Is Psychiatry Shrinking What Is Considered Normal?

Psychiatric classifications catalogue the many forms of mental ill-health. They define what counts as a disorder and who counts as disordered, drawing the boundary between psychological normality and abnormality. In the past century that boundary has shifted radically. Successive classifications have added new disorders and revised old ones. Diagnoses have increased rapidly as new forms of human misery have been identified. The wider psychiatric classifications cast their net, the more people qualify for diagnoses and the more treatment is considered necessary.

Discovery Of 'Thought Worms' Opens Window To The Mind

Researchers at Queen’s University have established a method that, for the first time, can detect indirectly when one thought ends and another begins. Dr. Jordan Poppenk and his master’s student, Julie Tseng, devised a way to isolate “thought worms,” consisting of consecutive moments when a person is focused on the same idea. “What we call thought worms are adjacent points in a simplified representation of activity patterns in the brain.

Sound Pattern Memory Persists At Least 7 Weeks

Patterns of sound – such as the noise of footsteps approaching or a person speaking – often provide valuable information. To recognize these patterns, our memory holds each part of the sound sequence long enough to perceive how they fit together. This ability is necessary in many situations: from discriminating between random noises in the woods to understanding language and appreciating music. Memory traces left by each sound are crucial for discovering new patterns and recognizing patterns we have previously encountered.

To Let Neurons Talk, Microglia Clear Paths Through Brain's Scaffolding

In recent years, scientists have discovered that the brain’s dedicated immune cells, called microglia, can help get rid of unnecessary connections between neurons, perhaps by engulfing synapses and breaking them down. But a new study[1] finds microglia can also do the opposite — making way for new synapses to form by chomping away at the dense web of proteins between cells, clearing a space so neurons can find one another.

No Evidence That Electroconvulsive Therapy Works For Depression

Many people will be familiar with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) as a historical treatment for “mental illness”, in which an electrical current is passed through the brain to trigger seizures, with the aim of somehow treating the illness. In fact, ECT is still being administered to about a million people each year to treat severe depression, including about 2,500 in England, under anaesthetic. The majority are women, and over 60 years of age.

Depression Symptoms - Immediate Relief From Cannabis?

Cannabis use results in an average depression symptom improvement of nearly four points on a 0-10 scale just moments after consumption, researchers at The University of New Mexico report. A recent study[1] showed that the vast majority of patients that use cannabis experience antidepressant effects, although the magnitude of the effect and extent of side effect experiences varied with fundamental properties of the plant. Conventional pharmaceutical medications for treating depression, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MOIs), tricyclics antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), typically require several weeks or even months to begin to alleviate symptoms of depression.

Threat Memory From Close-up Fears May Last Longer

How your brain handles the fear of a close-up threat may make it more likely that you will have some long-term stress from the experience, according to new research from Duke University. “Clinically, people who develop PTSD are more likely to have experienced threats that invaded their personal space, assaults, or rapes, or witnessing a crime at a close distance. They’re the people that tend to develop this long-lasting threat memory.

Does Teenage Anxiety Have Its Roots In Infancy?

The fact that teenagers worry isn’t necessarily a concern – it’s when the adolescent brain amplifies and distorts a simple worry that mental health problems can arise. As scientists aim to unlock why teenagers get anxious, and how infancy and upbringing are implicated, early intervention strategies are being refined to redirect harmful thoughts and teach adolescents to read the emotions of others – a crucial way to keep their own distressing feelings in check.