Monthly Archives: November 2013

Brain Activity Correlates of Facial Recognition News Round-Up November 2013 4th Edition

A look at cognitive tests that may be used in clinical trials with a mention of correlations with Amyloid load.

A write-up of a recently FDA approved Amyloid imaging agent.

Researchers find accumulation of alpha-synuclein in gastrointestinal system in Parkinson’s Disease.

Post-mortem brain biopsy study looks at sensitivity in the diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders.

This study suggests DNA methylation may be a therapeutic target in FTLD. However further research needed.

This small study finds anterior Cingulate atrophy in bvFTD and posterior Cingulate atrophy in DAT.

This autopsy ADNI study show evidence of 100% specificity and 80% sensitivity for detecting DLB with Occipital FDG-PET.

Australian AIBL study finds 30.5% rate of conversion from MCI to DAT over 18 months in the study sample.

This CSF study investigates biomarkers to distinguish DAT from control and finds two metabolite candidates.

CSF-Presenilin 1 complexes were elevated in DAT in this post-mortem study.

A look at the evidence on omega-3 fatty acids and cognitive decline

Failure in reverse fox test was linked to Parietal hypoperfusion in DAT

Researchers develop new preparation of Methylene Blue using nanoparticles.

Researchers in this EEG study find difference in right temporal region frequencies in DAT compared with controls.

Neuroscience

brain.1

A write-up of a study providing evidence that creativity in the arts is increasing and in writing decreasing.

Coffee in the afternoon was associated with sleep reduction in this study.

This study suggests nostalgia is linked to optimism. Subjects recalled nostalgic memories and   songs.

This face recognition fMRI study looked at the context of facial recognition. Activity in the fusiform gyrus and Superior Temporal Sulcus were correlated with facial recognition.

Researchers identify a 5th type of boredom – apathetic boredom and the researchers suggest that people mainly experience just one type of boredom.

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. Conflicts of Interest: For potential conflicts of interest please see the About section.

Mapping the Brain’s Language Comprehension Functions News Round-Up November 2013 4th Edition

A German research group have developed a method for comparing scores on 11 self-reporting Depression questionnaires and state that their findings can inform the use of questionnaires across settings as well as being useful in the research setting.

The authors of a meta-analysis looking at mental health websites found a statistically significant relationship between the source of funding of the website and the focus on biological versus psychosocial causes of illness and treatment.

In a meta-analysis of pre-operative alcohol use and post-operative surgical complications, researchers found a statistically significant relationship between high alcohol use preoperatively and risk of post-operative mortality (relative risk 2.68 (95% CI 1.5-4.78)). Premorbid alcohol use was associated with an increased risk of postoperative general infections (relative risk 1.73 (95% CI 1.32-2.28) amongst other findings.

In a meta-analysis looking at Zinc levels in people with Depression, researchers included 17 studies (n=2447) and found statistically significant lower Zinc levels in subjects with Depression compared to controls (95% confidence interval of -2.51 to -1.19 µmol/L, p < .00001). Curiously the effect size for the difference was larger in inpatient versus community settings.

In a meta-analysis of the effects of an antihistamine on cognition, researchers looked at 5 RCT’s and reported a finding for only one of several cognitive scores (NPI) in studies investigating Dementia in Alzheimer’s Disease.

There is an updated Cochrane review looks at the research studies investigating an atypical antipsychotic treatment in Schizophrenia and recommends further research amongst other findings.

There is a brief write-up here of an RCT of cognitive rehabilitation in Multiple Sclerosis.

The Mental Elf blog features

– A look at research studies investigating complementary and alternative therapy in antenatal depression (the review comments on the lack of evidence and looks at some of the methodological difficulties that need to be addressed)

– A review of a study on the use of MRI scanning for diagnosis of Autism in infants (this is a fascinating study which looks at findings on developing brain volume in the sample population)

– A look at a Cochrane review of evidence for psychosocial interventions in people with severe mental illness and substance misuse (in the review it is suggested that harm reduction can be a useful outcome and there is a need to address methodological difficulties in future studies)

– A look at the evidence for Depression screening in chronic illness in a cross-sectional PLOS One study (the review highlights recommendations on stratifying risk groups within populations with chronic illness as well as methodological limitations e.g. a need to focus on psychological therapies)

– A review of a cohort study on early exposure to intimate partner violence (in parents) and parental self-reported depressive symptoms (the review picks up on confounders such as peer interactions as well as highlighting associations found with ADHD)

Neuroscience

brain.1This write-up looks at a study in which researchers investigate discourse comprehension (the ability to understand spoken and written language)  by examining function in people with damage to certain parts of the brain. The researchers concluded that Frontal and Parietal regions are needed for the executive functions necessary for discourse comprehension.

This write-up looks at an important study finding that intracellular calcium was not necessary for adaptation to sounds.

There is a write-up here of a study looking at cognition and the number of recessions a person has lived through.

There is a write-up here of a study looking at features of sleep (including non-restorative sleep and initial insomnia) and mortality.

Evolution

Evolutionary PsychiatryThis write-up looks  at a study in which researchers found that mutations in the FOXP2 gene are associated with impaired singing in adult Zebrafinches.

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. Conflicts of Interest: For potential conflicts of interest please see the About section.

New Developments in Sharing Clinical Trial Data News Round-Up November 2013 3rd Edition

This Alzheimer’s Research Forum article looking at new international developments in sharing of clinical trial data.

Researchers have found a link between retinal thickness and Alzheimer’s Disease using optical coherence tomography.

There is an interesting Alzheimer’s Research Forum write-up of a study looking at amyloid plaques up to 1 year after TBI.

Researchers find Alzheimer’s Disease related Presenilin mutation increases the frequency of Dementia in Alzheimer’s Disease related Amyloid Precursor Protein cleavage.

Authors on the Mental Elf Blog look at the BMC Psychiatry systematic review of internet-based interventions for eating disorders in adults, a PLOS One systematic review of music therapy, two meta-analyses looking at self-harm, a review of treatments for pain associated with behavioural problems in Dementia and a review of a randomised controlled trial on screening and counselling in primary care for intimate partner violence.

This Swedish study looks at risk factors for mental illness in over 1 million people and finds a link with downward social mobility.

This meta-analysis found evidence of efficacy of CBGT for social anxiety disorder compared to control conditions.

This research looked at the sensitivity of frontal lobe testing after MRI-confirmed right frontal CVA.

Researchers looked at a selection of smartphone smoking cessation applications and found evidence of a low adherence to specific American clinical guidelines.

A PLOS One meta-analysis confirms a link between mortality and sitting and also finds that risk modification is linked with exercise.

The authors of a PLOS One study looked at a selection of handheld medical display devices and found evidence of variation in display image quality.

A PLOS One meta-analysis looked at the utilisation of clinical laboratory tests. The authors found evidence of over and underutilisation which varied across clinical settings. The authors noted the low cost of laboratory tests relative to other aspects of management and highlight the importance of early tests.

Neuroscience

brain.1

Social networks make society ‘smarter’ by distributing knowledge/skills – study uses model of society.

Purpose in life linked to improved emotional recovery after presentation of negative stimuli in PLOS One study.

Evolution

Evolutionary PsychiatryResearchers find evidence of the evolution of evolvability in Lyme disease bacteria.

Researchers find that ‘Huh’ is used across several languages and suggest convergent language evolution. The researchers looked at 10 languages.

Evidence that Neanderthals were using toothpicks and string.

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. Conflicts of Interest: For potential conflicts of interest please see the About section.

Ernest Hemingway Helps Researchers Investigate Theory of Mind News Round-Up November 2013 2nd Edition

BMC Psychiatry have published an Open-Access series on treatment resistance in eating disorders including this editorial by Secondo Fassino and Giovanni Abbate-Daga. Approaches include reconceptualisations of psychodynamic formulations by psychoanalysts such as Donald Winnicott (some of his works have been reviewed elsewhere on this blog e.g here). The series includes a clinical overview, a study finding a relationship with altered facial expression, a literature review of nutritional rehabilitation, a look at ADHD and weight loss and a multicentre trial of inpatient treatment.

NHS Choices features a number of good write-ups of recent research studies. Write-ups include a looks at a study investigating the use of Pimavansarin in psychosis in Parkinson’s Disease, a write-up that contextualises a recent opinion piece on increasing diagnosis rates of ADHD and a write-up that looks at a recent study suggesting that bilingualism reduces the risk of Dementia.

The Mental Elf Blog features reviews of studies looking at payment for injections, trauma exposure, looking at wellbeing in people with psychosis, and a Cochrane Review of smoking cessation strategies. The Mental Elf also features a review of a study looking at St John’s Wort. In interpreting the study the reviewer comments on the variation between preparations (which makes comparison difficult) as well as the absence of direct comparison studies. Direct comparison data is essential in identifying different side-effect profiles in either identical (cross-over design) or similar populations (e.g RCTs). For instance – look specifically at the side-effect profile detailed on the NHS Choices site – to see what type of side-effects may have been examined in a direct comparison. The characteristics of the patient population as well as dosing and route of administration can have an important influence on the side-effect profile (e.g compare this study and this study). This in turn can impact on an economic analysis. Another point is that as it appears the Meta-analysis is unpublished we don’t see estimates of publication bias (i.e were negative studies simply unpublished). In addition a lot of work has gone into licensed medications in the form of Phase I-III trials. Although there is Phase III data on St John’s Wort this is preparation specific (e.g see here) which raises one of the most important drawbacks of this study. The meta-analysis amalgamates many different preparations. Although Hypericum Performatum has been described as the psychoactive ingredient, 20% of the compounds that can be extracted are bioactive and there are 7 identified classes of medically active components. There is evidence of differing efficacy in Depression in studies (including non-efficacy) using different preparations. In my opinion therefore, the economic analysis doesn’t hold up because the inclusion of different preparations in the unpublished meta-analysis means that effective preparations may be inflating the performance of one or more ineffective preparations – we just don’t know. The economic analysis is not specific to preparations and if a preparation does not demonstrate efficacy then that has implications for the economic analysis.

Neuroscience

brain.1In a PLOS One study, Dodell-Feder and colleagues have published their findings on their new Theory of Mind task. The task uses a story by Ernest Hemingway to test empathy. The subjects had an above average IQ (mean 120) and the researchers found a significant correlation of performance with IQ. However performance also correlated with a task in which subjects gauged the emotional state of an actor by looking at their eyes (the Eyes Task) supporting the validity of the new task (interestingly performance on this task is also correlated with IQ).

BIOME features a round-up of the latest news biology research. There is a write-up of a Frontiers in Human Neuroscience study investigating reading. The researchers were able to accurately predict how well subjects could comprehend words within the context of a sentence and also how well they recognised words. The predictions were based on Electroencephalography and Electrooculographic readings.

Artem Kaznatcheev has an interesting piece on models “Are all models wrong?” on the blog Theory, Evolution and Games Group. Models are a fundamental aspect of science and there has been much interesting debate on this subject within Psychiatry. Kaznatcheev starts with a quote from statistician George Box and goes on to discuss heuristic models, abstractions and Godel. On a related note, Vaughan Bell at Mind Hacks looks at some of the work that Douglas Hofstadter is doing.

Open Science

OPEN SCIENCEThis New Scientist article neatly summarise how data from Twitter has been utilised for scientific research including tracking diseases.

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. Conflicts of Interest: For potential conflicts of interest please see the About section.

The Origins of Art?

macaqueholdsflower3macaqueholdsflower2macaqueholdsflowerThese were pictures I took in Kerala, India. The monkey (Bonnet Macaque) on the right stopped for a moment to examine a flower. Was it admiring the flower for its colour or aesthetic appeal? I don’t know but it soon left the flower.

Nature in all its variety is truly breathtaking.

Bees and others insects are attracted to flowers but they are pollinators. There is a purpose – a ‘symbiotic’ relationship between the bee and the flower – the scientific term for the harmony that can be seen in nature.

Insect Visiting Flower

Is the monkey inadvertently behaving as a pollinator? Perhaps. What though is the function for the monkey? The appeal of flowers to people is well known and has led to entire fields of study and industries that span the globe.

Perhaps flowers have a universal appeal to species ranging from bees to humans. A combination of nectar and colours are powerfully attractive.

Opposable Thumbs

The Bonnet Macaques have opposable thumbs. This means they can have a more exploratory relationship with flowers compared to species without opposable thumbs. The most ancient primates with opposable thumbs are the Lemurs which display fascinating behaviours. Opposable thumbs have been an important part of our human evolutionary journey.

Conservation of Traits or Convergent Evolution

If this is more than a chance finding and represents a conserved trait then it might mean that monkeys and others primates could get enjoyment from seeing colourful flowers in their environment. Could it be a conserved trait? Monkeys and bee lineages diverged in the very distant past – conserved traits would need to be fulfilling another role. Distinguishing plants can be useful in anticipating when food sources will be available (e.g. see this piece which looks at the remarkable abilities of Chimpanzees to memorise their local environment). An important point to remember is that our ancestors diverged from Old World Monkeys about 40 million years ago but in that time both lineages have continued to adapt and evolve features that may not have been there at the point of divergence.

Co-optation – the Elephant in the Room

Co-optation occurs when an organisms adapts to the environment and that adaptation also fulfils a secondary role which is not essential to the survival of that adaptation. Perhaps co-optations have played an important role in our more abstract pursuits. Humans have the ability to generate artificial environments which shape further adaptations. Co-optations might shape such environments.

Art – Is this a Co-optation or an adaptation or something else?

Maybe the Bonnet Macaque’s actions were a chance occurrence with no significance. If they represent a trait then it might be a universal conserved trait meaning it would still be present regardless of which (evolutionary) route we had taken. Or maybe it serves some other purpose such as being able to identify foods in the environment*.

Why the Observations Above Aren’t Really Science

Science involves research which usually means having a model to begin with, altering at least two variables in an experimental paradigm and publishing the findings in a peer-reviewed platform. Science can be a bit more messy than this however. So anyway – take the above photographs and speculation with a pinch of salt. We can’t even begin to answer these questions without more rigorous approaches to the hypothesis. What this is though is something a bit more rudimentary. It still has validity as a ‘prescience’ – there is some evidence and it helps to generate a hypothesis.

What Would the Science Look Like?

You could generate an experiment to test this hypothesis. It would go something like this. Go to the primates natural habitat and place some colour neutral (e.g. green if surrounded by grass) flower like objects in one part of that environment. Then see how much time the primate spends either in that part of the environment or looking at that part of the environment. Then replace the colour-neutral flower like objects with actual flowers and then with colourful non-flower like objects. Comparing the times would help to test the underlying hypothesis. By altering the properties of the objects further characteristics of this behaviour could be identified if such a trait existed.

What Might this Mean for Art?

If such traits existed and were applicable to art it might mean that certain types of art had more popular appeal than others. Such works might be those that better approximated the natural environment. Even within the natural environment we might see that there is a hierarchy of popularity e.g. roses and tulips.

Are There Other Possible Implications?

There is a much older debate about urban and rural living. Beard’s conceptualisation of Neurasthenia had its roots in reflections about urban living. Debates continue about the optimum environments for health and illness and the balance with nature.

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. Conflicts of Interest: For potential conflicts of interest please see the About section.

Large Variation in DNA in Neurons Found News Round-Up November 2013 1st Edition

There is an interesting MedWire News write-up of a study which found a link between self-reported mood stability and psychotic episodes. The researchers looked at the responses to a question about mood stability that was administered in a large survey. They found a link between a high self-rating of mood instability and likelihood of psychotic experiences.

Garety and Freeman looked at Delusions in this November 2013 British Journal of Psychiatry paper. They found a link between worry, catastrophisation, attributional bias and jumping to conclusions and Delusions. They found no link between Delusions and theory of mind however.

Meta-cognitive training to address cognitive distortions was found to improve ratings of delusions in people with Schizophrenia in this study. The training had an additive effect to medication.

Research studies into telehealth in people with Schizophrenia were examined in this study. Both advantages and disadvantages to internet access were found with a benefit for empowerment and recommendations were made for future studies.

There is a write-up at ‘Mental Elf’ of a study looking at the effects on the family of being present during cardiopulmonary resuscitation of a relative.

Medical students in North Carolina are being taught Mindfulness meditation in an effort to reduce the risk of burnout.

A call for a national database of people with Dementia to help police has produced a mixed response with the Department of Health calling for evidence to support such a move.

Neuroscience

brain.1A large variation in DNA has been found between neurons in the brain in this study. Copy number variants are large sequences of DNA that are either added or subtracted from the genome. The researchers looked at post-mortem brains and surprisingly found wide variation in the DNA in neurons.

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. Conflicts of Interest: For potential conflicts of interest please see the About section.