Bullying alters brain structure, raises risk of mental health problems

New research is suggesting that there may be physical structural differences in the brains of adolescents who are regularly bullied.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics, between one and three students in the United States report being bullied at school.

In recent years, cyberbullying has become a widespread problem.

Cyberbullying is any bullying performed via cell phones, social media, or the Internet in general.

Full story at Medical News Today

Drugs of abuse: Identifying the addiction circuit

What happens in the brain of a compulsive drug user? What is the difference in brain function between an addict and a person who takes a drug in a controlled manner? In an attempt solve this puzzle, neurobiologists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland; have been looking at this difference in a rodent addiction model. They have discovered that the brain circuit connecting the decision-making region to the reward system is stronger in compulsive animals. The researchers also found that by decreasing the activity of this circuit, compulsive mice were able to regain control and that conversely, by stimulating the connection a mouse that initially remained in control became addicted. The work is published in this week’s edition of the journal Nature.

Addiction is an disease that develops in stages: it starts with the initial exposure to a substance followed by a phase where consumption remains controlled. Some individuals however will start using drugs compulsively in spite of the major negative effects it has on their lives (such as mounting debt, social isolation or incarceration). Clinical estimates suggest that only one person in five moves from controlled to compulsive use.

“We do not know why one person becomes addicted to drugs while another doesn’t,” begins Christian Lüscher, senior author and professor at the Departments of Basic and Clinical Neurosciences of the Faculty of Medicine. “But our study identifies the difference in brain function between the two behaviors.”

Full story at Science Daily

Alcoholic beverages are frequently considered migraine triggers

In a European Journal of Neurology study of 2,197 patients who experience migraines, alcoholic beverages were reported as a trigger by 35.6 percent of participants.

Additionally, more than 25 percent of migraine patients who had stopped consuming or never consumed alcoholic beverages did so because of presumed trigger effects. Wine, especially red wine (77.8 percent of participants), was recognized as the most common trigger among the alcoholic beverages; however, red wine consistently led to an attack in only 8.8 percent of participants. Time of onset was rapid (less than three hours) in one third of patients, and almost 90 percent of patients had an onset in under 10 hours independent of the type of alcoholic beverage consumed.

The authors noted that it can be debated if alcohol is a factual or a presumed trigger. Additional studies are needed to unravel this relationship.

Full story at Science Daily

Researchers developing nonopioid drug for chronic pain

Researchers from the Virginia Tech School of Neuroscience are teaming with the University of California San Diego and the U.S. National Institutes of Health to develop a drug — now in its earliest stages — that can treat certain types of chronic pain without the addictive consequences of opioids.

The drug compound, known as ML351, was discovered by researchers from the NIH, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is designed to inhibit the naturally produced enzyme 15-Lipoxygenase-1, which synthesizes bioactive lipids that contribute directly to chronic pain not relieved by common over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. This lack of relief can lead patients to resort to more powerful drugs including opioids such as Oxycodone and other narcotics.

“Our goal is to demonstrate the preclinical efficacy of ML351 for chronic pain that does not respond to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and might otherwise be treated with opioids,” said Ann Gregus, a research scientist with the School of Neuroscience, who is working on the drug compound with Matt Buczynski, an assistant professor of neuroscience who specializes in drug addiction. The School of Neuroscience is part of the College of Science at Virginia Tech.

Full story at Science Daily

Vitamin D deficiency increases schizophrenia risk

Some research suggests a link between low vitamin D levels and a person’s risk of developing schizophrenia. New evidence indicates that this notion may be correct.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, schizophrenia is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide.

Symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and cognitive problems characterize schizophrenia.

So far, however, researchers have been unable to find out exactly what causes this condition.

Full story at Medical News Today