Neuroscience News

Is Angry Birds keeping your brain healthy?

A new study from the Archives of Neurology says playing brain stimulating games can improve your memory and delay or prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

A new study suggests hearing metaphors can activate brain regions involved in sensory experience.

Whether you are an athlete, a musician or a stroke patient learning to walk again, practice can make perfect, but more practice may make you more efficient, according to a surprising new University of Colorado Boulder study.

Researchers have found a way to study how our brains assess the behavior – and likely future actions – of others during competitive social interactions. Their study, described in a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to use a computational approach to tease out differing patterns of brain activity during these interactions, the researchers report.

A molecular path from our body’s internal clock to cells controlling rest and activity have been revealed.

A new study looks at how our brain processes visual information to prevent collisions.

Can Brain Scans of Young Children Predict Reading Problems?  Brain scientists are studying whether they can predict which young children may struggle with reading, in order to provide early help.

Virtual therapists being developed to treat depression. Scientists at a U.S. university are developing new technologies to treat depression and other disorders — including a mood-detecting smart phone that will call to check up on you.

A new study shows how to boost the power of pain relief without drugs.

Neuroscience could change the face of warfare. Soldiers could have their minds plugged directly into weapons systems, undergo brain scans during recruitment and take courses of neural stimulation to boost their learning, if the armed forces embrace the latest developments in neuroscience to hone the performance of their troops

Brain activity differs when one plays against others. Researchers have found a way to study how our brains assess the behavior – and likely future actions – of others during competitive social interactions. Their study, described in a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first to use a computational approach to tease out differing patterns of brain activity during these interactions, the researchers report.

Reporting in PLoS Biology, researchers write that they were able to correlate words a person was hearing to specific electrical activity in the brain. Neuroscientist Robert Knight, a co-author of the study, discusses future applications of this research and concerns that it amounts to mental wiretapping.

Brains may be wired for addiction.  Abnormalities in the brain may make some people more likely to become drug addicts, according to scientists at the University of Cambridge.

Patients’ Brains May Adapt to ADHD Medication. New research reveals how the brain appears to adapt to compensate for the effects of long-term ADHD medication, suggesting why ADHD medication is more effective short-term than it is long-term.

A two-year study of high school football players suggests that concussions are likely caused by many hits over time and not from a single blow to the head, as commonly believed.

Mobile health trends for 2012

doctor using ipad

Brian Edwards, mHealth feature editor at iMedicalApps highlights five mobile trends in healthcare to look for in 2012.

1. Apps that track patient activity. Edwards said the ability to track patient data on a phone will have many benefits in the year to come. “How many phone calls they take, where they are, and … their activity level” can be “surefire” indicators of patients’ conditions, he said. “Especially with chronic conditions like diabetes; when there’s a flare-up, it’s integral to know when … it’s like a check-engine light for the body.” On his blog, Edwards explained how apps of this nature can be beneficial for other patient subsets, like autistic children. For example, body sensor technology has been developed to detect and record signs of stress in children, “by measuring slight electrical changes in the skin,” Edwards wrote. “Since autistic children have a difficult time expressing or even understanding their emotions, teachers and caregivers can have a difficult time anticipating and preventing meltdowns.”

2. Binary network apps. Binary network apps, or apps that track peripheral devices, will possibly be the biggest trend in 2012, said Edwards. “I think that’s going to be something that’ll be the first big business in mobile health,” he said. “Wearable censors, or apps that fit into the diagnostic process in an ambulatory setting. It’s the ability to take the iPhone and a patient with a T-shirt with a built-in censor and keep track of their vitals all day.” This enables techs and caregivers to “see triggers,” said Edwards, while the app sends an alarm depending on a predetermined threshold for the patient. “It’s powerful,” he added.

3. Health-focused games. “Everyone’s trying to game-ify everything,” said Edwards. He referenced Games for Health, which uses games and gaming technology to improve health and healthcare. Organizations such as the University of Southern California have also studied turning simple games into “stealth health,” said Edwards – and had success doing so. “People love to play games – it’s something across all ages and it’s more enjoyable. If the questions are in the form of a funny little game, and you don’t even realize you’re answering the questions you’re answering, it’s going to be easier to answer the question and comply.”

4. Apps that diagnose and treat patients. On his blog, Edwards mentioned a number of start-ups making progress in developing innovative body area network (BAN) technologies. For example, a device aimed at more efficient EEG data collection uses a miniature electronics box attached to a light, head harness, and electrodes to monitor a patient while he/she sleeps. “The device has HIPAA compliant security for easy transfer of data via the Internet,” he added. A similar tool, designed for the diagnosing and monitoring of epileptic patients, allows for continuous brain wave monitoring. “The patient app guides the user through the application of the body worn sensors, which can currently include up to 16-channels of EEG data. Once the patient has applied the body worn sensors, they simply pair the sensors and peripheral device via Bluetooth with the app and go about their day while the data is continuously captured and sent to remote server,” Edwards wrote.

5. Apps that empower patients. Tools that help consumers make health-related decisions will be popular in the upcoming years. On his blog, Edwards documented apps that take publicly available information from government and non-profit grounds and divide it into categories, such as healthcare facilities, medical suppliers and prescription drugs. “Using the phone’s geo-location, an individual can enter his or her ZIP code and find provider facilities in their area,” he wrote. “By utilizing the Center for Medicare and Medicaid’s Hospital Compared database, users can review ratings for all facilities, details on quality of care and patient services, as well as what coverage is provided for Medicare and Medicaid recipients.”

Source: Health Care IT News