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NEWS
July 22, 2010 | By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
Irritable bowel syndrome has been a tough disorder to understand. Studies have failed to show any structural problems in the gut that would account for the symptoms of pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. However, the disorder is real, affecting as many as 15% of Americans. A new study has found a possible connection between IBS and the brain. Researchers at McGill University and UCLA used MRI scans to reveal changes in the brains of women with the disorder. The researchers took MRI scans of 55 IBS patients and 48 healthy women for comparison.
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SCIENCE
October 16, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
Scientists have discovered the fossilized brain of an animal that lived 520 million years ago. It is the oldest mostly intact nervous system to have ever been found. The incredible ancient brain and nervous system, described in the journal Nature, belongs to an Alacomenaeus , a member of the mega-claw family. These animals earned the name "mega-claw" ( megacheiran ), because they have two large scissor-like appendages that protrude from the top of their heads. Megacheirans lived in the early Cambrian-era ocean, swimming and scuttling around with nearly one dozen little legs, or swimmerettes.
HEALTH
February 26, 2011 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Does being bilingual give young children a mental edge, or does it delay their learning? It depends on who you ask. Bilingual education is regarded by some in education policy circles as little more than a half-baked technique of teaching students whose native language is not English. Though it takes many forms, bilingual education programs usually involve teaching students in both their native languages and in English. How much each language is used, and in which academic contexts, varies by program.
NEWS
June 13, 2011 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / for the Booster Shots blog
You can't sleep.  You've tried counting sheep, drinking warm milk, maybe even taking medications like Benadryl or sleeping pills.   Maybe next you should try cooling your brain. According to research presented Monday at Sleep 2011 , the annual meeting of the Associated Profession Sleep Societies, cooling the brain and can reduce the amount of time it takes people with insomnia to fall asleep -- and increase the length of time they stay that way. To achieve "frontal cerebral thermal transfer," as the cooling is called, researchers Dr. Eric Nofzinger and Dr. Daniel Buysse of the Sleep Neuroimaging Research Program at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine outfitted 24 people --  12 with insomnia, and 12 without -- with soft plastic caps.  The caps had tubes for circulating water at neutral, moderate or maximum "cooling intensity.
SCIENCE
November 12, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
Let's get a couple of things straight first about estrogen, the so-called "female hormone. " First, it influences a lot more than just what's going on "down there": it's produced by the brain, of course, and brain scientists are increasingly studying estrogen as a "neuromodulator," a chemical with powerful effects on the brain as well as the reproductive system. Second, it's not just females who have estrogen, need it and suffer with its loss. Males do too, as a recent study involving the humble songbird makes clear.
HEALTH
February 16, 2013 | By Karen Ravn
Suppose you're under a lot of pressure. Does it feel like a huge flood is swirling around in your brain, tossing your thoughts every which way? Well, Ashley Merryman and Po Bronson say, maybe that's because your brain really is flooded - with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that the brain needs to run at full capacity, but as with so many good things, it's possible to have too much of it. So, as your brain keeps producing fresh dopamine, it has to keep getting rid of the old. In the prefrontal cortex, special enzymes called COMT - for catechol-O-methyltransferase - carry out these mop-up operations.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 9, 2014 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
E.L. Doctorow has long operated in the shadow of the Transcendentalists: Emerson, who inspired his 2003 collection of essays, "Reporting the Universe"; Hawthorne, whose story "Wakefield," he updated in 2008. Like them, his great subject is consciousness, what he has called "a mind in the appalled contemplation of itself. " Like them, he is a romantic, a true believer - in the myth of America as a shining city, despite its various and ongoing failures to live up to its better self. His finest efforts embody this tension, between who we are and who we wish we were, between promise and despair.
SCIENCE
January 2, 2014 | By Geoffrey Mohan
Leave it to science to find a way to harsh the mellow of marijuana. A French research team has discovered a natural chemical brake that can tamp down the effects of THC, the main intoxicant in marijuana. They believe it could lead to ways to protect against memory loss, torpor and other side-effects better known as being stoned. “We have this built-in negative feedback mechanism, a brake” on cannabis intoxication, said University of Bordeaux neurobiologist Dr. Pier Vincenzo Piazza, principal author of a study published Thursday in the journal Science.
NEWS
April 18, 2012 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots Blog
For those whose arms as well as legs are paralyzed by spinal cord injury, no skill is more broadly useful to regain than the ability to grasp and move objects. Researchers reporting in Nature magazine this week say they have devised a new way to get a patient's hand to grasp a greater range of objects:  by playing recorded brain commands directly to muscle. For the paralyzed, the technique could provide brain signals a way around the broken spinal cord and allow hand movements more finely tuned to different tasks.
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