Chapter 15. Emotions, Aggression, and Stress

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While immune cells called neutrophils are known to act as infantry in the body’s war on germs, a National Institutes of Health-funded study suggests they can act as medics as well. By studying rodents, researchers showed that instead of attacking germs, some neutrophils may help heal the brain after an intracerebral hemorrhage, a form of stroke caused by ruptured blood vessels. The study suggests that two neutrophil-related proteins may play critical roles in protecting the brain from stroke-induced damage and could be used as treatments for intracerebral hemorrhage. “Intracerebral hemorrhage is a damaging and often fatal form of stroke for which there are no effective medicines,” said Jaroslaw Aronowski, M.D., Ph.D., professor, department of neurology, at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and senior author of the study published in Nature Communications. “Our results are a hopeful first step towards developing a treatment for this devastating form of stroke.” Accounting for 10 to 15 percent of all strokes, intracerebral hemorrhages happen when blood vessels rupture and leak blood into the brain, often leading to death or long-term disability. Chronic high blood pressure is the leading risk factor for these types of strokes. The initial phase of damage appears to be caused by the pressure of blood leaking into the brain. Over time, further damage may be caused by the accumulation of toxic levels of blood products, infiltrating immune cells, and swelling. Decades of research suggest that neutrophils are some of the earliest immune cells to respond to a hemorrhage, and that they may both harm and heal the brain.

Keyword: Stroke; Neuroimmunology
Link ID: 24090 - Posted: 09.21.2017

By Jessica Hamzelou Aggression and sexual behaviour are controlled by the same brain cells in male mice – but not in females. The finding suggests that males are more likely to become aggressive when they see a potential mate than females. The brain regions that contain these cells look similar in mice and humans, say the researchers behind the study, but they don’t yet know if their finding has relevance to human behaviour. Similar to humans, male mice are, on the whole, more aggressive than females. Because of this, most research into aggression has overlooked females, says Dayu Lin at New York University. “I would say 90 per cent of aggression studies have been done in males,” she says. “We know very little about aggression in females.” But females can be aggressive too. For instance, female mice can be aggressive when protecting their newborn pups. In 2011, Lin and her colleagues studied a region of the brain called the hypothalamus, responsible for regulating many different behaviours. They discovered a set of cells within this region in male mice that controlled both aggressive and sexual behaviours. When the cells were shut off, the mice didn’t mate or show aggression, but both behaviours could be triggered when the cells were stimulated. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Aggression; Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24076 - Posted: 09.19.2017

Nicola Davis A pioneering approach to tackling a host of diseases using an electrical implant could eventually reduce or even end pill-taking for some patients, researchers have claimed. The technology relies on electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve – a bundle of nerve fibres that runs from the brain to the abdomen, branching off to organs including the heart, spleen, lungs and gut, and which relays signals from the body’s organs to the brain and vice versa. The pacemaker-like device is typically implanted below the left collarbone with wires running to the vagus nerve in the neck and is already used to tackle treatment-resistant epilepsy and depression. But a growing body of researchers say that such “hacking” of the body’s neural circuits could alleviate the symptoms of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease by tapping into a recently discovered link between the brain and the immune system. That, they say, could bring hope for those with currently untreatable conditions while raising the possibility for others of dramatically reducing medication, or even cutting it out altogether. “In your lifetime and mine we are going to see millions of people with devices so they don’t have to take drugs,” said Kevin Tracey, president of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and co-founder of bioelectronics company, SetPoint Medical.

Keyword: Stress; Depression
Link ID: 24051 - Posted: 09.09.2017

Claudia Dreifus Dr. Gregory Berns, 53, a neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta, spends his days scanning the brains of dogs, trying to figure out what they’re thinking. The research is detailed in a new book, “What It’s Like to Be a Dog.” Among the findings: Your dog may really love you for you — not for your food. We spoke during his recent visit to New York City and later by telephone. The conversation below has been edited and condensed for space and clarity. How did your canine studies begin? It really started with the mission that killed bin Laden. There had been this dog, Cairo, who’d leapt out of the helicopter with the Navy SEALs. Watching the news coverage gave me an idea. Helicopters are incredibly noisy. Dogs have extremely sensitive hearing. I thought, “Gee, if the military can train dogs to get into noisy helicopters, it might be possible to get them into noisy M.R.I.s.” Why? To find out what dogs think and feel. A year earlier, my favorite dog, a pug named Newton, had died. I thought about him a lot. I wondered if he’d loved me, or if our relationship had been more about the food I’d provided. As a neuroscientist, I’d seen how M.R.I. studies helped us understand which parts of the human brain were involved in emotional processes. Perhaps M.R.I. testing could teach us similar things about dogs. I wondered if dogs had analogous functions in their brains to what we humans have. The big impediment doing this type of testing was to find some way to get dogs into an M.R.I. and get them to hold still for long enough to obtain useful images. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Brain imaging; Emotions
Link ID: 24047 - Posted: 09.08.2017

James Gorman African wild dogs sneeze. And that’s a first. No other social animal has been reported to cast a vote, of sorts, by sneezing, although in humans sneezing may once have expressed a negative opinion, as in, “nothing to sneeze at.” Wild dog sneezing is different. For one thing it seems to indicate a positive reaction to a proposal before a group of dogs. When a pack of these dogs is getting ready to hunt, scientists reported Tuesday, the more sneezes, the more likely they are to actually get moving. Just about all social organisms make group decisions that require reaching a consensus. If monkeys or meerkats are looking for a better place to forage, they need to reach a consensus about moving on among a minimum number of animals — called a quorum, just like in Congress. Even some bacteria do this before releasing toxins or lighting up with bioluminescence. Bacteria use chemical signals but larger animals often use sounds as a way of saying, I’m in. However, among grunts, huffs, piping signals and others, the sneeze had not been reported as one of those signals until a group of American, British and Australian researchers published their observations of African dogs in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. They were studying the dogs where they live in Botswana to see how they decide to go on a hunt. Like most carnivores, the wild dogs sleep a lot. But at some point one of the pack will start what is called a rally, getting all the other members excited and milling around as if they want to play. Sometimes the rallies are successful, and off the pack goes. Sometimes the pack members lie down and go back to sleep. Neil R. Jordan of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, the senior author of the report, noticed that the successful rallies there seemed to have more sneezing. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Aggression
Link ID: 24045 - Posted: 09.07.2017

By TARA PARKER-POPE It started as a simple conversation about a child’s birthday party. But it quickly escalated into a full-blown marital rift. She accused him of neglecting the family. He said she was yelling. “Whatever,” she said. “Go. Go.” “Go where?” he replied. “I don’t know,” she told him. “I don’t want to talk to you anymore.” The bickering parents were among 43 couples taking part in an Ohio State University study exploring how marital interactions influence a person’s health. Every couple in the study — just like couples in the real world — had experienced some form of routine marital conflict. Hot-button topics included managing money, spending time together as a family or an in-law intruding on the relationship. But while marital spats were universal among the couples, how they handled them was not. Some couples argued constructively and even with kindness, while others — like the couple fighting about the birthday party — were hostile and negative. What made the difference? The hostile couples were most likely to be those who weren’t getting much sleep. “When people have slept less, it’s a little like looking at the world through dark glasses,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a longtime relationship scientist and director of the Ohio State Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. “Their moods are poorer. We’re grumpier. Lack of sleep hurts the relationship.” The men and women in the study had been married from three to 27 years. They reported varying amounts of sleep — anywhere from three and a half to nine hours a night. Each couple made two visits to the lab, where the partners were prodded to talk about the issues that caused the most conflict in their relationship. Then the researchers analyzed videos of their exchanges using well-established scoring techniques to assess positive and negative interactions and hostile and constructive responses. After all the data were parsed, a clear pattern emerged. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Sleep; Emotions
Link ID: 24034 - Posted: 09.05.2017

By Matt Reynolds Putting on a brave face won’t fool this algorithm. A new system that rates how much pain someone is in just by looking at their face could help doctors decide how to treat patients. By examining tiny facial expressions and calibrating the system to each person, it provides a level of objectivity in an area where that’s normally hard to come by. “These metrics might be useful in determining real pain from faked pain,” says Jeffrey Cohn at the University of Pittsburgh in the US. The system could make the difference between prescribing potentially addictive painkillers and catching out a faker. Objectively measuring pain levels is a tricky task, says Dianbo Liu, who created the system with his colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. People experience and express pain differently, so a doctor’s estimate of a patient’s pain can often differ from a self-reported pain score. In an attempt to introduce some objectivity, Liu and his team trained an algorithm on videos of people wincing and grimacing in pain. Each video consisted of a person with shoulder pain, who had been asked to perform a different movement and then rate their pain levels. The result was an algorithm that can use subtle differences in facial expressions to inform a guess about how a given person is feeling. Certain parts of the face are particularly revealing, says Liu. Large amounts of movement around the nose and mouth tended to suggest higher self-reported pain scores. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Pain & Touch; Emotions
Link ID: 24026 - Posted: 09.02.2017

Maria Temming Bacteria living in the human gut have strange influence over mood, depression and more, but it has been unclear exactly how belly-dwelling bacteria exercise remote control of the brain (SN: 4/2/16, p. 23). Now research in rodents suggests that gut microbes may alter the inventory of microRNAs — molecules that help keep cells in working order by managing protein production — in brain regions involved in controlling anxiety. The findings, reported online August 25 in Microbiome, could help scientists develop new treatments for some mental health problems. Mounting evidence indicates “that the way we think and feel might be able to be controlled by our gut microbiota,” says study coauthor Gerard Clarke, a psychiatrist at University College Cork in Ireland. For instance, the presence or absence of gut bacteria can influence whether a mouse exhibits anxiety-like behaviors, such as avoiding bright lights or open spaces. Clarke and colleagues compared normal mice, whose gastrointestinal tracts were teeming with bacteria, with mice bred in sterile environments, whose guts didn’t contain any microbes. The researchers discovered that in brain regions involved in regulating anxiety — the amygdala and prefrontal cortex — microbe-free mice had an overabundance of some types of microRNA and a shortage of others compared with normal mice. After scientists exposed some sterilized mice to microbes, the rodents’ microRNA levels more closely matched those of normal mice. |© Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2017.

Keyword: Emotions; Stress
Link ID: 24012 - Posted: 08.30.2017

By Michael Nedelman, CNN (CNN)Emily Gavigan was convinced that a nearby truck was following her. Someone was after her. She was a sophomore at the University of Scranton in January 2009 when the "bizarre" behavior began, said her father, Bill. Her parents noticed that she had been rambling, not making any sense. At one point, she called her family and friends to warn them: Something terrible was going to happen to all of them. "Emily was like a different person. We didn't know who she was," Bill Gavigan said. "We had gone from having this daughter who was perfectly normal, happy, vibrant ... with a bright future ahead. "All of a sudden, this all came crashing down." Then, one day, Gavigan disappeared. "We didn't know where she was for more than 24 hours," her father said. She had gotten in her car and driven from Pennsylvania to New Jersey with no money. She went right through toll booths without paying. But she eventually found her way back to her grandparents' house, still convinced that she was being followed. Her grandfather peered out the window, looking for something suspicious. But they soon realized there was no one after her. "I get emotional when I think about it," said Gavigan's grandfather Joseph Chiumento. Her parents showed up and took her to the hospital. Emily Gavigan began exhibiting odd behavior when she was 19, which doctors mistook for a mental illness. Emily Gavigan began exhibiting odd behavior when she was 19, which doctors mistook for a mental illness. Say, 'I love you, dad' Doctors initially thought Gavigan had a mental illness. She spent time in different psychiatric facilities, which made her family uneasy. One in particular reminded her father of the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." "They just kept trying medication after medication after medication, and none of it worked," Bill Gavigan said. Things kept getting worse. There was some numbness in her face and hands, and she would develop seizures. © 2016 Cable News Network.

Keyword: Schizophrenia; Neuroimmunology
Link ID: 24011 - Posted: 08.30.2017

By Kai Kupferschmidt One of the main targets in the war on drugs could well become a drug to treat the scars of war. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designated 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), better known as the illegal drug ecstasy, a "breakthrough therapy" for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a status that may lead to faster approval. The agency has also approved the design for two phase III studies of MDMA for PTSD that would be funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a nonprofit in Santa Cruz, California. MAPS announced the "breakthrough therapy" designation, made by FDA on 16 August, on its website today; if the group can find the money for the trials, which together could cost an estimated $25 million, they may start next spring and finish by 2021. That an illegal dancefloor drug could become a promising pharmaceutical is another indication that the efforts of a dedicated group of researchers interested in the medicinal properties of mind-altering drugs is paying dividends. Stringent drug laws have stymied research on these compounds for decades. "This is not a big scientific step," says David Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London. "It’s been obvious for 40 years that these drugs are medicines. But it’s a huge step in acceptance." Since 2012, FDA has designated close to 200 drugs as breakthrough therapies, a status that indicates there’s preliminary evidence that an intervention offers a substantial improvement over other options for a serious health condition. The agency aims to help develop and review these treatments faster than other candidate drugs. © 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Keyword: Stress; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24006 - Posted: 08.28.2017

By Aylin Woodward If you’re trying to overthrow the boss, you might need a friend to back you up. The same is true for female macaques, who need allies to resist authority and take down more powerful members of the group. Most primates have social hierarchies in which some individuals are dominant over the others. For rhesus macaques, these strict hierarchies are organised around female relationships. Lower-ranked females have little social mobility and must silently bare their teeth to higher-ranked females. The signal means “I want you to know that I know that you out-rank me” and is important in communicating social rank, says Darcy Hannibal at the University of California, Davis. “They are ‘bending the knee’.” But Hannibal and her colleagues have discovered that subordinate females can override the status quo. To do this, female macaques form alliances with family, friends or both. These alliances help females maintain or increase their social rank and compete for resources. A female who wants to challenge those higher up needs this help, says Hannibal. Insubordination events were more likely if the lower-ranked female was older. They were most likely if the subordinate outweighed the dominant female by 7 kilograms and the dominant female had no family allies. The more allies the subordinate female had, and the more days her mother was present in the group, the more often she would exhibit insubordinate behaviour. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Aggression; Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24005 - Posted: 08.28.2017

Phil Daoust As a man – the sort of thoughtful, Fawcett Society-supporting man who lowers the toilet seat after peeing, even when he has the house to himself – it’s hard to talk about women and their hormones. There’s no doubt that they affect minds and bodies, through puberty, pregnancy and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome’s list of “common” symptoms includes mood swings, depression, tiredness, anxiety, feeling out of control, irritability, aggression, headaches, sleep disorder, food cravings, breast tenderness, bloating, weight gain and clumsiness. Men can’t and shouldn’t ignore this catalogue of woes. But there’s a fine line between commiserating and condescending. It’s too easy – and tempting – to dismiss a woman’s actions or opinions because it’s “that time of the month”. Mostly it isn’t. Many women are lucky enough to escape PMS. And even when they don’t, sometimes she’s still right and you’re still wrong. For better or worse, however, we males must now face up to our own fluctuating chemistry. We may not routinely bloat and bleed, but a new study makes it clear that we too are at the mercy of our hormones – specifically, the one produced between our legs. After testing hundreds of men, researchers from the California Institute of Technology, Wharton School, Western University and ZRT Laboratory reported (pdf) “a clear and robust causal effect of testosterone on human cognition and decision-making” © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Aggression; Hormones & Behavior
Link ID: 23993 - Posted: 08.25.2017

Richard Harris It's always appealing to think that there could be an easy technical fix for a complicated and serious problem. For example, wouldn't it be great to have a vaccine to prevent addiction? "One of the things they're actually working on is a vaccine for addiction, which is an incredibly exciting prospect," said Dr. Tom Price, secretary of Health and Human Services. He was talking to reporters earlier this week, after the White House discussed the recommendations from a government commission tasked with suggesting ways to cope with the nation's opioid epidemic. Trump Says He Intends To Declare Opioid Crisis National Emergency But, as is so often the case, there's no quick fix on the horizon for an epidemic that is now killing more Americans than traffic accidents. Researchers have been working on vaccines against addictive drugs, including nicotine, cocaine and heroin, for almost two decades. "Like any other vaccine, you inject the vaccine and you use your immune system to produce antibodies," says Dr. Ivan Montoya, acting director of the division of Therapeutics and Medical Consequences at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "In this case, the antibodies are against the drugs of abuse." © 2017 npr

Keyword: Drug Abuse
Link ID: 23980 - Posted: 08.22.2017

Nicola Davis The eternal sunshine of a spotless mind has come one step closer, say researchers working on methods to erase memories of fear. The latest study, carried out in mice, unpicks why certain sounds can stir alarming memories, and reveals a new approach to wiping such memories from the brain. The researchers say the findings could be used to either weaken or strengthen particular memories while leaving others unchanged. That, they say, could potentially be used to help those with cognitive decline or post-traumatic stress disorder by removing fearful memories while retaining useful ones, such as the sound of a dog’s bark. “We can use same approach to selectively manipulate only the pathological fear memory while preserving all other adaptive fear memories which are necessary for our daily lives,” said Jun-Hyeong Cho, co-author of the research from the University of California, Riverside. The research is the latest in a string of studies looking at ways to erase unpleasant memories, with previous work by scientists exploring techniques ranging from brain scans and AI to the use of drugs. Published in the journal Neuron by Cho and his colleague Woong Bin Kim, the research reveals how the team used genetically modified mice to examine the pathways between the area of the brain involved in processing a particular sound and the area involved in emotional memories, known as the amygdala. “These mice are special in that we can label or tag specific pathways that convey certain signals to the amygdala, so that we can identify which pathways are really modified as the mice learn to fear a particular sound,” said Cho. “It is like a bundle of phone lines,” he added. “Each phone line conveys certain auditory information to the amygdala.” © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Emotions; Learning & Memory
Link ID: 23974 - Posted: 08.18.2017

By Aggie Mika | In a report published today (August 16) in Nature, researchers uncover the mechanisms by which the psychoactive and addictive drug fenethylline, trade name Captagon, exerts its potent stimulating effects. Essentially, one component of the drug, theophylline, boosts the effects of another, amphetamine. “This combination greatly enhances amphetamine’s properties,” says coauthor and Scripps Research Institute researcher Kim Janda in a press conference this week, Reuters reports. “So this now makes sense why it’s being so heavily abused.” In exploring fenethylline’s mode of action, the researchers came upon a method to vaccinate against the drug in mice using small, antibody-eliciting molecules called haptens that target the drug’s chemical components. Once antibodies for a specific chemical are prompted by a vaccine, they bind to and prevent it from interacting with its receptors in the body, thus preventing the effects of the drug driven by that chemical. Fenethylline’s use is mostly confined to the Middle East, where approximately 40 percent of young adult drug users in Saudi Arabia are addicted to the drug, the authors write in their report. According to Reuters, the drug initially sparked Janda’s interest because of its use by Islamic State jihadists. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, “Syrian civil war combatants and Islamic State terrorists have reportedly used the drug to boost their fighting ability and to lessen fear.” © 1986-2017 The Scientist

Keyword: Drug Abuse; Neuroimmunology
Link ID: 23971 - Posted: 08.18.2017

By M. GREGG BLOCHE Was the Central Intelligence Agency’s post-9/11 “enhanced interrogation” program an instance of human experimentation? Recently declassified documents raise this explosive question. The documents were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union in connection with a federal lawsuit scheduled for trial next month. The case was brought on behalf of three former detainees against two psychologists who developed the C.I.A.’s program. I reviewed some of the documents in a recent article in The Texas Law Review. Internal C.I.A. records indicate that the psychologists, James Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen, anticipated objections that critics would later level against the program, such as that coercion might generate unreliable information, and contracted with the agency to design research tools that addressed some of these concerns. Redactions in the released documents (and the C.I.A.’s withholding of others) make it impossible to know the full extent, if any, of the agency’s data collection efforts or the findings they yielded. At their depositions for the A.C.L.U. lawsuit, each of the psychologists denied having evaluated the program’s effectiveness. But the C.I.A. paid the psychologists to develop a research methodology and instructed physicians and other medical staff members at clandestine detention sites to monitor and chart the health conditions of detainees. In response, the advocacy group Physicians for Human Rights has charged that the program was an unlawful experiment on human beings. It calls the program “one of the gravest breaches of medical ethics by United States health professionals since the Nuremberg Code,” the ethical principles written to protect people from human experimentation after World War II. In its lawsuit, the A.C.L.U. is pressing a similar claim. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Aggression
Link ID: 23956 - Posted: 08.14.2017

By Helen Thomson People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may get relief simply from watching someone else perform their compulsive actions. If the finding holds up, we may be able to develop apps that help people with OCD stop needing to repeatedly wash their hands or pull their hair. When we watch someone else perform an action, the same parts of our brains become active as when we do the action ourselves. This is called the mirror neuron system, and it is thought to help us understand the actions and feelings of others. Baland Jalal at the University of Cambridge wondered whether this system could be used to help people with OCD. Working with his colleague Vilayanur Ramachandran, at the University of California, San Diego, he studied 10 people with OCD symptoms, who experience disgust when touching things they consider even mildly contaminated. The anxiety this causes forces them to wash their hands compulsively. First, Jalal and Ramachandran showed each participant something to make them feel disgusted – either an open bag of vomit, a bowl containing blood-soaked bandages or a bedpan of faeces and toilet paper. The participants were unaware that each stimulus was in fact fake. In a variety of conditions, either the participant or a researcher touched the bag, bowl or bedpan for 15 seconds while wearing latex gloves. The participants were then asked to rate how disgusted they felt, before being allowed to wash their hands, or watch the researcher do the same. They then rated how relieved they now felt. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Link ID: 23927 - Posted: 08.08.2017

By Francine Russo Survivors of sexual assault who come forward often confront doubt on the part of others. Did you fight back? they are asked. Did you scream? Just as painful for them, if not more so, can be a sense of guilt and shame. Why did I not resist? they may ask themselves. Is it my fault? And to make matters worse, although the laws are in flux in various jurisdictions, active resistance can be seen as necessary for a legal or even “common sense” definition of rape. Unless it is clearly too dangerous, as when the rapist is armed, resisting is generally thought to be the “normal” reaction to sexual assault. But new research adds to the evidence debunking this common belief. According to a recent study, a majority of female rape survivors who visited the Emergency Clinic for Rape Victims in Stockholm reported they did not fight back. Many also did not yell for help. During the assault they experienced a kind of temporary paralysis called tonic immobility. And those who experienced extreme tonic immobility were twice as likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and three times more likely to suffer severe depression in the months after the attack than women who did not have this response. Tonic immobility (TI) describes a state of involuntary paralysis in which individuals cannot move or, in many cases, even speak. In animals this reaction is considered an evolutionary adaptive defense to an attack by a predator when other forms of defense are not possible. Much less is known about this phenomenon in humans, although it has been observed in soldiers in battle as well as in survivors of sexual assault. A study from 2005, for example, found 52 percent of female undergraduates who reported childhood sexual abuse said they experienced this paralysis. © 2017 Scientific American

Keyword: Stress
Link ID: 23916 - Posted: 08.05.2017

By Giorgia Guglielmi After a 5-month road trip across Asia in 2010, 22-year-old college graduate Matthew Lazell-Fairman started feeling constantly tired, his muscles sore and head aching. A doctor recommended getting a gym membership, but after the first training session, Lazell-Fairman’s body crashed: He was so exhausted he couldn’t go to work as a paralegal for the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., for days. Lazell-Fairman has never fully recovered. He can now do a few hours of light activity—cooking, for example—per day but has to spend the rest of his time lying flat in bed. Lazell-Fairman is among the estimated 17 million people worldwide with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a disease whose trigger is unknown and for which there are neither standard diagnostic tools nor effective treatments. In the largest study of its kind, researchers have now found that the blood levels of immune molecules that cause flulike symptoms such as fever and fatigue track the severity of symptoms in people who have received a diagnosis of CFS. The results may provide insight into the cause of the mysterious illness, or at least provide a way of gauging its progress and evaluating treatments. “This work is another strong piece of evidence that there is a biologic dysfunction at the root of the disease,” says Mady Hornig, a physician scientist at Columbia University whose research has also identified potential biomarkers for CFS. © 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Keyword: Depression; Neuroimmunology
Link ID: 23902 - Posted: 08.01.2017

By CADE METZ SAN FRANCISCO — Dawn Jewell recently treated a patient haunted by a car crash. The patient had developed acute anxiety over the cross streets where the crash occurred, unable to drive a route that carried so many painful memories. So Dr. Jewell, a psychologist in Colorado, treated the patient through a technique called exposure therapy, providing emotional guidance as they revisited the intersection together. But they did not physically return to the site. They revisited it through virtual reality. Dr. Jewell is among a handful of psychologists testing a new service from a Silicon Valley start-up called Limbix that offers exposure therapy through Daydream View, the Google headset that works in tandem with a smartphone. “It provides exposure in a way that patients feel safe,” she said. “We can go to a location together, and the patient can tell me what they’re feeling and what they’re thinking.” The service recreates outdoor locations by tapping into another Google product, Street View, a vast online database of photos that delivers panoramic scenes of roadways and other locations around the world. Using these virtual street scenes, Dr. Jewell has treated a second patient who struggled with anxiety after being injured by another person outside a local building. The service is also designed to provide treatment in other ways, like taking patients to the top of a virtual skyscraper so they can face a fear of heights or to a virtual bar so they can address an alcohol addiction. Backed by the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, Limbix is less than a year old. The creators of its new service, including its chief executive and co-founder, Benjamin Lewis, worked in the seminal virtual reality efforts at Google and Facebook. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Learning & Memory; Emotions
Link ID: 23897 - Posted: 07.31.2017