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Science News from 2015

Biotypes MRI
Biomarkers Outperform Symptoms in Parsing Psychosis Subgroups

Three biomarker-based categories, called “biotypes,” outperformed traditional diagnoses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder with psychosis, in sorting psychosis cases into distinct subgroups on the basis of brain biology

illustration of neurons firing in brain
Biomarker for Brain Excitability May Help Track Medication Effect

NIMH scientists have recently discovered a link between order in the activity of neurons in the brain and excitability—how likely it is that individual neurons will “fire”— which may provide a means for monitoring treatment of conditions like epilepsy that would be less invasive and thus more versatile than current methods

Side view of large model of human brain
NIH-supported NeuroBioBank Joins Autism BrainNet in Brain Donation Initiative

Two of the world’s largest brain tissue banks unify efforts to collect and distribute a critical number of brain donations for important autism research.

doctor interviewing patient
Combating Early Death in People with Serious Mental Illness

Recent articles in JAMA Psychiatry report and comment on the premature mortality seen among adults with schizophrenia; NIMH research is underway to reduce health risk factors in people with serious mental illness.

Medicaid CMS logo
Federal Agencies Partner to Promote Coordinated Services for Patients with First Episode Psychosis

On October 16, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced support for a new treatment for first episode psychosis called coordinated specialty care (CSC). This decision means more clinics may be able to offer CSC and it may become more readily available.

NIMH Twitter Chat
Twitter Chat on Sports-Related Head Injury and Cognitive Decline

Twitter chat on the symptoms, treatments, and research on sports-related head injury and cognitive decline.

Antipsychotics use among older adults increases with age
Antipsychotics Use Among Older Adults Increases with Age

Researchers find antipsychotic use among older adults increases with age despite known health risks. In 2010, more than 3/4 of seniors receiving an antipsychotic prescription had no documented clinical psychiatric diagnosis during the year. In addition, among those who did have a diagnosed mental disorder and/or dementia, nearly half of the oldest patients had dementia, regardless of FDA warnings that antipsychotics increase mortality in people with dementia.

Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode
Team-based Treatment is Better for First Episode Psychosis

New research shows that a team-based, coordinated specialty care treatment plan produces better outcomes than typical community care for people with first episode psychosis. Investigators also found that treatment is most effective for people who receive care soon after psychotic symptoms begin.

Marlin - Lab TV video - featured
Blog, Video Spotlight NIMH Neuroscience Trainee

A recent NIH Director’s Blog and Lab TV video feature a young neuroscientist whose discoveries as a graduate student – about a key maternal behavior – were supported, in part, by a NIMH training grant.

NIMH Research Domain Criteria
Webinar: Facts and Myths about RDoC

On October 13, 2015, the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) Unit is hosting a webinar to answer the most frequently asked questions about the RDoC initiative.

NIMH Twitter Chat
Twitter Chat on Pediatric Bipolar Disorder

Learn about the signs, symptoms, and treatments for pediatric bipolar disorder during a Twitter chat with NIMH expert Dr. Ken Towbin on October 8. #NIMHchats

Smarts, life satisfaction, income and education levels – and other measures of success – were correlated with increased connectivity between certain areas of the brain while at rest.  These parts of the brain (yellow, red, brown) talked with each other more while higher-scoring participants weren’t doing anything in particular. Picture shows composite data from functional magnetic resonance imaging scans.
Our Brain’s Secrets to Success?

We owe our success -- both as a species and as individuals – to uniquely human brain wiring that is just now beginning to be understood, thanks to the BRAIN Initiative and the Human Connectome Project.

National Institute of Mental Health
National Suicide Prevention Month: Update 2015

In the year following the release of a Prioritized Research Agenda for Suicide Prevention by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Research Prioritization Task Force, NIMH has undertaken a series of initiatives aimed at reducing suicide rates within specific risk groups and settings. The goal is to identify through research the most effective strategies for preventing suicide, for the greatest number of people.

NIMH Research Domain Criteria
RDoC Joins the Twitterverse

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) Unit has launched its official account on Twitter, @NIMH_RDoC.

people walking along prison cells New NIH-Department of Justice Study
Embracing the SPIRIT of reducing suicide

NIMH, NIH, and the National Institute of Justice are collaborating on a 4-year, $6.8 million study called Suicide Prevention for at-Risk Individuals in Transition or “SPIRIT.” The study focuses on the high-risk individuals who are transitioning from jail to community. SPIRIT is NIMH’s first major investment in suicide prevention in the justice system.

OnTrackNY logo
Psychosis Treatment Program Expands in New York

New York expanded OnTrackNY, a treatment program for youth with psychosis which is an offshoot of one of the two NIMH-funded Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) studies.

Webinar World Map Blue
Webinar Series – Office for Research on Disparities and Global Mental Health

View the archived webinars with NIMH experts and grantees, which focus on training, research, and methodology

Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers (Army STARRS)
Attention-Control Video Game Curbs Combat Vets’ PTSD Symptoms

A video game that implicitly taught combat vets that threatening stimuli are irrelevant to performing their task reduced their PTSD symptoms.

three children holding hands
NIH Joins Public-Private Partnership to Fund Research on Autism Biomarkers

James McPartland, Ph.D. of Yale University will lead a new four-year $28 million Biomarkers Consortium project that aims to improve clinical evaluation of treatments for social impairment in children with autism.

postpartum depression video
NIH Joins with Women’s Organization to Debut Postpartum Depression Video

A new video about postpartum depression marks the launch of a mental health education collaboration by two NIH Institutes and one of the nation’s largest African-American women’s organizations.

NIMH Google+ Hangouts
Twitter Chat on Cancer and Psycho-Oncology

NIMH and NCI host a Twitter chat on how patients and caregivers, across all ages, can deal with the psychological impact of cancer.

young boys reading book
Boys More Likely to Have Antipsychotics Prescribed, Regardless of Age

Boys are more likely than girls to receive an antipsychotic prescription regardless of age, according to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

man sitting on a bench
Study May Help Department of Veterans Affairs Find Patients with High Risk of Suicide

Scientists used health data to identify very small groups of VHA patients with very high, predicted suicide risk. Such methods can help the VHA to target suicide prevention efforts for patients at high risk, and may have more wide-ranging benefits.

Neurons and supporting cells in the spheroids form layers and organize themselves according to the architecture of the developing human brain and network with each other.  Source: Sergiu Pasca, M.D., Stanford University
A Patient’s Budding Cortex -- in a Dish?

Scientists have perfected mini cultured 3-D structures that grow and function much like the outer mantle – the key working tissue, or cortex – of the brain of the person from whom they were derived.

Genotype-Tissue Expression Project chart shows locations for liver, heart and brain tissue within the human body
GTEx Findings Reveal New Insights into how DNA Differences Influence Gene Activity, Disease Susceptibility

Data resource begins to reveal how genetic variability influences key tissues in health and disease.

NIMH Research Domain Criteria
The NIMH Research Domain Criteria

NIMH’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) is a groundbreaking initiative designed to help bring precision medicine to mental illnesses.

illustration of the effect of DREADD (Designer Receptors Activated Exclusively by Designer Drugs) bidirectional remote control of a neuron in a mouse brain circuit
Souped-up Remote Control Switches Behaviors On-and-off in Mice

Neuroscientists have perfected a chemical-genetic remote control for brain circuitry and behavior.

Neuronal projections encoding negative (red) and positive (green) associations
Brain Circuitry for Positive vs Negative Memories Discovered in Mice

Neuroscientists have discovered brain circuitry for encoding positive and negative learned associations in mice.

Cover of the new report: Racial/Ethnic Differences in Mental Health Service Use Among Adults
A New Look at Racial/Ethnic Differences in Mental Health Service Use Among Adults

New report on mental health service use among racial/ethnic groups

NIMH Google+ Hangouts
NIMH Google+ Hangout on First-Episode Psychosis

NIMH Google+ Hangout on First-Episode Psychosis

Dr. Thomas Insel
Dr. Insel Reflects on Autism Awareness Month

Dr. Insel describes recent accomplishments related to autism spectrum disorder over the past year—from the reauthorization of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee to promising therapeutic results from clinical trials.

HIV infecting T-Cell
HIV Can Spread Early, Evolve in Patients’ Brains

HIV can replicate independently and early in the illness process, genetically evolving differently than in the periphery.

NIMH Strategic Plan for Research
New NIMH Strategic Plan Aims to Focus, Accelerate Mental Health Research

New NIMH Strategic Plan balances the need for long-term investments in basic research with urgent mental health needs.

SCAP Challenge graphic featured
NIH Announces Follow that Cell Challenge Finalists

NIH has selected 5 prize winners and 11 finalists in Phase 1 of its Follow that Cell Challenge, which aims to develop new ways to predict the behavior and function of a single cell in complex tissue over time.

Dr. Sarah H. Lisanby, M.D.
Lisanby Chosen to Lead NIMH Division of Translational Research

Dr. Sarah Hollingsworth Lisanby, one of the leading researchers in the area of neuromodulatory interventions for treating major depression, will join NIMH as the director of the Division of Translational Research.

National Institute of Mental Health
Pioneering NIMH Data Sharing

NIMH’s first major effort to share clinical trial research data—established before many current data registries existed—is still doing a brisk business.

NIMH Twitter Chat
NIMH Twitter Chat on Binge Eating Disorder

Twitter Chat on Binge Eating Disorder

double helix
Disorders Share Risk Gene Pathways for Immune, Epigenetic Regulation

Risk genes for different mental disorders work through same pathways

Webinar Suicide Prevention An Action Plan to Save Lives
Webinar Series - Suicide Prevention: An Action Plan to Save Lives

Suicide Prevention: An Action Plan to Save Lives

Memory circuit shift
Brain Recalls Old Memories via New Pathways

Brain retrieval circuitry shifts as fear memory ages