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Tag Archive: Neuroimaging


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“Why we are the way we are: the Internet of our brains. These are axonal nerve fibers in the real brain as determined by the measured anisotropy (directionality) of water molecules inside them. 3T 30 channel GRAPPA DTI scan protocol, deterministic tractography performed using TrackVis/FACT algorithm. You might know the subject :-)”

jgmarcelino from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Wikimedia . org

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LiveScience

Disaster Survivors: How Stress Changes the Brain

How well a person recovers from traumatic events may depend  in part on their self-esteem, according to researchers who examined the effects of a major earthquake on the survivors’ brains.

The researchers had conducted brain scans of university students for a study before the Great East Japan Earthquake struck in 2011. After the earthquake, they repeated the scans on 37 of the same people, and tracked stress-induced changes in their brains in the following months.

“Most importantly, what these findings show, is that the brain is dynamic — that it’s responding to things that are going on in our environment, or things that are part of our personality,” said Rajita Sinha, professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, who wasn’t involved in the study. [Top 10 Mysteries of the Mind]

In the brain scans taken immediately after the incident, the researchers found a decrease in the volume of two brain regions, the hippocampus and orbitofrontal cortex, compared with the scans taken before the incident.

One year later, the researchers repeated the scans and found that the hippocampus continued to shrink, and people’s levels of depression and anxiety had not improved.

 

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Japan Quake Shows How Stress Alters the Brain

HealthDay April 29, 2014 SHARE

TUESDAY, April 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) — A small study of people who experienced the devastating 2011 earthquake in Japan shows that although traumatic events can shrink parts of the brain, some of those regions can rebound once a person’s self-esteem returns.

“Higher self-esteem is one of the most important traits of resilience in the context of stressful life events,” said study author Atsushi Sekiguchi, who noted that these latest findings also illustrate that brain changes are dynamic and fluid over time.

Sekiguchi’s prior research had already demonstrated that people with lower self-esteem following a traumatic event are likely to experience a quick, short-term drop in the size of their orbitofrontal cortex and hippocampus. The first brain region is involved in decision-making and emotions, while the second area is involved in memory.

But by tracking the same individuals over time, Sekiguchi’s team observed that the “part of the brain volume which had decreased soon after a stressful life event [ultimately] increased, especially in individuals with [renewed] high self-esteem.”

Sekiguchi, from the division of medical neuroimage analysis at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, and his team report the findings in the April 29 online edition of Molecular Psychiatry.

To gain insight into how the 2011 earthquake — and ensuing tsunami that heavily damaged several nuclear reactors in northern Japan — affected its victims, the researchers focused on 37 men and women who were about 21 at the time.

All had MRI brain scans right after the earthquake, and then again one year later.

At the same time, the earthquake victims were given psychological assessments to gauge anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and other characteristics of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Investigators concluded that none of the patients ever developed full-blown PTSD.

Yet, the group did experience a big dip in self-esteem immediately following the earthquake. And by comparing their brain scans with those of 11 other people taken before the earthquake, the team determined that the loss of self-esteem was accompanied by a downsizing of the brain’s orbitofrontal cortex.

 

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Health And Wellness Report

Holistic Health   :    Mindfulness / Meditation

Brain scans prove meditation ‘effective in curing mental illness’

(ANI): Mediation, an eastern philosophy which was once dismissed as pretentious, can be effective in treating mental illness, brain scans have proved.

The buzzword is mindfulness. Meditation, which is practised a lot in India and in parts of Islington, is an NHS-approved treatment that combines conventional psychotherapy with meditation techniques, breathing and yoga.

It is sitting around trying to think about nothing and letting out the occasional “ommmm”.

Meditation has been around since the Seventies, but in the past decade there has been growing evidence that it is highly effective. Researchers at Britain’s most respected medical centers have found that it can halve the risk of relapse for those with depression.

“Psychotherapy involves patients analyzing thoughts and feelings, with the hope that by understanding them some kind of change can be made. Mindfulness has some of this but it also involves meditation,” the Daily Mail quoted Mark Williams, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford’s Department of Psychiatry and co-developer of one of the many variants, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), said.

“Meditation, which is an ancient practice and part of Eastern spiritual philosophy, involves sitting, usually in silence, and focusing on one thing, such as the sensations of breathing in and out.

“The mind wanders, so you invite your attention to come back to the thing you are focusing on. People who do this regularly feel very calm. And due to modern scanning techniques that measure activity in the brain, we are beginning to understand why,” he said.

Williams’s colleagues in the US and Canada have been able to pinpoint the parts of the brain that undergo changes during meditation, and the results are astonishing.

“Meditation helps to reduce the activity of part of the brain called the amygdala, which governs feelings of stress. Those who are more stressed and anxious have an amygdala that is overactive. Meditating reduces this.

“And there is an effect on the insula, the part of the brain involved in deep emotions, including love.

“We know from other studies that the insula allows us to feel emotions, so when we are heartbroken we really do experience a kind of pain.

“Normally activity in this area is closely linked to the part of the brain involved in analytical thought. So if we have a fight with our partner, we not only feel dreadful but we start to think about why, what this says about our relationship and what might happen if we don’t put it right,” Williams said.

In those with mental illness, this loop becomes overactive – the thinking feeds the emotions, which feeds more thinking until it becomes overwhelming.

“Meditating breaks this cycle by reducing the links between the insula and the parts of the brain that analyse, as we have seen on brain scans.

“It doesn’t stop a person from feeling or thinking but it uncouples these two parts of the brain, giving the patient more control.

“Further to that, we’ve discovered in clinical trials that mindfulness works as well as antidepressants in preventing relapse of depression. It can also be used alongside drugs,” he said.

Janet Jones, 48, was diagnosed with severe depression 10 years ago. The mother of two was introduced to mindfulness in 2008.

“I was very sceptical at first. But gradually it became part of my everyday life,” she said.

“I would find it difficult to get out of bed and when I got to work, I would feel miserable. Once I committed to mindfulness, my approach changed and my life improved. Mindfulness has given me more control over my life. I now know that no matter how painful something is, it will pass,” Jones added. (ANI)