News Round-Up: December 2008 2nd Edition

Here is some of the psychiatry-related news in this third edition of the News Round-Up for December.

Blog News

Vaughan at Mind Hacks writes about a courageous psychologist Marjorie Mire who was killed in Colombia while carrying out work for Medellin’s Peace and Reconciliation Program. Vaughan has also become a columnist at ‘The Psychologist’. Mental nurse blog reviews 58 and 59 reference a number of blog articles and a theme at the moment is a balanced discussion of the work that is done as well as the difficulties inherent in social work following Baby P’s death. Sandy G over at The Mouse Trap writes a very good article on revenge and forgiveness and also looks at 101 fascinating brain blogs.

There was a discussion of mental health blogs in this episode of ‘All in the Mind’ featuring bloggers Mandy Lawrence and Seaneen Molloy as well as a mention of Aethelread the Unread, Mental Nurse and Experimental Chimp. Brain stimulant covers a new journal about brain stimulation as well as a new blog by a man who is due to receive a brain stimulating device for depression and describes  himself as patient ‘278-005’.  The Neurocritic takes a look at Pareidolia and self-injury in the forearm. Over at PsychCentral, John Grohol looks at the benefits of blogging. Roy at Shrinkrap writes about the GrandRounds over at Sharpbrains. The Genetic Genealogist looks at the security of genetic information and also at the genetics of indigenous populations. Dr Deb writes about sarcasm with an interesting link to the neuroanatomy of sarcasm.


There was an open-label study of Citalopram in 54 people with traumatic brain injury (tbi) and major depressive disorder (mdd) treated for 6 weeks or 26 people (with tbi and mdd) treated for 6 weeks. The authors found that at 10 weeks, 26.9% of people were in remission and that the results were less than previous studies in people with tbi but equivalent to results in the general population. However it should be noted that there is no placebo group although this does reflect real world practice where both the patient and doctor know which treatment is being prescribed (STT4). There was found to be a reduction in Anterior Cingulate Cortex volume in people with depression in a recent study and there was evidence that this was mediated both by depression and short term treatment  (paper freely available here) (STT4).


A SPECT study in 46 people with schizophrenia looked at striatal D2 receptor occupancy rates in the case of four antipsychotics. They found the following upper limits for receptor occupancy: Risperidone – 75%, Olanzapine – 84%, Clozapine – 53% and Quetiapine – 64% (STT4).


There is a special issue of Hippocampus dedicated to grid cells. These are special types of cells in the Entorhinal Cortex similar to place cells except that they code for a larger part of the environment. Place cells are neurons that fire in certain parts of an environment – at the centre of the place they code for, they will fire very fast. The firing rate slopes off on moving further away from the centre. Grid cells are quite curious in that they seem to code for the entire environment, with firing rates peaking at multiple points in an environment which are related to each other in simple geometrical patterns. What is even more curious is that these cells fire in the dark suggesting a role for proprioceptive information. Harrison and Tunbridge argue in a review that the COMT gene may predispose men and women differently to psychiatric illnesses (STT4). In the BMJ, a study involving three generations of subjects in the Framingham Heart Study, looked at social networks using detailed information on the subjects and showed evidence that happiness in a person is associated with happiness in members of their social network particularly if they live nearby (STT2). In another study there was found to be an increased risk of developing a heart attack of 1/3 in those who had panic disorder under the age of 50 (STT1).


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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