In response to social exclusion, people with diffuse friend networks show more dynamic brain activity than those with close-knit social circles.
When someone talks about using “your network” to find a job or answer a question, most people understand that to mean the interconnected web of your friends, family, and acquaintances. But we all have another key network that shapes our life in powerful ways: our brains.
In the brain, impulses whiz from one brain region to another, helping you formulate all of your thoughts and decisions. As science continues to unlock the complexities of the brain, a group of researchers has found evidence that brain networks and social networks actually influence and inform one another.
Positive social support from adult children is associated with reduced risk of developing dementia, according to a new research published today.
Conversely, negative social support is linked with increased risk, according to the 10-year follow-up study carried out by a team of researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA), University College London (UCL), London Metropolitan University and the University of Nottingham.
The study was based on data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and conducted by Dr Mizanur Khondoker at UEA, Professors Andrew Steptoe and Stephen Morris at UCL, Dr Snorri Rafnsson at London Metropolitan and Prof Martin Orrell at Nottingham. The research was part of the Promoting Independence in Dementia (PRIDE) programme and is published today in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
The researchers analysed a decade of data that followed 10,055 core participants from ELSA who were dementia-free at the start of the study in 2002-2003. Participants were interviewed every two years during 2004-2012 and incidence of dementia was identified from self-reports by participants or information given by nominated informants.
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The brain has its own inbuilt processes for mopping up damaging cellular waste — and these processes may provide protection from stroke and dementia.
University of Queensland scientists discovered a new type of lymphatic brain “scavenger” cell by studying tropical freshwater zebrafish — which share many of the same cell types and organs as humans.
Lead researcher Associate Professor Ben Hogan from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience said the fundamental discovery would help scientists understand how the brain forms and functions.
“It is rare to discover a cell type in the brain that we didn’t know about previously, and particularly a cell type that we didn’t expect to be there,” he said.
“The brain is the only organ without a known lymphatic system, so the fact that these cells are lymphatic in nature and surround the brain makes this finding quite a surprise.
“These cells appear to be the zebrafish version of cells described in humans called “mato” or lipid laden cells, which clear fats and lipids from the system but were not known to be lymphatic in nature.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has the dubious distinction of being the fastest-growing developmental disability in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With 1 in every 68 children born in this country diagnosed with ASD, parents are looking everywhere for answers about best treatments. Along with selective medication to treat certain symptoms, traditional treatments include intensive behavioral approaches. But with no “one-size-fits-all” treatment approach, parents often turn to diverse complementary and alternative therapies.
Just as parents are looking for answers, scientists are trying to tease out the causes of this multifactorial and complex condition. “Although we are fairly certain that there is a genetic component, there are many pathways for an individual to arrive at autism’s final destination,” says Alessio Fasano, MD, director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and co-senior author of a study published in the journal Molecular Autism. “What might dispose one person to develop ASD – either pre- or post-natally – might have no such effect on another person,” he adds.
Looking at the interconnectivity of the gut-brain axis – the biochemical signaling between the gastrointestinal and central nervous systems – researchers led by Maria Rosaria Fiorentino, PhD, of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center at Massachusset's General Hospital for Children (MGHfC), have opened up a new avenue of research into the pathophysiology of ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders. “As far as we know, this is the first study to look at the molecular signature of blood-brain barrier dysfunction in ASD and schizophrenia in samples from human patients,” says Fiorentino. In collaboration with researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and others, Fiorentino’s group found an altered blood-brain barrier in tissue samples from people with ASD when compared with healthy controls.