Neurological News: December 2019

Could MDMA help treat mental health conditions? Could MDMA help treat mental health conditions?
Ecstasy — or methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) — is a recreational drug that is illegal in the United States. However, some researchers believe that it could aid in mental health therapy. A new study in mice puts this idea to the test.
Written by Maria Cohut, Ph.D. | Medical News Today | December 30, 2019.
A key area of the brain is smaller in women on the pill A key area of the brain is smaller in women on the pill
At the base of the brain is a small but crucial area that acts as a control hub for the nervous and hormonal systems. Now, a study has found that among women, it is significantly smaller in those using birth control pills.
Written by Lisa Templeton | Medical News Today | December 27, 2019.
What causes uncontrolled laughter in epilepsy? What causes uncontrolled laughter in epilepsy?
A rare form of epilepsy can be characterized by seizures of uncontrolled laughter. What is the root cause, and can doctors address it? A new case study answers this question.
Written by Maria Cohut, Ph.D. | Medical News Today | December 25, 2019.
Why is it so difficult to say no to that piece of cake? Why is it so difficult to say no to that piece of cake?
Using rats, researchers have discovered that a specific circuit in the brain seems to drive impulsive eating. Could this lead to a therapy for people who are dealing with the adverse effects of overeating?
Written by Lisa Templeton | Medical News Today | December 23, 2019.
Inflammatory marker could be early warning for dementia Inflammatory marker could be early warning for dementia
A new study has found a blood plasma linked to inflammation that could be a warning signal for certain dementias. Could it pave the way for low cost screening?
Written by Lisa Templeton | Medical News Today | December 21, 2019.
What causes arm numbness? What causes arm numbness?
Numbness in the arm has many possible causes that range from mild to severe. Simply sitting or sleeping in the wrong position can restrict the blood flow or put excess pressure on a nerve, making the arm go numb.
Written by Jamie Eske | Medical News Today | December 20, 2019.
What to know about RSD What to know about RSD
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) is a nerve disorder that affects pain regulation.
Written by Jessica Caporuscio, Pharm.D. | Medical News Today | December 20, 2019.
What to know about the Moro reflex? What to know about the Moro reflex?
The Moro reflex, or startle reflex, refers to an involuntary motor response that infants develop shortly after birth. A Moro reflex may involve the infant suddenly splaying their arms and moving their legs before bringing their arms in front of their body.
Written by Jamie Eske | Medical News Today | December 20, 2019.
What to know about a CSF leak What to know about a CSF leak
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is a clear liquid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Its role is to supply nutrients to these areas and to cushion the brain inside the skull.
Written by Jamie Eske | Medical News Today | December 19, 2019.
What to know about dysarthria What to know about dysarthria
Dysarthria is a collective term for a group of speech disorders that occur as a result of muscle weakness. People with dysarthria have neurological damage that weakens the muscles necessary for speech.
Written by Jamie Eske | Medical News Today | December 19, 2019.
Belly fat may reduce mental agility from midlife onward Belly fat may reduce mental agility from midlife onward
A study of thousands of middle-aged and older people has linked having more body fat and less muscle mass to changes in mental flexibility with age. The research also suggests that changes to the immune system may play a role.
Written by Catharine Paddock, Ph.D. | Medical News Today | December 19, 2019.
Cancer drug shows promise in Parkinson's disease safety trial Cancer drug shows promise in Parkinson’s disease safety trial
Nilotinib, a drug that regulators have approved for the treatment of leukemia, has shown promise in a small clinical trial of people with Parkinson’s disease.
Written by Catharine Paddock, Ph.D. | Medical News Today | December 18, 2019.
Why is it so difficult to make people change their minds? Why is it so difficult to make people change their minds?
A new study looks at participants’ brain activity as they compare their own opinions to others’ to find out why it can be so very difficult to change someone’s mind.
Written by Maria Cohut, Ph.D. | Medical News Today | December 18, 2019.
Drumming makes your brain more efficient Drumming makes your brain more efficient
Over years of practice, drummers appear to modify the way that the two sides of their brain communicate. According to a recent study, the cabling that runs between the two hemispheres of a drummer’s brain is significantly different from non-musicians.
Written by Tim Newman | Medical News Today | December 16, 2019.
How two experimental Alzheimer's drugs reverse aging How two experimental Alzheimer’s drugs reverse aging
New research in mice reveals the mechanisms through which two experimental drugs that may treat Alzheimer’s disease have broader, anti-aging properties and can reverse age-related cognitive decline.
Written by Ana Sandoiu | Medical News Today | December 13, 2019.
Could epigenome editing prevent developmental disorders? Could epigenome editing prevent developmental disorders?
Using a new type of genetic engineering tool called epigenome editing in mice, scientists have restored irregularities in the developing brain that arise from a gene mutation.
Written by Catharine Paddock, Ph.D. | Medical News Today | December 12, 2019.
Mouse study tests a novel approach against Alzheimer's Mouse study tests a novel approach against Alzheimer’s
Using mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers have been looking into a new approach to slow down the progression of this neurodegenerative disease — a ketone ester-rich diet.
Written by Maria Cohut, Ph.D. | Medical News Today | December 12, 2019.
What to know about epilepsy in children What to know about epilepsy in children
Epilepsy is relatively common in children. Many children with epilepsy will outgrow the condition before their teens, and, if not, treatments usually ensure a full and healthy life.
Written by Jayne Leonard | Medical News Today | December 11, 2019.
Transport breakdown in brain cells may lead to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Transport breakdown in brain cells may lead to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s
After studying the process in mice and flies, scientists suggest that failure to transport the molecular machines that break down proteins in cells could lie at the heart of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Written by Catharine Paddock, Ph.D. | Medical News Today | December 11, 2019.
Athletes are better at tuning out background brain noise Athletes are better at tuning out background brain noise
People who play sports appear to have an enhanced ability to process sounds from their environment, according to new research.
Written by Catharine Paddock, Ph.D. | Medical News Today | December 10, 2019.
Average IQ: What is it? Average IQ: What is it?
Schools have historically used IQ scores in the placement of students on programs or to identify students with mental difficulties. However, IQ scores and tests are no longer the only measure of a person’s cognitive ability or potential.
Written by Jenna Fletcher | Medical News Today | December 6, 2019.
Repairing leaky blood-brain barrier may rejuvenate brain function Repairing leaky blood-brain barrier may rejuvenate brain function
New research in mice questions the idea that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” The answer may lie in preserving the blood-brain barrier, which tends to become leaky with age.
Written by Catharine Paddock, Ph.D. | Medical News Today | December 6, 2019.
Alzheimer's risk gene and heavy metal exposure may impair cognition Alzheimer’s risk gene and heavy metal exposure may impair cognition
A new study in mice finds that cadmium exposure, combined with a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s, can trigger symptoms of cognitive decline.
Written by Ana Sandoiu | Medical News Today | December 6, 2019.
New MRI scans reveal brain features of depression New MRI scans reveal brain features of depression
Recent advances in brain scanning may bring welcome news to people with depression. Two new types of MRI appear able to spot distinct brain characteristics of the condition.
Written by Catharine Paddock, Ph.D. | Medical News Today | December 4, 2019.
Are most dolphins 'right-handed,' too? Are most dolphins ‘right-handed,’ too?
Researchers studying a group of dolphins in the Bahamas have made an intriguing discovery: Most of the group had a right-side bias, much in the way that most humans are right-handed.
Written by Maria Cohut, Ph.D. | Medical News Today | December 4, 2019.
MS: Common herpesvirus variant raises risk MS: Common herpesvirus variant raises risk
New research distinguishes between two similar variants of the human herpesvirus 6 and finds that one variant significantly increases the risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS).
Written by Ana Sandoiu | Medical News Today | December 3, 2019.
Parkinson's: Ultrasound technology may relieve symptoms Parkinson’s: Ultrasound technology may relieve symptoms
A new study shows that pulses of minimally invasive ultrasound waves improve the quality of life for people living with Parkinson’s disease by immediately and significantly reducing tremors.
Written by Monica Beyer | Medical News Today | December 1, 2019.