News Round-Up: August 2011 3rd Edition

There has been a new characterisation of the 3-dimensional structure of the alpha-synuclein protein associated with Lewy Body Dementia which should contribute towards molecular research in this area (also covered here). A role for Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease related protein Presenilin-1 in a homeostatic scaling a form of synaptic plasticity has been identified in one study. There is a paper (freely available here) on MRI findings in neuroferritinopathy which include Basal Ganglia cysts, cerebellar and cerebral atrophy as well as gliosis. In a recent research study (paper freely available here) the researchers combine resting state and event related fMRI with event related potentials to better characterise the progression from Mild Cognitive Impairment to Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers in a moderately sized SPECT study investigated aberrant motor behaviour in Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers draw parallels between aberrant motor behaviour and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which are supported by the increased uptake of the tracer 99Tc(m) hexamethylpropyleneamine oxime in the OrbitoFrontal Cortex compared to people with Alzheimer’s Disease without aberrant motor behaviour.


In a freely available paper researchers used fMRI to investigate imaging of future events (via MariaPage). They found evidence that when subjects had successfully recalled their imagined future events there was evidence that the right Hippocampus was activated. The researchers suggest that the Hippocampus is used to store the details of these imagined events. This continues the debate on the role of hippocampus in imagining future events. In another study the researchers examined the visual perception of objects. Visual information in the form of parts of a car were presented to the subjects with a number of transformations making it more difficult to identify the moving objects. In order to process the visual information the researchers suggested on the basis of their evidence that the visual information was being grouped and that the subjects were processing the data at a rate of about 10 groups per second. Furthermore the groups were being processed one at a time. If this is replicated then it means that when we perceive visual motion – for instance a group of cars driving down the road we would be processing them not as a group of cars moving but a sequential processing of individual cars. However the brain may have additional techniques for processing ‘natural’ visual information in contrast with the abstract information presented in this experiment.

Evolutionary Psychiatry

In one study there was a finding of the earliest appearance of nails in primates in T.Brandfi (55.8 million years ago). It had been previously hypothesised that nails appeared with an increase in body size in primates but this finding contradicted the hypothesis. There are various connections between nails, the central nervous system and behaviour. The connexin26 gene for instance relates sensorineural deafness to nail dystrophy. It has also been suggested that nails were selected in place of claws for foraging food on small branches. The nails can also be used for specialised actions including plucking*.

* Thus it might be expected that the utilisation of nails in extending the movement/behaviour repertoire should be accompanied by changes in the Motor Cortex.

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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