Posts Tagged ‘antidepressants’

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.

More on Depression And Brain Exercise

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Here’s another article on the relationship between stimulating new neural growth and combatting depression. This one approaches the subject from the opposite perspective — that stress inhibits neural growth and can induce or exacerbate depression and reduce the effectiveness of antidepressant treatment.

(See previous post on how exercise and brain exercise can help combat depression.)

Antidepressants and Brain Structure

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

ScienceDaily reports on new research that Antidepressants Need New Nerve Cells To Be Effective. The study by researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center showed that the effectiveness of anti-depressants in mice depended upon the growth of new nerves in the part of the brain called the dentate gyrus.

What does this tell us about exercise and brain exercise?

The dentate gyrus is one of the few areas of the brain thought to be able to generate significant numbers of new brain cells in a process known as neurogenesis, and scientists generally believe that this effect is enhanced by aerobic exercise. Apart from being associated with depression, it is also the region of the brain associated with memory formation.

Now, what does any of this have to do with brain exercise and working-memory training?

Well, it turns out that stimulation of working-memory also activates the dentate gyrus.  So, this would perhaps explain why those training with Brain Fitness Pro report greater levels of satisfaction and well-being. Another great reason to be brain-training.

Related Posts from Around the Web

Brain Structure & Mood Disorders – … to new ways to treat depression, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. Previously, researchers discovered that the hippocampus is smaller in depressed people, and that antidepressants actually enlarge the brain structure, …

Brain structure examined in mood disorder research – Previous research revealed that the hippocampus is smaller in depressed people, and that antidepressants enlarge the brain structure, possibly through a growth factor called brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). …

Brain structure and depression – There have been many studies into the links between brain structure and depression. Particular emphasis has been placed on the limbic system, specifically the hippocampus and amygdala, which controls emotion and mood regulation. …