NIMH researchers have produced the first direct evidence that parts of our brains implicated in mental disorders may be shaped by a “residual echo” from our ancient past. The more a person’s genome carries genetic vestiges of Neanderthals, the more certain parts of his or her brain and skull resemble those of humans’ evolutionary cousins that went extinct 40,000 years ago, says NIMH’s Karen Berman, M.D. In particular, the parts of our brains that enable us to use tools and visualize and locate objects owe some of their lineage to Neanderthal-derived gene variants that are part of our genomes and affect the shape of those structures- to the extent that an individual harbors the ancient variants. But this may involve trade-offs with our social brain. The evidence from MRI scans suggests that such Neanderthal-derived genetic variation may affect the way our brains work today- and may hold clues to understanding deficits seen in schizophrenia and autism-related disorders, say the researchers. Read more about this study here!
Hospitalizations involving opioid pain relievers and heroin increased 75 percent for women between 2005 and 2014, a jump that significantly outpaced the 55 percent increase among men, according to a new report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Because of the accelerated rates among women during that 10-year period, women and men were hospitalized at virtually the same rate nationwide in 2014 – about 225 hospitalizations per 100,000 people, according to AHRQ’s analysis.
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The National Institute of Mental Health is currently recruiting participants for their upcoming research study that aims to understand the causes of depression in teenagers. This study is a part of a larger analysis that hopes to improve knowledge of which treatments are most beneficial in treating teenagers who are struggling with depression and severe irritability. The study will be held in Bethesda, Maryland and travel and expenses will be compensated. For more information and how to participate, please call 301-496-8381 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.