Research

A toast to your health

There’s possibly no better time to highlight this research story than on New Year’s eve: a drink or two a day — a glass of wine, a glass of beer — might also keep the doctor away. That’s what colleagues and I found in a study published this month in the journal Vaccine. We studied the drinking behaviors of rhesus macaque monkeys, who were given 22-hour-a-day access to a mixture of alcohol and water — … Read More

How our brains wash away the gunk during sleep

You wake on Saturday morning, drag your body out of bed and survey your home. You had entertained houseguests the night before, and it shows. Friends and family had filled your home, loud voices and much conversation echoed within your walls and everyone went home much later than you had planned. And now it is time to pay the piper. A full Saturday’s worth of dishwashing, floor scrubbing and shelf wiping stares you back in … Read More

Scientists ‘create’ a tiny brain

For the first time, scientists have grown a brain in a dish. In a study published in the journal Nature last month, Austrian researchers used human induced pluripotent stem cells or embryonic stem cells and a combination of specialized growth conditions to produce “cerebral organoids.” Within these organoids, the authors can define many, but not all, of the discrete brain regions found in the human brain. The organization of these regions in relation to one … Read More

From laboratory to farm: a scientist’s visit to the local herb farm

As a basic scientist, most of my neuroscience training and research has focused on the underlying biological mechanisms of disease. During the past year, I have started working with a natural compound in my research on Parkinson’s disease. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric spice, can act as an anti-oxidant and anti-aggregation agent, and may have a positive effect on the Lewy bodies found in Parkinson’s patients. At first, I was a bit skeptical about … Read More

‘Neuroprotection’: an elusive goal in fighting brain diseases

About 15 years ago, I wrote an article about treating Alzheimer’s disease that divided treatments into two categories: “symptomatic” and “neuroprotectant.” There were real options in the former category. But the “neuroprotectant” idea was more theoretical — more of a “coming attractions” approach — citing the studies that were underway to identify treatments that would actually save brain cells, protecting those neurons from further harm, and actually slowing or arresting the disease process. Sadly, despite … Read More

Brain News Roundup: ‘Seeing’ emotions, concussions and ‘multi-tasking’

Scientists can now see “sad” and “happy” in our brains. More news on the impact of concussions, including long-term impacts. And a roundup of more brain news, including fatherhood and our (mistaken) belief about how well we multi-task. • Scientists have discovered a way to “see” emotions with brain imaging technology, according to a recent study. Beyond being just plain fascinating, scientists hope the findings could bring a new way to analyze emotions beyond people’s … Read More

Scientists excited by new ‘see-through brain’

I am a neuroscientist who uses advanced microscopy techniques to understand the basic mechanisms of Parkinson’s disease. Throughout my career, I have always been interested in imaging and microscopy as a way to answer essential biological questions.  That’s why I (along with many other neuroscientists) am so excited about a new technique that creates fully intact, optically clear brains, allowing scientists to study how brain cells connect and communicate with each other in a completely … Read More

Pioneering scientist speaks about brain mapping

Those of us who work within the OHSU Brain Institute are honored to have Dr. Marcus Raichle visit us May 13 to present an evening seminar in the Brain Awareness Lecture Series, entitled “How Do We Peer Deeply into the Brain.” Raichle has been at the forefront in the development and application of advanced brain imaging techniques to advance neuroscience for four decades. He is a pioneer in the use of innovative positron emission tomography, or … Read More

Autism rates increasing — but why?

Autism spectrum disorders are severe neurodevelopmental disorders affecting young children that are usually detected in the first years of life. Autism is now recognized as one of the most common developmental disorders — likely to affect about 10,000 youth under age 18 in Oregon. Meanwhile, epidemiological studies have shown increasing rates of autism in most countries.  On Tuesday, April 2, as part of the OHSU Brain Awareness Season lecture series, I will speak about my … Read More

Deep Brain Stimulation: life-changing treatment for tremors, and maybe more

Functional neurosurgery is surgery intended to improve brain function.  These procedures have been applied to the treatment of pain, movement disorders, epilepsy, and behavioral disorders. In the past, the techniques were mostly targeted destruction of brain tissue or pathways. In very specific areas, destroying brain tissue could actually help — by decreasing a person’s tremors from movement disorders, for instance. Now with deep brain stimulation technology, these techniques are being replaced by reversible, and non-damaging … Read More

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