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Wed, 05 Oct 2022
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Health & Wellness


Studies find stable sleep patterns and regular routines may improve outcomes in bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder, commonly known as manic-depressive disorder, is highly influenced by the circadian system - the body's internal clock - and a specific kind of psychotherapy may help decrease irregularities in the circadian system that can trigger key symptoms of bipolar disorder, according to a study presented today at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) annual meeting. The results are important because they show for the first time that psychotherapy which focuses on practical lifestyle changes can ease the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Every year nearly six million American adults suffer from bipolar disorder, a brain disorder which causes severe shifts in mood, energy, and ability to function, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and wake time can help balance the circadian system, which in turn can help people avoid nighttime sleeplessness or daytime exhaustion, which can increase the risk of new episodes of mania or depression. "Having already found that disruption in daily routines can make individuals with bipolar disorder vulnerable to new episodes of illness, we have now learned that working with patients to achieve and maintain regular social rhythms - including regular sleep patterns and adequate physical activity - will help to protect them against episodes of mania or depression," says Ellen Frank, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.


UK: Drug addicts used as organ donors

A serious shortage of organs means transplant surgeons are being forced to use body parts from drug addicts.

Between 2002 and 2007 some 450 organs came from donors with a history of drug abuse, which may affect the quality of the organ and raise infection risks.

The lack of viable organs is due in part to the fact that fewer healthy people are dying in car accidents, when organs can often be retrieved intact.


Why People With Schizophrenia Have Lower Rates Of Cancer: New Clues

A series of studies presented December 8 at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) annual meeting elucidates evidence that there is a genetic link between schizophrenia and cancer, providing a surprising possible scientific explanation for lower rates of cancer among patients with schizophrenia -- despite having poor diets and high rates of smoking -- and their parents.


Neurons in the frontal lobe may be responsible for rational decision-making

You study the menu at a restaurant and decide to order the steak rather than the salmon. But when the waiter tells you about the lobster special, you decide lobster trumps steak. Without reconsidering the salmon, you place your order - all because of a trait called "transitivity."

"Transitivity is the hallmark of rational economic choice," says Camillo Padoa-Schioppa, a postdoctoral researcher in HMS Professor of Neurobiology John Assad's lab. According to transitivity, if you prefer A to B and B to C, then you ought to prefer A to C. Or, if you prefer lobster to steak, and steak to salmon, then you will prefer lobster to salmon.

Padoa-Schioppa is lead author on a paper that suggests this trait might be encoded at the level of individual neurons. The study, which appears online Dec. 9 in Nature Neuroscience, shows that some neurons in a part of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex encode economic value in a "menu invariant" way. That is, the neurons respond the same to steak regardless if it's offered against salmon or lobster.

Eye 2

Brain Changes When Viewing Violent Media

NEW YORK - Violence is a frequent occurrence in television shows and movies, but can watching it make you behave differently?

Although research has shown some correlation between exposure to media violence and real-life violent behavior, there has been little direct neuroscientific support for this theory until now.

©2000, The Patriot, Columbia Pictures
This is your brain on violent media


Health care challenges fire up U.S. students

One measure of the troubled state of U.S. health care is the hordes of idealistic young people lining up to fix it.

A generation ago, college kids interested in health would have become doctors or nurses. Some might have picked hospital administration as a career.

Now, with health reform in the headlines and countless families having their own health crises, students are pouring into health policy classes in economics, political science, history, and public health departments. Many plan on making health policy their career.


Is Generosity Genetically Programmed?

Are those inclined towards generosity genetically programmed to behave that way? A team of researchers, including Dr. Ariel Knafo of the Psychology Department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, believes that this could very well be the case.

Through an online task involving making a choice whether or not to give away money, the researchers found that those who chose to give away some or all of their money differed genetically from those involved in the exercise who chose not to give their money away.


Finding their own way: Mothers pioneer path for children with autism

When Tiffany Monem's son, Daniel Emmons, was a baby she had to watch the clock to feed him because he didn't cry when he was hungry.

In fact, he didn't cry at all.

"You never knew when something was wrong with him," said Monem, 26, of West Rutland.

When she banged pots and pans out of Emmons' line of sight and he didn't react to the noise, Monem thought he could be deaf. Tests showed he was not. A doctor diagnosed him with autism a month before his second birthday. He is now 3 years old.

"Before Daniel, I had no idea what autism was," said Monem. "We need more training. We need more funding. We need more awareness."

Monkey Wrench

Scary! Surgical Objects Accidentally Left Inside About 1,500 Patients In US Each Year

Every year, in the United States about 1,500 people have surgical objects accidentally left inside them after surgery, according to medical studies.


Parkinson's drugs 'made me gambler, thief and gay sex fiend'

A French court is set to award substantial damages to a 47-year-old father-of-two with Parkinson's disease who was ruled to have been turned into a gambler and thief, with compulsive homosexual urges, by the drugs he was being treated with.

Didier Jambart, a French defence ministry employee, has been suing for damages of €400,000 after being prescribed with dopamine agonist drugs in a case that is being closely studied by lawyers representing Parkinson's sufferers in Britain, the US and Canada. Like Jambart, they claim that they were provided with minimal information about the disturbing side effects, estimated to affect up to 15 per cent of those taking the drugs.