Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Brain Structure Adapts To Environmental Change

From the 14 June 2011 Medical News Today article

Scientists have known for years that neurogenesis takes place throughout adulthood in the hippocampus of the mammalian brain. Now Columbia researchers have found that under stressful conditions, neural stem cells in the adult hippocampus can produce not only neurons, but also new stem cells. The brain stockpiles the neural stem cells, which later may produce neurons when conditions become favorable. This response to environmental conditions represents a novel form of brain plasticity. The findings were published online in Neuron on June 9, 2011….

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Addiction As A Brain Disease

Source: The National Institute on Drug Abuse, ...

Image via Wikipedia

From the 29 April 2011 Medical News Today article

One can look at drug addiction as a moral issue, a social ill, or a criminal problem. But Lynn Oswald’s experience studying the neuroscience of addiction tells her that it is something else entirely: a disease of the brain.

“Addiction is a brain disease because differences in the way our brains function make some people more likely to become addicted to drugs than others-just as differences in our bodies make some people more likely to develop cancer or heart disease,” says Oswald, PhD, RN, an assistant professor at the School of Nursing.

However, the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie a person’s risks for alcohol and drug abuse are not well understood by scientists. Oswald is hoping to change this. She is currently at work on a study funded by a five-year $3 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse that aims to answer questions about why some people become addicted to drugs and others do not.

“There is growing evidence that vulnerability for substance abuse may stem from pre-existing variances in brain function,” she says.

“These variations could be something that a person is born with or the result of changes that take place later on. Like other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, risks for drug use disorders seem to be influenced by both genes and environment. Scientific evidence continues to grow about the effects of environmental stress on the body. We now know that the brain is a very plastic organ and various life experiences, such as severe stress, can also change the way the brain works.”

April 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Biology to Community Library: The Settings for Health

This item helps explain why a healthy and prosperous community/society needs a firm foundation on healthy child development. This firm foundation has many genetic and environmental components.

From  a  February 2, 2011 Redefine.Rebuild.Reconnect. Changing our Picture of Health posting
From biology to a community library: the settings for health, Michelle Helliwell, Librarian

InBrief: The Foundations of Lifelong Health

From [Harvard University] Center on the Developing Child (with links to their 24 videos)

(This blog item/Web page includes a great 7 minute video ,Foundations of Living Health, which outlines how various genetic and environmental factors affect the wellness of both individuals and the society at large)

When we talk about health and healthy living, there seems to be, at times, a division within healthcare (and outside of it) about what are the factors that contribute to your health and wellbeing. Good genes? How well you eat? Whether have a safe neighbourhood to play in? If you take a look at our page on health determinants, you’ll see that all of these, and others, have a role.

Fellow triPop member Sarah Hergett shared  the video …[ (at http://www.changingourpictureofhealth.ca/?p=225) ] … with our group the other day, and it’s worth passing on. It’s a presentation from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. In this seven minute presentation, you’ll find how researches from the fields of neuroscience, biology, and public health present the tangible links between what goes on inside our bodies to how that’s impacted on our health throughout our lives. As a librarian – and an advocate for literacy and health literacy – I was particularly thrilled to see libraries on the list of important resources that contribute to our health. So…support your local library! Support your community. It’s good for your health:).

This quoted blog item/Web page includes a great 7 minute video, Foundations of Living Health, which outlines how various genetic and environmental factors affect the wellness of both individuals and the society at large.

This video summarizes findings from The Foundations of Lifelong Health Are Built in Early Childhood, a report co-authored by the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child and the National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs.

The seemingly disparate health/well being factors include undue emotional stress, consumer products readily available (as liquor, fresh produce), healthy social relationships, parenting, individual genetic make-up, physical environments (think lead, tobacco products), schooling, libraries, government agency policies (as WIC), and employee policies affecting parents and others close to the child.



February 3, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Parents’ social problems affect their children — even in birds

Parents’ social problems affect their children — even in birds

From the December 27, 2010 Eureka news alert

It may come as a surprise to many that quails are able to distinguish one another, let alone that they form close relationships with other quails. Nevertheless, it has long been known that disruption of the birds’ social environment causes them stress. A group within the UMR 6552 at the CNRS-Université de Rennes 1 in France has been studying the influence of adults on the behavioural development of their offspring. Together with scientists in Austria, they have now shown that changing the composition of groups of quails housed together causes the birds to behave more aggressively towards one another. In parallel, the level of steroid hormones (corticosterone) in their blood increases when their group composition is disrupted.

Intriguingly, the eggs they lay were found to have significantly higher levels of testosterone when the mothers were subjected to social stress of this kind. The results are consistent with previous findings from other groups, which showed that House sparrows, American coots and Common starlings lay eggs with more testosterone when they breed in dense colonies than when they nest in isolation. But the new work from the French-Austrian collaboration goes considerably further, showing that the eggs of females under social stress hatch later and the chicks grow more slowly after hatching, at least for the first three weeks. There are also indications that the chicks’ behave differently: they are more cautious and seem more susceptible to disturbance. Furthermore, they tend to move about more, which can be interpreted as increased attempts to escape from threats or to seek more social contact.

The results show how much the growth and behaviour of chicks is influenced by the concentrations of steroid hormones in the eggs from which they hatched. As Möstl says, “We know that stress on female mammals influences the development of their young, which takes place in the womb, but it was a big surprise that social stress causes such changes in the level of hormones in the yolks of birds’ eggs.” The social environment of mother quails thus has a direct effect on the growth and the behaviour of their offspring. It seems, then, that pre-natal nurture is extremely important in birds as well as in mammals and this finding is sure to add fresh fuel to the century-old nature versus nurture debate.

###

The paper Social Instability in Laying Quail: Consequences on Yolk Steroids and Offspring’s Phenotype by Floriane Guibert, Marie-Annick Richard-Yris, Sophie Lumineau, Kurt Kotrschal, Daniel Guémené, Aline Bertin, Erich Möstl and Cécilia Houdelier was published in November by PLoS ONE (10.1371/journal.pone.0014069).

December 28, 2010 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: