Optimal Health

Health Courses From National Center For Comp & Alternative Medicine

I am a strong promoter of Integrative medicines and some interesting teaching materials are given below.

  1. Ten Years of Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Promising Ideas from Outside the Mainstream
  2. Herbs and Other Dietary Supplements
  3. Mind-Body Medicine
  4. Acupuncture: An Evidence-Based Assessment
  5. Manipulative and Body-Based Therapies: Chiropractic and Spinal Manipulation
  6. CAM and Aging
  7. Integrative Medicine
  8. Health and Spirituality
  9. Studying the Effects of Natural Products

Coping with Back Pain

For some people, it’s a dull, nagging ache in the lower back that starts up every time they play a round of golf. For others, the pain is more intense, arriving suddenly, leaving the victim doubled over helplessly.However and whenever it hits you, back pain is always an unwelcome visitor. About 90% of us will suffer at least one bout of debilitating back pain in our lifetime. That’s actually not such a surprising number, given the way the back is structured.

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Reducing Cholesterol

The main lifestyle changes to help you lower your cholesterol levels are:

  • Reduce fat and cholesterol in your diet.
  • Eat more foods rich in carbohydrates and fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Increase your level of physical activity.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.

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Neuroscience & Psychology

Men , women and memory

The study, published in JAMA Neurology, measured memory performance, brain structure according to lower hippocampal volume and the presence of amyloid – brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Our objectives were to compare age, sex and APOE ε4 effects on memory performance, hippocampal volume and amyloid positron emission tomography (PET) across the adult lifespan,” write the authors.

APOE ε4 is a gene that is consistently identified as a risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease and has been found to significantly lower the age of onset for this condition. It is also recognized as a risk factor for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease as well.

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Neuroscience & Psychology

It’s on the Tip of My Tongue

It just happened to me the other day: I was watchingMarvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and there was a new guest star; I turned to my husband and said – “Oh I remember her – she was in ‘Angel’ and the new ‘Much Ado About Nothing’…Amy something or other….” And then I drove myself crazy trying to remember her name before giving up and searching it on IMDB (It’s Amy Acker).

We’ve all experienced moments like that before – what scientists call the “tip-of-the-tongue” phenomenon, or TOT – where we remember all sorts of things about something or someone but can’t seem to get the name out. Understanding how and why this happens is more than just a matter of helping us access random celebrity names: TOT opens a window into aphasia, a language disorder caused by stroke and other brain injuries in which people have a hard time remembering words and generating speech.

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Neuroscience & Psychology

What Alzheimer’s Patients Feel After Their Memories Have Vanished

While patients with Alzheimer’s might not remember when their loved ones visit, it has a profound effect on how they feel, a new study finds.

The study showed both happy and sad video clips lasting around 20 minutes to people with Alzheimer’s disease and observed their emotional states (Guzmán-Vélez et al., 2014).

They did the same for a group of healthy adults.

Five minutes afterwards, all the participants were given a memory test to see if they could remember the video they had just seen.

As you’d expect, Alzheimer’s patients remembered significantly less about the clips they’d just seen than the healthy group

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Neuroscience & Psychology

How Curiosity Changes the Brain to Enhance Learning

The more curious we are about a topic, the easier it is to learn information about that topic. New research publishing online October 2 in the Cell Press journal Neuron provides insights into what happens in our brains when curiosity is piqued. The findings could help scientists find ways to enhance overall learning and memory in both healthy individuals and those with neurological conditions.

“Our findings potentially have far-reaching implications for the public because they reveal insights into how a form of intrinsic motivation—curiosity—affects memory. These findings suggest ways to enhance learning in the classroom and other settings,” says lead author Dr. Matthias Gruber, of University of California at Davis.

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Neuroscience & Psychology

Neuroscience and Big Data: How to Find Simplicity in the Brain

Scientists can now monitor and record the activity of hundreds of neurons concurrently in the brain, and ongoing technology developments promise to increase this number manyfold. However, simply recording the neural activity does not automatically lead to a clearer understanding of how the brain works.

In a new review paper published in Nature Neuroscience, Carnegie Mellon University’s Byron M. Yu and Columbia University’s John P. Cunningham describe the scientific motivations for studying the activity of many neurons together, along with a class of machine learning algorithms — dimensionality reduction — for interpreting the activity

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Neuroscience & Psychology

Mothers transfer fear to their babies through odors

A phenomenon that has long baffled researchers is how the traumatic experience of a mother can affect her child – even when the event occurs before the baby is born. Inching closer to an explanation, a team of investigators studied mother rats and discovered how they transferred their fears to their pups during their early days of life – through odors released during distress.

The team, from the University of Michigan (U-M) Medical School and New York University, published their results in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They say their findings helped them identify the specific brain area where fear transmission settles during the early days of life, which could lead to a better insight as to why not all children of distressed mothers experience the same effects.

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Neuroscience & Psychology

Speaking a second language could prevent later-life cognitive decline

Can you speak two or more languages? If so, your brain may thank you for it later in life. New research published in the Annals of Neurology suggests that bilingualism may slow down age-related cognitive decline – even if a second language is learned in adulthood.

The research team, led by Dr. Thomas Bak of the Centre for Cognitive Aging and Cognitive Epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh in the UK, notes that recent studies have already indicated a link between bilingualism and delayed onset of cognitive decline and dementia.

But according to Dr. Bak: "Our study is the first to examine whether learning a second language impacts cognitive performance later in life while controlling for childhood intelligence."

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Neuroscience & Psychology

Bipolar Disorder

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.

Signs & Symptoms

People with bipolar disorder experience unusually intense emotional states that occur in distinct periods called "mood episodes." Each mood episode represents a drastic change from a person’s usual mood and behavior. An overly joyful or overexcited state is called a manic episode, and an extremely sad or hopeless state is called a depressive episode. Sometimes, a mood episode includes symptoms of both mania and depression. This is called a mixed state. People with bipolar disorder also may be explosive and irritable during a mood episode.

Extreme changes in energy, activity, sleep, and behavior go along with these changes in mood. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are described below.

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Neuroscience & Psychology

Neuroscience’s Grand Question

When your car needs a new spark plug, you take it to a shop where it sits, out of commission, until the repair is finished. But what if your car could replace its own spark plug while speeding down the Mass Pike?

Of course, cars can’t do that, but our nervous system does the equivalent, rebuilding itself continually while maintaining full function.

Neurons live for many years but their components, the proteins and molecules that make up the cell are continually being replaced. How this continuous rebuilding takes place without affecting our ability to think, remember, learn or otherwise experience the world is one of neuroscience’s biggest questions.

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Neuroscience & Psychology

Some Patients with Schizophrenia Have Impaired Ability to Imitate According to Study

According to George Bernard Shaw, “Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery – it’s the sincerest form of learning.” According to psychologists, imitation is something that we all do whenever we learn a new skill, whether it is dancing or how to behave in specific social situations.

Now, the results of a brain-mapping experiment conducted by a team of neuroscientists at Vanderbilt University strengthen the theory that an impaired ability to imitate may underlie the profound and enduring difficulty with social interactions that characterize schizophrenia. In a paper published online on Mar. 14 by the American Journal of Psychiatry, the researchers report that when patients with schizophrenia were asked to imitate simple hand movements, their brains exhibited abnormal brain activity in areas associated with the ability to imitate.

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Neuroscience & Psychology

Brain Scans Show We Take Risks Because We Can’t Stop Ourselves

A new study correlating brain activity with how people make decisions suggests that when individuals engage in risky behavior, such as drunk driving or unsafe sex, it’s probably not because their brains’ desire systems are too active, but because their self-control systems are not active enough.

This might have implications for how health experts treat mental illness and addiction or how the legal system assesses a criminal’s likelihood of committing another crime.

When these brain regions (mostly associated with control) aren’t active enough, we make risky choices. Z-statistic corresponds to predictive ability, yellow being the most predictive regions. Credit Sarah Helfinstein/U. of Texas at Austin.

Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin, UCLA and elsewhere analyzed data from 108 subjects who sat in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner — a machine that allows researchers to pinpoint brain activity in vivid, three-dimensional images — while playing a video game that simulates risk-taking.

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Neuroscience & Psychology

Brain Structure Shows Who is Most Sensitive to Pain

Everybody feels pain differently, and brain structure may hold the clue to these differences.

In a study published in the current online issue of the journal Pain, scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have shown that the brain’s structure is related to how intensely people perceive pain.

“We found that individual differences in the amount of grey matter in certain regions of the brain are related to how sensitive different people are to pain,” said Robert Coghill, Ph.D., professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Wake Forest Baptist and senior author of the study.

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Neuroscience & Psychology

Researchers Identify Gene That Influences the Ability to Remember Faces

New findings suggest the oxytocin receptor, a gene known to influence mother-infant bonding and pair bonding in monogamous species, also plays a special role in the ability to remember faces. This research has important implications for disorders in which social information processing is disrupted, including autism spectrum disorder. In addition, the finding may lead to new strategies for improving social cognition in several psychiatric disorders.

A team of researchers from Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta, the University College London in the United Kingdom and University of Tampere in Finland made the discovery, which will be published in an online Early Edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Neuroscience & Psychology