Cerebrum Spring 2022

ADVANCES Notable brain-science findings

I n a study led by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and part of a multi-institutional BRAIN Initiative consortium funded by the National Institutes of Health, researchers discovered two types of BRAIN CELLS that play a key role in dividing continuous human experience into distinct segments that can be recalled later. The discovery—published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Neuroscience —provides new promise as a path toward developing novel treatments for memory disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. l

EVERY YEAR IN THE US, about 100,000 young people will experience a first episode of PSYCHOSIS , which can include hallucinations,

paranoia, delusions, disordered speech and behavior, and significant impairment at home and school. In a study and clinical trial led by Kelly Allott from the University of Melbourne, the youth who got placebos and those who got antipsychotics had similar levels of improvement in their social and occupational functioning. The findings support the need for careful consideration of the risks and benefits of various antipsychotics and the importance of accounting for their cognitive effects in longitudinal research. l FOLLOWING A CORONAVIRUS INFECTION, even mild cases of Covid-19 are associated with subtle tissue damage and accelerated losses in brain regions tied to sense of smell, as well as a small loss in the brain’s overall volume, a new British study finds. The paper, published in Nature and led by University of Oxford investigators, is the first study of the disease’s potential impact on the brain that is based on brain scans taken both before and after participants contracted the coronavirus. l BY EMPLOYING ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) and robotics to formulate therapeutic proteins, a team led by Rutgers researchers has successfully stabilized an enzyme able to degrade scar tissue resulting from spinal cord injuries and promote tissue regeneration. The study , recently published in Advanced Healthcare Materials , details the team’s groundbreaking stabilization of the enzyme Chondroitinase ABC (ChABC), offering new hope for patients coping with spinal cord injuries. l

California Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed to

address the overlapping MENTAL HEALTH AND HOMELESSNESS CRISIS facing Los Angeles and other cities. The proposal, which would need approval by the Legislature—is called Community Assistance

N OSTALGIA decreases activity in pain-related brain areas and decreases subjective ratings of thermal pain, according to research recently published in Journal of Neuroscience . Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences measured the brain activity of adults with fMRI while the participants rated the nostalgia levels of images and rated the pain of thermal stimuli. Viewing nostalgic images reduced pain ratings compared to viewing control images, with the strongest effect on low-intensity pain. It also reduced activity in the left lingual gyrus and parahippocampal gyrus, two brain regions implicated in pain perception. l Recovery and Empowerment, or “ CARE Court .” It would enable people with severe untreated mental illness or substance use disorders to be placed under court-ordered psychiatric care at the request of family members, clinicians, and others who work closely with them. l



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