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  • October 10, 2016
  • 04:39 AM
  • 372 views

"Learning difficulties linked with winter conception"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Having recently mentioned the BBC headline that makes up the title of this entry in a related post (see here) I'm pleased to be finally able to bring the paper by Daniel Mackay and colleagues [1] (open-access) to your attention.Observing that in Scotland at least, "that season of conception is strikingly associated with the subsequent risk of special educational needs in the offspring" there are various potential implications to come from such data covering both learning (intellectual) disabilit........ Read more »

  • October 8, 2016
  • 03:27 AM
  • 357 views

Pregnancy hypertension and offspring autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Hypertension in pregnancy was associated with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] in this population even after controlling for known confounders."So said the findings reported by Eileen Curran and colleagues [1] who, once again (see here), relied on "data from the Millennium Cohort Study" to produce some potentially important information about how adverse pregnancy conditions may/may not impact on offspring behaviour and development.Hypertension (a.k.a high blood pressure) during pre........ Read more »

Eileen A. Curran, Ali S. Khashan, Gerard W. O’Keeffe, & Louise C. Kenny. (2016) 35 Hypertension in pregnancy and autism spectrum disorder in a British cohort. regnancy Hypertension: An International Journal of Women's Cardiovascular Health., 153. info:/

  • October 7, 2016
  • 03:11 AM
  • 357 views

Is parental age difference important for offspring autism and schizophrenia risk?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

In answer to the question that titles this post on whether parental age differences at offspring conception might matter when it comes to offspring risk of autism or schizophrenia, the answer is very possibly. As the paper by Byars & Boomsma [1] (open-access) reports: "Our study shows that autistic and schizophrenic disorder risks tend to be higher, in more dissimilarly aged parents, relative to parents with the most similar ages." This age disparity issue has been mentioned previously in th........ Read more »

  • October 6, 2016
  • 01:48 PM
  • 411 views

Mental illness genetically linked to drug use and misuse

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

There are many reports of drug use leading to mental health problems, and we all know of someone having a few too many drinks to cope with a bad day. Many people who are diagnosed with a mental health disorder indulge in drugs, and vice versa. As severity of both increase, problems arise and they become more difficult to treat. But why substance involvement and psychiatric disorders often co-occur is not well understood.

... Read more »

Carey, C., Agrawal, A., Bucholz, K., Hartz, S., Lynskey, M., Nelson, E., Bierut, L., & Bogdan, R. (2016) Associations between Polygenic Risk for Psychiatric Disorders and Substance Involvement. Frontiers in Genetics. DOI: 10.3389/fgene.2016.00149  

  • October 6, 2016
  • 03:01 AM
  • 369 views

Omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and bipolar disorder

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"Biomarker studies of PUFA [polyunsaturated fatty acid] and treatment studies of n-3 [omega-3] PUFA in bipolar disorder show promise for indicating a way forward in the study of PUFA in bipolar disorder."I don't want to labour any points raised by the review of studies published by Erika Saunders and colleagues [1] looking at fatty acids and bipolar disorder but there does seem to be a familiar ring to the current evidence base on how for at least 'some' cases of bipolar diso........ Read more »

  • October 5, 2016
  • 02:14 PM
  • 398 views

Scientists find new path in brain to ease depression

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Scientists have discovered a new pathway in the brain that can be manipulated to alleviate depression. The pathway offers a promising new target for developing a drug that could be effective in individuals for whom other antidepressants have failed. New antidepressant options are important because a significant number of patients don't adequately improve with currently available antidepressant drugs.

... Read more »

  • October 5, 2016
  • 04:34 AM
  • 363 views

"a low prevalence of definite pathology in children with autism spectrum disorder undergoing brain MRI"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

The quote: "a low prevalence of definite pathology in children with autism spectrum disorder undergoing brain MRI [magnetic resonance imaging]" heading up today's post is taken from the paper by Alison Cooper and colleagues [1] who among other things, examined whether MRI picked up anything 'useful' when it came to autism / autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in their cohort. MRI, by the way, refers to the fantastic imaging technology that provides those rather detailed pictures of our inner bod........ Read more »

Cooper AS, Friedlaender E, Levy SE, Shekdar KV, Bradford AB, Wells KE, & Mollen C. (2016) The Implications of Brain MRI in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of child neurology. PMID: 27629267  

  • October 4, 2016
  • 05:36 PM
  • 393 views

Revising the meaning of 'prion'

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A team of scientists are redefining what it means to be a prion--a type of protein that can pass heritable traits from cell to cell by its structure instead of by DNA. Although prions are infamous for causing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, fatal familial insomnia, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow's disease, the present study indicates that prions identified in yeast, and possibly in plants, and other organisms may be beneficial.

... Read more »

Chakrabortee, S., Byers, J., Jones, S., Garcia, D., Bhullar, B., Chang, A., She, R., Lee, L., Fremin, B., Lindquist, S.... (2016) Intrinsically Disordered Proteins Drive Emergence and Inheritance of Biological Traits. Cell. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2016.09.017  

  • October 4, 2016
  • 04:34 AM
  • 362 views

Humour training for autism - is it needed and is it useful?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Can we and should we formally 'teach' humour to people diagnosed on the autism spectrum? Indeed, do we actually need to?Yes said the results of the study published by Ching-Lin Wu and colleagues [1] although I personally am not so impressed.Discussing how their results "supported the effectiveness of the 15-hour training" regime, Wu et al report that for a small group of adolescents diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) "and average intelligence" moves to implement "a humor-knowl........ Read more »

  • October 3, 2016
  • 01:54 PM
  • 399 views

For women, caffeine could be ally in warding off dementia

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Among a group of older women, self-reported caffeine consumption of more than 261 mg per day was associated with a 36 percent reduction in the risk of incident dementia over 10 years of follow-up. This level is equivalent to two to three 8-oz cups of coffee per day, five to six 8-oz cups of black tea, or seven to eight 12-ounce cans of cola.

... Read more »

Driscoll, I., Shumaker, S., Snively, B., Margolis, K., Manson, J., Vitolins, M., Rossom, R., & Espeland, M. (2016) Relationships Between Caffeine Intake and Risk for Probable Dementia or Global Cognitive Impairment: The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glw078  

  • October 3, 2016
  • 10:56 AM
  • 474 views

Robin Williams and Lewy Body Disease

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

In a post last week, I highlighted a recent study examining clinical issues in the diagnosis of Lewy body dementia (LBD).This study examined differentiating clinical and neuropsychological factors between LBD, Alzheimer's dementia and Parkinson's disease.You can access this post by clicking HERE.This topic received significant attention following the description of comedian Robin Williams' last years by his wife in the journal Neurology.Robin Williams suffered from LBD and like many, his diagnos........ Read more »

Williams SS. (2016) The terrorist inside my husband's brain. Neurology, 87(13), 1308-1311. info:/

  • October 3, 2016
  • 03:05 AM
  • 345 views

The physical health of adults with autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

Another short post today opening with the conclusion reached in the paper by Andrew Cashin and colleagues [1]: "From the findings, it can be stated with confidence that people with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] have a high rate of comorbidity and increased risk for chronic disease."Yes, not new news to many that physical health is generally 'under-rated' when it comes to adult autism (see here and see here for examples). The question remains however: what are we all going to........ Read more »

  • October 1, 2016
  • 04:46 AM
  • 405 views

One of the best articles to discuss suicide risk and autism so far...

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

I'm cheating a little bit today as minus too much critical commentary or discussion, I'm drawing your attention to the paper by Tony Salvatore and colleagues [1] (open-access) on a most important topic: suicide risk and autism.Written by authors who between them seem to know quite a bit about autism and also managing suicide prevention particularly under crisis conditions, I reckon this review article is one of the best we have so far in this area. I say that on the basis that not only are estim........ Read more »

Chang, B., Franklin, J., Ribeiro, J., Fox, K., Bentley, K., Kleiman, E., & Nock, M. (2016) Biological risk factors for suicidal behaviors: a meta-analysis. Translational Psychiatry, 6(9). DOI: 10.1038/tp.2016.165  

  • September 30, 2016
  • 03:14 PM
  • 374 views

Omega-3 fatty acid stops known trigger of lupus

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A team of researchers has found that consuming an omega-3 fatty acid called DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, can stop a known trigger of lupus and potentially other autoimmune disorders. DHA can be found in fatty, cold-water fish and is produced by the algae that fish eat and store in their bodies. It can be found in fish oil supplements as well, used by more than 30 million Americans.

... Read more »

  • September 30, 2016
  • 03:08 AM
  • 383 views

Injury risk and ADHD

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"The results indicate that there is an elevated injury risk among Swedish schoolchildren with ADHD [attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder] but not for children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."So went the findings reported by Carl Bonander and colleagues [1] providing yet more important data on how a diagnosis of ADHD might be something that confers quite a bit of additional risk for all-manner of different negative outcomes.I've hinted at this important topic before as per........ Read more »

  • September 29, 2016
  • 01:36 PM
  • 374 views

Children could point the way to new HIV treatments

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

Children with HIV who can resist the disease progressing could point the way to new treatments for HIV infection that are more widely applicable to infected adults and children alike, an international team of researchers has found.


... Read more »

Muenchhoff, M., Adland, E., Karimanzira, O., Crowther, C., Pace, M., Csala, A., Leitman, E., Moonsamy, A., McGregor, C., Hurst, J.... (2016) Nonprogressing HIV-infected children share fundamental immunological features of nonpathogenic SIV infection. Science Translational Medicine, 8(358), 358-358. DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aag1048  

  • September 29, 2016
  • 06:58 AM
  • 402 views

The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS) 2014 and autism

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

They've finally arrived. The results of the English Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014 have been published by NHS Digital (yes, our Nation's healthcare services has a digital arm) and when it comes to autism (adult autism 18 years+), some rather peculiar statistics have been produced.OK, for those who want/need a quick heads-up on all-things Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS), I'll refer you to a previous post I wrote covering this prevalence survey with autism in mind........ Read more »

Brugha TS, McManus S, Smith J, Scott FJ, Meltzer H, Purdon S, Berney T, Tantam D, Robinson J, Radley J.... (2012) Validating two survey methods for identifying cases of autism spectrum disorder among adults in the community. Psychological medicine, 42(3), 647-56. PMID: 21798110  

  • September 29, 2016
  • 03:06 AM
  • 384 views

On "socially successful elementary school-aged children with autism"

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

"School-based interventions should address malleable factors such as the number of peer connections and received friendships that predict the best social outcomes for children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder]."So said the study findings reported by Jill Locke and colleagues [1] looking at "the stable (unlikely to change) and malleable (changeable) characteristics of socially successful children with ASD."Mindful that the phrase 'socially successful children' is perhaps not one that I'm p........ Read more »

Locke J, Williams J, Shih W, & Kasari C. (2016) Characteristics of socially successful elementary school-aged children with autism. Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, and allied disciplines. PMID: 27620949  

  • September 28, 2016
  • 01:51 PM
  • 374 views

Research team may have observed building blocks of memories in the brain

by Dr. Jekyll in Lunatic Laboratories

A team of researchers has observed what they believe are the building blocks of memories in a mouse brain. In their paper, the researchers describe how they caused certain neurons to become illuminated when they fired, allowing them to watch in real time as memories were made and then later as they were replayed while the mouse was sitting idle.

... Read more »

Malvache, A., Reichinnek, S., Villette, V., Haimerl, C., & Cossart, R. (2016) Awake hippocampal reactivations project onto orthogonal neuronal assemblies. Science, 353(6305), 1280-1283. DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf3319  

  • September 28, 2016
  • 11:10 AM
  • 476 views

Lewy Body Versus Alzheimer's Dementias and Parkinson's

by William Yates, M.D. in Brain Posts

One clinical challenge is making an accurate diagnosis in patients with dementia.Alzheimer's disease is typically the predominant diagnosis in dementia. However a significant number of patients will present with dementia due to Lewy Body disease, Parkinson's dementia,  frontotemporal dementia or vascular dementia.A recent study helps clinicians to distinguish Lewy Body  from Alzheimer's dementia and Parkinson's disease.Douglas Scharre and collegues from Ohio State University conducted ........ Read more »

Scharre, D., Chang, S., Nagaraja, H., Park, A., Adeli, A., Agrawal, P., Kloos, A., Kegelmeyer, D., Linder, S., Fritz, N.... (2016) Paired Studies Comparing Clinical Profiles of Lewy Body Dementia with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 1-10. DOI: 10.3233/JAD-160384  

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