Monday, January 30, 2023

It is Time to Abandon the Candidate-Gene Approach to Depression

17
The candidate-gene approach to depression goes unsupported and is likely based on bad science, new research finds.

Study Links Antidepressants and Decreased Coping Behaviors Across Generations

8
Biologists found that exposure to antidepressants suppresses important survival behaviors in zebrafish, an effect that persisted across three generations and was found to be more severe for males.

Philosophers Challenge Psychiatry and its Search for Mechanisms of Disorder

41
Attempting to locate the mechanisms of psychiatric disorder is a step in the wrong direction and fails to challenge potentially unjust social practices.

Large Rigorous Study Debunks Popular Gene-Environment Theory of Depression

18
A large and rigorous meta-analysis fails to find support for the gene-environment interaction theory of depression.

Why Precision Psychiatry is Not a Paradigm Shift

9
A letter just published in JAMA Psychiatry suggests that “precision psychiatry” is not the paradigm shift it’s purported to be by the psychiatric establishment.

Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing is Often Wrong

2
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing has an “alarmingly high” 40% false-positive rate.

Scientists Fight Against the Myth of the Normal or Optimal Brain

15
A new study out of Yale University uses evolutionary biology to debunk the idea that there is a “normal” or “optimal” brain.

Large Study Finds Epigenetic Changes Associated with Trauma Explained by Smoking

5
A new study suggests that epigenetic changes that have been associated with trauma may actually be due to environmental toxins.

Brain Imaging Results Biased by Lack of Representative Data

6
What does "normal" brain development throughout childhood look like? It may depend on your demographics.

Researchers Question Link Between Genetics and Depression

6
A new study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, found no link between genetics and the occurrence of depressive symptoms.

The Failed Quest for Biomarkers in Psychiatry

13
A recent commentary by Ganesan Venkatasubramanian and Matcheri Keshavan notes that efforts to identify biomarkers in people diagnosed with psychiatric disorders have been overwhelmingly...

New Study Raises Doubts About fMRI Neuroimaging Research

5
More than forty thousand papers have been published using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to explore the brain. A new analysis of the common...

Researcher Urges Caution When Applying Genetics to Psychiatry

6
In a review editorial for the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, neurobiology researcher Steven Dubovsky from the University at Buffalo argues against the adoption of...

Comments on Jeffrey Lieberman and Ogi Ogas’ Wall Street Journal Article on the Genetics...

71
The March 3rd, 2016 edition of the Wall Street Journal featured an article by past President of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Jeffrey Lieberman and his colleague, computational neuroscientist Ogi Ogas. The article was entitled “Genetics and Mental Illness—Let’s Not Get Carried Away.” In their piece, the authors started by expressing the belief that a recent study identified a gene that causes schizophrenia, and then discussed whether it is desirable or possible to remove allegedly pathological genes in the interest of creating a future “mentally perfect society.” The authors of the article, like many previous textbook authors, seem unfamiliar with the questionable “evidence” put forward by psychiatry as proof that its disorders are “highly heritable” In fact, DSM-5 Task Force Chair David Kupfer admitted that “we’re still waiting” for the discovery of “biological and genetic markers” for psychiatric disorders.

“Bewitching Science” Revisited: Tales of Reunited Twins and the Genetics of Behavior

9
In this article I will attempt to debunk one of the great “scientific” smoke and mirrors shows of the past half century—the claim that stories of reunited separated MZ (monozygotic, identical) twin pairs indicate that heredity plays a major role in causing human behavioral differences. These stories, which are often used to sell the false ideology of genetic determinism, have entered the public imagination in a way that academic research results never could. Here I will show that these stories provide no evidence whatsoever that (as yet undiscovered) “genes for behavior” influence human behavioral development.

“The Search for Schizophrenia Genes”

1
MIA contributor Jonathan Leo, writing for Slate, weighs in on the research that claims to have discovered a genetic basis for schizophrenia. “We now...

Large German Anti-Stigma Campaign Shows Little Effect on Attitudes

13
“Overall, this study showed that the information and awareness campaign had almost no significant effects on the general public's attitudes toward people affected by either schizophrenia or depression,” the researchers, led by German medical sociologist Anna Makowski, wrote. “One could assume that deeply rooted convictions cannot be modified by rather time-limited and general activities targeted at the public.”

The Genetics of Schizophrenia: A Left Brain Theory about a Right Brain Deficit in...

20
In recent months, two teams of researchers in the UK and the US published complementary findings about the epigenetic origins of schizophrenia that have scientific communities who indulge in ‘genetic conspiracy theories’ abuzz. While these results are intriguing, and no doubt involve pathbreaking research methodologies, this line of thought represents a decontextualized understanding both of the symptoms that are typically associated with schizophrenia, and their causes.

Schizophrenia and Genetics: A Closer Look at the Evidence

27
“The substantial hereditary component in schizophrenia,” a pair of researchers wrote in 1993, “is surely one of the two or three best-established facts in psychiatry.” But is it really? For mainstream psychiatry and psychiatric genetics, schizophrenia is “a severe mental disorder with a lifetime risk of about 1%, characterized by hallucinations, delusions and cognitive deficits, with heritability estimated at up to 80%,” or a “highly heritable neuropsychiatric disorder of complex genetic etiology.” Many commentators have challenged these claims, and some have challenged the concept of schizophrenia itself.

From Phrenology to Brain Scans: How Shaky Neuroscience has Influenced Courts

1
In “When Phrenology Was Used in Court,” Geoffrey S. Holtzman writes for Slate about the spurious use of brain science in legal cases. In the 1800’s the “science of phrenology” promised to reveal criminal psychological traits by measuring the skull and today defense teams still employ neurogenetic explanations for their client’s violent behavior.

The Deeper Genome: New Research Findings in Genomics and Epigenomics

16
In our field, there is a significant “missing heritability” between rates of “schizophrenia” in monozygotic twins and the combined reduced influence of genetic variants identified in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The 80% figure often given as a heritability factor is somewhat misleading for students in our field who do not know how the H2 statistic is derived and various ways of deriving it. Through extensive molecular biological research of the most recent studies on monozygotic twins I have derived a theory which will make a much stronger case for socioenvironmental influences on what was previously though of in classically genetic terms.

Ernst Rüdin’s Unpublished Family Study of “Manic-Depressive Insanity” and the Genetics of Bipolar Disorder

9
Although it is axiomatic in psychiatry that genetic factors are involved in bipolar disorder (manic-depression), and that they play a predominant role, there currently exists little if any scientifically acceptable evidence that bipolar disorder and other “affective disorders” are caused by disordered genes. Given almost 50 years of gene discovery claims that were not confirmed by replication attempts, we must assume by default that current gene finding claims are false-positive results as well. In the 1920s, pioneering psychiatric geneticist Ernst Rüdin decided against publishing his large family study of “manic-depressive insanity,” most likely because the results did not fit his theories of Mendelian inheritance, and failed to support his advocacy of eugenic policies.

Researchers Develop New Model for Understanding Depression

43
Acknowledging that current depression treatments are failing many people, researchers from Michigan State and MIT have developed a new model for understanding how multiple psychological, biological, social and environmental factors contribute to depression.

Brain Imaging Reveals Psychiatric Disorders are Not Neurological Disorders

49
Some researchers have been arguing to reclassify all psychiatric disorders as diseases of the brain and nervous system, similar to epilepsy or Parkinson's disease. Neuroimaging research, however, reveals that psychiatric disorders appear to be distinct from neurological disorders, according to a new study published in this month’s issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

“Nature and Nurture: Human Brains Evolved to be More Responsive to Environmental Influences”

0
"We found that the anatomy of the chimpanzee brain is more strongly controlled by genes than that of human brains, suggesting that the human brain is extensively shaped by its environment no matter its genetics," said Aida Gómez-Robles, postdoctoral scientist at the GW Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology and lead author on the paper. "So while genetics determined human and chimpanzee brain size, it isn't as much of a factor for human cerebral organization as it is for chimpanzees."