News Round-Up August 2012 1st Edition

In one study disturbances in breathing during sleep in older adults were found to be associated with the later development of Dementia. The researchers monitored motor activity during sleep in 1309 older adults over a 5-year period as well as a more detailed analysis (overnight polysomnography) in 298 people from the study. The researchers found that disorders of breathing during sleep were associated with a more than two-fold increase in global cognitive impairment.

There was a recent paper showing that hypertension is a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease and it has been included in AlzRisk at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Forum.

There is a brief but interesting piece on the Montessori Method for care for people with Alzheimer’s Disease which focuses on the use of procedural memory.

Researchers at the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference presented five studies showing an association between gait and cognitive impairment. In one study researchers found a correlation between cognitive performance and walking speed. However conferences offer an opportunity for the initial presentation of results and it will be interesting to see the papers when they are published.

In another study looking at 15,263 nurses over 6 years the researchers found that 7 hours of sleep per night was associated with higher cognitive performance when compared to 5 or less hours of sleep per night or 9 or more hours of sleep per night. Furthermore if there was a change in sleep duration of more than 2 hours from mid-life (assessed from retrospective recall) there was lower performance in cognition compared to those with a change of less than 2 hours. There has been other research which shows mortality is increased in people who sleep 6 or less hours per night or get 8 or more hours of sleep per night compared to 7 hours of sleep per night. These findings are fairly robust. The recent findings from this study suggest that cognitive performance follows the pattern of mortality and further research could investigate a possible link.

The New England Journal of Medicine has a video showing the progressive deposition of Amyloid-Beta in Alzheimer’s Disease here.

Increasing the speed at which you run has been found to be associated with a higher firing rate in a part of the brain called the Hippocampus which is involved in memory and can be affected in Alzheimer’s Disease.

The risk of Alzheimer’s Disease is increased with the APO-E4 allele. One study looked at people with this gene and found that if they exercised they were less likely to develop the Alzheimer’s Disease related plaques over the course of the decade long follow-up period.

Researchers have found that a small mutation in the gene coding for Amyloid Precursor Protein reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and that 0.5% of people living in Iceland have this mutation.

Researchers have been looking at a synthetic compound 3K3A-APC in an experimental model of stroke and shown a benefit for this compound in conjunction with tissue Plasminogen Activator. However this research did not take place in humans and these preliminary findings would have to show benefit in appropriate human trials.

Dr Zhou and colleagues publishing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have produced a Prion protein that is much smaller than other Prions but is more lethal to cells. Prion proteins are responsible for very aggressive forms of Dementia that include Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease. The researchers suggest that this new Prion protein will be helpful in better understanding the disease process. Meanwhile another research group has found a compound which stops the spread of Prions in brain cells in vitro although the researchers caution that further research is needed.

One marker of disease process in Alzheimer’s Disease is the inflammatory marker. However the relationship between the presence of these markers and Alzheimer’s Disease is far from straightforward. Researchers in this study found that the relationship between the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and the level of these markers varied according to age in subjects in their study.

Envivo Pharmaceuticals have published positive results for a Phase II study on EVP-6124 in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease. However researchers will need to complete a Phase III trial to evaluate the potential benefits of this medication.

Visual memory was enhanced for 24 hours during physical activity with the aid of stroboscopic training in this study.

The Neurocritic has a very interesting piece on Post-Antipsychiatry.

Severe influenza infections were statistically significantly more likely to be reported in people with Parkinson’s Disease than in a control group without Parkinson’s Disease in this study (n=808).

The British Government has responded to the Finch report by announcing that publicly funded research will be made freely available to businesses and academics.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has published a response to the Mental Health Strategy Implementation Framework here.

The Office for National Statistics has published the UK Happiness Ratings.

There is a very interesting discussion of the use of social media in Medicine by Dr Eric Topol here.

Bradley Voytek has compiled a list of his top ten neuroscience TED talks here.

Professor Lee Cronin’s research team at the University of Glasgow have developed approaches for using 3-D printing to produce equipment for chemical laboratories and also to manufacture chemicals.

There is a great list of educational science resources at the Educational Technology Guy blog here.

Activity in the Nucleus Accumbens predicted how much food subjects ate in this fMRI study.

There is an interesting write-up here on research which suggests that a first language is not completely forgotten if it is later unused.

Recent research has provided support for a new Magnetic Resonance neuroimaging technique known as High Definition Fibre Tracking which differs from Diffusion Tensor Imaging.

100 years of Psychoanalysis is shown in a video here.

Academic research has been innovatively published as a graphic novel.

In this interesting piece on smiles in Olympic athletes the author Daniel Lametti looks at research suggesting that smiles may be culturally distinct and vary according to Nationality.

Pharmacy students in Canada have shown how to use a social media Wiki set-up to enhance learning.

What do readers do with PLOS One papers? This infographic gives some insights.

The Journal of Visualised Experiments presents research in video format – great idea.

Scientific American has an interesting piece on ‘mind-pops’. These are memories that enter consciousness suddenly. The article explores how they may relate to hallucinations.

There is a new free e-science magazine which is available here.

There is an online Journal on Science, History and Archaeology here.

Recent research suggests infants are able to interpret information from spoken language about people’s intentions.

There is an article here on the Genomics X prize which rewards teams that build machines that can ‘sequence 100 Genomes in 10 days for less than $1000’.

There’s an interesting piece on the Mayans which includes how they built water filters into reservoir systems 1300 years ago.

Evolutionary Psychiatry

Having a large brain to body ratio makes it less likely that a species will become extinct according to research by Eric Abelson. The research looked at modern species in relation to their conservation status and much older species from the fossil record many of which have become extinct.

Dolphins could be the first non-human species to gain rights as legal entities if the aims of work currently underway are achieved. The Nonhuman Rights Project is an organisation working towards obtaining legal rights for non-human species.

Evidence for a new species that interbred with humans in Africa has been detected through the analysis of human DNA.

Researchers in one study found that the now extinct (as a distinct species) Neanderthals used plants with medicinal properties approximately 50,000 years ago.

Researchers at Cambridge suggest that Neanderthals may have developed increased strength in their right arms to better cope with domestic tasks rather than hunting activities.

An analysis of specimens from Spain provided evidence that members of the species Homo Heidelbergensis were slightly taller than Neanderthals.

Research has suggested that the extinction of the Neanderthals as a distinct species may have been related to our ancestors. One of the leading theories stated that a large volcanic eruption contributed to the extinction of the Neanderthals. However recent research has shown that the Neanderthal presence in Europe had significantly diminished long before this volcanic eruption.

There is an interesting Scientific American article on the predominance of vegetarianism in human ancestors.

Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that mice have a specialised neural system for detecting smells associated with fear.

There is an interesting overview of a PhD on the Bronze Age in Greece here.

A flatworm with 60 eyes has been discovered.

Index: There are indices for the TAWOP site here and here 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.

One comment

  1. The first study, which utilized participants in the larger U.S. Nurses’ Health Study , administered cognitive tests to women over the age of 70 every two years over a six year period. Participants were also asked about their average daily sleep duration. Researchers found that women who averaged seven hours of sleep daily saw higher cognitive scores over the years compared to women who reported 5 hours or less or those who reported 9 hours or more. Participants who averaged too much or too little sleep aged, on average, two years faster than those who slept seven hours a night.A separate study monitored 1,430 women over age 75 while they slept and measured these individuals cognitive impairment over time. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco found that participants with sleep-disordered breathing, such as sleep apnea, were nearly twice as likely to develop cognitive impairment. The study also found that those who woke up in the middle of the night most often were at triple the risk for entering a nursing home compared to those who experienced the fewest interruptions. A third study followed 4,900 French seniors who were 65 or older. This study found that certain sleep problems, such as problems falling asleep and early morning awakenings, were not associated with increased risk of cognitive decline, but those who felt excessively tired during the day were more likely to experience cognitive impairments.Although researchers are not sure if inadequate sleep is a cause or a result of cognitive impairment, the studies, taken together, make a strong case for sleep’s involvement in Alzheimer’s and other forms of cognitive decline. Learn more about these studies.


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