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Science News from 2018

NIMH Explores the “Next Big Thing” in Mental Health Services Research

Institute Update

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)’s 24th biennial Mental Health Services Research (MHSR 2018) conference held August 1-2, in Rockville, MD, brought together mental health researchers, trainees, consumers, advocates, and mental health care providers to learn about current research findings and discuss new research that might close the gap between what science shows is most effective and what services people actually receive in real-world settings.

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NIMH Addresses Strategies for Suicide Prevention in Live Event

Institute Update

During NIMH’s Facebook Live event held in recognition of Suicide Prevention Week, NIMH Director Dr. Joshua Gordon and Dr. Jane Pearson, chair of the Suicide Research Consortium in NIMH’s Division of Services and Intervention Research, discussed some of the most recent suicide prevention research findings from NIMH, warning signs, and prevention strategies.

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The Pathways Through which Light Affects Learning and Mood

Science Update

In a new study, researchers have traced the brain pathways responsible for the effects of light on learning and mood. The findings revealed that these effects are brought about by two different and distinct pathways from the retina into the brain.

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NIH Greatly Expands Investment in BRAIN Initiative

Press Release

The National Institutes of Health announces funding of more than 200 new awards, totaling over $220 million, through the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, an exciting trans-agency effort to arm researchers with revolutionary tools to fundamentally understand the neural circuits that underlie the healthy and diseased brain.

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NIH Directors Address Chronic Pain and Opioid Crisis at Annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting

Science Update

On Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at a press conference at the Society for Neuroscience’s annual Meeting, National Institutes of Health directors will discuss how NIH is marshalling resources, primarily through the HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-term) Initiative, to come up with short- and long-term solutions for countering the pain and opioid crisis.

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NIH BRAIN Initiative Debuts Cell Census of Mouse Motor Cortex – for Starters

Press Release

NIH BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN) has debuted its first data release, which focuses on motor cortex. In a related development, researchers have discovered cellular secrets of key social behaviors – mating, parenting, and aggression – in mouse hypothalamus.

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Understanding the Brain Mechanisms of Irritability in Youth

Science Update

Researchers have identified differences in how the brains of irritable youth react to frustration, findings that could provide new paths for developing treatments for children and adolescents with severe irritability.

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NIMH Director Joshua Gordon and IRP Researcher Ellen Leibenluft Elected to the National Academy of Medicine

Institute Update

Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), and Ellen Leibenluft, M.D., chief of the Section on Mood Dysregulation and Neuroscience and co-chief of the Emotion and Development Branch in the NIMH Intramural Research Programs, have been elected as members of the National Academy of Medicine.

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Media Advisory: NIMH Researchers Available to Discuss the Suicide Prevention Research

Institute Update

For National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, NIMH Director Dr. Joshua Gordon and Dr. Jane Pearson, chair of the Suicide Research Consortium at the NIMH, are available for interviews on suicide prevention research, trends, and the findings and implications of recent studies.

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A Shorter—but Effective—Treatment for PTSD

Science Update

Research supported by the National Institute of Mental Health has shown that a shorter therapy (written exposure therapy) may be just as effective as lengthier first-line treatments for PTSD.

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Inflammation in Pregnant Moms Linked to Child’s Brain Development

Science Update

High levels of maternal inflammation during pregnancy have been linked to effects in children, including reduced brain circuit communications and altered long-distance brain wiring at birth, poorer cognitive function at one year – and to reduced impulse control and working memory at two years.

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“Covert” Neurofeedback Tunes-up the Social Brain in ASD

Science Update

Young people with autism unknowingly tuned up flagging neural connections by playing a picture puzzle game that was rigged by their own brain activity.

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New Toolkit Offers Ways to Evaluate Suicide Prevention Efforts in Arctic Communities

Science Update

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), in collaboration with the Mental Health Innovation Network and other federal partners, has released the RISING SUN toolkit to help clinicians, communities, policymakers, and researchers measure the impact and effectiveness of suicide prevention efforts in rural and tribal communities.

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Predicting Suicide Attempts and Suicide Deaths Using Electronic Health Records

Science Update

Researchers have developed a new prediction model that substantially outperforms existing self-report tools used to predict an individual’s risk of a suicide attempt or dying by suicide.

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Understanding Critical Components of the Brain’s Stress Circuitry

Science Update

A new study has revealed more about the organization and function of a brain structure—the paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus—that may serve a key role in linking stress detection to the development of adaptive behaviors.

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Targeted E-Health HIV Intervention Reduces STIs and Sexual Risk Behaviors

Science Update

Findings from a new study suggest an electronically delivered HIV prevention intervention may be effective in reducing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexual risk behaviors in young men who have sex with men.

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NIMH Releases Updates to its RDoC Framework

Institute Update

The Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) is a dynamic and continually developing framework for studying mental disorders. Now, the RDoC Unit has unveiled changes to the RDoC framework–a reorganization of content within the Positive Valence domain.

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Therapy Reduces Risk in Suicidal Youth

Science Update

A recent clinical trial of a psychotherapy called dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)—which has been shown to be effective in reducing suicide-related behavior in adults—showed that DBT can also reduce suicide attempts and suicidal behavior in adolescents.

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Intervention Shows Promise for Treating Depression in Preschool-Aged Children

Press Release

Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have shown that a therapy-based treatment for disruptive behavioral disorders can be adapted and used as an effective treatment option for early childhood depression.

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Delay in HIV Treatment Associated with Brain Atrophy

Science Update

People infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, known as HIV, display reductions in brain volume compared with people who are not infected with HIV, but now an NIMH-funded study has shed light on the course of this deterioration and shows that antiretroviral treatment started in the first few years of infection may stop these brain changes.

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Suicide: How You Can Make a Difference

Science Update

The recent deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have brought the topic of suicide into everyday conversations. It’s important to know some facts and to know what to do if you think someone might be at risk for self-harm.

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Bigger Human Brain Prioritizes Thinking Hub – at a Cost

Press Release

Scientists have discovered that bigger human brains are organized differently than smaller ones.

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Inherited Variations in Noncoding Sections of DNA Associated with Autism

Science Update

A new study has identified an association between paternally-inherited rare structural variants in noncoding segments of genes and the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The study adds to a growing body of research describing genetic contributors to ASD.

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Age-Related Racial Disparity in Suicide Rates Among U.S. Youth

Press Release

Researchers have discovered an age-related racial disparity in suicide rates for U.S. youth between the ages of 5 and 17. The findings suggest a need for more research into contributing factors and targeted interventions for children.

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NIMH Conference to Explore Mental Health Services Research

Institute Update

On August 1-2, 2018, the NIMH is hosting the 24th Mental Health Services Research (MHSR) Conference with the theme: What’s the Next Big Thing? The conference aims to promote high-priority areas in mental health services research and identify opportunities with potential for significant impact for people with mental disorders.

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New Processing Technique Helps Researchers Use Electronic Health Records to Study Biological Contributors to Mental Illnesses

Science Update

Researchers have found a way to scan electronic health records that helps identify associations between broad RDoC-based dimensions of behavioral function and biological contributors to mental illnesses.

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NIMH to Host Twitter Chat on Teen Depression

Institute Update

On May 3, 2018, join NIMH for a Twitter chat on teen depression with experts Dr. Argyris Stringaris and Dr. Ken Towbin.

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Hubs Help Native American Communities Address Youth Suicide

Science Update

Three NIMH-funded collaborative research hubs are exploring the factors behind the high suicide rates among American Indian (AI) and Alaska Native (AN) youth and designing and testing approaches to preventing suicide.

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Suspect Molecules Overlap in Autism, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder

Science Update

Depression, schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder share some of the same patterns of suspect gene expression – molecular signatures.

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NIMH’s Dr. Ann Wagner Designated as the National Autism Coordinator

Institute Update

NIMH’s Dr. Ann Wagner has been designed as the National Autism Coordinator. In this role, she will play a vital role in ensuring the implementation of national autism spectrum disorder research, services, and support activities across federal agencies.

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Seasonal Affective Disorder

Science Update

On February 20, 2018, join NIMH for a Twitter chat on Seasonal Affective Disorder with expert Dr. Matthew Rudorfer.

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NIH Releases First Dataset from Unprecedented Study of Adolescent Brain Development

Press Release

The National Institutes of Health released to the scientific community an unparalleled dataset from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study.

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Mental Illnesses by the Numbers

Science Update

Redesigned web section adds interactive tools, sharing features.

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Molecular Secrets Revealed: Antipsychotic Docked in its Receptor

Press Release

Scientists have deciphered the molecular structure of a widely-prescribed antipsychotic docked in its key human brain receptor. The discovery may hold clues to designing better treatments for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses.

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Memory Gene Goes Viral

Press Release

A gene crucial for learning can send its genetic material from one neuron to another by employing a strategy commonly used by viruses.

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Intramural Researchers Develop Suicide Risk Screening Toolkit for Medical Settings

Science Update

NIMH researchers have developed a brief screening questionnaire for medical professionals to identify youth at risk for suicide.

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