Archive for the ‘Depression’ Category

Brain Fitness Update: Neurogenesis And Depression

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

neurogenesis zoloft brain fitnessWe’ve reported before on the link between increased neurogenesis and a reduction in the symptoms of depression. Physical exercise, brain training with effective brain fitness software and antidepressants all increase neurogenesis and alleviate depression. Now, British scientists have apparently discovered just how antidepressants stimulate the production of new brain cells.

While other brain fitness studies had previously shown that antidepressants caused the growth of new brain cells, until now scientists had not understood the mechanisms involved.

A brain fitness study by researchers from King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry and published in “Molecular Psychiatry” shows that the antidepressants regulate the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) — a protein critical to the brain’s response to stress. All types of antidepressant are dependent on the GR to create new cells, the scientists said.

Depression is accompanied by a decrease neurogenesis; this and the neurogenesis promotion associated with antidepressants leads brain fitness researchers to believe that reduced neurogenesis may be contributing to the symptoms of depression.

The study reviewed the effects of Zoloft, known generically as sertraline — an SSRI used to treat depression (other SSRIs include Prozac and Paxil). But the results also hold true for serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), including Effexor and Cymbalta.

“For the first time in a clinically relevant model, we were able to show that antidepressants produce more stem cells and also accelerate their development into adult brain cells,” brain fitness researcher Anacker said. “A specific protein in the cell, the glucocorticoid receptor, is essential for this to take place,” he went on. “The antidepressants activate this protein which switches on particular genes that turn immature stem cells into adult brain cells.”

As we’ve said before, all of the brain fitness research into pharmaceutical stimulation of neurogenesis is great, but we shouldn’t forget the benefits of physical exercise and working memory training.

Neuroscience, Psychiatry and Brain Health

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

This interview with Pierre Magistretti from the Brain Mind Institute covers a good deal of interesting ground, from the origins of neuroscience, the discovery of anti-depressants (by accident) and the importance of mental activity and reduced stress to brain health in seniors and infants alike.

Interview In SwissInfo

Brain Training Report – John-Stage 3, Session 6

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Session number: 06

Average n-back: 2.3

Duration (estimate in minutes): 15

After completing my first four sessions in stage three, I was unable to reach N3; this is very discouraging. It seems that my advances are minuscule in comparison to the time spent. Continuing diligently though, with the hope that if consistent, my cognitive abilities will gradually increase.

Over the last several months i have focused on my sleep, nutrition, and exercise. This is beginning to show some promise. Being constant in these areas has afforded me noticeable improvements in my attention, short term memory, and processing speed.

During Session 5,6, finally, I have broken through, to some extent, and was able to advance six times to N3. Obviously I would rather be a N4 or N5, but in time these levels will be attainable.

Merry Christmas to all.

Brain Fitness Pro working-memory training report

This post was submitted by John .

Brain Training Report – john

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

Session number: 01

Average n-back: 4.3

Duration (estimate in minutes): 15

Hello Everyone,

This is my first session of the online version of the software. I’m very excited about the interaction and the meditation portion of the program. I’ve been on Stage 2 for the last 36 sessions. I don’t think I’ve made the gains I should be making after so many sessions.

My overall Visual and Aural after 35 sessions of stage two are 5.57 and 4.33 respectively. Although it says my overall average score is 6. I usually disregard this score…I look more to the individual performance of the V/A for each session to determine my progress. My rationale might be hindering my progress. I probably need to get back to the basics.

This post was submitted by John Connolly.

Coping And Brain Growth

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010
stress coping and neurogenesis

(Not The Actual) Squirrel Monkeys

While we may not particularly like the process, it seems that coping with stress leads to neurogenesis. Professor David Lyons (Stanford) and his team examined the impact of social stress in primates. They found increased brain cell growth in the hippocampus when the animals successfully reorganized their social ties after a separation.

The team tested their premise, that coping tends to counteract the otherwise negative effects of stress, by intermittently separating pairs within a group of adult male squirrel monkeys and allowing new pairs to form.

They found increased hippocampal neurogenesis in the squirrel monkey males. Previous studies with rodents found that hippocampal neurogenesis contributes to spatial learning performance, and Lyons’s team found enhanced spatial learning in the monkeys, too.

The conclusion for us? Therapies designed to promote stress coping potentially have similar effects in humans, particularly those suffering from depression.

Here then we have another reason why Brain Fitness Pro can help alleviate depression.

New Brain Cells, Stress, And Learned Behavior

Thursday, April 1st, 2010
Stressed Out Mouse

Stressed Out Mouse

A new study by UT Southwestern scientists (Lagace, Donovan, DeCarolis, Farnbauch, Malhotra, Berton, Nestler, Krishnan and Eisch) sheds some light on the connection between stress and neurogenesis.

Eisch and her colleagues performed two experiments related to stress.

1. They exposed mice to a socially stressful experience — confrontation with a more aggressive mouse (the mouse equivalent of a carjacking), then measured the immediate and long term impact on the generation of new brain cells.

2. They irradiated mice to eliminate neurogenesis before exposing the irradiated mice to the same kind of stressful situation.

The scientists made two important findings:

In the first experiment, the stressful situation reduced neurogenesis temporarily (for a few days), and left the mice more likely to be fearful in similar situations.

In the second experiment the irradiated mice showed less fear when exposed to similar stressful situations.

These findings indicate that neurogenesis is key to forming stress memories. This can be a healthy response, educating us on avoidance. (Common sense.) But in cases of inappropriate or chronic stress response, neurogenesis may be overactive.

Neurogenesis and Brain Fitness for Stroke Victims

Sunday, February 21st, 2010
How A Stroke Affects The Brain

How A Stroke Affects The Brain

Scientists at the University of Iowa have published results of a fascinating study showing that antidepressants can improve the cognitive functioning of stroke victims.

Prior studies had indicated that antidepressants provided cognitive benefits for depressed stroke victims. The authors of this study set out to find whether the same would be true for those not suffering from depression.

“We knew that a patient with depression had poorer outcomes. We knew also that antidepressants improved outcomes among depressed patients,” professor Ricardo Jorge explained. “But we really didn’t have (although we had a hint) evidence that antidepressants given in small doses — relatively small doses — would be able to modify the outcome of these patients, particularly the cognitive outcome.”

The team compared the benefits of antidepressant treatment to the improvements on cognitive tests in two control groups, who received training in problem-solving skills or a placebo.

“The change in memory scores in this neuropsychological test for those patients who received the escitalopram was 11.3 points, against 2.5 points of positive change in patients who did not receive escitalopram,” says Dr. Jorge.

While pointing out that increased neurogenesis isn’t the only possible explanation for the cognitive benefits of antidepressants to the stroke patients he indicated that it was a distinct possibility:

“This is a complex issue, because there are several alternatives,” he explains. “One, and probably one that is quite appealing because this is related to the mechanism of antidepressants for treatment of depression, is that antidepressants have an effect called a neurotrophic effect. In a sense, that increases the expression of neurotrophic factors.”

“There is evidence that it will increase the neurogenesis and the proliferation of primordial neurons in the hippocampus,” Dr. Jorge theorized. “There are several trophic effects that help the brain reorganize itself. This is also important because the period immediately after a stroke is a period of greater plasticity in the brain, where the brain tries to compensate for its deficits. In not only a functional way but also in a structural way, there are changes in structure and changes in function that try to override the deficits brought by the stroke.”

See original report.

Working-Memory Training Report – psychdoc – Session 16

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Session number: 16

Average n-back: 5.80

Duration (min.): 50

I seem to lose focus as the session goes on. I just finished session #16 and I started out at n=7, was all excited about that, then went back down to n=6 by the middle of it. What’s the deal with that? Oh, by the way, this program seems to increase alertness and decrease depression. With that, I am amazed.
- Anne

Brain Fitness Pro working-memory training report.

This post was submitted by psychdoc.

Link Between New Brain Cell Survival And Anxiety

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Scientists from the University of Michigan have found that low levels of a particular brain growth factor (fibroblast growth factor 2) inhibit new brain cell survival and cause anxiety.

This provides another link connecting inhibited cell growth and brain plasticity with anxiety, stress and depression.

(Full post over at our sister site.)

Working-Memory Training Report – Shaun – Session 55

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Session number: 55

Average n-back: 5.55

Duration (min.): 40

Hi there BFPro Community:

Training went well today.

Positive aspects were that I scored a new personal best and I stayed at n=5 and n=6 without going to n=4. I was also able to stay on task better today than on most other days.

The negative aspects were minimal. The dry rot of the mind reminded me of its tenacity: When I did drop from n=6 to n=5 the mind produced a string of unmentionable expletives.

What did I learn? I learned that two tactics can calm the disappointment when the mind gets angry:

a) Asking myself “Why am I swearing?”

b) Noticing that I am “swearing, swearing.” Then asking myself “what am I doing?” Finally answering, “Ah yes, n=5 back training.”

Tactics (a) and (b) helped to keep me on task today.

Sometimes it’s also helpful to remind myself that: I don’t have to take this so seriously, or This is funny if you look at it that way.

Warm regardless ;)

This post was submitted by Shaun Luttin.