice, they instantly became resilient. "For the first time, we have shown that split-second control of specific brain circuitry can switch depression-related behavior on and off with flashes of an LED light," explained Ming-Hu Han, Ph.D. External Web Site Policy, of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City, a grantee of NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). "These results add to mounting clues about the mechanism of fast-acting antidepressant responses." Han, Eric Nestler, M.D., Ph.D. External Web Site Policy,of Mount Sinai, and colleagues, report on their study in the journal Nature. In a companion article, NIMH grantees Kay Tye, Ph.D. External Web Site Policy, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., and Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D. External Web Site Policy, of Stanford University, Stanford, Calif., used the same cutting-edge technique to control mouse brain activity in real time. Their study reveals that the same reward circuit neuronal activity pattern had the opposite effect when the depression-like behavior was induced by daily presentations of chronic, unpredictable mild physical stressors, instead of by shorter-term exposure to severe social stress.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 17604 - Posted: 12.14.2012