News Round-Up: January 2009 3rd Edition

In this weeks News Round-Up, there is a study of a useful imaging marker for plaques and tangles, a finding of genetic factors associated with progression from separation anxiety to panic disorder and a heated discussion in the blogosphere about a new paper about neuroimaging methodology.

Research in Dementia

In a cross-sectional study of 76 people without dementia (mean age 67, 36 with mild cognitive impairment), FDDNP-PET signals (FDDNP stands for 2-(1-{6-[(2-[F-18]fluoroethyl)(methyl)amino]-2-napthyl}ethylidene) malonitrile and is a compound which binds to plaques/tangles) was correlated with older age, impaired cognition and APOE-4 carrier status (STT2-4).

Research in Liaison Psychiatry

A case-control study of 113 people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and 124 controls showed a 6-fold increase in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with self-reported childhood trauma. CFS was more likely if there was PTSD in addition (STT2).

Research in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

In a Norwegian twin study involving 712 adults, childhood separation anxiety disorder, CO2 hypersensitivity and adult panic disorder were influenced by a single variable which in turn was determined mainly by genetic factors (STT4).

Research in Psychosis

In an Eli-Lilly funded study of 7658 people with schizophrenia switched to or initiated on one of four antipsychotics, the median time to discontinuation was 30 months for Olanzapine, 23.1 months for Risperidone, 13.9 months for Quetiapine and 12.5 months for Haloperidol (STT4).

Research in Mood Disorders

In a report from the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression Study (STAR*D), 2875 people with major depressive disorder receiving citalopram were included in the analysis. 23.5% of participants were identified as having melancholic features and this group was associated with lower remission rates on the Citalopram (absolute reduction of 8.4% relative to the non-melancholic group). After adjustment for clinical features and demographic variables there was no significant difference between the groups (STT2). A longitudinal study of 242 people with bipolar disorder with both typical and atypical features showed that there was no difference between the two groups in terms of response to Lithium over a 20-year period on the mean morbidity index (STT2). In an american study, 314 psychiatrists were surveyed and 80% reported that they did not use clinical scales in the assessment and treatment of depression and a number of reasons for this were given (STT3).


One study was particularly interesting in terms of methodology. In this study, outpatients in a substance misuse service used ‘ecological momentary assessment’ (EMA) to report their mood, exposure to drug-use triggers and craving. The assessment was completed by utilisation of a handheld device (STT2).

Blog News

A paper which is causing a lot of heated discussion in the blogosphere is titled ‘Voodoo correlations in social neuroscience‘ by Vul and colleagues. This was initially reported on at Mind Hacks (see here). Neurocritic has been reporting in depth on this and is in his element (see December 2008 (31.12.08 ) and January 2009 (15.1.09) posts). A preliminary response to the paper by one author is located here and aside from the current debate contains some useful points for those interested in interpreting imaging studies. There are various points being made such as the reporting that has occurred in the media before the authors have been able to respond in print, the effect of reporting on perceptions of social neuroscience research and the potential benefits of the current dialogue. On the 10th anniversary of Nature Neuroscience, there is a post outlining the most cited studies the most popular of which was a study looking at the development of Parkinson’s Disease in people chronically exposed to pesticides.


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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