Archives for January 2014

Cellular Process Gone Awry Tied to Schizophrenia

Researchers have discovered a molecular process that may contribute to the development of schizophrenia.

…. a process called autophagy is reduced in the brain of a person with schizophrenia.  Authophagy — a “cell-maintenance” mechanism — clears out the dysfunctional and needless parts of a cell. When this process is blocked, cells die.

The findings show that patients with schizophrenia have reduced levels of a protein called beclin-1 in the hippocampus (a brain region linked to learning and memory).  Beclin-1 plays an important role in autophagy, the researchers note. This finding suggests that autophagy may be blocked in the brains of schizophrenic patients.

The researchers believe that creating drugs that increase beclin-1 levels and trigger autophagy may lead to a new treatment for schizophrenia.

by Traci Pederson, PsychCentral

Full Article

Disaster Resources for People with Disabilities

APA Disaster Psychiatry Resources: Link

American Red Cross: Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and other Special Needs

Remaining Safe During a Winter Storm

Remaining Safe During a Winter Storm

–Information from the American Red Cross

  • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information on snow storms and blizzards from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas and make sure that their access to food and water is not blocked by snow drifts, ice or other obstacles.
  • Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold.
  • Avoid driving when conditions include sleet, freezing rain or drizzle, snow or dense fog. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
  • Before tackling strenuous tasks in cold temperatures, consider your physical condition, the weather factors and the nature of the task.
  • Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.
  • Help people who require special assistance such as elderly people living alone, people with disabilities and children.

Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills

  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
  • Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

Cold-Related Emergencies

  • Frostbite and hypothermia are two dangerous and potentially life-threatening emergencies. Learn how to care for these emergencies by taking a first aid class.

Full Article

DONATE BLOOD and Stay Safe as Winter Blasts Much of U.S. with Snow and Cold

Millions of people across the United States are dealing with cold temperatures and below-zero wind chills as they dig out from heavy snow that buried much of the northern part of the country.

The storm already has forced the cancellation of more than 30 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in the inability to collect as many as 1,250 blood donations.

The Red Cross urges people to be careful during the extreme cold and is working with emergency officials and prepared to respond if necessary. If someone lives in a region unaffected by the weather, they are asked to consider making an appointment to donate blood or platelets.


Despite the storm, hospital patients across the country still need blood. People in a region unaffected by the storm should please consider making an appointment to donate blood or platelets.

Full Article

Experimental Tool Uses Light To Tweak The Living Brain

When President Obama announced his BRAIN Initiative in April, he promised to give scientists “the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain in action.”

An early version of one of those tools already exists, scientists say. It’s a relatively new set of techniques called optogenetics that allows researchers to control the activity of brain cells using light.

“This is fantastic,” says Elizabeth Hillman, a biomedical engineer at Columbia University. “We can turn things on, turn things off, read stuff out.” In short, she says, it provides a way to observe and control what brain circuits are doing in real time in a living brain.

Eventually, optogenetics could not only help explain diseases like epilepsy and depression, but offer a way to treat them. But the technique needs some refinement before it can be used in people or in remote parts of the brain, Hillman says.

by Jon Hamilton, NPR

Full Article

Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Brains

Could the microbes that inhabit our guts help explain that old idea of “gut feelings?” There’s growing evidence that gut bacteria really might influence our minds.

“I’m always by profession a skeptic,” says Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. “But I do believe that our gut microbes affect what goes on in our brains.”

Mayer thinks the bacteria in our digestive systems may help mold brain structure as we’re growing up, and possibly influence our moods, behavior and feelings when we’re adults.

….One team of researchers in Baltimore is testing a probiotic to see if it can help prevent relapses of mania among patients suffering from bipolar disorder.

“The idea is that these probiotic treatments may alter what we call the microbiome and then may contribute to an improvement of psychiatric symptoms,” says Faith Dickerson, director of psychology at the Sheppard Pratt Health System.

“It makes perfect sense to me,” says Leah, a study participant who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She agreed to talk with NPR if we agreed not to use her full name. “Your brain is just another organ. It’s definitely affected by what goes on in the rest of your body.”

by Rob Stein, NPR

Full Article

Understanding Schizophrenia: Fake Signer at Mandela Memorial Claims Mental Illness Read more: Understanding Schizophrenia: Fake Signer at Mandela Memorial Claims Mental Illness

Could schizophrenia explain Thamsanqa Jantjie’s bizarre behavior?

“I don’t remember any of this at all,” Jantjie told the Associated Press when a reporter showed him video footage of him signing at the Mandela memorial service on Dec. 10.

Jantjie was on stage for more than three hours, ostensibly interpreting speeches made by dignitaries, including President Obama, in sign language for the deaf community. Except that his sign language was incomprehensible to them; during the service, they took to Twitter, describing what they saw as gibberish and accusing him of “flapping his arms about” and being an “embarrassment.” Deaf actress Marlee Matlin, told CNN, “It was almost like he was doing baseball signs.”

Defending himself to the press on Thursday, Jantjie says he suffers from schizophrenia, but stands by his sign language credentials. Although he did not recall the Mandela memorial, he said to CNN, “It has been many years I have been doing this job. My portfolio shows that I have been a champion of what I have been doing.”

Jantjie claimed he was experiencing a psychotic episode during the service; he told the Star, a Johannesburg newspaper, that he “lost concentration, started hearing voices and hallucinating.” The voices drowned out what he was supposed to be interpreting, so he said he did the best he could. He mentioned to other reporters that he saw angels enter the stadium as he was standing on the stage.

by Alice Park, Times

Full Article

Jan. 14th Webinar: “Deep Brain Stimulation & Depression: A Decade of Progress”

When: Tuesday, January 14, 2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. EST

This month’s speaker will be Dr. Mayberg. She leads a multidisciplinary research program committed to defining the “neurology of depression.” Her imaging studies over the past 20 years have systematically examined functional abnormalities characterizing the disorder as well as neural mechanisms mediating antidepressant response to various evidence-based treatments.

This monthly “Meet the Scientist” webinar is hosted by the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.