Weekends make people… happier. (now proven with SCIENCE)

‘Weekend effect’ makes people happier regardless of their job, study says – “From construction laborers and secretaries to physicians and lawyers, people experience better moods, greater vitality, and fewer aches and pains from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, concludes the first study of daily mood variation in employed adults to be published in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.”

In other news water is wet, etc. etc. The study used a pager that reminded people to report how they felt for the study, both physically and mentally. Regardless of socioeconomic status people generally reported feeling better on the weekends!

Choline deficiency’s relationship with anxiety

Choline (and anxiety) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – In a large population-based study, choline concentrations were inversely correlated with anxiety symptoms in subjects aged 46–49 and 70–74 years who had valid information on plasma choline concentrations and symptoms of anxiety. [5] [...] It is well established that supplements of methyl group transfer vitamins B6, B12, folic acid reduce the blood titer of homocysteine and so may prevent heart disease.[6] Choline is a necessary source of methyl groups for methyl group transfer.

Choline is important as a component of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. Soy Lecithin, and eggs are both a good source of choline. If you score the omega-3 eggs you’re working dietary double-time for brain nutrients. That last sentence sounds stupid, but I’m posting it anyway. Enjoy my drivel, interwebs.

Deep brain stimulation of the habenula aids depression sufferer

Deep brain stimulation successful for treatment of severely depressive patient – “Scientific studies have shown that the habenula is hyperactive in depression, the idea was to downregulate this structure by deep brain stimulation. [...] The brain pacemaker was switched off and was not reactivated for a few days, and the depression promptly returned. A few weeks after reactivation, the patient completely recovered again.The neurosurgeons in Heidelberg and the psychiatrists in Mannheim now want to build on this positive experience and are planning a clinical study in which the habenula stimulation is to be implemented for severely depressive patients at five psychiatric-neurosurgery centers in Germany.”

Really the only thing my brain parsed out of this text is the word “habenula” and it’s apparent association with depression.

Lack of sleep increases risk of suicidal ideation — in teens

Earlier bedtimes may help protect adolescents against depression and suicidal thoughts – Results show that adolescents with parental set bedtimes of midnight or later were 24 percent more likely to suffer from depression (odds ratio = 1.24) and 20 percent more likely to have suicidal ideation (OR=1.20) than adolescents with parental set bedtimes of 10 p.m. or earlier. This association was appreciably attenuated by self-reported sleep duration and the perception of getting enough sleep

Neuro Vocab Word(s) of the Day: Jamais Vu

Jamais vu – I’ve discovered a new vu. Thanks, wikipedia. – “In psychology, the term jamais vu (from the French, meaning “never seen”) is used to describe any familiar situation which is not recognized by the observer. Often described as the opposite of déjà vu, jamais vu involves a sense of eeriness and the observer’s impression of seeing the situation for the first time, despite rationally knowing that he or she has been in the situation before. [...] Chris Moulin, of Leeds University, asked 92 volunteers to write out “door” 30 times in 60 seconds. At the International Conference on Memory in Sydney last week he reported that 68 percent of his guinea pigs showed symptoms of jamais vu, such as beginning to doubt that “door” was a real word. Dr Moulin believes that a similar brain fatigue underlies a phenomenon observed in some schizophrenia patients: that a familiar person has been replaced by an impostor. Dr Moulin suggests they could be suffering from chronic jamais vu.[2]“

Can you say “om”?

Success and setbacks for cocaine vaccine

Cocaine addicts take cocaine vaccine, then go broke – “After the vaccine, doing cocaine was a very disappointing experience for them,” said Kosten, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
Nobody overdosed, but some of them had 10 times more cocaine coursing through their systems than researchers had encountered before, according to Kosten. He said some of the addicts reported to researchers that they had gone broke buying cocaine from multiple drug dealers, hoping to find a variety that would get them high. “

I’m way more entertained than I probably should be.

Ultricle and saccule (collectively “otoliths”) found to affect brain blood flow

BBC News – Minute organs in the ear can alter brain blood flow – “Minute organs hidden deep within the ear appear to directly alter blood flow to the brain, scientists have revealed. Until now, experts thought the inner ear’s job was to control balance alone. [...] Dr Jorge Serrador and his team from Harvard Medical School asked 24 healthy people to undergo a range of tests normally used on astronauts. These included a tilt test where the individual sits strapped to a chair that is then tilted to different angles, plus a ride inside a giant, spinning centrifuge. [...] This revealed that the utricle and saccule, also known as the otoliths, directly affected brain blood flow regulation, independent of other factors, such as blood pressure.”

Neuro Vocab Word of the Day: Derealization

Derealization – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – Derealization (DR) is an alteration in the perception or experience of the external world so that it seems strange or unreal. Other symptoms include feeling as though one’s environment is lacking in spontaneity, emotional colouring and depth.[1] It is a dissociative symptom of many conditions, such as psychiatric and neurological disorders, and not a standalone disorder. It is also a transient side effect of acute drug intoxication, sleep deprivation, and stress. [...] Chronic derealization may be caused by occipital–temporal dysfunction.[3] These symptoms are common in the population, with a lifetime prevalence of up to 74% and between 31 and 66% at the time of a traumatic event.[4]

An interesting word for an unusual sensation.

Neural Plasticity and “Training” The Aging Brain

How to Train the Aging Brain – An article on neural plasticity from NY Times – “While it’s tempting to focus on the flaws in older brains, that inducement overlooks how capable they’ve become. Over the past several years, scientists have looked deeper into how brains age and confirmed that they continue to develop through and beyond middle age. [...] The brain, as it traverses middle age, gets better at recognizing the central idea, the big picture. If kept in good shape, the brain can continue to build pathways that help its owner recognize patterns and, as a consequence, see significance and even solutions much faster. [...] With a brain already full of well-connected pathways, adult learners should “jiggle their synapses a bit” by confronting thoughts that are contrary to their own. Teaching new facts should not be the focus of adult education. Instead, continued brain development and a richer form of learning may require that you “bump up against people and ideas” that are different.”

I’d argue that memorization of disconnected facts shouldn’t be the focus of youthful education pursuits, either.