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A vaccine for Parkinson’s Disease is being trialled. The vaccine trial which is being sponsored by the Michael J Fox Foundation is testing the safety and tolerance of the vaccine in 32 subjects. The vaccine targets the protein Alpha Synuclein which is thought to play a central role in Parkinson’s Disease. If the vaccine is successful it will trigger the body’s immune system to attack the Alpha Synuclein.
Researchers have used intraoperative electrode recording in people with epilepsy to find that the pronunciation of vowels during speech is associated with firing in the Superior Temporal Gyrus and the Medial Frontal region. Each area has subtle correlates with vowel formation.
The neuroanatomical correlates of healthy brain aging have been investigated in this study. The researchers were interested in why some people reach an advanced age without signs of worsening memory. The researchers looked at people averaging over 80 years of age. Those with a high score on cognitive testing were compared with an age matched group who had more difficulty with the cognitive testing and also a much younger group who were in their fifties and early sixties. They found that the healthy aging group had much thicker cortices than the age-matched group. Indeed the cortical thickness was similar to that of the much younger group. They also found a much thicker cortical thickness in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex in particular. These are interesting results which will inform future studies of healthy brain aging.
In a particularly interesting study, researchers created a standardised neurodevelopmental brain database. They recruited 885 infants, children, teenagers and young adults aged 3-20 years of age. The subjects were scanned using MRI and the researchers were able to use the age indexed database to approximate the age of brains presented for assessment with significant accuracy.
In a paper published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, Olanzapine was found to activate a food reward system in this fMRI study. The researchers found increased activity in the Striatum, Inferior Frontal Cortex and the Anterior Cingulate Cortex. This was a small study. The changes in activity were also accompanied by changes in appetite and weight.
A video of proteins being produced in the brain is generating interest.
There are already a number of medications which are used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease (although licensing of medications is country specific). A new study has found that one potential new drug did not achieve the study objectives and it is due to be reviewed by the FDA. Researchers however have found some interesting results in one subgroup although they will be discussing these findings with the FDA.
There’s an interesting debate on Open Access here.
Tool making in Bonobos is covered here. Such discussion has the potential to push back the dates of the early Stone Age if analogies are drawn with our human ancestors.
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