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By Abby Goodnough The addiction treatment program at Highland Hospital’s emergency room is only one way that cities and health care providers are connecting with people in unusual settings. Another is in San Francisco, where city health workers are taking to the streets to find homeless people with opioid use disorder and offering them buprenorphine prescriptions on the spot. The city is spending $6 million on the program in the next two years, partly in response to a striking increase in the number of people injecting drugs on sidewalks and in other public areas. Most of the money will go toward hiring 10 new clinicians for the city’s Street Medicine Team, which already provides medical care for the homeless. Members of the team will travel around the city offering buprenorphine prescriptions to addicted homeless people, which they can fill the same day at a city-run pharmacy. At the end of a recent yearlong pilot, about 20 of the 95 participants were still taking buprenorphine under the care of the street medicine team. Dr. Barry Zevin, the city’s medical director for Street Medicine and Shelter Health, hopes to provide buprenorphine to 250 more people through the program. That’s only a tiny fraction of the estimated 22,500 people in San Francisco who actively inject drugs, he said, but it’s a start. What follows is a condensed, edited interview with Dr. Zevin, who has been providing medical care to the homeless in San Francisco since 1991. Why offer buprenorphine on the streets instead of in a medical clinic? Most health care for the homeless happens under the model of waiting for people to come in to a health center. But a lot of people never come in. There are a lot of mental health, substance abuse and cognitive problems in this population, a lot of chronic illness. Appointments are the enemy of homeless people. On the street there are no appointments, and no penalties or judgments for missing appointments. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Drug Abuse
Link ID: 25354 - Posted: 08.20.2018

By Daniela J. Lamas NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — It was a Sunday afternoon, and in the cozy house at the end of the street, Andrew Foote sat in his usual chair while a movie played on the television. The young man’s hands rested on two pillows, wrists bent and fingers contracted into fists. From time to time, he rocked forward as if to stand but then collapsed backward, into the chair. His few words were slow and slurred. The simple fact that Andrew was living at home is somewhat miraculous. Heroin and fentanyl caused him to stop breathing, but he learned to breathe on his own again. His kidneys failed and then recovered. But Andrew’s brain, starved of oxygen too long, was left severely damaged. More than four years have passed since the overdose. For Andrew’s parents, the fear that their son will die has now been replaced by a new set of realities and unanswerable questions: Is this a good life? Is he happy? What will happen to him when they grow old? In the opioid epidemic, outcomes like Andrew’s are a largely unseen casualty. “People think that if you overdose on drugs, you either die or you’re O.K.,” his mother, Linda Foote, told me. “But that’s not true.” Andrew was a golden child. He was the oldest of four, a high school football star who remained humble despite the trophies that decorated his room — now alongside a urinary catheter, pill boxes and equipment for his feeding tube. “How many touchdowns did you make in high school?” his mother prompted. His long-term memory had remained relatively preserved, though it was hard for him to call up the words. As we waited, my gaze traveled to a framed collage of family photos. There was Andrew in his letterman’s jacket, blond hair cut short, lips curled upward in a shy smile. He was still a handsome guy. Mrs. Foote took pride in this, but his expression had dimmed. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Drug Abuse
Link ID: 25353 - Posted: 08.20.2018

Genevieve Fox Paola Peretti is losing her eyesight and she wouldn’t have it any other way. When she was 14, she became very short-sighted, virtually overnight. Three years later came the diagnosis of Stargardt macular dystrophy, a degenerative disease that destroys central vision, damages colour perception and results in blindness. Two years ago, finding herself in a place of both “desperation and hope,” the 32-year-old Italian language teacher and debut novelist decided to step out from the shadow of her hereditary condition, which she only ever aired with her family, and confront her fear of the dark. The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree is the result: a captivating, wise and highly visual children’s novel about living in the face of fear. Its heroine, nine-year-old Mafalda, also has Stargardt disease. A bewitching, brave little girl, she will lose her sight completely within six months, as Peretti was expecting to do at some unspecified point in her own life when she began the novel. The eponymous cherry tree is next to Mafalda’s school. Each day, she has to get closer to it before it comes into focus. As her short-sightedness increases, so does her fear of the future. “She is losing her life as she knows it,” says Peretti, who explains that she herself can see “half of what other people see”. Mafalda has blank patches in both eyes, and they get bigger. Peretti has a blank patch in her right eye. I am seated a couple of feet from her as we talk in her publisher’s office. She says I am partially blurred. © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Vision; Emotions
Link ID: 25352 - Posted: 08.20.2018

By Abby Goodnough OAKLAND, Calif. — Every year, thousands of people addicted to opioids show up at hospital emergency rooms in withdrawal so agonizing it leaves them moaning and writhing on the floor. Usually, they’re given medicines that help with vomiting or diarrhea and sent on their way, maybe with a few numbers to call about treatment. When Rhonda Hauswirth arrived at the Highland Hospital E.R. here, retching and shaking violently after a day and a half without heroin, something very different happened. She was offered a dose of buprenorphine on the spot. One of three medications approved in the United States to treat opioid addiction, it works by easing withdrawal symptoms and cravings. The tablet dissolved under her tongue while she slumped in a plastic chair, her long red hair obscuring her ashen face. Soon, the shakes stopped. “I could focus a little more. I could see straight,” said Ms. Hauswirth, 40. “I’d never heard of anyone going to an emergency room to do that.” Highland, a clattering big-city hospital where security wands constantly beep as new patients get scanned for weapons, is among a small group of institutions that have started initiating opioid addiction treatment in the E.R. Their aim is to plug a gaping hole in a medical system that consistently fails to provide treatment on demand, or any evidence-based treatment at all, even as more than two million Americans suffer from opioid addiction. According to the latest estimates, overdoses involving opioids killed nearly 50,000 people last year. By providing buprenorphine around the clock to people in crisis — people who may never otherwise seek medical care — these E.R.s are doing their best to ensure a rare opportunity isn’t lost. “With a single E.R. visit we can provide 24 to 48 hours of withdrawal suppression, as well as suppression of cravings,” said Dr. Andrew Herring, an emergency medicine specialist at Highland who runs the buprenorphine program. “It can be this revelatory moment for people — even in the depth of crisis, in the middle of the night. It shows them there’s a pathway back to feeling normal.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Drug Abuse
Link ID: 25351 - Posted: 08.18.2018

By Kerri Smith, Cole Skinner was hanging from a wall above an abandoned quarry when he heard a car pull up. He and his friends bolted, racing along a narrow path on the quarry’s edge and hopping over a barbed-wire fence to exit the grounds. The chase is part of the fun for Skinner and his friend Alex McCallum-Toppin, both 15 and pupils at a school in Faringdon, UK. The two say that they seek out places such as construction sites and disused buildings—not to get into trouble, but to explore. There are also bragging rights to be earned. “It’s just something you can say: ‘Yeah, I’ve been in an abandoned quarry’,” says McCallum-Toppin. “You can talk about it with your friends.” Science has often looked at risk-taking among adolescents as a monolithic problem for parents and the public to manage or endure. When Eva Telzer, a neuroscientist at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, asks family, friends, undergraduates or researchers in related fields about their perception of teenagers, “there’s almost never anything positive,” she says. “It’s a pervasive stereotype.” But how Alex and Cole dabble with risk—considering its social value alongside other pros and cons—is in keeping with a more complex picture emerging from neuroscience. Adolescent behaviour goes beyond impetuous rebellion or uncontrollable hormones, says Adriana Galván, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “How we define risk-taking is going through a shift.” © 2018 Scientific American

Keyword: Development of the Brain; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 25350 - Posted: 08.18.2018

/ By Caroline Williams I‘m not the kind of girl who jumps into a strange man’s car and hopes for the best. Especially when a quick Google stalk reveals him to be recovering from an addiction to methamphetamine. But having been assured by someone I trust that he was “one of the good guys,” I accepted his offer of a ride to the airport and … hoped for the best. WHAT I LEFT OUT is a recurring feature in which book authors are invited to share anecdotes and narratives that, for whatever reason, did not make it into their final manuscripts. In this installment, Caroline Williams shares a story that was left out of “My Plastic Brain: One Woman’s Yearlong Journey to Discover if Science Can Improve Her Mind,” published by Prometheus Books. Some books make it sound so easy: Change the way you think, and hey presto, you can become a different person. In hindsight I’m glad I did. After many months talking to scientists about brain change, it was this journey that prompted me to think more deeply about what that actually meant. I was in Lawrence, Kansas, researching a book that I hoped would apply the latest science to make real, measurable, and lasting changes to my brain. I wanted to learn, among other things, how to concentrate better and to overcome my irrational anxieties about life. I was in Kansas to try to boost my powers of creativity. Copyright 2018 Undark

Keyword: Learning & Memory; Depression
Link ID: 25349 - Posted: 08.18.2018

Decca Aitkenhead Annual media coverage of August’s exam results has traditionally conformed to an unwritten rule that all photos must show euphoric teenagers celebrating multiple A*s. This year, the images may tell a different story. Radical reforms to GCSEs are widely predicted to produce disappointment, and many teenagers are bracing themselves for the worst. Parents may be unsympathetic, however, if their 15- or 16-year-old spent the exam year ignoring all their wise advice to revise, and instead lay in bed until lunchtime and partied all night with friends. Even if the exam results turn out to be good, many will wonder why their teenager took so many risks with their future. Sarah-Jayne Blakemore looks barely older than a teenager herself. The award-winning professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London is, in fact, 44 and has made the study of the adolescent brain her life’s work. She has been critical of the very existence of GCSEs, arguing that they impose “enormous stress” on teenagers at a time when their brains are going through huge change. “Until about 15 or 20 years ago,” she says, “we just didn’t know that the brain develops at all within the teenage years.” Until then, it was assumed that teenage behaviour was almost entirely down to hormonal changes in puberty, but brain scans and psychological experiments have now found that adolescence is a critical period of neurological change, much of which is responsible for the unique characteristics of adolescent behaviour. Far from being a defective or inferior version of an adult brain, the adolescent mind is both unique and – to Blakemore – beautiful. “Teenagers,” she says tenderly, “are brilliant.” © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Development of the Brain
Link ID: 25348 - Posted: 08.18.2018

Imagine the foul smell of an ash tray or burning hair. Now imagine if these kinds of smells were present in your life, but without a source. A new study finds that 1 in 15 Americans (or 6.5 percent) over the age of 40 experiences phantom odors. The study, published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (link is external), is the first in the U.S. to use nationally representative data to examine the prevalence of and risk factors for phantom odor perception. The study could inform future research aiming to unlock the mysteries of phantom odors. The study was led by Kathleen Bainbridge, Ph.D., of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health. Bainbridge and her team used data from 7,417 participants over 40 years of age from the 2011-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) (link is external). The NHANES data were collected by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; data collection was partly funded by the NIDCD. Donald Leopold, M.D., one of the study’s authors and clinical professor in the Department of Surgery at University of Vermont Medical Center, Burlington, adds that patients who perceive strong phantom odors often have a miserable quality of life, and sometimes cannot maintain a healthy weight. The ability to identify odors tends to decrease with age. Phantom odor perception, on the other hand, seems to improve with age. One previous study, using data from a community in Sweden, showed that 4.9 percent of people over the age of 60 experience phantom odors, with a higher prevalence in women than men. The present study found a similar prevalence in the over-60 age group, but in examining a broader age range, found an even higher prevalence in ages 40-60. The study also found that about twice as many women as men reported phantom odors, and that the female predominance was particularly striking for those under age 60.

Keyword: Chemical Senses (Smell & Taste)
Link ID: 25347 - Posted: 08.18.2018

Sara Reardon Mothers with high levels of the pesticide DDT in their blood during pregnancy are more likely to bear children who develop autism, according to a study of blood samples from more than one million pregnant women in Finland. The World Health Organization estimates that globally, one in 160 children has autism. Any case of autism is likely due to a number of factors, including genetics and other environmental exposures. Although the authors stress that the findings do not prove that autism is caused by DDT — whose use has been banned in many countries for decades over concerns about its effects on wildlife— it is the first such association using a direct measure of exposure to the pesticide. Researchers who investigate links between environment and disease say that further studies are needed to determine the mechanism, if any, by which DDT exposure could trigger autism. The study, published on 16 August in the American Journal of Psychiatry1, also examined mothers’ exposure to another set of chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and found no association between these substances and autism. That finding deepens questions about whether or how DDT might be linked to autism. © 2018 Springer Nature Limited

Keyword: Autism; Neurotoxins
Link ID: 25346 - Posted: 08.17.2018

/ By Richard G ‘Bugs’ Stevens Light pollution is often characterized as a soft issue in environmentalism. This perception needs to change. Light at night constitutes a massive assault on the ecology of the planet, including us. It also has indirect impacts because, while 20 percent of electricity is used for lighting worldwide, at least 30 percent of that light is wasted. Wasted light serves no purpose at all, and excessive lighting is too often used beyond what is needed for driving, or shopping, or Friday-night football. It might be that virtually all aspects of health and wellbeing are dependent to one extent or another on a synchronized circadian rhythmicity, with a natural cycle of bright days and dark nights. The electric light bulb is touted as one of the most significant technological advancements of human beings. It ranks right up there with the wheel, control of fire, antibiotics, and dynamite. But as with any new and spectacular technology, there are invariably unintended consequences. With electric light has come an obliteration of night in much of the modern world; both outside in the city, and indoors during what was once ‘night’ according to the natural position of the sun. Life has evolved for several billion years with a reliable cycle of bright light from the sun during the day, and darkness at night. This has led to the development of an innate circadian rhythm in our physiology; that circadian rhythm depends on the solar cycle of night and day to maintain its precision. During the night, beginning at about sunset, body temperature drops, metabolism slows, hunger abates, sleepiness increases, and the hormone melatonin rises dramatically in the blood. This natural physiological transition to night is of ancient origin, and melatonin is crucial for the transition to proceed as it should. Copyright 2018 Undark

Keyword: Biological Rhythms
Link ID: 25345 - Posted: 08.17.2018

Alex Smith Dr. Jodi Jackson has worked for years to address infant mortality in Kansas. Often, that means she is treating newborns in a high-tech neonatal intensive care unit with sophisticated equipment whirring and beeping. That is exactly the wrong place for an infant like Lili. Lili's mother, Victoria, used heroin for the first two-thirds of her pregnancy and hated herself for it. (NPR is using her first name only, because she has used illegal drugs.) "When you are in withdrawal, you feel your baby that's in withdrawal too," says Victoria, recalling the sensations she remembers from her pregnancy. "You feel your baby uncomfortable inside of you, and you know that. And then you use and then the baby's not [uncomfortable], and that's a really awful, vulgar thought, but it's true. That's how it is. It's terrible." Though Victoria went into recovery before giving birth, Lili was born dependent on the methadone Victoria took to treat her opioid addiction. Treatment for infants like Lili has evolved, Jackson says. "What happened 10, 15 years ago, is [drug dependent] babies were immediately removed from the mom, and they were put in an ICU warmer with bright lights with nobody holding them," says Jackson, who is a neonatologist at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. "Of course, they are going to be upset about that! And so the risk of withdrawal is much higher." © 2018 npr

Keyword: Drug Abuse; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 25344 - Posted: 08.17.2018

Jules Howard And so, the killer whale known as J35 is back to her old self. She is no longer carrying the dead body of a calf she held aloft in the water for more than two weeks. Her so-called tour of grief has ended, to the relief of a global audience who had become wrapped up in this heart-wrenching animal drama. Great news, right? Sure. Yet I have a strange feeling in my stomach. It’s a familiar one. The pedant in me is stirring, eager to get us to consider what we know about animals and what we don’t – and may never – know about their lives. It isn’t my aim to belittle J35 and her apparent pain, far from it. It’s rather to make sure we don’t accidentally dilute the emotions of a killer whale by making it all about us. First, I have form on this issue. A while ago, I published a book called Death on Earth and episodes of apparent animal grief was one of the areas upon which I focused. During my research, I drew up a list of all sorts of anecdotes about animals labelled (by respectable researchers) as evidence of “mourning” and “grief”. These included police dogs pawing at their master’s coffins, macaques resuscitating fallen loved ones and turtles appearing on beaches to mourn at makeshift graves made by humans for the turtles that didn’t make it. I was told by members of the public on Twitter about dogs going off food after losing kennel-mates and horses burying dead stablemates in hay and I was reminded regularly of those BBC documentaries featuring elephants in apparent (but I would argue edited) tears at the loss of a loved one. © 2018 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Emotions; Evolution
Link ID: 25343 - Posted: 08.17.2018

By Alex Therrien Health reporter, BBC News A low-carb diet could shorten life expectancy by up to four years, a study suggests. Low-carb diets, such as Atkins, have become increasingly popular for weight loss and have shown promise for lowering the risk of some illnesses. But a US study over 25 years indicates that moderate carb consumption - or switching meat for plant-based protein and fats - is healthier. The study relied on people remembering the amount of carbohydrates they ate. 'Gaining widespread popularity' In the study, published in The Lancet Public Health, 15,400 people from the US filled out questionnaires on the food and drink they consumed, along with portion sizes. From this, scientists estimated the proportion of calories they got from carbohydrates, fats, and protein. After following the group for an average of 25 years, researchers found that those who got 50-55% of their energy from carbohydrates (the moderate carb group and in line with UK dietary guidelines) had a slightly lower risk of death compared with the low and high-carb groups. Carbohydrates include vegetables, fruit and sugar but the main source of them is starchy foods, such as potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and cereals. The NHS Eatwell Guide provides details on how to achieve this kind of healthy, balanced diet and reduce the risk of serious illnesses in the long term. Researchers estimated that, from the age of 50, people in the moderate carb group were on average expected to live for another 33 years. © 2018 BBC

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 25342 - Posted: 08.17.2018

By Nicole M. Baran When Kathleen Morrison stepped onto the stage to present her research on the effects of stress on the brains of mothers and infants, she was nearly seven and a half months pregnant. The convergence was not lost on Morrison, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, nor on her audience. If there ever was a group of scientists that would be both interested in her findings and unfazed by her late-stage pregnancy, it was this one. Nearly 90 percent were women. It is uncommon for any field of science to be dominated by women. In 2015, women received only 34.4 percent of all STEM degrees.1 Even though women now earn more than half of PhDs in biology-related disciplines, only 36 percent of assistant professors and 18 percent of full professors in biology-related fields are women.2 Yet, 70 percent of the speakers at this year’s meeting of the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences (OSSD), where Morrison spoke, were women. Women make up 67 percent of the regular members and 81 percent of trainee members of OSSD, which was founded by the Society for Women’s Health Research. Similarly, 68 percent of the speakers at the annual meeting of the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology (SBN) in 2017 were women. In the field of behavioral neuroendocrinology, 58 percent of professors and 62 percent of student trainees are women. The leadership of both societies also skews female, and the current and recent past presidents of both societies are women. It wasn’t always this way. As Elizabeth Adkins-Regan, a professor emerita at Cornell University and the recent past president of the SBN puts it: “The whole field was founded by guys!” “It was not a women’s field in the beginning,” agrees C. Sue Carter, director of the Kinsey Institute and professor of biology at Indiana University. © 2018 NautilusThink Inc

Keyword: Sexual Behavior; Hormones & Behavior
Link ID: 25341 - Posted: 08.17.2018

By Kelly Servick Nestled in the backs of our eyes, there are cells that might be able to repair damage from some vision-impairing diseases. But so far, scientists haven’t managed to kick them into gear. Now, a team of researchers claims to have prompted these cells, called Müller glia, to regenerate one type of light receptor cell in the eyes of mice. According to their study, published today in Nature, these new cells could detect incoming light and network with other cells in the eye to relay signals to the brain, a potential step toward reversing certain genetic eye conditions and injuries. But others are skeptical of that claim and argue the signals could have come from existing light-sensing cells in the eye—not new ones. “Nobody more than me wants this to be true,” says Seth Blackshaw, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, “but I have serious concerns about this study.” The new work is part of a long effort to regenerate photoreceptors, neurons in the retina that transform incoming light into electrical signals. Cone receptors are responsible for our daytime vision and perception of colors, and the more sensitive rod receptors enable vision in low light. The destruction of these cells—or of the retinal ganglion cells that transmit their signals to the brain—can diminish vision and even cause blindness. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Keyword: Vision; Glia
Link ID: 25340 - Posted: 08.16.2018

By Andrew R. Calderon In 1978, Thomas Barefoot was convicted of killing a police officer in Texas. During the sentencing phase of his trial, the prosecution called two psychiatrists to testify about Barefoot’s “future dangerousness,” a capital-sentencing requirement that asked the jury to determine if the defendant posed a threat to society. The psychiatrists declared Barefoot a “criminal psychopath,” and warned that whether he was inside or outside a prison, there was a “one hundred percent and absolute chance” that he would commit future acts of violence that would “constitute a continuing threat to society.” Informed by these clinical predictions, the jury sentenced Barefoot to death. Although such psychiatric forecasting is less common now in capital cases, a battery of risk assessment tools has since been developed that aims to help courts determine appropriate sentencing, probation and parole. Many of these risk assessments use algorithms to weigh personal, psychological, historical and environmental factors to make predictions of future behavior. But it is an imperfect science, beset by accusations of racial bias and false positives. Now a group of neuroscientists at the University of New Mexico propose to use brain imaging technology to improve risk assessments. Kent Kiehl, a professor of psychology, neuroscience and the law at the University of New Mexico, said that by measuring brain structure and activity they might better predict the probability an individual will offend again.

Keyword: Aggression; Brain imaging
Link ID: 25339 - Posted: 08.16.2018

By Gretchen Reynolds Sitting for hours without moving can slow the flow of blood to our brains, according to a cautionary new study of office workers, a finding that could have implications for long-term brain health. But getting up and strolling for just two minutes every half-hour seems to stave off this decline in brain blood flow and may even increase it. Delivering blood to our brains is one of those automatic internal processes that most of us seldom consider, although it is essential for life and cognition. Brain cells need the oxygen and nutrients that blood contains, and several large arteries constantly shuttle blood up to our skulls. Because this flow is so necessary, the brain tightly regulates it, tracking a variety of physiological signals, including the levels of carbon dioxide in our blood, to keep the flow rate within a very narrow range. But small fluctuations do occur, both sudden and lingering, and may have repercussions. Past studies in people and animals indicate that slight, short-term drops in brain blood flow can temporarily cloud thinking and memory, while longer-term declines are linked to higher risks for some neurodegenerative diseases, including dementia. Other research has shown that uninterrupted sitting dampens blood flow to various parts of the body. Most of those studies looked at the legs, which are affected the most by our postures, upright or not. Stay seated for several hours, and blood flow within the many blood vessels of the legs can slacken. Whether a similar decline might occur in the arteries carrying blood to our brains was not known, however. So for the new study, which was published in June in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers at Liverpool John Moores University in England gathered 15 healthy, adult, male and female office workers. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Alzheimers
Link ID: 25338 - Posted: 08.16.2018

By Dana G. Smith Postpartum depression afflicts 10 to 20 percent of the nearly four million women who give birth in the U.S. every year. The condition hits at a vulnerable moment when mother and infant normally begin to bond. Depressed moms pay less attention to their newborns, so the critical attachment between mother and baby does not occur. For some women, postpartum depression can last for years, and the lack of maternal bonding can interfere with children’s development through adolescence. “There's a real need to identify women and treat them, and treat them quickly,” says Samantha Meltzer-Brody, director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Center for Women’s Mood Disorders. “When mom is not doing well, it becomes a crisis for the whole family at this vulnerable time. But like many issues related to mental health, and specifically women's mental health, it has been neglected.” Despite the frequency of postpartum depression, no treatments specifically target it. Many women who suffer from the condition receive standard antidepressants like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Prozac) but it is unclear how well these drugs work because the neurochemical serotonin may play only a secondary role in postpartum depression or may not be involved at all. Instead, researchers hypothesize that a shift in female reproductive hormones during pregnancy is the main cause. Now a new drug that has gone through late-stage clinical trials aims to correct the consequences of these hormonal changes, and early results in human trials suggest it may be working. © 2018 Scientific American

Keyword: Depression; Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 25337 - Posted: 08.16.2018

By Neuroskeptic On this blog I usually focus on academic, scientific neuroscience. However, there is a big world outside the laboratory and, in the real world, the concepts of neuroscience are being used (and abused) in ways that would make any honest neuroscientist blush. In this post I’m going to focus on three recent examples of neuro-products: commercial products that are promoted as having some kind of neuroscience-based benefit. 1) Neuro Connect Golf Bands We’ll start out with a silly one. This product, full name Neuro Connect™ INFUSED Shaft Bands, costs $150 for a pack of ten bands. You’re supposed to place one of these bands just below the grip on your golf clubs. This will improve your golf swing by providing a ‘subtle energy connection’ between your club and your brain. Here’s how it works: “A field emitted by the shaft bands intersects with the central nervous system when the club is swung around the body. Swinging with an INFUSED shaft band immediately enhances the function of nerve receptors in muscles and joints.” Now, generally speaking, when an “energy field” interacts with your nerves, the result is rather painful, but Neuro Connect uses a special “subtle energy pattern” which has no known negative effects. I suspect the field has no positive effects either, and that it doesn’t exist. On their FAQ, under the heading of “Do you have any scientific proof the devices work?”, Neuro Connect admit that “credible peer-reviewed studies take years to complete” which I take as a roundabout way of saying “no”.

Keyword: Miscellaneous
Link ID: 25336 - Posted: 08.16.2018

By Nicholas Bakalar When it comes to losing weight, more can be better. A lot better, according to a new study. Researchers studied 7,670 overweight or obese people who wanted to lose weight. Using data on current weight, weight a year ago and maximum lifetime weight, they tested the association of long-term weight loss with lowering the risk for metabolic syndrome — a constellation of unhealthy conditions that includes high blood pressure, insulin resistance, excess fat around the waist, high triglycerides and low HDL, or “good,” cholesterol. Compared to people who maintained less than a 5 percent weight loss for one year, those who lost 5 to 10 percent lowered their risk for metabolic syndrome by 22 percent. A 15 to 19 percent loss was associated with a 37 percent lower risk, and those who maintained a loss of 20 percent or more had a 53 percent lower risk. The study is in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Only 5.5 percent of the participants succeeded in holding a 20 percent or greater weight loss for one year. “Any weight loss is beneficial,” said the lead author, Gregory Knell of the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston. “You don’t have to reach 20 percent to have a benefit. But if you are able to lose more weight, you get some really significant numbers related to metabolic health.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Obesity
Link ID: 25335 - Posted: 08.16.2018