The Biology Behind Alcohol-Induced Blackouts

The Biology Behind Alcohol-Induced Blackouts

By ScienceDaily


A person who drinks too much alcohol may be able to perform complicated tasks, such as dancing, carrying on a conversation or even driving a car, but later have no memory of those escapades. These periods of amnesia, commonly known as "blackouts," can last from a few minutes to several hours.

Now, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, neuroscientists have identified the brain cells involved in blackouts and the molecular mechanism that appears to underlie them. They report July 6, 2011, in The Journal of Neuroscience, that exposure to large amounts of alcohol does not necessarily kill brain cells as once was thought. Rather, alcohol interferes with key receptors in the brain, which in turn manufacture steroids that inhibit long-term potentiation (LTP), a process that strengthens the connections between neurons and is crucial to learning and memory.

Better understanding of what occurs when memory formation is inhibited by alcohol exposure could lead to strategies to improve memory.

Full story at ScienceDaily

People who grew up poor more likely to take risks for immediate rewards

BY News Medical


When faced with threat, people who grew up poor are more likely to make risky financial choices in search of a quick windfall, according to new research from the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.

Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, "The Influence of Mortality and Socioeconomic Status on Risk and Delayed Rewards: A Life History Approach" by Carlson School assistant professor of marketing Vladas Griskevicius found that people respond to feeling threatened differently depending on whether people grew up in relatively resource-scarce or resource-plentiful environments.

Full story at News Medical

Dealing With Negative Emotions By Distracting Yourself Or Thinking It Over

By Medical News Today


A big part of coping with life is having a flexible reaction to the ups and downs. Now, a study which will be published in an upcoming issue ofPsychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that people choose to respond differently depending on how intense an emotion is. When confronted with high-intensity negative emotions, they tend to choose to turn their attention away, but with something lower-intensity, they tend to think it over and neutralize the feeling that way.

Emotions are useful – for example, fear tells your body to get ready to escape or fight in a dangerous situation. But emotions can also become problematic – for example, for people with depression who can’t stop thinking about negative thoughts, says Gal Sheppes of Stanford University, who cowrote the study with Stanford colleagues Gaurav Suri and James J. Gross, and Susanne Scheibe of the University of Groningen. "Luckily, our emotions can be adjusted in various ways," he says.

Full story at Medical News Today

Positive Life Satisfaction Appears To Be Protective Against Heart Disease

By Christopher Fisher, PhD


While depression and anxiety have long been recognized as risk factors for heart disease, there is less certainty over the beneficial effects of a ‘positive’ psychological state. Following a study of almost 8000 British civil servants, researchers can now say that a satisfying life is indeed good for the heart. The results of the study are published online today by the European Heart Journal.

The civil servants, who were all members of the Whitehall II study cohort in the UK with an average age of 49 years, were questioned about seven specific areas of their everyday lives: love relationships, leisure activities, standard of living, job, family, sex, and one’s self. They were asked to rate their satisfaction in each domain on a scale of 1 (‘very dissatisfied’) to 7 (‘very satisfied’). Ratings for each domain were also combined to provide an average satisfaction score for their overall lives.

The participants’ health records were then examined for coronary related deaths, non-fatal heart attack, and clinically verified angina over a follow-up period of around six years.

Full story at The Behavioral Medicine Report

Potential Of Simple Injection On Patients With Head Injury

By Medical News Today


New research has suggested that tranexamic acid has the potential to prevent people dying from head injuries. The CRASH-2 Intracranial Bleeding Study highlights the potential of the cheap, off-patent drug to help people suffering from brain trauma and is published online by the BMJ today.

According to the collaborators led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine the results provide strong grounds to test the effect of this treatment in a larger and definitive study. The forthcoming CRASH-3 trial will determine reliably the effectiveness of tranexamic acid in patients with head injury.

Full story at Medical News Today

Effects of head trauma scaring Turley

By Michael Silver


When Kyle Turley(notes) reflects on the most significant concussion of his nine-year NFL career, he has to work hard to suppress his laughter.

While playing for the St. Louis Rams in 2003, the ultraphysical tackle took a blow to the helmet and lost consciousness on the final play of the third quarter. He spent the rest of the game – which seemed, to him, like it lasted five minutes – on the sideline in a daze. He wanted to wave to his wife, Stacy, but was unable to remember the location of the luxury box where she was regularly stationed and eventually gave up. At game’s end he retreated to the locker room with his teammates, and then things got even blurrier.

“I went into the shower, and as the story was told to me later, I was sitting at my locker, butt-naked, when our owner [Georgia Frontiere] came in to congratulate us,” Turley says. “I don’t remember doing this, but everybody said I stood up and hugged her, totally naked, right there in the middle of the room.”

Full story at Yahoo Sports

Patients With Traumatic Brain Injury Benefit From Religion

By Christopher Fisher, PhD


Brigid Waldron-Perrine, Ph.D., a recent graduate from Wayne State University, and her mentor, Lisa J. Rapport, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Wayne State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, found that if traumatic brain injury (TBI) victims feel close to a higher power, it can help them rehabilitate. The study was recently published in Rehabilitation Psychology.

Traumatic brain injury is a disruption of normal brain function after a head injury and affects 1.7 million Americans annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those struggling with the long-term effects of TBI are at a heightened risk for mental and physical problems. Such problems can significantly inhibit rehabilitation outcomes and are therefore important to address in the context of rehabilitation efforts. And when TBI leaves people feeling stressed, less satisfied with life, and functionally dependent on others, rehabilitation is the only option.

Full story at The Behavioral Medicine Report

Lack of empathy following traumatic brain injury linked to reduced responsiveness to anger

By Laura Fabri


Egocentric, self-centred, and insensitive to the needs of others: these social problems often arise in people with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) and have been attributed in part to a loss of emotional empathy, the capacity to recognise and understand the emotions of other people. Given that traumatic brain injuries are becoming more common, and resulting empathy deficits can have negative repercussions on social functioning and quality of life, it is increasingly important to understand the processes that shape emotional empathy. A new study has recently revealed evidence of a relationship between physiological responses to anger and a reduction of emotional empathy post-injury, as reported in the May 2011 issue of Elsevier’s Cortex (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00109452).

Researchers from the University of New South Wales, Australia, teamed up to investigate whether physiological responses to emotions correlate with emotional empathy in a group of adults with severe TBI and a group of healthy control participants. After determining the emotional empathy abilities of the participants by questionnaire, the researchers measured activation of their facial muscles and sweat glands, in response to happy and angry facial expressions, using facial electromyography (EMG) and skin conductance. They found that the control group spontaneously mimicked the emotional facial expressions they saw, and also perspired more in response to angry faces. In contrast, those in the TBI group generally scored lower in emotional empathy and were less responsive, specifically to angry faces. Lack of emotional empathy was specifically found to be associated with reduced physiological responses to angry faces.

Full story at EurekaAlert.org