Hallucinations? They may just be caused by a fold in the brain

first_imgShare on Twitter LinkedIn Share Imagine hearing a voice that screams, “You’re no good at this and you’re going to fail every exam” but not knowing where it came from. Or suddenly seeing a poisonous snake slithering towards you. Even if you’ve never had a hallucination – a sensory event that is experienced as real, despite having no material world cause – it’s easy to imagine how frightening they can be.Despite advances in brain imaging technology, we still have a limited understanding of the biological processes behind hallucinations. But new research has discovered that a key region of the brain, the paracingulate sulcus, may underlie the experience. This delivers a glimmer of insight into why some people are more likely to hallucinate and provides a neural target for treatments that aim to tackle such terrifying experiences.When someone has a hallucination, the basic problem is that they fail to distinguish between real events and those created by the imagination. As a result, hallucinations have been described as an impairment in “reality monitoring”. Imagination centreRecent studies that have taken images of the brain using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) have shown there is an area of the frontal lobe particularly related to imagination. The outer layer of tissue (cortex) around a fold (sulcus) in the brain known as the paracingulate activates when you imagine yourself in a future scenario or imagine what others are thinking or feeling. We also know from studying patients with brain damage that the frontal lobe in general is important for complex human behaviours, such as planning and our sense of self.The key role played by the paracingulate sulcus area in imagination suggests that it is also involved in reality monitoring. If this part of the brain functions poorly then it might influence your ability to differentiate reality from imagination – and so increase the likelihood that you could experience hallucinations.To test this theory, Jane Garrison and her colleagues at the University of Cambridge, undertook a large-scale study of paracingulate sulcus anatomy. This particular brain fold can look very different in different people: in some brains, it is long and uninterrupted; in others, it is short and broken up – and some people have virtually no paracingulate sulcus at all.Longer folds actually mean there is less brain cell-carrying grey matter tissue in the area. Other individual differences in sulcus anatomy can also affect the connections to the rest of the brain through the white matter tissue that carries neural signals. These structural variations can affect the local processing that takes place in a brain region.The researchers measured the paracingulate sulcus length of three groups of people using structural MRI brain scans: schizophrenic patients who experienced hallucinations, schizophrenics who did not, and a control group of healthy individuals. Remarkably, those patients who experienced hallucinations had significantly reduced paracingulate sulcus length compared to those patients who had no hallucinations.Analyses indicated that a reduction in sulcus length by 1cm led to an increased likelihood of experiencing hallucinations of nearly 20%. Plus, sulcus length did not differ between the schizophrenics without hallucinations and the control individuals. This suggests that sulcus length specifically relates to the experience of hallucinations rather than schizophrenia more generally.Shedding light on schizophreniaInterestingly, a shorter paracingulate sulcus was also more likely no matter what kind of hallucinations the patients suffered, whether they heard voices, saw images, felt touches, or smelt odours that weren’t real. This links the region to hallucinatory experience in general, rather than specific problems with, for example, visual or aural perception.This study doesn’t just shed light on why some patients with schizophrenia might experience hallucinations while others might not. It also tells us more fundamentally about the neural basis for the hallucinatory process. In understanding what makes some people more likely to experience hallucinations, we begin to appreciate the anatomical features of the brain that underpin our experience of self and human consciousness.The result is that the paracingulate sulcus may become an important target in new brain therapies that aim to tackle local regions of dysfunction. Techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation, in which an electromagnetic field is placed just above the scalp and then disturbed, have the power to safely change activity levels in cortical brain areas. Now, researchers hoping to improve the lives of hallucination sufferers have an area pinpointed on the cortical map from where to start.By Charlotte Rae, Sackler research fellow in clinical medicine, University of SussexThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.center_img Email Share on Facebook Pinterestlast_img read more

Neural networks — why larger brains are more susceptible to mental illnesses

first_imgShare In humans and other mammals, the cerebral cortex is responsible for sensory, motor, and cognitive functions. Understanding the organization of the neuronal networks in the cortex should provide insights into the computations that they carry out.A study publishing on July 21st in open access journal PLOS Biology shows that the global architecture of the cortical networks in primates (with large brains) and rodents (with small brains) is organized by common principles. Despite the overall network invariances, primate brains have much weaker long-distance connections, which could explain why large brains are more susceptible to certain mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer disease.In earlier work, Zoltán Toroczkai, from the University of Notre-Dame, USA, Mária Ercsey-Ravasz, from Babes-Bolyai University, Romania and Henry Kennedy, from the University Lyon, France, and colleagues combined tracing studies in macaques, which visualize connections in the brain, with network theory to show that the cortical network structure in this primate is governed by the so-called exponential distance rule (EDR). The EDR describes a consistent relationship between distances and connection strength. Consistent with the tracing results, the EDR predicts that there are many fewer long-range axons (nerve fibers that function as transmission lines of the nervous system) than short ones, and this can be quantified by a mathematical equation. At the level of cortical areas (such as visual cortex or auditory cortex) examined by the tracing studies, this means the closer two areas are to each other, the more connections exist between them.In this study, the researchers compare the features of the cortical networks in the macaque – a mammal with a large cortex – with those in the mouse, with its much smaller cortex. They used detailed tracing data to quantify connections between functional areas, and those formed the basis for the analysis. Despite the substantial differences in the cortex size between the species and other apparent differences in cortex organization, they found that the fundamental statistical features of all networks followed the EDR.Based on these results, the researchers hypothesize that the EDR describes an effective design principle that remains constant during the evolution of mammalian brains of different sizes. They present mathematical arguments that support the universal applicability of the EDR as a governing principle of cortical connectivity, as well as further experimental support from high-resolution tracer experiments in small brain areas from macaque, mouse, and mouse lemur (a primate with a very small brain).Their results, the researchers conclude, “suggest that the EDR plays a key role across the mammalian order to optimize the layout of the inter-areal cortical network allowing larger-brained animals to maintain communication efficiencies combined with increased neuron numbers”.As the EDR predicts and the tracing data here confirm, neuronal connections weaken exponentially with distance. Assuming the EDR can be applied to all mammalian brains, this suggests that long-distance connections could be quite weak in the human cortex, which is approximately five times larger than that of the macaque. If true, the researchers say, one could speculate that the low weight of human long-range connections may contribute to an increased susceptibility to disconnection syndromes, such as have been proposed for Alzheimer disease and schizophrenia”. Email LinkedIncenter_img Pinterest Share on Twitter Share on Facebooklast_img read more

NMDOH, NMED Issue Smoke Advisory For Most Of State

first_imgUnder 5 miles, the air quality is unhealthy for young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness*. Outdoor activity should be minimized.Around 3 miles, young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness should avoid all outdoor activities.Around 1 mile, the air quality is unhealthy for everyone. People should remain indoors and avoid all outdoor activities including running errands. Unless an evacuation order has been issued, stay inside your home, indoor workplace, or in a safe shelter. NMDOH News:SANTA FE –The New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Environment Department today issue a smoke advisory for the Rio Grande Valley from Taos to Las Cruces and all surrounding communities from 9 p.m. through noon tomorrow, June 19 due to smoke from multiple wildfires burning in Arizona and southwest New Mexico.Smoke from wildfires may cause people to have more severe reactions if they are infected with COVID-19. If you have severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing or chest pain, call 911 or go to your nearest hospital. Learn more about how smoke affects those sick with COVID-19 at http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/smoke-faq.htmlArizona’s Mangum Fire (57,000 acres) near the Grand Canyon, Bush Fire (104,000 acres) near Phoenix, and Bringham Fire (15,000 acres) in the San Francisco Mountains are all expected to be very active now through overnight as relative humidity levels drop into the single digits.In New Mexico, the Good and Tadpole fires (15,000 acres) in the Gila National Forest and the Dillon Fire in the San Mateo Mountains northwest of Truth or Consequences are expected to be active as well.Since these impacts are expected to occur overnight, it is recommended that all residents – especially those with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), interstitial lung disease (ILD) or lung cancer, heart disease, adults over age 65, young children, and pregnant women should take precautions to limit smoke exposure by closing windows before bedtime and turning off evaporative (swamp) coolers until the smoke lifts and visibility improves to about 5 miles.As is the case with all wildfires, your eyes are your best tools to determine if it is safe to be outside. Use the 5-3-1 Method. If visibility is: Additional tips for what to do during this and other smoke advisories are offered by the Department of Health at https://nmtracking.org/environment/air/IndoorQuality.html and https://nmtracking.org/environment/air/FireAndSmoke.html.Given that heat is also a factor now through much of next week, New Mexicans may also need to take steps to avoid heat-related illnesses. NMDOH offers heat safety information tips at https://nmtracking.org/health/heatstress/Heat.html.last_img read more

Brockton sorts office

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Indian LPO Pangea3 opens in UK in European expansion drive

first_imgIndian legal process outsourcing (LPO) provider Pangea3 has opened an office in London as part of a concerted expansion drive in Europe. Brian Allan, vice-president of legal services in Europe, will head the office on London’s South Bank. He said the decision was taken because the LPO market in Europe has become increasingly buoyant over the last year. Around 80% of Pangea3’s clients are general counsel and 20% are law firms. The LPO provider operates facilities in Delhi and Mumbai, with headquarters in New York. Co-chief executive David Perla claimed that the company’s expansion in Europe will allow it to increase revenues by 15% over the coming year. Perla said that Pangea3 will recruit ‘at least’ 100 more lawyers in Delhi and Mumbai by the end of 2010, adding to its existing 450-strong workforce. Allan said that over the last two and a half months, the company has already recruited 100 operational staff in India. Allan added: ‘We have been in the US for more than five years and managing our European clients from there. But our European clients are demanding more services and attention.’ Pangea3 operates one other European office, in Malta. Indian research company Value Notes ranks Pangea3, CPA Global and Integreon and as the three ‘pacesetters’ in the global LPO market. CPA and Integreon already have London offices. Pangea3 names multinationals General Electric, Sony and American Express among its LPO clients.last_img read more

Workers’ rights: View from the hot seat

first_imgTo continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Subscribe now for unlimited access Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletterslast_img read more

Knights acquisition to create £40m firm

first_imgRegional commercial firm Knights Professional Services has said that it is ‘in advanced talks’ to acquire regional firm Darbys Solicitors. The deal, expected to complete in January, will create a firm with a turnover of more than £40m and 300 professionals in seven offices. Knights was one of the first firms to be backed by a private equity investor, selling a stake to Hamilton Bradshaw Capital Partners in 2012. The firm has offices in Staffordshire, Cheshire, Gloucestershire and Derbyshire. Earlier this year it reported profits of £3.4m on a turnover of £12.4m in 2013/14. Chief executive David Beech (pictured, right) said the acquisition of Darbys would push Knights into the top 100 UK law firms by revenue. ‘Knights set an ambitious business objective to become a top-100 law firm by 2017 – and, with the purchase of Darbys, we have achieved that target a year early. We are proud of the growth that Knights has seen over the past two years in particular – which has seen us open in two new locations, appoint more than 150 new professionals and double our turnover,’ he said. Darbys is a full service firm with a national client portfolio. It has offices in Oxford, Manchester and Colchester. Under the deal the firm will become part of the Knights brand.Managing partner Simon McCrum (pictured, left) said: ‘The two firms have a complementary offering – combining to develop our existing strengths. It was clear from the beginning that David and I could see immediately that the two firms together will produce a superb business.’Beech said Knights would continue an acquisition programme ‘throughout 2016 and beyond to pursue our passion to be a leading regional professional services business’. The firm said it is ‘actively seeking professional services businesses to add to its core law offering’. Its main focus is on accountancy groups, tax specialists and property advisers located outside the major cities.last_img read more


first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to LinkedInLinkedInLinkedInScotland TranServ have again asked us to help spread the word again regarding their planned total closure on a busy section of the Dumfries bypass. This is to allow them to carry out the final stages of a £6 million maintenance programme.The work will take place under a closure of the A75 from the A76 (Glasgow Road roundabout to the A701 Edinburgh Road roundabout at Dalscone Farm) from 7.00pm on 18 September to 6.00am on 21 September 2015During this time traffic will be diverted through Dumfries and road users are being urged to plan their journeys, especially if they have on-going connections.Scotland TranServ on behalf of Transport Scotland will carry out this final stage in three phases, upgrading the road surface to ensure the longevity of this route for years to come and supporting vital links to the ferry ports at Cairnryan. A further £1 million is being invested in the Dumfries by-pass in the final stage of a £6 million maintenance programme. Businesses can view and print the official TranServ Poster by clicking hereMotorists can keep up to date with real time traffic information by visiting the Traffic Scotland website and following their Twitter feed.You can also keep up to date with all local traffic at the DGWGO Traffic PageScotland TranServ would like to thank local businesses, residents and motorists for their patience while this essential maintenance is carried out. Proposed Diverions – click for larger viewlast_img read more

Africa eyes $100 billion bilateral trade with India

first_img“Now we expect the bilateral trade to exceed $100 billion in the next two years, helped by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push for India-Africa partnership.” Image courtesy: YouTube “Now we expect the bilateral trade to exceed $100 billion in the next two years, helped by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push for India-Africa partnership.” Image courtesy: YouTubeThe bilateral trade between India and Africa is expected to touch $100 billion in the next two years, as the continent advances towards industrialisation – according to a top official of the African Development Bank (AfDB).“In 2005-06 the total bilateral trade between India and Africa stood at $11.7 billion, which has reached to $56.9 billion by 2015-16,” Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, told local media.“Now we expect the bilateral trade to exceed $100 billion in the next two years, helped by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push for India-Africa partnership.”Adesina went on to mention that sectors such as power, pharma, information-communication technology and the services sector will contribute to the doubling of bilateral trade with India.“AfDB is heavily investing in building infrastructure in Africa to build connectivity between the coastal countries and land-locked countries. We are investing in ports and rails. India has an expertise in this infrastructure.”Adesina also added that the AfDC would also encourage the investment in the solar sector – through its Energy Inclusion Fund of $500 million to provide finance to the small and medium enterprises in the off-grid power renewable energy sector.“That fund [Energy Inclusion Fund] will invest anything between $3-30 million dollars in companies that are doing renewable energy generation anything below 30 megawatt. Africa has the potential to generate 11 terawatt of solar power.”Set against the current global energy consumption rate of 15 terawatt, the potential of Africa’s solar power industry could be largely beneficial for sustainably dealing with the world’s excessive power use.The African region alone has set its focus on electrification, with an ambitious target to connect around 130 million people to the power grid.“Africa can’t develop in the dark. Africa is absolutely tired of being in dark. So that’s why AfDB is investing $12 billion in the electricity sector in next five years and by 2025, we will have invested $34 billion of our money in the power and energy sector,” said Adesina.During the five-day annual meeting, the bankers of the African nations will have discussions on the development agenda and increasing engagement with India on various economic and financial fronts.“We want to work with India on the areas of processing and value addition so that Africa doesn’t only remain a raw material exporter, but also add value to the products that it produces like petroleum, precious stones and agricultural produces,” added Adesina.Adesina further mentioned that AfDB will also explore a possibility to engage with Indian companies and cultivators to utilise the uncultivated land in Africa, which has nearly 65% of the uncultivated arable land in the world. For the purpose, Africa will look for association for farm technology such as drip irrigation, mechanisation besides processing.last_img read more

Celtics beats 76ers in OT, takes 3-0 series lead

first_imgPhiladelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid (right) goes up for a shot against Boston Celtics’ Al Horford. AP PHILADELPHIA – Al Horford had no use for the premature celebration that showered confetti all over the 76ers’ home court at the end of regulation, delaying overtime and prompting an impromptu cleanup job.Turns out, Horford has the Celtics just a game away from a real sweep.Horford scored the go-ahead basket for Boston late in overtime in a wild Game 3 where the Philadelphia 76ers were sloppy with the basketball and the confetti, leading the Celtics to a 101-98 victory and a 3-0 series lead on Saturday night.“These are the kind of moments you want to be in as a basketball player,” Horford said. He saw some wild ones down the stretch.Marco Belinelli had hit a buzzer-beater to end the fourth quarter that sent the Sixers into a wild celebration on the court as confetti shot out of a cannon that made it rain over chunks of the arena.Hold up.Game 3 was only headed into OT.“I wanted to play right away,” Horford said. “I didn’t care about the confetti.”The tale of the (ticker) tape shows the Celtics are still the team to beat.The Celtics, who rallied from a 22-point deficit to beat the 76ers 108-103 in Game 2, can advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight season on Monday.The ending to regulation was about as wild as it gets for both teams. JJ Redick threw away the basketball on an errant pass to no one that was scooped by Terry Rozier who threw to Jaylen Brown for the basket and an 89-87 lead.Seconds later, Belinelli stunned everyone with a falling 22-footer in front of the 76ers bench as time expired that sent the game into overtime – and confetti mistakenly blasted from the cannon. There was about a seven-minute delay while team employees scrambled to clean up the mess on the court. Some players even scooped up confetti as everyone waited for the start of overtime.Confetti Guy – wearing a “Breaking News: I Don’t Care” T-shirt – pushed the button too early and the rectangular pieces were soaring everywhere.Confetti Guy – who declined to give his name – came over to press row and said the Sixers “better win or I’m done.”They didn’t.Belinelli opened OT with a 23-footer and Redick followed with a 3 that appeared to take him off the hook.But the Celtics wouldn’t let them pull away and Horford escaped for a layup with 5.5 seconds that gave Boston a 99-98 lead. Ben Simmons then threw the ball away after a timeout and Horford sealed the win with two free throws.Sixers coach Brett Brown said he thought Belinelli had won the game with a 3-pointer.“Walk off 3. I thought it was. I actually left the court,” he said. “You come back on and there’s confetti. You move on. It slows the game down a lot but you move on.”Jayson Tatum scored 24 points and Rozier had 18.Joel Embiid had 22 points and 19 rebounds for the Sixers, Redick scored 18 and Simmons 16.Horford hit the big shots in the final minute of overtime to silence what had been a rabid crowd. Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles rang the ceremonial bell and whipped the crowd into a frenzy. One fan waved a sign that said “Philly Special 2.0” as a nod to the trick play called that allowed Foles to catch a touchdown pass against the New England Patriots.But not every Philly team can beat one from New England in a big game.Simmons, the rookie of the year favorite, had a miserable Game 2 and scored only one point and failed to score a field goal for the first time all year. Hall of Famer Allen Iverson called Simmons and gave him a needed pick-me-up.“Just play the game I’ve been playing,” Simmons said AI told him. “I know how to play the game. I can’t think about it too much. I’ve just got to go out there and do it.”Determined not to get embarrassed again, Simmons scored on a driving layup less than a minute into the game.“My goal isn’t to go out there and drop 30 every game,” Simmons said. “My goal is to go out there and facilitate and get the best shots we can.”He did it all in the second quarter when the Sixers looked every bit the team that ended the season on a 16-game win streak.Trailing by 10 early in the second, Simmons had an emphatic slam to kickstart a rally. Simmons would make the highlight reel with a behind-the-back pass to a charging Embiid for a thunderous dunk over Aron Baynes. Embiid made the free throw and the crowd was going bonkers.Redick and Dario Saric each hit 3s during the 13-0 run that helped the Sixers take a 51-48 lead into halftime. (AP)last_img read more