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Surrogate decision makers experience psychological distress, study finds

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Nearly half of the 13 million older adults hospitalized annually in the United States are unable to make their own medical decisions and rely on surrogates, usually close family members, to make decisions for them. However little is known about how these surrogates respond to the demands put upon them. A new study explores predictors and frequency of surrogate decision-maker distress and has found high levels of both anxiety and depression.

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Healthy mitochondria could stop Alzheimer’s

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Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and neurodegeneration worldwide. A major hallmark of the disease is the accumulation of toxic plaques in the brain, formed by the abnormal aggregation of a protein called beta-amyloid inside neurons. Still without cure, Alzheimer’s poses a significant burden on public health systems. Most treatments focus on reducing the formation of amyloid plaques, but these approaches have been inconclusive. As a result, scientists are now searching for alternative treatment strategies, one of which is to consider Alzheimer’s as a metabolic disease

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Smartphone addiction creates imbalance in brain, study suggests

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Researchers have found an imbalance in the brain chemistry of young people addicted to smartphones and the internet. According to a recent research, 46 percent of Americans say they could not live without their smartphones. While this sentiment is clearly hyperbole, more and more people are becoming increasingly dependent on smartphones and other portable electronic devices for news, information, games, and even the occasional phone call. Along with a growing concern that young people, in particular, may be spending too much time staring into their phones instead of interacting with others, come questions as to the immediate effects on the brain and the possible long-term consequences of such habits.

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Amputees can learn to control a robotic arm with their minds

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Neuroscientists have shown how amputees can learn to control a robotic arm through electrodes implanted in the brain. The research details changes that take place in both sides of the brain used to control the amputated limb and the remaining, intact limb. The results show both areas can create new connections to learn how to control the device, even several years after an amputation.

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Phantoms in the Brain: Pain after Amputation

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Losing a limb can be a traumatic experience and, in some cases, emotional and physical pain can linger for years. To better understand the phenomenon, dubbed “phantom limb syndrome,” a graduate student is inviting amputees to come forward and share their experiences for a major study

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Mechanism explains how seizures may lead to memory loss

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The levels of a number of proteins involved in memory and learning and found that levels of the protein deltaFosB strikingly increase in the hippocampus of Alzheimer’s disease mice that had seizures. DeltaFosB already is well known for its association with other neurological conditions linked to persistent brain activity of specific brain regions, such as addiction. In this study, the researchers found that after a seizure, the deltaFosB protein remains in the hippocampus for an unusually long time; its half-life — the time it takes for the amount of protein to decrease by half — is eight days. Most proteins have a half-life that is between hours and a day or two.

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Discovery lights path for Alzheimer’s research

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A metallic probe invented at Rice University that lights up when it binds to a misfolded amyloid beta peptide has identified a binding site that could facilitate better drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease. When the probe is illuminated, it catalyzes the oxidation of the protein in a way that might keep it from aggregating in the brains of patients.

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