News Round-Up January 2010 2nd Edition

News in Brief

In the British Journal of Psychiatry, there is a systematic review of pharmacotherapy for Borderline Personality Disorder (Lieb et al, 2010). The researchers identified pharmacotherapy studies of people with a DSM-III/DSM-IIIR/DSM-IV/DSM-IV-TR diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. They included studies which allowed for pooling of effect sizes and grouped the symptom clusters into interpersonal problems, impulsive-behavioural dyscontrol, cognitive-perceptual symptoms and affective dysregulation. In these four clusters, the researchers were able to find clinically and statistically significant effects for specific psychotropic medications which are outlined in the article. They note a number of limitations including the exclusion criteria in the original studies meaning that in a number of studies there may be differences from a clinical sample of people with a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. They conclude from their study that on the basis of their evidence pharmacotherapy can be directed at symptom clusters and they suggest that their findings can be of relevance to any revisions of APA and NICE guidelines.

In a small, preliminary study (n=9) looking at the use of blueberry juice on memory there was a significant improvement on a test of paired associative learning and word list recall at 12-weeks in older adults with ‘early memory changes’. However this will need to be replicated preferably over a longer time period and in a well characterised and larger population with randomisation, blinding and a control group. While blueberries are noted to have strong antioxidant properties, the authors suggest that it is the properties of the anthocyanins in blueberries which influences neuronal signalling which may relate to any beneficial effects.

The researchers in a study using Magnetoencephalography looked at a group of US Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)(n=74) and a group of controls without PTSD. They identified a characteristic signal in the people with PTSD using what they refer to as the ‘synchronous neural interactions test’. The distinction between this biological marker and a diagnosis of PTSD is discussed over at MindHacks.

A development in electron microscopy is the use of electron cryotomography. This is the rapid freezing of biological materials to -140 degrees Celsius to preserve the positions of intracellular structures. This article looks at a study published in the Journal of Cell Biology using this technique. The authors note that filaments in the neuron constrain the activity of intracellular vesicles which contain neurotransmitters for release for example.

This article looks at a study which investigated the effects of other people with varying degrees of self-control on a person’s own self-control in a variety of experimental scenarios. In these scenarios the researchers found evidence that finding evidence of self-control in others or thinking of those with ‘high’ self-control was associated with a higher degree of self-control in the subject.

News Round-Ups

MindHacks has another episode of Spike Activity which includes links to an article on a research study looking at the use of diagnostic terminology on perceptions of management approaches and a twin study in face-recognition (as well as some robophobia for good measure).

Psychiatry 2.0

Over at Psychotherapy Brown Bag there is a very interesting article on the relationship between experience and efficacy in psychotherapy. Professor Dunbar, who coined the Dunbar number has been looking at Facebook relationships. The Dunbar number – 150 – indicates roughly how many relationships people can manage effectively. Professor Dunbar followed up his earlier work by looking at Facebook and has suggested on the basis of his analysis that there is evidence that this number remains. Even when people have higher numbers of friends, they effectively manage the core group of about 150. He also found some gender differences in relationship maintenance.

Evolutionary Psychiatry

While not directly related to humans, this news article involves an interview with a researcher and looks at the ‘evolution’ of stray dogs in russia. The dogs have to adapt to urban conditions. It does raise the question of how much urbanisation impacts on evolution although the selective pressures on dogs will be significantly different from people in these environments (it was interesting to see that the dogs have learnt to ride on the underground!). A mathematical model has been constructed to investigate the coevolution of the hands and feet in humans basing some of the assumptions on measurements in the humans and chimpanzees. The model supports the hypothesis that changes in the feet could affect the shape of the hands (and vice versa) and is interesting in view of the recent publication of the Ardi find (the authors of the Ardi publications took 17 years to prepare the material before publication!) a distant human ancestor which moved through the trees as well as walking upright.


Lieb K et al. Pharmacotherapy for borderline personality disorder: Cochrane systematic review of randomised trials. The British Journal of Psychiatry. 2010. 196. 4-12.


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).

TAWOP Channel

You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link


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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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