Q & As

Q&As with scientists on their research and its applications or special topics in the field.

Q&A with Michael Baumann

In “The Changing Face of Recreational Drug Use,” the title of this month’s Cerebrum article, author Michael H. Baumann, Ph.D., a staff scientist and facility head at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Intramural Research Program, describes the complexity of the NPS problem, what is known about the molecular mechanisms of action, and the pharmacological effects of NPS. We asked him to elaborate on the article.

A Study of Motivation

It’s difficult to know what motivates people, but R. Alison Adcock’s lab is using imaging to study how states like desire and curiosity can facilitate “motivated memory.” Her work could have implications in the education field, but also in other learning contexts like psychotherapy and behavior change.

Q&A with Diane B. Howieson

There are now 67 countries where the life expectancy is at least 75 years old, according to World Health Organization figures from 2013. As people live longer, a better understanding of the aging brain is viewed as key to an improved quality of life. In “Cognitive Function and the Aging Brain: What to Expect,” the title of this month’s Cerebrum article, author Diane B. Howieson, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist and associate professor emerita of neurology at the Oregon Health & Science University, leans on her research and clinical experience to elaborate on the aging brain and offer insights in some other areas.

Q&A with John Ioannidis

His PLoS Medicine paper published in 2005 is the most accessed and downloaded paper in the journal’s history (with approximately 1.5 million hits) and his current citation-impact (exceeding 20,000 new citations in the scientific literature every year) is among the highest of all scientists. John P.S. Ioannidis, M.D., D.Sc. the author of November’s Cerebrum article, “Failure to Replicate: Sound the Alarm,” discusses why most biomedical research papers (including even many of the most influential ones) later turn out to be wrong or exaggerated—and what can be done about it. The Q&A is also based on responses from talks sponsored by PloS and Stanford University.

High-Tech Imaging Targets Brain Damage in Kids with Malaria

Despite being a common disease, little is known about how malaria affects children’s brains. Using high-field MRI to scan children in sub-Saharan Africa, Dana grantee Michael Potchen and his team shed light on what may cause malaria-related brain swelling, which can lead to death and morbidity.

Binge-Eating Disorder: Q&A with Alice V. Ely, Ph.D. and Anne Cusak, Psy.D.

Researchers suspect that many more people suffer from binge-eating disorder (BED) than from anorexia and bulimia, but that cultural insensitivity and the lack of insurance coverage for treatment means that the disorder remains an invisible killer. In “The Binge and the Brain,” October's Cerebrum article, our authors lean on their research and clinical experience to discuss the state of BED neurobiological underpinnings and advances in treatment that can come from behavioral interventions that target and better understand mechanisms in the brain.

Prescription Drug Abuse: Q&A with Theodore J. Cicero

The current state of dependence is covered in "Prescription Drug Abuse: No End in Sight,” September's Cerebrum article. Author Theodore J. Cicero, Ph.D., traces the history and evolution of narcotics and leans on his own research, clinical, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) experience to discuss an issue that many think has reached epidemic proportions.

Schizophrenia: Q&A with Patrick F. Sullivan

Baby steps may become giant steps in the next ten years for schizophrenia, an illness which impacts an estimated 2.4 million Americans and 1 in 100 people worldwide. While drugs have limited impact and there is no known cure, advances in genetics are opening new doors, thanks in part to an international consortium co-founded in July 2014 by psychiatric geneticist Patrick F. Sullivan, M.D., FRANZCP. In this month’s Cerebrum, “Schizophrenia: Hope on the Horizon,” the author writes about how the largest biological experiment in the history of psychiatry opened new avenues for exploring the biological underpinnings of schizophrenia and why he and his colleagues believe, after years of frustration, that new insights are coming soon.

Imaging of Cognitive Impairment from Soccer Heading-Related Brain Injury

Study indicates there may be a heading threshold above which the risk for brain damage increases significantly

Dana Foundation grantee Michael Lipton is looking at the cumulative effect of heading impacts by monitoring changes in brain structure and function with diffusion tensor imaging and cognitive tests.

On Purpose in Life: Q&A with Adam Kaplin

Adam Kaplin, MD, PhD, is co-author of this month’s Cerebrum feature, "New Movement in Neuroscience: A Purpose-Driven Life.” Purpose in Life (PIL) is a research area that links the belief that your life has meaning and purpose to a robust and persistently improved physiological health outcome—particularly as a way to treat dementia, spinal cord injuries, stroke, and immunological and cardiovascular issues that include but extend beyond the brain.

The Mysteries of Tau: Q&A with Kenneth S. Kosik

Kenneth S. Kosik, MD, was a member of one of several research groups that originally discovered tau protein in the Alzheimer’s neurofibrillary tangle. In May's Cerebrum feature, “Tau-er of Power,” he points out that if he and other tau researchers can better understand tau, then progress can be made in fighting neurological disorders linked to this protein, including frontotemporal dementia, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and Alzheimer’s disease.

Targeting Inflammatory Diseases With Electrical Signals

Devices, Not Drugs, Take Aim at Vagus Nerve

Dana grantee Kevin J. Tracey, a pioneer of “bioelectric medicine,” and his colleagues are testing vagus nerve stimulation devices for possible use in severe rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
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