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Prefrontal Cortex

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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.
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SCIENCE
July 10, 2013 | By Melissa Pandika
In the battle of the sexes, a new study places females in the lead -- concluding that they respond better to repeated stress thanks to estrogen. “It's kind of a popular view that males and females respond differently to stress,” said University at Buffalo neuroscientist and study co-author Zhen Yan. “Our study offers the molecular mechanism.” Yan's group found that young female rats stressed out by a week of periodic physical restraint...
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HEALTH
December 7, 2009 | By Melissa Healy
Anyone who's seen a toddler "at work" can tell that her learning style is a study in chaos. She moves from banging pots to tormenting the cat to demanding food to bursting into tears when she can't open the back door and hurdle off the deck -- all in the span of minutes. But when it comes to the daunting task of mastering language, that same child is a turbo-charged learning machine. An intriguing article published Tuesday in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science suggests credit for that ability should go to what she lacks -- a fully formed prefrontal cortex, the same thing that makes her dad so good at filtering out distractions and getting things done.
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.
NEWS
June 14, 2011 | By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
A lack of sleep could be causing you to do more than nod off at work--it could be making you long for carbs and rich foods. Two studies presented this week at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies meeting in Minneapolis show that being sleepy could affect our desire for carb-heavy foods. One study focused on 262 high school seniors who answered surveys on sleepiness, carb cravings, and depression. Researchers discovered that as daytime sleepiness became more acute, so did a craving for carbs.
SCIENCE
July 10, 2013 | By Melissa Pandika
In the battle of the sexes, a new study places females in the lead -- concluding that they respond better to repeated stress thanks to estrogen. “It's kind of a popular view that males and females respond differently to stress,” said University at Buffalo neuroscientist and study co-author Zhen Yan. “Our study offers the molecular mechanism.” Yan's group found that young female rats stressed out by a week of periodic physical restraint...
NEWS
May 18, 2011 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times/ For the Booster Shots Blog
Chronic pain can bring on depression , problems of memory and concentration, and general brain fog -- a fact well known to many of the 50 million American adults who live with pain that has settled in for a long stay. But a study published Wednesday finds that changes in the brain that come with chronic pain can be reversed when the hurt is treated effectively. The study , published in the Journal of Neuroscience, looked at sufferers of chronic low-back pain--a substantial slice of those with daily pain -- and compared their brain responses to cognitive tests and their brains' structures before and after they got treatment.
HEALTH
September 13, 2012 | By Cassandra Willyard
Inside the human skull lies a 3-pound mystery. The brain - a command center composed of tens of billions of branching neurons - controls who we are, what we do and how we feel. "It's the most amazing information structure anybody has ever been able to imagine," says Dr. Walter Koroshetz, deputy director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Md. For centuries, the brain's inner workings remained largely unexplored. But all that is changing.
HEALTH
January 24, 2011 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
In 1848, a worksite explosion thrust a 13-pound iron pole through the cheek and into the prefrontal cortex of Phineas Gage, a railway construction foreman working in Vermont. The pole, more than an inch thick, rocketed through his skull with such force that it landed 30 yards away, smeared with blood and brain matter. Minutes after the accident, Gage was conscious and walking. After battling infections, he was reported to have recovered completely. A later clinical account, however, noted that the once-judicious and reliable worker had become an impulsive, bad-tempered ne'er-do-well whose "friends and acquaintances said he was 'no longer Gage.
SCIENCE
November 9, 2010 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Fear is a complicated emotion, and scientists have recruited a scary laboratory aide ? the Brazilian salmon pink tarantula ? to help map out how the feeling is processed in the brain. Using video of the 8.7-inch-long arachnid, British researchers showed that the human brain engages several different systems when evaluating threats. For instance, the part of the brain that engages when a threat is approaching is different from the part that is activated when a threat is receding, they reported Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
HEALTH
September 13, 2012 | By Cassandra Willyard
Inside the human skull lies a 3-pound mystery. The brain - a command center composed of tens of billions of branching neurons - controls who we are, what we do and how we feel. "It's the most amazing information structure anybody has ever been able to imagine," says Dr. Walter Koroshetz, deputy director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in Bethesda, Md. For centuries, the brain's inner workings remained largely unexplored. But all that is changing.
HEALTH
January 9, 2012 | By Melissa T. Shultz, Special to the Los Angeles Times
I like to help people. Tell me what's wrong, and I'll take on anyone and anything to try to make it better. Then news came about a boy, and everything changed. A family in our community lost their teenage son when he fell from the fifth-floor balcony of his apartment at college. He was smart, kind and gregarious - a boy with a twin brother, a kid brother and loving parents. One night he leaned too far over his balcony in the darkness and plummeted to his death. Everyone wanted to know the particulars - whether he was drunk or did it purposefully, who was with him, whether it could have been prevented.
NEWS
June 14, 2011 | By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
A lack of sleep could be causing you to do more than nod off at work--it could be making you long for carbs and rich foods. Two studies presented this week at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies meeting in Minneapolis show that being sleepy could affect our desire for carb-heavy foods. One study focused on 262 high school seniors who answered surveys on sleepiness, carb cravings, and depression. Researchers discovered that as daytime sleepiness became more acute, so did a craving for carbs.
NEWS
May 18, 2011 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times/ For the Booster Shots Blog
Chronic pain can bring on depression , problems of memory and concentration, and general brain fog -- a fact well known to many of the 50 million American adults who live with pain that has settled in for a long stay. But a study published Wednesday finds that changes in the brain that come with chronic pain can be reversed when the hurt is treated effectively. The study , published in the Journal of Neuroscience, looked at sufferers of chronic low-back pain--a substantial slice of those with daily pain -- and compared their brain responses to cognitive tests and their brains' structures before and after they got treatment.
HEALTH
January 24, 2011 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
In 1848, a worksite explosion thrust a 13-pound iron pole through the cheek and into the prefrontal cortex of Phineas Gage, a railway construction foreman working in Vermont. The pole, more than an inch thick, rocketed through his skull with such force that it landed 30 yards away, smeared with blood and brain matter. Minutes after the accident, Gage was conscious and walking. After battling infections, he was reported to have recovered completely. A later clinical account, however, noted that the once-judicious and reliable worker had become an impulsive, bad-tempered ne'er-do-well whose "friends and acquaintances said he was 'no longer Gage.
SCIENCE
November 9, 2010 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Fear is a complicated emotion, and scientists have recruited a scary laboratory aide ? the Brazilian salmon pink tarantula ? to help map out how the feeling is processed in the brain. Using video of the 8.7-inch-long arachnid, British researchers showed that the human brain engages several different systems when evaluating threats. For instance, the part of the brain that engages when a threat is approaching is different from the part that is activated when a threat is receding, they reported Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 9, 2001 | KIM TAYLOR-THOMPSON, Kim Taylor-Thompson is an academic director at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law
Two years ago, the Columbine High School tragedy in Colorado left a bewildered nation asking bluntly what can be done when kids kill kids. Eleven states proposed bills to lower the age at which a youthful offender would be eligible for the death penalty. But for all its superficial appeal, treating kids as adults ignores a crucial paradox. An adolescent's poor decision to engage in unlawful conduct is generically different from that of an adult.
HEALTH
January 9, 2012 | By Melissa T. Shultz, Special to the Los Angeles Times
I like to help people. Tell me what's wrong, and I'll take on anyone and anything to try to make it better. Then news came about a boy, and everything changed. A family in our community lost their teenage son when he fell from the fifth-floor balcony of his apartment at college. He was smart, kind and gregarious - a boy with a twin brother, a kid brother and loving parents. One night he leaned too far over his balcony in the darkness and plummeted to his death. Everyone wanted to know the particulars - whether he was drunk or did it purposefully, who was with him, whether it could have been prevented.
HEALTH
December 7, 2009 | By Melissa Healy
Anyone who's seen a toddler "at work" can tell that her learning style is a study in chaos. She moves from banging pots to tormenting the cat to demanding food to bursting into tears when she can't open the back door and hurdle off the deck -- all in the span of minutes. But when it comes to the daunting task of mastering language, that same child is a turbo-charged learning machine. An intriguing article published Tuesday in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science suggests credit for that ability should go to what she lacks -- a fully formed prefrontal cortex, the same thing that makes her dad so good at filtering out distractions and getting things done.
SCIENCE
March 30, 2006 | By Robert Lee Hotz, Times Staff Writer
Smart children have a different rhythm in their heads — a seesaw pattern of growth that lags years behind other young people — say government scientists who mapped the brains of hundreds of children. Seeking a link between neural anatomy and mental ability, researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health and McGill University in Montreal discovered it where they least expected — not in sheer brain size or special structures, but in the patterns of childhood growth. Brain development in children with the highest IQ peaked four years later than among average children, the researchers reported Wednesday in the journal Nature.
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