A Heavy Heart: Depression and Cardiac Function

Two recently published studies have found that changes in heart function are seen during major depression [1] and also seen in some people who have recovered from depression [2]. This link between mental health and physical health emphasises how the body and mind are linked. Furthermore, it also suggests that some people with depression may be at increased risk of cardiac disease. The research also sheds further light on the biological pathways of depression.

Depressed woman

Cellular Mechanisms of Long Term Memory Storage

Dr. Menahem Segal, head of the Laboratory of Neuronal Plasticity at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, studies the neuronal basis of long term memory in the brain. Of particular interest are conditions that are associated with deterioration of memory systems, such as those occurring in Alzheimer’s disease patients and mentally retarded children.


Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving often involves eating a big meal centered around turkey and then retiring to the easy chair or couch for a nap. Turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that is a chemical precursor to melatonin, a neurotransmitter known to induce sleepiness. However, while the holidays can be exhausting, scientists say it’s a misbelief to blame turkey for the post-meal nap.

Thanksgiving turkey

Research has shown that, following a large meal, less tryptophan will reach the brain than on an empty stomach. The real culprit is the types and quantity of food you’ve eaten. Blame your sleepiness instead on high-calorie, high glycemic index foods.

Here are a few easy science-based tips to ensure not only a delicious turkey but a healthy Thanksgiving.

Tryptophan, Trust and the Thanksgiving Turkey

After feasting on your Thanksgiving dinner today, a specific word may come to mind: tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid found in high levels in turkey. The main reason for the association between tryptophan and drowsiness is that tryptophan is a chemical precursor to melatonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating the circadian cycle, the regular changes in mental and physical characteristics that occur over the course of 24 hours. Indeed, purified tryptophan is a mild sleep-inducing agent [1].