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Large trial will assess effectiveness of teaching mindfulness in UK schools

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Paula Kearney, UCL Academy teacher, talking to pupils (from left to right) Patricia Markauskaite, Enaya Ali and Haroon Hussein (credit: Wellcome Trust)

A major study to assess whether mindfulness training for teenagers can improve their mental health launches today, involving researchers from UCL alongside staff and students at the UCL Academy.

Commonly prescribed drugs affect decisions to harm oneself and others

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Pills

Healthy people given the serotonin-enhancing antidepressant citalopram were willing to pay almost twice as much to prevent harm to themselves or others than those given placebo drugs in a moral decision-making experiment at UCL.

Research reveals how the human brain might reconstruct past events

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Hippocampus activity seen when forming event memories

When remembering something from our past, we often vividly re-experience the whole episode in which it occurred. New UCL research funded by the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust has now revealed how this might happen in the brain.

Rats 'dream' paths to a brighter future

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Illustration of sleeping rat

When rats rest, their brains simulate journeys to a desired future such as a tasty treat, finds new UCL research funded by the Wellcome Trust and Royal Society.

Natural genetic variation gives complete resistance in prion diseases

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Prion protein expressed in E. coli

Researchers at the Medical Research Council’s Prion Unit at UCL have identified a naturally occurring variant of the human prion protein that produces resistance to prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). The findings, published in Nature, could give important insight into other human brain diseases that lead to dementia.

Working with Saracens to monitor concussion in rugby

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Saracens players wear patches in games and training

A team of UCL researchers have joined the ongoing Saracens study for the 2015/16 season, which combines impact sensors with blood samples to determine the effects of concussion on rugby players.

Missing molecule prevents puberty

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Hormones that trigger puberty in the mouse brain

A molecule important in blood vessel formation and brain wiring is also essential for the onset of puberty, finds new research led by UCL and the University of Milan.

Connecting places causes mental maps to merge

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CASA_Tube

Realising how places connect geographically causes local maps in the brain to join, forming one big map which helps with planning future journeys, finds a new UCL study.

Teenagers shape each other’s views on how risky a situation is

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Group of teenagers

Young adolescents’ judgements on how risky a situation might be are most influenced by what other teenagers think, while most other age groups are more influenced by adults’ views, finds new UCL research.

Crossing fingers can reduce feelings of pain

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Cold stimulus on the crossed middle finger

How you feel pain is affected by where sources of pain are in relation to each other, and so crossing your fingers can change what you feel on a single finger, finds new UCL research.

Structure of genetic messenger molecules reveals key role in diseases

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Illustration of how many connections form across mRNA molecules, where colour indicates the length of each connection

Messenger RNAs (mRNA) are linear molecules that contain instructions for producing the proteins that keep living cells functioning. A new study by UCL researchers has shown how the three-dimensional structures of mRNAs determine their stability and efficiency inside cells. This new knowledge could help to explain how seemingly minor mutations that alter mRNA structure might cause things to go wrong in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Assumptions of equality lead to poorer group decisions

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European Central Bank governing council meeting

People of differing competence tend to give each other’s views equal weight, preventing them from making the best group decisions, finds new UCL-led research.

Drugs Live results: how different types of cannabis affect the brain

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Channel 4 presenter Jon Snow inhaling cannabis

New UCL-led research reveals the positive and negative effects of different types of cannabis on the human brain, in a trial broadcast on Channel 4: Drugs Live: Cannabis on Trial.

Diabetes and depression predict dementia risk in people with slowing minds

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Old woman waiting at bus stop

People with mild cognitive impairment are at higher risk of developing dementia if they have diabetes or psychiatric symptoms such as depression, finds a new review led by UCL researchers.

UCL awarded £10m to develop new dementia treatments

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Examining embryos under the microscope

Alzheimer’s Research UK today announced a £30m Drug Discovery Alliance, launching three flagship Drug Discovery Institutes at UCL, the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford. The Drug Discovery Institutes will see 90 new research scientists employed in state-of-the-art facilities to fast-track the development of new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Having a romantic partner present can make pain feel worse

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Image of a similar experiment where the hand was stimulated by 'pinprick' laser pain pulses

The support of a romantic partner is often advised for painful medical procedures, but new research from UCL, King’s College London and the University of Hertfordshire finds that this can actually make the pain feel worse.

Major cause of blindness linked to calcium deposits in the eye

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Thousands of hydroxyapatite spheres (magenta), each just a few microns across, are found in large drusen deposits within the eye

Microscopic spheres of calcium phosphate have been linked to the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a major cause of blindness, by UCL-led research.

Tooth loss linked to slowing mind and body

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Older person

The memory and walking speeds of adults who have lost all of their teeth decline more rapidly than in those who still have some of their own teeth, finds new UCL research.

Scientists locate ‘homing signal’ in the brain, explaining why some people are better navigators

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Homing signal in the brain

The part of the brain that tells us the direction to travel when we navigate has been identified by UCL scientists, and the strength of its signal predicts how well people can navigate.

Family history screening misses people at high risk of cancer

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Eve Appeal

UCL research into the BRCA gene mutation in the Jewish population show that only assessing family history misses half of the people with the mutation.

Secret of tetanus toxicity offers new way to treat motor neuron disease

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Image showing how tetanus neurotoxin (red) binds to areas rich in nidogen-2 (green)

The way that tetanus neurotoxin enters nerve cells has been discovered by UCL scientists, who showed that this process can be blocked, offering a potential therapeutic intervention for tetanus. This newly-discovered pathway could be exploited to deliver therapies to the nervous system, opening up a whole new way to treat neurological disorders such as motor neuron disease and peripheral neuropathies.

Improving the lives of dementia carers

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Dementia patient

A psychological intervention that provides stress relief and emotional support for people caring for relatives with dementia can reduce depression and anxiety and improve wellbeing at no extra cost to standard care, finds new UCL research published in Lancet Psychiatry.

One in ten British men say they have paid for sex

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Red light district

11% of men in Britain report ever paying for sex and 3.6% report paying for sex in the past five years, finds a UCL-led study funded by the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council.

Most people would rather harm themselves than others for profit

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Example choice presented to participants

A UCL-led experiment on 80 pairs of adults found that people were willing to sacrifice on average twice as much money to spare a stranger pain than to spare themselves, despite the decision being secret.

Virtual reality helps people to comfort and accept themselves

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Virtual_reality

Self-compassion can be learned using avatars in an immersive virtual reality, finds new research led by UCL. This innovative approach reduced self-criticism and increased self-compassion and feelings of contentment in naturally self-critical individuals. The scientists behind the MRC-funded study say it could be applied to treat a range of clinical conditions including depression.

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