Alzheimer’s Disease International has recently published the World Alzheimer’s Report 2012. In this latest report, the number of people living with dementia is estimated to rise from 36 million worldwide in 2010 to more than 116 million by 2050. Nearly two-thirds of these new dementia cases will come from low and middle-income countries. The cost for caring for dementia cases already topped $604 billion in 2010 alone and will likely skyrocket in coming years. Will we be ready? (h/t to The Amazing World of Psychiatry for the link)
Vaughan Bell of Mind Hacks discusses a recent New York Times article on New York's "suicide cops" who are tasked with talking down potential "jumpers". A harrowing and often thankless task.
Mind Hacks also recommended a fascinating post on the Chirugeon's Apprentice blog describing the strange history of hysteria and the bizarre theories of female anatomy that went with it.
What makes self-directed learning effective? A new post by Science Daily reviews recent research examining self-direct learning from a cognitive and a computational perspective. Some of the most effective learning does not take place inside classrooms.
Also from Science Daily, a new research study from Sweden examined tooth loss and chewing ability in the elderly and found that chewing ability appears linked to dementia risk.
After sitting on Texas' death row for 32 years, Max Soffar seems set for execution despite clear inconsistencies in the confession that he gave for a 1980 triple-murder. Although the American Civil Liberties Union has been championing his case with legal arguments that Soffar's confession "smells fishy" and that the low-IQ inmate may not have committed the crime for which he faces execution, his latest appeal has been denied. The ACLU blog has the details.
Can video games be used to diagnose PTSD and mild brain injury in military personnel? Danger Room looks at a new Pentagon project that awarded contracts to several private companies to develop video games to help with the diagnosis of PTSD and cognitive impairments. While no one is expecting a "magic bullet" to the problem of undiagnosed PTSD, changes in video game performance may provide an important clinical clue to help identify soldiers in need of help.
During an emergency, rumours can fly like wildfire with potentially tragic results. Can social media help provide information to the public more effectively than press releases? The Canadian Red Cross's blog describes how the mayor of Iqualuit, Nunavut uses her platform on Facebook and Twitter to get the word out in crisis situations and allow for the two-way communication that regular news channels do not provide.
Steven Novella of Science Based-Medicine weighs in with disheartening news from Africa about the distribution of anti-retroviral medicines being bogged down by governments placing more faith in traditional healers than in modern medicine. Although I have already described the devastating consequences of Thako Mbeki's sabotaging of anti-HIV health campaigns in South Africa, Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh appears to be doing the same with his own "secret" herbal remedy for curing HIV which calls for patients discontinuing antiretroviral treatment. How many lives this will end up costing is anybody's guess.
Was Joseph Jastrow America's first pop psychologist? Jack El-Hai of Wonders and Marvels describes Jastrow's illustrious career explaining and interpreting psychology for the public. Being the first American to earn a doctorate in psychology, Jastrow earned a permanent place in psychology's history.
The proper treatment for PTSD in solders will likely always be controversial, but how valid is the use of potentially addictive psychoactive drugs like Seroquel and Risperidone? The NextGov blog talks discusses a recent Army Surgeon General memo backtracking on the longstanding policy of prescribing medication for traumatized soldiers. That memo also warns against prescribing tranquilizers such as Xanax and Valium because of dependency issues. Considering a 2010 report found that one-third of all active duty military suicides involved prescription drugs, the new changes are way overdue.
Finally, we have an article from Times Healthland that suggests that the field of psychiatry is "committing professional suicide" due to its dangerously close relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. While few experts view that relationship as healthy, will real change happen in the forseeable future? And will the $58 billion being spent on advertising by pharmaceutical companies override medical concerns about patient health?
That's all for now. Please check out these stories for yourself and let me know of others that you think I should be following.
Until next time.