Alcoholism can disrupt memory functioning well before incurring the profound amnesia of Korsakoff's syndrome. For example, associative memory - used in remembering face-name associations - can be impaired in alcoholics. A study of the cognitive and brain mechanisms underlying this deficit, through testing of associative memory performance and processing in study participants during structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning, have found that impaired learning abilities are predominantly associated with cerebellar brain volumes. Results will be published in the July 2012 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View. "There are several memory systems and alcoholism does not disrupt all of them, " explained Edith V. Sullivan, a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, and corresponding author for the study.
Tattoos and body piercings have become so popular in western societies that many consider them fashion trends. While people acquire tattoos and piercings for different reasons, prior research has shown that individuals who do so are also more likely to engage in risky behaviors that include substance and alcohol use. This study was the first in France to find more alcohol per liter of exhaled breath in association with tattooing and body piercing. Results will be published in the July 2012 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View. "A host of previous studies have routinely shown that individuals with body piercings or tattoos are more likely to engage in risky behavior than non-pierced or non tattooed people, " said Nicolas Gu√ guen, professor of social behavior at the Universit√ de Bretagne-Sud and corresponding author for the study.
A new type of anti-epilepsy medication that selectively targets proteins in the brain that control excitability may significantly reduce seizure frequency in people whose recurrent seizures have been resistant to even the latest medications, new Johns Hopkins-led research suggests. "Many other drugs to treat frequent seizures have been released in the last 10 years and for many people, they just don't work, " says study leader Gregory L. Krauss, M.D., a professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "For a drug-resistant population that has run out of options, this study is good news. These are patients who are tough to treat and are fairly desperate." Perampanel is the first in a new class of drugs that appears to blunt an excitatory response in the brain by inhibiting a specific form of glutamate receptor called an AMPA receptor and therefore reducing seizures without causing major side effects.
A five year study conducted with thousands of local teenagers by University of Montreal researchers reveals that those who used speed (meth/ampthetamine) or ecstasy (MDMA) at fifteen or sixteen years of age were significantly more likely to suffer elevated depressive symptoms the following year. "Our findings are consistent with other human and animal studies that suggest long-term negative influences of synthetic drug use, " said co-author Fr√ d√ ric N. Bri√®re of the School Environment Research Group at the University of Montreal. "Our results reveal that recreational MDMA and meth/amphetamine use places typically developing secondary school students at greater risk of experiencing depressive symptoms." Ecstasy and speed-using grade ten students were respectively 1.7 and 1.6 times more likely to be depressed by the time they reached grade eleven.
Why do some teenagers start smoking or experimenting with drugs - while others don't? In the largest imaging study of the human brain ever conducted - involving 1, 896 14-year-olds - scientists have discovered a number of previously unknown networks that go a long way toward an answer. Robert Whelan and Hugh Garavan of the University of Vermont, along with a large group of international colleagues, report that differences in these networks provide strong evidence that some teenagers are at higher risk for drug and alcohol experimentation - simply because their brains work differently, making them more impulsive. Their findings are presented in the journal Nature Neuroscience, published online. This discovery helps answer a long-standing chicken-or-egg question about whether certain brain patterns come before drug use - or are caused by it.