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 Another point is that as it appears the Meta-analysis is unpublished we don’t see estimates of publication bias (i.e were negative studies simply unpublished).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.


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.


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

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