In the Science Podcast of 19th September 2008, there is a discussion of how to develop trusting social networks for science on the internet. One of the ideas is that if you want to use data from people on the internet, is there any way you could test to see how trustworthy that data will be. There is discussion of other research in which people who think they are being given the ‘cold shoulder’ rate the temperature of the room as 4 degrees lower than people who don’t think this. In a similar vein, people who thought they were being excluded from a game were more likely to ask for a warm drink afterwards. This relates to a phenomenon referred to as ’embodied cognition’. Other research is reported on in which elderly people, who underwent MRI scans on opening presents, developed a spike in dopaminergic activity but this was followed by less prefrontal cortex activation than younger people. There was discussion of how this might contribute to an understanding of why people tend to enjoy opening presents less as they get older. There is also other research in which deaf people are able to move their jaw to the correct position, when it is has been deliberately adjusted, even when their cochlear implants are turned off so as to pronounce words correctly. The inference is that speech requires other forms of feedback in addition to auditory, perhaps proprioceptive and somatosensory.
In the Nature podcast of 25.9.8, there is a discussion of the sequencing of human floral bacteria and the benefits that this might present. There is also discussion of some new evidence implicating gut bacteria in the onset of Diabetes I. The evidence suggests that some bacteria drain from the gut into the pancreatic lymph nodes. When they are here, they are thought to present antigens which cause tolerance in the local T-Cells to both the bacteria and the Pancreatic cells (presumably Islet of Langerhans cells). If this model were correct then a possible next step would be to look at the introduction of these bacteria in prevention – although further research will be needed to test this. This research has possible secondary implications in psychiatry (e.g CNS autoimmune processes and diabetes modifying cerebrovascular disease risk factors).
In the Lancet podcast of 20.9.8 there is a reinforcement of a previous statement from the journal requesting that asthma is considered as a syndrome rather than a disease. There is also discussion of research examining an association between paracetamol and asthma. Within psychiatry, continuing research in this area may be of relevance in various ways. For instance pain modifying factors in relation to asthma. However the risks of NSAID’s such as aspirin exacerbating asthma are also discussed as is the continued role of paracetamol in this condition.
In the 24.9.8 NEJM podcast (you can subscribe here) an alteplase trial placebo-controlled trial in acute ischaemic stroke was reported on showing no significant difference in mortality between groups. However clinical outcomes were significantly improved if alteplase was given 3 and 4.5 hours after onset of symptoms (versus placebo). It was emphasised however that rapid treatment (i.e before the study’s 3 hour window) is optimal.
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