News and Commentary Archive

Explore recent scientific discoveries and news as well as CLBB events, commentary, and press.

Mission

The speed of technology in neuroscience as it impacts ethical and just decisions in the legal system needs to be understood by lawyers, judges, public policy makers, and the general public. The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior is an academic and professional resource for the education, research, and understanding of neuroscience and the law. Read more

Gating Deficit Heritability and Correlation With Increased Clinical Severity in Schizophrenia Patients With Positive Family History

By Tiffany A. Greenwood, Gregory A. Light, Neal R. Swerdlow, Monica E. Calkins, Michael F. Green, Raquel E. Gur, Ruben C. Gur, Laura C. Lazzeroni, Keith H. Nuechterlein, Ann Olincy, Allen D. Radant, Larry J. Seidman, Larry J. Siever, Jeremy M. Silverman, William S. Stone, Catherine A. Sugar, Debby W. Tsuang, Ming T. Tsuang, Bruce I. Turetsky, Robert Freedman, and David L. Braff | The American Journal of Psychiatry | August 10, 2015

Abstract:

Method:

A total of 296 nuclear families consisting of a schizophrenia proband, at least one unaffected sibling, and both parents underwent a comprehensive endophenotype and clinical characterization. The Family Interview for Genetic Studies was administered to all participants and used to obtain convergent psychiatric symptom information for additional first-degree relatives. Among the families, 97 were multiply affected, and 96 were singletons.

Results:

Both PPI and P50 gating displayed substantially increased heritability in the 97 multiply affected families (47% and 36%, respectively) compared with estimates derived from the entire sample of 296 families (29% and 20%, respectively). However, no evidence for heritability was observed for either measure in the 96 singleton families. Schizophrenia probands derived from the multiply affected families also displayed a significantly increased severity of clinical symptoms compared with those from singleton families.

Conclusions:

Clinical Approach to the Differential Diagnosis Between Behavioral Variant Frontotemporal Dementia and Primary Psychiatric Disorders

By Simon Ducharme, Bruce H. Price, Mykol Larvie, Darin D. Dougherty, and Bradford C. Dickerson | American Journal of Psychiatry | September 1, 2015

Summary:

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) describes a heterogeneous group of neurodegenerative diseases featuring various combinations of behavioral changes, language abnormalities, social cognitive impairment, and executive function deficits. FTD is divided into two major clinical syndromes: the behavioral variant (bvFTD) (1) and the language variants referred to as primary progressive aphasias (2).

Identifying bvFTD is challenging because symptoms can be subtle in the early stages, and they may combine features that are traditionally within the realm of psychiatry (e.g., personality changes, lack of empathy, compulsions) and others usually seen by neurologists (e.g., aphasia, cognitive impairments). Patients are often first evaluated in general psychiatric settings, and about 50% are initially diagnosed with a primary psychiatric illness (3).

Knowledge about FTD has grown exponentially over the past 10 years, and it is crucial for psychiatrists to include bvFTD as part of their differential diagnosis in a wide range of adult psychiatric disorders. In this article, we review the clinical approach to bvFTD, focusing in particular on the differential diagnosis between bvFTD and primary psychiatric disorders.

Read the full paper here.

Cortical Thinning, Functional Connectivity, and Mood-Related Impulsivity in Schizophrenia: Relationship to Aggressive Attitudes and Behavior

By MJ Hoptman, D Antonius, CJ Mauro, EM Parker & DC Javitt | American Journal of Psychiatry | July 2014

Abstract:

Objective: Aggression in schizophrenia is a major societal issue, leading to physical harm, stigmatization, patient distress, and higher health care costs. Impulsivity is associated with aggression in schizophrenia, but it is multidetermined. The subconstruct of urgency is likely to play an important role in this aggression, with positive urgency referring to rash action in the context of positive emotion, and negative urgency referring to rash action in the context of negative emotion.

Method: The authors examined urgency and its neural correlates in 33 patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and 31 healthy comparison subjects. Urgency was measured using the Urgency, Premeditation, Perseverance, and Sensation-Seeking scale. Aggressive attitudes were measured using the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire. Continue reading »