News Round-Up: August 2009 3rd Edition

News in Brief

In a structural MRI study looking at 679 people (>=65 years) there was found to be an increased association between memory impairment and white matter hyperintensities and also an association between strokes and  non-memory cognitive impairment which remained after correction for factors such as APOE4 status and age. A mutation in a gene – hDEC2 that occurs in an extended family that require only 6 hours of sleep has been associated with sleep duration using additional indirect evidence. A cross-sectional study (the HUNT study) with 50,843 participants showed a significant association between an increased prevalence of occasional headaches and higher levels of caffeine intake. They also found that lower levels of caffeine consumption were associated with an increased prevalence of chronic headaches. The authors of a PNAS study demonstrated increased toxicity associated with increased size of ABeta dimers that constitute the ABeta plaques. In a prospective longitudinal study of 1880 New York community dwellers there were found to be significant associations between consumption of a Mediterranean diet, exercise and a reduction in the prevalence of dementia. An american study of 630 drivers aged 55 to 93 found that 28% of the drivers were not aware of the effect of medications on driving. An intriguing in vitro study provided evidence that the antipsychotic pimozide kills several types of cancer cells. Another study provided evidence that formal education reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease even if there was a reduction in brain volume. New drugs – ATPZ’s have been identified which prevent the formation of  Alzheimer’s Disease tau protein clumping in vitro.

With increasing numbers of under-18 drinkers in the UK developing liver disease and being admitted to hospital, the charity Alcohol Concern has called for an increase in the pricing of drinks. In a presentation at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, a recommendation has been made for managing childhood obesity by encouraging positive body image and exercise in children. The NHS has been criticised in a developing argument about the future of American Healthcare and Gordon Brown has joined in the defence of the NHS using twitter!

A study with a small sample size provides initial results that suggest that westerners and East Asian people interpret facial expressions differently with the former group focusing on the whole face and the latter group focusing on eyes. However as noted, the sample size here is small and a larger replication study is needed to draw firmer conclusions in this regards. In another study, there was found to be an association between reading emotional words  and activation of muscles that are used during expression of those emotions. Further, providing people were able to use the associated muscles they experienced the relevant emotions when reading the emotional words and this influenced their judgements. Evidence from a Spanish 48,000 year old Neanderthal specimen shows the presence of a gene coding for bitter taste meaning the detection of bitter tastes occurred before the divergence of Neanderthals and humans. A 4000 year old tomb has been found in Forteviot, Scotland causing a significant reevaluation of not only local history but also significant events in Neolithic culture. Researchers found in one study that Capuchin monkeys spent more time near researchers if they mimicked the monkeys which was interpreted as meaning that mimicry is important for social bonding in these monkeys. If such findings are replicated and this mechanism has been conserved through primate evolution it may have implications for social interactions in humans.

Blog Round-Up

Mind Hacks has a very good edition of spike activity with links to coverage of studies on beliefs in science, a meta-analysis of antidepressants in the BMJ and an association between time perception and anger. The debate about the NHS discussed above is covered by Mental Nurse and also Frontier Psychiatrist with lots of discussion in the comments section of both posts. There is also coverage of the debate over at the Health Informatics Blog. The Neurocritic has coverage of the study looking at cultural differences in interpretation of emotions discussed above. Dr Shock has an interesting discussion of the neuroanatomy of psychopathy but check out the links to see the complexity of such a discussion. Over at PsychCentral, John Grohol looks at a study of jealousy in relationships on Facebook. Primatology net have coverage of a study which provides evidence that humans evolved from tree-climbers rather than ‘knuckle walkers’.  Somatosphere have a link to audio files made of the lectures in a course that Foucalt gave and are also celebrating the first year of their blog. Tangled Neuron looks at how people respond to a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment. Allan’s blog looks at the amplified conference – the transformation of the conference experience using new technologies. At the EMDRIA blog there is a post on a conference celebrating the 20th anniversary of EMDR. Over at the Beck Institute Blog there is coverage of a study comparing CBT and short term psychodynamic psychotherapy in the treatment of Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Dr Deb looks at prolonged grief disorder in this article. Over at Jung at Heart, controversies in diagnostic classification are discussed using ‘inadequate lashes’ as a focal point. The Everyday Sociology blog looks at a Goffmanian interpretation of jury service and a fascinating historical perspective on body image and weight loss in the 20th century. Over at the social science statistics blog the original Hawthorne Effect study is revisited. The Neuropathology Blog looks at the College of American Psychologist’s discussion of pathologist’s bloggers.


You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast).


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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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