How Lobotomies Work
The lobotomy is a type of neurosurgery, or surgery performed on the brain, known as psychosurgery. The idea behind psychosurgery is that severe forms of mental illness can be treated by changing the way that the brain works. Doctors believed that by severing the connections that the frontal lobes, or prefrontal cortex, had to the rest of the brain, they could calm patients’ emotions and stabilize their personalities without doing away with their intelligence and motor functions.
The prefrontal cortex serves a number of complex functions in the brain, usually called executive functions. (Higher-level decision making and planning, reasoning and understanding, personality expression, creativity and behaving in a socially acceptable way all fit under this category.) The prefrontal cortex is connected to many other regions of the brain, including the thalamus, which receives and relays sensory signals.
The brain is essentially composed of two different types of matter: gray and white. Gray matter includes the neurons, or brain cells, along with their blood vessels and extensions. White matter comprises the axons, or nerve fibers, that connect the areas of gray matter and carry messages between them through electrical impulses. So a lobotomy was intended to sever the white matter between different areas of gray matter. (Another name for lobotomy, leucotomy, means “slice/cut white” in Greek.)
In the United States, about 50,000 patients were lobotomized, most of them between 1949 and 1956. The man who perfected what became the standard of lobotomies, Dr. Walter Freeman, called them “soul surgery” and claimed that they could be used to treat not only schizophrenia, but depression, chronic pain and other mental and physical conditions. Freeman, and other doctors who performed lobotomies, believed that they could relieve suffering. In some cases, they did.
Read on…

How Lobotomies Work

The lobotomy is a type of neurosurgery, or surgery performed on the brain, known as psychosurgery. The idea behind psychosurgery is that severe forms of mental illness can be treated by changing the way that the brain works. Doctors believed that by severing the connections that the frontal lobes, or prefrontal cortex, had to the rest of the brain, they could calm patients’ emotions and stabilize their personalities without doing away with their intelligence and motor functions.

The prefrontal cortex serves a number of complex functions in the brain, usually called executive functions. (Higher-level decision making and planning, reasoning and understanding, personality expression, creativity and behaving in a socially acceptable way all fit under this category.) The prefrontal cortex is connected to many other regions of the brain, including the thalamus, which receives and relays sensory signals.

The brain is essentially composed of two different types of matter: gray and white. Gray matter includes the neurons, or brain cells, along with their blood vessels and extensions. White matter comprises the axons, or nerve fibers, that connect the areas of gray matter and carry messages between them through electrical impulses. So a lobotomy was intended to sever the white matter between different areas of gray matter. (Another name for lobotomy, leucotomy, means “slice/cut white” in Greek.)

In the United States, about 50,000 patients were lobotomized, most of them between 1949 and 1956. The man who perfected what became the standard of lobotomies, Dr. Walter Freeman, called them “soul surgery” and claimed that they could be used to treat not only schizophrenia, but depression, chronic pain and other mental and physical conditions. Freeman, and other doctors who performed lobotomies, believed that they could relieve suffering. In some cases, they did.

Read on

pubhealth:

Growing Number of Chemicals Linked to Brain Disorders in Children
A new study finds that toxic chemicals may be triggering the recent increases in neurodevelopmental disabilities among children, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dyslexia.
Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai say a new way to control the use of these substances is urgently needed.
“The greatest concern is the large numbers of children who are affected by toxic damage to brain development in the absence of a formal diagnosis,” said Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at HSPH. “They suffer reduced attention span, delayed development, and poor school performance. Industrial chemicals are now emerging as likely causes.”
The new report follows up on a similar study conducted by the researchers in 2006 that identified five industrial chemicals as “developmental neurotoxicants,” or chemicals that can cause brain deficits.
The new study offers updated findings about those chemicals and adds information on six newly recognized ones, including manganese; fluoride; chlorpyrifos and DDT (pesticides); tetrachloroethylene (a solvent); and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants).
The study outlines possible links between these newly recognized neurotoxicants and negative health effects on children.
For instance, manganese is associated with diminished intellectual function and impaired motor skills. Solvents are linked to hyperactivity and aggressive behavior, while certain types of pesticides may cause cognitive delays.
Grandjean and co-author Philip Landrigan, Dean for Global Health at Mount Sinai, postulate that many other chemicals contribute to a “silent pandemic” of neurobehavioral deficits that erodes intelligence and disrupts behaviors.
But controlling this pandemic is difficult because of a lack of data to guide prevention and the huge amount of proof needed for government regulation, according to the researchers.
“Very few chemicals have been regulated as a result of developmental neurotoxicity,” they write in the study, which was published in Lancet Neurology.
The researchers say it’s crucial to control the use of these chemicals to protect children’s brain development worldwide. They propose mandatory testing of industrial chemicals and the formation of a new international clearinghouse to evaluate industrial chemicals for potential developmental neurotoxicity.
“The problem is international in scope, and the solution must therefore also be international,” said Grandjean. “We have the methods in place to test industrial chemicals for harmful effects on children’s brain development — now is the time to make that testing mandatory.”
(From PsychCentral.com via Harvard School of Public Health)

pubhealth:

Growing Number of Chemicals Linked to Brain Disorders in Children

A new study finds that toxic chemicals may be triggering the recent increases in neurodevelopmental disabilities among children, including autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and dyslexia.

Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai say a new way to control the use of these substances is urgently needed.

“The greatest concern is the large numbers of children who are affected by toxic damage to brain development in the absence of a formal diagnosis,” said Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at HSPH. “They suffer reduced attention span, delayed development, and poor school performance. Industrial chemicals are now emerging as likely causes.”

The new report follows up on a similar study conducted by the researchers in 2006 that identified five industrial chemicals as “developmental neurotoxicants,” or chemicals that can cause brain deficits.

The new study offers updated findings about those chemicals and adds information on six newly recognized ones, including manganese; fluoride; chlorpyrifos and DDT (pesticides); tetrachloroethylene (a solvent); and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardants).

The study outlines possible links between these newly recognized neurotoxicants and negative health effects on children.

For instance, manganese is associated with diminished intellectual function and impaired motor skills. Solvents are linked to hyperactivity and aggressive behavior, while certain types of pesticides may cause cognitive delays.

Grandjean and co-author Philip Landrigan, Dean for Global Health at Mount Sinai, postulate that many other chemicals contribute to a “silent pandemic” of neurobehavioral deficits that erodes intelligence and disrupts behaviors.

But controlling this pandemic is difficult because of a lack of data to guide prevention and the huge amount of proof needed for government regulation, according to the researchers.

“Very few chemicals have been regulated as a result of developmental neurotoxicity,” they write in the study, which was published in Lancet Neurology.

The researchers say it’s crucial to control the use of these chemicals to protect children’s brain development worldwide. They propose mandatory testing of industrial chemicals and the formation of a new international clearinghouse to evaluate industrial chemicals for potential developmental neurotoxicity.

“The problem is international in scope, and the solution must therefore also be international,” said Grandjean. “We have the methods in place to test industrial chemicals for harmful effects on children’s brain development — now is the time to make that testing mandatory.”

(From PsychCentral.com via Harvard School of Public Health)

(via kammartinez)

neuromorphogenesis:

Mom’s love good for child’s brain
School-age children whose mothers nurtured them early in life have brains with a larger hippocampus, a key structure important to learning, memory and response to stress.
The new research, by child psychiatrists and neuroscientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is the first to show that changes in this critical region of children’s brain anatomy are linked to a mother’s nurturing.
Their research is published online in theProceedings of the National Academy of SciencesEarly Edition.
“This study validates something that seems to be intuitive, which is just how important nurturing parents are to creating adaptive human beings,” says lead author Joan L. Luby, MD, professor of child psychiatry. “I think the public health implications suggest that we should pay more attention to parents’ nurturing, and we should do what we can as a society to foster these skills because clearly nurturing has a very, very big impact on later development.”
The brain-imaging study involved children ages 7 to 10 who had participated in an earlier study of preschool depression that Luby and her colleagues began about a decade ago. That study involved children, ages 3 to 6, who had symptoms of depression, other psychiatric disorders or were mentally healthy with no known psychiatric problems.
As part of the initial study, the children were closely observed and videotaped interacting with a parent, almost always a mother, as the parent was completing a required task, and the child was asked to wait to open an attractive gift. How much or how little the parent was able to support and nurture the child in this stressful circumstance — which was designed to approximate the stresses of daily parenting — was evaluated by raters who knew nothing about the child’s health or the parent’s temperament.
“It’s very objective,” Luby says. “Whether a parent was considered a nurturer was not based on that parent’s own self-assessment. Rather, it was based on their behavior and the extent to which they nurtured their child under these challenging conditions.”
The study didn’t observe parents and children in their homes or repeat stressful exercises, but other studies of child development have used similar methods as valid measurements of whether parents tend to be nurturers when they interact with their children.
For the current study, the researchers conducted brain scans on 92 of the children who had had symptoms of depression or were mentally healthy when they were studied as preschoolers. The imaging revealed that children without depression who had been nurtured had a hippocampus almost 10 percent larger than children whose mothers were not as nurturing.
“For years studies have underscored the importance of an early, nurturing environment for good, healthy outcomes for children,” Luby says. “But most of those studies have looked at psychosocial factors or school performance. This study, to my knowledge, is the first that actually shows an anatomical change in the brain, which really provides validation for the very large body of early childhood development literature that had been highlighting the importance of early parenting and nurturing. Having a hippocampus that’s almost 10 percent larger just provides concrete evidence of nurturing’s powerful effect.”
Luby says the smaller volumes in depressed children might be expected because studies in adults have shown the same results. What did surprise her was that nurturing made such a big difference in mentally healthy children.
“We found a very strong relationship between maternal nurturing and the size of the hippocampus in the healthy children,” she says.
Although 95 percent of the parents whose nurturing skills were evaluated during the earlier study were biological mothers, the researchers say that the effects of nurturing on the brain are likely to be the same for any primary caregiver — whether they are fathers, grandparents or adoptive parents.
The fact that the researchers found a larger hippocampus in the healthy children who were nurtured is striking, Luby says, because the hippocampus is such an important brain structure.
When the body faces stresses, the brain activates the autonomic nervous system, an involuntary system of nerves that controls the release of stress hormones. Those hormones help us cope with stress by increasing the heart rate and helping the body adapt. The hippocampus is the main brain structure involved in that response. It’s also key in learning and memory, and larger volumes would suggest a link to improved performance in school, among other things.
Past animal studies have indicated that a nurturing mother can influence brain development, and many studies in human children have identified improvements in school performance and healthier development in children raised in a nurturing environment. But until now, there has not been solid evidence linking a nurturing parent to changes in brain anatomy in children.
“Studies in rats have shown that maternal nurturance, specifically in the form of licking, produces changes in genes that then produce changes in receptors that increase the size of the hippocampus,” Luby says. “That phenomenon has been replicated in primates, but it hasn’t really been clear whether the same thing happens in humans. Our study suggests a clear link between nurturing and the size of the hippocampus.”
She says educators who work with families who have young children may improve school performance and child development by not only teaching parents to work on particular tasks with their children but by showing parents how to work with their children.
“Parents should be taught how to nurture and support their children,” Luby says. “Those are very important elements in healthy development.”
(Image: The hippocampus (highlighted in fuchsia) is a key brain structure important to learning, memory and stress response. New research shows that children who were nurtured by their mothers early in life have a larger hippocampus than children who were not nurtured as much. Credit: Washington University Medical School from press release)

neuromorphogenesis:

Mom’s love good for child’s brain

School-age children whose mothers nurtured them early in life have brains with a larger hippocampus, a key structure important to learning, memory and response to stress.

The new research, by child psychiatrists and neuroscientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is the first to show that changes in this critical region of children’s brain anatomy are linked to a mother’s nurturing.

Their research is published online in theProceedings of the National Academy of SciencesEarly Edition.

“This study validates something that seems to be intuitive, which is just how important nurturing parents are to creating adaptive human beings,” says lead author Joan L. Luby, MD, professor of child psychiatry. “I think the public health implications suggest that we should pay more attention to parents’ nurturing, and we should do what we can as a society to foster these skills because clearly nurturing has a very, very big impact on later development.”

The brain-imaging study involved children ages 7 to 10 who had participated in an earlier study of preschool depression that Luby and her colleagues began about a decade ago. That study involved children, ages 3 to 6, who had symptoms of depression, other psychiatric disorders or were mentally healthy with no known psychiatric problems.

As part of the initial study, the children were closely observed and videotaped interacting with a parent, almost always a mother, as the parent was completing a required task, and the child was asked to wait to open an attractive gift. How much or how little the parent was able to support and nurture the child in this stressful circumstance — which was designed to approximate the stresses of daily parenting — was evaluated by raters who knew nothing about the child’s health or the parent’s temperament.

“It’s very objective,” Luby says. “Whether a parent was considered a nurturer was not based on that parent’s own self-assessment. Rather, it was based on their behavior and the extent to which they nurtured their child under these challenging conditions.”

The study didn’t observe parents and children in their homes or repeat stressful exercises, but other studies of child development have used similar methods as valid measurements of whether parents tend to be nurturers when they interact with their children.

For the current study, the researchers conducted brain scans on 92 of the children who had had symptoms of depression or were mentally healthy when they were studied as preschoolers. The imaging revealed that children without depression who had been nurtured had a hippocampus almost 10 percent larger than children whose mothers were not as nurturing.

“For years studies have underscored the importance of an early, nurturing environment for good, healthy outcomes for children,” Luby says. “But most of those studies have looked at psychosocial factors or school performance. This study, to my knowledge, is the first that actually shows an anatomical change in the brain, which really provides validation for the very large body of early childhood development literature that had been highlighting the importance of early parenting and nurturing. Having a hippocampus that’s almost 10 percent larger just provides concrete evidence of nurturing’s powerful effect.”

Luby says the smaller volumes in depressed children might be expected because studies in adults have shown the same results. What did surprise her was that nurturing made such a big difference in mentally healthy children.

“We found a very strong relationship between maternal nurturing and the size of the hippocampus in the healthy children,” she says.

Although 95 percent of the parents whose nurturing skills were evaluated during the earlier study were biological mothers, the researchers say that the effects of nurturing on the brain are likely to be the same for any primary caregiver — whether they are fathers, grandparents or adoptive parents.

The fact that the researchers found a larger hippocampus in the healthy children who were nurtured is striking, Luby says, because the hippocampus is such an important brain structure.

When the body faces stresses, the brain activates the autonomic nervous system, an involuntary system of nerves that controls the release of stress hormones. Those hormones help us cope with stress by increasing the heart rate and helping the body adapt. The hippocampus is the main brain structure involved in that response. It’s also key in learning and memory, and larger volumes would suggest a link to improved performance in school, among other things.

Past animal studies have indicated that a nurturing mother can influence brain development, and many studies in human children have identified improvements in school performance and healthier development in children raised in a nurturing environment. But until now, there has not been solid evidence linking a nurturing parent to changes in brain anatomy in children.

“Studies in rats have shown that maternal nurturance, specifically in the form of licking, produces changes in genes that then produce changes in receptors that increase the size of the hippocampus,” Luby says. “That phenomenon has been replicated in primates, but it hasn’t really been clear whether the same thing happens in humans. Our study suggests a clear link between nurturing and the size of the hippocampus.”

She says educators who work with families who have young children may improve school performance and child development by not only teaching parents to work on particular tasks with their children but by showing parents how to work with their children.

“Parents should be taught how to nurture and support their children,” Luby says. “Those are very important elements in healthy development.”

(Image: The hippocampus (highlighted in fuchsia) is a key brain structure important to learning, memory and stress response. New research shows that children who were nurtured by their mothers early in life have a larger hippocampus than children who were not nurtured as much. Credit: Washington University Medical School from press release)

(Source: news.wustl.edu)

wildcat2030:

A new study led by MIT neuroscientists has found that brain scans of patients with social anxiety disorder can help predict whether they will benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. Social anxiety is usually treated with either cognitive behavioral therapy or medications. However, it is currently impossible to predict which treatment will work best for a particular patient. The team of researchers from MIT, Boston University (BU) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found that the effectiveness of therapy could be predicted by measuring patients’ brain activity as they looked at photos of faces, before the therapy sessions began. The findings, published this week in the Archives of General Psychiatry, may help doctors choose more effective treatments for social anxiety disorder, which is estimated to affect around 15 million people in the United States. “Our vision is that some of these measures might direct individuals to treatments that are more likely to work for them,” says John Gabrieli, the Grover M. Hermann Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, a member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and senior author of the paper. Lead authors of the paper are MIT postdoc Oliver Doehrmann and Satrajit Ghosh, a research scientist in the McGovern Institute. (via Brain scans could help doctors choose treatments for people with social anxiety disorder)

wildcat2030:

A new study led by MIT neuroscientists has found that brain scans of patients with social anxiety disorder can help predict whether they will benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. Social anxiety is usually treated with either cognitive behavioral therapy or medications. However, it is currently impossible to predict which treatment will work best for a particular patient. The team of researchers from MIT, Boston University (BU) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found that the effectiveness of therapy could be predicted by measuring patients’ brain activity as they looked at photos of faces, before the therapy sessions began. The findings, published this week in the Archives of General Psychiatry, may help doctors choose more effective treatments for social anxiety disorder, which is estimated to affect around 15 million people in the United States. “Our vision is that some of these measures might direct individuals to treatments that are more likely to work for them,” says John Gabrieli, the Grover M. Hermann Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, a member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and senior author of the paper. Lead authors of the paper are MIT postdoc Oliver Doehrmann and Satrajit Ghosh, a research scientist in the McGovern Institute. (via Brain scans could help doctors choose treatments for people with social anxiety disorder)