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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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