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Last Updated: Nov 18, 2006 - 1:55:25 PM

Urology Channel
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Latest Research : Urology

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Pinpointing Causes of Overactive Bladder in Brain
Jan 24, 2006 - 6:04:00 PM, Reviewed by: Dr. Priya Saxena

Those with good bladder control had increased activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, a region of the brain associated with deciding between alternative courses of action.

Millions of people have the sudden urge to go, often at the most inconvenient times -- a condition called overactive bladder. Although little is known about the causes of overactive bladder in otherwise healthy people, new research reported in a recent issue of the Journal of Urology and at a recent meeting of the International Continence Society suggests part of the answer can be found in a certain area of the brain.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI technology, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh scanned the brains of six people with good bladder control and six people with poor bladder control while filling and withdrawing liquid from their bladders.

Those with good bladder control had increased activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, a region of the brain associated with deciding between alternative courses of action. In contrast, fMRI showed that those with poor bladder control had little activity in this part of the brain, even when their bladders were full. Instead, other parts of their brains were activated.

According to lead author, Derek Griffiths, Ph.D., professor of geriatric medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, finding that poor bladder control is associated with weak activation of the orbitofrontal cortex is consistent with clinical observations that stroke and other types of injury to this part of the brain can cause bladder problems. This study suggests that treatment strategies for overactive bladder should target the brain rather than the bladder, adds Dr. Griffiths.

- Journal of Urology


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The University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences include the schools of Medicine, Nursing, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and the Graduate School of Public Health. The schools serve as the academic partner to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Together, their combined mission is to train tomorrow's health care specialists and biomedical scientists, engage in groundbreaking research that will advance understanding of the causes and treatments of disease, and participate in the delivery of outstanding patient care. In fiscal year 2004, Pitt and its institutional affiliates ranked 7th nationally among educational institutions in grant support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Approximately 93 percent of this $396 million in NIH support went to the Schools of the Health Sciences and their affiliates.

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