Looking Back at 2012: News Roundup 2012

Looking Back at 2012

Other Medically Related Items

  • A new International Medical Emergency Trauma Register has been established for UK healthcare staff who are interested in volunteering for overseas disaster work.
  • There is an interesting article on the changing role of ultrasound in medical education here.
  • Researchers have described a new case of a man losing the ability to speak English after a stroke but being able to speak in Welsh which he had previously spoken for a brief period. His use of English has gradually returned.
  • There is an interesting article here on patient experiences and health outcomes.
  • In a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers found evidence of changes in semantic processing in people with amnestic mild cognitive impairment compared to a healthy control group in this moderately sized (n=121) study.


  • Evidence that the brain assimilates new information into preexisting goals is provided in this PNAS study.
  • The olfactory process has been investigated in this study where the researchers found evidence of modification of the early olfactory processing by feedback from other brain regions.
  • Evidence for genetic mechanisms for sensitivity to pain has been found in this international collaboration. Researchers compared the exome sequences of the most and least pain sensitive volunteers to identify genetic associations.
  • This Nature Neuroscience paper looks at neurons which detect itch sensations.
  • A new PLOS One study looks at how memory impacts on eating.
  • This ‘Frontiers in Human Neuroscience‘ paper looks at the electrophysiological correlates of fMRI activity in different brain regions.
  • Two studies in Psychological Science looked at the qualities which optimised the ability of people to imitate facial expressions.
  • The Neurocomic graphic novel due to be released in 2013 and supported by the Wellcome Trust is covered here.
  • IBM anticipates the development of computers which simulate human abilities to sense and smell as well as other predictions.
  • This PLOS Biology article looks at the Allen Human Brain Atlas which is a very useful online neuroscience resource.
  • 3-D scans of archaeological objects are covered in this piece and this technology may be increasingly useful in medicine as well.
  • Mo Costandi has a very interesting article on new findings about eye blinking and how this may relate to attention.
  • The Harvard Business Review has a comparison of self-compassion and self-esteem.

Professor Steven Rose talks about whether neuroscience can explain the mind in this video

Open Science

  • This study looks at how people with cancer use Twitter to establish an online dialogue and the features of the support they are able to offer each other.
  • Social networks were predictive of exam grades at a university course in this study although students of similar ability may have been more likely to socialise.
  • Deborah Blum looks at the use of social media to report on health issues in this article.
  • There is a review of the book ‘The Best Science Writing Online 2012’ at Wild Muse here.
  • This article looks at working papers with arguments for and against their use.
  • Josh Stearns looks at the possibility of adding a civic layer to the social web.

Evolutionary Psychiatry

  • Neanderthal subsistence in Pleistocene France was examined in this study by Ecker presented in Cambridge.
  • Researchers examining Salmonella bacteria have provided evidence of genes developing a second function while the bacteria are adapting to the environment. The multiple roles of gene products is observed across diverse species.
  • Researchers have sequenced the mitochondrial genome of the original New Zealand settler population by recovering DNA from archaeological sites. They have found overlap with neighbouring populations.
  • The grandmother hypothesis is an evolutionary hypothesis which suggests that grandmothers looking after their grandchildren brought extra resources to the family unit and through a series of further events were able to pass on genes for longevity. Professor Kristen Hawkes ran a computer simulation which supports this hypothesis. After up to 60,000 years adults increased lifespan by just under 50 years in the simulation.
  • Researchers looking at Chimpanzees and Bonobos find evidence of altruistic behaviour may be related to calculations of social exchanges taking place over long periods of time.
  • Researchers have been looking at stone tool flaking techniques at sites in Southern Africa dating back as far as 75,000 years ago which supports other lines of evidence coming from these sites. Some of the finds at these sites are amongst the oldest evidence of artwork predating European finds. The researchers have found some of the earliest evidence of complex cognition.
  • Researchers in this PLOS One study found evidence that paintings from Lascaux France which date back some 17,000 years showed more accurate depictions of animal movements than did later works as recent as the nineteenth century.
  • In a paper published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology researchers found evidence that hybrids of two separate species of Howler Monkey were difficult to distinguish on the basis of physical characteristics alone.
  • Researchers in this study looked at zebrafish and a Homeobox gene Hoxd13 finding that it could regulate the development of the fin. They hypothesised a specific gain of function which could have led to the later development of hands and feet in the human lineage.
  • In a paper in the Journal Interface, two researchers are proposing a new definition of life which focuses on the way information is processed.
  • Researchers have found evidence of zinc in the Earth’s early oceans. Others have assumed that the absence of zinc in the oceans would account for the relatively stable form of Eukaryotes for a prolonged period. This new finding will necessitate alternative explanations for this lengthy period of stability.
  • Researchers have found evidence of marked fluctuations in the environment in Olduvai Gorge at a critical period in human evolution suggesting that the climate may have played an important role.
  • A 5000 year old artwork was discovered in Egypt and the cultural significance is discussed.
  • This fascinating post looks at how mountain gorillas work together to dismantle poaching snares.
  • There is an interesting discussion of research into the evolution of intelligence in relation to physical exercise here.



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 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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