Women suffer depression and anxiety disorders at higher rates than men; a new study finds an interesting new explanation for this. Unwholesome family life can alter development of threat-detection circuits in the brain of young girls, which persist into adulthood and predispose women to developing mood and anxiety disorders as adolescents and young adults. Boys are also negatively impacted by family stresses during childhood, but the lasting effects on their brain were seen in only one of two neural circuits controlling our response to threats, anxiety and fear.
Squeezing her hand over the toddler’s nose and mouth she smothered him to death because he would not stop crying. Last Monday 22-year-old Jessica Fraraccio pleaded guilty in court to felony murder of 23-month-old Elijah Nealey in the summer of 2012. No one in their right mind could conceive of committing such a horrible act, but babies are tragically killed or left severely brain damaged by shaken baby syndrome inflicted by a parent, family member, or caretaker frustrated by a child’s incessant crying. Dismissing those with depraved minds, how can we comprehend such sad stories as this one in the Washington Post?
On this episode we have Leanne Boucher from Nova Southeastern University and Nick Spitzer from UCSD. We discuss with Nick about his new discoveries recently published in Science. His article shows how certain neurons switch their neurotransmitters based on exposition of an animal to different schedules of light/dark cycles. You can view the full discussion here, it was fascinating! Continue reading
The last time I was on Boylston Street it was to give a lecture in November at a scientific meeting in the Weston Hotel. Today, Sunday, I’m looking out onto an empty street, barricaded. An eerie modern-day ghost town festooned with yellow police tape rippling in the cold Boston wind. Continue reading
A new study published in Nature Neuroscience by a large group of researchers from The Netherlands has identified the modifications of brain activities of patients as they were receiving treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)1. OCD is an anxiety disorder in which patients adopt repetitive behaviors such as hoarding, washing, or cleaning to address excessive worries or fears. Continue reading
Is the feeling of fear instantiated in some brain area or is fear just a word we use to describe a series events distributed across the brain which make us avoid things that are bad? Do other animal experience the same subjective state that we experience when we are afraid? Those are some of the questions that are asked in a recent review paper published by Ralph Adolphs in Current Biology. Continue reading
We are suckers for Horatio Alger stories. We love it when the underdog defies the odds, pulls out the last minute jumper, or makes the save. It’s a surrogate for those times when we do the same thing. We know — on a lesser scale — what it’s like to be behind and losing, and to sometimes squeak one out when nobody expected it. Even when we can’t, we appreciate it when others do it. That’s one reason why the Lance Armstrong revelations hurt. They ram a stake in the heart of our childlike sense of what’s possible. Even with growing doubts, up until he confessed I wanted to believe Lance — didn’t you? Continue reading