Evidence for cognitive-enhancing effects of modafinil and methylphenidate is surprisingly thin – perhaps because wakefulness-promotion and cognitive enhancement are confused

There is huge media and other interest in cognitive-enhancing drugs. A few minutes searching on the internet will uncover stories of students and others using modafinil and some other compounds in an effort to enhance their own cognitive function. The evidence for the cognitive-enhancing effects of these compounds is surprisingly thin, however, despite claims about… Read More

The psychostimulant modafinil facilitates water maze performance and augments synaptic potentiation in dentate gyrus.

The psychostimulant modafinil facilitates water maze performance and augments synaptic potentiation in dentate gyrus. [download here] Neuropharmacology. 2010 Jul-Aug;59(1-2):9-19. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2010.03.010. Epub 2010 Mar 27. Tsanov M, Lyons DG, Barlow S, González Reyes RE, O’Mara SM. Source Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland. Abstract Modafinil is a psychostimulant drug used widely for the treatment of… Read More

Rosiglitazone enhances learning, place cell activity, and synaptic plasticity in middle-aged rats.

Rosiglitazone enhances learning, place cell activity, and synaptic plasticity in middle-aged rats. Wang BW, Hok V, Della-Chiesa A, Callaghan C, Barlow S, Tsanov M, Bechara R, Irving E, Virley DJ, Upton N, O’Mara SM. [Download here] Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Apr;33(4):835.e13-30. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.08.013. Epub 2011 Oct 4. Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. Abstract As an antidiabetic agent, rosiglitazone (ROSI) binds and activates peroxisome proliferator-activator… Read More

Maybe neuroscience needs ‘malbrain’ to complement cell biology’s ‘cancer’ in the public mind…***

Previously, I wondered why there was no hue-and-cry over the huge disinvestment in brain research over the past decade, and why, by comparison, cancer research does well.* ‘Cancer‘ is understood by the public at large, by the political establishment, by the pharmaceutical companies and a host of other stakeholders as a single-word issue of great and pressing concern to… Read More

Age and cortisol levels modulate judgment of positive and negative facial expressions.

Age and cortisol levels modulate judgment of positive and negative facial expressions. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2012 Jun;37(6):827-35. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.09.015. Epub 2011 Oct 26. [Download here] Feeney J, Gaffney P, O’Mara SM. Source School of Psychology and Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. feeneyj@tcd.ie Abstract There is some evidence that older adults respond to emotional stimuli differently to young adults, and… Read More

Why the lack of spending on neuroscience? A comparison with cancer research spending, and a neologism (‘malbrain’).

Previously, I wondered why there is no hue and cry about the loss of research budgets for neuroscience. Comparing research spends between areas is not easy. This paper (Sobocki et al., 2006) has some data: Abstract This article is a markedly condensed summary of a longer report [Resource allocation to brain research in Europe (RABRE), part 2] that… Read More

Hippocampal dynamics predict interindividual cognitive differences in rats.

Hippocampal dynamics predict interindividual cognitive differences in rats. Take-home message: Individual memory in old rats was assessed using DNMS. We recorded hippocampal CA1 place cells as these rats explored a familiar environment; 27% of recorded pyramidal neurons showed substantial delayed onsets of place field activity. This age-related firing onset delay occurred under basal conditions; it was… Read More

Why no public hue and cry over neuroscience disinvestment? Does nobody care about brain diseases and brain disorders?

The past few years have seen astonishing disinvestment by the pharmaceutical industry in neuroscience research. There have been closures announced of whole research divisions by virtually all the major pharmaceutical companies. They are ceasing research in neuroscience because of its complexity, cost, and their current lack of capacity to deliver a pipeline of meaningful market… Read More

Age-related declines in delayed non-match-to-sample performance (DNMS) are reversed by the novel 5HT6 receptor antagonist SB742457.

Age-related declines in delayed non-match-to-sample performance (DNMS) are reversed by the novel 5HT6 receptor antagonist SB742457 (available here) Callaghan CK, Hok V, Della-Chiesa A, Virley DJ, Upton N, O’Mara SM. Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland. callaghc@tcd.ie Abstract Alterations in synaptic plasticity and neurocognitive function with age have been well documented in the literature. These changes are… Read More

CREB selectively controls learning-induced structural remodeling of neurons.

Learn Mem. 2012 Jul 18;19(8):330-6. doi: 10.1101/lm.025817.112. CREB selectively controls learning-induced structural remodeling of neurons. [download] Middei S, Spalloni A, Longone P, Pittenger C, O’Mara SM, Marie H, Ammassari-Teule M. Source CNR-National Research Council, Rome 00143, Italy. s.middei@hsantalucia.it Abstract The modulation of synaptic strength associated with learning is post-synaptically regulated by changes in density and shape of dendritic spines. The transcription factor… Read More