New Findings on Auditory Hallucinations and the Origins of Life May Date Back 3.49 Billion Years News Roundup: January 2013 2nd Edition

Video of Most of this Post (in 1 minute 50 seconds)

At the American Academy of Neurology 65th Annual meeting in San Diego one research group will be presenting their research findings in a study involving 10,500 people aged 25-74.  This was a 21-year prospective study. The researchers found a four-fold increase in mortality in people who had a Stroke with Depression compared to those with a Stroke without Depression after controlling for a number of confounding factors. These are the preliminary findings and it is more usual to look at these results after they have been published in a peer reviewed journal.

A study which is due to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting looked at 250,000 people and investigated a possible relationship between the use of sweeteners and the prevalence of Depression. The researchers found that the prevalence of Dementia increased with an increasing use of sweeteners. However these results are preliminary and as above it is more usual to look at results after they are published in a peer reviewed journal. Indeed in the BBC article Gaynor Bussell of the British Dietetic association points out possible confounders while Beth Murphy from Mind points out the importance of people with Depression advises readers to follow the guidance of health professionals in the management of Depression.

McCarthy-Jones and colleagues have undertaken a fascinating study into auditory hallucinations in people with Schizophrenia and other diagnoses associated with hallucinations (n = 199). The researchers found that in 39% of people, auditory hallucinations were related to memories of conversations that people had experienced previously. 45% of the subjects reported the voices as manifesting the same content and the researchers have developed subtypes on the basis of a cluster analysis of their findings.

In a recent House of Commons debate several MP’s have told of their experience in looking after parents with dementia.


A new open-access journal PeerJ is starting up at the end of January. This journal has an interesting business model where researchers can pay a one-off fee to submit articles.

The Neurocritic has an interesting piece on Synaesthesia. In Synaesthesia a person will perceive information from one sensory modality as a percept associated with another sensory modality. In this case instead of feeling shapes a person with Graphene Colour Synaesthesia would interpret touch in colours. The Neurocritic has looked at a case series in which people developed Graphene Colour Synaesthesia from the early use of Fisher-price sets .

Researchers looked at virtual reality characters – avatars – in the treatment of depressive symptoms in young adults in this study. They found an improvement in depressive symptoms compared to an attention control intervention comparator group.

A research team based at the Science Museum have published the results of a public study in intelligence in the journal Neuron. The researchers presented 12 types of cognitive tasks and analysed the results from 45,000 subjects with over 1 million data points. The researchers found that people that self-reported playing computer games frequently scored more highly on reasoning and memory tasks whereas smokers performed worse on memory tasks.

Psychiatry 2.0

The Lords Science Committee is looking at the UK government’s open access policy.


Cambridge University is holding the Darwin Lecture Series beginning on January 18th 2013. The theme this year is foresight.

 The American Psychiatric Association is holding the 166th Annual Meeting between May 18th and 22nd 2013 in San Francisco.

The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures are now online. The series is on modern chemistry.

The 9th International Conference on Cognitive Science is due to take place in Malaysia between the 27th and 30th August 2013.

Brain Awareness week is due in March 2013.

Evolutionary Psychiatry

A report (in French) outlines the details of an archaeological excavation of a 110,000 year old Neanderthal site in Normandy, France. The site is unique as it features the remains of a walrus as well as Neanderthal footprints that have been well preserved due to the geological conditions.

Professor John Hawks is starting a series in which he reviews Charles Darwin’s ‘The Descent of Man’.

Recent archaeological finding suggest there is a separate species Homo Floresiensis that lived as recently as 17,000 years ago. There has been debate. Researchers looked at the Carpal bones (in the hand) and found that they were significantly different from the carpal bones in humans and not likely to result from a developmental disorder. The researchers suggest this would have impacted on their susceptibility to Arthritis and their tool making ability. However there is evidence of stone tools dating back 800,000 years ago on the island of Flores and it has been estimated that this species arrived 1 million years ago.

The estimated date of the earliest life on earth has been moved back to 3.49 billion years by Professor Noffke and colleagues in Virginia who looked at patterns formed by ancient microbes in well preserved sandstone.


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 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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