Mount Sinai Neurobiologist Selected as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has selected Ian Maze, PhD, Associate Professor of Neuroscience, and Pharmacological Sciences, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, as an HHMI Investigator.

Memory Biomarkers Confirm Aerobic Exercise Helps Cognitive Function in Older Adults

Until now, systemic biomarkers to measure exercise effects on brain function and that link to relevant metabolic responses were lacking. A study shows a memory biomarker, myokine Cathepsin B (CTSB), increased in older adults following a 26-week structured aerobic exercise training. The positive association between CTSB and cognition, and the substantial modulation of lipid metabolites implicated in dementia, support the beneficial effects of exercise training on brain function and brain health in asymptomatic individuals at risk for Alzheimer’s.

Depressed Moms Who Breastfeed Boost Babies’ Mood, Neuroprotection and Mutual Touch

Feeding method and affectionate touch patterns in depressed and non-depressed mothers and babies as well as infant’s EEG activity showed that mother-infant affectionate touch differed as a function of mood and feeding method (breastfeeding and bottle-feeding). Infants in the depressed and bottle-fed group reduced touch toward their mothers while breastfeeding had a positive effect on both mother and baby. Infants of depressed and breastfeeding mothers showed neither behavioral nor brain development dysregulation previously found in infants of depressed mothers.

NIH Awards $13.8 Million for Studies on the Prevention and Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease

Joe Verghese, M.B.B.S., M.S., an international leader in aging and cognition research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System, has received two grants from the National Institutes of Health totaling $13.8 million to conduct studies on pre-dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Understanding ‘Chemo Brain’ in Children: Researchers Secure $4.6 Million NIH Grant to Identify Those at Risk

Chemotherapy usually cures children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), but the treatment may hamper brain development and impact key cognitive functions including sensory processing, memory, and attention. Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM), and Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey have received a five-year, $4.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to determine how chemotherapy exerts its damaging effects on the brain. Their long-term objective is to use this information to develop protective interventions that can prevent permanent harm.

Alcohol Use in Early Adolescence may Alter Reward Motivation

The brain responds to rewarding stimuli by increasing the release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. When we feel motivated, it is because our brain anticipates this dopamine reward.
The transition from early to mid-adolescence is associated with increased reward sensitivity and reward-seeking behavior, a consequence of normal brain development. This heightened sensitivity or prioritization of reward can be thought of as reflecting a greater motivation to obtain rewards. A new study, published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, has addressed whether drinking alcohol in early adolescence might impact the brain’s reward systems, by examining associations between alcohol initiation and subsequent changes in reward motivation while accounting for baseline scores. Differences between boys and girls were also evaluated.

Cumulative Effects of Long Term Alcohol on Brain Function

Functional MRI (fMRI), a type of scan that measures brain activity, has enabled study of the impact of alcohol on brain function. This type of imaging allows brain activity to be assessed while participants are at rest, performing a simple task like tapping a finger, or doing a complex cognitive task like a memory task or decision-making. It works by detecting the change in blood flow that occurs when brain cells (or neurons) in different parts of the brain are activated. Blood flow provides the energy and oxygen needed for brain cells to activate, and it is this exchange of oxygen that is measured using fMRI and is reflected by brain blood flow. Complicated physics are involved in determining the profile of blood flow when a part of the brain is activated, and studies have shown that the time course of these changes – known as the hemodynamic response function (HRF) – is affected by acute alcohol consumption. However, the effects of heavy chronic (long-term) alcohol consumption on HRF