Why Lockdowns Worked in March and Why Lockdowns No Longer Work

The researchers found that after one day of total isolation, the sight of people having fun together activates the same brain region that lights up when someone who hasn’t eaten all day sees a picture of a plate of cheesy pasta.

“People who are forced to be isolated crave social interactions similarly to the way a hungry person craves food. Our finding fits the intuitive idea that positive social interactions are a basic human need, and acute loneliness is an aversive state that motivates people to repair what is lacking, similar to hunger,” says Rebecca Saxe, the John W. Jarve Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, a member of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and the senior author of the study.

The research team collected the data for this study in 2018 and 2019, long before the coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns. Their new findings, described today in Nature Neuroscience, are part of a larger research program focusing on how social stress affects people’s behavior and motivation.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “A hunger for social contact: Neuroscientists find that isolation provokes brain activity similar to that seen during hunger cravings.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201123120724.htm (accessed November 23, 2020).

Vitamin D and Calcium Reduce Incidence of Recurrent Vertigo (BPPV)

The multi-center study included 957 people in South Korea with benign paroxysmal positional vertigo who had undergone canalith repositioning maneuvers—head movements that shift displaced calcium carbonate crystals in the inner ear. The intervention group included patients who received 400 IU vitamin D and 500 mg calcium carbonate twice daily for 1 year when their baseline serum vitamin D level was below 20 ng/mL along with patients who had higher baseline levels and took no supplements. An observation group had no baseline testing or interventions.

The supplements significantly reduced the annual vertigo recurrence rate by 24%. There were 0.83 recurrences per 1 person-year in the intervention group compared with 1.10 in the observation group. Patients with greater vitamin D deficiencies at baseline derived the most benefit.

JAMA. 2020;324(16):1599. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.18695 — https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2772275

BPPV = benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. The original study in Neurology and the JAMA summary both use the word “prevent” in their respective titles. I think reduce is a more apt description. Semantics aside a 24% reduction in recurrent BPPV episodes is significant.

And yet another example of nutritional deficiencies underlying another disease.

Anti-psychotic Added to Antidepressant Linked to Higher Mortality

The current investigators analyzed national healthcare claims from the US Medicaid program from 2001 to 2010 for 39,582 Medicaid beneficiaries (mean age, 44.5 years; 78.5% women) diagnosed with depression. Patients with alternative indications for anti-psychotic therapy, such as schizophrenia, psychotic depression or bipolar disorder, were excluded.

After a period of at least 3 months of treatment with a single antidepressant, more than half of the patients (56.6%) augmented their treatment with one of these atypical anti-psychotics: quetiapine, risperidone, aripiprazole or olanzapine. The remaining patients (43.4%) added a second antidepressant. The average chlorpromazine-equivalent starting dose for all atypical anti-psychotics was 68 mg/day, which increased to 100 mg/day during follow-up.

A total of 153 patients died during 13,328 person-years of follow-up, including 105 who augmented with an atypical anti-psychotic and 48 who augmented with a second antidepressant.

Compared with those who added a second antidepressant, those who added an anti-psychotic had a 45% increased risk of dying during follow up (adjusted hazard ratio,1.45; 95% CI, 1.02 – 2.06).

Antipsychotic Added to Antidepressant Linked to Higher Mortality – Medscape – Oct 07, 2020. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/938707?src=rss#vp_1

Here’s when you should (and shouldn’t) trust your gut

Here’s when you should (and shouldn’t) trust your gut

This was an interesting article from Fast Company written by…

A neuroscientist!

Now, we live in a world that values logic and considers emotions as weak. It seems like decisions based on intuition have little or no place in today’s society. Over time, we’ve neglected the gut and the limbic brain, and placed the cortex on a pedestal. We’ve demoted depth, passion and instinct to fixate on surface-level capabilities—exams, rote-learning, and transactional relationships. We are more connected with material gain than joy. At the same time, increased stress, processed food, and antibiotics have massively diminished the biodiversity of our gut flora, which compromises more than our physical resilience.

What does cable news do to your brain?

What does cable news do to your brain? A neurosurgeon explains.

The availability of up to the minute information, presented 24/7/365, could assist a democratic society in making the best choices in determining its future. That was the promise of cable news. Unfortunately, cable news has fallen short of its potential and has led to the further polarization of America. More than that, it has changed the way your brain works.

Does cable news change how your brain works?

Possibly.  But I take no chances.  I don’t watch cable news networks.

Daddy always told me you go to college so that they can teach you how to think.

Unfortunately nowadays institutions of higher “education” teach the young what to think, not how to think.

Think about this for a while.

If you can.

 

Death by Parkinson Disease

Parkinsons mm6835a6-F

From 1999 to 2017, age-adjusted death rates for Parkinson disease among adults aged ≥65 years increased from 41.7 to 65.3 per 100,000 population. Among men, the age-adjusted death rate increased from 65.2 per 100,000 in 1999 to 97.9 in 2017. Among women, the rate increased from 28.4 per 100,000 in 1999 to 43.0 in 2017. Throughout 1999–2017, the death rates for Parkinson disease for men were higher than those for women.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality Data 1999–2017. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data_access/vitalstatsonline.htm.

QuickStats: Age-Adjusted Death Rates for Parkinson Disease Among Adults Aged ≥65 Years — National Vital Statistics System, United States, 1999–2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:773. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6835a6external icon.

Heavy Drinking ‘Strongest’ Modifiable Risk Factor for Dementia

The retrospective analysis involving 30 million people in France shows that those with a history of alcohol use disorders had a threefold increased risk for dementia and that over half those with early-onset dementia had a history of alcohol problems. “This study used a phenomenally large database, and the result showing that half the cases of early-onset dementia were associated with alcohol use disorders is truly staggering,” Ballard told Medscape Medical News.

The researchers used diagnostic codes on hospital records to identify patients with dementia and those who had a history of alcohol use disorders. They found over a million cases of dementia, after excluding people with diseases that can lead to rare types of dementia and those with early-life mental disorders that can increase or confound dementia diagnosis. There were also 945,000 people with alcohol use disorders.

Results showed a strong association between a history of alcohol problems and dementia. This was especially noticeable in early-onset dementia, with 57% of the 57,000 patients who had developed dementia under the age of 65 years having a history of alcohol use disorders (66% of men and 37% of women).

In an analysis of just those patients in whom the first record of dementia occurred in 2011-2013 and adjusted for other risk factors found in the medical records, the risk for dementia was three times greater if the patient had a history of alcohol use disorders. The hazard ratio was 3.36 for men and 3.34 for women.

Read the Medscape article here.  Or get down and dirty with the full study here.

Be careful with interpreting these results.

France.  I’m not joking.  Here’s  a Global Consumption Map.

 

 

Light Exercise Helps Older Men Live Longer

Read the source article at this link.

The researchers report that any amount of physical activity, including light exercise, was linked to a lower risk of dying.

Also, each extra 30 minutes a day of light intensity activity, such as gentle gardening or taking the dog for a walk, was associated with a 17% reduction in the risk of dying.

Aerobic exercise may also slow cognitive decline  in Alzheimer’s according to a recent  literature review.

“Exercise can change the brain chemistry. It can change neurotransmitters associated with depression, anxiety and stress as well as brain chemicals associated with learning,” said Carol Ewing Garber, Director of the Applied Physiology Lab at Columbia University, Teachers College, in New York City, who wasn’t involved in the study. “These changes can result in improved mood, resilience to stress and improve functions of the brain such as processing speed, attention, short term memory and cognitive flexibility among other things.”

 

Anosognosia

Remember this – if you can’t remember you’ve forgotten you have a problem.

Source article here. 

And while we’re on the topic don’t forget to exercise.

Or did you forget?

A follow up two years later showed that patients who were unaware of their memory problems were more likely to have developed dementia, even when taking into account other factors like genetic risk, age, gender and education. The increased progression to dementia was mirrored by increased brain metabolic dysfunction in regions vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease.