News Round-Up: March 2011 1st Edition

There is a piece in the Guardian about prescription of antidepressants. The figures have been compiled using a combination of data from a prescription database as well as census data. The figures show interesting trends across the UK although there are a number of factors which influence antidepressant use and there are various reasons why the actual use may differ. A mixed methods approach would be useful to investigate the trends identified.

Over at the Alzheimer Research Forum there is coverage of a small longitudinal study which shows a greater rate of atrophy in Alzheimer’s Disease associated brain regions including the parhippocampal gyrus. However it would be useful to have a larger replication of the data as well as a l0nger follow-up period (this follow-up period in this study is 2 years). Additionally while atrophy in various structures such as the Medial Temporal Lobe are good predictors of conversion to Alzheimer’s Disease atrophy doesn’t necessarily result in disease. Thus Alzheimer’s Disease conversion rates over a longer follow-up period would usefully add to these findings.

There is a critical review of the use of a combination of Memantine and an ACHEI in the march edition of the neurologist. The researchers identified one relevant study and concluded that there was insufficient data to determine if the statistically significant improvement in outcome measures such as ADL’s was clinically significant.

One post-mortem study (n=23) found an inverse correlation between number of Lewy bodies in the Amygdala and Amydala volume using prior MRI but no other correlations between MRI and neuropathological findings.

A moderately sized (n=547) longitudinal study showed evidence of a correlation between depressive symptoms (using the 15-point Geriatric Depression Scale) and Executive Control Function (ECF) as well as psychomotor speed but not memory (using the California Verbal Learning Task).

There is a write-up of an interesting study relating GABA levels in the brain to ability to learn motor tasks. GABA levels in the brain were measured using a technique referred to as Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy. The researchers were able to use a standardised test which involved the application of a direct current to subjects’ scalps. This is known to produce a change in GABA levels. The magnitude of the change in subjects was found to positively correlate with the rate at which subjects learnt on motor tasks. It will be interesting to see further research in this area.

Index: An index of the site can be found here. The page contains links to all of the articles in the blog in chronological order. Twitter: You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link. Podcast: 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). It is available for a limited period. TAWOP Channel: You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link. Responses: If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail Disclaimer: 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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