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Bariatric Surgery: The Good, Bad, & Questionable

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Obesity has developed into a worldwide health problem that is associated with many risks. The elements causing obesity are complex and numerous including behavioral, psychological, and physiological. Traditional methods of weight loss have demonstrated short-lived positive health benefits and minimal

Obesity has developed into a worldwide health problem that is associated with many risks. The elements causing obesity are complex and numerous including behavioral, psychological, and physiological. Traditional methods of weight loss have demonstrated short-lived positive health benefits and minimal long-term weight loss, which has led to the prevalence of bariatric surgery as an answer to long-term weight loss for Class III obesity. Gastric bypass surgery has become especially popular for its numerous benefits including successful weight loss, improvements in obesity-related diseases, and increased lifespan. Bariatric surgery is still not a perfect solution. Negative effects after surgery range from surgical complications and vitamin deficiencies to altered hormonal levels and metabolic rates. Many questions regarding bariatric surgery still remain including the impact of adolescent bariatric surgery, long-term bone effects, and long-term psychosocial and lifestyle components of bariatric patients. Understanding the good, the bad, and several of the remaining questions regarding bariatric surgery, will help health professionals be more appreciative of the complexity of treating their obese patients.

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2018-05

A Pilot, Longitudinal Study of the Effect of a High Fat Diet Compared to a Chow Diet on the Energy Gap Between Energy Intake and Energy Expenditure

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This is a pilot study testing a new indirect calorimeter device. This project was designed to determine the effect of a high fat versus a standard chow diet and age on the energy gap (the difference between energy intake and

This is a pilot study testing a new indirect calorimeter device. This project was designed to determine the effect of a high fat versus a standard chow diet and age on the energy gap (the difference between energy intake and energy expenditure). Measurements of energy expenditure and oxygen consumption were obtained over a 23-hour period from a group of rats fed a high fat diet and a group of rats fed standard chow diet. The experiments were repeated during an experimental phase for 12 weeks, a phase of caloric restriction for 4 weeks, and a phase of weight regain for 4 weeks. We found energy expenditure and oxygen consumption to decrease in the caloric restriction phase and increase with excessive weight gain. Rats fed a high fat diet and obesity prone rats had a wider energy gap than rats fed a standard chow diet and obesity resistant rats. The caloric restriction phase closed the energy gap between energy expenditure and energy intake for all of the rats. The weight regain phase shifted the rats back into positive energy balance so that the energy intake was greater than the energy expenditure. The rats showed greater weight gain in the weight regain phase than in the experimental phase for all groups of rats. The indirect calorimeter device would require further testing to improve the accuracy of the measurements of respiratory quotient and carbon dioxide production before being used in future clinical research applications. The indirect calorimeter device has the potential to record respiratory quotient and carbon dioxide production.

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2019-05

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Effects of Menthol on Weight Regain and Maintenance of Caloric Restriction: A Pilot Study

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The prevalence of excessive weight gain (obesity) has steadily increased since about 1980. Excessive weight gain is associated with many comorbidities; thus, a successful treatment is needed. The most common form of non-surgical treatment for excessive weight gain is caloric

The prevalence of excessive weight gain (obesity) has steadily increased since about 1980. Excessive weight gain is associated with many comorbidities; thus, a successful treatment is needed. The most common form of non-surgical treatment for excessive weight gain is caloric restriction with the intent to reduce body weight by 10%. Though this treatment is successful at reducing body weight, it often fails at maintaining the weight loss. Dietary menthol has been suggested as a possible treatment for excessive weight gain and has produced promising results as a preventative method for excessive weight gain. Our studies aimed at reducing weight regain and maintaining caloric restriction by feeding male Sprague-Dawley rats 0.5% dietary menthol during a period of caloric restriction, aimed at reducing their body weight by 10%, following an experimental period where the rats were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) or low-fat diet (LFD). The effects of the dietary menthol were observed during the weight regain period following the caloric restriction period. Two studies were conducted, and both were unable to achieve a maintenance of weight loss following caloric restriction, although our first study was able to produce a delay in weight regain and did not show any evidence of increased thermogenesis in menthol-treated rats. Our findings differ from the findings of previous studies on dietary menthol which could possibly be due to species effects, differences in procedures, age effects, or effects of different fatty acid compositions. The contrasting results in our studies could be due to genetic differences between litters used or a difference in manufacturing of the menthol diet between studies. Given the partial response to menthol in the first study, it can be suggested that the concentration of 0.5% may be below the threshold of menthol sensitivity for some rats. Future research should focus on increasing the concentration of dietary menthol from 0.5% to 1%, since the current concentration did not yield a reduction in weight regain or maintenance of caloric restriction.

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2019-05

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A Review of Podcast Impact and Implications for Education and Beyond

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The world of podcasting has exploded in popularity in recent years. This medium is being used in education as well as in the public sector to share ideas, news, and stories. This paper reviews the research behind podcast success as

The world of podcasting has exploded in popularity in recent years. This medium is being used in education as well as in the public sector to share ideas, news, and stories. This paper reviews the research behind podcast success as a news form and in the educational sector and the implications of these findings for the future. Podcast listeners tend to listen to podcasts for entertainment and, notably, to diversify their time while completing other tasks. New ways to directly stream media from portable devices and advances in the internet have helped bolster the popularity of this media form. Podcasting proved to be successful in higher education as students tended to perform better when given access to podcasts. However, they were only successful when using podcasts as classroom adjuncts. This implies that educational podcasts must be produced differently than ones intended for the public. By reviewing the neuroscience behind language, emotion and memory, it was found that narrative formats that also evoked emotions had a positive ability in enhancing the listeners learning and memory. Keeping this in mind, the developed podcast aimed to bridge educational material to the general public by utilizing narrative as a vessel in which to deliver complex information about medicine, science and neuroscience. The accessibility and virtually non-existent barriers to the podcasting world offer a breadth of knowledge and opinions that have numerous factors of social influence. The impact of podcasting on the modern world deserves more research in sociology and psychology as it continues to grow in popularity.

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2019-05

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An Evaluation of the Levonorgestrel-Releasing Intrauterine Device and its Impact on Cognitive Function in a Rat Model

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The aim of this study was to determine whether IUD administration, with and without the presence of Levo, and with and without the presence of the ovaries, impacts cognition in a rat model. Rats received either Sham or Ovariectomy (Ovx)

The aim of this study was to determine whether IUD administration, with and without the presence of Levo, and with and without the presence of the ovaries, impacts cognition in a rat model. Rats received either Sham or Ovariectomy (Ovx) surgery (removal of the ovaries), plus either no IUD, a Blank IUD (without Levo), or a Levo-releasing IUD (Levo IUD), enabling us to evaluate the effects of Ovx and the effects of IUD administration on cognition. Two weeks after surgery, all treatment groups were tested on the water radial arm maze, Morris water maze, and visible platform task to evaluate cognition. At sacrifice, upon investigation of the uteri, it was determined that some of the IUDs were no longer present in animals from these groups: Sham\u2014Blank IUD, Ovx\u2014Blank IUD, and Sham\u2014Levo IUD. Results from the remaining three groups showed that compared to Sham animals with no IUDs, Ovx animals with no IUDs had marginally impaired working memory performance, and that Ovx animals with Levo IUDs as compared to Ovx animals with no IUDs had marginally enhanced memory performance, not specific to a particular memory type. Results also showed that Ovx animals with Levo IUDs had qualitatively more cells in their vaginal smears and increased uterine horn weight compared to Ovx animals with no IUDs, suggesting local stimulation of the Levo IUDs to the uterine horns. Overall, these results provide alternative evidence to the hypothesis that the Levo IUD administers Levo in solely a localized manner, and suggests that the possibility for the Levo IUD to affect reproductive cyclicity in ovary-intact animals is not rejected. The potential for the Levo IUD to exert effects on cognition suggests that either the hormone does in fact systemically circulate, or that the Levo IUD administration affects cognition by altering an as yet undetermined hormonal or other feedback between the uterus and the brain.

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2018-12

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Hyperactive ERK/MAPK Regulates Cortical GABAergic Neuron Development

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Aberrant signaling through the canonical RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK (ERK/MAPK) pathway leads to the pathology of a group of neurodevelopmental disorders called RASopathies. RASopathies are caused by germline mutations in the ERK/MAPK pathway and have an incidence of approximately 1:2000 births. The majority

Aberrant signaling through the canonical RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK (ERK/MAPK) pathway leads to the pathology of a group of neurodevelopmental disorders called RASopathies. RASopathies are caused by germline mutations in the ERK/MAPK pathway and have an incidence of approximately 1:2000 births. The majority of RASopathies stem from mutations that cause gain-of-function in the ERK/MAPK pathway. In this study, we have begun to unravel the roles that GABAergic interneurons play in the pathology of RASopathies. Our data demonstrate that gain-of-function ERK/MAPK signaling expressed in a GABAergic interneuron-specific fashion leads to forebrain hyperexcitability in mutant mice. Further, some GABAergic interneurons experience activated-caspase 3 mediated apoptosis in the embryonic subpallium, leading to a loss of PV-expressing interneurons in the somatosensory cortex. We found that pharmaceutical intervention during embryogenesis using a MEK1 inhibitor may be effective in preventing apoptosis of these neurons. Future work is still needed to understand the mechanism of the death of GABAergic interneurons and to further pursue therapeutic approaches. Taken together, this study suggests potential roles of cortical GABAergic interneurons in ERK/MAPK-linked pathologies and indicates possible approaches to provide therapy for these conditions.

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2019-05

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A Mechanistic Model of Art Therapy

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The goal of my study is to test the overarching hypothesis that art therapy is effective because it targets emotional dysregulation that often accompanies significant health stressors. By reducing the salience of illness-related stressors, art therapy may improve overall mood

The goal of my study is to test the overarching hypothesis that art therapy is effective because it targets emotional dysregulation that often accompanies significant health stressors. By reducing the salience of illness-related stressors, art therapy may improve overall mood and recovery, particularly in patients with cancer. After consulting the primary literature and review papers to develop psychological and neural mechanisms at work in art therapy, I created a hypothetical experimental procedure to test these hypotheses to explain why art therapy is helpful to patients with chronic illness. Studies found that art therapy stimulates activity of multiple brain regions involved in memory retrieval and the arousal of emotions. I hypothesize that patients with chronic illness have a reduced capacity for emotion regulation, or difficulty recognizing, expressing or altering illness-related emotions (Gross & Barrett, 2011). Further I hypothesize that art therapy improves mood and therapeutic outcomes by acting on the emotion-processing regions of the limbic system, and thereby facilitating the healthy expression of emotion, emotional processing, and reappraisal. More mechanistically, I propose art therapy reduces the perception or salience of stressors by reducing amygdala activity leading to decreased activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The art therapy literature and my hypothesis about its mechanisms of action became the basis of my proposed study. To assess the effectiveness of art therapy in alleviating symptoms of chronic disease, I am specifically targeting patients with cancer who exhibit a lack of emotional regulation. Saliva is collected 3 times a week on the day of intervention: morning after waking, afternoon, and evening. Stress levels are tested using one-hour art therapy sessions over the course of 3 months. The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) assesses an individual's perceived stress and feelings in past and present situations, for the control and intervention group. To measure improvement in overall mood, 10 one-hour art sessions are performed on patients over 10 weeks. A one-hour discussion analyzing the participants' artwork follows each art session. The Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) assesses overall mood for the intervention and control groups. I created rationale and predictions based on the intended results of each experiment.

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2018-05

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Role of Egr3 in Regulation of DNA Repair

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Egr3 is an immediate early gene transcription factor that shows genetic association with schizophrenia, and is found in decreased levels in the brains of schizophrenia patients. Schizophrenia patients also exhibit cognitive and memory deficits, both of which Egr3 has been

Egr3 is an immediate early gene transcription factor that shows genetic association with schizophrenia, and is found in decreased levels in the brains of schizophrenia patients. Schizophrenia patients also exhibit cognitive and memory deficits, both of which Egr3 has been shown to play a crucial role in. Additionally, high levels of DNA damage are found in the brains of schizophrenia patients. A recent study has shown that DNA damage occurs as a result of normal physiological activity in neurons and is required for induction of gene expression of a subset of early response genes. Also, failure to repair this damage can lead to gene expression in a constitutive switched on state. Egr3 knockout (Egr3-/-) mice show deficits in hippocampal synaptic plasticity and memory. We were interested in characterizing downstream targets of EGR3 in the hippocampus. To determine these targets, electroconvulsive seizure (ECS) was carried out in Egr3 -/- versus wild type (WT) mice, and a microarray study was first done in our lab. ECS maximally stimulates Egr3 expression and we hypothesized that there would be gene targets that are differentially expressed between Egr3 -/- and WT mice that had been subjected to ECS. Two separate analyses of the microarray yielded 65 common genes that were determined as being differentially expressed between WT and Egr3 -/- mice after ECS. Further Ingenuity Pathway Analysis of these 65 genes indicated the Gadd45 signaling pathway to be the top canonical pathway, with the top four pathways all being associated with DNA damage or DNA repair. A literature survey was conducted for these 65 genes and their associated pathways, and 12 of the 65 genes were found to be involved in DNA damage response and/or DNA repair. Validation of differential expression was then conducted for each of the 12 genes, in both the original male cohort used for microarray studies and an additional female cohort of mice. 7 of these genes validated through quantitative real time PCR (qRT-PCR) in the original male cohort used for the microarray study, and 4 validated in both the original male cohort and an independent female cohort. Bioinformatics analysis yielded predicted EGR3 binding sites in promoters of these 12 genes, validating their role as potential transcription targets of EGR3. These data reveal EGR3 to be a novel regulator of DNA repair. Further studies will be needed to characterize the role of Egr3 in repairing DNA damage.

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2018-05

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The Role of UCP-1 in Human Omental Tissue

Description

The prevalence of obesity continues to increase in the United States, along with its risk for other associated cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Several therapeutic methods are aimed at targeting and reducing obesity, now defined as a state of chronic, low-grade

The prevalence of obesity continues to increase in the United States, along with its risk for other associated cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Several therapeutic methods are aimed at targeting and reducing obesity, now defined as a state of chronic, low-grade inflammation (in addition to BMI > 30 kg/m2). In an attempt to expand on these therapeutic methods, research on the concept of browning in white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT) is being conducted. Brown adipose tissue (BAT), and a newly discovered type of adipocyte, beige adipocytes, are heavily involved in thermogenesis with the use of uncoupling protein-1 (UCP-1). This paper focuses on the analysis of common browning genes, ATP-related genes, and metabolic genes in varying biological groups in mice (Chow/High-Fat Diet and Inguinal FAT and Perigonadal Fat) and in humans (Lean/Obese and Subcutaneous WAT (SC) and Omental WAT (OM)) using methods such as RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry. The data obtained shows an increase in browning in the leaner group, specifically in the subcutaneous fat. Further, browning is significantly reduced in the obese groups of subjects and mice tested, in addition to omental/perigonadal versus subcutaneous/inguinal fat depots. Interestingly, two key ATP genes, UCP-1 and COX4I1 are vastly elevated in the OM WAT, indicating that browning may not be as important in the OM, but rather may have a potential role in SC. This is contrary to prior research findings that attempt to exclude mice surrogates in future experimentation of the browning phenomenon. Further experimentation is needed to expand on the findings of this paper.

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Date Created
2019-12

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Specificity of Auditory Modulation during Speech Planning

Description

Previous research has showed that auditory modulation may be affected by pure tone
stimuli played prior to the onset of speech production. In this experiment, we are examining the
specificity of the auditory stimulus by implementing congruent and incongruent speech

Previous research has showed that auditory modulation may be affected by pure tone
stimuli played prior to the onset of speech production. In this experiment, we are examining the
specificity of the auditory stimulus by implementing congruent and incongruent speech sounds in
addition to non-speech sound. Electroencephalography (EEG) data was recorded for eleven adult
subjects in both speaking (speech planning) and silent reading (no speech planning) conditions.
Data analysis was accomplished manually as well as via generation of a MATLAB code to
combine data sets and calculate auditory modulation (suppression). Results of the P200
modulation showed that modulation was larger for incongruent stimuli than congruent stimuli.
However, this was not the case for the N100 modulation. The data for pure tone could not be
analyzed because the intensity of this stimulus was substantially lower than that of the speech
stimuli. Overall, the results indicated that the P200 component plays a significant role in
processing stimuli and determining the relevance of stimuli; this result is consistent with role of
P200 component in high-level analysis of speech and perceptual processing. This experiment is
ongoing, and we hope to obtain data from more subjects to support the current findings.

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2020-05