For those with insomnia, however, the stressor appears to be the lack of sleep, and the desire for sleep becomes a stressor in itself. In other words, the fixation on getting sleep leads to feelings of stress over not falling asleep, which begins a vicious loop. According to a model first proposed by Kales et al. in 1976, patients can develop a conditioned fear of not being able to sleep, which puts them in a state of hyperarousal when they attempt to fall asleep. This makes their inability to sleep a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Insomnia is the most common sleep condition in the world, with half of adults globally reporting occasional episodes. Chronic insomnia, though far less prevalent, affects as many as 10 to 15 percent of the adult population.
Though these sleep problems are extremely common, the neurobiological mechanisms behind insomnia are not entirely understood. Research suggests that emotional stressors do play an outsized role in contributing to sleep problems, and it is well documented that mood and anxiety disorders are common comorbidities with insomnia. This seems like common sense. Emotional arousal, whether due to a state of anxiety or because of intrusive thoughts, makes it difficult to relax, thereby inhibiting one’s ability to either initiate sleep or get back to sleep after waking.
Dr. Nilüfer Ertekin-Taner, neurogeneticist and behavioral neurologist, discusses characteristics of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and movement disorders. She also discusses her research on the complex genetics of Alzheimer’s disease, including identifying therapeutic targets and biomarkers. She highlights Mayo Clinic’s unique approach to patient care.
As a neuroscientist, professor emeritus of psychology, musician and best-selling author, Daniel Levitin has extensively studied the brain and its impact on aging. His latest book, “Successful Aging,” explores the questions: what happens in the brain as we age and what are the keys to aging well? NewsHour Weekend’s Christopher Booker recently spoke to Levitin to learn more.
From a NeuroscienceNews.com online release article (01/02/20):
During the years 1976 through 1980, 15% of U.S. adults were obese. Today, about 40%of adults are obese. Another 33% are overweight.
“But, of course, food is now abundant, and our next meal is as close as the kitchen, or the nearest fast-food drive-through, or right here on our desk. Often, these foods are high in fats, sugars, and therefore calories, and that’s why they taste good. It’s easy to overconsume, and, over time, this takes a toll on our health.”
In a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, Güler and his colleagues demonstrate that the pleasure center of the brain that produces the chemical dopamine, and the brain’s separate biological clock that regulates daily physiological rhythms, are linked, and that high-calorie foods – which bring pleasure – disrupt normal feeding schedules, resulting in overconsumption. Using mice as study models, the researchers mimicked the 24/7 availability of a high-fat diet, and showed that anytime snacking eventually results in obesity and related health problems.
During this decade, as in previous decades, Caltech scientists and engineers reinvented the landscape of scientific endeavor: from the first detection of gravitational waves and the discovery of evidence for a ninth planet in the solar system; to bold missions to explore and understand the solar system; to the development of new methods to see inside the body and the brain and understand the universe around us; to the invention of devices to improve human health, some taking inspiration from nature; to the initiation of a transformative new effort to support research into the most pressing challenges in environmental sustainability.
Though the brain orchestrates how we experience the world, many questions remain about its complex workings. During the past 10 years, Caltech scientists have discovered how the brain recognizes faces and drives and quenches thirst, and learned about the pathways that govern sleep. A major focus has been on understanding the experience of non-neurotypical individuals, such as those who have autism or those who are missing a brain hemisphere. New realms of neuroscience research were made possible in 2016, when philanthropists Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen announced a gift to establish the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech.
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition that affects the brain and other parts of the nervous system. The gradual loss of nerve cells leads to a suite of characteristic motor and non-motor symptoms.
What causes these cells to die and how the pathology develops in the nervous system are not yet clear but multiple lines of investigation are being pursued to answer these questions. In this animation, we explore some of the latest in Parkinson’s disease research.