Monthly Archives: January 2013

Peak Empathy News Roundup January 5th Edition 2013

A Cochrane Systematic Review concluded that although promising there was insufficient evidence to recommend Cerebrolysin for the treatment of Vascular Dementia at this point.

Neuroscience

Empathy

A new international multicentre study has provided evidence that empathy – the ability to understand the minds of others – could begin to develop before 2 years of age. The researchers in this study looked at non-verbal responses to a false belief task. The researchers concluded that the non-verbal responses at this early stage implied an understanding of another person’s mind.

Researchers have looked at data from over 75,000 adults on measurements of empathy and concluded that scores on these tests reaches a peak in both genders in women in their 50’s.

 

Psychiatry 2.0

There is a new database of Dementia research trials.

Awareness

There are two blog posts – one on relapse of Depression and the other on Dementia.

Appendix

News Round-Up 2008-2011

News Round-Up 2012

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.

Does Facebook Help To Overcome Loneliness? News Roundup January 2013 4th Edition (Updated)

Alzheimer’s Disease is a degenerative condition which affects the brain and leads to problems with memory and other areas of cognition. While medication, exercise and a number of other approaches can slow down progression of the illness other approaches are being investigated. One of these approaches is Deep Brain Stimulation which has already produced positive results in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease. In this write-up there is a look at the use of Deep Brain Stimulation in Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers are stimulating selective areas in the brain including the Fornix and the Frontal Lobes. At the time of writing however it is too early to say whether this approach will be successful.

The New York Time has a piece by Professor Elyn Saks who discusses his diagnosis of Schizophrenia and how he has developed a successful academic career. Professor Saks offers many insights into how illness can impact on functioning and his own personal experience of overcoming these difficulties.

Neuroscience

Scientific American has a good write-up of research which showed that people were able to eat less by remembering the experience of eating past meals. In the study subjects were given bowls of soup to eat. Those that thought they had eaten bigger portions than they had done were less hungry than those that thought they had eaten smaller portions regardless of the size of the portions.

Psychiatry 2.0

Does Facebook help with loneliness? That was the question asked in one study. The study looked at over 200 students at Arizona University in the USA. The researchers found that students that updated their Facebook status more frequently had lower scores on a measure of loneliness. Although frequent status updates might be associated with more feedback from others in their network, the researchers found evidence that this feedback was not necessary for lowering feelings of loneliness.

There is a useful resource called ‘The Open Brain‘ which allows people to share resources for developing models of the brain. There is also an ‘Open Source Brain’ Twitter account here.

Evolutionary Psychiatry

via @Keith_Laws there is an interesting study looking at language lateralisation in people with Schizophrenia. There is an evolutionary theory developed by Professor Tim Crow which states that language results from lateralisation in the brain and that this lateralisation process can be affected in Schizophrenia. The researchers in this study looked at previous investigations of lateralisation using dichotic listening tasks. These tasks involve the presentation of bilateral auditory stimuli. Subsequent testing can pick up subtle differences in the way the right or left auditory stimuli are processed if this difference is present. The researchers in this study found that subjects with Schizophrenia had a lower degree of language lateralisation compared to a control group. However the magnitude of this difference became much larger in the subgroup with auditory hallucinations.

Appendix

News Round-Up 2008-2011

News Round-Up 2012

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.

A Talk on Experiences of Synaesthesia and Asperger Syndrome

TEDx Talk by Wendy Lampen on Asperger Syndrome and Synaesthesia

I’ve covered TEDx talks in previous posts. TEDx are locally organised events with the theme of technology, education and design. The videos feature talks given at TEDx conferences and are generated at a prodigious rate. This TEDx talk is by Wendy Lampen, who talks about her experience of Asperger Syndrome. Lampen also has a twitter account and a blog.

Lampen is courageous in talking openly about her experiences. What is very interesting is the way Lampen describes her sensory experiences and in particular synaesthesia. In synaesthesia a person will perceive stimuli coming from one sensory modality as if it came from another sensory modality e.g seeing noise or hearing colour. Lampen gives many examples of this experience. Lampen tells us how her experiences affect how she makes meaning of the world around her, of her own self-awareness and how she uses mind-maps to provide a structure for meaning.

In the new American diagnostic manual DSM-V consideration is being given to the reclassification of Asperger Syndrome under Autistic Spectrum Disorders (Asperger Syndrome is included in the World Health Organisation’s diagnostic manual – ICD-10).

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.

New Edition of DSM-V Due News Roundup January 2013 3rd Edition (Updated)

Scientific American has an article looking at anticipated scientific developments in the coming year including the publication of DSM-V.

There is a brief but interesting review of research findings examining the relationship between Glutamate and mental illness here.

There is an interesting study (via @claudiamegele) about the genetics of Depression. A study involving an international collaboration of 86 scientists looking at studies with a cumulative total of 34, 549 participants found no strong genetic links to Depression. There are various studies which show there can be a strong family history of Depression but these most recent findings suggest important lessons are yet to be learnt in understanding the relationship between genetics and unipolar Depression.

The Institute of Psychoanalysis has a fascinating piece on the influence of Shakespeare on the development of psychoanalysis including the influence of Hamlet on Freud’s ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’.

There is an interesting video of Psychiatrist Dr Mark Salter giving a talk on the meaning of pain.

South Korea is reported to have a rapidly aging population and the anticipated increase in people with Dementia is examined in detail in this article.

Neuroscience

The Bystander Effect occurs when a person observing a person in distress is less likely to act in the presence of other observers. There is also evidence that the likelihood of a response diminishes as the number of other observers increases.  One team at University College London investigated this phenomenon using virtual reality. They found that people were more likely to react in the environment to a virtual character appearing to be in distress if the character had a similar affiliation to themselves or if the character appearing in distress looked directly at them.

A variation of the Dopamine gene has been found to be associated with longevity in one study. The gene variant (allele) known as DRD4 7r allele was investigated in people aged 7-109 years of age. Those people aged 90-109 years (n=310) were 66% more likely than the younger age (7 -45 years of age, n=2902) to have this allele. The researchers also undertook research into mice which corroborated these findings

There is an interesting writeup at the Well blog at the New York Times on animals studies showing that mood and memory gains from exercise can be lost after periods of inactivity. However this shouldn’t be too surprising if exercise promotes memory and mood.

The Medical Research Council have a fascinating piece on the pioneers of Magnetic Resonance Imaging including an early photograph of the team featuring Sir Peter Mansfield.

A recent study looking at 4802 people in the University of North California Alumni Heart Study concluded that people that never married were more than twice as likely to die in the study than those who had been in a stable marriage throughout adult life.

Anthropology Report have a comprehensive roundup of anthropology in 2012.

Emeritus Professor Geoff Cumming has written a piece on confidence intervals which he advocates in place of p values in scientific reporting.

David Brooks has an interesting piece on how behavioural research has been used in government policy citing several important examples

Professor Deevy Bishop has a helpful piece on reporting research on genetic variation and neuroimaging.

Twitter have released their findings after a study of UK Twitter users. Of 10 million UK users identified in the report 60% were estimated to be using Twitter while watching TV. 40% of Tweets during peak time were about Television.

Researchers looked at personality traits in research across 9 languages to examined culture-independent personality traits. The researchers found two invariant traits across these languages – social self-regulation and dynamism.

PLOS-One have an interesting paper on a study looking at how metaphors influence decision making. The researchers in this study gave subjects a problem to solve and examined the effects of metaphor use on decision-making by the subjects. The researchers found evidence for metaphor influencing decision-making. The researchers found that even if subjects did not have an explicit memory of the metaphor it still influenced their decision making.

There is an interesting piece on 12 cognitive biases at IO9 including confirmation and ingroup bias.

Evolutionary Psychiatry

The strength of Chimpanzees relative to humans is covered in this article.

There is an interesting write up on the debate about the possible ‘mind reading’ abilities of Crows.

One group has developed a gene chip looking at SNP’s (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms). These are short gene sequences. This gene chip is being used to identify specific traits in people with a high degree of confidence.

Appendix

News Round-Up 2008-2011

News Round-Up 2012

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.

FOXP2 and the Social Brain

TEDx is a series of local conferences affiliated to the TED conferences. TED stands for Technology, Design and Education. Frequent TEDx conferences produce regular videos which are uploaded onto the TEDx YouTube Channel. This Channel is a workhorse for the production of engaging videos in many disciplines from leaders in their field. The videos enable the audience to get to grips with complex subjects and there are many benefits in keeping an eye on this channel.

Professor Stephanie White talks about the social brain in this talk and specifically focuses on the FOXP2 gene. White refers to a London family with a mutation in the FOXP2 who have difficulties in controlling the lower muscles of the face as well producing words beginning with a certain letter. As there are so many factors that influence speech, Professor White has investigated FOXP2 in song birds. She found that the levels of FOXP2 gene expression in a specific area within the brain of song birds reduced when they were practicing songs. She hypothesised that expression of the FOXP2 gene is dependent on the social context and that in turn this may have an impact on certain mental illnesses. This is an important hypothesis which would benefit from further exploration.

Learning Point: Dementia can be delayed in some studies by up to 5 years in people who can speak two languages compared to one.

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.

The Unconscious in the Three Structure Model: Integration in Neuroscience: A Core Problem – Part 7

Slide1

This is a continuation of an investigation into the problem of integration in neuroscience (see Appendix for earlier posts in the series).

IntegrationInNeuroscience

A Three Structure Model of Neural Activity in Relation to Consciousness and Language

Here I will consider the first two structures within the model – neural activity and consciousness. The model states that neural activity leads to conscious experience. However we do not need to reinvent the wheel. Freud had developed an eloquent model which incorporates conscious and unconscious activity and from an experiential perspective this has construct validity. As I write this I am breathing and my heart is beating. I am not aware of this until I attend to these phenomenon. I know that the Medulla Cardiovascular Centre regulates heart rate through sympathetic and parasympathetic outflow. As soon as the need arises the cardiovascular centre will modify the heart rate but I will not need to be aware of it. Indeed if I start to run quickly this will happen automatically. I do not have time to think about it.

For the Medullary Respiratory Centre the situation is the same. Activity in the neurons here will causes me to breathe more quickly. I do not focus my activity on the respiratory rate when I run quickly. I just breathe more quickly due to a number of factors including activity in the neurons in the Medullary Respiratory Centre. Again neuronal activity is happening which I am not consciously aware of. In this model, unconscious activity means one of two things.

1. Unconscious activity results from neuronal activity. This unconscious activity can become conscious experience if it is attended to.

2. Unconscious activity is neuronal activity. This activity can never become conscious experience as there is no mechanism for it to do so.

Thus two types of unconscious activity are described here and in practice both types are likely. I will refer to unconscious activity which can never become conscious experience as Absolute Unconscious Experience Activity. I would refer to activity in the Optic Nerve as being Absolute Unconscious Experience Activity.  Although activity here is essential for visual perception, the activity here occurs at an early stage of visual processing and would be referred to as sensation rather than perception. Activity in the Optic Nerve can impact on our conscious experience.

The second type of unconscious activity I will refer to as Transient Unconscious Activity Experience. In this case neuronal activity does not reach conscious experience when it is unconscious activity. However it is capable of reaching conscious awareness. An example of breathing will again help to illustrate the point. As I think about this sentence I am concentrating on the concepts but am unaware of my breathing. If instead I focus on my breathing I become aware of the air moving through my nose and the sensation of my lungs expanding as well as the rhythm of inspiration and expiration. Unconscious Activity experience has become conscious experience. The neuronal correlates are much more complex however and would likely include range from components of the Peripheral Nervous System through to the Medulla, the Thalamus, Insular Cortex, Primary and Secondary Somatosensory Cortex, Somatosensory Association Cortices, Primary Motor Cortex and Premotor Cortex. The neuronal activity needs to occur in these areas. In one state of mind however I am unaware of this. In the other state I am aware of some of this background neuronal activity.

The three structure model must expand to incorporate these two types of unconscious activity.

Related Resources on the TAWOP Site

In Support of Method

A Review of the Structure of Scientific Revolutions

An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions

Integration in Neuroscience: A Core Problem – Part 1

Integration in Neuroscience: A Core Problem – Part 2

Integration in Neuroscience:A Core Problem – Part 3

Integration in Neuroscience: A Core Problem – Part 4: A Language for Mind and Brain?

Integration in Neuroscience: A Core Problem – Part 5: A Three Structure Model

Integration in Neuroscience: A Core Problem – Part 6: Reflection on the Three Structure Model

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.

Working with Pubmed – Part 4: Receiving News Updates on PubMed

PubMed is an impressive resource. There are several ways to learn about using PubMed.

A How To Section: This lists ‘How To’ details for different components of PubMed

A Quick Start Section

A YouTube Channel

NCBI Help Manual

MyNCBI Help: You will need to be logged in to access this feature

Training and Tutorials Section

NCBI News: This is updated periodically and gives a broad overview of developments

NLM Technical Bulletin: This is much broader and relates to the National Library of Medicine. However there are many interesting articles such as this one on the new PubMedReader

Appendix – Related Resources on this Site

Working with PubMed – Part 1: Getting started with a shortcut

Working with PubMed – Part 2: Favoriting abstracts

Working with PubMed – Part 3: Bibliography

How to receive research paper e-mail alerts

A Video Celebrating 10 years of PubMed Central

How to improve your search results with Medline

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.