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News from 2008

Consortium Moves Quickly to Study Resilience Following Hurricane Ike
December 31, 2008 · Science Update · A consortium of research programs funded by NIMH to conduct post-disaster mental health research mobilized this year following hurricane Ike to study the factors that influence resilience after disasters.
NIMH Staff Honored for Work on Behalf of Returning Veterans
December 31, 2008 · Science Update · Several NIMH staff members will be awarded the 2008 Hubert H. Humphrey Award for Service to America for their work in addressing the mental health needs of returning veterans.
Three NIMH Grantees Receive White House Award
December 30, 2008 · Science Update · Three NIMH grantees were among the 67 recipients of Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE) for 2007.
NIMH Grants Focus on Innovative Autism Research
December 30, 2008 · Science Update · NIMH is committed to reducing the burden of autism and related disorders through research that can lead to methods of prevention, recovery, and cure. To accomplish this goal, the Institute recently funded nine research projects that focus on ASD.
Study Probes Environment-Triggered Genetic Changes in Schizophrenia
December 24, 2008 · Science Update · The first study of its kind to pinpoint environment-triggered genetic changes in schizophrenia has been launched with $9.8 million in funding from NIMH. The five-site study seeks telltale marks in the genome that hold clues to how nurture interacts with nature to produce the illness.
Intervention Helps Reduce Risky Sexual Behavior Among Homeless HIV-positive Adults
December 16, 2008 · Science Update · An NIMH-funded program already shown to reduce risky sexual and substance abuse behavior among HIV-infected adults also appears to be effective in improving the lives of HIV-infected homeless or near-homeless adults.
Not All Antipsychotics Created Equal: Analysis Reveals Important Differences
December 9, 2008 · Science Update · An analysis of studies on antipsychotics reveals multiple differences among the newer, second-generation antipsychotics as well as the older medications, and suggests the current classification system blurs important differences.
Caffeine No Substitute for a Nap to Enhance Memory
December 8, 2008 · Science Update · Hoping to improve your tennis serve? It’s probably better to catch a few winks than load up on java after a lesson, results of a NIMH-supported study suggest. Caffeine impaired such motor learning and verbal memory, while an afternoon nap benefited all three types of learning tested by Sara Mednick, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of California, San Diego. The researchers report on their findings in the November issue of Behavioural Brain Research.
Depression Relapse Less Likely Among Teens Who Receive CBT After Medication Therapy
December 5, 2008 · Science Update · Adolescents with major depression who received cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) after responding to an antidepressant were less likely to experience a relapse or recurrence of symptoms compared to teens who did not receive CBT.
Anxious and Depressed Teens and Adults: Same Version of Mood Gene, Different Brain Reactions
December 2, 2008 · Science Update · An NIMH study using brain imaging shows that some anxious and depressed adolescents react differently from adult patients when looking at frightening faces.
Long-term Academic Effects of Child’s ADHD May Extend to Siblings
December 2, 2008 · Science Update · The long-term academic problems that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often experience may affect their siblings as well, according to an analysis partially funded by NIMH and published in the Journal of Health Economics.
Learning Disability Reversed in Mice
November 25, 2008 · Science Update · Just as traffic signals enable safe traversing of the roadways, so too does the brain’s machinery for learning and memory rely on its own stop-and-go signals. An NIMH grantee has traced a human learning disability to an imbalance in signals that increase and decrease neural activity – and demonstrated a way to correct it. The study in mice, published in the October 31, 2008 issue of the journal Cell, advances scientific understanding of how memory works.
NIMH, U.S. Army Sign MOA to Conduct Groundbreaking Suicide Research
November 12, 2008 · Science Update · NIMH and the U.S. Army have entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to conduct research that will help the Army reduce the rate of suicides.
Cells May Provide Target for New Anxiety Medications
November 6, 2008 · Science Update · A specific population of brain cells could provide a target for developing new medications aimed at helping people learn to mute the fears underlying anxiety disorders, according to NIMH-supported scientists.
Genomic Dragnet Finds Clues to Likely Suspects in Alzheimer’s
November 6, 2008 · Science Update · In the first study of its kind, researchers have pinpointed four genes likely associated with risk for the most common, late-onset form of Alzheimer’s disease, including a very strong candidate on chromosome 14. NIMH grantee Rudolph Tanzi, Ph.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University, and colleagues report on their findings in the November issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.
Genes That Turn On Together Hold Secrets of Brain’s Molecular Instructions
November 5, 2008 · Science Update · For the first time, scientists have mapped groups of genes that turn on together in the human brain, revealing a kind of Rosetta Stone of its molecular organization. These never-before-seen patterns of co-expressed genes hold promise for implicating genetic mechanisms conferring risk for illness through “guilt by association,” say the researchers.
Anxious and Healthy Adolescents Respond Differently to an Anxiety-provoking Situation
November 5, 2008 · Science Update · Brain scans show heightened activity among anxious adolescents exposed to an anxiety-provoking situation when compared with normal controls.
New Grant Aims to Reduce Rate of College Suicide by Helping Students Better Adjust
October 31, 2008 · Science Update · A new grant funded by NIMH will test an intervention designed to prevent or reduce suicide among college students.
Brain’s Response to Scary Faces Imaged Faster Than You Can Say “Boo!”
October 31, 2008 · Science Update · Scientists have captured the split-second workings of the brain’s fear circuitry in people viewing frightful faces.
Study Identifies Three Effective Treatments for Childhood Anxiety Disorders
October 30, 2008 · Press Release · Treatment that combines a certain type of psychotherapy with an antidepressant medication is most likely to help children with anxiety disorders, but each of the treatments alone is also effective.
Brain’s Wiring Stunted, Lopsided in Childhood Onset Schizophrenia
October 30, 2008 · Science Update · Growth of the brain’s long distance connections, called white matter, is stunted and lopsided in children who develop psychosis before puberty, NIMH researchers have discovered.
Task Force Finds Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Effective for Children and Adolescents Exposed to Trauma
October 29, 2008 · Science Update · Individual and group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) were the only interventions found effective in an evaluation of seven commonly-used approaches to reduce the psychological harm to youth who experience trauma.
Symptoms Persist as Bipolar Children Grow Up
October 27, 2008 · Science Update · Bipolar disorder (BD) identified in childhood often persisted into adulthood in the first large follow-up study of its kind. Forty-four percent of children diagnosed with BD continued to have manic episodes as adults, in the study by NIMH grantee Barbara Geller, M.D.
Lack of Eye Contact May Predict Level of Social Disability in Two-Year Olds with Autism
October 23, 2008 · Science Update · By age 2, children with autism show unusual patterns of eye contact compared with typically developing children. This symptom appears to be related to a child's level of impairment and may be a useful biomarker for diagnosing autism at an earlier age.
Social Phobia Patients Have Heightened Reactions to Negative Comments
October 22, 2008 · Science Update · In a study using functional brain imaging, NIMH scientists found that when people with generalized social phobia were presented with a variety of verbal comments about themselves and others (“you are ugly,” or “he’s a genius,” for example) they had heightened brain responses only to negative comments about themselves.
Certain Antipsychotic Medications May Increase Risk for Heart Disease
October 16, 2008 · Science Update · Certain atypical antipsychotic medications may raise the risk for heart disease in people with schizophrenia.
Viral Genetic Underpinnings of HIV-associated Dementia Explored
October 9, 2008 · Science Update · A new study identifies differences between genetic variants of HIV that are associated with HIV-associated dementia (HAD).
Emotion-Regulating Circuit Weakened in Borderline Personality Disorder
October 2, 2008 · Science Update · Differences in the working tissue of the brain, called grey matter, have been linked to impaired functioning of an emotion-regulating circuit in patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD). People with BPD had excess grey matter in a fear hub deep in the brain, which over-activated when they viewed scary faces. By contrast, the hub’s regulator near the front of the brain was deficient in grey matter and underactive, effectively taking the brakes off a runaway fear response, suggest researchers supported in part by NIMH.
Millisecond Brain Signals Predict Response to Fast-Acting Antidepressant
October 2, 2008 · Press Release · Images of the brain’s fastest signals reveal an electromagnetic marker that predicts a patient’s response to a fast-acting antidepressant, researchers have discovered.
New Study to Evaluate Ways to Control Metabolic Side Effects of Antipsychotics
October 1, 2008 · Science Update · A new NIMH-funded grant will examine ways to control the metabolic side effects associated with the use of the newer atypical antipsychotic medications in children with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
Study Examines the Prevalence and Impact of Gastrointestinal Problems in Children with Autism
September 24, 2008 · Science Update · A new study examines the characteristics of children with pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) who also have gastrointestinal problems.
New Grants Will Further Understanding of the Biology, Genetics and Treatment of Eating Disorders
September 23, 2008 · Science Update · Eating disorders, which include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder, are complex and often life-threatening illnesses.
Gene Variants Force Mental Trade-offs: Efficiency vs. Resiliency
September 15, 2008 · Science Update · Mice genetically engineered to have an over active version of a human gene, like their human counterparts, gain in emotional mettle under stress, but at a cost of less efficient thinking, NIMH scientists have discovered. Such talents seesawed in mice engineered to have either too much or not enough the val version of the COMT gene, the most common of two that humans inherit. The new study in mice confirms and helps to explain the trade-offs seen in earlier studies in humans, which have suggested that the val version slightly biases the brain’s workings toward increased risk for schizophrenia.
Newer Antipsychotics No Better Than Older Drug in Treating Child and Adolescent Schizophrenia
September 15, 2008 · Press Release · Two newer atypical antipsychotic medications were no more effective than an older conventional antipsychotic in treating child and adolescent schizophrenia and may lead to more metabolic side effects.
Why “My Get Up and Go Has Got Up and Went”
September 15, 2008 · Science Update · If, as the song laments, our “get up and go” fades as we get older, it may stem from aging-related changes in a brain reward circuit. Compared to young participants, older participants showed less activity in brain motivation hubs while they viewed a slot machine-like video game and received money in a NIMH brain imaging study.
Personality Disorders Prevalent, Under-Treated, in South Africa
September 4, 2008 · Science Update · Almost seven percent of South African people age 20 or older have a personality disorder, an umbrella term for several personality types characterized by chronic social dysfunction, a large study funded by NIMH and others reveals. However, less than one-fifth of the people with a disorder received mental-health treatment in the year before the study.
NIMH Funds Nine Innovative Projects to Pursue Major Challenges
September 3, 2008 · Science Update · The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has awarded nine exceptionally innovative research projects that hold promise for broad and deep impact on medical science. The grants, among the first made through a program called EUREKA (for Exceptional, Unconventional Research Enabling Knowledge Acceleration), enable investigators to test novel hypotheses or pursue major methodological or technical challenges.
NIH Funds Nine Centers to Speed Application of Powerful New Research Approach
September 2, 2008 · Press Release · The funding of a network of nine centers across the country that will use high tech screening methods to identify small molecules for use as probes to investigate the diverse functions of cells was announced today by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The network—funded at approximately $70 million annually over the four-year production phase—is designed to increase the pace of development and use of chemical (small molecule) probes, which have become invaluable tools for exploring biologic processes and for developing new therapies for disease.
Gene Associated with Social Behavior in Animals Has Similar Effects in Human Males
September 2, 2008 · Science Update · A gene variant related to the hormone vasopressin appears to be associated with how human males bond with their partners or wives, according to an NIMH-funded study. This is the first study to suggest that the wealth of information on vole pair-bonding may also apply to humans and may help to inform research on human disorders related to impaired social interactions and communication, such as autism.
Family-Focused Therapy Effective in Treating Depressive Episodes of Bipolar Youth
September 1, 2008 · Science Update · Adolescents with bipolar disorder who received a nine-month course of family-focused therapy (FFT) recovered more quickly from depressive episodes and stayed free of depression for longer periods than a control group.
Childhood Bedwetting Occurred Twice as Often in Adults with Schizophrenia
August 29, 2008 · Science Update · Childhood bedwetting occurred twice as often in adults with schizophrenia than in their unaffected brothers and sisters, according to a new study from researchers at NIMH. Their report appears in the September 2008 issue of the journal Brain.
New Research to Refine Approaches in Psychotherapy
August 29, 2008 · Science Update · NIMH is funding eight new projects designed to evaluate, refine and improve psychotherapy-based treatments.
Serotonin Neurons Critical for Mouse Postpartum Maternal Behavior, Pup Survival
August 29, 2008 · Science Update · Mood disorders, including postpartum depression, have long been treated with antidepressants that enhance the mood-regulating brain chemical messenger serotonin. Now, NIMH-supported researchers have demonstrated in mice – for the first time – that critical postpartum mothering behaviors and offspring survival also depend on proper functioning of serotonin-secreting neurons.
Antipsychotic Does Not Harm—and May Improve—Cognitive Skills in Children with Autism
August 27, 2008 · Science Update · The atypical antipsychotic medication risperidone (Risperdal) does not negatively affect cognitive skills of children with autism, and may lead to improvements.
Largest Study of Its Kind Implicates Gene Abnormalities in Bipolar Disorder
August 18, 2008 · Press Release · The largest genetic analysis of its kind to date for bipolar disorder has implicated machinery involved in the balance of sodium and calcium in brain cells. Researchers supported in part by the National Institute of Mental Health, part of the National Institutes of Health, found an association between the disorder and variation in two genes that make components of channels that manage the flow of the elements into and out of cells, including neurons.
A Night’s Sleep Gives Emotional Memories Their Staying Power
August 14, 2008 · Science Update · For the first time, researchers have found that following a night’s sleep, emotional components of scenes are remembered at the expense of neutral components. In contrast, memories of both emotional and neutral components decayed equally following 12 hours of wakefulness. Sleep also promoted memory for generality over detail, says NIMH grantee Robert Stickgold, Ph.D., of Harvard University, who co-authored the recent study of memory consolidation.
Borderline Personality Disorder: Brain Differences Related to Disruptions in Cooperation in Relationships
August 12, 2008 · Science Update · Different patterns of brain activity in people with borderline personality disorder were associated with disruptions in the ability to recognize social norms or modify behaviors that likely result in distrust and broken relationships, according to an NIMH-funded study published online in the August 8, 2008 issue of Science.
“Signatures” of Errant Gene Expression in Autism Eyed for Diagnostic Test
August 1, 2008 · Science Update · Researchers have launched an effort to detect profiles of gene expression associated with autism that could some day form the basis of a diagnostic test for the disorder. The study, supported by a new grant from NIMH’s Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science, is searching for “signatures” in patterns of such expression in autism that could be clues to underlying abnormalities in the machinery that turns genes on and off in response to experience, as the brain is wired up during the first years of life.
Depression Patients’ Brain Circuitry Makes Them Vulnerable to Relapse
August 1, 2008 · Science Update · Using brain imaging, NIMH researchers have produced direct evidence that people prone to depression -- even when they’re feeling well -- have abnormal mood-regulating brain circuitry. This makes them vulnerable to relapse when levels of certain key brain chemical messengers plummet.
Increased Burden of Rare Genetic Variations Found in Schizophrenia
July 30, 2008 · Press Release · People with schizophrenia bear an “increased burden” of rare deletions and duplications of genetic material, genome-wide, say researchers supported in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Mechanism for Postpartum Depression Found in Mice
July 30, 2008 · Press Release · Researchers have pinpointed a mechanism in the brains of mice that could explain why some human mothers become depressed following childbirth. The discovery could lead to improved treatment for postpartum depression. Supported in part by the National Institute of Mental Health, of the National Institutes of Health, the study used genetically engineered mice lacking a protein critical for adapting to the sex hormone fluctuations of pregnancy and the postpartum period.
Errant Stress/Immune Indicators Detected in Depression-Prone Women’s Sweat
July 29, 2008 · Science Update · An experimental skin patch test detected abnormal levels of markers for immune function and stress in the sweat of women with histories of depression, NIMH researchers say. If confirmed, the non-invasive technique could become an easier alternative to a blood test for predicting risk for inflammatory disorders, such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes, which often occur with depression.
Health Risks Associated with Certain Antipsychotics Warrant Extra Monitoring
July 24, 2008 · Science Update · Some atypical antipsychotics may be more likely than others to cause metabolic and cardiovascular side effects, according to recent analyses using data from the NIMH-funded Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE).
Age-related Decline of ADHD Symptoms Disrupted by Middle School
July 21, 2008 · Science Update · Although symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity (ADHD) can last into adulthood, typically they decline as a child gets older.
Newer Antipsychotics No Better Than Older Medications in Reducing Schizophrenia-related Violence
July 11, 2008 · Science Update · Antipsychotic medications can reduce the risk of violence among people with schizophrenia, but the newer atypical antipsychotics are no more effective in doing so than older medications.
Common Mechanisms May Underlie Autism’s Seemingly Diverse Mutations
July 10, 2008 · Press Release · Many of the seemingly disparate mutations recently discovered in autism may share common underlying mechanisms, say researchers supported in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The mutations may disrupt specific genes that are vital to the developing brain, and which are turned on and off by experience-triggered neuronal activity.
Abnormal Surge in Brain Development Occurs in Teens and Young Adults with Schizophrenia
July 8, 2008 · Science Update · Schizophrenia may occur, in part, because brain development goes awry during adolescence and young adulthood, when the brain is eliminating some connections between cells as a normal part of maturation, results of a study suggest. The new report appears online July 8, 2008 in Molecular Psychiatry.
NIMH Schizophrenia Initiative Featured in Biological Psychiatry
July 3, 2008 · Science Update · An NIMH initiative to fill the gap between advances in basic cognitive neuroscience and practical clinical applications for patients with schizophrenia is the topic of the July 1, 2008 issue of Biological Psychiatry. It contains eight articles on the Cognitive Neuroscience Approaches to the Treatment of Impaired Cognition in Schizophrenia (CNTRICS) initiative, including a commentary, and descriptions of meetings related to the effort.
HIV-associated Neurological Disease Prevalent in Asia-Pacific Region
July 1, 2008 · Science Update · A new study finds a significant rate of HIV-related neurological disease among HIV-positive populations living in the Asian-Pacific region.
Couples-based Intervention May Limit HIV Transmission in African Countries
June 27, 2008 · Science Update · A shift to a couples-based intervention for married and cohabiting couples in urban Zambia and Rwanda could prevent up to 60 percent of new HIV infections that would otherwise occur, according to an NIMH-funded study published June 27, 2008, in The Lancet.
Mice Expressing Human Genes Bred to Help Unravel Mental Disorders
June 26, 2008 · Science Update · New mouse strains engineered to express human genes related to mental disorders are being developed under a recently-launched grant program from NIMH's Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science.
New Grant Supports Stem Cell-Derived Model of Autism-Related Illness
June 26, 2008 · Science Update · For the first time, researchers are developing a test tube model of Rett syndrome, a debilitating autism-like illness, in neurons derived from human embryonic stem cells. The study, recently funded by a grant from NIMH’s Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science, addresses a crucial gap in understanding the workings of the rare autism spectrum disorder.
Antipsychotic Medications May Ease Some Alzheimer’s Symptoms, Not Others
June 23, 2008 · Science Update · Antipsychotic medications may lessen symptoms like hostility and aggression in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, but do not appear to lessen other symptoms or improve quality of life, according to a recent analysis of data from the NIMH-funded Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness Alzheimer’s Disease (CATIE-AD) study. The analysis was published online ahead of print June 2, 2008, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
New Grant Aims to Overcome Obesity in People with Serious Mental Illness
June 20, 2008 · Science Update · A new grant funded by NIMH will test the effectiveness of a promising intervention designed to help people with serious mental illness (SMI) who are overweight or obese lose weight and keep it off.
Anxious Youth Have Disturbed Brain Responses When Looking at Angry Faces
June 20, 2008 · Science Update · When looking at angry faces so quickly that they are hardly aware of seeing them, youth with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) have unchecked activity in the brain’s fear center, say NIMH researchers.
Potential New Target Found for Developing Medications to Treat Bipolar Disorder
June 20, 2008 · Science Update · Medications that target the protein BAG1, which regulates a process that can trigger symptoms in people who have bipolar disorder, may offer a new way of treating the disease, according to NIMH scientists.
The Maturing Brain Parallels its Evolution
June 5, 2008 · Science Update · Evolutionarily older areas of the human brain that mature earliest follow a simple, straight-line growth pattern. In contrast, newer areas that support our uniquely human capacities, such as thinking and language, mature latest and show the most complex growth pattern, NIMH researchers say. In keeping with their relatively recent evolution, newer areas are composed of more complex layers of cells and show stronger genetic influence later in development compared with evolutionarily older areas.
New NIMH Research to Test Innovative Treatments for Children with ADHD
June 5, 2008 · Science Update · Two new grants funded by NIMH will focus on novel and innovative approaches to treating children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
NIMH Funds Research to Find Best Treatments for Children with Autism and ADHD Symptoms
June 2, 2008 · Science Update · A new NIMH-funded study will help guide the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). ADHD symptoms are common in children with ASD, but children with ASD often do not respond well to stimulant medications, the conventional treatment for ADHD.
Spontaneous Mutations Rife in Non-Familial Schizophrenia
May 30, 2008 · Press Release · People with schizophrenia from families with no history of the illness were found to harbor eight times more spontaneous mutations – most in pathways affecting brain development – than healthy controls, in a study supported in part the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). By contrast, no spontaneous mutations were found in people with schizophrenia who had family histories of the illness.
Preventive Treatment May Help Head Off Depression Following a Stroke
May 28, 2008 · Science Update · For the first time, researchers show that preventive treatment with an antidepressant medication or talk therapy can significantly reduce the risk or delay the start of depression following an acute stroke, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
HIV-positive Survivors of Sexual Abuse Who Receive Coping Intervention Less Likely to Engage in Unprotected Sex
May 23, 2008 · Science Update · HIV-positive people who have experienced childhood sexual abuse are less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior if they receive a group intervention designed to help them cope with their traumatic history, according to an NIMH-funded study.
Medication-only Therapy and Combination Therapy Both Cost Effective for Treating Teens with Depression
May 12, 2008 · Science Update · Treating depressed teenagers with either the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac) or a combination of fluoxetine and psychotherapy can be cost effective, according to a recent economic analysis.
Mental Disorders Cost Society Billions in Unearned Income
May 7, 2008 · Press Release · Major mental disorders cost the nation at least $193 billion annually in lost earnings alone.
Virtual Reality, Psychotherapy, Show Promise in Treating PTSD Symptoms; Civilian Access to Care Remains a Concern
May 7, 2008 · Science Update · Early data from an NIMH-sponsored double-blind study of 24 war veterans shows a marked reduction in acoustic startle ─ the reflex response to sudden loud sounds ─ in those treated with virtual reality exposure therapy combined with either d-cycloserine, an antibiotic that has been shown to facilitate the extinction of fear memories; pill placebo; or the anti-anxiety medication alprazolam (Xanax).
New Therapies Show Promise for Vascular Depression; Heart, Metabolic, Risks of Some Antipsychotic Medications Flagged
May 7, 2008 · Science Update · Researchers see new treatments on the horizon for a type of depression related to blood vessels that affects the elderly, and have discovered why some elderly people fail to respond to current medications. In other studies, scientists urge caution regarding use of antipsychotics (usually for schizophrenia or other psychosis) in this and other populations to minimize metabolic, heart, and stroke risks.
Clues to Role of Brain Development as Risk for Mental Disorders May Also Lead to Better Treatments
May 6, 2008 · Science Update · Increasing evidence points to links between the timing and growth rates of specific brain areas in the young brain and the likelihood of developing a wide range of mental disorders later in life, say researchers convened by NIMH
Imaging Identifies Brain Regions and Chemicals Underlying Mood Disorders; May Lead to Better Treatments
May 6, 2008 · Science Update · Recently developed imaging techniques allow the mapping of the brain circuits and chemical systems believed responsible for a range of mood abnormalities including depression and bipolar disorder, and hold promise for improved treatments, scientists say.
Studies Identify Subtle Genetic Changes’ Risk for Mental Disorders; May Lead to Targets for New, Better, Therapies
May 5, 2008 · Science Update · Epigenetics ─ the examination of how environmental factors like diet, stress, and post-natal maternal behavior can change gene function without altering DNA sequence ─ plays a major role in depression and in the actions of antidepressant medications. New studies in the field are revealing new molecular targets for better therapies for depression, scientists say.
Medication-Enhanced Learning in Therapy Hailed as “Paradigm Shift” for Anxiety
May 1, 2008 · Science Update · A medication that enhances learning, taken just before an exposure therapy session, may aid cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for anxiety disorders, say NIMH-funded researchers, who adapted the technique from studies in rats.
Study launched to test possible preventive treatment for schizophrenia in high risk youth
May 1, 2008 · Science Update · NIMH recently awarded a grant to study whether an intensive, computerized training program can help prevent youth at high risk for developing schizophrenia from having a first psychotic episode and improve adaptive functioning.
Human Brain Appears “Hard-Wired” for Hierarchy
April 23, 2008 · Press Release · Human imaging studies have for the first time identified brain circuitry associated with social status, according to researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) of the National Institutes of Health.
Mark Your Calendars, NIMH Science Track at APA Annual Meeting, May 3-8, 2008
April 17, 2008 · Science Update · NIMH will host science track symposia, lectures, press conferences at the American Psychiatric Association 161st Annual Meeting.
Journal Highlights Effectiveness of Research Based Psychotherapies for Youth
April 15, 2008 · Science Update · Reviews of the current research on psychosocial and behavioral therapies, or psychotherapies, for children and adolescents found a number of “well established” and “probably efficacious” treatments for many mental disorders. The results were published in a special issue of the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.
Maintenance Treatment Crucial for Teens’ Recovery from Depression
April 8, 2008 · Science Update · Long-term maintenance treatment is likely to sustain improvement and prevent recurrence among adolescents with major depression, according to an NIMH-funded study.
OCD Risk Higher When Several Variations in Gene Occur Together
April 7, 2008 · Science Update · Several variations within the same gene act together to raise the risk of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), new NIMH research suggests.
New Research to Help People with Mental Disorders Quit Smoking
April 4, 2008 · Science Update · A new grant funded by NIMH will develop an intervention designed to help people with serious mental illness (SMI) quit smoking.
Paying More for Prescriptions May Limit Seniors’ Access to Antidepressants
April 2, 2008 · Science Update · New cost-sharing policies may prevent some older adults diagnosed with depression from filling new antidepressant prescriptions.
Newly Awarded Autism Centers of Excellence to Further Autism Research
April 1, 2008 · Press Release · The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on March 24, 2008, the latest recipients of the Autism Centers of Excellence (ACE) program. These grants will support studies covering a broad range of autism research areas, including early brain development and functioning, social interactions in infants, rare genetic variants and mutations, associations between autism-related genes and physical traits, possible environmental risk factors and biomarkers, and a potential new medication treatment.
Rates of Rare Mutations Soar Three to Four Times Higher in Schizophrenia
March 27, 2008 · Press Release · People with schizophrenia have high rates of rare genetic deletions and duplications that likely disrupt the developing brain, according to studies funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.
Autism Gene Scans Converge on Two Suspect Sites, Two Types of Genetic Risk
March 19, 2008 · Science Update · Four teams of scientists, using resources supported in part by NIMH, have pinpointed two different sites in the genome, each conferring a different type of genetic risk for autism.
Past Child Abuse Plus Variations in Gene Result in Potent PTSD Risk for Adults
March 18, 2008 · Press Release · A traumatic event is much more likely to result in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults who experienced trauma in childhood – but certain gene variations raise the risk considerably if the childhood trauma involved physical or sexual abuse, scientists have found.
State Survey Finds FDA “Black Box” Warning Correlates with Curtailed Antidepressant Prescriptions
March 14, 2008 · Science Update · After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a “black box” warning on antidepressant medications, Nebraskan doctors began prescribing fewer antidepressant medications to children and teens and referring more patients to specialists, according to a state survey.
One Gene Overrides Another to Prevent Brain Changes that Foster Depression
March 12, 2008 · Science Update · A variation on one gene affects how much of the brain chemical serotonin is available to brain cells. This variation is thought to raise the risk of depression in people who carry it. But NIMH scientists found that a variation in another gene, which produces brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) – a substance that enables growth and health of brain cells – appears to prevent or offset the changes generated by the depression-fostering variant.
Bipolar Youths’ Misreading of Faces May be Risk Marker for Illness
March 4, 2008 · Science Update · Youngsters with pediatric bipolar disorder and healthy peers who have first-degree relatives with bipolar disorder share the same difficulty labeling facial emotions, NIMH researchers have discovered.
Teens with Treatment-resistant Depression More Likely to Get Better with Switch to Combination Therapy
February 26, 2008 · Press Release · Teens with difficult-to-treat depression who do not respond to a first antidepressant medication are more likely to get well if they switch to another antidepressant medication and add psychotherapy rather than just switching to another antidepressant.
Group Therapy Program Offers Meaningful Gains for People with Borderline Personality Disorder
February 26, 2008 · Science Update · A 20-week group therapy program focusing on cognitive behavioral and skills training, when used in conjunction with usual care, helped reduce symptoms of borderline personality disorder and improve overall functioning, reported NIMH-funded researchers. Their findings were published online February 15, 2008 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Primary Care Doctors May Overlook Elderly Patients’ Mental Health
February 25, 2008 · Science Update · Doctors spend little time discussing mental health issues with their older patients and rarely refer them to a mental health specialist even if they show symptoms of severe depression.
Co-occurring Anxiety Complicates Treatment Response for Those with Major Depression
February 25, 2008 · Science Update · People with major depression accompanied by high levels of anxiety are significantly less likely to benefit from antidepressant medication than those without anxiety, according to a study based on data from the NIMH-funded Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study.
Genetic Tags Reveal Secrets of Memories’ Staying Power in Mice
February 21, 2008 · Press Release · A better understanding of how memory works is emerging from a newfound ability to link a learning experience in a mouse to consequent changes in the inner workings of its neurons. Researchers, supported in part by NIMH, have developed a way to pinpoint the specific cellular components that sustain a specific memory in genetically-engineered mice.
Scans Reveal Faulty Brain Wiring Caused by Missing Genes
February 20, 2008 · Science Update · An NIMH study using an emerging imaging technology has discovered faulty wiring in the brains of people with Williams Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects some aspects of thinking.
Cold, Unfeeling Traits Linked to Distinctive Brain Patterns in Kids with Severe Conduct Problems
February 20, 2008 · Science Update · The callous, unemotional characteristics of some children and adolescents who bully or steal or have other severely disruptive behavior problems may have partial roots in a brain area called the amygdala.
Genetic Variation May Influence Response to Depression Treatment
February 20, 2008 · Science Update · Variations in a gene known as TREK1 may explain some forms of treatment-resistant major depression, according to a new study analyzing genetic data.
Tomorrow’s Antidepressants: Skip the Serotonin Boost?
February 14, 2008 · Science Update · Even when serotonin levels stayed low, scientists were able to correct abnormal, mental-illness-like behaviors in mice by blocking an enzyme called GSK3ß. The finding adds evidence that molecular targets other than serotonin may lead to better and faster medications for some mental illnesses.
Team Care for Depressed Older Adults Cuts Overall Medical Costs
February 14, 2008 · Science Update · A team approach to depression treatment for older adults, already shown to be effective, is also less expensive than usual care.
Gene Variants Protect Against Adult Depression Triggered by Childhood Stress
February 4, 2008 · Press Release · Certain variations in a gene that helps regulate response to stress tend to protect adults who were abused in childhood from developing depression. Adults who had been abused but didn’t have the variations in the gene had twice the symptoms of moderate to severe depression, compared to those with the protective variations.
Mental Disorders Persist Among Hurricane Katrina Survivors
January 24, 2008 · Science Update · More residents affected by Hurricane Katrina are enduring mental disorders than was initially determined a few months after the storm.
Faster-Acting Medications for Bipolar Disorder’s Manic Phase May Be Feasible
January 23, 2008 · Science Update · Scientists may be able to develop faster-acting medications for the manic phase of bipolar disorder, new research shows.
Research-based Principles May Help Improve Mental Health Recovery Following Mass Trauma
January 14, 2008 · Science Update · Experts on trauma-related research and medical practices from around the world recently identified five principles to guide mental health care efforts immediately or shortly after a mass trauma, such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack.
Autism Risk Higher in People with Gene Variant
January 10, 2008 · Press Release · Scientists have found a variation in a gene that may raise the risk of developing autism, especially when the variant is inherited from mothers rather than fathers.
Mood Disorders Predict Later Substance Abuse Problems
January 9, 2008 · Science Update · People with manic symptoms and bipolar disorder type II are at significant risk of later developing an alcohol abuse or dependence problem, a long-term study conducted in Switzerland confirms.
Scientists Can Predict Psychotic Illness in up to 80 Percent of High-Risk Youth
January 7, 2008 · Press Release · Youth who are going to develop psychosis can be identified before their illness becomes full-blown 35 percent of the time if they meet widely accepted criteria for risk, but that figure rises to 65 to 80 percent if they have certain combinations of risk factors, the largest study of its kind has shown.
Real-World Outcomes in Schizophrenia Are Focus of Two New NIMH Grants
January 4, 2008 · Science Update · Two new NIMH grants are aimed at determining the most accurate methods of measuring how well community-dwelling people with schizophrenia are faring. Results of the project are meant to provide scientists who conduct future research on the effectiveness of treatments with tools that reflect the truest possible picture of daily-life outcomes.
Foreign Nativity May Not Always Protect Against Mental Disorders in the US
January 3, 2008 · Science Update · Though all Latino immigrants tend to display better overall mental health compared to their US-born counterparts, a recent study by NIMH-funded researchers has found that the protective benefits of foreign nativity vary widely across subgroups of this population.
Ethnicity Predicts How Gene Variations Affect Response to Schizophrenia Medications
January 2, 2008 · Science Update · Different variations in the same gene influence how well different ethnic groups, and people within the same ethnic group, respond to various antipsychotic medications, report NIMH-funded researchers. If confirmed, their findings could one day help clinicians predict which medication is most likely to help a patient, based on his or her genetic makeup.