However, these “joints,” the boundaries between psychiatric disorders, such as that between bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, are far from clear. Prior versions of DSM followed the path outlined by Emil Kraeplin in separating these disorders into distinct categories. Yet, we now know that symptoms of bipolar disorder may be seen in patients with schizophrenia and the reverse is true, as well.
Further, our certainty about the boundary of these disorders is undermined by growing evidence that both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder emerge, in part, from the cumulative impact of a large number of risk genes, each of which conveys a relatively small component of the vulnerability to these disorders. And since many versions of these genes appear to contribute vulnerability to both disorders, the study of common gene variations has raised the possibility that there may be diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic meaning embedded in the high degree of variability in the clinical presentations of patients with each disorder.
In addition, many symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are traits that are present in the healthy population but are more exaggerated in patient populations. To borrow from Einstein, who struggled to reconcile the wave and particle features of light, our psychiatric diagnoses behave like waves (i.e., spectra of clinical presentations) and particles (traditional categorical diagnoses). Although new genetic approaches may revise our current thinking, such as studies of microdeletions, microinsertions, and microtranslocations of the genome, the wave/particle approach to psychiatric diagnosis places a premium on understanding the “real” clustering of patients into subtypes as opposed to groups created to correspond to the current DSM-IV.
Latent class analysis is one statistical approach for estimating the clustering of subjects into groups. In their study of 270 Irish families, published in the July 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry, Fanous and colleagues conducted this type of analysis, with subjects clustered into the following groups: bipolar, schizoaffective, mania, schizomania, deficit syndrome, and core schizophrenia. When they divided the affected individuals in the study using this approach, they found four regions of the chromosome that were linked to the risk for these syndromes that were not implicated when subjects were categorized according to DSM-IV diagnoses.
Dr. Fanous notes that this finding “suggests that schizophrenia as we currently define it may in fact represent more than one genetic subtype, or disease process.” According to John H. Krystal, M.D., Editor of Biological Psychiatry and affiliated with both Yale University School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System: “Their findings advance the hypothesis that the variability in the clinical presentation of patients diagnosed using DSM-IV categories is meaningful, providing information that may be useful as DSM-V is prepared. However, we do not yet know whether the categories generated by this latent class analysis will generalize to other populations.” This paper highlights an important aspect of the complexity of establishing valid psychiatric diagnoses using a framework adopted from traditional categorical models.
Jayne Dawkins | alfa
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26.09.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg
Controlling electronic current is essential to modern electronics, as data and signals are transferred by streams of electrons which are controlled at high speed. Demands on transmission speeds are also increasing as technology develops. Scientists from the Chair of Laser Physics and the Chair of Applied Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have succeeded in switching on a current with a desired direction in graphene using a single laser pulse within a femtosecond ¬¬ – a femtosecond corresponds to the millionth part of a billionth of a second. This is more than a thousand times faster compared to the most efficient transistors today.
Graphene is up to the job
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
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