News Round-Up 15-21st September 2008

In this news round-up research shows that a cognitive intervention can improve autobiographical memory in schizophrenia, that treating obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) can improve cognition in people with both Alzheimer’s Disease and OSA, that playing loud music made men drink beer more quickly (!), that measures of resilience could be useful in assessing PTSD and that there may be some justification for creating a separate category of Parkinson’s Disease associated with REM sleep behavioural disorder.


A fascinating study compared people with schizophrenia and controls in a number of different measures of functioning in ‘later life’. Occurence of paranoid ideation in a group of healthy volunteers from Iran was comparable with results from Europe. Interventions including prompting recall of events and looking at identity improved autobiographical memory in people with schizophrenia.


Testing navigation skills using a virtual reality paradigm was found to be an effective means of detecting difficulties and comparable with real world conditions. Having previously been involved in work in this area in people who underwent lobectomies, I can see that this can be a very promising avenue for research in dementia (STT3). Doubling times for the incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease is approximately 5 years in one recent study which showed no significant geographic difference in doubling times (STT1-2). A variant of the KIBRA gene has been associated with risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and episodic memory (STT4). A significant improvement in cognition was found in people with Alzheimer’s Disease who received treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (STT1).

Affective Disorders

300 people with Bipolar I disorder (with mania) were randomised into treatment with Lithium or Valproate. The trial was relative short in duration at 12-weeks but non-inferiority of Valproate to Lithium was demonstrated using Young Mania Rating Scale scores (STT3). In this randomised double-blind augmentation study in major depressive disorder, Fluoxetine plus Quetiapine achieved a more rapid improvement in insomnia but not a more rapid improvement in depression scores compared to fluoxetine alone (STT1). Quality of life improved in a large randomised double-blind placebo controlled trial of escitalopram in major depressive disorder or generalised anxiety disorder . However quality of life scores approached that of a community sample in remission in major depression but was less in generalised anxiety disorder (STT1).

Anxiety and Related Disorders

A study looking at Venlafaxine Extended release form in PTSD found that it had a variable effect on resilience scores using the Connor Davidson Resilience Scale. The authors recommend the use of such measures in evaluating response in PTSD (STT2).

Alcohol and Substance Misuse

A study looking at 40 men drinking beer in a bar found that louder music made them drink more quickly (STT1). Research has found a specific alteration of the immune response in people with alcohol dependence. The researchers found that the neutrophil’s ‘respiratory burst’ was reduced. When neutrophils ‘consume’ bacteria or foreign particles, they are thought to destroy them using this respiratory burst which involves the action of powerful enzymes such as Superoxide Dismutase (STT1). Other research has begun to identify some of the brain changes that might occur in Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). In Diffuse Tensor Imaging, the movement of water molecules allows visualisation of the white matter tracts. In this study 24 children between 5 and 13 years of age with FASD were compared with 95 controls in the same age range. The researchers found that not only was the corpus callosum involved but also the inferior and superior longitudinal fasciculi, thalamus and putamen (STT4). A survey of 289 members of Alcoholics Anonymous found an increase rate of smoking and that smokers reported that it impacted on their mood (STT2-4).


The findings in a study of Rem Sleep Behavioural Disorder in Parkinson’s Disease suggest that this may be a sub-type of Parkinson’s Disease. They found that if the sleep disorder occurred, then the tremor was less marked in the Parkinson’s Disease, that people were less responsive to the medication and had a higher frequency of falls (STT1-3). A study is taking place into near-death experiences. The idea behind the study is that books will be placed on shelves that are only visible from the ceiling. People awaking after operations very occasionally describe these experiences of floating above their body and witnessing the operation. This is a novel experiment (STT5). An autopsy study suggested an association between low potency first and second generation antipsychotics and pulmonary embolism although this was retrospective and involved 239 people out of the initial 14439 (STT2).


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.


  1. […] The Amazing World of Psychiatry wrote a fantastic post today on “News Round-Up 15-21st September 2008″Here’s ONLY a quick extractResearch has found a specific alteration of the immune response in people with alcohol dependence. The researchers found that the neutrophil’s ‘respiratory burst’ was reduced. When neutrophils ‘consume’ bacteria or foreign particles, … […]


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