functional symptoms

Physical Symptoms without Physical Disease – Nancy

A new website designed for people experiencing physical symptoms that are not traceable to physical disease offers clear, scientific information, and also hope for those patients who sometimes spend years in the medical system trying to get relief for pain and other symptoms only to be told that nothing is wrong. The site refers to these symptoms as “functional symptoms.” …

Move It

You have the potential to change your life. There is an almost magical system for activating hundreds of genes associated with better health and better brain function that you have access to. And it won’t cost you. I have written a lot about this amazing system, but this video does a better job than any of my posts. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dl5kuaU5kxQ&w=854&h=480] …

Intermittent Fasting and Brain Health

Conventional wisdom, especially in the realm of diet and health, often turns out not to be right. Conventional wisdom (as it happens, heavily subsidized by grants from the Kellogg Foundation) has argued that “breakfast is the most important meal” and “fasting diets are unhealthy.” An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine by Casazza in 2013 suggested that the …

Aerobic Exercise Stimulates Neuron Growth

Moderate aerobic exercise appears to be the best form of exercise to stimulate neuron growth. One of the great challenges facing anyone who has wrestled with depression is how best to counteract the negative effects on brain development and cognitive function that have clearly been linked to recurrent depression. Depression leads directly to reductions in the brain’s growth hormone (brain …

Exercise and Stress – How Exercise Prevents Depression

Exercise seems to reduce stress. But how does this work? And what about exercise effects on depression? An article in the New York Times summarizes a recent publication in the journal Cell which may explain how exercise prevents depression. A wealth of research shows that regular exercise reduces the risk of depression. A very large study in Britain, for example, suggested that …

exercise and genes

Exercise affects Genes – Increased BDNF

Today we look at how exercise affects genes (previous article on neurotransmitters and exercise can be read here), in particular we focus on the effects of exercise on the gene that codes for BDNF. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)— or “the fertilizer of the brain” as Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan nicknames it— is a protein fundamental for the growth and protection of neurons …

Sleep and the Lunar Cycle

One of our readers wondered if bipolar people are more sensitive to lunar cycles. I could not find any evidence for that, but I did run across a recent research report suggesting that everyone (bipolar or not) may have a sleep cycle that corresponds to the phase of the moon. Researchers at the University of Basel studied 33 people and …

Passing on PTSD to Children

At a recent scientific meeting, Rachael Yehada showed that traits that are related to posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD can be passed on to children during pregnancy. Mothers in New York City who were pregnant on September 11, 2001 and developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) had children with low cortisol in their blood (a sign of PTSD). But if the fathers …

Brain Cell Formation in Older Brains

Cell formation. Readers of this blog may recall that we reported last year the discouraging findings from Dr. Pasco Rakic (professor of neuroanatomy at Yale University) that there is very little neurogenesis (creation of new neurons) in the brains of older primates (including humans). Now, an article by Kristy Spalding published a few months ago in Cell suggests that the …

Befriending Stress

A colleague recommended this fantastic TED talk by Kelly McGonigal on the cardiovascular and social benefits of befriending stress (and potentially other negative emotions) as opposed to fearing these types of feelings. Kelly offers a fascinating perspective on oxytocin as a stress hormone that serves as a mechanism for resilience, helping people connect with others in times of challenge. Kelly …

Sleep Deep Cleans Your Brain

Beep, beep, beep, beep! Snooze……Beep, beep, beep, beep! You open your eyes, roll out of bed and start wondering why you stayed up so late to watch another episode of your favorite TV series, play another video or computer game, or catch up with your friends, etc. We have busy and full lives, which results in less and more disrupted …

Long Term Antipsychotics – Adverse Effects on Brain?

This post is a bit off topic. I have tried to not focus on medication issues in this blog on the grounds that there are many, many websites that talk about medications and very little else. However one of the blog’s most loyal readers sent in an email about long term antipsychotic medications and potential adverse effects on brain function …

Do Maternal Antidepressants (SRI’s) Cause Autism in Their Children?

Maternal Antidepressants. Two studies have suggested a link between prenatal exposure to antidepressant medication and autism spectrum disorders.  We are pleased to learn: that does not appear to be the case! Not surprisingly, the studies mentioned above received a lot of attention and created a lot of concern for women taking antidepressant medications, and their partners, who planned to have …

Changing Hormone Levels and Mood

I was on the phone yesterday having an urgent consultation with a woman we have worked for 15 years. She has had a pretty straight forward history of depression and anxiety that we’ve treated primarily with antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy. She’s had a good response to this treatment approach. The two things about her depression that are a little …

Cognition Enhancing Apps

An experimental computer program is associated with improved attention and working memory in people over age 60, even 6 months after training. Somewhat fuzzy-brained after a poor night of sleep I ran across this summary of a paper that was just published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature (Anguera JA et al., Nature 2013 Sep 5; 501:97). Where could I test drive this application, …