Thomas Szasz Dies and Research Shows Benefits of Social Network. News Roundup: September 2012 3rd Edition

Delirium is a reversible decline in cognition that results from organic pathology. As imaging technology has advanced, researchers have begun to better understand the subtypes of Delirium. This PLOS One study looks at one relevant organic syndrome referred to as Severe Posterior Reversible Encephalopathy Syndrome (PRES). This was by definition a severe organic syndrome and the patients in this study were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. From the PLOS One study, PRES is defined thus

‘Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES) is a clinicoradiologic entity characterized by a variable combination of consciousness impairment, seizure activity, headaches, visual abnormalities, nausea/vomiting, and focal neurological signs(Legriel et al, 2012, PLOS One)

The researchers were interested in the factors that predicted recovery. They recruited 70 patients through multiple centres. Brain imaging findings were one of the criterion for diagnosis and the researchers found that most of the abnormalities were found in the Parietal and Occipital lobes in keeping with the description of a Posterior Encephalopathy. The researchers found that early treatment of the underlying medical condition as well as hyperglycaemia on day 1 were predictors of later recovery. One significant cause of PRES was Hypertensive Encephalopathy but there were many number of other causes identified.

Having a wide social network is associated with health and wellbeing according to this study. This is an epidemiological study looking at 6500 Britons born in 1958. Suprisingly employment didn’t affect the size of the social network but the age of leaving education did. Those that stayed in education longer had wider social networks. There are various studies which show that large social networks are protective for memory and so this study adds to the research literature showing a protective health benefit.

Thomas Szasz has died. Szasz was both an iconic and controversial Psychiatrist who developed ideas critical of Psychiatry and was at the forefront of the emerging critical Psychiatry movement. His death has been covered here, here and here.

Neuroscience News

There is an extensive debate in the neuroscience field here. This debate is so protracted that it has even found its way into the neuroscience literature as a reference here. The crux of the argument centres around the methodology in neuroimaging studies. The first article also discuss how difficult it can be for readers and researchers alike to understand the statistical analysis and research methodology if they are outside of the neuroimaging research centres. Citing the article in the research literature shows that the Blogosphere is contributing to the mainstream research literature.

A better understanding of how the retina communicates with the brain has led to the development of this experimental artificial retina device which remains to be tested in humans. The device works through a combination of electronic sensors, microprojectors and genetic modification of cells in the retina to restore vision in a model of nightblindness. Clinical trials in humans would need to go through several stages and assuming that the trials were successful at each stage would then be eligible for clinical use.

The Anatomy of the Eye

A neuron stem cell that leads to the cells in the higher levels of the cerebral cortex has been identified in this study.

Open Science

There are some useful resources here for teaching medical anthropology. Medical anthropology is the discipline which involves the study of health systems, health and illness and the interactions with culture.

How to browse a genome on your browser is discussed in this post together with a commentary.

Evolutionary Psychiatry

A 20,000 year gap in the Asian hominid fossil record has been filled thanks to a recent find. In a cave in Laos an early modern human skull was found which researchers have dated to 46,000 years ago. This is the oldest early modern human skull found in the region and helps to clarify the narrative around migration routes.


News Round-Up 2008-2011

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.

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