Check out some of the papers that were recently published by DMCBH members:

Mark Cembrowski: The cell-type-specific spatial organization of the anterior thalamic nuclei of the mouse brain 

Journal: Cell Reports

Researchers studied how cells are arranged in a brain region called the anterior thalamic nuclei (ATN), which is important for various brain functions. Using advanced techniques, they identified three distinct types of cells within the ATN and mapped out their organization along different parts of the region. They also found differences in protein products and connections to other brain areas in one part of the ATN. This research sheds light on how the ATN works and provides a foundation for future studies on its functions. 


Daniel Vigo: Sociodemographic Correlates of Mental Health Treatment Seeking Among College Students: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 

Journal: Psychiatry Services

College students often face mental health challenges, but many do not seek treatment. This study aimed to understand sociodemographic disparities in seeking mental health treatment among college students and to quantify these differences. Researchers analyzed data from 21 studies published between 2007 and 2022, focusing on factors like sex, gender, race-ethnicity, sexual orientation, student type, year, and status. They found significant differences in treatment-seeking behaviors based on these factors. For example, racial-ethnic minority and international students reported lower treatment rates than White and domestic students, respectively. Female-identifying students were more likely to seek treatment than male-identifying students. Disparities in perceived need for treatment also contributed to these differences, particularly among male-identifying students. The study emphasizes the importance of addressing barriers to treatment and tailoring interventions to specific student subgroups to reduce disparities. 


Joanne Weinberg: Independent and Combined Effects of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and Prenatal Stress on Fetal HPA Axis Development 

Journal: International Journal of Molecular Sciences 

This study looked at how alcohol consumption and stress during pregnancy can affect the development of the fetal stress response system, called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Researchers studied a group of pregnant women and measured their alcohol intake and stress levels. They then analyzed samples of placental tissue and umbilical cord blood to see how these factors influenced certain biomarkers related to the fetal stress response system. They found that both alcohol consumption and stress during pregnancy were associated with changes in these biomarkers. Additionally, there seemed to be an interaction between alcohol consumption and stress, suggesting that the combination of the two may have a greater effect on fetal development than either factor alone. Overall, the study highlights the importance of understanding how lifestyle factors during pregnancy can impact fetal development. 


Lara Boyd, Ryan D’Arcy: Investigating female versus male differences in white matter neuroplasticity associated with complex visuo-motor learning 

Journal: Scientific Reports

This study used MRI scans to investigate how men and women’s brains change during motor skills training. They found that both genders showed improvement in movement skills over the training period. However, there were differences in how their brains changed: men had higher levels of a certain brain measure before training, while women showed significant changes in another measure during training. These findings suggest that men and women may experience different patterns of brain changes during motor learning, which could impact how we approach learning and rehabilitation. 


Teresa Liu-Ambrose: Prevention of Vascular Contributions to Cognitive Impairment and Dementia: The Role of Physical Activity and Exercise 

Journal: Stroke

Cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD) is a leading cause of dementia, but there are no specific drugs for it. Exercise, however, shows promise in preventing and lessening CSVD-related brain damage while improving thinking skills. Exercise helps control factors that affect blood vessels, improves how blood vessels work, and increases certain beneficial proteins. Different types of exercise, like aerobic or strength training, may have varying effects, especially between men and women. More research focusing on these differences and prioritizing strength training is needed to improve exercise recommendations for CSVD prevention and treatment. 


Fidel Vila-Rodriguez: Comparative effectiveness research trial for antidepressant incomplete and non-responders with treatment resistant depression (ASCERTAIN-TRD) a randomized clinical trial 

Journal: Molecular Psychiatry

This study aimed to find the best approach for patients with treatment-resistant depression, where standard treatments haven’t worked. They compared adding aripiprazole (a medication) or repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (a type of therapy) to switching to a different antidepressant. They studied 278 patients over 8 weeks, and found that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation was more effective than switching antidepressants, while aripiprazole showed some benefits too. This suggests that clinicians should consider repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation early on for treatment-resistant depression. 


Fidel Vila-Rodriguez: Incidence and contributing factors of dementia among people living with HIV in British Columbia, Canada, from 2002 to 2016: a retrospective cohort study 

Journal: BMJ Public Health

This study looked at the occurrence of dementia in people living with HIV (PLWH) in British Columbia, Canada. They found that dementia is more common in PLWH, with 2% developing it during the study period. Factors like low CD4 cell count, uncontrolled HIV, older age, schizophrenia, traumatic brain injury, delirium, substance use disorder, and mood/anxiety disorders increased the risk of dementia. However, starting antiretroviral therapy between 2005-2010 lowered the risk. The study suggests that managing HIV, mental health, substance use, and other conditions could help reduce dementia risk in PLWH. 


Khaled Abdelrahman: A M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor-specific positive allosteric modulator VU0486846 reduces neurogliosis in female Alzheimer’s mice 

Journal: Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a common form of dementia, affecting more women than men. In AD, the build-up of beta-amyloid (Aβ) in the brain triggers inflammation, worsening the condition. Previous research showed that a drug called VU0486846 can improve memory and reduce Aβ build-up in female mice with AD-like symptoms. However, it wasn’t clear if these benefits were linked to reducing inflammation in the brain. In this study, researchers treated female mice with AD-like symptoms with VU0486846 for 8 weeks and found that it reduced inflammation in the brain by decreasing the activation of certain cells called microglia and astrocytes. This suggests that drugs like VU0486846 may have potential for treating AD by reducing inflammation, especially in women. 


Christian Schütz: Adult self-reported childhood maltreatment types are associated with treatment satisfaction and alcohol relapse in patients with comorbid substance use and mental health disorders 

Journal: The American Journal on Addictions

This study looked at how childhood maltreatment affects treatment outcomes for individuals with both substance use and mental health disorders (concurrent disorders; CD). They surveyed 258 CD patients who were in treatment, asking about their experiences of childhood maltreatment and their satisfaction with treatment. They found that emotional neglect was linked to overall dissatisfaction with treatment, while physical neglect was associated with feeling unsatisfied with the outcome of care. Additionally, childhood sexual abuse increased the likelihood of relapse to alcohol use. These findings suggest that childhood experiences of neglect and abuse can impact how individuals with CD experience treatment and their risk of substance use relapse. More research is needed to understand how these experiences shape treatment outcomes over time. This study is important because it’s the first to show how different types of childhood maltreatment affect treatment outcomes for CD patients. 


Ruth Grunau, Steven Miller: Pain Exposure and Brain Connectivity in Preterm Infants 

Journal: JAMA Network Open

This study investigated how early-life exposure to painful procedures affects brain development and later neurodevelopment in very preterm infants, focusing on potential differences between boys and girls. They recruited 193 preterm infants from two neonatal intensive care units in Toronto and analyzed data from 150 infants. Pain exposure was measured by the number of invasive procedures in the first weeks after birth. 

The study found that early-life pain exposure was linked to slower brain maturation in female infants, affecting global and local efficiency of brain connectivity. In the whole group, greater pain exposure was associated with lower brain efficiency and weaker connections in certain brain regions. These alterations in brain connectivity were also related to cognitive outcomes at 18 months, particularly in the striatum region. 

Overall, the study highlights the impact of early-life pain on brain development in very preterm infants, particularly in females. These findings underscore the importance of managing pain in newborns and understanding its long-term effects on brain health and cognitive development.