News Round-Up:October 2009 3rd Edition


The Neuroscience Information Framework Version 2.0 is now online. The NIF is described as

A dynamic inventory of web-based neuroscience resources: data, materials, and tools accessible via any computer connected to the internet

The NIF is also described as a National Institute of Health Blueprint for Neuroscience Research initiative (see also this review of a paper on the Neuroscience Information Framework). The NIF Tools include a registry of electronic catalogues of neuroscience resources, a ‘deep web’ resource – the NIF Data Federation, the NIF Web Index – essentially a search tool for neuroscience information on the internet and the NIF vocabulary which includes Neurolex. Neurolex is a neuroscience lexicon which at the time of writing contains 7972 terms. Such a lexicon has implications not just for the ability to find relevant information on the internet but also has potential for facilitating neuroscience dialogue.

A small study of people with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) compared with people with mild cognitive impairment and healthy controls (n=55) provided evidence that there was a correlation between the PET and CSF markers of ABeta but that they did not correlate significantly with cognitive impairment (Jagust et al, 2009). In a cross-sectional study of symptoms in people with bipolar disorder (n=88) published in the journal of the World Psychiatric Association, the researchers found a significant association between the mixed affective state and negative cognition and hyperactivity (article freely available here).  In a study of people in the Andean highlands in Ecuador (n=167), the researchers used the Spanish version of the Beck Depression Inventory II and identified that the scores on the somatic component of the scale were significantly higher than the cognitive component (article freely available here). The researchers interpreted this as  resulting from the influence of culture on the expression of the depressive illness. There is an interesting article on the National Dementia Research Brain Bank here. A meta-analysis of prospective and case-control studies examining the relationship between smoking and Alzheimer’s Disease which adjusted for a number of factors including tobacco company affiliation of the studies showed that smoking was a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease (Cataldo et al, 2009). A post-mortem study comparing the brains of people who had Alzheimer’s Disease and hyperphagia with those who did not found a significant reduction in 5HT4 receptors in the former group  (Tsang et al, 2009). In an intracranial electrophysiological study published in Science, the researchers provided evidence that language processing occurs in Broca’s area and is divided into processes for grammar, meaning and articulation with each process being separated by milliseconds.

There is a preliminary report on a new technology which measures electrical signals between the central nervous system and the vestibular apparatus in the ear. The Australian research team state that they are able to characterise responses in a number of central nervous system disorders and they include depression. There is a website which details the technology and which also contains a link to a promotional video. Using Medline, I was able to find 5 studies including 1 on schizophrenia and 1 on depression, although both had small sample sizes they provided data on the application of the technology. It will be interesting to see  further published data with larger sample sizes as this becomes available. Researchers have provided indirect evidence that Macaque monkeys experience the ‘Uncanny Valley‘ effect. This effect describes the tendency for people, or monkeys in this case, to become uncomfortable if computer simulations of members of their species are too realistic. The finding in monkeys suggests an evolutionary basis for this effect. It will be interesting to see if this has implications for social bonding.


The Neurocritic has an interesting article on ‘Neurocinema Neurocinematics’ here. Professor Charlton has an interesting post on science here.


Cataldo JK, Prochaska JJ, Glantz SA.J Alzheimers Dis. 2009 Oct 8. [Epub ahead of print]. Cigarette Smoking is a Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease: An Analysis Controlling for Tobacco Industry Affiliation.

Jagust WJ, Landau SM, Shaw LM, Trojanowski JQ, Koeppe RA, Reiman EM, Foster NL, Petersen RC, Weiner MW, Price JC, Mathis CA; Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. Neurology. 2009 Oct 13;73(15):1193-9. Relationships between biomarkers in aging and dementia.

Tsang SW, Keene J, Hope T, Spence I, Francis PT, Wong PT, Chen CP, Lai MK. J Neurol Sci. 2009 Oct 7. [Epub ahead of print]. A serotoninergic basis for hyperphagic eating changes in Alzheimer’s disease.


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).


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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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