Kamis, 31 Mei 2012

1 in 5 Americans Has Untreated Cavities: CDC (5/31/2012)

1 in 5 Americans Has Untreated Cavities: CDC (5/31/2012)

1 in 5 Americans Has Untreated Cavities: CDC (5/31/2012)

1 in 5 Americans Has Untreated Cavities: CDC

Most kids get dental care, regardless of income, because of federal health programs, researcher says

By Steven ReinbergHealthDay Reporter
THURSDAY, May 31 (HealthDay News) -- More than one in every five Americans has untreated cavities, a new government report shows.

"Untreated tooth decay is prevalent in the U.S.," said report co-author Dr. Bruce Dye, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. "It appears that we haven't been able to make any significant strides during the last decade to reduce untreated cavities."

One expert was not surprised by the findings.

"This is information that has been known for a while," said Dr. Lindsay Robinson, a spokeswoman for the American Dental Association. "More people are on Medicaid and more and more states, in an attempt to balance their budgets, have eliminated dental benefits."

There needs to be more investment in dental care to cover those who rely on Medicaid, Robinson said. "Only about 2 percent of Medicaid dollars go to dental care. In the private system it's triple that," she explained.

"Even people with dental benefits are afraid of any extra out-of-pocket costs," Robinson added.

The report authors found that the rate of cavities was pretty steady among all age groups, with teenagers having the lowest prevalence, Dye said. Among kids aged 5 to 11, 20 percent had untreated cavities, while 13 percent of those aged 12 to 19 had untreated cavities. People aged 20 to 44 had the highest rate of untreated cavities, at 25 percent.

Usually there is a difference in income when it comes to health care, but in this case children were getting about the same dental care regardless of family income, Dye noted.

For poorer children, this is most likely due to government programs such as Medicaid and CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program), Dye said. Among adults, the poor have a rate of untreated dental problems twice that of others, he noted.

In addition to having cavities that were not treated, 75 percent of Americans have had some sort of dental work.

Other findings in the report include:

Among children and adolescents, 27 percent had at least one dental sealant. In that age group, 30 percent of whites had sealants, compared to 23 percent of Mexican-Americans and 17 percent of blacks.

Among blacks, 38 percent had all of their teeth, compared with 51 percent of whites and 52 percent of Mexican-Americans.

Among those aged 65 and older, 23 percent had no teeth, but most likely had dentures.

To reduce the odds of developing cavities, Dye recommended brushing and flossing daily and going to the dentist at least once a year. In addition, cutting down on sweets and surgery drinks and eating a healthy diet can also help, he said.

Going to the dentist is important, Robinson agreed. When problems are caught and treated early, it saves money, and for people with chronic diseases such as diabetes it can help avoid hospitalizations, she added.

"It is possible to not get cavities," Robinson said. "It's amazing how many people think it's just going to happen."

Source: http://www.womenshealt.gov/new/news/headlines/665246.cfm/

Kamis, 17 Mei 2012


HE SAID. SHE SAID. ROM COMS. ERK! By Catharine Lumby & Duncan Fine
May 16, 2012

Catharine and Duncan have been together 15 years and have two boys aged 10 and 12. This week they're debating the genre of the romantic comedy.


Everyone has a movie or two that they love to watch at least once a year. A classic that you can spend one rainy evening, two bowls of popcorn and three glasses of chardonnay with. My sentimental favourite is High Society (above).

Yes, it's based on The Philadelphia Story which was made 20 years earlier but it features Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby falling in and out of love while Louis Armstrong plays trumpet. What's not to like?

In the rom-coms of this era, the men and women talk and act like equals, economically and intellectually. That's how movies worked back then. It started with the screwball comedies of Spencer Tracey, Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in the 1930s and 40s.

Recently I watched a very different rom-com: Pretty Woman. I did so because I have a whip smart PhD student, Chloe Angyal, who is writing her thesis on rom-coms and how they've become increasingly conservative.

But even reading her clever analysis of the worst of the genre hadn't prepared me for Pretty Woman (above) – a movie from 1990 that sets the feminist movement back by – oh, I don't know – about 400 years.

In case you're one of the lucky ones who has forgotten the plot, a lonely billionaire industrialist pays a prostitute with a heart of gold $3000 to spend the week with him in LA. He buys her expensive clothes and beautiful jewelry and takes her to the opera and French restaurants.

And you'll never guess the ending – they fall in love. How totally plausible.

Pretty Woman is grounded in the Pygmalion myth  – originally the story of a sculptor who rejects real women and falls in love with an ideal ivory sculpture he carves.

The story has been reworked many times – the best known being George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion in which a professor of phonetics bets he can teach a poor girl to speak like duchess. At least Shaw's play mocks Henry Higgins' misogyny and pomposity.

Not Pretty Woman. Richard Gere rides in on a white limo like Prince Charming with a platinum Amex and teaches Julia Roberts to enunciate "the rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain of Rodeo Drive" while she's giving him oral pleasure.

Source: http://thehoopla.com.au/said-said-rom-coms-meg-ryan//

'Fish Pedicure' a Recipe for Bacterial Infection, Researchers Warn (5/17/2012)

'Fish Pedicure' a Recipe for Bacterial Infection, Researchers Warn (5/17/2012)

'Fish Pedicure' a Recipe for Bacterial Infection, Researchers Warn (5/17/2012)

'Fish Pedicure' a Recipe for Bacterial Infection, Researchers Warn

Health spa practice is highly unhealthy, study reports.

By Alan MozesHealthDay Reporter
THURSDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- "Fish pedicures" in health spas can expose recipients to a host of pathogens and bacterial infections, a team of researchers warns.

The practice of exposing your feet to live freshwater fish that eat away dead or damaged skin for mainly cosmetic reasons has been banned in many (but not all) American states, but it is apparently a hot trend in Britain.

So much so that the British researchers sent their warning in a letter published in the June issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Officially known as "ichthyotherapy," the procedure typically involves the importation of what are called "doctor fish," a Eurasian river basin species known as "Garra rufa." The fish are placed in a spa tub, the foot (or even whole body) joins it, and the nautical feeding on dead or unwanted skin begins.

The problem: such fish may play host to a wide array of organisms and disease, some of which can provoke invasive soft-tissue infection in exposed humans and many of which are antibiotic-resistant, according to the scientists from the Center for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) in Weymouth.

In the letter, CEFAS team leader David W. Verner-Jeffreys referenced a 2011 survey that suggested the U.K. is now home to 279-plus "fish spas," with an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 fish coming into the country every week from a host of Asian countries.

Verner-Jeffreys noted that in April 2011, 6,000 fish imported from Indonesia for U.K. fish spas were affected by a disease outbreak that caused hemorrhaging of their gills, mouth and abdomen, resulting in the death of nearly all the specimens.

In turn, U.K. scientists uncovered signs of bacterial infection (caused by a pathogen called "S agalactiae") in the fishes' livers, kidneys and spleen.

Following this discovery, Verner-Jeffreys said, his team conducted five raids on imported fish batches coming through Heathrow Airport, which uncovered further signs of infection with a number of additional pathogens. Many of those were found to be resistant to such standard antimicrobial drugs as tetracycline, fluoroquinolone and aminoglycoside.

"To date, there are only a limited number of reports of patients who might have been infected by this exposure route," Verner-Jeffreys said in his letter. "However, our study raises some concerns over the extent that these fish, or their transport water, might harbor potential zoonotic disease pathogens of clinical relevance."

At particularly high risk, the scientists said, were people already struggling with diabetes, liver disease and/or immune disorders.

Verner-Jeffreys suggested that spas offering fish pedicures use disease-free fish raised in controlled environments.

George A. O'Toole, a professor in the department of microbiology and immunology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., added his own concern.

" I would stay away from this experience," he said. "It's probably not feasible to sterilize these fish. And as for the water itself, even if you dump it between patients, these organisms will form rings of biofilm communities attached to the surface of the tubs themselves. It's like a contact lens case that you never disinfect. Simply wiping them down is not good enough. Unless you're incredibly responsible about sterilizing those tubs you're not going to kill them, and they will reseed the next batch of water. The whole thing is a bad idea."

Dr. Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and pathology at New York University Medical Center in New York City, agreed.

"It's a bad idea in several ways," he said. "Because these pathogens can give you a serious wound infection. Or blood-borne infection. Or diarrhea. Or even pose a threat to a pregnant woman's fetus or newborn."

"Really, you have the potential for multiple types of infection," Tierno added. "Because theoretically when you're touching the area that has been nibbled on by these fish, you can still have the organisms there. And then you can inadvertently touch your mouth and introduce them into your system."

Source: http://www.womenshealt.gov/new/news/headlines/664798.cfm/

Rabu, 16 Mei 2012

'Blast Wind' Linked to Chronic Brain Injuries in Military (5/16/2012)

'Blast Wind' Linked to Chronic Brain Injuries in Military (5/16/2012)

'Blast Wind' Linked to Chronic Brain Injuries in Military (5/16/2012)

'Blast Wind' Linked to Chronic Brain Injuries in Military

Force created by an explosion causes similar effects as repeated concussions in athletes, study finds.
WEDNESDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- The same type of brain damage seen in athletes who suffer repeated concussions also occurs in soldiers exposed to large blasts, new research indicates.

In the study, researchers at Boston University and the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System analyzed brain tissue from four U.S. military personnel who were known to have been close to explosions.

The results, published online May 16 in Science Translational Medicine, showed that exposure to a single blast -- equivalent to the force from a typical improvised explosive device (IED) -- results in chronic traumatic encephalopathy and long-term brain impairments associated with the condition.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive brain disorder that can only be diagnosed after death, has been reported in athletes with multiple concussions. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy and traumatic brain injury share common features, including psychiatric symptoms and long-term memory and learning problems.

Traumatic brain injury can occur in people exposed to blasts and may affect about 20 percent of the 2.3 million U.S. military personnel deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, according to the researchers.

The investigators also concluded that the blast wind, not the shock wave, from an IED explosion leads to traumatic brain injury and long-term consequences such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Explosions lead to dramatic changes in pressure in the air around the blast. In addition to injuries caused by debris and shrapnel, the blast forces themselves can lead to devastating injuries.

A shock wave occurs right after an explosion, when the air around the explosion becomes overpressurized; a blast wind follows the shock wave, when the air around the explosion gets sucked back in to fill the void created by the blast. A blast wind can reach a velocity of up to 330 miles per hour.

"The force of the blast wind causes the head to move so forcefully that it can result in damage to the brain," study co-leader Dr. Lee Goldstein, an associate professor at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston University College of Engineering, said in a university news release.

The researchers also found that immobilizing the head during blast exposure can prevent the learning and memory deficits associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

"Our study provides compelling evidence that blast TBI [traumatic brain injury] and CTE [chronic traumatic encephalopathy] are structural brain disorders that can emerge as a result of brain injury on the battlefield or playing field," Goldstein said. "Now that we have identified the mechanism responsible for CTE, we can work on developing ways to prevent it so that we can protect athletes and our military service personnel."

Source: http://www.womenshealt.gov/new/news/headlines/664751.cfm/

Jumat, 04 Mei 2012

A Heart Disease Veteran at Just Age 12 (5/4/2012)

A Heart Disease Veteran at Just Age 12 (5/4/2012)

A Heart Disease Veteran at Just Age 12 (5/4/2012)

A Heart Disease Veteran at Just Age 12

Survivor stresses importance of asking questions and pushing for answers.

By Serena GordonHealthDay Reporter
FRIDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- Even youngsters who seem to be in perfect health can be at risk for heart disease. Just ask Heather Link.

When she was 12, Heather was the picture of health as a competitive swimmer. But, several weeks after a dental checkup, she was suddenly engaged in the fight of her life.

She had a condition known as infective endocarditis, which develops when bacteria enter the bloodstream and infect the lining of the heart, a blood vessel or the heart's valves. In Heather's case, a small cut that had occurred during her dental checkup gave the bacteria a way in.

At first, she had no idea she was even sick. But, after some time, she started to feel as if she might have the flu. She had a fever, felt achy and had chills. Her fever spiked to 104 degrees Fahrenheit at one point. Her mother repeatedly took her to the doctor, but it seemed as if Heather just had a viral infection, such as the flu.

But when her condition worsened, Heather's mother took her to an emergency room in Buffalo, N.Y. There, she recalled, a spinal tap revealed the bacteria that were infecting her heart. The infection had seriously damaged her heart's aortic and mitral valves, and she needed immediate open heart surgery to repair the damage.

Though just a kid then, Link recalled not being scared before the surgery. "I was so weak and so sick at that point, that I don't really remember much of what was going on," she said.

Several weeks later, she started to have symptoms of heart failure, such as severe shortness of breath, and she had another surgery to fix the repairs that had come undone. But her symptoms continued.

"I couldn't keep any food in," she recalled. "I was losing weight. All I could do was lie on the couch and watch TV," she said, noting the sharp contrast to how she had been living before the surgeries.

Ultimately, she had a third surgery, this time at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and felt better for a while. She went home and started seventh grade, but by December she was having chest pains.

Not taking any chances, her parents took her back to Boston, and she went into cardiac arrest when she got to Brigham and Women's Hospital. By now, her heart had been under so much stress that her doctors decided to put her on a ventricular assist device. For about a week, the device took over the work of her heart and lungs, allowing them to rest. Then there was one last surgery, to remove it.

"The ventricular assist device allowed my own heart to recover and saved me from needing a heart transplant, which would have changed my life dramatically," Link said.

Instead, she was back in the pool about nine months after the device was removed. And doctors told her that she probably owed her life to swimming.

"They told me that competitive swimming saved my life because I was in such good shape and had a strong heart," Link said. "If I were just a normal kid, they said I probably wouldn't have made it."

However, Link said, her heart never completely recovered. It works at about 70 or 75 percent of what it once did, she said, but she's had no more surgeries and is as active as she wants to be. She's 26 now and teaches first grade.

She also works to raise awareness of ventricular assist devices through Abiomed, the company that manufactured her device. She wants people to know that there are viable options to heart transplants.

And for others who might find themselves in a similar situation, Link stressed the importance of being aware of all options and not being afraid to ask questions.

"If my mom hadn't pushed so hard for me to see the doctors in Boston, I wouldn't be here," she noted. "As much as I hate what happened to me at the time, people have learned from it, and in our area, things have changed now that the doctors are more aware that this can happen."

Source: http://www.womenshealt.gov/new/news/headlines/660254.cfm/

Kamis, 03 Mei 2012

City Trippers

City Trippers

City Trippers


experience the perfect blend of Scottish history, cuisine and hospitality that
makes this enchanting city one of the UK's most enjoyed locations.

When?If you
don't mind the sometimes-inclement weather then Edinburgh has something for
everyone year round. The world famous Edinburgh
Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe
Festival are hugely popular but if you don't want to go avoid August, when
everything gets booked up.

Where to visit?Tough
one because Scotland's historical city has everything from castles and dungeons
to family attractions and nightclubs.

Be sure
to visit the iconic Edinburgh Castle,
packed with interest. If you're looking for a scare then the Edinburgh Dungeons will provide plenty
of gruesome fun.

frights aren't your thing, the Dynamic Earth
should be top of your list. It houses a science museum, which incorporates
natural history and goes a long way towards making geology accessible for
visitors of all ages.

The Camera Obscura and the World
of Illusion attractions are brilliant fun and well worth a visit and you
can't leave this great city without going on one of the famous night-time
walks, filled with atmosphere and fascinating facts.

Where to stay?Hotels
to match every budget mean you are spoilt for choice when it comes to
accommodation. The Balmoral Hotel
offers luxury on Princes Street, the
perfect location but if you're watching the pennies Edinburgh also has hostels
and less expensive rooms. One place we'd suggest trying is the Ramada Mount Royal.

Where to eat?Edinburgh
has no less than 5 Michelin Star
restaurants as well as eateries to suit every budget.

places are the 21212 restaurant and Number One at the Balmoral if you want
fine dining. If you're looking for a more modest spend without a compromise on
quality and love seafood then look no further than The Ship on The Shore for a meal you're likely to remember!

Getting around townThe
main airport is less than 30 minutes from the city centre by car or taxi and
there's plenty of public transport should you choose to use of buses or trains.

you get to the city itself pretty much everything is accessible by foot,
especially if you decide to stay on or close to Princes Street.

George R Vaughan 
Source: http://womentalking.co.uk/new//topics/travel/city-trippers/


By The Hoopla May 3, 2012
Tattoos… I’ve had a few… then again… I do regret them!

Today at a cosmetic surgery conference in Cairns, one Dr Eddie Roos will give a speech about tattoo removal. There has been a 10 percent increase in the rise of laser surgery removal procedures in the past year, he says.

Some patterns are beginning to emerge among patients. (Apart from Bluebirds of Happiness and skulls.)

“Most people are young, they feel they’ve got a rite of passage, they’ve got the love of their life and they tattoo the name on themselves,” he told AAP.

“The most common remark is, ‘I was young and stupid, I had the tattoo done and now I regret it’.

“Whether it’s just some Chinese letters on their body, or some other symbol, and we remove quite a few Southern Crosses as well.

“We do a fair bit of removing names and words that have been spelled wrong.”

Dr Roos said most patients are females between the age of 20-30, but older patients were not uncommon.

He said improving technology meant around 85 per cent of tattoos could be completely removed without scars.

But Dr Roos said tattoo removal is still an uncomfortable procedure.

“It’s much more painful to get a tattoo removed than to apply it,” he said.

“It also takes a lot longer to remove it, even though the treatment with the newer lasers is fairly quick.”

He said most tattoos required between five and 12 treatments to be removed, at a cost of up to $300 per treatment.

(The Cosmetex Conference will run in Cairns until tomorrow May 4.)

DIANA ARSANA wrote about her horror of tattoos in The Hoopla last year…

My daughter had been begging for a tattoo for at least two years.

Her then boyfriend was covered in them – and they even made a trip to Las Vegas so that he could get one from a renowned tattooist there.

All my protestations that she'd live to regret it, that it would ruin her beauty, that it was a passing fashion had no effect.

She kept begging. And I kept saying no.

Angelina Jolie… well known for her love of tattoos.

The only lasting threat I could think of was that I would kick her out of the house if she got one. Now 20, she was in her third year of university, and despite a part-time job would find living away from home not quite up to her standards.

It didn't help that her father (my ex) also went to Las Vegas and got one – a spider on his neck. Wasn't that a particularly attractive addition to his rugged good looks?

No, she was determined. Even after she eventually split up with her boyfriend, she believed it was a cool thing to ink her body.

What is it about tattoos that is so cool? I don't get it.

Really the only people who look good with them are Maori, Samoans – those who wear them for cultural reasons – and maybe sailors.

But there's many reasons these days why it's so popular – from getting noticed, to a badge of honour, from identifying with a group to a sign of social rejection.

Source: http://thehoopla.com.au/tattos-stories-draft//

Antipsychotics Do Help Many With Schizophrenia, Study Finds (5/3/2012)

Antipsychotics Do Help Many With Schizophrenia, Study Finds (5/3/2012)

Antipsychotics Do Help Many With Schizophrenia, Study Finds (5/3/2012)

Antipsychotics Do Help Many With Schizophrenia, Study Finds

More than 50 years of data shows the drugs cut relapse rates, although side effects common.
THURSDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- A new study finds that antipsychotic drugs can help many people with schizophrenia, cutting patients' risk of relapse by 60 percent.

The study, involving data stretching back 50 years, also found that schizophrenia patients who take antipsychotics are much less likely to be hospitalized and may behave less aggressively and have a better quality of life than patients who don't take the drugs.

One expert said the finding mirrors what he and other professionals have experienced.

The data "is consistent with what we see in clinical practice -- that we are very well able to keep our patients functioning better and out of the hospital when they consistently take these medications," said Dr. Roberto Estrada, attending psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

The findings are published in the May 3 online edition of The Lancet.

In the study, German researchers combed through findings from 65 clinical trials reported in 116 articles published between 1959 and 2011. The trials included nearly 6,500 patients with schizophrenia.

After one year, relapse rates were 27 percent among patients who took antipsychotic drugs and 64 percent among those who took an inactive placebo, the review found. Rates of hospital readmission were 10 percent for patients who took antipsychotics and 26 percent for those who took a placebo.

Evidence from five studies indicated that patients who took antipsychotic drugs behaved less aggressively, and findings from three studies suggested that they have a better quality of life.

Antipsychotic drugs are the main type of treatment for people with schizophrenia, but they can cause serious side effects. Indeed, the investigators found that patients who took antipsychotic drugs had more negative side effects than those who took a placebo, including movement disorders (16 percent versus 9 percent), sedation (13 percent versus 9 percent), and weight gain (10 percent versus 6 percent).

Antipsychotic medications can also be expensive, the authors noted. In 2010, about $18.5 billion was spent worldwide on antipsychotic drugs, according to a journal news release.

Estrada agreed that the drugs have their drawbacks. "The cost and adverse effects associated with antipsychotics remain major impediments to achieving more successful treatment of schizophrenia," he said. "Further work needs to be done to develop more effective treatments for schizophrenia that are better-tolerated and thus likely to improve patients' adherence to taking these medications."

Still, the take-home message from the new study is clear, the study authors said.

"Antipsychotic maintenance treatment substantially reduces relapse risk in all patients with schizophrenia for up to 2 years of follow-up," Stefan Leucht from the Technical University of Munich, and colleagues, said in a journal news release "The effect was robust in important subgroups such as patients who had only one episode, those in remission," he added.

Benefits seemed to occur regardless of whether patients took older or newer forms of antipsychotic drugs, Leucht added. However, for many patients "the drugs seemed to lose their effectiveness with time," he said.

Another expert said that, while the medications are not perfect, they have eased the suffering of many patients.

"This study confirms clinical observations going back to the early 1950s -- that is, antipsychotic drugs are effective in reducing the symptoms associated with schizophrenia. The decreased number of patients in long-term mental health facilities, such as state mental hospitals, is a testimonial to this," said Dr. Norman Sussman, a psychiatrist at NYU Langone Medical Center and professor at the NYU School of Medicine in New York City.
"Hopefully, even better treatments will emerge in the near future that have fewer adverse effects and more robust therapeutic impact on cognition and social functioning," Sussman said.

Source: http://www.womenshealt.gov/new/news/headlines/664331.cfm/

Rabu, 02 Mei 2012


May 2, 2012
It's a well-worn mantra from some politicians that Australians are "doing it tough".

Not so, says a new study called Prices These Days! The Cost of Living in Australia.

According to the study, complaints about the rising cost of living appear to have little basis in fact.

Incomes have more than kept up with prices, and in 2009-10 the average family was $224 a week better off than in 2003-04.

The study, by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling at the University of Canberra and AMP, says it is ”bigger lifestyles” rather than higher costs that are exerting pressures on many households.

The study shows income and pension gains and a decade of low inflation have meant all family types are relatively better off, including working families with children, pensioners, high-income earners, and even families in the lowest-income bracket.

Power bills, mortgages, medical services, fruit and vegetables are all up in price.

Computers, and appliances are down. Petrol has increased 208 percent since 1984, but is still cheaper than in every country except the US, Canada and Mexico.

What are we spending our money on? Holidays, eating out, alcohol, tobacco and fast foods.

So, are we enjoying the good life, but complaining more? What do you think?

Source: http://thehoopla.com.au/stop-whining-fine//

Clues to 'Slacker' Behavior Found in Brain, Study Says (5/2/2012)

Clues to 'Slacker'  Behavior Found in Brain, Study Says (5/2/2012)

Clues to 'Slacker' Behavior Found in Brain, Study Says (5/2/2012)

Clues to 'Slacker' Behavior Found in Brain, Study Says

Levels of the chemical dopamine in key regions of the brain may influence motivation.

WEDNESDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- Chemistry in three areas of the brain may influence your motivation levels, a new, small study says.

Along with providing new information about how the brain works, this study could prove important in finding ways to treat depression, schizophrenia, attention-deficit disorder and other types of mental illness linked with decreased motivation, Vanderbilt University researchers said.

The researchers monitored brain activity in 25 volunteers, aged 18 to 29, as they performed a task designed to assess their willingness to work for a cash reward.

The results showed that "go-getters" who were willing to work hard for a reward had higher release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in areas of the brain known to play an important role in reward and motivation -- the striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex.

But "slackers" -- those who were less willing to work hard for a reward -- had higher levels of dopamine in a brain area involved in emotion and risk perception, known as the anterior insula. Dopamine's role in this area of the brain surprised the researchers.

"Past studies in rats have shown that dopamine is crucial for reward motivation, but this study provides new information about how dopamine determines individual differences in the behavior of human reward-seekers," study author Michael Treadway, a post-doctoral student, said in a university news release.

The study appears in the May 2 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

"At this point, we don't have any data proving that this 20-minute snippet of behavior corresponds to an individual's long-term achievement, but if it does measure a trait variable such as an individual's willingness to expend effort to obtain long-term goals, it will be extremely valuable," co-author David Zald, a professor of psychology, said in the news release.

Further research is needed to determine whether differences in dopamine levels play a role in the lower levels of motivation seen in people with certain types of mental illness.

"Right now our diagnoses for these disorders is often fuzzy and based on subjective self-report of symptoms," Zald said. "Imagine how valuable it would be if we had an objective test that could tell whether a patient was suffering from a deficit or abnormality in an underlying neural system. With objective measures we could treat the underlying conditions instead of the symptoms."

Source: http://www.womenshealt.gov/new/news/headlines/664313.cfm/