Disgust as much a factor as fear for obsessive-compulsive patients

Fear is a factor in human behavior, but behold the power of cheese – oozing, maggot-ridden cheese. Snarling dogs and other threatening images activate distinctly different regions of the brain compared with disgusting images of roaches feeding on cheese pizza or public bathrooms no one would dare use, according to scientists at the University of Florida?s Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute writing in the current online issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry. In addition, UF psychiatrists have found that healthy volunteers and people with obsessive-compulsive disorders, or OCD, respond in a like manner to threatening images, but those with OCD are profoundly more affected by disgusting ones.

Obese people experience delay in feeling full, study finds

Most people feel full about 10 minutes after they begin eating, but for those who are obese, it may take almost twice as long for their brains to get the message, according to researchers at the University of Florida’s Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute. Through innovative use of neuroimaging, UF scientists successfully pinpointed when the brain responds to changing hormone levels in the body that signal satiety. The finding raises the possibility that a delayed feeling of fullness or the inability to feel satisfied while eating could perpetuate obesity, making treatment difficult, they report in the February issue of Psychiatry Annals.

Brain injury test may be health care boon

U.S. soldiers fighting in today’s high-tech military force will be much more likely to survive traumatic brain injuries if University of Florida researchers succeed in developing a blood test to assess the severity of head wounds on the battlefield, U.S. Department of Defense officials say. Such a test can’t come soon enough for the department, which has allocated $2.2 million to help scientists at UF’s McKnight Brain Institute and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research develop the first routine diagnostic tool to define the scope of such injuries. Penetrating brain injuries claim 25 percent of soldiers killed in battle, according to department officials, yet there is no effective way to diagnose traumatic brain injury short of a brain scan, which is not practical in combat settings.

Possible treatment window for spasticity in spinal cord injury

It’s a cruel irony that strikes many victims of spinal cord injury: In those who suffer only partial paralysis, limbs that should remain healthy become stiff and useless because of chronic spasticity, a painful condition that causes muscles to contract involuntarily. But Florida researchers charting the development of spasticity in rats with spinal cord injuries were surprised to find the process briefly reverses itself. This discovery raises the possibility that physicians could someday find a way to spare patients its debilitating effects by intervening at a critical time.

Researchers probe possible Strep, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder link

A new study aims to determine once and for all whether a link exists between obsessive-compulsive behavior and strep infections in children. The research, to be conducted by the University of Florida and the National Institutes of Mental Health, is prompted by anecdotal reports from parents with OCD kids that their children’s behavior, such as compulsive hand washing, worsens when the child is ill with strep.