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Jeste S.S.,Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior | Geschwind D.H.,University of California at Los Angeles
Nature Reviews Neurology | Year: 2014

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) represents a heterogeneous group of disorders, which presents a substantial challenge to diagnosis and treatment. Over the past decade, considerable progress has been made in the identification of genetic risk factors for ASD that define specific mechanisms and pathways underlying the associated behavioural deficits. In this Review, we discuss how some of the latest advances in the genetics of ASD have facilitated parsing of the phenotypic heterogeneity of this disorder. We argue that only through such advances will we begin to define endophenotypes that can benefit from targeted, hypothesis-driven treatments. We review the latest technologies used to identify and characterize the genetics underlying ASD and then consider three themes-single-gene disorders, the gender bias in ASD, and the genetics of neurological comorbidities-that highlight ways in which we can use genetics to define the many phenotypes within the autism spectrum. We also present current clinical guidelines for genetic testing in ASD and their implications for prognosis and treatment. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved. Source


News Article
Site: http://www.rdmag.com/rss-feeds/all/rss.xml/all

An average of 30 years had passed since the traumatic events that had left them depressed, anxious, irritable, hypervigilant, unable to sleep well and prone to nightmares. But for 12 people who were involved in a UCLA-led study -- survivors of rape, car accidents, domestic abuse and other traumas -- an unobtrusive patch on the forehead provided considerable relief from post-traumatic stress disorder. "We're talking about patients for whom illness had almost become a way of life," said Dr. Andrew Leuchter, the study's senior author, a UCLA professor of psychiatry and director of the neuromodulation division at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. "Yet they were coming in and saying, 'For the first time in years I slept through the night,' or 'My nightmares are gone.' The effect was extraordinarily powerful." The research, which has been presented at three scholarly conferences and published in the journal Neuromodulation: Technology at the Neural Interface, revealed the first evidence that trigeminal nerve stimulation, or TNS, holds promise for treating chronic PTSD. "Most patients with PTSD do get some benefit from existing treatments, but the great majority still have symptoms and suffer for years from those symptoms," said Leuchter, who is also a staff psychiatrist at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. "This could be a breakthrough for patients who have not been helped adequately by existing treatments." Based on the study, which was conducted primarily with civilian volunteers, the scientists are recruiting military veterans, who are at an even greater risk for PTSD, for the next phase of their research. TNS is a new form of neuromodulation, a class of treatment in which external energy sources are used to make subtle adjustments to the brain's electrical wiring -- sometimes with devices that are implanted in the body, but increasingly with external devices. The approach is gaining popularity for treating drug-resistant neurological and psychiatric disorders. TNS harnesses current from a 9-volt battery to power a patch that is placed on the user's forehead. While the person sleeps, the patch sends a low-level current to cranial nerves that run through the forehead, sending signals to parts of the brain that help regulate mood, behavior and cognition, including the amygdala and media prefrontal cortex, as well as the autonomic nervous system. Prior research has shown abnormal activity in those areas of the brains of PTSD sufferers. "The chance to have an impact on debilitating diseases with this elegant and simple technology is very satisfying," said Dr. Ian Cook, the study's lead author. Cook co-invented TNS at UCLA; now on leave from his faculty position, he is serving as chief medical officer at Los Angeles-based Neurosigma, Inc., which is licensing the technology and funding the research. Neurosigma is already marketing the technology overseas and has plans to make it available to patients in the U.S. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of the U.S. population but a much higher proportion of military veterans. An estimated 17 percent of active military personnel experience symptoms, and some 30 percent of veterans returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan have had symptoms. Sufferers often have difficulty working with others, raising children and maintaining healthy relationships. Many try to avoid situations that could trigger flashbacks, which makes them reluctant to socialize or venture from their homes, leaving them isolated. People with the disorder are six times more likely than their healthy counterparts to commit suicide, and they have an increased risk for marital difficulties and dropping out of school. For the recently completed study, the researchers recruited people with chronic PTSD and severe depression who were already being treated with psychotherapy, medication or both. While continuing their conventional treatment, the volunteers wore the patch while they slept, for eight hours a night. Before and after the eight-week study, the study subjects completed questionnaires about the severity of their symptoms and the extent to which the disorders affected their work, parenting and socializing. The severity of participants' PTSD symptoms dropped by an average of more than 30 percent, and the severity of their depression dropped by an average of more than 50 percent, the study reports. In fact, for one-quarter of the study subjects, PTSD symptoms went into remission. In addition, study subjects generally said they felt more able to participate in their daily activities. Leuchter is working with the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System to recruit 74 veterans who have served in the military since 9/11 for the study's next phase. Half will receive real treatment and half will be given a fake TNS patch, in the way a placebo pill would be used in a drug trial. At the end of the study, subjects who were using the fake patch will have the option of undergoing treatment with an actual TNS system. TNS treatment has been shown to be effective in treating drug-resistant epilepsy and treatment-resistant depression. "PTSD is one of the invisible wounds of war," Cook said. "The scars are inside but they can be just as debilitating as visible scars. So it's tremendous to be working on a contribution that could improve the lives of so many brave and courageous people who have made sacrifices for the good of our country."


News Article | May 3, 2012
Site: www.computerworld.in

In a bid to strengthen its enterprise marketing and management division, IBM plans to acquire customer analytics software company Tealeaf Technology. In a bid to strengthen its enterprise marketing and management division, IBM plans to acquire customer analytics software company Tealeaf Technology, it has announced. Tealeaf Technology provides marketing officers with qualitative Web and digital analytics, showing how people shop online and ways companies can improve to retain customers and make more sales. The privately held company, which is based in San Francisco, provides real-time customer data about shoppers, including those who use mobile devices for shopping. IBM will be able to offer chief marketing officers and others in marketing "qualitative insights into how customers actually experience their brands" as well as showing marketers "how to react in real time" in marketing, sales and service, said Craig Hayman, general manager of Industry Solutions at IBM, in a news release about the planned acquisition. IBM has invested more than US$3 billion in its smarter commerce initiative after previously acquiring Coremetrics, Unica and DemandTec. IBM expects that more companies will demand services for e-commerce as analytics become more vital in online transactions. Tealeaf's technology can be deployed into an existing e-commerce business, without modifications, allowing companies to capture customer data and react to that data "immediately," CEO Rebecca Ward said in the release. The deal is expected to be completed in the second quarter. IBM then expects it will continue supporting Tealeaf's 450 global customers, including 30 Fortune 100 companies in financial services, travel, retail and communication services, among other sectors. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. The news was released in the midst of the IBM Impact Global Conference in Las Vegas.


News Article | September 12, 2016
Site: http://www.biosciencetechnology.com/rss-feeds/all/rss.xml/all

Picture a little boy imitating his father shaving in the mirror or a little girl wobbling proudly in her mother's high heels. From infancy, we learn by watching other people, then use those memories to help us predict outcomes and make decisions in the future. Now a UCLA-Caltech study has pinpointed the individual neurons in the brain that support observational learning. Published this week in Nature Communications, the findings could provide scientists with a better understanding of how the brain goes awry in conditions like learning disorders and social anxiety disorder. In a secondary finding, the research team also discovered that neurons in the same region fire in response to schadenfreude -- the pleasure of seeing someone else make a blunder or lose a game. "Observational learning is the cornerstone for our ability to change behavior," said senior author Dr. Itzhak Fried, a professor of neurosurgery and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. "It's human nature to want to learn from other people's mistakes rather than commit your own." Said lead author Michael Hill, a former UCLA and California Institute of Technology scientist now based at the Swiss National Science Foundation: "The ability to quickly learn from others can give humans a critical edge over other species. The skill also contributes to someone feeling he or she is a member of one culture versus another." Prior to the study, Fried implanted electrodes deep inside the brains of people with epilepsy being treated at UCLA -- a standard medical procedure used to identify the origins of epileptic seizures prior to surgery. The researchers used the electrodes to record the activity of individual neurons in the brains of 10 people playing a card game. Players were instructed to draw a card from one of two decks. One deck included 70 percent of the winning cards, while the other deck contained only 30 percent of the winning cards. Each person took turns choosing cards on his or her own and then watched two other players draw cards from the same decks. By learning from the results of their own and the other players' choices, the participants quickly zeroed in on the deck containing better cards. The research team was surprised to discover that individual neurons deep in the frontal lobe reacted as the patient considered whether they or their opponents would pick a winning card. Called the anterior cingulate cortex, the region plays an important role in high-level functions like decision making, reward anticipation, social interaction and emotion. "The firing rate of individual neurons altered according to what the patient expected to happen," Hill said. "For example, would their opponents win or lose? The same cells also changed their response after the patient discovered whether their prediction was on target, reflecting their learning process." The findings suggest that individual nerve cells in the person's brain used the details gleaned by observing the other players to calculate which deck to choose a card from next. "The anterior cingulate cortex acts as the central executive of human decision-making, yet we know little about the neuronal machinery at this level," said Fried, who is also a professor of neurosurgery at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University. According to the authors, the findings will help scientists better understand the organization of neurons in the anterior cingulate cortex and exactly what they do. Fried and Hill propose that active stimulation of the neurons in the anterior cingulate cortex could influence human behavior and have possible benefits for people struggling with learning disabilities or difficulty reading social cues. The researchers observed that the cells in the same region fired vigorously each time a person won or the other players lost, and decreased their activity whenever the person lost or the other players won. "While obviously we don't know precisely what it is that these neurons encode, it's fascinating to see something like schadenfreude reflected in the activity of individual neurons in the human brain," Hill said.


News Article
Site: http://www.biosciencetechnology.com/rss-feeds/all/rss.xml/all

An average of 30 years had passed since the traumatic events that had left them depressed, anxious, irritable, hypervigilant, unable to sleep well and prone to nightmares. But for 12 people who were involved in a UCLA-led study — survivors of rape, car accidents, domestic abuse and other traumas — an unobtrusive patch on the forehead provided considerable relief from post-traumatic stress disorder. “We’re talking about patients for whom illness had almost become a way of life,” said Dr. Andrew Leuchter, the study’s senior author, a UCLA professor of psychiatry and director of the neuromodulation division at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. “Yet they were coming in and saying, ‘For the first time in years I slept through the night,’ or ‘My nightmares are gone.’ The effect was extraordinarily powerful.” The research, which has been presented at three scholarly conferences and published in the journal Neuromodulation: Technology at the Neural Interface, revealed the first evidence that trigeminal nerve stimulation, or TNS, holds promise for treating chronic PTSD. “Most patients with PTSD do get some benefit from existing treatments, but the great majority still have symptoms and suffer for years from those symptoms,” said Leuchter, who is also a staff psychiatrist at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System. “This could be a breakthrough for patients who have not been helped adequately by existing treatments.” Based on the study, which was conducted primarily with civilian volunteers, the scientists are recruiting military veterans, who are at an even greater risk for PTSD, for the next phase of their research. TNS is a new form of neuromodulation, a class of treatment in which external energy sources are used to make subtle adjustments to the brain’s electrical wiring — sometimes with devices that are implanted in the body, but increasingly with external devices. The approach is gaining popularity for treating drug-resistant neurological and psychiatric disorders. TNS harnesses current from a 9-volt battery to power a patch that is placed on the user’s forehead. While the person sleeps, the patch sends a low-level current to cranial nerves that run through the forehead, sending signals to parts of the brain that help regulate mood, behavior and cognition, including the amygdala and media prefrontal cortex, as well as the autonomic nervous system. Prior research has shown abnormal activity in those areas of the brains of PTSD sufferers. “The chance to have an impact on debilitating diseases with this elegant and simple technology is very satisfying,” said Dr. Ian Cook, the study’s lead author. Cook co-invented TNS at UCLA; now on leave from his faculty position, he is serving as chief medical officer at Los Angeles-based Neurosigma, Inc., which is licensing the technology and funding the research. Neurosigma is already marketing the technology overseas and has plans to make it available to patients in the U.S. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of the U.S. population but a much higher proportion of military veterans. An estimated 17 percent of active military personnel experience symptoms, and some 30 percent of veterans returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan have had symptoms. Sufferers often have difficulty working with others, raising children and maintaining healthy relationships. Many try to avoid situations that could trigger flashbacks, which makes them reluctant to socialize or venture from their homes, leaving them isolated. People with the disorder are six times more likely than their healthy counterparts to commit suicide, and they have an increased risk for marital difficulties and dropping out of school. For the recently completed study, the researchers recruited people with chronic PTSD and severe depression who were already being treated with psychotherapy, medication or both. While continuing their conventional treatment, the volunteers wore the patch while they slept, for eight hours a night. Before and after the eight-week study, the study subjects completed questionnaires about the severity of their symptoms and the extent to which the disorders affected their work, parenting and socializing. The severity of participants’ PTSD symptoms dropped by an average of more than 30 percent, and the severity of their depression dropped by an average of more than 50 percent, the study reports. In fact, for one-quarter of the study subjects, PTSD symptoms went into remission. In addition, study subjects generally said they felt more able to participate in their daily activities. Leuchter is working with the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System to recruit 74 veterans who have served in the military since 9/11 for the study’s next phase. Half will receive real treatment and half will be given a fake TNS patch, in the way a placebo pill would be used in a drug trial. At the end of the study, subjects who were using the fake patch will have the option of undergoing treatment with an actual TNS system. TNS treatment has been shown to be effective in treating drug-resistant epilepsy and treatment-resistant depression. “PTSD is one of the invisible wounds of war,” Cook said. “The scars are inside but they can be just as debilitating as visible scars. So it’s tremendous to be working on a contribution that could improve the lives of so many brave and courageous people who have made sacrifices for the good of our country.”

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