The ability to navigate using spatial cues was impaired in mice whose brains were minus a channel that delivers potassium - a finding that may have implications for humans with damage to the hippocampus, a brain structure critical to memory and learning, according to a Baylor University researcher. Mice missing the channel also showed diminished learning ability in an experiment dealing with fear conditioning, said Joaquin Lugo, Ph.D., the lead author in the study and an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor's College of Arts & Sciences. "By targeting chemical pathways that alter those potassium channels, we may eventually be able to apply the findings to humans and reverse some of the cognitive deficits in people with epilepsy and other neurological disorders, " Lugo said.
In this week's issue of the journal Neurology, researchers at MIT and two Boston hospitals provide early evidence that a simple, unobtrusive wrist sensor could gauge the severity of epileptic seizures as accurately as electroencephalograms (EEGs) do - but without the ungainly scalp electrodes and electrical leads. The device could make it possible to collect clinically useful data from epilepsy patients as they go about their daily lives, rather than requiring them to come to the hospital for observation. And if early results are borne out, it could even alert patients when their seizures are severe enough that they need to seek immediate medical attention. Rosalind Picard, a professor of media arts and sciences at MIT, and her group originally designed the sensors to gauge the emotional states of children with autism, whose outward behavior can be at odds with what they're feeling.
The longstanding mystery of how selective hearing works - how people can tune in to a single speaker while tuning out their crowded, noisy environs - is solved this week in the journal Nature by two scientists from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Psychologists have known for decades about the so-called "cocktail party effect, " a name that evokes the Mad Men era in which it was coined. It is the remarkable human ability to focus on a single speaker in virtually any environment - a classroom, sporting event or coffee bar - even if that person's voice is seemingly drowned out by a jabbering crowd. To understand how selective hearing works in the brain, UCSF neurosurgeon Edward Chang, MD, a faculty member in the UCSF Department of Neurological Surgery and the Keck Center for Integrative Neuroscience, and UCSF postdoctoral fellow Nima Mesgarani, PhD, worked with three patients who were undergoing brain surgery for severe epilepsy.
Discovery Of Key Protein Responsible For Controlling Nerve Cell Protection Could Lead To New Therapies For Stroke And Epilepsy
A key protein, which may be activated to protect nerve cells from damage during heart failure or epileptic seizure, has been found to regulate the transfer of information between nerve cells in the brain. The discovery, made by neuroscientists at the University of Bristol and published in Nature Neuroscience and PNAS, could lead to novel new therapies for stroke and epilepsy. The research team, led by Professor Jeremy Henley and Dr Jack Mellor from Bristol's Medical School, has identified a protein, known as SUMO, responsible for controlling the chemical processes which reduce or enhance protection mechanisms for nerve cells in the brain. These key SUMO proteins produce subtle responses to the brain's activity levels to regulate the amount of information transmitted by kainate receptors - responsible for communication between nerve cells and whose activation can lead to epileptic seizures and nerve cell death.
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.