News Round-Up: June 2009 4th Edition

Research in Dementia

In one post-mortem study all subjects with Lewy Bodies were retrospectively found to be functionally impaired although the calculation of an odds ratio was not possible (paper freely available here) (Byford et al, 2009)(STT4). A type of swelling in the Purkinje cell axons referred to as a Torpedo was found to be elevated in people with Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and to a greater extent in cerebellar essential tremor in this post-mortem study (Louis et al, 2009)(STT5). In an autopsy series (n=466) there was found to be no association between a measure of atherosclerosis in the circle of Willis (a marker of large vessel disease) and amyloid plaque in the frontal cortex or neurofibrillary tangles in the hippocampus (Luoto et al, 2009)(STT4).

Research in Psychosis

A naturalistic study (n=325) provided evidence that had greater efficacy for treatment of schizophrenia (using outcome measures including the PANSS) than chlorpromazine or haloperidol (Ravanic et al, 2009)(STT4).

News in Brief

In a prospective 5-year study of 906 older adults decreasing social activities (using a Likert Scale) were significantly associated with decreasing motor skills including strength and balance. A comparison of elderly people in the United States (from the Health and Retirement Study) and England (from the English longitudinal study of Aging) found that the American cohort performed significantly better on a number of cognitive measures than their counterparts in England. Members of the researcher team suggested that different treatment approaches to hypertension between the two countries may have contributed to these differences. The long and short versions of the period3 gene have been implicated in response to sleep deprivation and this study found that a different pattern of recruitment of cortical regions in a working memory task which the authors suggest as a potential intermediate step in the causal chain from gene to sleep deprivation response. A study has provided evidence that Amitriptylline binds to the tRKA and tRKB receptors causing dimerisation and results in outgrowth of neurites actions which parallel those of Nerve Growth Factor.

An MRI study (n=77 roughly) of people with dyslexia and a roughly equal number of controls without provided evidence of a difference between the groups in the right cerebellar declive and the right lentiform nucleus (the original article is freely available here). There have been previous studies which have implicated the cerebellum in language. The Canadian ‘Center for Addiction and Mental Health’ recently estimated that 1/25 of deaths globally are alcohol related (also covered here). Gaze is important in human social interactions and one study provided evidence that our interpretation of another person’s direction of gaze is influenced by our understanding of their internal state. These findings are relevant to social cognition theory. The authors of a recently published meta-analysis concluded that CBT was not effective in treatment of schizophrenia or in prevention of relapse in Bipolar Disorder and it will be interesting to see responses to this meta-analysis. A recent study provided evidence that Rhesus monkeys and humans share a similar mechanism for recognising faces by using a paradigm which involved the ‘Thatcher Effect’. This involves inverting facial features, the eyes and mouth and interferes with the task of facial recognition in both species.

In one study, students with higher levels of anxiety were found to spend more time focusing on irrelevant words (distractors) in a reading task. They were also given a maths task and it was found that the correct responses were similar in both the anxiety and control groups but the former group took longer to complete the tasks. (the article is freely available here). A recent study involved 1224 bloggers and found that the main principles which bloggers valued were ‘truth, accountability, minimising harm and attribution’. Depending on the purpose of the blog, the priority of these values differed. Three 35,000 year-old bone and ivory flutes have been found in Germany.


Byford M, Brayne C, McKeith I, Chatfield M, Ince PG, Matthews FE, Cfas. Neuropathology Group M.BMC Geriatr. 2009 Jun 15;9(1):22. [Epub ahead of print]. Lewy bodies and neuronal loss in subcortical areas and disability in non-demented older people: a population based neuropathological cohort study.

Louis ED, Faust PL, Vonsattel JP, Honig LS, Rajput A, Rajput A, Pahwa R, Lyons KE, Ross WG, Elble RJ, Erickson-Davis C, Moskowitz CB, Lawton A. Mov Disord. 2009 Jun 12. [Epub ahead of print]. Torpedoes in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, essential tremor, and control brains.

Luoto TM, Haikonen S, Haapasalo H, Goebeler S, Huhtala H, Erkinjuntti T, Karhunen PJ. Eur Neurol. 2009 Jun 12;62(2):93-98. [Epub ahead of print]. Large Vessel Cerebral Atherosclerosis Is Not in Direct Association with Neuropathological Lesions of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Ravanic DB, Dejanovic SM, Janjic V, Jovic SD, Milovanovic DR, Jakovljevic V, Pantovic V, Ravanic B, Pantovic M, Pantovic MM.Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2009 Jun;67(2A):195-202. Effectiveness of clozapine, haloperidol and chlorpromazine in schizophrenia during a five-year period.


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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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