Tag Archives: mental illness

Science for the People: The Psychopath Whisperer

sftpThis week on Science for the People, we’re looking at the science of psychopathy. We’ll spend the hour learning  about social science research, neuroimaging and behavioral therapies with Kent Kiehl, neuroscience researcher, lecturer and author of The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience.

*Josh provides research help to Science for the People and is, therefore, completely biased.

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Shock your brain into submission

The Brodmann area 25 is highlighted in red. Electrical stimulation of this area in some patients can alleviate symptoms of depression.

The Brodmann area 25 is highlighted in red. Electrical stimulation of this area in some patients can alleviate symptoms of depression.

This month’s special issue of Science Magazine is themed “The Heavily Connected Brain“. Articles center around the brain’s complex connections and the huge amount of data collected to study those connections. One particular issue related to brain connectivity is behavior and mood.

Many interacting circuits in the brain can influence a person’s behavior or mood. When these systems aren’t functioning correctly doctors can prescribe drugs to regulate the levels of various signaling molecules in the hope of restoring normal behavior or mood.

Some doctors are now turning to electrical current therapies to “reset” the malfunctioning circuit. This is not a new concept. Doctors have been using electrical currents as therapy since the 17th century. Continue reading

The roots of mental illness

Image by Jennifer Mathis

Image by Jennifer Mathis

There’s been a lot of buzz in the media this week about a new study on the genetic component of some mental illnesses. This is the largest genome wide association study of the genetic component of mental illness to date (33,332 affected individuals and 27,888 control individuals had their genomes examined for single base pair genetic differences.  The affected individuals were diagnosed with one of five disorders: autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, or schizophrenia. This particular study focused on finding genetic changes that were common to all five disorders as opposed to any genetic changes that cause the individual disorders. The genetic associations uncovered by this study were shocking to many in the field.

Continue reading