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Genetic study provides evidence that alcohol accelerates biological aging

University of Oxford-- Topiwala et al.
DOI: 10.1038/s41380-022-01690-9
26 July 2022

In order to study the relationship between alcohol consumption and biological ageing, researchers employed a genetic approach named Mendelian Randomisation (MR) on the data collected from 245,000 participants in the UK Biobank. The results suggested that drinking more than 17 units per week could reduce the length of telomere, a DNA sequence responsible for the protection of chromosomes (thus usually considered an indicator of biological ageing). Although the findings did not directly imply a causal relationship between alcohol consumption and ageing, the study highlighted a strong association between alcohol consumption and biological ageing.


Multiple heart-related conditions linked to triple dementia risk regardless of genetics

University of Oxford & University of Exeter-- Tai et al.
DOI: 10.1016/S2666-7568(22)00117-9
08 June 2022

The study on the relationship between heart-related conditions and the likelihood of developing dementia is by far the largest study on the topic. Rather than focusing on a particular heart-related condition, the team computed multiple conditions against the likelihood of developing dementia since they considered such an interaction complex but not dyadic. The results suggested that the development of heart-related conditions is related to that of dementia, especially when more heart-related conditions are developed.


Emotion Regulation and Executive Functions Deficits in Adolescents with Skin Picking Disorders

Bursa Ulludag University Medical School-- Turan & Turan
DOI: 10.1080/21622965.2022.2078978
29 May 2022

The study aimed to investigate emotional regulation difficulties and executive function of adolescents with skin picking disorders (SPD). The 90 adolescents diagnosed with SPD and 90 healthy controls were evaluated on emotional regulation strategies and associations between those strategies and executive functions, as well as clinical variables like anxiety, depressive symptoms, impulsivity, and illness characteristics. The results suggest that those with SPD have more emotion regulation problems and poorer executive function skills.


Pioneering trial of MDMA treatment hopes to help veterans with PTSD

KCL- Rucker
11 April 2022 (Article)

With previous research in the United States suggesting the effectiveness of prescribing MDMA for conventional PTSD treatments, researchers are planning to replicate the findings in five military veterans experiencing PTSD. While the effectiveness of conventional treatments is limited by the difficulties in overcoming traumatic experiences by the patients, MDMA enhances the treatment by reducing the overwhelming feelings of revisiting such experiences.


Little understood brain region linked to how we perceive pain

University of Oxford- Atilgan et al.
DOI: 10.1093/brain/awac114
28 March 2022 (Article)

A recent review of claustrum lesion studies has detected potential associations between claustral lesions and changes in human cognitive, perceptual and motor abilities; electrical activity; mental state; and sleep. The study addressed the limited understanding of the role of the claustrum and called for further research in this field. Moreover, it was the first time that the link between claustrum and vulnerability to pain perception was uncovered.


Analysis of Brain Scans Reveals Differences in Brains of Boys and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Stanford University- Supekar et al.
DOI: 10.1192/bjp.2022.13
10 March 2022 (Article)

Given that autistic males were four times the number of autistic females, the neurobiological basis of such gender differences is poorly understood. A recent neuroimaging study at Stanford University has observed structural differences in brain organisation that might account for the gender differences in clinical symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Gender differences were detected in brain structures associated with motor, language and visuospatial attentional functions. Crucially, features of the primary motor cortex node were found predictive of the severity of restricted/repetitive behaviour in females while not in males with ASD.


No evidence that depression is caused by low serotonin levels, finds comprehensive review

University College London-- Moncrieff et al.
DOI: 10.1038/s41380-022-01661-0
20 July 2022

Despite the widely-believed notion of 'depression is caused by a chemical imbalance', the recent review on the efficacy of antidepressants suggested otherwise. The study reviewed different claims supporting the efficacy of antidepressants, from research focusing on gene variation associated with serotonin levels to experimental manipulation of serotonin levels. While the findings suggested that the cause of depression is not simply a chemical imbalance, they highlighted the significance of stressful events on the onset of depression.


Common drug-resistant superbug develops fast resistance to 'last resort' antibiotic

University of Oxford-- Kapel et al.
DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2022.110929
07 June 2022

A bacterium named Pseudomonas is known to be very responsive in developing antibiotic resilience, including 'last resort' antibiotics such as Colistin. By observing the development of antibiotic resilience among lab-cultivated Pseudomonas against Colistin, researchers suggested that the gene pmrB may be responsible for the rapid mutation rate of bacterial genes which grant bacteria antibiotic resilience. Although the mutation rate is a thousand times higher than the normal mutation rate in the human body, researchers also found that the bacteria population quickly lost their resistance after the withdrawal of antibiotics.


Early Life Stress Can Be a Cause of Depression

Jilin University-- An et al.
DOI: 10.3389/fnins.2022.797755
18 May 2022

Researchers explored the role played by early life stress (ELS) in the development of depression. The study was conducted on both animals and humans. In humans, researchers used questionnaires, gene sequencing, as well as tests of umbilical cord blood of newborns experiencing prenatal stress (PNS). It was found that ELS could lead to sex-differentiated (men show higher rates of 5-HT - serotonin - synthesis) depression through various mechanisms, including changes in sex hormones, neurotransmitters, hypothalamic-pituitary adrenocortical axis (HPA) function, as well as epigenetics.


Brain charts map the rapid growth and slow decline of the human brain over our lifetime

KCL- Edwards & Hajnal
06 April 2022 (Article)

By collecting brain scans from individuals of different ages, researchers from the Developing Human Connectome Project (dHCP) have found evidence supporting the hypothesis regarding the milestones of brain development. In general, brain scans across time have shown that the human brain develops rapidly from mid-gestation to adolescence and shrinks gradually as people reach 50 years old.


In Hippocampus, Protein's Malfunction Is Potential Link to Memory and Other Impairments Seen in Schizophrenia

University of Southern California- Kay et al.
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-28430-5
17 March 2022 (Article)

A recent study with rodents has demonstrated the role of a defective protein — synapse-associated protein 97 (SAP97)— in the development of schizophrenia. The study focused on how SAP97 affects the function of the dentate gyrus, which serves as the gateway for information entering the hippocampus, a critical region associated with learning and memory formation. The dentate gyrus was also associated with the formation of episodic memory — a recollection of life experience, a function that is often altered in individuals with schizophrenia. In short, the current study found that the damage on SAP97 contributes to the dysfunctions in synaptic mechanisms involving the dentate gyrus and hence helps generate some schizophrenia symptoms.


Multispecies probiotic administration reduces emotional salience and improves mood in subjects with moderate depression: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study

University of Cambridge- Baião et al.
DOI: 10.1017/S003329172100550X
07 February 2022 (Article)

The study investigates the influence of probiotics on emotional salience and mood. Researchers conducted a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled experiment with the experimental group having to take multispecies probiotic supplements. Results show that the probiotic group had increased accuracy in identifying neutral emotions, suggesting reduced attention on negative emotions. While the study provides insights into how probiotics could be used to treat depressive symptoms, the underlying mechanism behind its effectiveness is not made clear yet, suggesting a need for more research for probiotics to be implemented as a treatment for mood disorders.

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