In a new study, a team of researchers from the United Kingdom analyzed data from UK Biobank and found that COVID-19 survivors may suffer from a loss of gray matter in regions of the brain with time.
The experiment included 782 volunteers whose brain scans were compared before the pandemic. The researchers also invited 394 survivors of COVID-19 to return for follow-up scans together with 388 healthy volunteers.
The authors write in their paper: “Our findings thus consistently relate to the loss of grey matter in limbic cortical areas directly linked to the primary olfactory and gustatory system, or areas in the brain related to the perception of senses such as smell and taste.”
According to a small study, led by the researchers from Georgia State University in Atlanta, patients who require oxygen therapy for COVID-19 have a lower volume of gray matter in the frontal lobe of the brain compared with patients who do not require supplemental oxygen.
For the study, the scientists analyzed the CT scans of 120 patients undergoing evaluations for neurological symptoms at a specialist hospital in Brescia, Italy. They assessed the amount of gray matter in the outer layer or cortex of the patients’ brains.
The analysis showed no significant differences in gray matter volume between the two groups, which were matched by age, gender, and other diseases. However, the researchers did notice differences among the patients with COVID-19: patients who needed oxygen therapy had reduced gray matter in the frontal lobes of their brain than those who did not.
According to a new study from Uppsala University in Sweden, using beta-blockers such as propranolol may help treat cerebral cavernous malformations – a condition that is characterized by misshapen blood vessels in the brain and other parts of the body.
The study was performed in collaboration with researchers at Uppsala University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and at IFOM – The FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology and the Mario Negri Institute of Pharmacological Research in Italy.
Lead author of the study Peetra Magnusson of the University’s Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, says: “We examined mice with vascular malformations in the brain – cavernomas or CCMs, as they’re called – that corresponded to the hereditary form of the condition in humans. The mice were given propranolol in their drinking water, and we were able to see that the cavernomas were becoming fewer and smaller. The blood vessels functioned better, too, with less leaking and improved contacts between their cells.”
A new study from Aarhus University in Denmark examined the effect of sugar intake and found that it altered the reward-processing circuitry of the brain similarly to addictive drugs.
A team of scientists checked the effects of sugar on the brain using a pig model. In the study, minipigs had access to a sucrose solution for 1 hour on 12 consecutive days. After sugar intake, brain scans were made within 24 hours.
After only 12 days of sucrose intake, the scientists could see major changes in the brain’s dopamine and opioid systems.
The lead researchers Michael Winterdahl says: “If sugar can change the brain’s reward system after only 12 days, as we saw in the case of the pigs, you can imagine that natural stimuli, such as learning or social interaction, are pushed into the background and replaced by sugar and/or other ‘artificial’ stimuli.”
A new study from the University of British Columbia, Canada, suggests that high school students taking music courses are doing significantly better on mathematics, science, and English exams compared to their peers who don’t take any music courses.
The researchers examined data from more than 112,000 students in public schools in British Columbia who finished school between 2012 and 2015. The sample contained data from those who completed at least one standardized exam for mathematics, science and English, and for whom the researchers had demographic information available.
One of the authors of the study, Martin Guhn, an assistant professor in UBC’s school of population and public health “Learning to play a musical instrument and playing in an ensemble is very demanding. A student has to learn to read music notation, develop eye-hand-mind coordination, develop keen listening skills, develop team skills for playing in an ensemble and develop the discipline to practice. All those learning experiences, and more, play a role in enhancing the learner’s cognitive capacities, executive functions, motivation to learn in school, and self-efficacy.”