News Round-up: April 2010 3rd Edition


  • A small PET study shows evidence of hypometabolism in the Superior Temporal Gyrus in people with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE) with deja vu compared to healthy controls and people with TLE without deja vu
  • The authors of a paper in the open access journal Trials look at unpublished Stroke trial data which if published has the potential to influence practice

Research in Dementia

  • Donepezil in a 24-week placebo-controlled trial in Vascular Dementia with ADAS-cog primary outcome and differential effects according to hippocampal volume (n=974)
  • Negative finding of association between metabolic syndrome and risk of dementia (n=749)

Psychiatry 2.0

  • There is another episode of Spike Activity with links to an article on the relationship between dreams and memory and a podcast featuring interviews with artists explaining how they visualise their artwork.
  • At the Mental Nurse blog there are a number of interesting blog links  including a review of a BBC documentary on medication
  • Dr Shock reviews a study investigating the relationship between Facebook use and academic performance
  • At the Singularity Hub blog there is a discussion of a recent study suggesting that 15% of the variation in intelligence in Williams Syndrome is associated with a single gene – STX1A
  • At the Somatosphere blog there is a review of a recent book on the globalisation of mental health
  • At the ‘All in the Mind’ blog there is an article on a recent mock trial in which the role of neuroscience is examined
  • A the Citation Needed blog there is a review of a recent study with negative findings on ‘Brain Training’ programs

Evolutionary Psychiatry

Neanderthal Man

Did the Neanderthal contribute to modern human populations?

In a widely reported study (see here, here and here) presented at the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, researchers looked at regions of DNA in the genomes of 1983 people from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Oceania. These regions are known as microsatellite regions and vary between populations. By looking at the degree of variation, the researchers were able to produce a corresponding evolutionary timeline factoring in variables such as estimated mutation rates. The researchers predicted two time periods during which interbreeding with another species was necessary to account for their findings. These periods were 55,000 years ago for the Eastern Mediterranean and 45,000 years ago for Eastern Asia. The candidates for interbreeding include Homo Neanderthalensis and Homo Heidelbergensis. Such interbreeding could potentially explain the recent finding of a possibly previously unknown hominin – Denisova hominin – found in Siberia. The estimated periods of interbreeding also correspond approximately to the finding of pigmentation on clam-shells in Spain which are thought to have been used as body paint by Neanderthals. Needless to say if these findings are confirmed by a soon-to-be complete analysis of the Neanderthal genome then they would have wide ranging implications. The period of approximately 60,000 years ago corresponds to the lower limit of a hypothesised bottleneck of human evolution in which the human population may have been on the verge of extinction with only a few thousand members although this is a controversial hypothesis.

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