Neuroscience 2007 News Releases

The 37th annual meeting of the Society of Neuroscience was held last November 3-7, 2007 in San Diego, California. Neuroscience 2007 provided opportunities for learning and professional development as scientists from around the world gathered to present and share ideas. The Society for Neuroscience, with more than 38,000 members, is the world’s largest organization of basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.  New findings were released to advance our understanding of the aging brain and the teenage brain, the role of diet in brain function, promising trends in stroke rehabilitation, the bases of combat-related brain disorders, and much more. 

The following news releases were chosen by AngTherapist.com from the SFN website:

NEW RESEARCH EXPLORES DIETARY EFFECTS ON AMYLOID IN SEARCH FOR WAYS TO PREVENT AND TREAT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

New studies reveal the effects of environmental substances on the promotion or slowing of symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Drug screening has identified three antihypertension drugs capable of preventing Alzheimer’s-like degeneration of nerve cells in the brain. Fish oil elevated the level of a protein that prevents the formation of amyloid, the tell-tale protein found in Alzheimer’s. Caffeine reversed memory impairment in animal models of the disease. In addition, environmental copper reduced the clearance of amyloid, from the brain to blood.

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THOUGHTS, NOT ARMS AND HANDS, CAN OPERATE MACHINES: NEW DEVICES MAY SOON IMPROVE THE LIVES OF PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED PEOPLE

Neuroscientists have significantly advanced brain-machine interface (BMI) technology to the point where severely handicapped people who cannot contract even one leg or arm muscle now can independently compose and send e-mails and operate a TV in their homes. They are using only their thoughts to execute these actions.

Thanks to the rapid pace of research on the BMI, one day these and other individuals may be able to feed themselves with a robotic arm and hand that moves according to their mental commands.

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TRAINING, SENSORY SUBSTITUTION, THOUGHT-READING COMPUTERS, SLEEP, AND MOLECULAR IMAGING ADVANCE STROKE RESEARCH

Advanced technologies such as molecular imaging, sensory substitution devices, and programs that translate brain signals to a computer monitor are accelerating the pace of stroke research. And even an old-fashioned technique — a good night’s sleep — helps patients remember new motor skills, according to new studies.

“This is an exciting time in stroke research when new technologies that capture brain signals and behavioral interventions including movement therapy and sleep can be harnessed to promote changes in brain activity,” says Carolee Winstein, PhD, of the University of Southern California.

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NEW CLINICAL TRIALS COULD OPEN ‘GOLDEN ERA’ IN SPINAL CORD INJURY AND ALS RESEARCH

New experimental therapies are being — or soon may be — tested in clinical trials that could open the doors to a “golden era” for research to improve the treatments of people with spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, stroke, and other severe movement disorders, scientists say.

“The studies highlighted here reflect decades of basic science research that have led to some measure of understanding the events taking place in traumatic neural injury and disease, and how these events can be modulated to improve function,” says Aileen Anderson, PhD, of the University of California, Irvine.

“As a result of this work, we have the exciting opportunity to begin testing these pathways in the clinical setting in an attempt to minimize the progression of damage and, in some cases, perhaps repair it,” says Anderson.

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DIET OF WALNUTS, BLUEBERRIES FOUND TO IMPROVE COGNITION; MAY HELP MAINTAIN BRAIN FUNCTION AND TREAT BRAIN DISORDERS

Junk food junkies take notice. What you eat does more than influence your gut. It also may affect your brain. Increasing evidence shows that mom was right: You should eat your vegetables, and your blueberries and walnuts, too.

Scientists are confirming that this age-old adage is worth following. And new studies show that diet may have implications for those who suffer from certain brain ailments.

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IMMUNE SYSTEM RESEARCH PROMISES TO HELP TREAT AILMENTS RANGING FROM ALZHEIMER’S AND STROKE TO MENTAL DISORDERS

Recent discoveries in the field of neuroimmunology, which studies the interaction between the immune and nervous systems, are offering promising new leads for the treatment of many devastating neurological disorders, from Alzheimer’s disease to stroke.

New research suggests that reducing the expression of an immune system protein in the brain may help repair neurons damaged by spinal cord injury and other trauma. Other research has uncovered the important role that immune molecules perform in the prenatal development of such diseases as autism and schizophrenia. Additional findings reveal that an innovative type of immunotherapy assists with the recovery of memory after stroke.

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MARKED BRAIN CHANGES AFFLICT EVEN SENIOR CITIZENS WHO HAVE ESCAPED ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE, LATEST RESEARCH SHOWS

Our brains, unlike the skin covering our bodies, do not wrinkle and sag as we age. But new studies show that our brains do change structurally and functionally in ways that may underlie the memory and thinking impairments that can limit independence and quality of life for senior citizens.

Neuroscientists have recently discovered that the region of the brain that stores episodic memories — those for specific events and their context — was less engaged in older people, particularly those who have a common variant of a particular gene. Researchers also have determined that senior citizens who suspect that their sense of direction is declining are astute observers of a newly discovered age-related mental change.

According to two other studies, older people are at risk for developing Alzheimer’s if their blood levels of cholesterol are too high and if they are physically inactive.

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