There is brief coverage of a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry looking at Obsessive Compulsive Disorder where the researchers link the orbitofrontal cortex with difficulties in controlling goal directed behaviours.
In a moderately sized study (n=225) researchers compared the exomes of people with schizophrenia with relatives and a control group and found evidence that schizophrenia was associated with a high proportion of de novo mutations across 40 genes.
There is a write-up of the 2011 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference at the Alzheimer’s Forum. Included is some positive news on Bapineuzumab. In a number of trials the use of Bapineuzumab was associated with brain swelling in some of the people taking part. Researchers at the conference presented evidence to suggest that this is associated with treatment efficacy and can be managed without significant complications. However the Phase III trials are ongoing.
Diagnostic criteria are central to the diagnostic process in modern psychiatry with multiple established diagnostic systems in place. Revisions of diagnostic criteria should be more helpful in a number of ways including diagnostic accuracy. The criteria for Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) were recently revised and the researchers in one study wanted to see if this improved the ability to detect cases (sensitivity). In an analysis of 137 brains of people with pathologically established Frontotemporal Dementia the researchers looked at the criteria for behavioural variant FTD and compared these with the previous diagnostic criteria by looking retrospectively through the patient’s casenotes. 86% met ‘possible criteria’ for behavioural variant FTD with the new criteria compared with 53% meeting the previous diagnostic criteria.
In one longitudinal study over 6.8 years (n=572) AF was associated with a Hazards Ratio of 1.38 for all cause dementia with a 95% confidence interval of 1.1 to 1.73 and the researchers recommend interventional studies looking at how successful AF treatment might impact on the hazards ratio.
There is a brief write-up here on how cognitive biases can influence judgement in science.
Domestication of animals has played an important part in recent human history and possibly in human evolution. The earliest evidence for domestication in dogs has been found in Siberia and dates back to 33000 years before present. Researchers have found a skull which has features of both domesticated dogs and wolves suggesting it is an ‘incipient dog’ i.e a dog in the earliest stages of domestication. However they also conclude that there are no living relatives and so this was ultimately an unsuccesful episode of domestication. What is also interesting is that based on other findings the domestication of dogs took place in many different regions possibly independently.
A 20-million year old ape skull has been found in Uganda which usefully contributes to the narrative of primate evolution.
Appendix 1 – Additional Resources
There’s a useful leaflet from Ataxia UK here.
Appendix 2 – Annual News Roundups
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