Monthly Archives: March 2013

Learning Psychopathology At the Movies and a New Model of Emotions News Roundup: March 2013 5th Edition

The Journal ‘Academic Psychiatry’ March 2013 edition is published here. There are papers about learning psychopathology through the analysis of horror films and developing a research program in an older adult mental health services.

Dr Aronson has a piece on Journals that accept stories and short essays by physicians.

There is a write-up of a study here on gene factors predicting response to antidepressants based on the genome wide analysis of 2799 people being treated for Major Depressive Disorder with antidepressants.

The Schizophrenia Research Forum has an interesting piece looking at the negative symptoms in Schizophrenia. There is a detailed write-up which covers one study which looks at a subgroup of people with a specific genotype treated with Vitamin B12 supplements. The second study finds evidence of an association with interruption of the Right Arcuate Fasciculus, the Left Uncinate Fasciculus and the Right Inferior Longitudinal Fasciculus. Check out the write-up for further details.

At the Alzheimer’s Research Forum there is coverage of a number of clinical trial results.

There is an interesting talk by Professor Douglas Turkington on Cognitive Behavioural Treatment of Schizophrenia (via @keithlaws).

Professor Dorothy Bishop looks at blogging as post-publication peer review in this post.

 

Neuroscience

Dr Shock takes a look at a video about empathy with a strong narrative about the neuroscience research linking neurochemistry and empathy.

There is an interesting feature article at Nature which provides an overview the issue of free will with perspectives from neuroscience and philosophy.

Goethe’s views on colour are examined in this post.

Issue #5 of Psychology Tommorrow Magazine’s theme is interconnectedness.

One group have been investigating emotions using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. The researchers have proposed a model of emotions which involves attending to the emotions, expressing the emotional state and also the intensity of the emotions.

Evolutionary Psychiatry

Assistant Psychiatry Professor Peter Freed looks at mourning in Dolphins in this post.

There is a piece at Science Daily on a paper looking at the trichromatic vision system in Tarsiers and what this might mean for the evolution of the human visual system.

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.

Looking at a Reference Manager: A Look at Mendeley Part 2

Mendeley is a reference manage program that operates on the web, as well as across mobile and desktop platforms. In part 1 of the review there was a brief look at videos explaining Mendeley. Having spent a little time I thought to give my first impressions of using Mendeley.

1. One particular strength amongst many was in the processing of PDF’s. PDF’s stands for Portable Document Format which is an electronic document format which has been developed by Adobe. They have become a universal electronic document and are extremely useful and can be ported to mobile platforms. Mendeley allows you to import PDF’s and will automate the process of classifying them as they are entered into the library. For instance, Mendeley will try to extract details such as the author, year and title. Even if the automated processing missess the date of the document (for instance because of idiosyncratic documents which highlight the date on which the PDF was generated) there is the option for you to amend the details.

2. Additionally you can add tags to PDF’s which is a useful way of organising the collection. A group of documents can be selected before selecting a tag to save time.

3. Although Mendeley is targetted towards an academic audience the processing and organisation of PDF’s as well as the options for sharing means that there is a more generic potential. For instance Word and Open Office documents could be exported as PDF’s and then imported into the Mendeley library.

4. As Mendeley organises PDF’s, you are able to use external programs to modify and then save the PDF’s back into the library. This means that you are not limited by the PDF functions within Mendeley.

5. Another neat feature was citation generation. If you have a PDF document, Mendeley can autogenerate a citation in multiple formats. There is an addon for Word and Open Office so you can port across citations for specific references in the collection or more than one reference at a time. In other words there is batch processing.

Mendeley is a versatile program which enables you to organise PDF’s in multiple ways. This is a limited review which doesn’t extend to the other community capabilities.

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

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

Working with PubMed – Part 5: Setting Filters

How to receive research paper e-mail alerts

A Video Celebrating 10 years of PubMed Central

How to improve your search results with Medline

Looking at a Reference Manager: A Brief Look at Mendeley

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.

Creating a Visual Illusion Based on Contrast: Continuing with a Visual Illusion Experiment – Part 7

illusion

In previous posts in the series we have looked at reproducing an illusion (see Appendix). Whilst the original illusion was not reproduced there were a few interesting learning points along the way. The effects were very subtle and modifying the brightness and other variables didn’t impact too significantly on these effects. After watching the video below it became immediately obvious that the image developed in the previous posts could be modified to produce a convincing illusion. By inserting the words ‘contrast’ and ‘illusion’ into the circle above the reader may be convinced that the letters at the end of the words appear lighter than the letters at the beginning of the words. All the letters are of course of a similar colour and the effect results from the contrast with the background which is graded.

The contrast effect may be explained by firing in a subgroup of Ganglion cells at the stage of retinal processing as discussed in the talk by Professor Markus Meister below.

Appendix

Explaining the Neurobiology of Illusions – A Talk from Caltech

Do Cats See Illusions Too?

A Visual Illusion Experiment – Part 6

A Visual Illusion Experiment – Part 5

A Visual Illusion Experiment – Part 4

A Visual Illusion Experiment – Part 3

A Visual Illusion Experiment – Part 2

A Visual Illusion Experiment – Part 1

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.

Focusing on the GABA Receptors – A Look at the Nematode: Building a Model of the Insular Cortex – Part 13

AModeloftheInsularCortex

A very basic model of the Insular Cortex was developed in previous posts (see Appendix). In the open model of the Insular Cortex detailed above there is a key role for GABA receptors in determining the intensity of emotional experience. The model is a little simple at the moment and we are at a point where we can begin to add detail. A useful starting point is to take a closer look at the GABA receptor in order to reconcile the neurobiology with the assumptions in the model.

There are two types of GABA receptor – the GABAa and the GABAb receptor. The GABA receptor is found in the Nematode worm which also goes by the name Caenorhabditis elegans (using binomial nomenclature) or C.elegans for short. A video of C.elegans is shown below.

C.elegans

There are two reasons that we might want to briefly look at C.elegans in order to get a better understanding of GABA receptors.

1. C.elegans has been very well studied.

2. C.elegans is a very simple organism and researchers have a more comprehensive (although not exhaustive) understanding of the physiology of C.elegans in contrast with more complex organisms.

Reflecting point 1 above, there is an online resource which I will reference in this post – the Wormbook – an online review of C.elegans biology. This book has a creative commons license and the quotes below are from the section on GABA.

γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid neurotransmitter synthesized by decarboxylation of glutamate by the enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase. GABA had been long known to exist in plants and bacteria, where it serves a metabolic role in the Krebs cycle

Slide2

Historically GABA was studied in many species and at first it was thought to be a metabolite. There were a few twists and turns in the story before GABA was convincingly established as a neurotransmitter and this is covered in Jogensen’s section of the Wormbook. In C.elegans, GABA has been found to play a role in gut function, locomotion and foraging. C.elegans has a very simple nervous system with only 26 GABA neurons.

These 26 GABA neurons are comprised of 6 DD, 13 VD, 4 RME, RIS, AVL and DVB (Figure 2B). These neurons fall into different classes based on their synaptic outputs: the D-type neurons, that is, the 6 DD and 13 VD motor neurons, innervate the dorsal and ventral body muscles, respectively; the 4 RME motor neurons innervate the head muscles; the AVL and DVB motor neurons innervate the enteric muscles; and RIS is an interneuron (White et al., 1986)

In the video of C.elegans above you can see the worms wriggling as they move across the screen. They are able to achieve this movement by relaxing some of their muscles using GABA. The unopposed muscle then steers the movement. What is fascinating about this are the many parallels with GABA function in humans. However although there are parallels with GABA receptors and GABA function in vertebrates we must remember that all species continue to adapt. Therefore even though vertebrates and C.elegans shared a common ancestor at one point, further ahead in time the function of the same gene may be lost or find an altogether different use in either lineage. Jogensen comments that

Nematodes and vertebrates diverged over 800 million years ago. Nevertheless the proteins governing GABA cell identity, biosynthesis and transport are conserved in the nematode and vertebrate nervous systems. Notably, studies in the nematode identified the vesicular GABA transporter and the UNC-30 homeodomain transcription factor, and subsequent genome comparisons identified the vertebrate orthologs of these genes. Although there does not appear to be a GABA-gated cation channel related to EXP-1 in the vertebrate genome, the GABAA channel and the GABAB chloride G-protein coupled receptor are both found in the vertebrate and nematode genomes

There are a few genes which are known to be related directly to GABA and mutations in these genes are described in the table below. There are also a few GABA related function but which are yet to be matched with genes.

Slide1

Jorgensen clarifies the role of some of these gene/gene functions in C.elegans.

In summary, UNC-30 is required for GABA neuron specification in the D-type neurons and its expression is sufficient for conferring GABA neuron identity. However, its role in cell identity is complicated. UNC-30 is not required by all GABA neurons for GABA cell identity. How these cells regulate neurotransmitter specificity is not known. Moreover, some cells that express UNC-30 do not display GABA cell identity. Why these cells do not express GABA specific genes is not known

and

GABAA  receptors are GABA-gated chloride channels that inhibit cell activity. The GABAA receptor, that inhibits body muscle contraction during locomotion, is encoded by the unc-49 gene (Figure 6; Bamber et al., 1999; Bamber et al., 2005). The unc-49 locus encodes three distinct GABA receptor subunits by splicing a common N-terminal ligand-binding domain to one of three alternative C-terminal domains, producing the UNC-49A, UNC-49B, and UNC-49C subunits (Bamber et al., 1999). Keep in mind that these alternative gene products are all subunits of a GABAA ligand-gated ion channel and are not related to GABAB receptors. This unusual gene structure is conserved in the distantly-related nematode C. briggsae. The UNC-49B and UNC-49C subunits are expressed in the muscles and localized to synapses from the D-type GABA motor neurons (Bamber et al., 1999; Bamber et al., 2005; Gally and Bessereau, 2003). The GABA receptor at neuromuscular junctions is a heteromer composed of the B and C subunits (Bamber et al., 2005). The B subunit is required for localization of the receptor to neuromuscular junctions and the C subunit imparts specific pharmacological properties to the heteromeric receptor (Bamber et al., 2005; Bamber et al., 2003). The UNC-49A subunit is barely detectable in vivo, and does not heteromultimerize with UNC-49B or UNC-49C to form a functional receptor in vitro (Bamber et al., 1999)‘.

From the above, we therefore know that there are a number of genes involved in GABA related functions in C.elegans and that the physiological function has been well characterised but there are still pieces of the jigsaw missing. There are some useful points here but in terms of the model we will need to take a closer look at GABA and GABA receptors in humans.

References

Jorgensen, E.M. GABA (August 31, 2005), WormBook, ed. The C. elegans Research Community, WormBook, doi/10.1895/wormbook.1.14.1, http://www. wormbook.org.

Related Resources on this Site

Developing a Model of the Insular Cortex and Emotional Regulation: Part 1

Building a Model of the Insular Cortex – Part 2: Reviewing a Model by Craig – Part 1

Building a Model of the Insular Cortex – Part 3: Reviewing a Model by Craig – Part 2

Building a Model of the Insular Cortex – Part 4: Reviewing a Model by Craig – Part 3

Building a Model of the Insular Cortex – Part 5: The Evolution of the Insular Cortex

Building a Model of the Insular Cortex – Part 6: A Recap

Building a Model of the Insular Cortex – Part 7: The James-Lange Theory

Building a Model of the Insular Cortex – Part 8: The Cannon-Bard Thalamic Theory of Emotions

Building a Model of the Insular Cortex – Part 9: Charles Darwin on the Expression of the Emotions

Building a Model of the Insular Cortex – Part 10: The Limbic System

Building a Model of the Insular Cortex – Part 11: A Second Recap

Building a Model of the Insular Cortex – Part 12: GABA receptors and Emotions

What does the Insular Cortex Do Again?

Insular Cortex Infarction in Acute Middle Cerebral Artery Territory Stroke

The Insular Cortex and Neuropsychiatric Disorders

The Relationship of Blood Pressure to Subcortical Lesions

Pathobiology of Visceral Pain

Interoception and the Insular Cortex

A Case of Neurogenic T-Wave Inversion

Video Presentations on a Model of the Insular Cortex

MR Visualisations of the Insula

The Subjective Experience of Pain

How Do You Feel? Interoception: The Sense of the Physiological Condition of the Body

How Do You Feel – Now? The Anterior Insula and Human Awareness

Role of the Insular Cortex in the Modulation of Pain

The Insular Cortex and Frontotemporal Dementia

A Case of Infarct Connecting the Insular Cortex and the Heart

The Insular Cortex: Part of the Brain that Connects Smell and Taste?

Stuttered Swallowing and the Insular Cortex

YouTubing the Insular Cortex (Brodmann Areas 13, 14 and 52)

New Version of Video on Insular Cortex Uploaded

Contributors to the Model (links are to the posts in which contributions were made – these links may contain further links directly to the contributors)

Ann Nonimous

The Neurocritic

Psico-logica

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 Use for Ancient Memory Technique and Updated Neandertal Genome Sequence News Roundup: March 2013 4th Edition

Professor Wray Herbert has a very good write-up of a study looking at memory in people with Depression. The researchers found that an ancient technique for storing memories – the method of loci – was effective in helping people with Depression improve their recall of positive memories.

Joshua Foer Discusses the Method of Loci Memory Technique

There is an open-access paper on e-prescribing in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association where the authors have estimated a 48% reduction in medication errors (95% confidence interval of 41% to 55%). There is a good write-up of the paper here.

The Alzheimer’s Society website features a cognitive assessment toolkit for professionals here. The toolkit was developed in conjunction with the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Department of Health, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the College of Mental Health Pharmacy and the Dementia Action Alliance.

 

Neuroscience

There is an interesting interview with philosopher Professor Daniel Dennett here in which he briefly discusses his thoughts on empathy and reductionism.

Researchers have clarified the structures of the Serotonin 1B and 2B receptors using x-ray crystallography. This should aid in the development of drugs targeted to these receptors.

Video Explaining the Principles of X-Ray Crystallography

Neuroscientist Hugo Spiers discusses his research looking at London black cab drivers learning ‘the knowledge’. The research is helping to clarify the role of the Hippocampus.

Evolutionary Psychiatry

Dr. Svante Pääbo and colleagues have published a more complete sequence of the Neandertal genome. Pääbo and colleagues based at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have made the sequence freely available (the total sequence size is approximately 159 Gigabytes). The team extracted DNA from 0.038 grams of bone material from a phalanx discovered in the Denisova cave in the Altai mountains.  This cave is notable for the discovery of the Denisovans which are thought to be a separate species and the region is noted for the earliest evidence of dog-like canids (33000 years ago). The sample was contaminated with modern human DNA estimated at 1% of the sample. The team achieved a 50 fold coverage of the genome. Pääbo’s groundbreaking publication of the genome sequencing in 2010 revealed that approximately 3% of the modern human genome is inherited from Neandertals. There are several genes which differentiate humans and Neandertals and which are associated with illnesses. Associate Professor Hawks covers the announcement here.

A research team publishing in Current Biology have estimated the date of the last common human ancestor at 160,000 years ago. They obtained this figure after combining mitochondrial DNA data from specimens covering a period of 20,000 years with estimated DNA mutation rates.

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.

Decision Making – What are the Brain’s Limitations?

There is an interesting TEDx talk by Timothy Mullett at the University of Nottingham. In this talk he gives us insights into decision making by looking at key research studies. The theme permeating the talk is how we use comparisons to make decisions. Neuroimaging findings further clarify how the brain might be making these comparisons. The examples cover visual perception and assessment of numerical values. The insights also lead to sensible advice for improving decision-making.

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.

Electrical Stimulation of the Brain and Creativity News Roundup: March 2013 3rd Edition

A Canadian meta-analysis looked at the use of high frequency repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in the treatment of Depression. This approach to treating Depression has been examined in the research setting. The authors of this study compared actual treatment with sham treatment. The meta-analysis included a cumulative total of 392 people with Major Depression. At the end of the study period for the trials the researchers found that the remission rate for treatment was higher than that for sham treatment. For those receiving the treatment there was a 53.8% remission rate compared to 38.64% in those receiving sham treatment. The odds ratio was 2.42 with a 95% confidence interval of 1.27-4.61 (p=0.007). Although the study does show benefit this does not mean that it would be used in routine clinical practice. This would depend on a number of factors including an evaluation of the technology in relevant policies.

The March 2013 edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry includes a meta-analysis of non-pharmacological interventions in Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, a meta-analysis of Metabolic Syndrome comorbidity in Bipolar Disorder and a Swedish cohort study looking at comorbidity in Schizophrenia. There is an accompanying podcast.

The February 2013 edition of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry features clinical trials of Desvenlafaxine in major Depression and Lurasidone in Schizophrenia, the use of high frequency Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (see above) as well as a prevalence study on attenuated psychotic symptoms. There is an accompanying podcast.

In America, the Associated Press have released guidelines on the coverage of mental illness. These guidelines have the potential to reduce mental illness related stigma. The guidelines state that mental illness labels should not be used to describe non-health issues and also provide guidance on other unhelpful associations.

Psychiatrist Dr Alex Mitchell gives an excellent overview of clinical Depression for the general public in this video.

A new UK Department of Health website is being launched in March 2013 and more details can be found here.

There is coverage of a remarkable technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which amplifies motion in videos at the New York Times. In the examples, respiratory rate and heart rate can be determined from the processed footage. The video below illustrates the technology.

Neuroscience

There is an interesting study in which researchers applied transcranial direct current stimulation to the Prefrontal Cortex in research subjects and measured the effect on a problem solving task. Not only did the subjects generate responses more quickly (by as much as 1 second) but they produced many more responses. There is a detailed write-up of the study here.

The Neurocritic and Vaughan Bell had guest posts at Nature Communications as part of Brain Awareness Week.

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.