News Round-Up: February 2012 4th Edition

Can Smartphone Games Protect the Brain?

A study in the Archives of Neurology adds a new piece of evidence to the ongoing debate about whether computer games are harming or helping people’s health. One recent argument that has been developed is that the use of the internet or computers can be associated with deficits in attention and other cognitive problems. However on the other side of the argument there is the hypothesis that ‘Brain Training’ can enhance cognition. This was a study looking at a cohort of people with Alzheimer’s Disease and a control group. The study was moderately sized and what the researchers found was that a combination of activities which stimulated the brain including the smartphone app ‘Angry Birds’ were associated with a reduction in the build-up of an Amyloid plaque in the brain that is associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. This was detected using Positron Emission Tomography in conjunction with radioactive compounds that bind to the plaque. So can smartphone games protect the brain? It’s probably too early to say as the smartphone games were just one of the approaches used to stimulate the brain. However this evidence is certainly promising and supports the notion that lifestyle can help to modify the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease but replication studies to investigate the question about specific games will be very helpful.

A Film About Freud and Jung

There’s a new film out ‘A Dangerous Method‘ which features both Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung (via @FrankSpencer) and is directed by David Cronenberg. The Official Trailer is below and highlights behaviours that today would have brought the psychotherapist quickly before the nearest regulatory body. The reader should be aware that these ethical issues also influenced the development of Psychoanalysis and Analytic Psychology which need to be considered in this context.

 Cognitive Psychology Pioneer Passes Away

Dr Ulric Neisser one of the pioneers and indeed giants in the field of Cognitive Psychology has passed away. Amongst many achievements Dr Neisser was responsible for a critical assessment of the controversial book ‘The Bell Curve’ as well as developing insights into the ‘False Memory Syndrome‘, selective attention and was also involved in the investigation of the Watergate scandal that took place during President Nixon’s term in office.

Tool for Assessing Depression

A simple and freely available tool for assessing remission in depression has been developed for use in Primary Care.

Tea and Talk

I received a tweet from Helen Hutchings about a new service ‘Tea and Talk’ that she has developed to combat mental health stigma. Helen is a registered mental health nurse and a service user giving her insights from both perspectives. The video below says a little bit more about this interesting service.

Draft National Plan to Combat Alzheimer’s Disease Released in the United States

A draft National plan to combat Alzheimer’s Disease has been released in the United States.

Relationship of Blood Pressure to Dementia Onset in Women Not So Straightforward

This is a decent sized study which follows up a cohort of women over a period of 37 years. The researchers found that having a lower systolic blood pressure at baseline was associated with a higher risk of dementia later on. The researchers also found that changes in blood pressure at different time periods in the study were associated either with a lowering or increase in the risk of incident dementia. They suggest that antihypertensive treatment may be a confounding factor in this evaluation and indeed some antihypertensives are being investigated further in this regards.

Study Compares Lewy Body Dementia with Alzheimer’s Disease

In one study, the researchers looked at people with Lewy Body Dementia and compared them with people with Alzheimer’s Disease at a similar stage in the illness (as measured by cognitive performance). The researchers found that Lewy Body Dementia progressed more quickly than Alzheimer’s Disease. The significance of this approach is that the point at which the disease process began can often be difficult to pinpoint and can be different from the time of diagnosis for many reasons. Having a measure of cognitive performance can provide researchers and clinicians with a useful tool for comparison.

The Clock Drawing Test and the Brain

The Clock Drawing Test is a commonly used test as part of the assessment of cognition. The researchers in one study have found that impairments in this test are associated with structural changes in both the Hippocampus and the Right Globus Pallidus.

Dementia Champions in Australia

The Fight Dementia campaign in Australia is recruiting Dementia Champions and has already enlisted nearly 3000. They are aiming for 100,000!

Overcoming Barriers to Open Science

There is an interesting albeit quite technical article by Robert Reddick (via @Boraz) looking at some of the barriers to the progress of the Open Science movement and how these might be overcome.

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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