Déjà vu Revisited – News Round-Up: August 2012 2nd Edition

This is the video of the News Roundup – It is just over an hour long

At Psychology Today there is a write-up of a study investigating the correlation of EEG activity between several brain regions and the experience of déjà vu in which the person thinks their experience at that moment has been experienced before. déjà vu can occur in healthy people but also sometimes occurs as part of the aura in Epilepsy as well as being described in Schizophrenia, .

Video Explaining EEG

For instance a person might feel they have already visited a place they have been to for the first time. The researchers were interested in three regions in the Temporal Lobe – the Hippocampus, the Rhinal Cortex and the Amygdala.

Video About the Hippocampus

Previous research has identified a relationship between déjà vu and Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (e.g here). There have also been studies which have correlated déjà vu with the Temporal Lobe when there is no evidence of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. The unique feature of this study was that it involved intraoperative recording (using intraoperative EEG) and intraoperative stimulation (using electrodes). The subjects in the study were people with Epilepsy.

The researchers used electrode stimulation to produce a déjà vu response. When this was elicited, compared to stimulations without déjà vu, the researchers found an increased correlation of EEG activity between the 3 areas they examined. The results are slightly more complex as the researchers found subtle differences in the changes according to the frequency of activity they were looking at. The researchers have provided a useful neurophysiological correlate of déjà vu.

Another study used virtual reality environments to investigate déjà vu. The researchers had a great deal of control over the scenes that were presented which they were able to deconstruct. The researchers found that déjà vu was  more likely if the scene looked like a previous scene but that scene was not recalled. This finding may explain the occurrence of déjà vu in healthy people*. Indeed the researchers found that the more a scene described as new matched a previously seen scene, the higher the score on a  measure of déjà vu.

The Department of Health has asked the National Institute for Clinical Excellence to provide guidelines on the quality of care for people with Dementia. There is now a consultation period for the draft document for registered stakeholders which ends on the 16th October 2012.

There’s a very interesting piece at the Skeptical Raptor blog on how Cochrane Reviews should always be the first port of call when reading about new medical treatments.

The Smithsonian website has a summary of 10 brain related studies with links. The list includes one study on a gene that is associated with reduction in brain volume and can be activated in depression (this study is further covered here).

Professor Siris has an article in Current Psychiatry Online in which he looks at the approach to treatment of Depression in Schizophrenia including a close look at the differential diagnosis.

There is a PLOS One paper in which Brazilian researchers undertook a small cross-sectional study of people who fill up vehicles at petrol stations compared to a control group. The researchers found evidence of reduced visual function including colour discrimination and visual acuity. This is a small study first of all. Secondly it is cross-sectional. Longitudinal studies are better at picking up causal relationships. The findings still have implications and the researchers make recommendations about regulating occupational exposure.

In another PLOS One paper, researchers looked at disability benefit awarded before scheduled retirement over the period 2001-2003. The researchers found that musculoskeletal disorders were the most common reason for disability benefit awards with mental illness being the second most common cause. However those with mental illnesses received disability benefit awards at a younger age and were associated with more working days lost. The researchers also found that Anxiety and Depressive disorders were the most common types of mental illnesses for disability benefit awards.

NeuGrid is an impressive research network that enables researchers to share brain images for research into neurodegenerative diseases. The program has recently expanded.

An American group have published a study showing a benefit for behavioural interventions in the treatment of tics occurring in Tourette’s Syndrome. The researchers found significant symptom improvement in 38% of the treatment versus 6% of the control group. The treatment group’s improvement also persisted for a longer time.

via @Professor Bob this article at Psychology Today reviews a Finnish Study in schoolchildren. The researchers recorded video footage of the children aged 7-8 over a period of years and asked them to talk about their learning experiences. They were particularly interested in their emotional response to the learning experiences. They formulated 10 theses about how learning could be enhanced. The theses included learning experiences which were child-centred rather than didactic, unhurried learning experiences and experiences which included an opportunity for the children to be successful at learning tasks. It would be great if this type of research could be extended to adults.

In a Dutch study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, researchers found evidence of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in 3% of their sample of 1494 older adults who were participating in a longitudinal study. Extrapolating these figures, the researchers suggest that there are approximately 95,000 older adults in Holland with ADHD.

Overview of ADHD

Dr Creighton Phelps discusses changes in the American Alzheimer’s Association diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer’s Disease in this video which was made available by the National Institute on Aging in the following video (from 2011).

Dr Creighton Phelps Discusses American Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnostic Criteria Changes

Evolutionary Psychiatry

There was a debate recently about whether human ancestors and Neanderthals interbred. This was based on a study published in which the authors used a computational model to examine ancient population structures. Their analysis suggested that gene similarities with Neanderthals could be accounted for entirely by inheritance of genes from the common ancestor with humans and Neanderthals. However Professor John Hawks has a very convincing response to this which includes another study that was published before this one. So the Neanderthal and human interbreeding theory is still robust. Interestingly the small number of human genes not found in the Neanderthal include several genes associated with illnesses including ADHD although the significance is unclear at this stage.

In the UK, archaeologists have found a 2600 year-old preserved brain in a body recovered from a peat bog. Hopefully this should give us insights into any changes in the brain over this time. It would be great if the microscopic architecture was preserved. Even the idea of a histopathological study on this brain would be remarkable.

Could Chimpanzees use money? This study shows that language-trained Chimpanzees can delay gratification in exchange for tokens which could be used for food.

Gorillas use motherese to communicate with infant Gorillas. These are the results of a study in Lowland Gorillas. However this ‘motherese’ is non-vocal. I took some footage of Tiny the Gorillas shortly before he very sadly died. The footage (about 5 minutes long and some of it filmed in slow motion) shows the mother playing with Tiny’s hands.

* For instance neural networks are models of brain functioning based on the biology of neurons and their connections. One form of neural network – the competitive neural network is able to complete partial patterns that are presented to it. Applying this analogy to these findings, it may be that a partially presented scene causes the brain to pattern complete. Looking at the intraoperative recording study this may also explain the increased synchronous firing between the Hippocampus, Rhinal Cortex and Amygdala as may be completing firing patterns shared between them.

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 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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