Urban air pollution is associated with an increased risk for psychotic experiences in teenagers, researchers reported in JAMA Psychiatry. The study included 2,063 British teenagers whose health had been followed from birth through 18. Compared with teenagers who lived where pollution was lowest, those in the most polluted areas were 27 to 72 percent more likely to have psychotic experiences, depending on the type of pollutant; exposure to two pollutants, nitrogen dioxide and nitrogen oxides, accounted for 60 percent of the association.
Circadian rhythm shifts may help brain
New research suggests that subtle disruptions to circadian rhythms — as happens with a long flight across time zones — might actually be beneficial for brain health. The study by researchers at Northwestern University found that fruit flies carrying a gene for Huntington’s disease appeared to receive a protective boost against the brain-damaging illness when researchers changed the insects’ sleep cycles in a way similar to jet lag. The team also found that silencing a circadian clock-controlled gene produced a similar benefit. “It seems counterintuitive, but we showed that a little bit of stress is good,” said Ravi Allada, a physician who heads the neurobiology department at the university’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and Pathology. “That stress appears to be neuroprotective.”