The Effect Of Marijuana on the Brain

The main ingredient in marijuana could affect the regulation of dopamine (neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward circuit) in the brain.

This finding was published in ‘The Journal Of Neuroscience’ and was found through conducting experiments on young mice. From the experiment, it was shown that one injection of THC a day for 7-10 days resulted in a blockage in synaptic recovery. 

This shows that drug use will only result in negative impacts on the human brain.

The researchers next hope to find out whether THC has a cumulative effect on the brain, as well as implicating the findings of the experiment to the increased substance abuse in adolescents.

Thank you for taking the time to read this weeks very short blog. If you found it interesting, feel free to comment your opinion down below!

Thanks,

Rohini

Sources used:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319764.php

https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/dopamine

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana

How Do Allergies Develop?

The World Allergy Organization (WAO) warn that “the prevalence of allergic diseases worldwide is rising dramatically in both developed and developing countries.”

Allergens are everywhere in our environment, and can come in the form of tree pollen, food, mold, dust mites, snake or insect venom, and animals, such as cats, dogs, and cockroaches. When an allergy develops, the body mistakes one of these substances as a threat and hence reacts with the body’s immune system.

One fact that people don’t realize is that the body does not natural have allergies. In other words, nobody is born with an allergy. Instead, everyone who suffers from allergies developed these when their immune systems came into contact with the allergen.

In some individuals, the body’s immune system initiates a pro-inflammatory response as a result of the threat of the allergen. This is known as a type 2 immune response and is caused by allergic sensitization.

Allergies can manifest several different ways, and our bodies can react by developing allergic symptoms such as eczema, fever or anaphylaxis – some of these could lead to a severe and potentially deathly allergic reaction.

Thank you for taking the time to read this weeks blog. If you found it interesting, feel free to leave a like and comment down below!

Thanks,

Rohini

Sources used:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319708.php

 

The Difference in Male and Female Brains

Male and female are two biological sexes of humans, however have you ever wondered what is different in the brain of these two genders? Recent studies aim to find out these differences…

One of the discoveries made by Dr. Nirao Shah (a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University in California) that there are difference in the ‘behaviours of men and women that are essential so survival’. These differences are said to be innate rather than learned, showing that gender differences must infact stem from the brain.

Another experiment was conducted on rhesus monkeys, through which it was shown that, in relation to which toy they prefer, male rhesus monkeys naturally favoured “wheeled/boyish” toys, whereas the females preferred the “plush/girly” toys. Similar results have been seen in studies on boys any girls between 9-32 months old. At this age, children are far too young to follow gender stereotypes, so there must be another factor to ‘gendered’ preferences apart from social influence.

There have also been a number of experiments conducted that attempt to differentiate between brain patterns in the two sexes. For example, in one experiment males and females had to try and find their way out of a complex virtual labyrinth. In the females, areas of the brain relating to spatial perception, motor control, attention and episodic memory (memories relating to specific experiences) were activated the most. Whereas in the males, the area of the brain related to context-dependant memory was used the most.

In addition to this, another experiment focused on the difference in reaction to threat in the male and female brains by using fMRI to scan brain activity. from this, it was found that ‘adult women had a strong neural response to unambiguous visual threat signals, whereas adult men – and adolescents of both sexes – exhibited a much weaker response.’

Finally, in relation to brain conditions and disorders,it has been found out that brain immune system cells are more active in women, and that women are more likely to be exposed to chronic pain, depression, anxiety and anorexia nervosa. However, more ‘male-biased’ conditions include autism, dyslexia, deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and specific language impairment.

As you can probably tell, there has been a lot of research done by a lot of different researchers in order to truly find out if the brain difference in males and females have an important in role in how the two sexes function. So far, the most important conclusion to arise is that it could be important to give different sexes different healthcare treatments, as their intrinsic differences could make some treatments work better on one type of sex than the other.

Thank you for taking the time to read this weeks blog, if you found it interesting feel free to leave a rating and comment below!

Thanks,

Rohini

Sources used:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319592.php

http://blog.qatestlab.com/2015/11/23/male-female-testers/

http://www.human-memory.net/types_episodic.html

New Medical Discoveries

Today, I thought I would do something a little different for my weekly blog. I am going to be making a list of what I think are three of the most important medical discoveries made in 2017.

BREATH TEST FOR LUNG CANCER

Scientists believe that lung cancer can be diagnosed through a breathing test – this will detect the presence of RNA molecules altered by cancer growth. Why its important – this could provide a new and easy way of diagnosing lung cancer early and easy.

SYNTHETIC BLOOD

This year, the NHS plan to conduct trials on about 20 people to see if their body copes with small amounts of synthetic blood made from stem cells being injected into them. Why its important – Red Blood Cells can be artificially created to treat disorders like sickle cell anaemia, and blood transfusions can be done without having to wait for a blood donor.

3D VISUALISATION SURGERY

3D visualisation has started to be used in neurosurgery and retinal microsurgery so that doctors can keep their heads up while operating. Why its important – surgeons can operate more comfortably, ensuring that the operation is more efficient and effective.

Thank you for reading this weeks blog, it was a little different this week so if you enjoyed this type of blog please make sure to leave a rating and comment below!

Thanks,

Rohini

Sources used:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/7-amazing-medical-breakthroughs-that-will-wow-the-world-in-2017_us_5852c870e4b012849c05d133

Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2017 Revealed

Top Medical Breakthroughs in 2017

How Parents Influence Genetic Mutations In Their Children

As you will probably already know, we inherit most of our characteristics from our parents, including eye colour, hair colour etc. However as time goes on, scientists are discovering that genetic factors are involved in much more than we ever thought, including conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, brain cancer and diabetes. Recently in Reykjavik, Iceland, it has been found out that the parents age can influence mutations in their children and De Novo Mutations (DNM’s) are actually responsible for a large percentage of rare childhood diseases

Firstly, a genetic mutation is a random change in the base sequence of genetic material, and this change is only seen in the offspring, not parents. Using data from 14688 individuals, the origin of DNM’s was analyzed and through this, it was found that ‘the number of DNMs caused by the mothers increases by 0.37 with each year of age. In the case of DNMs influenced by fathers, their number increases by 1.51 per year, making paternal influence almost four times stronger.’

As well as this, it was also found that clustered gene mutations are more likely found on genome ‘hotspots’. These were more influenced on the mothers’s age and the DNM clusters from the mother lasted longer than one’s from the father.

The researchers next hope to try and work out the likelihood of children getting a mutation, and whether there is anyway of changing this likelihood.

Thank you for taking the time to read this weeks blog, if you found it interesting please feel free to leave a rating and comment down below!

Thanks,

Rohini

Sources used:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319489.php

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_20

 

Why Do People Like Alcohol So Much?

New research on mice from the University of California, San Francisco, led by Dr. Dorit Ron, has led to new understanding on what happens to the brain when humans drink alcohol.

When the mice were given alcohol, it was shown that over a long period of time, they will start to prefer it over other beverages. However, we already know this happens in humans due to the big problem of excessive drinking in society – 3.3 million people die every year in the world from alcohol abuse. And whats more, there is barely any successful medication available to help people quit their addiction to drinking. So, even when people know how bad alcohol is for the body (through extensive media coverage), why do so many people get hooked to it?

Well, a protein complex known as mTORC1 regulates protein synthesis and is stimulated when drinking too much alcohol. This, in turn, starts a ‘reward circuit’ and boosts the desire for more and more alcohol.

There is some good news though, this protein can be suppressed using a compound called rapmycin. In mice, it was found that after they had become addicted to choosing alcohol over other beverages, the rapamycin help to siginificantly reduce this craving. Unfortunately, rapmycin can never actually be used on humans due to the many side effects it causes.

Another method tried out by the scientists was RNA sequencing, to try and discover any other proteins that are associated with mTORC1. Through this, 12 different potential proteins were found including a protein called prosapip1 which was responsible for the changes in the nucleus accumbens (part of the brain that plays a central role in the ‘reward circuit’) following heavy drinking. The scientists are now hoping to find a way of inhibiting this protein. As said by Dr. Dorit Ron:

“We have identified a new protein that plays a crucial role in changing the landscape of neurons in the nucleus accumbens, which then leads to escalation of problem drinking. These findings open up research into the protein’s role in neural plasticity, and also into how alcohol and other drugs of abuse alter our brains.”

As a quick finishing note, it has been recently discovered that mindfulness can help heavy drinkers reduce how much they drink – if you would like a blog on this please let me know.

Thank you for taking the time to read this weeks blog, if yo found it interesting feel free to leave any comments down below!

Thanks,

Rohini

Sources used:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319373.php

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319373.php

http://thebrain.mcgill.ca/flash/i/i_03/i_03_cr/i_03_cr_par/i_03_cr_par.html

Alcohol Abuse

 

What is Empathy?

Empathy is the action of understanding and being sensitive to certain feelings and thoughts. Empathy is used regularly in everyday life, helping us to form friendships, care for the needy and be kind to others. But, have you ever wondered what the science is behind empathizing? Read on to find out!

On September 14, 1848, a railroad construction explosion left 25 year old Phineas Gage with an iron rod through his skull. Don’t worry, he survived, but people said that his accident changed him into a “rude and inconsiderate” person, whose mind has “radically changed”. His friends even said that he was “no longer Gage”.This accident showed scientists that the ability to share another person’s feelings has deep neurological roots. 

More than 100 years later, scientists used the 1848 case to try and explain he link between neuroscience and empathy. Through the use of MRI machines, it was found out that the iron bar had penetrated Gage’s brain in an area known as the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vMPFC). This area is 1 of the 10 brain areas (more areas are yet to be discovered) that is involved in the neural circuit that is somewhat responsible for the feeling of empathy. When Gage damaged this area of his brain, he lost the ability to feel empathy and hence, turned into the rude and inconsiderate version of himself.

An experiment was undergone based on the vMPFC to find its functions. When people were faced with violent and emotionally distressing images, the vMPFC is activated and causes physiological changes in the body (like increased heart rate, for example). In addition to this, people with injuries in the vMPFC tended to become socially uninhibited and are less responsive to emotionally distressing situations.

Neurons, on the other hand, light up when a person experiences pain or sees someone else in pain – this allows us to ‘put ourselves in someone else’s shoes’ are empathize with their pain. Other areas off the brain like the right tempoparietal junction and posterior superior temporal sulcus also allow us to process intentions of another person or experience someone else’s emotional pain. However, scientists still believe there is a long way to go before we truly know what empathy is. Professor Simon Baron-Cohen said:

We still know very little about individual differences in empathy. […] We will need elegant experimental research to solve these puzzles.”

Relating this to medicine, empathy is a vital skill that is required to practice as a doctor. Luckily, new studies have shown that the act of empathizing can in fact be learnt – reading more fiction novels can excite imagination and increase empathetic responses in everyday life. Some scientists think empathy is so important that it should be included in lessons at school. What do you think?

 3D image of Gage’s skull

Thank you for taking the time to read this weeks blog, I hope you found it an interesting read! Feel free to leave a rating or a comment on what you want to see me write about next.

Thanks,

Rohini

Sources used:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319320.php

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/empathy

Empty Calories

What are calories?

Calories are units of energy that is often used to measure the amount of energy in food. Calories are vital for the human body as they are the burning of them allows us to do every simple task (breathing, picking up something etc.) as well as to stay healthy in general.

What are empty calories?

Empty calories are found in food items that consist of very little nutritional value. These foods are burnt for energy and any remaining calories are stored in the form of fat. Empty calorie foods are separated into three categories:

SUGAR

This consists of:

  • soft drinks
  • fast food
  • dairy produce

These foods do not add any nutrients into the body and the calories are stored in the form of adipose tissue (fat).

FAT

This consists of:

  • butter
  • cake
  • cookies / muffins / biscuits
  • chips
  • fast food
  • pizza
  • processed meat

Excessive intake of fat brings unnecessary calories into the diet and does not provide the body with the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and active.

ALCOHOL

Alcohol can actually add many extra calories to one’s intake as they are mixed with syrups, other soft drinks, or drinks like wine that contain a large amount of sugar.

How can you avoid empty calories?

Many people aspire to have the ‘perfect’ model figure, but the temptation of indulging foods like cakes and pizza for example make it very hard for people to sustain a healthy diet.  However, here are some simple life changes you can take to make your life that little bit healthier. After all, every little change counts and can make a big difference in the future.

  • Reduce processed food intake by planning meals to cook at home
  • Ensure the foods you are eating contain a good amount of nutrients such as amino acids, fibre, vitamins, and minerals etc.
  • Drink less alcohol or try not to mix it with high sugar drinks
  • Keep nutritions snacks on hand so you aren’t tempted to have sugary, empty calorie foods instead

Thank you for taking the time to read this weeks blog, if you enjoyed the read feel free to leave a rating and comment below!

Thanks,

Rohini

Sources used:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319121.php

Empty-Calorie Foods Have Real Empty Promises

The Science Behind Romantic Relationships

As you all already know, it is of natural human nature to get into romantic relationships. However, even though some relationships last, other couples decide break up and to part ways. But have you ever wondered, how do people decide what to do about their relationships? A new study claims to bring the scientific reasons behind this…

The research was undergone at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, in collaboration with scientists from the University of Toronto in Canada and was split into two phases:

1’st phase – a sample of volunteers (including people who had contemplated a break up or considering one) were asked about the reasons why they would continue or end a relationship. From this, 27 different reasons for staying an d 23 reasons for leaving were revealed.

2’nd phase – the reasons were put into a questionnaire and given to people who were themselves deciding to leave or stay in their own relationships at the time, as well as people who were dating for about 2 years or married for about 9 years.

THE RESULTS

From the study, it was confirmed that all participants had similar reasons why to stay and why to leave a relationship.

The main reasons for staying were emotional intimacy, logistical barriers and habituation, and a feeling of commitment to their family.

The main reasons for leaving were partner’s personality, loss of trust and a non supportive/affectionate partner.

‘Across all groups, approximately 50 percent of the participants reported a comparable number of reasons for both staying and leaving, indicating that ambivalence  (having mixed feelings) is a very common experience.’

To finish, this is a quote from Professor Samantha Joel:

What was most interesting to me was how ambivalent people felt about their relationships. They felt really torn. Breaking up can be a really difficult decision. You can look at a relationship from outside and say ‘you have some really unsolvable problems, you should break up’ but from the inside that is a really difficult thing to do and the longer you’ve been in a relationship, the harder it seems to be. Humans fall in love for a reason, from an evolutionary perspective, for our ancestors finding a partner may have been more important than finding the right partner. It might be easier to get into relationships than to get back out of them.”

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this weeks blog, if you enjoyed it please leave a rating and comment down below!

Thanks,

Rohini

Sources used:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319053.php?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly

http://abcnews.com.co/differences-dating-relationship/

Relationship Break VS Break Up

Broken Bones

How do broken bones heal? Read more to find out!

Bone is found in every body and is living and growing tissue consisting of collagen and calcium.

When a bone breaks, the first thing that occurs is bleeding. Then, this clotted blood collects together around the fractured bone (this is known as Hematoma and results in inflammation). Stem cells, bone marrow and blood surround the fractured bone and starts the processes of bone formation and cartilage formation.

New bone first starts to form at the edges of the fracture and soft cartilage is made between the broken ends of the bone around 8 days after the initial injury. However, because cartilage alone is not strong enough to provide enough strength to bones, the soft cartilage is replaced with hard callus and then eventually, new mature bone starts to bone. Interestingly, fractured bones can take up to several years to heal, depending on the size and location of the fracture.

When complications occur and the bone is not able to heal properly, significant health problems can occur. These fractures take abnormal amounts of time to heal, or may not even heal at all. If non-healing fractures occur in areas that are used a lot (for example in the shinbone) an operation may be needed by using bone from somewhere else in the body, bone from a donor, or a 3D printed bone (only used for major factors where a large amount of bone tissue has been lost).

Thank you for reading this weeks blog, if you enjoyed if feel free to leave a rating and comment down below!

Thanks,

Rohini

Sources used:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318961.php?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly

https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Bone_Health/default.asp

http://www.medicinenet.com/hematoma/article.htm

http://reidhospitalse3.adam.com/content.aspx?productId=617&pid=1&gid=000001

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/306044.php