Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Johns Hopkins, Medical Imaging / 20.03.2015

Arnold Bakker, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Division of Psychiatric Neuroimaging Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD 21287MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Arnold Bakker, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Division of Psychiatric Neuroimaging Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore, MD 21287 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bakker: Patients who are at increased risk for developing dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease show hyperactivity in an area of the brain called the hippocampus, which is critically important for memory function. This study investigated the functional significance of this hyperactivity and determined if, similar to animal studies, treatment with low dose levetiracetam would reduce this increased activation and improve memory function in these patients. Results showed that this overactivity is a dysfunctional condition that contributes to the memory impairment such that treatment with very low doses of levetiracetam both reduces this overactivity and improves memory function in these patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Lancet, Mental Health Research / 19.03.2015

Dr. Angela WoodsMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr Angela Woods Associate Editor, BMJ Medical Humanities Journal Senior Lecturer in Medical Humanities Deputy Director, Centre for Medical Humanities Durham University   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Woods: We’ve known for a long time that hearing voices, or auditory hallucinations, is reported by people with a wide range of psychiatric diagnoses as well as by those who have no diagnosis. 5–15 per cent of adults will hear voices at some point during their lives – in circumstances that may be related to spiritual experiences, bereavement, trauma, sensory deprivation or impairment, as well as mental and emotional distress. However, what we know about voices clinically and empirically comes from a small handful of studies, typically conducted in mental health settings with patients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia using quantitative scales and measures. Our study asked people to describe, in their own words, what it is like to hear voices. We designed an open-ended online questionnaire which was completed by 153 people with a range of diagnoses, including 26 who had never had a psychiatric diagnosis. Our study found that a large majority of participants described hearing multiple voices (81%) with characterful qualities (70%). While fear, anxiety, depression and stress were often associated with voices, 31% of participants reported positive and 32% neutral emotions. To our surprise less than half the participants reported hearing literally auditory voices; 45% reported either thought-like or mixed experiences. Perhaps the most startling finding concerned the physicality of voices. Bodily sensations while hearing voices were reported by 66% of participants – these included feelings of tingling, numbness, burning, pressure, and a sense of being distanced or disconnected from the body. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Vitamin D / 18.03.2015

David C.R. Kerr Ph.D. Sch of Psychological Science Associate Professor College of Liberal Arts Oregon State UniversityMedicalResearch.com Interview with: David C.R. Kerr Ph.D. Sch of Psychological Science Associate Professor College of Liberal Arts Oregon State University Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Kerr: Many people assume we already know that low levels of vitamin D contribute to depression, especially in winter. However, studies have not found consistent evidence for this, and most studies have focused on people in late life or with serious medical conditions. We focused on apparently healthy young women living in the Pacific Northwest. We found that women with low blood levels of vitamin D were more likely to report clinically significant depressive symptoms. This link existed even when we considered other factors that might explain both problems, such as diet, obesity, and time of year. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, JAMA, University of Michigan / 18.03.2015

Donovan Maust, MD, MS Assistant Professor of Psychiatry University of Michigan Research Scientist, Center for Clinical Management Research VA Ann Arbor Healthcare SystemMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Donovan Maust, MD, MS Assistant Professor of Psychiatry University of Michigan Research Scientist, Center for Clinical Management Research VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Maust: From a recent government report, we known that about 1/3 of older adults with dementia in nursing homes and about 14% of those in the community have been prescribed an antipsychotic. While providers focus on what benefit the treatment they offer, it is important to also be aware of the potential harms, particularly when it is death. Prior estimates came from relatively short studies and showed a 1% increase. This paper finds that, over 180 days, the increased mortality comparing antipsychotic users to matched non-users is about 2 to 5 times higher. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Karolinski Institute, Lancet / 13.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Miia Kivipelto MD, PhD, Professor Deputy Head, Senior Geriatrician Aging Research Center and Alzheimer Disease Research Center Karolinska Institutet Clinical Trials Unit, Memory Clinic Karolinska University Hospital Stockholm, Sweden Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Kivipelto: Epidemiological studies have linked several modifiable risk factors to cognitive impairment and dementia but evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCT) has been lacking showing the efficacy of the interventions. Because cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are complex, multi-factorial disorders, multidomain interventions targeting several risk factors and disease mechanisms simultaneously could be needed for optimum preventive effect. The FINGER study is the first large, long-term RCT indicating that multi-domain intervention can improve and maintain cognitive functioning in at risk elderly people from the general population. We observed a significant intervention effects on the primary outcome (overall cognition), main secondary outcomes (executive functioning and processing speed) as well as on complex memory tasks and risk of cognitive decline. The multidomain lifestyle intervention was feasible and safe. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Yale / 09.03.2015

Dr. Pina Violano, RN, PhD Trauma Department, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Injury Free Coalition for Kids of New Haven Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital New Haven 06510, CTMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Pina Violano, RN, PhD Trauma Department, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Injury Free Coalition for Kids of New Haven Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital New Haven 06510, CT MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Dr. Violano: In July of 2012, Connecticut became one of the first states to enact legislation to ensure the safety and appropriate evaluation and management of sports-related concussions (SRC) among High School students. SRCs are a common occurrence in high school sports with their diagnosis increasing over the last decade. While the exact reasons are not known, public health campaign efforts and education may have facilitated improvement in the evaluation and detection of sports-related concussions and may have contributed to increase awareness and treatment. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Dr. Violano: Evaluation of two emergency department records revealed a marked increase in the frequency of high school student athletes being treated for sports-related concussions after the implementation of Connecticut’s SRC law. This suggests that Connecticut’s legislation is effective in improving the evaluation and detection of sports-related concussions in high school students. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Heart Disease, Statins / 07.03.2015

Heidi May, Ph.D., M.S.P.H. Cardiovascular Epidemiologist Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute Salt Lake CityMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Heidi May, Ph.D., M.S.P.H. Cardiovascular Epidemiologist Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute Salt Lake City   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Heidi May: Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Statin therapy is known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease incidence through the reduction of blood cholesterol levels and through its pleiotropic cardioprotective properties. Depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It has been recommended that antidepressant medications should be considered first-line treatment for depression of any severity. We hypothesized that taking both statins and antidepressants would reduce cardiovascular risk more than either medication alone. However, we did not find this. Instead we found that the effectiveness of antidepressants and statin therapy to reduce death and incident cardiovascular disease at 3 years varied by the severity of depressive symptoms. Among those with none to mild depressive symptoms, statin use, with or without antidepressant therapy, was associated with a decrease in risk, but among those with moderate to severe depression, antidepressant use was associated with a decrease in risk. The combination of antidepressant and statin use did not result in a greater risk reduction in either depressive symptom category. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania / 04.03.2015

Courtney Benjamin Wolk, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Researcher Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research Perelman School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Courtney Benjamin Wolk, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Researcher Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research Perelman School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous research investigating the relationship between anxiety and suicidality has been mixed. An ongoing question in the field has been whether anxiety disorders independently increase risk for suicidal ideation and behavior or if the high co-occurrence of anxiety and mood symptoms or other shared demographic factors are driving relationships that have been observed between anxiety and suicidality. We examined the relationship between response to treatment for an anxiety disorder in childhood and suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts 7 to 19 years after treatment with cognitive-behavioral therapy, more commonly referred to as CBT. Our results indicated that participants who responded favorably to cognitive-behavioral therapy during childhood had lower rates of lifetime, past month, and past two-week suicidal ideation endorsement than treatment non-responders. This was the case across both self-report and interview-report of suicidal ideation. Treatment response was not significantly associated with suicide plans or attempts, though plans and attempts were infrequently endorsed in our sample, limiting the ability to detect findings. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research / 03.03.2015

Julie M. Zito, PhD Professor of Pharmacy and Psychiatry Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research University of Maryland School of Pharmacy Baltimore, MD 21201MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Julie M. Zito, PhD Professor of Pharmacy and Psychiatry Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research University of Maryland School of Pharmacy Baltimore, MD 21201 MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Dr. Zito: Atypical antipsychotic (AAP) use in children and adolescents has grown substantially in the past decade, largely for behavioral (non-psychotic) conditions. Poor and foster care children with Medicaid-insurance are particularly affected. This ‘off-label’ usage has insufficient evidence of benefits regarding improved functioning (i.e. appropriate behavior and performance, socially and academically) while the little evidence that accrues tends to emphasize ‘symptoms’, i.e. less acting out. Recent evidence shows that youth treated with Atypical antipsychotics are at risk of serious cardiometabolic adverse events including diabetes emerging after atypical antipsychotics are ‘on board’. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Dr. Zito: The continued expansion in Atypical antipsychotics use for behavioral conditions, particularly in poor and foster care youth prompted several government reports asking states to implement oversight programs. In our survey of state Medicaid agencies, we identified programs implementing a new and promising approach to increase the likelihood that these medications are used appropriately. These ‘peer review’ programs have been launched in 15 of the 31 prior authorization state Medicaid programs. There is a distinct advantage in having a qualified peer review, on a case-by-case basis, of the rationale for use of an atypical antipsychotic in a condition or age group that is ‘off-label’ according to the FDA product information label. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Cognitive Issues, Geriatrics, JAMA / 03.03.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Enrico Mossello Research Unit of Medicine of Ageing Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine University of Florence MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Mossello: In spite of the high prevalence of high blood pressure (HBP) and cognitive impairment in old age, their relationship is still controversial. While several (but not all) studies have identified high blood pressure as a risk factor for incident cognitive impairment, evidence regarding the prognostic role of blood pressure in cognitively impaired older subjects is scarce and inconsistent. To our knowledge, no longitudinal study has been published up to now regarding Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring (ABPM) in subjects with cognitive impairment. Moreover recent European and American guidelines on HBP leave decisions on antihypertensive therapy of frail elderly patients to the treating physician and do not provide treatment targets for cognitively impaired patients. In the present cohort study of subjects with dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) low values of day-time systolic blood pressure measured with ABPM were associated with greater progression of cognitive decline after a median 9-month follow-up. This association was limited to subjects treated with anti-hypertensive drugs and was independent of age, vascular comorbidity and baseline cognitive level, holding significant both in dementia and in Mild Cognitive Impairment subgroups. A similar trend of association was observed for office systolic blood pressure, although this was weaker and did not reach statistical significance in all analyses. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics / 02.03.2015

David C. Rettew, MD Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics Director, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship     Director, Pediatric Psychiatry Clinic University of Vermont College of MediciMedicalResearch.com Interview with: David C. Rettew, MD Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics Director, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Director, Pediatric Psychiatry Clinic University of Vermont College of Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Rettew: We did this study because while everyone knew that antipsychotic medication rates were going up, there was very little data that drilled deeper and was able to get at the question about the appropriateness of this increase. There’s good news and bad news in this study.  The bad news is that our data show that about half the time, kids are not being treated with antipsychotic medications according to best practice guidelines.  The good news is that it doesn’t look like these medications are being used casually or in a knee jerk way.  In the vast majority of cases, youth are getting to this class of medications only after many other things have failed. (more…)
Author Interviews, CMAJ, Cognitive Issues / 28.02.2015

Optimized-dr-raza-naqviMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Raza M. Naqvi, MD, FRCPC Assistant Professor of Medicine Division of Geriatric Medicine Western University Victoria Hospital London, ON Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Naqvi: The rates of dementia are rising worldwide. Currently we have over 35 million individuals with dementia in the world and this number will triple to over 100 million by 2050 according to the WHO. Many of these cases are in countries where English is not the first language and thus it is important to ensure that the diagnostic and assessment tools we use are valid in the populations being assessed. The Rowland Universal Dementia Assessment Scale (RUDAS) was developed in Australia in 2004 specifically to address the challenges of detecting cognitive impairment in culturally and linguistically diverse populations. This assessment tool is a brief questionnaire that clinicians can use as part of their initial assessment in those with memory loss or cognitive decline. It is freely available online (Search ‘RUDAS’) and takes less than 10 minutes for a clinician to complete with the individual being assessed. Our study was a systematic review and meta-analysis of the RUDAS which aimed to clarify the diagnostic properties of the test and see how it compares to other similar tests that are available. Through our detailed search of the literature we found 11 studies including over 1200 patients that assessed the RUDAS. The studies showed a combined sensitivity of 77.2% and specificity of 85.9%. This means that a positive test increases one’s likelihood of having dementia more than 5-fold and a negative test decreases their likelihood by 4-fold. Across the various studies, the Rowland Universal Dementia Assessment Scale performed similarly to the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the most commonly used cognitive assessment tool worldwide. The RUDAS appeared to be less influenced by language and education than the MMSE. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, JAMA, Memory / 24.02.2015

Dr. Rebecca E. Amariglio Ph.D. Massachusetts Alzheimers Disease Research Center Massachusetts General HospitalMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Rebecca E. Amariglio Ph.D. Massachusetts Alzheimers Disease Research Center Massachusetts General Hospital Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Amariglio: As the field of Alzheimer’s disease moves towards early detection and treatment, new tests that can measure very subtle changes in cognitive functioning are needed. A new instrument developed by the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study that measures subjective report of memory changes of both the study participant and a study partner (usually a family member) was associated with cognitive decline over four years.  Specifically, greater report of memory concerns was associated with worse memory performance over time. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Stroke / 22.02.2015

Bruno Meloni PhD Centre for Neuromuscular and Neurological Disorders The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia, AustraliaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Bruno Meloni PhD Centre for Neuromuscular and Neurological Disorders The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? A/Prof Meloni: Due to the lack of clinically available neuroprotective drugs to minimize brain injury after stroke we had been working in the neuroprotection field for some years within the Stroke Research Group at the WA Neuroscience Research Institute. With respect to the latest findings, we were using arginine-rich peptides for several years as delivery vehicles to introduce experimental “neuroprotective peptides” into brain cells and the brain. Peptides are small chains of amino acids and the building blocks of protein.  Arginine is one of the twenty amino acids naturally produced in the body.  Arginine-rich peptides have an unique property in that they can transverse cell membranes and gain entry into cells, and even cross the blood brain barrier, which is unusual as most drugs able unable to do so. Using in vitro neuronal cell culture stroke models we soon discovered that poly-arginine and arginine-rich peptides on their own possessed potent neuroprotective properties.  Furthermore, we showed that as the length of the poly-arginine peptide increased so did the peptides neuroprotective properties.  Excitingly, the poly-arginine peptides were even more potent than the ”neuroprotective peptides” we had been working with and peptides developed by other overseas researchers. We have now confirmed using a laboratory animal stroke model that poly-arginine peptides could reduce brain damage when administered up to 1-hour after the stroke. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Neurology, Parkinson's / 20.02.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Line Kenborg, MSc, PhD Survivorship Unit Danish Cancer Society Research Center Copenhagen Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The hypothesis that head injuries increase the risk for Parkinson disease has been examined in many studies during the past decades, but the findings have been highly inconsistent. We have previously examined the hypothesis in a study based on information on head injuries and Parkinson disease from the Danish National Hospital Registry. In this study, we found a positive association between a hospital contact for a head injury in middle or late adulthood and a diagnosis of Parkinson disease. The reported association, however, was almost entirely due to injuries that occurred during the months preceding the first hospital contact for Parkinson disease. Because we used information from registries, we lacked detailed diagnostic information to distinguish Parkinson disease from other types of parkinsonism, and we had no information on milder head injuries and head injuries in early life. So we wanted to study whether head injuries throughout life increased the risk for Parkinson disease in the largest interview-based case-control study to date including patients with a verified diagnosis of Parkinson disease. The main finding of our study is that we do not find any association between head injuries and Parkinson disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Autism, Biomarkers / 17.02.2015

Alisa G. Woods, Ph.D., MSMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alisa G. Woods, Ph.D., MS Assistant Professor Biochemistry & Proteomics Group Department of Chemistry & Biomolecular Science Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY, 13699 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Woods: Objective assessments for autism are greatly needed in order to understand autism cause and also to diagnose autism. Currently autism is diagnosed based on behavior, despite theories that autism may have a biological cause. We sought to develop a non-invasive biological test for autism, using saliva and mass spectrometry-based proteomics. We found nine statistically significant proteins that were elevated in the saliva of children with autism relative to typically developing controls and three proteins that were significantly decreased or absent. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research, UCSF / 12.02.2015

Carol Mathews UCSF Professor, Psychiatry UCSF School of MedicineMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Carol Mathews Professor, Psychiatry UCSF School of Medicine Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Mathews: The background for this study is that, as a part of ongoing genetic studies of Tourette Syndrome, the Tourette Syndrome Association International Genetics Collaborative (TSAICG) has collected a wealth of information about commonly co-occurring psychiatric disorders in individuals with Tourette Syndrome and their families, providing us with an opportunity to explore questions about Tourette Syndrome that are relevant to individuals with Tourette Syndrome, their families, and their treating clinicians. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 12.02.2015

Elizabeth Walker, PhD, MPH, MAT FIRST Postdoctoral Fellow Center for Behavioral Health Policy Studies Rollins School of Public Health, Emory UniversityMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Elizabeth Walker, PhD, MPH, MAT FIRST Postdoctoral Fellow Center for Behavioral Health Policy Studies Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Mental disorders are a major cause of disability globally and are associated with premature mortality.  Quantifying and understanding excess mortality among people with mental disorders can inform approaches for reducing this burden.  The purpose of this study was to systematically review the literature in order to estimate individual- and population-level mortality rates associated with mental disorders.  We conducted a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis, which included 203 studies from 29 countries. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: We estimated that 8 million deaths worldwide per year are attributable to mental disorders.  People with mental disorders have over 2 times the risk of mortality compared to the general population or people without mental disorders.  This translates to a median of 10 years of life lost.  In total, 67.3% of people with mental disorders died from natural causes, 17.5% from unnatural causes, and the remainder from unknown causes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Occupational Health / 10.02.2015

Prof.dr. Judith K. Sluiter Principal Investigator Manager KMKA: Kenniscentrum Medische Keuringen in Arbeid Nationaal secretaris voor ICOH (International Commission on Occupational Health) Coronel Instituut voor Arbeid en Gezondheid, Academisch Medisch Centrum / UvA Meibergdreef AmsterdamMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Prof.dr. Judith K. Sluiter Principal Investigator Manager KMKA: Kenniscentrum Medische Keuringen in Arbeid Nationaal secretaris voor ICOH (International Commission on Occupational Health) Coronel Instituut voor Arbeid en Gezondheid, Academisch Medisch Centrum / UvA Meibergdreef Amsterdam Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Prof. Sluiter: Professional footballers contain a group of employees working in a job with specific job demands. The occupational guidance and prevention of decreased work functioning of workers in these kinds of jobs should receive more attention. The mental health of professional footballers receive less attention compared to their physical health. We studied the prevalence of self-reported mental health problems and psychosocial difficulties in a group of current and former professional footballers, and we explored the association between having had psychosocial stressors and the health conditions under study. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Response: The response rate was 29% with available data from 253 footballers. In current players, the prevalence of mental health complaints ranged from 5% (burnout) to 26% (anxiety/depression). In former players, the prevalence ranged from 16% (burnout) to 39% (anxiety/depression). A small percentage of players had low self-esteem (3-5%). One quarter to two-fifth of the players showed adverse nutrition behaviour. Small but significant association between experiencing lower social support (OR=1.1) and having had recent life events (OR=1.4-1.6) and mental health complaints were found in current players. Having had severe injuries was associated with better nutrition behavior. In former players, having had life events showed a preventive effect on smoking (OR=0.4) and having had previous surgery was significantly associated with current smoking behavior (OR=1.9). (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Nursing / 09.02.2015

Erin L. Kelly PhD Post Doctoral Scholar Health Services Research Center University of California, Los Angeles, CaliforniaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Erin L. Kelly PhD Post Doctoral Scholar Health Services Research Center University of California, Los Angeles, California MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Kelly: Mental health facilities can be hazardous workplaces. Nationally, compared to their counterparts in other healthcare settings, mental health workers are at the highest risk for patient assaults. Many studies have focused on predictors for assault such as gender, years of experience, or the position that staff hold in the hospital, which can account for a small amount of violence. However, psychiatric care is largely about relationships. Our study examined how conflicts with patients and coworkers, and how people react to conflict, influences their risk of assault. In our study, 70% of staff at a large public mental hospital were assaulted in a single year, which is closer to the lifetime assault rate for mental health workers. We also found that the likelihood of assault is predicted by conflicts when we also include stress reactions to conflict as a moderator. We found that workers who reported being less reactive to conflict but experienced a great deal of conflict, with staff or patients, were at the highest risk of assault. This could mean that people who aren't afraid of conflict with patients are more likely to jump in with agitated patients or that people who are insensitive to conflict are missing important social cues and being assaulted more often. However, despite the similarity in the relationships of staff conflict and patient conflict with assault risk, it’s possible that the direction of the relationship between staff conflict and assault may be different. For example, mental health staff who have a lot of conflict with their co-workers may be isolated and therefore a target for assault by patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, UCSF / 09.02.2015

Ezequiel Morsella, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Neuroscience Department of Psychology San Francisco State University Assistant Adjunct Professor Department of Neurology University of California, San Francisco Boardmember, Scientific Advisory Board Institute of Cognitive Neurology (INECO), Buenos AiresMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ezequiel Morsella, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Neuroscience Department of Psychology San Francisco State University Assistant Adjunct Professor Department of Neurology University of California, San Francisco Boardmember, Scientific Advisory Board Institute of Cognitive Neurology (INECO), Buenos Aires Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Morsella: Previous studies have demonstrated that, under certain experimental conditions, conscious processes in the brain can function in a way that resembles reflexes.  In past research, a single ‘high-level’ thought (e.g., the name of a visually-presented object) was triggered involuntarily by external stimuli. The current research is the first to trigger, not one, but two high-level unintentional conscious thoughts. In this experiment, participants were presented with an object (e.g., the picture of a star) and instructed to not subvocalize (i.e., name in one’s head but not aloud) the name of the object nor count the number of letters comprising the name of the object.  On many trials, participants experienced both cognitions (e.g., “STAR” and “4”), even though these thoughts were against the intentions of the participant. Thus, this is the first demonstration of external control of two thoughts in the stream of consciousness. This research is based in part on the pioneering investigations of Wegner, of Gollwitzer, and of Ach. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Memory, Nature, Nutrition / 09.02.2015

Ashok K. Shetty, Ph.D. Professor and Director of Neurosciences Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine
Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, Temple, TX
Research Career Scientist, Central Texas Veterans Health Care System (CTVHCS), Temple, TXMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ashok K. Shetty, Ph.D. Professor and Director of Neurosciences Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine
Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, Temple, TX
Research Career Scientist, Central Texas Veterans Health Care System (CTVHCS), Temple, TX Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Prof. Shetty: Hippocampus is a region in the brain important for maintaining functions such as learning, memory and mood. However, this region is highly vulnerable to aging and brain insults. Previous research has shown that diminished function in the dentate gyrus region of the hippocampus is one of the key reasons for memory impairments seen in old age. Dentate gyrus is also one of the few regions in the brain where neural stem cells generate new neurons on a daily basis, also referred to as "adult neurogenesis". Studies have suggested that a significant fraction of newly born neurons mature, get incorporated into the existing hippocampus circuitry and contribute to learning, formation of new memories, and normal mood. However, with aging, the dentate gyrus shows decreased function with some conspicuous structural changes, which include reduced production of new neurons, diminished microvasculature implying reduced blood flow, and occurrence of hypertrophy of astrocytes and activated microglia, signs of chronic low-level inflammation. Because alterations such as reduced neurogenesis, decreased blood flow and brain inflammation can contribute to memory and mood impairments, the idea that drugs that are efficacious for mitigating these changes may preserve memory and mood function in old age has emerged. Such drugs may be prescribed to the aging population if they are efficacious for maintaining normal cognitive and mood function in old age with no or minimal side effects. Medical Research: What is the rationale for choosing resveratrol for preventing age-related memory dysfunction in this study? Prof. Shetty:  Administration of resveratrol, a naturally occurring polyphenol found in the skin of red grapes, red wine, peanuts and some berries, appeared suitable for counteracting age-related detrimental changes in the hippocampus. This is because, previous studies have shown that resveratrol has ability to promote the formation of new capillaries (through pro-angiogenic effects) and to suppress oxidative stress and inflammation (via antioxidant and antiinflammatory effects) with no adverse side effects. Other studies have also reported that resveratrol can mediate extension of the life span and delayed onset of age related diseases. More importantly, a recent human study suggested that a reasonably lower dose of resveratrol intake for 26 weeks is good enough to improve memory performance as well as hippocampus functional connectivity in 23 healthy overweight older individuals (Witte et al., J. Neurosci., 34: 7862-7870, 2014). (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury / 06.02.2015

Ashley Di Battista, Ph.D. Research Fellow Critical Care Medicine| Neurosciences & Mental Health Program The Hospital for Sick Children  Toronto, ON, CanadaMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ashley Di Battista, Ph.D. Research Fellow Critical Care Medicine| Neurosciences & Mental Health Program The Hospital for Sick Children  Toronto, ON, Canada Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Di Battista: Most of what is known about adolescent quality of life (QoL) after traumatic brain injury (TBI) doesn’t come from adolescents – it comes from their parents.  This profoundly non- concordant data (known as the “Proxy Problem”) is drawn from parent reported health-related quality of life (HRQoL) questionnaires (e.g. the PedsQL ™).  Parent report can be influenced by the parents’ own distress after their child’s traumatic brain injury – which results in parents providing poorer estimates of their child’s QoL.  Lack of insight is often purported to explain this difference, in the absence of direct examination of insight, or subsequent data, to support this claim.  HRQoL has been criticized in the broader wellbeing literature as incompatible with the QoL construct– due to the absence of core features of the overall QoL model, and an inherent suggestion that a lack of overt pathology is equivalent to a good outcome. Proxy reported, HRQoL focused research has generated a polarized view of quality of life after pediatric traumatic brain injury. This misrepresentation is due in part to the way in which we acquire this data (e.g. the tools) and who we ask (e.g. parents). The current study explored the individual adolescent experience of quality of life after traumatic brain injury and whether the tools commonly used to assess quality of life after brain injury are of capturing what adolescents define as relevant to their definition of quality of life. Our findings revealed that when adolescents did endorse changes in functioning on the PedsQL, they did not consider these changes to be relevant to, or impact on, their self-described QoL. While the PedsQL™ is capable of documenting changes post-injury, it does not seem to capture domains of relevance to the adolescent idea of QoL. The ability of these adolescents to reflect on their own circumstances, engage in pre-to-post injury analysis of their functioning challenges default positioning that lack of insight is the sole determinant for differences in reports between proxies and adolescents on quality of life . (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness / 06.02.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Paula Iso-Markku, MD, Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine,  HUS Medical Imaging Center,  Helsinki University Central Hospital and University of Helsinki Helsinki , Finland MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Iso-Markku : The social, financial and humane burden of the dementia is extensive as the worldwide prevalence of dementia is estimated around 35.6 million. Finding efficient prevention strategies for dementia is crucial. Within the past decade vascular risk factors have been recognized as very potential risk factors of dementia. As physical activity is known to affect vascular risk factors, it might also be a potential preventive tool against dementia. Few comprehensive epidemiological studies on physical activity in middle age and dementia occurrence later in life have been conducted. The comprehensive Finnish Twin Study offers a unique approach to the subjects as the shared growing up environment and genes can be taken into account. The study population is extensive and a good representation of the Finnish population. In this study the association of physical activity in adulthood and dementia mortality was investigated in a 29-year follow-up. The main finding in this study was that persistent vigorous (i.e. more strenuous than walking) physical activity was significantly associated with lower dementia mortality. The results in the paired analysis, comparing twins to co-twins, were similar but remained non-significant. The analyses of the volume of physical activity were, however, controversial. (more…)
ADHD, Author Interviews, FASEB, Occupational Health, Toxin Research / 06.02.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Jason R. Richardson MS,PhD DABT Associate Professor Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Resident Member Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute Piscataway, NJ MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Richardson:  Although ADHD is often though of as a genetic disorder, no single gene can explain more than a fraction of the cases. This suggests that environmental factors are likely to interact with genetic susceptibility to increase risk for ADHD. Our study reports that exposure of pregnant mice to relatively low levels of a commonly used pesticide reproduces the behavioral effects of ADHD in their offspring. Because the study was in animals, we wanted to see if there was any association in humans. Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention we found that children and adolescents with elevated levels of metabolites of these pesticides in their urine, which indicates exposure, were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews / 05.02.2015

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: V. Zlokovic, MD, PhD Professor and Chair Department of Physiology and Biophysics Keck School of Medicine of USC.V. Zlokovic, MD, PhD Professor and Chair Department of Physiology and Biophysics Keck School of Medicine of USC.   Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Zlokovic: Our team used high-resolution imaging of the living human brain to show for the first time that the brain’s protective blood barrier becomes leaky with age, starting at the hippocampus, a critical learning and memory center that is damaged by Alzheimer’s disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Emergency Care, Mental Health Research, UCSD / 05.02.2015

Michael Wilson, MD, PhD, FAAEM Attending Physician, UCSD Department of Emergency Medicine Director, Department of Emergency Medicine Behavioral Emergencies Research (DEMBER) lab UC San Diego Health SystemMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Michael Wilson, MD, PhD, FAAEM Attending Physician, UCSD Department of Emergency Medicine Director, Department of Emergency Medicine Behavioral Emergencies Research (DEMBER) lab UC San Diego Health System MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Wilson: Emergency departments (EDs) nationwide are crowded. Although psychiatric patients do not make up the largest proportion of repeat visitors to the emergency department, psychiatric patients stay longer in the ED than almost any other type of patient. So, it’s really important to find out things about these patients that may predict longer stays. In this study, we looked at patients on involuntary mental health holds. The reasoning is simple: patients on involuntary mental health holds aren’t free to leave the ED. So, the only thing that should really matter is how quickly an Emergency department can release them from the involuntary hold. Surprisingly, though, this wasn’t the only thing that correlated with longer stays. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brain Injury, Technology / 05.02.2015

Uzma Samadani, M.D., Ph.D. Assistant Professor; Departments of Neuroscience and Physiology NYU Langone Medical CenterMedicalResearch.com Interview with: Uzma Samadani, M.D., Ph.D. Assistant Professor Departments of Neuroscience and Physiology NYU Langone Medical Center Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Samadani: Research dating back as early as 3,500 years ago suggests the eyes serve as a window into the brain, with disconjugate eye movements -- eyes rotating in different directions -- considered a principal marker for head trauma. Current estimates suggest up to 90 percent of patients with concussions or blast injuries exhibit dysfunction in their eye movements. We wanted to find a way to objectively track and analyze eye movements following a head injury to measure injury severity and replace the current “state of the art” method of asking a patient to follow along with a finger. CT-scans and MRIs may not necessarily reveal concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the absence of structural damage, presenting a need for a diagnostic measure of head injury severity. In a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Neurosurgery, my team at the NYU Cohen Veterans Center tested our novel eye-tracking technology on military veterans, and found our device and tracking algorithm could reveal edema in the brain as a potential biomarker for assessing brain function and monitoring recovery in people with head injuries. Our latest paper, published January 29 in Journal of Neurotrauma, looked at a civilian population of patients admitted to the Bellevue Medical Center emergency department in New York City, with whom the NYU School of Medicine has an affiliation agreement. We compared 64 healthy control subjects to 75 patients who had experienced trauma that brought them to emergency department. We tracked and compared the movements of patients' pupils for over 200 seconds while watching a music video. We found that 13 trauma patients who had hit their heads and had CT scans showing new brain damage, as well as 39 trauma patients who had hit their heads and had normal CT scans, had significantly less ability to coordinate their eye movements than normal, uninjured control subjects. Twenty-three trauma subjects who had bodily or extremity injuries but did not require head CT scans had similar abilities to coordinate eye movements as normal uninjured controls. Among patients who had hit their heads and had normal CT scans, most were slightly worse at 1-2 weeks after the injury, and subsequently recovered about one month after the injury. Among all trauma patients, the severity of concussive symptoms correlated with severity of disconjugacy. (more…)