gothenburg university

Crown suggests Queen Arsinoë II ruled ancient Egypt as female pharaoh
Date: November 29, 2010 Source: University of Gothenburg

Queen Arsinoë II in the Philae temple, Aswan, Egypt.

Researchers are largely agreed on Queen Arsinoë II’s importance from the day that she was deified. She was put on a level with the ancient goddesses Isis and Hathor, and was still respected and honoured 200 years after her death when her better-known descendant Cleopatra wore the same crown. But the reasons behind Arsinoë’s huge influence have been interpreted in many different ways.

Maria Nilsson has studied her historical importance by interpreting her personal crown and its ancient symbols.“My conclusion instead is that Arsinoë was a female pharaoh and high priestess who was equal to and ruled jointly with her brother and husband, and that she was deified during her actual lifetime,” says Nilsson. “It was this combination of religion and politics that was behind her long-lived influence.”

The thesis is clearly structured around the crown and includes its wider context in the reliefs. Nilsson paints an all-round picture of the queen, how she dressed, the gods she was depicted with, the titles she was given, and so on.

Source: University of Gothenburg. “Crown suggests Queen Arsinoë II ruled ancient Egypt as female pharaoh.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101128194011.htm>.

Hunger can really disrupt your decision making

According to a new study from the University of Gothenburg, the hormone your stomach releases when you’re hungry can take a toll on your decision-making skills and impulse control. While the solution to hunger and hanger is a simple one (eat), University of Gothenburg researchers said their latest findings may offer some perspective into more complicated issues.

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Hormones that are released during hunger affect decision making

When hungry, the hormone ghrelin is produced in the stomach. In a new study conducted on rats at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, the hormone has been shown to have a negative effect on decision making capabilities and impulse control.

“For the first time, we have been able to show that increasing ghrelin to levels that are seen prior to meals or during fasting, causes the brain to act impulsively and also affects the ability to make rational decisions,” says Karolina Skibicka, docent at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

Impulsivity

Impulsivity is complex, but can be broken down into impulsive action (inability to resist a motoric response) and impulsive choice (inability to delay gratification).

Many have experienced the difficulty of resisting getting a sandwich or something else, even if we know that dinner will be served soon, and the same is true for the rats used in the study.

The rats can be trained to be rewarded (with sugar) when they execute an action such as pressing a lever (“go”) - or instead they can be rewarded only when they resist pressing the lever (“no-go”) when an appropriate learned signal is given. They learn this by repeatedly being given a signal, for example, a flash of light or a buzzing sound that tells them which action should be executed for them to receive their reward.

Were given ghrelin

An inability to resist pressing the lever, when the “no-go” signal is given, is a sign of impulsivity. Researchers found that rats given ghrelin directly into the brain, which mimics how the stomach would notify us of a need to eat, were more likely to press the lever instead of waiting, despite it causing them loose their reward.

The ability to delay gratification in order to get a greater reward later is a comparable measure of impulsive choice (decision). It can be illustrated by options such as those between getting a single cookie now or several cookies if you wait a few minutes, or overeating high-calorie foods for immediate feeling of pleasure while disregarding the long term benefits of eating less or eating healthy.

The person who chooses immediate gratification even though waiting provides a greater reward, is characterized as being more impulsive and that implies a poorer ability to make rational decisions.

Reduced the impulsive behavior 

Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy found that higher levels of ghrelin prevented the rats from being able to wait for the greater reward. They further evaluated where in the brain ghrelin acts to affect impulsivity.

“Our results showed that restricting ghrelin effects to the ventral tegmental area, the part of the brain that is a crucial component of the reward system, was sufficient to make the rats more impulsive. Importantly, when we blocked ghrelin, the impulsive behavior was greatly reduced,” says Karolina Skibicka.
Even a short period of fasting, a more natural way of increasing the release of ghrelin, increased impulsive behavior.

Long-term changes

Impulsivity is a distinctive feature of many neuropsychiatric disorders and behavior disorders such as ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), drug abuse and eating disorders.

The study also showed that increased levels of ghrelin even caused long-term genetic changes in the brain circuits that are linked to impulsivity and decision making. A ghrelin injection into the brain that resulted in impulsive behavior in rats, caused the same type of changes in dopamine related genes and enzymes as can be seen in ADHD and OCD.

“Our results indicate that the ghrelin receptors in the brain can be a possible target for future treatment of psychiatric disorders that are characterized by problems with impulsivity and even eating disorders,” says Karolina Skibicka.

“Our study is conducted on rats, they are an excellent model of impulsive behaviors present in humans, but of course our results should be confirmed in a clinical setting”, says Karolina Skibicka.

The article The Stomach-Derived Hormone Ghrelin Increases Impulsive Behavior was published in the journal, Neuropsychopharmacology in April.

Uterus Transplant (First Trial) Results!

University of Gothenburg (Sweden) researchers began a human trial of Uterus transplants from live donors in early 2013. Nine patients have undergone this trial, and so far the 6 month post-op results show great prospective! 

With these stable results, the researchers are taking the next step in order to help 7 of these women get pregnant through in vitro fertilization. It’s so exciting to see such innovative work being done! 

We are still quite a bit away from seeing it oked for U.S., but another big problem that is being raised is the ethics (of course, its medicine) of the surgery. Do you have any thoughts on how great/terrible it will be?

Diagnostic method for Alzheimer´s becomes international standard

Everyone naturally builds the beta amyloid protein in his or her brain. The protein’s normal function is not completely mapped, but one theory is that it participates in the formation and removal of synapses, which is vital in enabling the brain to form new memories.

Remain in the brain

Beta amyloid built by healthy people is quickly transported out to the spinal fluid and blood. But with Alzheimer’s, the beta amyloids remain in the brain, where they clump together and begin to damage the synapses, which leads to brain, nerve cell death.

This process can begin in middle age and continue unnoticed for decades until the nerve cells are so damaged that symptoms take the form of a memory disorder and impaired cognitive abilities. At that point, the disease is felt to be too advanced to be treated, so intensive worldwide research is underway to find methods that diagnose Alzheimer’s sooner.

Exact measure

After decades of research, Henrik Zetterberg and Kaj Blennow at Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, were able to develop a method that measures the exact amount of beta amyloid in spinal fluid and diagnose Alzheimer’s ten to thirty years before the disease becomes symptomatic.

“If the concentration of beta amyloid in the spinal fluid is abnormally low, it indicates that the protein is sticking in the brain, which is the earliest sign of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Henrik Zetterberg.

Global reference

The Gothenburg researchers’ pioneering studies have gained wide international recognition since the measurement method they developed was approved as the global reference method.

“This means that the method will be used as the norm for standardizing beta amyloid measurements around the world. With the help of the standard, people who are worried about Alzheimer’s disease can be tested, and get the same results regardless of whether it is done in San Francisco, Sao Paolo, London, Gothenburg or Cape town,” says Kaj Blennow.

“We put a lot of effort into this project and it has been initiated and conducted, and now completed by us at Gothenburg within the framework of a global cooperation project that we head,” says Henrik Zetterberg.

Promising result for drug candidates

This major advance coincides with recent studies that show promising results for different drug candidates that attack Alzheimer’s disease and target beta amyloids.“These new drugs will likely prove most effective for persons who have just begun to accumulate beta amyloids in their brain. Then a well-proven and standardized method becomes crucial, as it ensures that these people are identified in a diagnostically safe and precise manner,” says Kaj Blennow.