BRAIN and BEHAVIOR INITIATIVE WEEKLY DIGEST

November 4, 2019


Call for Posters - BBI Seed Symposium

If you are performing research that aligns with BBI’s mission, please consider showcasing your work alongside our featured FY19 Seed Grant Awardees at the Seed Grant Symposium poster session on November 19, 2019 in the Stamp Colony Ballroom from 4 - 7 p.m.

To apply, please email BBI (bbiumd@umd.edu) with title, authors, and a brief abstract by this Friday, November 8, 2019. Decisions will be made by Monday, November 11, 2019.

Finally, if you have not yet registered for this year’s Seed Grant Symposium, please do so below. We look forward to seeing you!

UMD News

Faculty from the School of Public Health and the University of Maryland Extension will train 120 educators in an evidence-based program called “Mental Health First Aid.” The curriculum will then be delivered to 500 community leaders—including educators and practitioners—through in-person training as well as online webinars.
The grant allows for long-term study of Romanian children who were previously institutionalized in foster care. The study will evaluate whether the benefits of foster care—which alleviates some of the negative effects of early childhood adversity on cognitive, emotional and neurobiological processes—have continued into adulthood.

News

Pocket-size ultrasound devices that cost 50 times less than the machines in hospitals. Virtual reality that speeds healing in rehab. Artificial intelligence that is better than medical experts at spotting lung tumors. These are just some of the innovations now transforming medicine at a remarkable pace. No one can predict the future, but it can at least be glimpsed in the dozen inventions and concepts found here. Like the people behind them, they stand at the vanguard of health care. Neither exhaustive nor exclusive, the list is representative of the recasting of public health and medical science likely to come in the 2020s.
Researchers analyzed data from a long-term study of factors influencing pregnancy and child development. They collected umbilical cord blood from 996 births and measured the amount of acetaminophen and two of its byproducts in each sample. By the time the children were an average of 8.9 years, 25.8% had been diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) only, 6.6% with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) only, and 4.2% with both ADHD and ASD. The authors conclude that their results support earlier studies linking acetaminophen exposure in the womb with ADHD and ASD and underscore the need for additional research.
Over the last two decades, scientists have observed a clear link between autoimmune disorders and a variety of psychiatric conditions. For example, people with autoimmune disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease or multiple sclerosis may also have depleted gut microbiota and experience anxiety, depression, and mood disorders. Genetic risks for autoimmune disorders and psychiatric disorders also appear to be closely related. But precisely how gut health affects brain health has been unknown. This study provides new insight into the mechanisms of how the gut and the brain communicate at the molecular level.
While humans sleep, huge waves of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that envelops the brain rhythmically flow in and out of the organ, according to a new study published in Science. The authors show that these CSF dynamics are connected to slow waves of neuronal activity, which are characteristic of deep sleep, and corresponding oscillations in the brain’s blood volume. Coupled with recent indications that CSF clears waste products from the brain, the findings shed light on the benefits of sleep for the central nervous system. One extension of the work will be to use animal models to manipulate each oscillation and see what happens downstream.
On the surface, sunlight and gut microbes seem to have nothing in common—after all, your gut bacteria are unlikely to find themselves catching some rays. But researchers are interested in studying the effects of UV light on the gut’s microorganisms because low levels of sun exposure, insufficient levels of vitamin D, and a lack of microbiome diversity have all been linked to certain inflammatory health conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease. Those patients have trouble absorbing nutrients through their digestive systems, so for them, spending some time in the sun might be an effective way to boost vitamin D levels.
Currently, drug discovery for medicines targeting epigenetic alterations lacks a high-throughput screening method. While high-content phenotypic screening has become the approach of choice for drug discovery due to its ability to extract drug-specific multi-layered data, in the field of epigenetics, such screening methods suffer from a lack of tools sensitive to selective epigenetic perturbations. Now, researchers have developed an approach that does not rely upon special dyes and traditional microscopy methods: a machine-learning algorithm that gleans information from microscope images. This approach could unlock new treatments for cancer, heart disease, mental illness, and other diseases.
Researchers have shown that specialized brain activation “replays” the possible routes that rats can take as they navigate a space, helping them keep track of the paths they’ve already taken and choose among the routes that they can take next. In previous research, scientists had discovered that these replay events, marked by bursts of neural activity called sharp-wave ripples, lead to coordinated activity in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex. But just how these forward and reverse replay events influence actual learning and decision-making over time remained unclear. The new results help clarify how coordinated activation at the level of neurons contributes to the complex processes involved in learning and decision-making.
According to a new study, wearable devices using machine learning can accurately detect and rate Parkinson’s disease tremors as people go about their normal activities. Study participants wore sensors on the wrist or ankle, and data was collected while they performed a variety of activities such as walking, resting, eating, and getting dressed. One of the two algorithms tested showed high accuracy in estimating total tremor as well as resting tremor sub-score. It was also able to show decline in tremors after patients took their medication. In most cases, results from the machine learning test matched results of the standard assessment currently used by neurologists, which requires patients to perform certain activities during an office visit.
1 in 3 people experience debilitating anxiety, and women are at particular risk to suffer from the disorder. However, the roots of anxiety and other anxiety-related diseases, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, are still unclear. Now, researchers have discovered a new lineage of specialized brain cells, called Hoxb8-lineage microglia, and they have established a link between the lineage and OCD and anxiety in mice. Mice with disabled Hoxb8-lineage microglia exhibited excessive overgrooming behavior akin to humans with a type of OCD called trichotillomania. Scientists also found that female sex hormones caused more severe OCD behaviors and induced added anxiety in the mice.

Calendar of Events

Business Fundamentals for Scientists
Speaker: Lily Griner (UMD Libraries)
Title: "Market Research Databases at UMD: How and Where"
Date: Monday, November 4, 2019
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: Diamondback Garage, Suite B
More info  |  Contact: Alla McCoy (acmccoy@umd.edu)
 
NACS Seminar
Speaker: Reza Shadmehr (Johns Hopkins University)
Title: "Building internal models in the cerebellum"
Date: Friday, November 8, 2019
Time: 10:15 a.m.
Location: 1103 Bioscience Research Building
More info

Funding Announcements

Please visit bbi.umd.edu/news/FOA for the complete list of open Funding Announcements.
 
Recent Notices of Intent to Publish FOA
 
Improve the Management of Opioids and Opioid Use Disorder in Older Adults (NOT-HS-20-001)
 
Maximizing Investigators Research Award (MIRA) for Early Stage Investigators (R35 - Clinical Trial Optional) (NOT-GM-19-061)
 
Pilot Effectiveness Trials for Rapid-Acting Interventions for Severe Suicide Risk (R01 Clinical Trial Required) (NOT-MH-19-044)
 
Biological Measures for Prognosing and Monitoring of Persistent Concussive Symptoms in Early and Middle Adolescents: Center Without Walls (U54) (NOT-NS-20-014)
 
Pathway to Independence Award in Tobacco Regulatory Research (K99/R00 - Independent Clinical Trial Required) (NOT-OD-20-005)
 
Pathway to Independence Award in Tobacco Regulatory Research (K99/R00 - Independent Clinical Trial Not Allowed) (NOT-OD-20-006)

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