News Round-Up. September 2011 3rd Edition

There is a write-up at the Alzheimer’s Forum of an interesting study by Schmidt and colleagues in the Archives of Neurology in which the researchers found evidence for a rapidly progressive form of Alzheimer’s Disease both from their own clinical study and also from a review of the literature. However the authors emphasise the need for further work to confirm these results.

Recent research suggests that when people are presented with weak evidence to support an argument that this is less persuasive than having no evidence at all (via MariaPage).

A recent study suggests that near-death experiences are associated with serotonin.

In the recent World Alzheimer’s Report 2011 it is estimated that 36 million people around the world with dementia have not yet received a diagnosis.

A research group have presented their findings at the British Science Festival. They have used an electric stimulating device to apply a small electrical current to the motor cortex in order to improve learning on a motor task. It will be interesting to see further details on the research when they are published.

The former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Professor Dinesh Bhugra is running for President of the World Psychiatric Association on September 21st (fingers crossed!).


Evolutionary Psychiatry

The findings last year of interbreeding between Neanderthals and humans were widely discussed. In another finding skulls recovered from the Iwo Eleru cave in Nigeria have been dated to 13,000 years ago and have features suggesting a hybridisation between humans and an ancient hominid species the latest specimens of which date to 140,000 years ago in Tanzania. Thus the story of human evolution becomes increasingly complicated.

There is evidence that Neanderthals ate shellfish some 150,000 years ago in the Iberian Peninsula. The earliest evidence in humans dates back to 164,000 years ago in South Africa. The significance of these findings is that consumption of shellfish was thought to differentiate humans from other ancient hominids and to have contributed to population expansion.

There is a very interesting resource on human origins which includes evolutionary and primatology material.

The authors of a letter in Nature present a model of the evolution of ‘overconfidence’ which they suggest from their findings leads to an increase in individual fitness although it is also associated with a number of problematic outcomes.

There is evidence that languages are transmitted through males.

Psychiatry 2.0

A PLOS-One study suggests that there is room for improvement in release of raw data from research studies and this includes release of data to the Journal that groups submit to. Open data is one of the principles of the Science 2.0 movement.

In another study, researchers favoured publishing in Open Access Journals.


Appendix 1 –  Annual News Roundups

News Roundup 2008

News Roundup 2009

News Roundup 2010

Appendix 2 – Resources


Timeline of events in neural plasticity research

An article on how to choose a scientific problem for study

There is an interview with Daniel Kahneman on intuitive thinking here

There is an interesting article by Wray Herbert on priming and mechanisms to overcome this

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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