"We’re targeting the areas in the brain that are known to be the repository for emotionally charged memory...When you give an individual the opportunity to revisit their past and find those moments of light, of happy memory, it activates those areas of the brain."
An hour before the scan "we sit together in a private room and come up with five to seven happy memories. They can be anything positive and intense and relatively short. We show participants pictures of their own happy faces as a cue. Then we say, “When you see your own happy face, start uploading those happy memories.” They see the image of a thermometer when they are in the scanner. It’s a cartoon. When the targeted areas of their brain show activity, the thermometer line goes up into the green area. The goal is to move the thermometer line up by recalling happy memory and brain activity."
Dr. Michael Georgieff, Professor and Division Director of Neonatology, has been named the recipient of this year's Medical School Carole J. Bland Faculty Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award. This honor is awarded to exceptional candidates nominated by their faculty mentees in the quest to identify excellence in mentorship.
Imbalances in gut bacteria are increasingly being linked to a number of physical and mental illnesses, including neurological conditions such as depression, anxiety, autism, and Parkinson’s disease. Masonic support is enabling researchers to explore the impact of gut bacteria on early brain development. In 2015, support from the Masons enabled University faculty Dan Knights, Ph.D., Ellen Demerath, Ph.D., Cheryl Gale, M.D., Michael Georgieff, M.D., and U researcher Neely Miller to take advantage of neuroimaging and neurogenomics tools to study the tie between gut bacteria and early brain development.
The first years of life are crucial for the developing mind, but mental health services are often not available for infants. The goal of the 0–3 Brain Initiative is to bridge this gap in care. Maria Kroupina, Ph.D., director of the U’s Birth to Three Mental Health Clinical Program, and others are examining the impact of early adversity experiences such as neglect, deprivation, hospitalization, traumatic loss, and more on lifelong health. Kroupina’s 0–3 Brain Initiative is the first in Minnesota and one of only a few nationally to provide infant and toddler mental health services in the context of academic pediatric programs.
The University of Minnesota joined with 19 other institutions Thursday to launch the largest autism research study in U.S. history — an online registry of 50,000 patients and their families to uncover how genetic and environmental differences influence the course of the developmental disability. The study itself is simple: people diagnosed with autism and their parents can register online, type in relevant personal and medical information, and receive kits and instructions for sending in saliva samples by mail.
“Children with elevated anxiety scores at the initiation of consolidation therapy were 4 times more likely to have elevated anxiety scores after treatment, and children with elevated depression scores at 6 months after diagnosis were 8 times more likely to have elevated depression after treatment,” Kunin-Batson wrote. “The rapid identification of anxiety and depressive symptoms and effective interventions directed toward children who exhibit distress (eg, mindfulness-based stress reduction, cognitive behavioral therapeutic approaches) early in the course of treatment may help to mitigate long-term emotional distress.”
We all know that traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause a host of long-term problems, including cognitive disabilities; memory loss; motor function limitations; vision impairment; or change in sense of smell, taste or touch. But fewer people are aware of the long-term psychological impact of TBI: People who have experienced head injuries also may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including depression and anxiety, poor impulse control, verbal or physical outbursts, lack of empathy, general apathy or a tendency toward risky behavior. Some of these impacts are lasting; others fade as the brain heals from the trauma.
Dana Johnson, MD, PhD, never fully appreciated the importance of a loving, committed family in normal child development, until he began seeing children from orphanages who had been deprived of all those things.
Johnson, a University of Minnesota Health neonatologist who is also the father of an adopted child, founded the University of Minnesota Health Adoption Medicine Clinic in 1986. The clinic’s mission? Support families through the adoption process—and help adoptive children overcome the challenges of early adversity.
This year, the clinic is celebrating its 30th anniversary.