News Round-Up: September 2011 4th Edition

Congratulations to Professor Dinesh Bhugra who has become president elect of the World Psychiatric Association.

Researchers have identified long repeat expansions in the gene C9ORF72 as being linked to both Frontotemporal Dementia and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

An American Committee have revised the criteria for post-mortem diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease. The three criterion used are the Braak staging for Neurofibrillary Tangles, Amyloid Beta measures (based on the work of Thal and colleagues) and a CERAD score for neuritic plaques. There is further discussion at the Alzheimer’s Research Forum on these changes.

A moderately sized study (n=224) provided no evidence of an effect of cholinergic burden on cognition in people with Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers compared people with low and high cholinergic burdens and found no significant difference between the two groups.

In a potentially very important study, researchers have identified evidence that Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanners may have an effect on the fluid in the inner ear canals causing subjects to experience nystagmus and symptoms such as vertigo. The researchers also suggest that this could interfere with the results of fMRI studies. The researchers methods were quite ingenious. They conducted the study in the dark but used night cameras to monitor the subjects eyes for nystagmus. They also involved two subjects with labyrinthine disorders. These two subjects did not experience nystagmus whilst other subjects did. No doubt this study will receive close interest from the neuroimaging community.

A twin study at the Institute of Psychiatry involving twins with Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia has identified a number of new candidate regions for disease genes.

There is evidence that Deep Brain Stimulation may be associated with neurogenesis in the Hippocampus.

Evolutionary Psychiatry

There is a very interesting finding in Science reported on here (see also supplementary material here). The genome from a lock of hair from an Australian Aborigine was analysed and compared with genome data from other ethnic groups. The researchers used a number of gene markers to estimate migration patterns. They concluded that Australian Aborigines are the oldest continuous human population outside of Africa and were the first of a wave of humans leaving Africa to populate the rest of the world. They estimate that this happened approximately 62-75,000 years ago. This was followed some 25,000 years later by a second wave of migration that populated Europe and Asia. However the evidence suggests that all groups hybridised with a Neanderthal population in the Middle East before the migration.

Researchers using a model of hominid migration patterns and climate events have hypothesised that climate change has played a significant role in human evolution. They argue that Homo Erectus manifested a number of behavioural traits that provided flexibility across multiple climates allowing it to persist when other hominids which had adapted to narrow climates became extinct.

There is evidence that baboones reason using analogy. In one study, the researchers presented Baboons with pairs of shapes and to complete the task the Baboons had to draw inferences about the relations between those relationships. The Baboons were able to complete the task after a learning period and were able to relearn the task much more quickly when it was presented again one year later.

Psychiatry 2.0

A group of Neurologists have published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine in which they examined videos of people who reported that they had Parkinson’s Disease. Based on the Neurologists’ observations of video segments and not on physical examination, the researchers concluded that many of the videos did not show Parkinson’s Disease. The study raises a number of questions.

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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