Director’s Blog An understanding of how memory works has been the Holy Grail of psychology for the past century. Over the past fifty years, neuroscientists have joined that quest, searching for how and where the brain forms new memories and retrieves old ones.

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Director’s Blog Every cell in your body has the same DNA with about 23, 000 genes. Yet blood cells and brain cells look different, have different proteins, and serve very different functions.

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Growing evidence supports the hypothesis that epigenetics is a key mechanism through which environmental exposures interact with an individual’s genetic constitution to determine risk for depression throughout life. Epigenetics, in its broadest meaning, refers to stable changes in gene expression that are mediated via altered chromatin structure without modification of DNA sequence. According to this hypothesis, severe stress triggers changes—in vulnerable individuals—in chromatin structure at particular genomic loci in the brain’s limbic regions, which drive sustained changes in gene expression that contribute to episodes of depression

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The summer is far from over, but already we can say that this has been an exceptional season for research on mental illness. Three recent discoveries are worth noting. Gulsuner and colleagues just published a report on genes disrupted by de novo mutations in schizophrenia.

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I had not planned to add another posting to the “2014 predictions” blogosphere, but after reading Nicholas Kristof’s column in the New York Times, I can’t resist. Kristof, who has won two Pulitzer Prizes for reporting on social injustice, is perhaps best known for bringing international attention to human trafficking and the suffering in Darfur. In his first column of 2014 he tells readers, “Those of us in the pundit world tend to blather on about what happened yesterday, while often ignoring what happens every day

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Abstract: Objective: Visual and auditory hallucinations in relation to a cerebellar tumor are rarely reported in children. Primary origin of extraventricular neurocytoma (EVN) in the cerebellum is very rare.Clinical Presentation: We report on a case of a cerebellar EVN in a 13-year-old girl with the initial symptoms of psychiatric manifestations for more than 2 months.

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Director’s Blog In a visit to a mental asylum in 1912 you would have seen many patients with “general paresis.” The word “paresis” is Latin for weakness. General paresis was a form of psychosis with delusions, hallucinations, and memory problems often of rapid onset and thought to be due to a general constitutional weakness. At least that was the explanation until 1913, when general paresis was shown to be caused by syphilitic infection of the brain

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Director’s Blog In the years after Francis Crick and James Watson described the double helical structure of DNA, both men became interested in the brain. While Watson searched for the genetics of schizophrenia, Crick became intrigued by consciousness and brain structure.

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Director’s Blog In recent months, there has been a growing global interest in brain science. The President called attention to the effort to map the human brain in his State of the Union address, the European Union recently announced its largest scientific award (1 billion euros) for the Human Brain Project , and private foundations such as the Allen Brain Institute and the Kavli Foundation have announced new bold efforts to map the brain. 1 At the same time, there has been an unprecedented national conversation about what role mental illness plays in gun violence

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Director’s Blog This is the time of March Madness, Daylight Savings Time, and what Emily Dickinson famously called the “month of expectation.” March is also Brain Awareness Month, an annual celebration with school visits, community lectures, and lab tours to introduce the public to the mind-blowing world of neuroscience. A list of Brain Awareness events can be found at http://www.dana.org/brainweek where you will also find that March 10 -16 is the peak for related public events around the world. Since NIMH began focusing on mental disorders as brain disorders nearly two decades ago, educating people about the brain has been a priority for us.

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