Monday, February 28, 2011

Upcoming Event: Brain Awareness Week (14-20 March 2011)

Brain Awareness Week is coming up quickly.

Here is the Dana Foundation's website for the event: Brain Awareness Week.

From the website:
"Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is the global campaign to increase public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research. Every March BAW unites the efforts of organizations worldwide in a week-long celebration of the brain.

"During BAW campaign partners organize activities to educate and excite people of all ages about the brain and brain research. Events are limited only by the organizers’ imaginations. Examples include open days at neuroscience laboratories; museum exhibitions about the brain; lectures on brain-related topics; displays at malls, libraries, and community centers; and classroom workshops."

If you know something about the brain, then teach something to someone who does not. It's simple and easy!


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Alzheimer's: Differences in Diagnostic Trends

Britain is bottom of Euro league table at diagnosing Alzheimer's
Britons with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease take twice as long to be diagnosed as sufferers living in other European countries, research has found.

By Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent
The Telegraph
9:00PM GMT 26 Feb 2011

Read the article

Friday, February 11, 2011

Will there be biotechs "emerging from the rubble at Sandwich"?

Investors ready to craft new biotechs out of Pfizer's discards
February 9, 2011 — 8:47am ET
By John Carroll

Read the article

Rough Times for UK Neuroscience

From The Guardian:

Cuts disastrous for brain science research, academics warn
At least 30 neuroscience units to go under cuts proposed by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

Ian Sample
Thursday 10 February 2011 21.14 GMT


"The closure of drug company research facilities and "draconian" funding cuts will have a disastrous impact on brain science in Britain, senior academics have warned.

"At least 30 neuroscience research groups are expected to fold under cuts proposed by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), adding to jobs already lost after big pharmaceutical companies shut research programmes or moved them abroad."


Read the full article

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

University of Victoria Honours Chris Fibiger

The University of Victoria is honouring alumnus Chris Fibiger, neuroscientist, this evening, along with ten other distinguished graduates.

Read the full press release

Preventing Surgical Nerve Damage

From FierceBiotech:

Fluorescent peptides help nerves glow in surgery
08 February 2011

Read the press release

Monday, February 07, 2011

Neuropsychology in Rehabilitation

From The

Giffords's Superspecialized Brain Doctor: Adding Insight to Injury
by Ford Vox
07 February 2011

"A crucial part of Gabby Giffords's intensive brain injury rehabilitation at The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) in Houston involves serial assessments and counsel by a neuropsychologist, a superspecialized breed of clinician many people know little about.

"Rehabilitation teams count count on expert neuropsychologists to administer formal standardized tests and analyze those results in light of clinical data. The best neuropsychological reports are veritable Rosetta stones."

Read the article

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD)

From The BBC:

Blood test for vCJD 'could identify carriers'
By Sonya McGilchrist
BBC News
2 February 2011 Last updated at 20:22 ET

A blood test for variant CJD has been developed by British scientists.

Currently patients suspected of having the human form of BSE have to undergo a series of tests, including a brain biopsy, to confirm a diagnosis.

The new test, reported in The Lancet, offers the chance of earlier diagnosis and potentially the ability to screen donor blood.

But further studies are needed before it can be widely used to screen healthy people who may be silent carriers.

Read the full article

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Upcoming Event: 9th Annual Mild Cognitive Impairment Symposium (April 2011, Miami Beach)

The 9th Annual Mild Cognitive Impairment Symposium will take place in late April in Miami Beach, Florida.

The theme of the meeting is "New Criteria for Prodromal and Preclinical Alzheimer's Disease"

The website for the conference can be found at: The Twitter voice of the conference is @mcisymposium

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-II) and Memory Functioning

A press release from the National Institutes of Health:

Little-known growth factor enhances memory, prevents forgetting in rats
Works only if given during windows of memory malleability

NIH News
Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Read the full press release

Quoting from the release:
A naturally occurring growth factor significantly boosted retention and prevented forgetting of a fear memory when injected into rats’ memory circuitry during time-limited windows when memories become fragile and changeable. In the study funded by the National Institutes of Health, animals treated with insulin-like growth factor (IGF-II) excelled at remembering to avoid a location where they had previously experienced a mild shock.

"To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of potent memory enhancement via a naturally occurring factor that readily passes through the blood-brain barrier — and thus may hold promise for treatment development," explained Cristina Alberini, Ph.D., of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, a grantee of the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Alberini and colleagues say IGF-II could become a potential drug target for boosting memory. They report on their discovery in the Jan. 27, 2011 issue of Nature.

"As we learn more about such mechanisms of fear memory formation and extinction, we hope to apply this knowledge to address clinical problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder," said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D.

The staying power of a memory depends on the synthesis of new proteins and structural changes in the connections between brain cells. These memory-strengthening changes occur within time-limited windows right after learning, when memories undergo consolidation (press-release link), and also right after a memory is retrieved, a process called reconsolidation (press-release link).

Hints from other studies led the researchers to suspect that IGF-II plays a role in these processes within the brain’s memory center, the hippocampus, where it is relatively highly concentrated. The little-known growth factor is part of the brain’s machinery for tissue repair and regeneration; it is important during development and declines with age.

To find out how it might work in memory, Alberini's team employed a standard test of fear memory called inhibitory avoidance training. They tracked the movement of rats in an environment where the animals learned to associate a dark area with mild foot shocks. The more an animal avoided the dark area, the better its fear memory.

This kind of learning boosted the expression of naturally occurring IGF-II in the hippocampus. So the researchers injected synthetic IGF-II directly into the hippocampus during windows of consolidation or reconsolidation, when memories are malleable. Remarkably, the rats' memory markedly improved — with the effects lasting at least a few weeks. An examination of the animals' brains revealed that IGF-II had strengthened the cellular connections and mechanisms underlying long-term memory — a process called long-term potentiation (press-release link).

So IGF-II both strengthened a memory and delayed its normal decay — forgetting, noted Alberini.