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|Gene More Than Doubles Risk Of Depression Following Life Stresses|
Among people who suffered multiple stressful life events over 5 years, 43 percent with one version of a gene developed depression, compared to only 17 percent with another version of the gene, say researchers funded, in part, by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Those with the "short," or stress-sensitive version of the serotonin transporter gene were also at higher risk for depression if they had been abused as children. Yet no matter how many stressful life events they endured, people with the "long" or protective version experienced no more depression than people who were totally spared from stressful life events. The short variant appears to confer vulnerability to stresses, such as loss of a job, breaking up with a partner, death of a loved one, or a prolonged illness, report Drs. Avshalom Caspi and Terrie Moffitt, University of Wisconsin and King's College London, and colleagues, in the July 18, 2003 Science.
|Medication and Psychotherapy Treat Depression in Low-Income Minority Women|
Treatment with medication or psychotherapy reduced depressive symptoms in women from minority populations, according to research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Most of the participants in the controlled trial were low-income African-American and Latino women who are at high risk for depression and use county health and welfare services. Research findings appear in the July 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
|Mutant Gene Linked to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder|
Analysis of DNA samples from patients with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and related illnesses suggests that these neuropsychiatric disorders affecting mood and behavior are associated with an uncommon mutant, malfunctioning gene that leads to faulty transporter function and regulation. Norio Ozaki, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues in the collaborative study explain their findings in the October 23 Molecular Psychiatry.
|"Power nap" prevents burnout; morning sleep perfects a skill|
Evidence is mounting that sleep - even a nap - appears to enhance information processing and learning. New experiments by NIMH grantee Alan Hobson, M.D., Robert Stickgold, Ph.D., and colleagues at Harvard University show that a midday snooze reverses information overload and that a 20 percent overnight improvement in learning a motor skill is largely traceable to a late stage of sleep that some early risers might be missing. Overall, their studies suggest that the brain uses a night's sleep to consolidate the memories of habits, actions and skills learned during the day.
|Brain Gene Implicated in Autism|
Scientists funded by the National Institute of Mental Health have linked a gene that may influence human brain development with autism susceptibility. They pinpointed the candidate gene, WNT2, in a region of chromosome 7 suggested by several studies over the past few years. NIMH grantees Thomas Wassink, M.D., University of Iowa, and Joseph Piven, M.D., University of North Carolina, and colleagues, report on their findings in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, available online May 17, 2001
|Brain Shrinkage in ADHD Not Caused by Medications|
A 10-year study by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) scientists has found that brains of children and adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are 3-4 percent smaller than those of children who don't have the disorder - and that medication treatment is not the cause. Indeed, in this first major study to scan previously never-medicated patients, they found "strikingly smaller" white matter volumes in children who had not taken stimulant drugs. Still, the course of brain development in the ADHD patients paralleled that of normal subjects, suggesting that whatever caused the disorder happened earlier.
|Children's Mental Health|
On January 3, 2001, David Satcher, MD, PhD, Assistant Secretary for Health and Surgeon General, released a National Action Agenda for Children's Mental Health, which outlines goals and strategies to improve the services for children and adolescents with mental health problems and their families. According to the report, the nation is facing a public crisis in mental health for children and adolescents.
|Even Neurons Have Favorite Numbers|
Scientists have discovered individual brain cells that represent the concept of numbers. What’s more, the neurons, in the front part of the brain responsible for reasoning, even pick favorite quantities, report researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.