Research

‘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

The neuroscience of memory, and how it matters in court

When I was 6 years old, I ran into a door frame and had to have stitches on my forehead. I remember that I was running to answer the phone. I remember thinking “oh no, I’m going to hit that door frame!” And, of course, I remember that after the stitches were put in, the doctors put a bandage on my teddy bear’s forehead to cheer me up. But … do I really “remember” all … Read More

How scientists collaborate, and how that can lead to cures

Report from Milan, Italy, Feb. 8, 2013: I am sitting in an auditorium in Milan, Italy, with about 100 other neurologists and scientists. This is the second day that I have sat here. We have come from many countries — including Germany, France, Austria, England, Scotland, Canada, Australia, Italy and the United States — for the First Scientific Conference of the International Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Collaborative. This meeting illustrates how scientists from around the world … Read More

Valentine’s Day and love — more about your brain than your heart

As Valentine’s Day nears, and we think about love and attraction, it’s tempting to think it’s all about longing stares and fluttering hearts and fate. But beneath all of that, it’s really about … dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin and vasopressin. Because when we talk about “chemistry” between two people, we are also talking a lot about “brain chemistry.” A couple of years ago, I was part of a special multimedia presentation, with Grammy nominated vocalist … Read More

Is ‘tau’ the new front line in the Alzheimer’s fight?

Patients and their family members have been bringing me clippings from that famous medical journal, “The Wall Street Journal,” asking me if it’s true that Alzheimer’s research is now focused on something called “tau.” As I wrote in an earlier blog post, the leading hypothesis until very recently was that “amyloid,” the stuff in the brain plaques in Alzheimer’s, was the cause of the disease due to toxic effects on brain cells. I also noted … Read More

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