January, 2012
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Society of Biological Psychiatry
 
"Scientists collaborating to eliminate the suffering of mental illness."
In This Issue
SOBP Vision Statement
Message from the Editor
President's Message
Program Chair Message
2012 Meeting Announcement
Election Update
Welcome New Members
Biological Psychiatry 2011 Update
Journal Updates
Get Involved
Member Record
SOBP Contact Information
SOBP Vision Statement

The vision of the Society of Biological Psychiatry is to integrate, advance, and promulgate science relevant to psychiatric disorders, in order to reduce or prevent the suffering of people with these conditions.

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Message from the Editor

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I am pleased to announce two new features that we are added to this quarter's newsletter - a President's Column and an article from the Chair of our Annual Program Committee. In his President's column, Danny Pine identifies several of the challenges and opportunities facing psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience, highlighting how our Annual Meeting and other SOBP-supported initiatives address those challenges. In the second column, Ellen Leibenluft expands on the activities of the annual meeting, describing the focus of this year's program to help us better integrate systems neuroscience into our thinking about psychiatric conditions. As we've discussed in previous columns, psychiatry is facing a number of pressures encouraging a paradigm-shift in order to better help people afflicted with mental illness. SOBP has the capability and opportunity to lead this shift. Both of these excellent columns highlight how SOBP might do so; please take a few moments to read them.

     The annual meeting program theme and these columns are timely. Just last week, a couple of friends and colleagues of mine here in Cincinnati were discussing how difficult it is for us (an active neuroimaging research group) to keep up with the burgeoning advances in neuroscience that might inform our work. This struggle has become especially pronounced with the increasing regulatory challenges and funding restrictions facing research that often dominate our time. We assume we are not alone in these struggles. One of the conclusions of our discussion was that we need to find more time to discuss these neuroscience advances, especially with people who are more knowledgeable than us and who have an interest in applying advances to understanding human behavior. There are few venues for this to occur, but the SOBP annual meeting is one of those, and a major one at that. I would like to encourage all of you to attend this year's meeting and invigorate all of our thinking about the neural underpinnings of human behavior. I look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia.

 

Thank you.

Stephen M. Strakowski, MD

Senior Associate Dean for Research, UCCOM

Vice President of Research, UC Health 

The Dr. Stanley and Mickey Kaplan Professor and Chairman

Dept. of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati

 

President's Message

These are both wonderful yet trying times for scientists and clinicians interested in biological psychiatry, and our Society has a unique opportunity to meet the challenges that such times bring. As President, the New Year and associated quarterly publication of the Society's newsletter provides me with a rare chance to reflect on these times and the role of the Society in confronting the struggles we face. Breakthroughs in allied fields continue to accrue at a breathtaking pace, raising hopes for discoveries that will change the way we conceptualize and treat mental illnesses. Particularly important insights are emerging in genetics, imaging, and fields that bridge these two areas through translational neuroscience. Nevertheless, against this backdrop of discovery and shifting paradigms, a sense of frustration is palpable. Such a sense arises as we wait for clinically-relevant advances that impact the lives of individual patients, arising from the promise of translational research. This sense of frustration is kindled by news of each hurdle confronting our field, related to fiscal constraints that plague academic quarters, a redirecting of limited resources in the private sector, and brain drain to other fields. The activities in the Society reflect this dual sense of opportunity and risk, our attempt to meet the challenges that confront us in the face of discovery.

                As the Society's President, one quickly realizes that our Annual Meeting provides one of the best opportunities for advancing our mission. What better way to engender excitement than providing a showcase for the most exciting ideas in our field? Accordingly, planning for the meeting typically begins for each President immediately after announcement of the election results. Not only does the Annual Meeting provide unusual opportunities to catch up with colleagues and peruse the latest results in biological psychiatry research, but the theme of the meeting provides a nidus around which many of the challenges and opportunities faced by the Society can crystallize. This year's Program Chair, Ellen Leibenluft, MD, led our Program Committee in a process that embraced this opportunity and sought to construct a meeting that highlights new, exciting science while also providing a forum for members to discuss issues about which they care deeply. The success of this process thus far is evident in the fact that we received more submissions for the 67th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia than in any previous year, spanning all areas of clinical and basic science relevant to biological psychiatry. In a separate column, Ellen summarizes more aspects of the meeting, describing the fruits of the Program Committee's labors. No doubt this raises considerable excitement for the upcoming meeting. However, beyond the many details that she delineates in her summary, it is important to reflect for a minute on the meeting's theme, Systems Neurosciences: Applications to Psychiatry Illnesses.   How did the Committee arrive at such a theme? In prior years, we considered advances in both basic and clinical realms; we learned of the great promise of optogenetic methods, promise already being realized; and last year, we learned about dramatic paradigm shifts that have changed the focus of our field. This year's meeting attempts to bridge the diverse themes of prior meetings by providing the "glue" of systems neuroscience, to integrate prior meetings' content. This year's theme uses our understanding of the brain, viewed from a macro- or "systems-based" level, to stimulate uniquely integrative thinking across domains and levels of inquiry. In many ways, this theme lays bare some of our greatest hurdles. For example, we have begun to finally generate some consistent findings in genetics. Similarly, we have defined both the benefits and limits of available treatments. However, a large chasm separates what we currently know about genetics and either available or potential future treatments. By bridging what we know about genes and their effects on circuits, systems neuroscience holds the hope of ultimately building a bridge to what we do and do not know about treatment. This bridge in turn can guide the field to generate ideas about novel treatments that act on underlying pathophysiology of mental illnesses, as it is reflected in neural circuits. This is the "meat-and-potatoes" of systems neuroscience.              

                Beyond a focus on the Annual Meeting, no other topic consumes more of my thoughts as President than the Society's future. How can we best position ourselves to have both the flexibility needed to deal with these unusual times and the strength to hold on to the advances we have accrued? Where should we focus our energies, given the unusual combination of opportunity and challenge we face? In recent months, I have become focused increasingly deeply on the experiences of the young scientist. At the Annual Meetings, we have planned a number of activities to invigorate young-scientists' experiences in the Society and encourage their increased participation. Planning for these activities will be coordinated by the Task Force for Training, Education, and Early Career Development, chaired by Linda Carpenter, PhD. These activities will include the continued expansion of our mentor-mentee programs, which brings together individual scientists during the Annual Meeting. We also hope to capitalize on the strengths of our Travel Awards portfolio, which brings many gifted young scientists to the Meeting. Finally, we are planning new programs that should become regular components of our Annual Meeting, thereby linking the experiences of early and later career members both within and across each of our many Annual Meetings.        

                It is both a joy and an honor to serve as the Society's President. No other aspect of my duties brings more joy than working with Ellen Leibenluft and the Program Committee to shape this year's Annual Meeting Program. As all of our thoughts turn towards this meeting, we cannot help but confront the juxtaposition of challenge and opportunity faced by our field. By looking towards our youngest members, the energy they bring and the new takes they might provide on old problems, the Society might most effectively face our new challenges with the sense of vigor that allowed us to move the field into the exciting position that it currently occupies. 

 

67th Annual Meeting Update - May 3-5, 2012 - Philadelphia, PA

Leibenluft On behalf of Danny Pine, the Society President, and the hard-working 2012 Program Committee, it is my pleasure to invite you to attend the 67th SOBP Annual Meeting, to held May 3-5, 2012, in Philadelphia. Building on our theme of "Systems Neuroscience: Applications to Psychiatric Illness," we have a series of outstanding plenary sessions planned that will address the key issues in clinical neuroscience at an integrative level. These integrative plenary sessions will be complemented by symposia on a wide variety of topics. These symposia will provide details and perspectives to complement the themes outlined in the plenary sessions. Of course, there will be poster sessions, which are a wonderful opportunity to interact with investigators about their latest findings while networking with colleagues and friends, both old and new. Late-breaking talks also will feature the newest findings in systems neuroscience and possible breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Finally, it's worth emphasizing that Philadelphia is a wonderful city, with lots of great restaurants, a lovely colonial section and, if you can tear yourself away from the meeting, an interesting selection of museums.  

            Social cognition is one of the hottest topics in clinical neuroscience, and that is the focus of our first symposium, to be held on the morning of Thursday, May 3. Our speakers span basic and clinical perspectives. For the former, we will have Larry Young from Emory speaking on oxytocin and vasopression, and Allison Doupe from UCSF talking about songbirds; songbirds are a valuable model for learning and development of social cognition. On the clinical side, we have Sarah-Jayne Blakemore from University College London, who will focus on social cognition during that mysterious and all-important developmental phase, adolescence, while Liz Phelps from NYU will talk about a topic of great scientific and social importance to us all i.e., a social neuroscience approach to race and ethnicity.  

            This year, researchers have debated the relative merits of two complementary techniques that can be used to investigate brain mechanisms of complex behavior, namely, resting-state and task-based fMRI. This will be the focus of our second plenary, on the morning of Friday, May 4. To understand both of these techniques, it is important to understand the physiology of the blood-oxygen-level dependent, or so-called "BOLD", signal, which will be the topic of the first talk, by Niko Logothetis from the Max Planck Institute in Munich. Next we will hear from Marcus Raichle, from Washington University at St. Louis, a pioneer in resting state imaging (and many other aspects of fMRI), who will discuss the default mode network and how studies of it can increase our knowledge of functional connectivity in the brain. Then we will have two talks on task-based fMRI, one by Cam Carter at UC Davis on using such techniques to study schizophrenia, and another by Leslie Ungerleider from the NIMH speaking on circuits mediating attention.  

            For Saturday morning, the Program Committee was evenly split on whether to focus on the circuitry mediating reward processing or, alternatively, on the use of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), considered as a molecular, "micro-level" system, to address the pathophysiology of psychiatric illness. Therefore, we decided to make room on the program for two "mini-plenaries," one on each of these topics, with each session having two speakers. The reward processing plenary will feature Amy Arnsten from Yale speaking on dopamine in the prefrontal cortex, while Randy O'Reilly from University of Colorado at Boulder will talk about modeling learning in the context of reward processing. The mini-plenary on iPS cells will feature Ron McKay from the Lieber Institute and Ricardo Dolmetsch from Stanford talking about schizophrenia and autism, respectively.  

            Plans for Philadelphia will continue to evolve in the coming months but, as the material above indicates, the Program Committee has been working hard for the past year to shape the Annual Meeting. In this column I have focused on the plenary sessions, one product of the Committee's efforts; future column will focus on other products, including symposia and on the many other activities planned for the meeting. I hope that by telling you about the outstanding plenary speakers that we have, and the interesting topics that they will address, I have piqued your interest. See you in Philadelphia!

 

Ellen Leibenluft, M.D.

Chair, Program Committee   

 

2012 Annual Meeting - Important Announcements 

 

Society of Biological Psychiatry's 67th Annual Meeting

May 3-5, 2012

Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 

  
Important Dates 

February 13, 2012 - Late Breaking Abstract Submission Opens

February 29, 2012 - Late Breaking Abstracts Due

April 20, 2012 - Registration Closes


Meeting registration and hotel reservations now open
Visit www.sobp.org for additional information

 

For questions, email sobp@sobp.org. 


Election Update
Congratulations to your new officers, elected October 2011:

       President (2012-2013)
Scott L. Rauch, MD

Councilor-at-Large (2011-2014)
Linda L. Carpenter, MD
 
Constitution and By-Laws
Changes to the Constitution and By-Laws were approved.  A few of the major changes:
  1. A new Student Member category has been created.  This category will address the needs of students who want to become a member of the Society. 
  2. The Corresponding Member category has been eliminated.  Members living outside North America may continue to join as a Regular Member of the Society.  Current Corresponding Members may convert their membership to a Regular Member.    
  3. Memberships will be reviewed and approved on a more frequent basis allowing new members to quickly become engaged with the Society.      
Welcome New Members
Please welcome the following new members to the Society, approved January 1, 2012

Scott Aaronson - Sheppard Pratt Health System

Monica Aas - Oslo University Hospital HF

Janet Alder - UMDNJ - RWJMS

Joshua Baruth - Mayo Clinic

Hsun-Hua Chou - UCSD

Alan Cross - AstraZeneca

Mark Day - Abbott Labs

Carl Ernst - McGill University

Jennifer Felger - Emory University

Samantha Fung - University of New South Wales

Wen-Jun Gao - Drexel University College of Medicine

Yonglin Gao - University of Louisville

Subroto Ghose - UT Southwestern Medical Center

Handan Gunduz-Bruce - Yale University

Clement Hamani - Toronto Western Hospital

Sheilagh Hodgins - Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London

Matthew Hoptman - Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research

Hsien-Sung Huang - UNC-Chapel Hill

Irene Hurford - University of Pennsylvania

Georg Juckel Ruhr - University Bochum

Jürgen Kayser - New York State Psychiatric Institute

Nora Kerekes - University of Gothenburg

Gitte Knudsen - Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital

Arati Kreibich - University of Pennsylvania

Sagar Lavania - Medical Council of Indial

Daniela Lobo - CAMH

Sean Luo - Columbia University

Mohammed Milad - Harvard University - Mass General

Holly Moore - Columbia University

Howard Moss - NIH

Sanjib Mukherjee - Scoot and White Hospital

Giovanna Musso - The Zucker Hillside Hospital

Thomas Nilsson - University of Gothenburg

Doris Payer - Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Ana Pinheiro - Harvard University

Stéphane Potvin - University of Montreal

Marianne Seney - University of Pittsburgh

Matthew Shane - The MIND Research Network

Hideaki Suzuki - Tohuko University Graduate School

KatalinSzanto - University of Pittsburgh

Odile van den Heuvel - VU University Medical Center

Ani Vora - University of Iowa

Ina Weiner - Tel Aviv University

Roman Willi - F. Hoffmann-LaRoche Ltd

Ming Xiang - University of Florida

Hidenori Yamasue - University of Tokyo


If you are interested in joining the Society please visit www.sobp.org or email sobp@sobp.org.  We will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the Society or find a sponsor for your application. 
Biological Psychiatry 2011 Update

The annual totals are in, confirming that 2011 was a productive and record-setting year for Biological Psychiatry. We received 2098 new submissions, our highest ever, and an additional 492 revisions. The editors issued 2481 decisions, with an editorial rejection rate of 46% for new submissions. With the help of our reviewers, 372 papers were ultimately accepted.

 

We are now busy selecting the finalists for the Society's 2012 Ziskind-Somerfeld Research Award. The award was recently doubled from $2500 to $5000. Good luck to all!

 

John Krystal, MD - Editor, Biological Psychiatry  

Journal Updates

 

Journal Cover

Important Findings Published in Biological Psychiatry

By Caleb M. Adler, MD.  

 

October 15, 2011

 

Commentary by Jacqueline F. McGinty and John E. Mendelson

D'Sa C, Fox HC, Hong AK, et al (2011). Increased serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor is predictive of cocaine relapse outcomes: a prospective study. Biol Psychiatry 70:706-711

The authors obtained three serial samples of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) from a cohort of 3-week abstinent inpatients with cocaine dependence. They found that concentrations of BDNF were elevated in the cocaine users, compared with a group of healthy controls. After following the patients for up to 90 days, they found that higher serum levels of BDNF were predictive of shorter times to relapse and greater cocaine use. They suggest that BDNF may represent a biomarker for cocaine relapse. In the commentary, Drs. McGinty and Mendelson discuss the potential role of biomarkers in psychiatric research and treatment. They note that these findings warrant further follow-up studies of the relationship between BDNF and cocaine dependence.

 

Commentary by Arthur L. Brody and Ian A. Cook

Rose JE, McClernon FJ, Froeliger B, et al (2011). Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation of the superior frontal gyrus modulates craving for cigarettes. Biol Psychiatry 70:794-799

In this study, the authors report that high frequency (10 Hz) rTMS directed at the superior frontal gyrus (SFG) differentially affected craving in a group of smokers, compared with a low frequency (1 Hz) condition and rTMS directed at the motor cortex (control condition). Smokers described increased cravings in response to smoking cues with the high versus low frequency rTMS and the control condition, as well as decreased craving in response to neutral cues. With the high frequency rTMS, smokers also demonstrated smaller reductions in immediate craving with simulated cigarette exposure. These findings support suggestions that the SFG plays a role in drug-seeking behaviors. In the commentary, these findings are noted to be buttressed by neurobiological findings from a number of recent studies, and further avenues for research are suggested.

 

Commentary by Walter H. Kaye and Ursula F. Bailer

Gérard N, Pieters G, Goffin K, et al (2011). Brain type 1 cannabinoid receptor availability in patients with anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Biol Psychiatry 70:777-784

In the study described, Dr. Gérard and colleagues use positron emission tomography (PET) to study type 1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1R) in patients with anorexia (AN) and bulimia (BN) nervosa, as well as a group of healthy controls. Compared with healthy controls, patients with AN showed increased CB1R binding across both cortical and subcortical areas, as well as regional increases in the inferior frontal and temporal cortices; both patients with AN and those with BN showed increased receptor availability in the insula. Furthermore, binding in the superior temporal cortex of patients with AN correlated with the "drive for thinness" subscale of the Eating Disorder Inventory. In the commentary, these findings are placed in a larger neuroanatomical and physiological context- with particular emphasis on the possible integrative role being played by the insula. Although these findings cannot differentiate between cause and consequence with regard to the relationship between eating disorders and CB1R, the commentary notes that these findings provide new insights into suggestions that disturbances of reward and hedonic networks contribute to eating disorder behaviors.

 

November 1, 2011

 

Commentary by Randi Jenssen Hagerman

Bray S, Hirt M, Jo B, et al (2011). Aberrant Frontal Lobe Maturation in Adolescents with Fragile X Syndrome is Related to Delayed Cognitive Maturation. Biol Psychiatry 70:852-858

Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is a relatively common source of cognitive deficits linked to abnormalities in the fragile X mental retardation gene (FMR1). Although cognitive decline is typically first observed in childhood, deficits accelerate during adolescence and early adulthood. In this study, the authors used structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) to compare a group of patients with FXS and normally developing healthy controls; in addition to the cross-sectional analysis of age-related changes, the authors followed a subset of these individuals over one to five years. They observed significantly larger caudate volumes in subjects with FXS regardless of age, as well as evidence for age- and gender-related changes in prefrontal volume. Cognitive deficits showed a similar age-related trajectory, suggesting that these prefrontal changes are at least partially responsible for the cognitive decline observed in adolescent patients with FSX.

Hessl D, Wang JM, Schneider A, et al (2011). Decreased fragile x mental retardation protein expression underlies amygdala dysfunction in carriers of the fragile x premutation. Biol Psychiatry 70:859-865

In this study, the authors applied functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to a group of 23 men who carried the FMR1 premutation. These men showed smaller amygdala volumes, as well as decreased neuronal activation in response to an emotion processing task compared with a group of healthy controls. Decreased amygdala activity was associated with deficits in processing social communication and information. Further analysis found that reduced levels of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) were significantly associated with these decrements in amygdala activation. In the commentary, the findings from these two studies are linked and placed in the larger context of recent findings in FSX. Further, Dr. Hagerman observes that these findings emphasize the importance of intervening early in the disease process of FXS rather than after much of the neuropathology has occurred.

 

Commentary by C. Sue Carter and Eric C. Porges

Laurent HK, Stevens A, Ablow JC (2011). Neural correlates of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal regulation of mothers with their infants. Biol Psychiatry 70:826-832

Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis hormones have been widely implicated in parental response to child-related cues. In this study, the authors found a relationship between trajectories of HPA activity with induced stress in a group of new mothers. Lower levels of HPA axis reactivity were associated with increased neuronal activation during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in response to hearing the cry of their baby. Associations were observed in prefrontal and paralimbic regions previously found to be involved in empathy and mother-child interaction. The commentary places these findings within the larger history of attachment studies while emphasizing the many questions that remain unanswered.

 

November 15, 2011

 

Commentary by Holly Moore and Ezra Susser

Escobar M, Crouzin N, Cavalier M, et al (2011). Early, time-dependent disturbances of hippocampal synaptic transmission and plasticity after in utero immune challenge. Biol Psychiatry 70:992-999

A variety of prenatal stresses have been identified with increased risk for schizophrenia. Maternal immune activation (MIA) in rodents, using lipopolysaccharide (LPS) has been observed to give rise to cognitive deficits and psychosis-like outcomes in offspring. In this paper, the authors report on a series of electrophysiological experiments on the CA1 hippocampal region of pups whose dams had been exposed to LPS. The investigators report that long term depression (LTD) induced by low frequency stimulation is accelerated in these offspring, compared with normal developmental changes. Further, pharmacological characterization of the LTD suggests dependence on metabotropic glutamate and protein kinase A activation. LPS was found to be linked to other hippocampal receptor changes, as well. In the commentary, it is observed that these findings support suggestions that MIA may be related to changes in the regulation of hippocampal synaptic plasticity that carry potentially functional consequences. Drs. Moore and Susser note that these and similar findings have been suggested to have implications for the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. The commentary explores the challenges to this interpretation and areas that need to be further investigated to clarify this potential link.

 

Commentary by Ryoko Hiroi and John F. Neumaier

Zeidan MA, Igoe SA, Linnman C, et al (2011). Estradiol modulates medial prefrontal cortex and amygdala activity during fear extinction in women and female rats. Biol Psychiatry 70:920-927

In this study, the authors utilized linked preclinical and clinical studies to investigate the role of estradiol in fear extinction. Administration of an estrogen receptor beta agonist and estradiol to rodents was associated with effects on extinction recall and memory consolidation, respectively. Estradiol was also associated with increased c-fos expression in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and decreased expression in the amygdala. In women, natural variations in estradiol were similarly associated with modulation of extinction recall and activity in the vmPFC. In the commentary, Drs. Hiroi and Neumaier discuss the complicated role of estrogen in fear learning and extinction, and the potential clinical implications of recent research.

 

Commentary by Hedy Kober and Kevin N. Ochsner

Light SN, Heller AS, Johnstone T, et al (2011). Reduced right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activity while inhibiting positive affect is associated with improvement in hedonic capacity after 8 weeks of antidepressant treatment in major depressive disorder. Biol Psychiatry 70:962-968

In this study, groups of healthy and depressed subjects (diagnosed with major depressive disorder) participated in fMRI scans during which they viewed positively valenced pictures. Subjects were instructed to inhibit their emotional responses to some of the pictures. All subjects showed increased activity in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) during emotional inhibition. In depressed subjects, RVLPFC activation contributed to changes in ratings on a measure of anhedonia- and lower levels of activation at baseline predicted greater reduction in anhedonia over eight weeks of treatment with an antidepressant. In the commentary, Drs. Kober and Ochsner put these findings into the larger context of recent studies of emotional regulation. While noting the importance of these findings, they suggest that some questions remain with regard to their interpretation; the commentary explores some possible alternatives.

 

December 1, 2011

 

Commentary by Christopher Pittenger

Shanahan NA, Velez LP, Masten VL, et al (2011). Essential Role for Orbitofrontal Serotonin 1B Receptors in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder-Like Behavior and Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Response in Mice. Biol Psychiatry 70:1039-1048

In this study the authors further exam a rodent model of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) involving the administration of a serotonin 1B receptor (5-HT1BR) agonist. They have previously observed that serotonin reuptake inhibitors clinically useful in treating OCD moderate the OCD-like effects of 5-HT1BR agonists. In this study, the authors demonstrated that clomipramine, an effective treatment for OCD, but not desipramine moderated the effects of a 5-HT1BR agonist as well as down regulating 5-HT1BR expression in the orbitofrontal cortex- a brain region hypothesized to be involved in OCD symptomatology. Furthermore, infra-orbital administration of a 5-HT1BR agonist induced OCD-like symptoms, while infra-orbital administration of a 5HT1BR antagonist blocked the effects of 5-HT1BR agonist administration. These findings were discussed in the commentary, and while some potential interpretative concerns were raised, the commentary author noted the importance of these findings in working toward a valid animal model of OCD.

 

Commentary by Jennifer C. Britton and Scott L. Rauch

Fox E, Zougkou K, Ridgewell A, et al (2011). The serotonin transporter gene alters sensitivity to attention bias modification: evidence for a plasticity gene. Biol Psychiatry 70:1049-1054

The authors found that carriers of the low expression form of the 4-HTTLPR gene showed stronger biases for both negative and positive stimuli after training with an attention bias modification technique, compared with carriers of the high expression form. The finding that allelic variation in the promoter region may modify attentional bias in an emotionally agnostic way suggests that increased sensitivity in carriers of the low expression form to stressful life events may be related to a general predisposition to altered attentional bias rather than a specific vulnerability. The commentary expands on these findings and notes their implications for treatment of relevant psychiatric disorders.

 

Commentary by Caitlin E. McOrnish and Jay A Gingrich

Benekareddy M, Vadodaria KC, Nair AR, et al (2011). Postnatal Serotonin Type 2 Receptor Blockade Prevents the Emergence of Anxiety Behavior, Dysregulated Stress-Induced Immediate Early Gene Responses, and Specific Transcriptional Changes that Arise Following Early Life Stress. Biol Psychiatry 70:1024-1032

The authors have previously observed that early maternal separation in rodents is associated with changes in 5-HT2 receptor function and anxiety-like adult phenotypes. In this study, the authors treated these stressed pups with ketanserin, a 5-HT2 receptor antagonist. They found that the receptor antagonist blocked stress-induced patterns of gene expression and 5-HT2A receptor messenger RNA expression. In addition, treated rodents did not demonstrate the long-term effects of maternal separation on anxiety behaviors. In the commentary, Drs. McOrnish and Gingrich place these findings in a larger context and emphasize the clinical importance of better understanding the developmental origins of neuropsychiatric disorders.

 

December 15, 2011

 

Commentary by Judith Rapoport and Kwangmi Ahn

Rees E, Moskvina V, Owen MJ, et al (2011). De novo rates and selection of schizophrenia-associated copy number variants. Biol Psychiatry 70:1109-1114

The authors endeavored to calculate the selection rate for several large copy number variants (CNVs) that have been implicated in the pathogenesis of schizophrenia and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Using a literature search, they determined the rate of these CNVs in the general population and of their de novo appearance. The authors found that all of these CMVs were under a high selection pressure, and estimated that all of these CMVs disappeared from the population in an average of less than five generations; some persisted less than two generations. They conclude that these risk-related CMVs show a high rate of de novo appearance.

 

Melhem N, Middleton F, McFadden K, et al (2011). Copy number variants for schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders in oceanic palau: risk and transmission in extended pedigrees. Biol Psychiatry 70:1115-1121

The authors studied CNVs associated with schizophrenia in a restricted population sample, from the island of Palau. The extended pedigrees available from this somewhat isolated population allowed them to confirm the association between several CMVs and psychopathology, as well as identify some novel variants. The authors note that the majority of the CMVs show incomplete penetrance and arise de novo in the population. Other CMVs however, particularly two potentially associated with sex-dependent risk appear to be present in the population over multiple generations. The commentary observes the importance of replicating CMV studies in more diverse population samples and echoes the manuscript in noting both the advantages and disadvantages of studying more insular groups. These findings are integrated with those of Rees and colleagues to extend our understanding of the role that CMVs may play in schizophrenia while also highlighting the non-specific nature of their impact on potential psychopathology. Finally, ideas for further research are described.

 

Commentary by Paul C. Fletcher

Zandbelt BB, van Buuren M, Kahn RS, et al (2011). Reduced proactive inhibition in schizophrenia is related to corticostriatal dysfunction and poor working memory. Biol Psychiatry 70:1151-1158

The authors utilize fMRI to examine both proactive and reactive inhibition in groups of schizophrenic patients, unaffected siblings and healthy controls. Proactive inhibition was impaired in schizophrenic patients, and to a lesser degree in unaffected siblings. This impairment was associated with decreased activity in several regions including portions of the prefrontal cortex, striatum, and temporoparietal junction. In contrast, the authors found no differences in reactive inhibition, or in associated functional activation. Working memory abilities in the schizophrenic patients correlated with proactive inhibition, and inversely correlated with reductions in activation across several brain regions.

 

Anticevic A, Repovs G, Corlett PR, et al (2011). Negative and nonemotional interference with visual working memory in schizophrenia. Biol Psychiatry 70:1159-1168

In this paper, the authors describe differences in the effects of distracting stimuli between patients with schizophrenia and healthy controls. Subjects were shown negative, neutral and task-related distractors during a working memory task. Patients with schizophrenia demonstrated a different pattern of brain activation in response to distractors, including increased response to non-emotional stimuli- suggesting problems with cognitive filtering. The authors observe that these findings are consistent with suggestions that schizophrenia is associated with deficits in salience processing. The commentary notes that taken in tandem with the work of Zandbelt and colleagues, these findings suggest that patients with schizophrenia show difficulties optimizing inhibitory processes. The commentary further notes the presence of decreased activity in the right prefrontal cortex across both studies. The implications of these finding for both the pathophysiology of schizophrenia and potential iPhone games are further explored.

 

Commentary by Martin P. van den Heuvel and René S. Kahn

Hinkley LB, Vinogradov S, Guggisberg AG, et al (2011). Clinical symptoms and alpha band resting-state functional connectivity imaging in patients with schizophrenia: implications for novel approaches to treatment. Biol Psychiatry 70:1134-1142

In this study, 30 patients with schizophrenia and 15 healthy controls participated in magnetoencephalography (MEG). The authors examined functional connectivity between brain regions and the remainder of the brain. Differences in connectivity were observed in several regions hypothesized to contribute to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Both the right superior temporal and left prefrontal cortex (PFC) showed decreased connectivity; the latter was associated with negative symptoms. In contrast, midline PFC functional connectivity inversely correlated with positive symptoms. Increased connectivity was observed in the left extrastriate and right inferior PFC; the latter associated with cognitive symptoms. The commentary places these findings in a larger context, and notes the importance of tying abnormal connectivity to clinical symptomatology.

   

January 1, 2012

 

Commentary by Ian H. Gotlib and J. Paul Hamilton

Glahn DC, Curran JE, Winkler AM, et al (2011). High dimensional endophenotype ranking in the search for major depression risk genes. Biol Psychiatry 71:6-14

The authors describe their application of endophenotype ranking value (ERV) to a large sample of previously studied individuals with well-defined pedigrees. The ERV combines the heritability of a putative endophenotype with the heritability of the associated illness and their genetic correlation to derive a value reflecting the genetic utility of a given endophenotype. The authors found top-ranked endophenotypes to be bilateral ventral encephalon size, score on the Beck depression inventory (BDI), and expression levels of the RNF123 transcript- RNF123 may be involved in hippocampal neurogenesis. At least near genome-wide significant quantitative trait loci (QTL) were identified for the presence of major depressive disorder (MDD) and the bilateral ventral encephalon. In addition, a bivariate linkage analysis suggested a pleiotropic effect on RNF-123 and MDD status of the former QTL. The commentary emphasizes the potential advantages of using ERV to select pertinent endophenotypes and discusses the findings in light of endophenotype characterization and the current understanding of depression.

 

Commentary by Robert Dantzer

Copeland WE, Shanahan L, Worthman C, et al (2011). Cumulative depression episodes predict later C-reactive protein levels: a prospective analysis. Biol Psychiatry 71:15-21

Although the association between depression and some markers of inflammation is long-standing, clarification of priority has been elusive. Cross-sectional studies do not answer whether depression precedes inflammation, or the reverse. In this paper, the authors describe a longitudinal study designed to address this question. They found that in children and adolescents followed up to age 21, depression symptoms, diagnoses and number of episodes predicted levels of C - reactive protein (CRP). The authors note that these findings suggest that the origins of some later, inflammation-related illnesses may lie in childhood emotional states. In the commentary, this study is placed in the context of previous psychoneuroimmunology/immunoneuropsychology research, and other potential implications of these data are discussed.

 

 
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