Dana Grantee Aims to Offer a More Personalized Treatment for Depression

DrEtkin_Jan2013_8880_5x7eIn an effort to create a more personalized approach to treating depression and to better understand its underlying circuitry, Amit Etkin of Stanford University is studying the use
of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) in combination with whole-brain EEG and functional MRI. According to Etkin:

By stimulating brain activity and assessing circuit-level changes as they happen, we can garner important insight into what is wrong in depression and how to fix it in an optimized, personalized matter.

I’ll give you one concrete example: It matters whether stimulation is done to an area in the patient’s brain that is abnormal or normal. For any treatment in any psychiatric disorder, we don’t actually know whether the goal of treatment is to normalize abnormal brain activity or to engage compensatory circuitry. It’s a fundamental question that we cannot answer without a direct tool for manipulating brain systems and assessing the effects.

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Unraveling Individual Variability in Hormonal Mood Swings

Guest post by Brenda Patoine

The stereotype of women’s “inexplicable” mood swings has long provided fodder for comics and cartoonists, but for scientists trying to understand the underlying biology, hormonal depression is no joke.

Endocrine-related affective mood disorders show up in different forms in different phases of life, from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) during otherwise normal menstrual cycling, to post-partum depression following childbirth, to mood disruptions around and after menopause. Yet these disorders don’t affect all women, and in fact, most women do not experience them.

“How is it that some women experience a change in affective state as a result of hormones whereas a majority of women do not?” Peter Schmidt, M.D. asked in a July 8 webinar sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). “That really is the million-dollar question.”

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Former Dana Grantee’s Newly Published Study Hailed as the ‘Future of Bioelectronic Medicine’

Tracey_KevinThe Wall Street Journal recently highlighted former Dana grantee Kevin Tracey’s latest research.  The July 8th article, “The Future of Bioelectronic Medicine,” detailed Tracey’s newly published study, which is the first in-human investigation of implanted electronic devices as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.  Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a disorder that occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, causing chronic swelling, inflammation, and joint pain.  The drugs currently used to manage the disease are not always effective, leaving many patients looking for other treatment options.  Continue reading

Dana/EDAB FENS Outreach Champions Announced

The European Dana Alliance for the Brain (EDAB) presents two Outreach Champion Awards with the Federation of European Neurosciences Societies (FENS) every two years at the biennial FENS Forum of Neuroscience. The 2016 winners were announced during an awards ceremony on July 4th at this year’s FENS Forum in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Dana/EDAB Neuroscience Outreach Champion, also known as The David and Hillie Mahoney Award for an Individual’s Contribution to Outreach, is presented to a person who has significantly contributed to the promotion of brain awareness, through continued public outreach efforts for a period of three or more years. This year’s winner is Paul Bolam, emeritus professor and senior scientist at the Medical Research Council’s Brain Networks Dynamics Unit at the University of Oxford. His outreach includes 75 talks over the last seven years, usually covering topics such as the aging brain and Parkinson’s disease.

edab fens president

From left to right: FENS President Monica DiLuca and Paul Bolam            Photo credit: Jesper Ludvigsen 

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Dana Newsletter: June

Here are some stories recently posted on www.dana.org:

cere_spotlight_Tracy_060116_contThe Neuro Funding Rollercoaster
by Harry M. Tracy, Ph.D.
Advances that have the potential to affect the quality of life for millions of people are very much dependent on the wild fluctuations of research and development funding from private and corporate lenders for cognitive neuroscience. From Cerebrum, our online magazine of ideas. Listen to a podcast interview with Dr. Tracy.

Growth Charts for Brain Development?
An early, prospective study suggests that pinpointing where children are on a scale of brain connectivity could tell doctors which child is at risk of developing problems. Continue reading

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