Saturday Health (12 – 18 Dec 2020)

Health News related to Neurons Protection and Growth, Blood Pressure – Cognitive Decline, Brain’s Immune Cells, Good Mental Health, Digital Trackers for Mental Health, ADHD and Insomnia, Mapping Brains with Machine Intelligence

Note: I do not write/own any of the health news bits (and cover picture) given here. The links on each of the news bits will redirect to the news source. The content given under each headline is a basic gist and not the full story.

1. Protecting Neurons and Encouraging Their Growth

Source: University of California – San Diego

14 Dec 2020

Many neurodegenerative conditions are characterized by injury to axons. Injury to axons often leads to neuronal impairment and cell death. Researchers have identified a family of enzymes called germinal cell kinase four kinases whose inhibition is robustly neuroprotective, while also permitting axon regeneration, making it an attractive therapeutic approach for treating some neurodegenerative diseases.

Original written by: Scott LaFee

2. High Blood Pressure at Any Age, No Matter How Long You Have It, May Speed Cognitive Decline

Source: American Heart Association

14 Dec 2020

New research highlights that memory, concentration and other cognitive functions decline faster among middle-aged and older adults who have high blood pressure than those who do not. Even seemingly slight blood pressure elevation during middle and older age is linked to a faster decline in cognition. Controlling high blood pressure slows the speed of cognitive decline.

3. An Unexpected Role for the Brain’s Immune Cells

Source: Gladstone Institutes

14 Dec 2020

In a recent study, a team showed that surveillance by microglia, an important part of the brain’s immune system, helps prevent seizure activity (or hyperexcitability) in the brain. These findings could open new therapeutic avenues for several diseases, given that hyperexcitability is a feature of many neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and autism.

Original written by: Julie Langelier

4. ‘Three Pillars’ of Good Mental Health for Young Adults

Source: University of Otago

14 Dec 2020

Getting good quality sleep, exercising, and eating more raw fruits and vegetables predicts better mental health and well-being in young adults, a study has found. The study surveyed more than 1100 young adults from New Zealand and the United States about their sleep, physical activity, diet, and mental health.

5. Digital Trackers for Mental Health Not Yet Fit for Purpose

Source: University of Bath

15 Dec 2020

Digital tracking of people with mental health conditions has the power to transform medical diagnostics and treatment, but its claims need careful scrutiny, says an expert in digital analytics. The approach, known as ‘digital phenotyping’, uses digital traces from smartphones, combined with medical data, and input from patients throughout the day. It offers a new route to detect and monitor various health conditions that scientists and startups are rapidly exploring.

6. Individuals with High ADHD-Traits Are More Vulnerable to Insomnia

Source: Karolinska Institutet 17 Dec 2020

Individuals with high ADHD-traits that do not meet the criteria for a diagnosis are less able to perform tasks involving attentional regulation or emotional control after a sleepless night than individuals with low ADHD-traits, a new study. While it can cause multiple cognitive impairments, there is considerable individual variation in sensitivity to the effects of insomnia. The reason for this variability has been an unresolved research question for long. In the present study, researchers investigated how sleep deprivation affects our executive functions, which is to say the central cognitive processes that govern our thoughts and actions. They also wanted to ascertain if people with ADHD tendencies are more sensitive to insomnia, with more severe functional impairments as a result.

7. Machine Intelligence Accelerates Research into Mapping Brains

Source: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology

18 Dec 2020

Scientists in Japan’s brain science project have used machine intelligence to improve the accuracy and reliability of a powerful brain-mapping technique, a new study reports. Their development gives researchers more confidence in using the technique to untangle the human brain’s wiring and to better understand the changes in this wiring that accompany neurological or mental disorders such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.

Original written by: Dani Ellenby

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