Blood Pressure and Brain Changes News Roundup: November 2012 4th Edition

The APOE4 allele is a recognised risk factor for Alzheimer’s Disease. In one study, researchers looked at people with an average age of 93. They compared people with and without the APOE4 allele. Surprisingly they found no difference in the quality of life. What this might mean is that the gene may have a more significant role much earlier in life. Alternatively it may mean that people in their 90’s have successfully adapted to the allele. Further research studies will hopefully shed more light on this.

The British Medical Journal has a new policy for researchers submitting data. The Journal will request that the more detailed study data is made available by the researchers when the study is submitted to the Journal so that it can be checked independently.

Elevated Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is a recognised risk factor for Dementia. Researchers using data from the Framlingham Heart Study found evidence that elevated blood pressure is associated with changes in the brain including shrinkage. The researchers found evidence that these changes were more likely with a higher blood pressure. The average age of study participants was 39*.  Although the links are not necessarily causative, these findings in conjunction with earlier work support the need to recognise mild hypertension.

eMedTV Video on Hypertension

The Physiology of Blood Pressure


A group at the Max Planck Institute have refined a method for examining the fine structure of the brain (cytoarchitecture). The method involves looking at large brain structures using an approach known as serial block-face scanning electron microscope. Previously this was possible only with thin slices of tissue. This new approach should enable the researchers to develop automated methods to conduct a detailed examination of the connections in the brain.

An improvement in fMRI methodology is covered by the Neuroskeptic in this post whilst Professor Hawks picks up on possible movement artefacts in fMRI here.

Open Science

There’s a nice video introduction to Positive Psychology below

fMRI and Electroencephalography are explained in this video

Picture of a Thought

Evolutionary Psychiatry

Professor Chris Stringer and colleagues have concluded that the Sima specimens from Spain are not Homo Heidelbergensis but instead an early form of Homo Neanderthalensis. There is a more detailed explanation here but essentially this interpretation means that Homo Heidelbergensis can now be considered to be the common ancestor of Neanderthals, Homo Sapiens and Denisovans.

Researchers looking at genetic markers have found evidence of a large expansion in the human population between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago. The researchers looked at gene markers in the Y Chromosome.

The results of genome analysis of several species have led one group to suggest that vision began in Jellyfish 700 million years ago.

Jellyfish in Action (Members of the Phylum Cnidaria)

*The researchers found evidence of changes in the brain with systolic blood pressures of between 120 and 139.


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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