The NARSAD Feed: NARSAD Researchers in the News, College Mental Health Survey, Sports May Focus the Brain

Posted: March 25, 2011

Story highlights


NARSAD-Funded Researchers Find New Way to Uncover Drug Targets for Brain and Behavior Disorders
NARSAD Distinguished Investigators James Eberwine, Ph.D., and Tamas Bartfai, Ph.D., have found a way to uncover potential drug targets that have so far remained hidden from researchers’ view. By applying the new method to a type of nerve cell critical to regulating body temperature, the authors found more than 400 “receptors” (structures that bind other molecules, triggering some effect on the cell) responding to neurotransmitters, hormones, and other chemical signals. This represents 20 to 30 times more receptors than previous studies had identified. The technique, described in detail in a review article in the March 11, 2011 issue of the journal Pharmacology and Therapeutics, may be applied to finding “hidden” receptors in other types of nerve cells, expanding the repertoire of potential drug targets for diseases ranging from schizophrenia to Parkinson’s disease.

NARSAD Investigator Makes Major Breakthrough in Understanding Brain Function
NARSAD Independent Investigator Louis-Eric Trudeau, Ph.D., and a team of researchers from the University of Montreal and McGill University have discovered a type of “cellular bilingualism” – a phenomenon that allows a single neuron to use two different methods of communication to exchange information. “Our work could facilitate the identification of mechanisms that disrupt the function of dopaminergic, serotonergic and cholinergic neurons in diseases such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s and depression,” Dr. Trudeau said. The researchers found that many neurons in the brain are able to control cerebral activity by simultaneously using two chemical messengers – dopamine and glutamate.

Nearly a Third of College Students Have Had Mental-Health Counseling, Study Finds
About a third of college students have sought mental health counseling, but they are much more likely to say they experience anxiety and stress than they are to report trouble with more severe problems like violence or substance abuse. That’s one finding from the “Consortium Mental Health and Counseling Study,” a survey of more than 25,000 students released on Monday by Naspa and the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Pennsylvania State University’s main campus. Although some respondents were in treatment for a brain and behavior disorder, the majority were not.

How Sports May Focus the Brain
Who can cross a busy road better, a varsity wrestler or a psychology major? That question, which seems to beg for a punch line, actually provided the motivation for an unusual and rather beguiling new experiment in which student athletes were pitted against regular collegians in a test of traffic-dodging skill. The results were revelatory.

by Barbara Wheeler, NARSAD manager of communications and media relations