Football players with head injuries have smaller brain volumes
Football players who have had head injuries and stay in the game a long time are more likely to have smaller hippocampal volumes than players who have played for fewer years.
The hippocampus is a brain region involved in regulating emotion and forming, storing and processing memory. And it is particularly vulnerable to moderate and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Studies are now showing that it might also be sensitive to mild TBI.
For this study, published in JAMA, researchers assessed 25 college football players with a history of clinically diagnosed concussion. They were compared to 25 college football players without a concussion history and 25 non-football player controls. Researchers measured brain volume using high-resolution anatomic magnetic resonance (MRI). The athletes also had to take a computerized cognitive test related to concussion.
Results showed that both groups of football players had smaller hippocampal volumes than healthy participants who did not play football. Football players with a history of concussion had smaller hippocampal volumes than players who had not had a concussion, and players who had played for more years had slower reaction times on cognitive tests and smaller hippocampal volumes, compared to players who had fewer years of experience.
The researchers conceded that they were unable to determine the specific mechanisms for why this happens in the brain.
NEXT: The benefits of seeds
Sourced from: Medical News Today, College football players ‘have smaller brain volumes’
Electrical stimulation can alter human learning
Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania say that by stimulating certain neurons within the brain, they were able to change the human learning process.
Specifically, the researchers were able to stimulate dopamine-containing neurons in a deep brain structure called the substantia nigra. They say the stimulation possibly altered learning by causing individuals to repeat actions that resulted in reward.
For the study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, 11 participants underwent deep brain stimulation treatment for Parkinson’s disease. For the portion of the procedure during which they were awake, they played a computer game that asked them to choose between a pair of objects that carried different reward rates. When they clicked on the object, they got a reward, were shown a green screen and the sound of a cash register, similar to in a casino. They were not told which objects were more likely to yield rewards, but figured it out by trial and error.
When the stimulation was provided following a reward, participants were more likely to repeat pushing the button that resulted in reward, even when the rewarded object was no longer associated with that button. This resulted in poorer performance of the game when stimulation was present.
Researchers say that modulating reward-based learning could be useful for treating patients with substance abuse, gambling problems or enhancing rehabilitation in patients with neurological issues.
NEXT: Sense of purpose may add years to life
Sourced from: Medical News Today, Human learning altered by electrical stimulation of dopamine neurons
Study questions health benefits of red wine
Drinking a glass or two of red wine every night is good for you—or so many researchers have said. They’ve pointed to the beneficial effects of resveratrol, one of its key ingredients, claiming that it may help prevent heart disease. Now, however, new research the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is calling that into question.
For nine years, researchers monitored a group of 783 elderly residents of two Tuscany towns in Italy. The participants recorded their daily food intake and provided urine samples to test their resveratrol levels. During the course of the study, 268 participants died, 174 developed heart disease and 34 developed cancer.
Urinary resveratrol levels, noted the researchers, wwere not associated with risk of heart disease, cancer or death. They also didn’t affect inflammation markers in the blood.
The researchers’ conclusion: Don’t believe the hype. They believe that it is not resveratrol alone that may bring health benefits, but rather its combination with other ingredients. They also said it’s not clear how much resveratrol is needed to have a positive effect.
NEXT: Living near foreclosed properties raises blood pressure risk
Sourced from: bbc.com, Red wine health benefits ‘overhyped’
Living near foreclosed properties raises blood pressure risk
The housing crisis took a toll on a lot of people. Now a study from the American Heart Association (AHA) is the first to directly link the housing situation in a neighborhood to heart health, finding that neighbors of foreclosed homes have a higher systolic blood pressure than those who don’t live in a neighborhood with foreclosures.
AHA researchers performed a data analysis of 1,740 participants living in Framingham, Massachusetts from 1987 to 2008. On average, every foreclosed property within 100 meters of a participant’s home increased their systolic blood pressure by 1.71mm Hg. This link was found only among people who owned real estate. Foreclosed houses farther than 100 meters away seemed to have no effect.
Researchers think people who see homes around them foreclose begin to worry that their property value and the neighborhood’s safety will decline. Stress is a known factor for increasing blood pressure.
Since the neighborhoods in the study were mostly white, middle class, and suburban, the researchers note these findings cannot be applied to all neighborhoods. More research, they said, is needed for people living in urban and rural environments.
NEXT: VELCRO trademarked: May 13, 1958
Sourced from: medicalnewstoday.com, Can living near foreclosed property increase blood pressure?