New Use for Ancient Memory Technique and Updated Neandertal Genome Sequence News Roundup: March 2013 4th Edition

Professor Wray Herbert has a very good write-up of a study looking at memory in people with Depression. The researchers found that an ancient technique for storing memories – the method of loci – was effective in helping people with Depression improve their recall of positive memories.

Joshua Foer Discusses the Method of Loci Memory Technique

There is an open-access paper on e-prescribing in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association where the authors have estimated a 48% reduction in medication errors (95% confidence interval of 41% to 55%). There is a good write-up of the paper here.

The Alzheimer’s Society website features a cognitive assessment toolkit for professionals here. The toolkit was developed in conjunction with the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Department of Health, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the College of Mental Health Pharmacy and the Dementia Action Alliance.

 

Neuroscience

There is an interesting interview with philosopher Professor Daniel Dennett here in which he briefly discusses his thoughts on empathy and reductionism.

Researchers have clarified the structures of the Serotonin 1B and 2B receptors using x-ray crystallography. This should aid in the development of drugs targeted to these receptors.

Video Explaining the Principles of X-Ray Crystallography

Neuroscientist Hugo Spiers discusses his research looking at London black cab drivers learning ‘the knowledge’. The research is helping to clarify the role of the Hippocampus.

Evolutionary Psychiatry

Dr. Svante Pääbo and colleagues have published a more complete sequence of the Neandertal genome. Pääbo and colleagues based at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have made the sequence freely available (the total sequence size is approximately 159 Gigabytes). The team extracted DNA from 0.038 grams of bone material from a phalanx discovered in the Denisova cave in the Altai mountains.  This cave is notable for the discovery of the Denisovans which are thought to be a separate species and the region is noted for the earliest evidence of dog-like canids (33000 years ago). The sample was contaminated with modern human DNA estimated at 1% of the sample. The team achieved a 50 fold coverage of the genome. Pääbo’s groundbreaking publication of the genome sequencing in 2010 revealed that approximately 3% of the modern human genome is inherited from Neandertals. There are several genes which differentiate humans and Neandertals and which are associated with illnesses. Associate Professor Hawks covers the announcement here.

A research team publishing in Current Biology have estimated the date of the last common human ancestor at 160,000 years ago. They obtained this figure after combining mitochondrial DNA data from specimens covering a period of 20,000 years with estimated DNA mutation rates.

Appendix

News Round-Up 2008-2011

News Round-Up 2012

Index: There are indices for the TAWOP site here and here Twitter: You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link. Podcast: You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast). It is available for a limited period. TAWOP Channel: You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link. Responses: If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail justinmarley17@yahoo.co.uk. Disclaimer: The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.

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