News Round-Up: October 2011 4th Edition

There is an article at Scientific American on the global population which is expected to reach 7 billion. Although there have been other estimates which suggest it has already happened there has been no Global Census. The author of this article suggests that a new city of 1 million people needs to be built every 5 days to meet the expected population increase over the course of this century. While this is speculation it is interesting to note that there are significant differences between urban and rural areas in the pattern of mental illnesses (e.g see here). Were such demographic shifts to be realised it would have significant implications for the configuration of psychiatric service provision.

Having a preference for sweets rather than crackers or no snacks was associated with increased likelihood to engage in altruistic acts in this study. The former group also scored more highly on the personality trait of agreeableness.

Researchers have investigated resting state activity in people with agenesis of the Corpus Callosum. Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum is a condition in which the fibres connecting the right and left sides of the brain are absent during development. Previously this was investigated by looking at people who had undergone severance of the fibres in the Corpus Callosum for treating intractable epilepsy. Resting state activity is the activity that occurs in the brain when a person is resting and not engaged in any obvious activity – wakeful rest. The brain areas that are active when recorded using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging form a characteristic network which has been assumed to involve a communication between both hemispheres of the brain. The researchers in this study found patterns of activity similar to those in people with an intact Corpus Callosum and this raises new questions about the nature of the resting state network.

There is a case report of a person who developed Hashimoto’s Encepalopathy. The researchers completed a neuropsychological assessment and after resolution of the encepalopathy found a residual executive impairment. However case studies are useful in generating hypotheses for further replication studies as there is so much variation between people.

The researchers in this Korean study provided further evidence of differences in the rate of cognitive decline in three forms of dementia – Parkinson’s Disease with dementia, Vascular Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

The authors of a meta-analysis of Diffuse Tensor Imaging studies concluded that Mild Cognitive Impairment differed from Alzheimer’s Disease in that in the former there appeared to be sparing of changes in the frontal and occipital lobes whereas in the latter changes were evident in all regions of the brain.

There are some interesting pieces at the Alzheimer’s Research Forum

There is a write-up of a study in C.Elegans worms which looks at heritability of longevity. The researchers found that the methylation of DNA in the worms accounted for up to 30% of the variation in longevity. They argue that this is a non-DNA form of heritability. If these findings were generalised to humans it would mean that in studies of aging, researchers would need to look for patterns of methylation of DNA and not just for longevity genes in order to gain a better understanding of aging.

There is also a review of a neuroimaging supplement in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease which looks at developments in this area.

Also at the Alzheimer’s Research Forum Li and colleagues review the evidence on homocysteine as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease.  They conclude that the evidence points to a relationship between homocysteine levels and Alzheimer’s Disease but studies investigating a role for Vitamin B have produced mixed results.

In this 11 C PiB study there was found to be no association between Beta-Amyloid load and rate of cortical atrophy over time. Pittsburgh B is a compound which is used to identify Beta-Amyloid Plaque which is central to the Alzheimer’s Disease process according to the Amyloid Cascade Hypothesis. Nevertheless the findings in this study may point to independent roles for Amyloid Beta load and cortical atrophy in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Psychiatry 2.0

One study provided evidence that high-quality research published in Open-Access form has higher citation rates than equivalent articles in non-Open-Access format (via @BoraZ).

There’s an interesting video on the semantic web below.

Web 3.0 from Kate Ray on Vimeo.

Appendix

News Roundup 2008

News Roundup 2009

News Roundup 2010

Psychiatry 2.0

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 justinmarley17@yahoo.co.uk. 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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