Tuesday, July 10, 2007

migraine news roundup 38

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A new study published in Science Express, the online edition of the journal Science, sheds light on the relationship between the speed of electrical signals in the brain and depression.

Brain Circuitry Trouble May Explain Depression
Depression may be triggered by changes within a single circuit in a part of the brain known as the hippocampus, a new U.S. study suggests.

Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine used a new brain imaging technique called voltage-sensitive dye imaging to observe the effects of antidepressant medications on slices of rats' brains in real-time. Fluorescent dye in the brain tissues lights up in response to electrical activity. The changing patterns of light and dark can be captured on camera.

The tissues were from the hippocampus, which is thought to play a role in depression.

When the Stanford team examined the activity in the hippocampus tissues -- with and without antidepressants -- they found that in depressed rats certain electrical signals spread more slowly or not at all. Human antidepressants corrected the lack of activity, they noted.

You can read the entire Science Express article at this link: High-Speed Imaging Reveals Neurophysiological Links to Behavior in an Animal Model of Depression.

Researchers in Germany have demonstrated how pain interrupts a person's ability to concentrate. They asked study participants to perform a task, then induced varying levels of pain, using an MRI to see how the brain responded. The study appears in the current issue of the journal Neuron.

Brain Scans Show How Pain Upsets Concentration

A fantastic news item this week revealed research that puts to rest the age-old belief that women talk more than men.

Study: Men Talk as Much as Women

Co-author James W. Pennebaker, chairman of the psychology department at the University of Texas, said the researchers collected the recordings as part of a larger project to understand how people are affected when they talk about emotional experiences. They were surprised when a magazine article asserted that women use an average of 20,000 words per day compared with 7,000 for men. If there had been that big a difference, he thought, they should have noticed it.

They found that the 20,000-7,000 figures have been used in popular books and magazines for years. But they couldn't find any research supporting them. "Although many people believe the stereotypes of females as talkative and males as reticent, there is no large-scale study that systematically has recorded the natural conversations of large groups of people for extended periods of time," Pennebaker said.

Research indicates DHE alleviates the extreme sensitivity to heat or cold sometimes experienced by migraineurs.

Migraine with Skin Sensitivity Eased by Older Drug
Many migraine sufferers get relief from the newer drugs known as triptans, but these are less effective when people also have heightened skin sensitivity. This condition, called cutaneous allodynia, makes even a light touch to the face or neck feel painful.
Regardless of treatment time, five of the patients had a significant reduction in headache pain within 2 hours, and four were headache-free within 8 hours of being given DHE, the investigators report in the medical journal Headache.

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