Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Brain sciences


The current review highlights the evidence supporting the use of ketogenic diet therapies in the management of adult epilepsy, adult malignant glioma and Alzheimer’s disease. An overview of the scientific literature, both preclinical and clinical, in each area is presented and management strategies for addressing adverse effects and compliance are discussed.


Awareness of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and persisting post-concussive syndrome (PCS) has increased substantially in the past few decades, with a corresponding increase in research on diagnosis, management, and treatment of patients with mTBI. The purpose of this article is to provide a narrative review of the current literature on behavioral assessment and management of patients presenting with mTBI/PCS, and to detail the potential role of neuropsychologists and rehabilitation psychologists in interdisciplinary care for this population during the acute, subacute, and chronic phases of recovery.

Concepts: Psychology, Medical terms, Traumatic brain injury, Chronic, Neuropsychology, Post-concussion syndrome, Acute, Concussion


We investigated whether anxious individuals, who adopt an inherently negative mindset, demonstrate a particularly salient memory bias for words tainted by negative contexts. To this end, sequentially presented target words, overlayed onto negative or neutral pictures, were studied in separate blocks (within-subjects) using a deep or shallow encoding instruction (between-subjects). Following study, in Test 1, participants completed separate recognition test blocks for the words overlayed onto the negative and the neutral contexts. Following this, in Test 2, participants completed a recognition test for the foils from each Test 1 block. We found a significant three-way interaction on Test 2, such that individuals with high anxiety who initially studied target words using a shallow encoding instruction, demonstrated significantly elevated memory for foils that were contained within the negative Test 1 block. Results show that during retrieval (Test 1), participants re-entered the mode of processing (negative or neutral) engaged at encoding, tainting the encoding of foils with that same mode of processing. The findings suggest that individuals with high relative to low anxiety, adopt a particularly salient negative retrieval mode, and this creates a downstream bias in encoding and subsequent retrieval of otherwise neutral information.

Concepts: Anxiety, Psychology, Memory, Demonstration, 2000s music groups, Relative humidity, Block, ConTeXt


Migraine is the third most prevalent disease on the planet, yet our understanding of its mechanisms and pathophysiology is surprisingly incomplete. Recent studies have built upon decades of evidence that adenosine, a purine nucleoside that can act as a neuromodulator, is involved in pain transmission and sensitization. Clinical evidence and rodent studies have suggested that adenosine signaling also plays a critical role in migraine headache. This is further supported by the widespread use of caffeine, an adenosine receptor antagonist, in several headache treatments. In this review, we highlight evidence that supports the involvement of adenosine signaling in different forms of headache, headache triggers, and basic headache physiology. This evidence supports adenosine A2A receptors as a critical adenosine receptor subtype involved in headache pain. Adenosine A2A receptor signaling may contribute to headache via the modulation of intracellular Cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) production or 5' AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) activity in neurons and glia to affect glutamatergic synaptic transmission within the brainstem. This evidence supports the further study of adenosine signaling in headache and potentially illuminates it as a novel therapeutic target for migraine.

Concepts: DNA, Signal transduction, Adenosine triphosphate, Receptor, Caffeine, Adenosine receptor, Adenosine A2A receptor, Adenosine A1 receptor


Hyperarousal is a 24-h state of elevated cognitive and physiological activation, and is a core feature of insomnia. The extent to which sleep quality is affected by stressful events-so-called sleep reactivity-is a vulnerability factor for developing insomnia. Given the increasing prevalence of insomnia with age, we aimed to investigate how hyperarousal and sleep reactivity were related to insomnia severity in different adult age groups. Data were derived from a large cohort study investigating the natural history of insomnia in a population-based sample (n = 1693). Baseline data of the Arousal Predisposition Scale (APS) and Ford Insomnia Response to Stress Test (FIRST) were examined across age and sleep/insomnia subgroups: 25-35 (n = 448), 35-45 (n = 528), and 45-55 year olds (n = 717); good sleepers (n = 931), individuals with insomnia symptoms (n = 450), and individuals with an insomnia syndrome (n = 312). Results from factorial analyses of variance (ANOVA) showed that APS scores decreased with increasing age, but increased with more severe sleep problems. FIRST scores were not significantly different across age groups, but showed the same strong increase as a function of sleep problem severity. The findings indicate that though arousal predisposition and sleep reactivity increase with more severe sleep problems, only arousal decreases with age. How arousing events affect an individual during daytime thus decreases with age, but how this arousal disrupts sleep is equivalent across different adult age groups. The main implication of these findings is that treatment of insomnia could be adapted for different age groups and take into consideration vulnerability factors such as hyperarousal and stress reactivity.

Concepts: Cohort study, Sleep deprivation, Sleep disorder, Factor analysis, Sleep medicine, Circadian rhythm, Adult, Age groups in Scouting and Guiding


Can experience change perception? Here, we examine whether language experience shapes the way individuals process auditory and visual information. We used the McGurk effect—the discovery that when people hear a speech sound (e.g., “ba”) and see a conflicting lip movement (e.g., “ga”), they recognize it as a completely new sound (e.g., “da”). This finding suggests that the brain fuses input across auditory and visual modalities demonstrates that what we hear is profoundly influenced by what we see. We find that cross-modal integration is affected by language background, with bilinguals experiencing the McGurk effect more than monolinguals. This increased reliance on the visual channel is not due to decreased language proficiency, as the effect was observed even among highly proficient bilinguals. Instead, we propose that the challenges of learning and monitoring multiple languages have lasting consequences for how individuals process auditory and visual information.


Background: Most of the literature on the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and health is focused on the protective effects of SES. However, a growing literature suggests that high SES may also operate as a vulnerability factor. Aims: Using a national sample of African American youth, this study compared the effects of perceived discrimination on major depressive disorder (MDD) based on SES. Methods: The current cross-sectional study included 810 African American youth who participated in the National Survey of American Life-Adolescent supplement. The independent variable was perceived discrimination. Lifetime, 12-month, and 30-day MDD were the dependent variables. Age and gender were covariates. Three SES indicators (subjective SES, income, and poverty index) were moderators. We used logistic regressions for data analysis. Results: Perceived discrimination was associated with higher risk of lifetime, 12-month, and 30-day MDD. Interactions were found between subjective SES and perceived discrimination on lifetime, 12-month, and 30-day MDD, suggesting a stronger effect of perceived discrimination in youth with high subjective SES. Objective measures of SES (income and poverty index) did not interact with perceived discrimination on MDD. Conclusion: While perceived discrimination is a universally harmful risk factor for MDD, its effect may depend on the SES of the individual. Findings suggest that high subjective SES may operate as a vulnerability factor for African American youth.

Concepts: Risk, Socioeconomic status, Major depressive disorder, Seasonal affective disorder, Dysthymia, Depression, Southern United States, Types of psychological depression


Despite the wealth of literature on social determinants of mental health, less is known about the intersection of these determinants. Using a nationally representative sample, this study aimed to study separate, additive, and multiplicative effects of race, gender, and SES on the risk of major depressive episode (MDE) among American adults.

Concepts: Sociology, Major depressive disorder, Major depressive episode, Dysthymia


To begin to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the benefits of exercise for chronic pain, we assessed the influence of exercise on brain responses to pain in fibromyalgia (FM). Complete data were collected for nine female FM patients and nine pain-free controls (CO) who underwent two functional neuroimaging scans, following exercise (EX) and following quiet rest (QR). Brain responses and pain ratings to noxious heat stimuli were compared within and between groups. For pain ratings, there was a significant (p < 0.05) Condition by Run interaction characterized by moderately lower pain ratings post EX compared to QR (d = 0.39-0.41) for FM but similar to ratings in CO (d = 0.10-0.26), thereby demonstrating that exercise decreased pain sensitivity in FM patients to a level that was analogous to pain-free controls. Brain responses demonstrated a significant within-group difference in FM patients, characterized by less brain activity bilaterally in the anterior insula following QR as compared to EX. There was also a significant Group by Condition interaction with FM patients showing less activity in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex following QR as compared to post-EX and CO following both conditions. These results suggest that exercise appeared to stimulate brain regions involved in descending pain inhibition in FM patients, decreasing their sensitivity to pain. Thus, exercise may benefit patients with FM via improving the functional capacity of the pain modulatory system.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Brain, Neuroscience, Neurology, Cerebrum, Attention versus memory in prefrontal cortex, Insular cortex


Background: Minorities' Diminished Return (MDR) theory suggests that socioeconomic position (SEP) may have a smaller effect on health and well-being of members of the minority than the majority groups. Aim: Built on the MDR theory, this study compared Whites and African Americans for the effects of three family SEP indicators (family type, parental education, and parental employment) during adolescence on subsequent symptoms of anxiety 18 years later during young adulthood. Methods: Flint Adolescents Study (FAS), 1994⁻2012, followed 359 youth (ages 13 to 17, 295 African American and 64 Whites) for 18 years. The independent variables were family type, parental education, and parental employment during adolescence. The dependent variable was subsequent symptoms of anxiety, measured using the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), 18 years later. Age and gender were the covariates and race/ethnicity was the focal effect modifier (moderator). Four linear regression models were estimated to investigate the effects of the three family SEP indicators at age 15 on subsequent symptoms of anxiety at age 33 in the pooled sample and also by race/ethnicity. Results: In the pooled sample, having married parents at age 15 was inversely associated with symptoms of anxiety at age 33. We found an interaction between race/ethnicity and family type, indicating a smaller protective effect of having married parents against symptoms of anxiety for African American compared to White participants. The other two SEP indicators did not show any effect and did not interact with race/ethnicity on the outcome. Conclusion: In support of the MDR theory, marital status of parents during adolescence protects White but not African American young adults against anxiety symptoms. Diminished return of SEP is one of many underlying mechanisms involved in shaping racial and ethnic disparities in anxiety, however, that is often overlooked. Future research that examines economic and social policies and programs that can equalize the health gains that follow SEP resources among racial groups would be a useful next step.