The Health and Social Care Bill underwent a second reading at the House of Lords this week and there is coverage of the events at the BBC website which includes an extract of the discussion (see also here).
Gantenerumab, a monoclonal antibody has joined a number of compounds which have been found to clear Amyloid Plaques in the brain. The Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis states that Amyloid plaques found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s Disease are central to the disease process and so compounds like Gantenrumab by reducing these plaques are thought to be of great potential in Alzheimer’s Disease. However research into the cognitive effects of the plaque removal for Gantenerumab are still ongoing. The clearance of Amyloid Plaques is also associated with Amyloid Related Imaging Abormalities (ARIAS) the significance of which is still being investigated.
There is an interesting editorial in the October edition of the British Journal of Psychiatry by Harrison and colleagues (Harrison et al, 2011) the premise being that psychopharmacology should take on a more central role within the profession. It will be interesting to see if and how this debate develops particularly in terms of modelling the practical implications and implementation according to context.
In a story that has provoked a widespread response in the Anthropology community a US politician has suggested that there isn’t a need for more Anthropology students at University in Florida. Within the statement he comments on anthropology not being a science and implies that it doesn’t lead to good job prospects. There are some similarities between anthropology and psychiatry in that both are fields which involve the overlap of science and the humanities. Indeed Anthropology celebrates and brings an invaluable understanding of the diversity of humanity and so a criticism of Anthropology becomes a criticism of the need to understand this diversity. Anthropologists have also made significant contributions to a variety of fields and it is at times such as this when the profession answers its critics that the significance of this field can be better appreciated and is also a time at which the profession strengthens its identity. The American Anthropological Association has responded with a statement. There is also an interesting podcast interview here. However the truly inspiring response is this one which details the work of anthropologists in Florida and the impact that this is having. There are lessons about these responses that can be transferred to psychiatry.
On the theme of Anthropology, ethnographer Sarah Pinto writes a very interesting article on the study of patient’s movements in psychiatric wards at the anthropology website Somatosphere (via VaughanBell).
There’s an interesting report on Kevin Healy who is described as having ‘highly superior autobiographical memory’ and who states that he has remembered all the calendar dates since 1752 and that he is able to remember significant dates from his own life. He is asked questions during the interview and is able to give accurate responses. His abilities are reminiscent of those of the famous Russian mnemonist Solomon Shereshevsky who was studied by Alexander Luria and also to Jill Price.
In an interesting article (via SandeepGautam) Kathyrn Britton looks at some of the research into the benefits of loving-kindness meditation including neuroimaging research which shows an association with increased activity in the Anterior Insular Cortex and also improvements in attention. While positive psychology is a well developed movement there is work that needs to be done on translating this into psychiatry where it could take on a role in preventative medicine. Indeed there could be an important role for anthropologists in achieving this translation particularly as many anthropologists are engaged in public health related work.
I received a message on Twitter about a new online magazine by United Academics which is freely available here. The articles are very accessible and in the September issue there is an interesting piece on Biogerontology – the study of the biological processes of aging.
Harrison P J et al. No Psychiatry Without Psychopharmacology.British Journal of Psychiatry. Vol 199. No 4. p263-265.
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