brain

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Historically, people with epilepsy were thought to be possessed by demons. Research has come a long way since then, but epilepsy remains mysterious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy in their lives. Annually, it costs more than $15 billion in medical costs and reduced work production.

Editors' Note: This post has been revised to clarify and correct reporting on the findings of the bike helmet study. The researchers looked at head injuries, not just brain injuries, so the descriptions have been changed to head injuries throughout. The lead researcher said in response to follow-up questions that the study was designed to look at the risk of head injuries as a proportion of all injuries related to bicycling, so the headline and descriptions of the work have been changed to reflect that distinction.

Laura Goodwin

You probably recognize actor Kimberly Williams-Paisley. She got her start in the Steve Martin movie, "Father of the Bride," and has starred in multiple TV sitcoms, including "Two and A Half Men" and "Nashville."

Williams-Paisley is a writer, too, and she recently shared the challenges her family faced after her mother was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia in 2005.

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We focus this hour on one of the nation's most respected clinicians and researchers working with teens and adults who have ADHD. Dr. Thomas E. Brown is Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, and Associate Director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders. (There is sometimes a link between ADHD and autism.)

Dr. Brown's new book, Smart but Stuck, looks at how managing emotions plays a key role in the lives of those with ADHD, including those who have high I.Q. scores.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The story of Josh Hanagarne isn't necessarily funny. He was born with Tourette Syndrome, a poorly understood neuropsychiatric disorder which inflicts on Josh a blizzard of tics, flinches, whoops and yelps.  Most disconcertingly, he frequently hits himself in the face.

Josh's first refuge was books, and that led to a career as a librarian. His second refuge was playing the guitar, which somehow distracted his mind from the triggers producing the tics. And his third refuge was exercise, specifically strength and weight training. 

Los Angeles blogger Rebecca Woolf uses her blog, Girl's Gone Child, as a window into her family's life. Naturally, it includes oodles of pictures of her four children.

She says she's probably taken tens of thousands of photos since her oldest child was born. And she remembers the moment when it suddenly clicked — if you will — that she was too absorbed in digital documentation.

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When the Boston Marathon bombing occurred, neuroscientists at Harvard University were midway through a study on trauma and the adolescent brain. As a result, they said they were able to make some new scientific links between PTSD and media exposure.

Last April, Professor Katie McLaughlin and her colleagues at Harvard were studying the brains of young people who’d been through serious adversity. They had recruited about 150 children and teens. Half had reported early trauma or stress, and half had not.

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Want to know how to scare your co-workers? Fall to the ground and have a seizure in front of everyone.

About two weeks ago, that’s what happened to me. I don’t remember what happened, and I only remember scattered moments from the rest of the day. The wire to my headphones snapped and my face was noticeably battered.

Saad Faruque / Creative Commons

Historically, people with epilepsy were thought to be possessed by demons. Research has come a long way since then, but epilepsy remains mysterious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy in their lives. Annually, it costs more than $15 billion in medical costs and reduced work production.

Young adults who smoke marijuana at least once a week showed changes in the size and shape of two key brain regions, according to a new study of 20 pot smokers and 20 non-pot smokers between 18 and 25.

This is the first time recreational marijuana use has been connected to significant brain changes.

The findings, a collaboration between Northwestern University and Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, were published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

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Most children with autism are well past their fourth birthday by the time they’re diagnosed with the condition, according to new government data.

Their parents and teachers may have raised red flags earlier, but it takes months or years to confirm suspicions with a formal diagnosis. And therapy rarely starts without one.

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New research out of Yale University is claiming clairvoyance. It's called "neuroimaging," a fancy way of saying scientists are reading your mind.

This interview originally aired on April 30, 2013.

Twenty years ago, when brain imaging made it possible for researchers to study the minds of violent criminals and compare them to the brain imaging of "normal" people, a whole new field of research — neurocriminology — opened up.

Anyone who has ever drizzled, doused or — heck — drenched their food with Sriracha knows the hot sauce can make almost any dish taste better.

But could these spicy condiments also make us a little happier?

The teenage years are a tumultuous time, with about 11 percent developing depression by age 18. Lack of sleep may increase teenagers' risk of depression, two studies say.

Teenagers who don't get enough sleep are four times as likely to develop major depressive disorder as their peers who sleep more, according to researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. They tracked the habits of more than 4,000 adolescents over a year.

Think about your fifth-birthday party. Maybe your mom carried the cake. What did her face look like? If you have a hard time imagining the way she looked then rather than how she looks now, you're not alone.

The brain edits memories relentlessly, updating the past with new information. Scientists say that this isn't a question of having a bad memory. Instead, they think the brain updates memories to make them more relevant and useful now — even if they're not a true representation of the past.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

There is nothing particularly new about the idea that music can be a palliative or a distraction from pain or physical discomfort associated with illness. But over the last 25 years or so, we’ve seen a rising tide of interest in some that lies well beyond that -- a frontier where music’s actual therapeutic and even, curative powers can be discovered.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

A lot of interconnected things were happening in the 1990s, an oncologist and hematologist  named Mitchell Gaynor discovered trough a Tibetan monk, the so-called singing bowls and began incorporating them into the guided meditation and breathing work he did with his patients.

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In 1905, a young German physicist proposed an equation that would forever change our perception of special relativity. His name was Albert Einstein and his equation was E = MC2. Over a century later, Einstein’s theory of relativity still stands as one of science’s greatest achievements. It established Einstein as one of the 20th-century’s greatest celebrities, and one of history’s greatest thinkers.

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Neuroscientist James Fallon found something shocking when he was looking at brain scans of serial killers for research, and brain scans of his family for signs of disease. According to the scan, his own brain was no different than that of a psychopath. The discovery opened up a new world of research, TED talks and his recent book, The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain. 

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This hour, we talk with neuroscientist James Fallon. He found something shocking when he was looking at brain scans of serial killers. We’ll talk about his book The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain and what his research might tell us about Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza.

Doctors have long suspected that head trauma boosts the risk of getting Alzheimer's disease later on, but the evidence on that has been mixed.

But it looks like people who have memory problems and a history of concussion are more likely to have a buildup of plaques in the brain that are a risk factor for Alzheimer's, according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic.

danielgoleman.info

Psychologist and former New York Times reporter Daniel Goleman presented us with an important idea - “Emotional Intelligence” - it challenges the old concept of IQ as the most important measure of one’s abilities.

But his newest research might be even more important for our current world - filled with multiple screens and distractions. It’s all about “Focus.”

About one-third of American adults say they have problems falling asleep. And prescriptions for sleeping medications are on the rise, with about 4 percent of people using the drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But sleep specialists say people should exercise caution before deciding to take medication to help them sleep.

Chion Wolf

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the epidemic of injury in the game of football - concussions and traumatic brain injuries… but have you ever asked yourself why football helmets are designed the way they are? And how better helmet design might actually have made the game more dangerous? And while you’re at it, have you considered “the divine randomness of prolate spheroid?” That’s science talk for the unlikely evolution for the shape of the football.  

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A new Yale study offers hope for parents who have children with autism spectrum disorders. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the double-blind, placebo-controlled study consisted of 17 children and adolescents considered to have moderate- to high-functioning autism. 

Middle-Age "Senior Moments" Just Part of Aging

Nov 27, 2013
Jordan Harrison Graphic / Connecticut Health I-Team

Everyone occasionally struggles to remember a name, blanks out on an appointment or forgets why they walked into the other room. But somewhere around age 40, those “senior moments” start to take on a new seriousness. They suddenly seem like scary signs of aging, perhaps harbingers of major memory loss to come.

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From Faith Middleton: A neuroscientist has been working on decoding the canine brain, to answer the question of what dogs are thinking and feeling. So, do they love us the way we love them? Does a rescued dog understand you have rescued it, and feel grateful in a specific sense?

Researchers in a memory lab at Texas A&M University noticed that all the older people coming in as volunteers were really worried about how they'd do.

So the scientists decided to measure how taking a memory test affects a person's subjective sense of age.

Before the test, the 22 participants felt pretty darned good. Even though their average age was 75, they said they felt about 58.

Then they were given a list of 30 nouns, told to study them for two minutes, and then asked to recall as many of them as they could in three minutes.

The NFL adopted a new rule this season that makes it illegal for players to hit with the crown of their helmet. In other words, ramming your head into someone.

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