News Round-Up:October 2009 2nd Edition


I’ve recently started using Twitter. For those not familiar with Twitter, it can be thought of as the SMS of the internet. On opening an account you can enter text into a dialogue box and send it out to the twitter  stream. In other words you can send out your words to the twitter audience, but there is a limit of 140 characters. The reason i’m mentioning this is because I’ve been finding that it has lots of useful applications in keeping up to date. Many organisations including the NHS and the Royal College of Psychiatrists as well as journals and people with an interest in psychology, psychotherapy, pharmacology and neuroscience send out relevant tweets. Although many people have been using twitter to discuss more general issues or ‘chat’ online, twitter also facilitates exchange of current, relevant and useful information on specialised interests. The nature of the medium means that it becomes very easy to discuss the items with each other as well in a free flowing dialogue only a little different to being together in the same room. Here i’ve included a few of these items which I discovered on Twitter and want to thank my fellow Twitterers for providing a lot of useful information.

The American Psychoanalytic Association has developed a diagnostic manual. To quote from their website

It systematically describes:

Healthy and disordered personality functioning

Individual profiles of mental functioning, including patterns of relating comprehending and expressing feelings, coping with stress and anxiety, observing one’s own emotions and behaviours, and forming moral judgments

Symptom patterns, including differences in each individual’s personal or subjective experience of his or her symptoms

This is a fascinating development and looking at the above, it seems as though the manual relates just as much to healthy functioning as it does to illness. It will be interesting to see how the use of this manual becomes integrated into clinical practice and the relationship of this manual to ICD-10/11 and DSM-IV/V.  An American study provided evidence of the cost-effectiveness of telephone-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for depression in primary care (covered here and here) although the application of these results will depend on local protocols and service structure. The study is in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Aaron Beck who developed CBT was awarded the Lasker prize for clinical research.

A prospective California study with 9000 subjects provided evidence of an association between higher levels of cholesterols in people aged in their 40’s and the subsequent prevalence of Alzheimer’s Disease in their 60’s to 80’s. The article is freely available here. Analysis of the data from the Nun study continues with over 500 brains obtained post-mortem. The Nun study followed up several hundred nuns, examining a large number of factors and identifying associations with Alzheimer’s Disease. In this article you can watch an interesting video containing interviews with some of the nuns as well as a post-mortem dissection of a brain with enlarged ventricles. The Nuns have been very generous in ensuring that their brains can be used for research after their death and this type of research is very important in coming to a better understanding of the disease process. A study has provided evidence of a possible association between a virus XRV and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. In a study of people with Parkinson’s disease using a driving simulator and comparing this group to age-matched controls, the Parkinson’s subjects were significantly more likely to experience a crash under low visibility settings than the control group. There were a number of factors including visual processing speed which were significantly associated with driving performance in the simulator. A phase 1 clinical trial is currently underway to examine the potential neuroprotective role of the antibiotic Minocycline in acute ischaemic stroke.

A prospective study involving 10,094 subjects over 4 years looked at adherence to a Mediterranean diet and new-onset depression and found evidence of an inverse relationship between increasing adherence to the diet and incidence of new-onset depression. A conference on empathy took place at the end of September 2009 and the conference website can be found here. There is an estimate from one study that each person has roughly 100 new mutations in their genome based on an analysis of the difference in genes in two chinese men who shared an ancestor at the beginning of the nineteenth century. A 1 Billion dollar Japanese project to create a supercomputer which will amongst it’s many functions will aim to simulate life is currently underway and is covered here. An fMRI study in monkeys and humans provided evidence of activation of the inferior Parietal lobe in humans alone when watching tool-using activities. There were a number of other areas that were activated in both humans and monkeys when undertaking this task.

The Natural Health Service is an ambitious project being undertaken in the NHS to plant 1.3 million trees which should reduce the carbon footprint of the NHS.

Health 2.0

There is an article here looking at how medical doctors are making use of social media. This article looks at Scientists on Twitter.


You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link


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).


If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail


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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