Results from the Whitehall II cohort study (a cohort of British civil servants) published in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests that smoking in combination with drinking alcohol above the recommended limits was associated with a higher rate of cognitive decline. Compared to a group of people who did not smoke and drank moderately the high alcohol, smoking group experienced accelerated cognitive decline which was statistically significant. The decline amounted to an extra 2 years of cognitive decline for every 10 years of aging.
There is a write-up of a study by Professor Coid and colleagues investigating psychiatric illness in gang members in two areas in the UK. Relative to a control group the researchers found that gang members were less likely to have depression than a comparator group. However the gang members were more likely to have other conditions. The subject group were atypical in that they were older than the age of the average group member and the researchers recommend further longitudinal studies.
In the MATRICS study researchers found evidence that working memory and visual learning performance were risk factors for transition to psychosis in an at-risk group.
In a whole-genome sequencing study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, researchers have found evidence for approximately 50% of the genetic variation in risk for Autistic Spectrum Disorders. The researchers identified previously recognised gene associations as well as several new associations.
There is a detailed write-up at the Alzheimer’s Research Forum of a paper published in JAMA Neurology looking at the relationship between late onset Epilepsy or epileptiform activity and cognitive decline. The researchers examined people with mild cognitive impairment as well as Alzheimer’s Disease. They found that epileptiform activity was associated with cognitive decline.
There is a brief write-up here of a study linking difficulties with emotive memories and the orbitofrontal cortex in Frontotemporal Dementia.
Researchers publishing in BMC Psychiatry have found evidence from a moderately sized study (n=191) looking at women with eating disorders that comorbid ADHD differed between eating disorders subtypes. The researchers found evidence for a significantly higher comorbidity of ADHD in Bulimia Nervosa, Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified Bulimic Subtype and Binge Eating Disorders compared with Anorexia Nervosa . The researchers comment that there was a small sample size in the group with Anorexia Nervosa.
One research group in Japan have published a case-control study (n=40) in BMC Neurology examining the relationship between GADA antibodies and cognitive function. The researchers looked at people with GADA positive Diabetes compared to a control group with GADA negative NIDDM. In the results, the researchers identified a significant reduction in the Full Scale IQ in the GADA positive group (Japanese version of the WAIS-III) as well as performance on perceptual organisation and verbal fluency tasks. The findings suggest that GADA antibodies may influence cognition and it will be interesting to see the results of further research in this area.
There is a write-up of a recent brain mapping conference in Seattle which includes a discussion of recent brain mapping projects around the world.
There is an fMRI study which will stir debate and is interpreted as meaning that the Temporoparietal Junction (TPJ) is associated with the ‘buzz’ of social interactions. The study which had a relatively small sample size involved two groups of subjects, one group assessing the ideas for TV pilots. The other group acted as producers and would need to be persuaded of the value of the TV pilots by the first group. The subjects in the first group had more activity in the TPJ when first listening to the details about the pilot if they were more successful in persuading the ‘producers’. The researchers concluded that this region was important in generating ideas that would be successful socially and that there were a number of potential applications of this methodological approach.
Evolutionary Psychiatry, Evolution & Culture
There is an open access publication of a comparison of Chimpanzee, Bonobo and human genomes at Nature.
There is an interesting write-up of evidence of a link between the lithic technologies used in the Thar and Sahara deserts in the middle Paleolithic supporting migration pathways between these areas during this period.
Researchers have found evidence of flowers being used in burials approximately 12,000 years ago in the Natufian culture.
There is a short video here about a 14,000 year old tomb found in France recently.
Professor Clive Finlayson writes about a recent excavation in Gorham’s cave in Gibraltar where they have uncovered evidence of Neandertal tool use for processing of limpets. Professor Finlayson and colleagues have also recently published on the use of lithic technology at Gorham’s Cave at PLOS One.
An Italian team publishing in PLOS One provide evidence that Neandertals were possibly applying haematite to shells to produce pendants approximately 47,000 years ago.
There is recent evidence of 5000 year old writing in China.
A comparative morphometric analysis of Homo Floresiensis and other specimens including pathological modern human skulls provides further support for H.Floresiensis as a separate species. There is also an article here which among other things looks at the likely fauna on the island of Flores during extensive time periods which included the estimated period of habitation by Homo Floresiensis.
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