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Review Provides New Insights Into The Causes Of Anorexia

New imaging technology provides insight into abnormalities in the brain circuitry of patients with anorexia nervosa (commonly known as anorexia) that may contribute to the puzzling symptoms found in people with the eating disorder. In a review paper published on line in Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Walter Kaye, MD, professor of psychiatry and director of the Eating Disorders Program at the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues describe dysfunction in certain neural circuits of the brain which may help explain why people develop anorexia in the first place, and behaviors such as the relentless pursuit of dieting and weight loss.

Screening For Childhood Depressive Symptoms Could Start In Second Grade

New research indicates that screening children for symptoms of depression, the most common mental health disorder in the United States, can begin a lot earlier than previously thought, as early as the second grade. A University of Washington study that followed nearly 1, 000 children from the second to the eighth grades also found five distinct patterns for the way symptoms of depression develop among adolescents. "Some children are reporting that they don't have as many friends, feel lonelier and are more anxious than their peers, " said James Mazza, a UW professor of educational psychology and lead author of the study. "They are telling us that they feel different from the typical happy- go-lucky second grader.

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Psychologists Investigate Cognitive Failings Of Eating Disorder Sufferers

Sufferers of eating disorders have problems with certain mental tasks; this is the finding of a comprehensive overview of studies examining the link between cognitive deficits and eating disorders, published online in the Journal of Neuropsychology today, 22nd July 2009. Professor Konstantine Zakzanis from the University of Toronto carried out an analysis of 27 studies that investigated the thinking of 608 anorexia nervosa sufferers, and 14 studies of 347 bulimia nervosa patients to look for consistent patterns in cognitive deficits. Professor Zakzanis said: "Over the last 30 years, many psychological studies have tested people with anorexia or bulimia on tasks such as decision making, verbal memory and reaction times and have found that people with eating disorders perform worse than people who don't have an eating disorder.

Troubled Mental Health Trust Symptomatic Of Failings Nationwide, UK

A damning report from the Care Quality Commission has found multiple failings in inpatient care for patients at West London Mental Health Trust, ranging from sub-standard buildings, overcrowding, lack of staff and insufficient staff training, to failure to implement changes that could help prevent suicides on wards. In some areas, there were long delays in considering changes to help reduce suicide risk, and on one inpatient unit, bed occupancy was regularly running at over 110 per cent, resulting in patients sleeping on sofas due to lack of beds. The report is hot on the heels of the Mental Health Act Commission's final report into inpatient care (1), which found basic inadequacies in staffing, training, ward conditions and patient safety across the country.

Nature? Nurture? University of Iowa Scientists Say Neither

It's easy to explain why we act a certain way by saying "it's in the genes, " but a group of University of Iowa scientists say the world has relied on that simple explanation far too long. In research to be published in Child Development Perspectives, the UI team calls for tossing out the nature-nurture debate, which they say has prevailed for centuries in part out of convenience and intellectual laziness. They support evolution -- but not the idea that genes are a one-way path to specific traits and behaviors. Instead, they argue that development involves a complex system in which genes and environmental factors constantly interact. "You can't break it down and say there's a gene for being jealous, there's a gene for being depressed, there's a gene for being gay.

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First Genetic Evidence For Why Placebos Work Presented By UCLA Scientists

Placebos are a sham - usually mere sugar pills designed to represent "no treatment" in a clinical treatment study. The effectiveness of the actual medication is compared with the placebo to determine if the medication works. And yet, for some people, the placebo works nearly as well as the medication. How well placebos work varies widely among individuals. Why that is so, and why they work at all, remains a mystery, thought to be based on some combination of biological and psychological factors. Now, researchers at UCLA have found a new explanation: genetics. Dr. Andrew Leuchter, a professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, and colleagues report that in people suffering from major depressive disorder, or MDD, genes that influence the brain's reward pathways may modulate the response to placebos.

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