Research

Of molecules and minds: 5 things we learned at BRAINet

The Brain Research Awareness and Information Network (BRAINet) is the volunteer outreach organization of the OHSU Brain Institute. Each month, they come together for a lecture luncheon. March’s special guest was Eric Gouaux, Ph.D. Here are five things we learned about Dr. Gouaux and his research: 1. As a Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator for the Vollum Institute, Eric Gouaux’s lab studies the molecular principles underpinning the structure and function of chemical synapses. 2. He has been awarded … Read More

Workplace freedom and support improves sleep

About 25-30% of U.S. citizens report insufficient sleep, which is associated with workplace errors, crashes, disease, and even early mortality. With co-authors from the Work, Family, and Health Network, I recently published our findings in the journal Sleep Health. In short, we found that a workplace program to reduce work-family conflict resulted in increased employee sleep a full year after the study started. This was measured with “sleep watches” that determine sleep periods through wrist movements. … Read More

What can birds tell us about the human brain?

If you spent any time toasting in the new year, and found difficulty getting your words to come out clearly, do not worry — you are not alone. In a study published last month, Claudio Mello, Andrey Ryabinin, Devin Owen and myself — all from the OHSU Department of Behavioral Neuroscience — found that songbirds that drink alcohol experience difficulty in singing as well. More than 500 media outlets across the world — including National … Read More

Drink to your health — once again

’Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry! And perhaps a few of those seasonal sips will be of the adult variety. So maybe it’s not a huge surprise that a study published in December 2013 by OHSU researchers got a bit more coverage in recent weeks. The study, whose senior author was Kathy Grant of the OHSU Brain Institute and OHSU’s Oregon National Primate Research Center, found that moderate drinking may help boost … Read More

The connection between the brain, sleep and dementia

Last week, I talked about ongoing research on how sleep “deep cleans” your brain, as well as my participation in the National Geographic Channel’s documentary Sleepless in America. Meanwhile, our team of OHSU researchers, along with colleagues at the University of Rochester in New York, are plunging ahead with the story of the brain, sleep and dementia. We recently published an article in the journal Annals of Neurology that showed that the “brain cleaning system” is impaired in the aging … Read More

Sleepless in America — and the science behind it

There’s nothing quite like that feeling in your head after a long night of…no sleep. Your head feels disorganized, foggy, fuzzy, jumbled. Like it’s full of sludge left over from the night before. That’s maybe because it is. My colleagues and I have made some recent discoveries about what happens to the brain during sleep. In essence, we’ve found that the brain’s cells shrink during sleep in order to open up the space between them. That … Read More

Neuroscientists go to Washington — as advocates for science

This last March, I had the opportunity to join fellow neuroscientists from around the country in an effort to increase political awareness of scientific research during the Society for Neuroscience Capitol Hill Day in Washington, D.C. The group was made up of about 45 Society for Neuroscience members, including graduate students, post-doctoral fellows (like myself), faculty members, SfN staff and senior SfN leaders. Combined, we met with more than 75 congressional offices over the course … Read More

April 7 Brain Awareness lecture: the adolescent brain

Adolescence is a time of dramatic behavioral, cognitive, social, and biological change. In recent years, techniques that scientists use to measure and image the brain have greatly enhanced our understanding of these changes. I’ll be talking about some of these changes – and everything that scientists are learning about the differences in the teenage brain – during my Brain Awareness Season lecture this Monday evening, April 7. The lecture, sponsored by the OHSU Brain Institute, … Read More

One more shot of espresso, for memory’s sake

How much do Portlanders love their coffee? A lot. According to a 2011 poll by CNBC, Portland is the third most caffeinated city in the U.S., with almost 900 coffee shops and 30 local coffee roasters. And does this love of coffee have any effect on brain health? A new study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience suggests that caffeine might actually be a good thing for how our brain stores and processes long-term memories. … Read More

The road to a healthy heart is the road to a healthy brain

What if we told you that you could live your life in simple ways that give you a very, very good chance of having a healthy heart and a sharp brain well into old age? No special drugs, no special surgeries, no amazing scientific discoveries and no wonder cures. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? And it’s simple. Science is beginning to understand that the route to a healthy brain and healthy heart might be pretty … Read More

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