Links for Keyword: Schizophrenia

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to our mailing list, to receive news updates. Learn more.


Links 1 - 20 of 605

Ina Jaffe The antipsychotic drug Seroquel was approved by the FDA years ago to help people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other serious mental illnesses. But too frequently the drug is also given to people who have Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. The problem with that? Seroquel can be deadly for dementia patients, according to the FDA. Now some researchers have conducted an experiment that convinced some of the general practice doctors who prescribe Seroquel most frequently to cut back. All the scientists did was have Medicare send letters — three of them over the course of six months — to the roughly 5,000 general practitioners who prescribe Seroquel the most. The letters (attached to this document) had two elements: First there was a peer comparison aspect. The doctors who got the letters were told that they wrote a lot more prescriptions for Seroquel than the average for their state — in some cases as many as 8 times more. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services which regulates Medicare, was a partner in the study and sent the letters. So the in addition to peer pressure, they contained a government warning: "You have been flagged as a markedly unusual prescriber, subject to review by the Center for Program Integrity." Researchers then tracked the physicians' prescribing habits for two years. © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 25303 - Posted: 08.07.2018

Olga Khazan For people with bipolar disorder, manic episodes can be euphoric, but they can also be terrifying. In the throes of mania, some people feel like they are superhuman. They start new projects and stay up all night to work on them. In the worst cases, they cease thinking coherently: They might attempt to walk into the sea or fly off the roof. Though medications can help manage the symptoms, no pill is perfect, and all of them have side effects. Bipolar disorder appears to be at least partly genetic, but environmental factors also play a role, perhaps by switching different genes on and off, which might spark manic episodes. And the thing that might be switching on some of these genes, according to a new study, is rather surprising: a category of preservatives in beef jerky called nitrates. For the study, recently published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers asked people being treated for psychiatric disorders at the Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore whether they had ever eaten dry cured meat, undercooked meat, or undercooked fish. Those who had eaten cured meats—which include jerky and meat sticks—were three and a half times more likely to be in the group that was hospitalized for mania compared with the control group. Meanwhile, cured meats were not significantly associated with other types of psychiatric disorders, such as major depression, and none of the other foods participants were asked about was significantly correlated with mania.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25234 - Posted: 07.21.2018

Bruce Bower England’s King George III descended into mental chaos, or what at the time was called madness, in 1789. Physicians could not say whether he would recover or if a replacement should assume the throne. That political crisis jump-started the study of human heredity. Using archival records, science historian Theodore M. Porter describes how the king’s deteriorating condition invigorated research at England’s insane asylums into the inheritance of madness. Well before DNA’s discovery, heredity started out as a science of record keeping and statistical calculations. In the 1800s, largely forgotten doctors in both Europe and North America meticulously collected family histories of madness, intellectual disability and crime among the growing numbers of people consigned to asylums, schools for “feebleminded” children and prisons. Some physicians who specialized in madness, known as alienists, saw severe mental deficits as a disease caused by modern life’s pressures. But most alienists regarded heredity, the transmission of a presumed biological factor among family members, as the true culprit. Asylum directors launched efforts to track down all sick relatives of patients. The increasing number of people institutionalized for mental deficits fueled the view that individuals from susceptible families should be discouraged from reproducing. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2018

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25163 - Posted: 07.02.2018

By Emily Willingham Analysis of a Million-Plus Genomes Points to Blurring Lines Among Brain Disorders Brain scan of a 23-year-old schizophrenic man experiencing a hallucination. Credit: Getty Images Is lower academic achievement in early life tied to the same gene changes as an increased risk for Alzheimer’s in older age? That is one of dozens of possible deductions to be drawn from the largest genomic study of brain conditions ever conducted, research that obscures what often have been considered clear diagnostic borders. According to the findings, published June 22 in Science, conditions such as schizophrenia, major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder share a suite of overlapping genetic variants rather than having distinct genetic signatures. In addition to the genetic links between educational attainment and Alzheimer’s risk, the results link neuroticism to anorexia nervosa, anxiety disorders, MDD and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis, however, have few variants in common with each other or with psychiatric conditions. This mother lode of findings comes after a six-year delving into genomes representing more than a million people, a quest for unusual genetic signals that track with one or more of 42 disorders and traits. © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25127 - Posted: 06.22.2018

By The Editorial Board When President Trump mused that the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., in February might have been prevented if the United States had more mental institutions, he revived a not-quite-dormant debate: Should the country bring back asylums? Psychiatric facilities are unlikely to prevent crimes similar to the Parkland shooting because people are typically not committed until after a serious incident. Still, a string of news articles, editorials and policy forums have noted that plenty of mental health experts agree with the president’s broader point. The question of whether to open mental institutions tends to divide the people who provide, use and support mental health services — let’s call them the mental health community — into two camps. There are just 14 or so psychiatric beds per every 100,000 people in the United States, a 95 percent decline from the 1950s. One camp says this profound shortage is a chief reason that so many people suffering from mental health conditions have ended up in jail, on the streets or worse. The other argues that large psychiatric institutions are morally repugnant, and that the problem is not the lack of such facilities but how little has been done to fill the void since they were shut down. Neither side wants to return to the era of “insane asylums,” the warehouselike hospitals that closed en masse between the 1960s and 1980s. Nor does anyone disagree that the “system” that replaced them is a colossal failure. Nearly 10 times as many people suffering from serious mental illnesses are being kept in jails and prisons as are receiving treatment in psychiatric hospitals. What’s more, both sides broadly agree that mental institutions alone would not be the solution. “Bring back the asylums” sounds catchy, but here are some more useful slogans to help steer the conversation: © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 25056 - Posted: 06.04.2018

By Dhruv Khullar I didn’t think our relationship would last, but neither did I think it would end so soon. My patient had struggled with bipolar disorder his entire life, and his illness dominated our years together. He had, in a fit of hopelessness, tried to take his life with a fistful of pills. He had, in an episode of mania, driven his car into a tree. But the reason I now held his death certificate — his sister and mother in tears by his bed — was more pedestrian: a ruptured plaque in his coronary artery. A heart attack. Americans with depression, bipolar disorder or other serious mental illnesses die 15 to 30 years younger than those without mental illness — a disparity larger than for race, ethnicity, geography or socioeconomic status. It’s a gap, unlike many others, that has been growing, but it receives considerably less academic study or public attention. The extraordinary life expectancy gains of the past half-century have left these patients behind, with the result that Americans with serious mental illness live shorter lives than those in many of the world’s poorest countries. National conversations about better mental health care tend to follow a mass shooting or the suicide of a celebrity. These discussions obscure a more rampant killer of millions of Americans with mental illness: chronic disease. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25037 - Posted: 05.31.2018

By Shawna Williams | Complications during pregnancy can magnify the effect of genetic risk factors for schizophrenia by altering gene expression in the placenta, a new study suggests. The paper appeared yesterday (May 28) in Nature Medicine. “To me the key thing in this paper is the recognition that environmental factors in early development, prenatal factors, are likely to be very important in schizophrenia and just as important as genes,” Allan Brown of Columbia University Medical Center who was not involved in the study tells Scientific American. An international team of researchers analyzed data from nearly 3,000 participants, including people with schizophrenia and healthy controls. The researchers found that, among people with known genetic risk factors, those who were products of a pregnancy complicated by conditions such as preeclampsia or diabetes were at least five times more likely to have the disease than were people born of uncomplicated pregnancies. The researchers also analyzed gene expression in placental tissue from complicated and uncomplicated pregnancies. That assay revealed that genes associated with schizophrenia risk tended to be “turned on” in the placentas from complicated pregnancies, and that higher expression of those genes was associated with inflammation and other signs of stress in the tissue. “We need to create a new risk score for schizophrenia, incorporating not only genes but also placental health,” study coauthor Daniel Weinberger of the Lieber Institute for Brain Research and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine tells STAT. “The odds of becoming schizophrenic based on your polygenic risk score is more than 10 times greater with these early-life complications than without them.” © 1986-2018 The Scientist

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25032 - Posted: 05.30.2018

By Dana G. Smith About 60 to 70 percent of a person’s risk for schizophrenia depends on their genes. Most of us have some of the schizophrenia-associated genetic variants—single-letter changes in the DNA of genes scattered across our genome—and the more we have, the greater our risk. At the same time, scientists have known that complications during pregnancy, including viral infections in the mother, increase the fetus’s risk for developing schizophrenia by two-fold, but scientists have been unsure why. New research published in Nature Medicine on May 28 reveals how when these two risk factors interact, the likelihood of an individual eventually being diagnosed with schizophrenia goes up at least five-fold compared to someone with a high genetic risk alone. Daniel Weinberger, director of the Lieber Institute for Brain Development in Baltimore and team discovered that roughly a third of the genes associated with schizophrenia are in the placenta. But certain variations in the DNA of these genes only result in schizophrenia if there are complications during pregnancy. The gene variants likely affect how resilient the placenta is to stress from its environment. If the mother or baby experiences a major health complication during pregnancy, the variants could activate these genes in the placenta and induce inflammation or affect the fetus’s development, increasing the risk for schizophrenia later in life. “The placenta is the missing link between maternal risk factors that complicate pregnancies and the development of the fetal brain and the emergence of developmental behavioral disorders,” Weinberger says. © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 25029 - Posted: 05.29.2018

Anna Gorman When 47-year-old Edward Vega arrived in jail, he couldn't quiet the voices in his head. He felt paranoid, as though he was losing control. "I knew if I didn't get my medication, I was going to hurt someone," says Vega. He was right. A week after being arrested for alleged drug possession, Vega says, he assaulted a fellow inmate and ended up in isolation, which only made him feel worse. Finally, a doctor prescribed drugs that Vega says helped. He had been taking them on the outside but ran out just before he was arrested. "The medication hasn't totally taken away the voices, but I am able to differentiate reality from fiction," says Vega, who was released three months ago. The number of inmates in California who've been prescribed psychiatric drugs has jumped about 25 percent in five years, according to a recent analysis of state data. These inmates now account for about a fifth of the county jail population across the state. The increase might be a reflection of the growing number of inmates with mental illness, though it also might stem from improved identification of people in need of treatment, say researchers from California Health Policy Strategies, a Sacramento-based consulting firm. Amid a severe shortage of psychiatric beds and community-based treatment throughout the state and nation, jails have become repositories for people in the throes of acute mental health crises. © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 24947 - Posted: 05.07.2018

by Amy Ellis Nutt and Dan Keating The first warning came a dozen years ago, when the Food and Drug Administration accused the drug company AstraZeneca of “false or misleading” information about health risks in the marketing material for its blockbuster medication Seroquel, an antipsychotic developed to treat schizophrenia but increasingly prescribed “off label” for insomnia. What followed was an onslaught of litigation by state attorneys general, who charged AstraZeneca with fraudulently promoting Seroquel for unapproved uses, and by individual patients, who claimed that it had failed to alert consumers about some of the drug’s most pernicious side effects. Although the company never admitted wrongdoing, by the end of 2011 it had paid out more than $1 billion to settle many of the cases. Another product might have been derailed, but not Seroquel. Despite generic competition and lingering lawsuits, AstraZeneca’s annual reports show Seroquel remained a blockbuster, with $3.6 billion in sales from 2014 to 2016. In the drug’s titanic success and its strong link to off-label prescribing lies a cautionary tale — about the sometimes conflicting forces within health care, the relationship between medications and marketing, and the limits of regulatory protections. These days, the powerful antipsychotic is used for an expansive array of ills, including insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder and agitation in patients with dementia. Many of the doctors who turn to it for off-label uses are physicians with minimal training in psychiatry and, medical experts say, too little understanding of the potential downsides. © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology; Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 24804 - Posted: 03.31.2018

By Daniel S. Barron It was midday when an ambulance brought Rose to the Emergency Department. The triage nurses, with their characteristic knack for brevity, had written “50 year old schizophrenic woman hearing/seeing dead boyfriend.” The medical team had done the standard workup—temperature, blood pressure, EKG, labs to screen for an electrolyte imbalance, drug or toxin that might explain Rose’s condition. Everything seemed normal, making Rose (whose name and narrative details have been changed to protect her privacy) a psychiatry patient. So I made my way to the B wing of the E.D., which serves as a Limbo of sorts between the medical and psychiatric services. The B wing invariably bustles with activity. A long concierge-style counter with three computers faces the center of the room, which is essentially a large rectangle. When seated at one of these computers, you can see into each of the nine patient rooms that wrap around the three outer walls. From this vantage, the B wing becomes an amphitheater, with patients in gurney-sized niches showcasing some emergent medical concern: B7, chest pain; B9, acute shortness of breath. Rose was medically cleared, so her gurney had been downgraded to stage right, to the end of the counter. I entered at stage left and noticed her across the room, feet at the head of the gurney propped on a pillow; her head was at the foot, neck slightly bent over the edge. Her hands were neatly resting on her belly while her thick hair formed a graying river that reached towards the linoleum. In a firm yet conversational tone, Rose said towards the ceiling, “Why would Steven say he isn’t dead? How could anyone be so cruel?” Her mouth moved widely like a Claymation character as she slowly enunciated every syllable, chopping cruel into CRU-EL. She was smiling. I stood quietly, observing the scene as Rose stared intensely upwards. A few seconds later, it occurred to me that she was waiting for the ceiling to reply. “I see,” I muttered, recalling the triage nurses’ note, and went in search of a stool for my interview. © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 24765 - Posted: 03.19.2018

By Dina Fine Maron Millions of Americans who suffer from bipolar disorder depend on lithium. The medication has been prescribed for half a century to help stabilize patients’ moods and prevent manic or depressive episodes. Yet what it does in the brain—and why it does not work for some people—has remained largely mysterious. But last year San Diego–based researchers uncovered new details about how lithium may alter moods, thanks to an approach recently championed by a small number of scientists studying mental illness: The San Diego team used established lab techniques to reprogram patients’ skin cells into stem cells capable of becoming any other kind—and then chemically coaxed them into becoming brain cells. This process is now providing the first real stand-ins for brain cells from mentally ill humans, allowing for unprecedented direct experiments. Proponents hope studying these lab-grown neurons and related cells will eventually lead to more precise and effective treatment options for a variety of conditions. The San Diego team has already used this technique to show some bipolar cases may have more to do with protein regulation than genetic errors. And another lab discovered the activity of glial cells (a type of brain cell that supports neuron function) likely helps fuel schizophrenia—upending the theory that the disorder results mainly from faulty neurons. This new wave of research builds on Shinya Yamanaka’s Nobel-winning experiments on cellular reprogramming from a decade ago. His landmark findings about creating induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have only recently been applied to studying mental illness as the field has matured. “What’s really sparked that move now has been the ability to make patient-specific stem cells—and once you can do that, then all sorts of diseases become amenable to investigation,” says Steven Goldman, who specializes in cellular and gene therapy at the University of Rochester Medical Center. © 2018 Scientific American,

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24703 - Posted: 02.27.2018

People with schizophrenia can be trained by playing a video game to control the part of the brain linked to verbal hallucinations, researchers say. Patients in a small study were able to land a rocket in the game when it was connected to the brain region sensitive to speech and human voices. In time, the patients learnt to use the technique in their daily lives to reduce the power of hallucinations. But this is a small pilot study and the findings still need to be confirmed. The research team, from King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience and the University of Roehampton, says the technique could be used to help schizophrenia patients who do not respond to medication. People with the condition are known to have a more active auditory cortex, which means they are more sensitive to sounds and voices. All 12 patients in the study experienced nasty and threatening verbal hallucinations every day - a common symptom of schizophrenia. To try to control their symptoms, they were asked to play a video game while in an MRI scanner, using their own mental strategies to move a computerised rocket - and in doing so they were able to turn down the volume on the external voices they heard as well. Image copyright King's College London Image caption The auditory cortex (in yellow) is hypersensitive in the brains of people with schizophrenia Dr Natasza Orlov, from King's College London, said: "The patients know when the voices are about to start - they can feel it, so we want them to immediately put this aid into effect to lessen them, or stop the voices completely." She said all the patients in the study, who each had four turns in the MRI scanner, found that their voices became less external and more internal, making them less stressful. They were also better able to cope with them. Dr Orlov added: "Although the study sample size is small and we lacked a control group, these results are promising. "We are now planning to conduct a randomised controlled study to test this technique in a larger sample." © 2018 BBC

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 24645 - Posted: 02.12.2018

By Roni Dengler Mental illness affects one in six U.S. adults, but scientists' sense of the underlying biology of most psychiatric disorders remains nebulous. That's frustrating for physicians treating the diseases, who must also make diagnoses based on symptoms that may only appear sporadically. No laboratory blood test or brain scan can yet distinguish whether someone has depression or bipolar disorder, for example. Now, however, a large-scale analysis of postmortem brains is revealing distinctive molecular traces in people with mental illness. This week, an international team of researchers reports that five major psychiatric disorders have patterns of gene activity that often overlap but also vary in disease-specific—and sometimes counterintuitive—ways. The findings, they say, might someday lead to diagnostic tests and novel therapies, and one has already inspired a clinical trial of a new way to treat overactive brain cells in autism. Outsiders say the data mark a milestone in psychiatry. "This [work] is changing fundamental views about the nature of psychiatric illness," says Kenneth Kendler, a psychiatric geneticist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Researchers have long known that genes influence mental illness. Five years ago, for example, the global Psychiatric Genomics Consortium found that people with autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder frequently share certain DNA variations. But that 2013 study did not say how those genetic alterations might lead to symptoms. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24638 - Posted: 02.09.2018

By Philippa Roxby Confronting an avatar on a computer screen helped patients hearing voices to cope better with hallucinations, a UK trial has found. Patients who received this therapy became less distressed and heard voices less often compared with those who had counselling instead. Experts said the therapy could add an important new approach to treating schizophrenia hallucinations. The trial, on 150 people, is published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal. It follows a much smaller pilot study in 2013. Hallucinations are common in people with schizophrenia and can be threatening and insulting. One in four patients continues to experience voices despite being treated with drugs and cognitive behavioural therapy. In this study, run by King's College London and University College London, 75 patients who had continued to hear voices for more than a year, were given six sessions of avatar therapy while another 75 received the same amount of counselling. In the avatar sessions, patients created a computer simulation to represent the voice they heard and wanted to control, including how it sounded and how it might look. Image copyright King's College London Image caption Three avatars created by people taking part in the therapy The therapist then voiced the avatar while also speaking as themselves in a three-way conversation to help the patient gain the upper hand. Prof Tom Craig, study author from King's College London, said getting patients to learn to stand up to the avatar was found to be safe, easy to deliver and twice as effective as counselling at reducing how often voices were heard. "After 12 weeks there was dramatic improvement compared to the other therapy," he said. "With a talking head, patients are learning to confront and get replies from it. "This shifts the idea that the voice is all-controlling," he said. © 2017 BBC.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 24349 - Posted: 11.24.2017

By Jennifer Couzin-Frankel Rachel Loewy was an undergraduate in 1995 when she answered a flyer seeking students to assist with a research study. A couple of floors up in a psychology department building, Loewy sat, clipboard in hand, interviewing teenagers whose brain health was beginning to falter. Some heard whispers. Others imagined that their teachers could read their minds, or that fellow students stared at them and wished them harm as they walked down the halls. The teenagers had been diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder, a condition that can precede schizophrenia. Among the most debilitating and stigmatized psychiatric diseases, schizophrenia can rob sufferers of their self and their future, often in early adulthood. Although these teens didn't have schizophrenia, the researchers believed that some would later deteriorate and be diagnosed with the disorder. But when Loewy met them they were lucid and self-aware. And they were frightened that their mind sometimes spun out of control. Doctors routinely assess a patient's risk of heart attack, various cancers, and diabetes, often intervening to slow or stop disease before it strikes. But preventing psychiatric conditions, from anxiety to depression to schizophrenia, has received scant attention. © 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 24336 - Posted: 11.17.2017

Hannah Devlin Science correspondent British scientists have begun testing a radically new approach to treating schizophrenia based on emerging evidence that it could be a disease of the immune system. The first patient, a 33-year old man who developed schizophrenia after moving to London from Cameroon a decade ago, was treated at King’s College Hospital in London on Thursday, marking the start of one of the most ambitious trials to date on the biology of the illness and how to treat it. During the next two years, 30 patients will receive monthly infusions of an antibody drug currently used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), which the team hopes will target the root causes of schizophrenia in a far more fundamental way than current therapies. The trial builds on more than a decade’s work by Oliver Howes, a professor of molecular psychiatry at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences and a consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital in south London. Howes’s team is one of several worldwide to have uncovered evidence that abnormalities in immune activity in the brain may lie at the heart of the illness – for some patients, at least. “In the past, we’ve always thought of the mind and the body being separate, but it’s just not like that,” said Howes. “The mind and body interact constantly and the immune system is no different. It’s about changing the way we think about mental illnesses.” Recent work by Howes and colleagues found that in the earliest stages of schizophrenia, people experience a surge in the number and activity of immune cells in the brain. As well as fighting infection, these cells, called microglia, have a “gardening” role, pruning unwanted connections between neurons. But in schizophrenia patients, the pruning appears to become more aggressive, leading to vital connections being lost. © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 24293 - Posted: 11.04.2017

Hannah Devlin Descartes’s notion of dualism – that the mind and body are separate entities – is wrong, but has proved surprisingly persistent, and until recently dominated attempts to understand mental illness. When the brain stopped working properly, a psychological origin was sought. Undoubtedly, life’s experiences and our personalities shape the way our brains function. But there is now a compelling body of evidence that brain disorders can also originate from things going awry in our basic biology. Particularly intriguing is the discovery that the brain, once thought to be separated from the immune system by the blood-brain barrier, is powerfully influenced by immune activity. The latest trial, focused on schizophrenia, is backed by converging evidence from several fields that immune cells in the brain, called microglia, play at least some role in this disease. Prof Oliver Howes, the psychiatrist leading the work, discovered that these cells appear to go into overdrive in the early stages of schizophrenia. Genetics studies have linked changes in immune system genes to increased risk for schizophrenia and anecdotal evidence, including a recent case report of a patient who developed schizophrenia after receiving a bone marrow transplant from a sibling with the illness, also triangulates on to the immune system. “It’s all challenging the idea that the brain is this separate privileged organ,” said Howes. © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 24292 - Posted: 11.04.2017

Sara Reardon Human genome databases are enabling researchers to take a deeper dive into the evolution of psychiatric disorders. Psychiatric disorders can be debilitating and often involve a genetic component, yet, evolution hasn’t weeded them out. Now, recent work is beginning to reveal the role of natural selection — offering a peek at how the genetic underpinnings of mental illness has changed over time. Many psychiatric disorders are polygenic: they can involve hundreds or thousands of genes and DNA mutations. It can be difficult to track how so many genetic regions evolved, and such studies require large genome data sets. But the advent of massive human genome databases is enabling researchers to look for possible connections between mental illnesses and the environmental and societal conditions that might have driven their emergence and development. Others are looking to Neanderthal genetic sequences to help inform the picture of these disorders, as well as cognitive abilities, in humans. Several of these teams presented their findings at the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) meeting in Orlando, Florida, in late October. One project found that evolution selected for DNA variants thought to protect against schizophrenia. The study, led by population geneticist Barbara Stranger of the University of Chicago in Illinois, looked at hundreds of thousands of human genomes using a statistical method that identified signals of selection over the past 2,000 years1. There were no signs of selection in genetic regions associated with any other mental illness. Many of schizophrenia's symptoms, such as auditory hallucinations and jumbling sentences, involve brain regions tied to speech, says Bernard Crespi, an evolutionary biologist at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada. Over the course of hominid evolution, he says, the ability to speak could have outweighed the small, but unavoidable risk that the genes involved in language could malfunction and result in schizophrenia in a small percentage of the population. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 24270 - Posted: 10.31.2017

By MARK LUKACH For my son Jonas’s first Halloween, when he was 5 months old, I dressed the two of us as matching lumberjacks. For the second, we were characters from the movie “Up.” I was Carl, the old man, my wife was Ellie, and Jonas was Russell, the enthusiastic Wilderness Explorer. We tied a dozen balloons to our bulldog’s collar, to make him the house. In our version, the wife didn’t die at the beginning of the movie, and we all lived happily ever after. The next Halloween, Jonas wanted to be an elephant. He loved the scene in “The Jungle Book” where Mowgli tries to march with the elephants. We resisted, since we like family costumes and didn’t want to buy three elephant outfits, but conceded. We displayed his elephant costume in his room the week before Halloween so he could look at it in anticipation of the big day. My wife, Giulia, wasn’t there for the lumberjack Halloween. She was in the hospital. Giulia was there for the “Up” Halloween. But as we approached the elephant Halloween, I suspected she wasn’t going to dress up. Because, once again, she was going psychotic. Giulia was 27 when the first psychotic episode happened. It came out of nowhere. She got nervous about her new job; she lost her appetite; she stopped sleeping; she began having delusions. The first delusions were encouraging. She said she spoke to God, who told her that she was going to be fine. Giulia had never been very religious, so I was alarmed, but at least she was hearing things that were comforting. But then the delusions turned on her. The voices said she wasn’t going to make it, there was no point in even trying, she was better off not being here. That’s how she ended up in the hospital the first time. They gave her medication. The delusions eventually went away. She was depressed for a long time afterward. They gave her more medication, and then she got better. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 24257 - Posted: 10.28.2017