15 Gluten-Free Sunday Night Dinners Emily Dickey posted this in RecipesI recently talked about our family attempting to go gluten-free. No, we don’t have any gluten intolerance or even much sensitivity to it (that we know of), but we think it’s a healthier decision for our family. We started slow as we figured out things to avoid and what to buy. We are still learning where to find everything we need in the grocery store (or in the multiple stores we need to visit as a result). Recreating recipes has been the hardest part as we completely change the way we’re used to doing things!I created this collection on foodie.com: 15 Healthy Gluten-Free Sunday Night Dinners. There’s a crockpot meal for those busy Sundays…Read more
Kessler Foundation researchers have shown that retrieval practice can improve memory in individuals with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). “Retrieval Practice Improves Memory in Survivors of Severe Traumatic Brain Injury,” was published as a brief report in the current issue of Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation in February 2014. The article is authored by James Sumowski, PhD, Julia Coyne, PhD, Amanda Cohen, BA, and John DeLuca, PhD, of Kessler Foundation.”Despite the small sample size, it was clear that retrieval practice (RP) was superior to other learning strategies in this group of memory-impaired individuals with severe TBI,” explained Dr. Sumowski.Researchers studied ten patients with severe TBI and memory impairment (<5<sup>th percentile) to see whether RP improved memory after short (30 min) and long (1 week) delays. During RP, also described as testing effect, patients are quizzed shortly after information to be learned is presented. RP was compared with two other learning strategies–massed restudy (MR), which consists of repeated restudy (ie, cramming) and spaced restudy (SR), for which individuals restudy information at intervals (ie, distributed learning).Results showed that recall was better with RP than with MR or SR. Moreover, RP was more effective for memory after short delay, and was the only strategy that supported memory after long delay. This robust effect indicates that RP would improve memory in this group in real-life settings. “If these individuals learn to incorporate this compensatory strategy into their daily routines, they can improve their memory,” Dr. Sumowski noted. …Read more
Oct. 17, 2013 — Americans with similar temperaments are so likely to live in the same areas that a map of the country can be divided into regions with distinct personalities, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.People in the north-central Great Plains and the South tend to be conventional and friendly, those in the Western and Eastern seaboards lean toward being mostly relaxed and creative, while New Englanders and Mid-Atlantic residents are prone to being more temperamental and uninhibited, according to a study published online by APA’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.”This analysis challenges the standard methods of dividing up the country on the basis of economic factors, voting patterns, cultural stereotypes or geography that appear to have become ingrained in the way people think about the United States,” said lead author Peter J. Rentfrow, PhD, of the University of Cambridge. “At the same time, it reinforces some of the traditional beliefs that some areas of the country are friendlier than others, while some are more creative.”The researchers analyzed the personality traits of more than 1.5 million people. Through various online forums/media (e.g., Facebook and survey panels), participants answered questions about their psychological traits and demographics, including their state of residence. The researchers identified three psychological profiles based on five broad dimensions of personality — openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism — also known as the “Big Five” personality traits. When the researchers overlaid the findings on a national map, they found certain psychological profiles were predominant in three distinct geographic areas. The data were collected over 12 years in five samples with participants from the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. Overall, the samples were nationally representative in terms of gender and ethnicity, with the exception of a larger proportion of young people.”These national clusters of personalities also relate to a region’s politics, economy, social attitudes and health,” Rentfrow said. The study found that people in the friendly and conventional regions are typically less affluent, less educated, more politically conservative, more likely to be Protestant and less healthy compared to people in the other regions. …Read more
July 15, 2013 — A new study suggests that some very preterm babies have trouble bonding with their care-givers due to neurological impairments and not to the way their parents interact with them.University of Warwick researchers found that most very preterm and very low birthweight (VP/VLBW) infants were securely attached to their parents.But they also found that VP/VLBW infants were at higher risk for what is termed ‘disorganised attachment’ — when a child shows conflicting behaviour in their relationship with their parents.Healthy attachment sees a child using the parent as a secure base from which to explore the world, whereas with disorganised attachment the child displays contradictory behaviour when interacting with the parent.Disorganised attachment can be an indicator of negative parenting and abuse in full-term infants, so the study underlines the need for health professionals to know whether a child was born prematurely when assessing parent-baby relationships.The study — Very preterm/very low birthweight infants’ attachment: infant and maternal characteristics — was led by Professor Dieter Wolke at the University of Warwick and published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood: Fetal and Neonatal Edition.Professor Wolke said: “Very preterm children often spend months in incubators and in hospital after birth. Despite this stressful start we found parents of very preterm children to be as sensitive in their parenting as those of healthy preterm children. However, very preterm children more often have neurological and developmental problems and these explained why they were more likely to be disorganised in their attachment or bonding despite sensitive parenting. “Professor Wolke added: “Health professionals should be aware that disorganised attachment in preterm children is often a sign of these children’s developmental problems and not because they are harshly or abusively parented.”The study looked at 71 VP/VLBW children and 105 full-term children. It defined very preterm as babies born at less than 32 weeks gestation or weighing less than 1500g (3lb 5 oz).The study found that most very preterm/very low birthweight (VPV/LB) infants (61 per cent) were securely attached to their primary caregiver. That compares to 72 per cent of full-term children.However 32 per cent of VP/VLBW children showed disorganised attachment at 18 months, compared with 17 per cent of full-term children.The researchers also studied maternal sensitivity in the way mothers interacted with their babies.They found that the differences in attachment emerged despite mothers of VP/VLBW children being equally or more sensitive in their parenting in comparison with mothers of full-term infants.This suggests that disorganised attachment is linked to neurological abnormalities, and not to maternal sensitivity.However parents of VP/VLBW children should take heart from separate research which showed a more positive impact of parenting at a later age.For example, a study last year, also led by University of Warwick academics, found that sensitive parenting did help older VP/VLBW children — aged between six and eight years old — to make up developmental delays.Read more
June 25, 2013 — What if experts could dig into the brain, like archaeologists, and uncover the history of past experiences? This ability might reveal what makes each of us a unique individual, and it could enable the objective diagnosis of a wide range of neuropsychological diseases. New research at the Weizmann Institute hints that such a scenario is within the realm of possibility: It shows that spontaneous waves of neuronal activity in the brain bear the imprints of earlier events for at least 24 hours after the experience has taken place.The new research stems from earlier findings in the lab of Prof. Rafi Malach of the Institute’s Neurobiology Department and others that the brain never rests, even when its owner is resting. When a person is resting with closed eyes — that is, no visual stimulus is entering the brain — the normal bursts of nerve cell activity associated with incoming information are replaced by ultra-slow patterns of neuronal activity. Such spontaneous or “resting” waves travel in a highly organized and reproducible manner through the brain’s outer layer — the cortex — and the patterns they create are complex, yet periodic and symmetrical.Like hieroglyphics, it seemed that these patterns might have some meaning, and research student Tal Harmelech, under the guidance of Malach and Dr. Son Preminger, set out to uncover their significance. Their idea was that the patterns of resting brain waves may constitute “archives” for earlier experiences. As we add new experiences, the activation of our brain’s networks lead to long-term changes in the links between brain cells, a facility referred to as plasticity. As our experiences become embedded in these connections, they create “expectations” that come into play before we perform any type of mental task, enabling us to anticipate the result. …Read more
May 17, 2011 — Transferring a segment of muscle from the thigh appears to help restore the ability to smile in children with facial paralysis just as it does in adults, according to a report in the May issue of Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. The article is part of a theme issue focusing on facial plastic surgery in the pediatric population.
Facial paralysis often disrupts the ability to smile. In pediatric patients, this can be especially problematic, according to background information in the article. Surgery to repair the affected area may generate failure rates as high as 30 percent. But not acting can also harm children, the authors write: “The inability to express oneself via facial movement can have serious social consequences because it is the dominant nonverbal expression of happiness and contentment. The additional functional and esthetic issues associated with facial paralysis can be devastating to a child’s development, or to their recovery following treatment for a central nervous system (CNS) tumor resulting in facial paralysis.”
Tessa A. Hadlock, M.D., and colleagues from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston , evaluated pediatric patients undergoing free gracilis transfer (an operation in which part of the gracilis muscle in the thigh is transplanted into facial muscles). They compared 17 children with facial paralysis who had a total of 19 surgeries to 17 adults who also had 19 of the same surgeries. The authors explain that they wanted to determine failure rates in children, discover how much smiles and quality of life (QOL) improved after the operation, and examine whether these patients’ experiences differed from those of adults. “These data were sought under the hypothesis that establishing a QOL benefit would help clinicians and families make more insightful decisions regarding surgery.”
The main measure of smile improvement was the extent of commissure excursion (movement of the corners of the mouth). The average change in pediatric patients was 8.8 mm, which is similar to the change that adults experienced. The researchers determined that the surgery failed in two of the pediatric patients (11%) versus in four of the adults (21 percent). Thirteen children completed both a pre-operative and a post-operative QOL measure, the Facial Clinimetric Evaluation (FaCE); the results show a statistically significant QOL improvement after the free gracilis transfer.
“In conclusion,” the authors write, “free gracilis for smile reanimation in children carries an acceptable failure rate, significantly improves smiling, and seems to improve QOL with respect to facial function.” They add, “Early facial reanimation provides the advantage of permitting children to express themselves nonverbally through smiling and may in fact lead to fewer negative social consequences as they interact with peers.”Read more
June 21, 2011 — Not all varieties of botulinum toxin seem to be equally effective in reducing crow’s feet wrinkles, according to a report published online in Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Botulinum toxin, a protein long considered harmful, is now known as a neuromodulator (a chemical that affects nerve impulses) that has cosmetic and medical uses, according to background information in the article. In 1989, botulinum toxin type A was approved in the United States for two muscular conditions that affect the appearance of the eyes. In 2002, one type — onabotulinumtoxinA — was approved for the treatment of wrinkles between the eyebrows; a second type, abobotulinumtoxinA, received approval for the same indication in 2009. The authors sought to compare both types of the protein, head to head. “Such an assessment could characterize and contrast their efficacy in clinical performance in the treatment of hyperfunctional lines and muscular relaxation,” the authors write.
Kartik D. Nettar, M.D., from The Maas Clinic, San Francisco, and the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a randomized, double-blind split-face study, using one agent on the right side and the other agent on the left side. “By using a split-face (internally controlled) paradigm, this would provide direct comparison of each product in the same patient,” they explain. Ninety patients received injections of onabotulinumtoxinA and of abobotulinumtoxinA on either side of their faces; the lateral orbital rhytids, or “crow’s feet” wrinkles, were the site treated. Investigators assessed the site’s appearance using a five-point scale, and patients were also surveyed for their opinions.
According to the researchers, the difference between the two agents was significant when participants contracted the muscles as much as possible, with abobotulinumtoxinA producing a greater effect. This difference persisted in both investigators’ and patients’ assessments. Approximately two-thirds of participants said they favored the side of their faces that was treated with abobotulinumtoxinA.
The authors remark that the study’s results, while favorable to abobotulinumtoxinA, are limited in their scope. No statistical significance between the two agents was seen when the muscles were at rest. The researchers call for further comparative studies in other facial muscles, as well as of why one agent would perform better than the other. “Ongoing studies will determine whether the demonstrated patient preference and early advantage in clinical outcomes is persistent,” they write, “as both the efficacy in line effacement and duration of effect are both important factors in patient and physician decision-making as it related to the use of neuromodulators.”Read more
Aug. 15, 2011 — A study of seven patients examined use of a pressure device worn overnight to supplement other therapy for auricular keloids (scar tissue buildup of the ear), as reported in an article published Online First by Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Keloids are a type of scar tissue that develops after skin trauma in people with a genetic predisposition, according to background information in the article. The tissue extends beyond the original wound’s boundaries and encroaches upon healthy skin, sometimes causing pain, itch, functional impairment, restricted movement, possible uncontrolled growth, cosmetic nuisance and adverse psychological effects. Therapies may include wound dressings, compression, steroid injections, surgery, radiation, interferon and medicated cream. The authors explain that often treatments are used together to reduce the risk of recurrence. “Treatment of auricular keloids is a unique challenge owing to the complex anatomy of the auricle [ear], from a cartilaginous [connective tissue] skeleton underneath a delicate layer of skin to a fat pad enveloped in thicker skin that forms the earlobe,” the authors explain. Because auricular keloids may invade the cartilage and make surgical removal of the scar tissue difficult, treatment with steroids is frequently used. The authors examined use of a new pressure device as potential treatment for this condition.
Gregor M. Bran, M.D., from the University Hospital of Mannheim, Germany, and colleagues studied the auricular pressure device in seven patients being treated for auricular keloids between December 2007 and March 2009. Four were male and the mean (average) age was 22.6 years. Patients underwent surgical removal of the keloids and injection of corticosteroids. Then they were instructed to wear the pressure device overnight at least five nights per week until the scar level matched the level of the healthy skin surrounding it or after two consecutive adjustments in the device failed to produce improvement. The device, custom-designed for each patient, was made of acrylate (a polymer) in two portions which were held in place by magnets along the rim of the ear.
Patients treated with the device reported no problems wearing it for the prescribed amount of time, and none interrupted or stopped the treatment. After a mean follow-up of 24 months, keloid recurrence was not observed in any patient. All of those treated reported satisfaction with the results and no itch, pain or abnormal sensations.
“Within this study we demonstrated the safety and efficacy of a combination of surgical excision and steroid injection with a newly designed, custom-fitted device for optimized pressure therapy of auricular keloids,” the authors write. They add that while the use of pressure devices in the treatment of keloids of the ear is not new, the device included in this study more adequately meets the requirements of an ideal auricular pressure device. Larger, center-based trials with long-term follow-up would enhance understanding of the role the device could play in the improvement of scar management, the authors conclude.Read more
Dr. Jeffrey Meyer, Canada Research Chair in Neurochemistry of Depression, CAMH and U of T, talks about how greater levels ofRead more