This Week’s Top 5 Psychology News

I bet there are many of you out there who are fond of reading psychology news. So, here is my top 5 picks that enjoyed reading this week.

1.) Smaller Hippocampus Linked to Mayor Depression

In a global study conducted by ENIGMA and BMRI (Brain and Mind Research Institute), analyzed magnetic resonance imaging of 1,728 participants with mayor depression and 7,199 who are healthy. The data collected came from Australia, U.S., and Europe. They found those who suffered from mayor depression had a smaller hippocampus.

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Image from:

2.) Brain’s Outer Surface is Tied to Genetic Heritage

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego and the School of Medicine conducted a study that discovered the cerebral cortex correlates with ancestral background. The four populations used were European, West African, Native American and East Asian. Using an imaging software called FreeSurfer the team analyzed genetic and neuroimaging data from 562 children aged 12 years and older. They found that the cortical patterns varied on ancestral lineages.

3.) Smoking May Lead to Schizophrenia

A research team from King’s College London studied data of 14,555 smokers and 273,162 non-smokers. The information suggested that 57% of people with psychosis were already smokers when they had their first psychotic episode and that daily smokers were twice as likely to develop schizophrenia. Using 61 different studies on nicotine in cigarettes, they found that it may me altering the brain because nicotine changes dopamine levels. The majority of smokers do not develop schizophrenia, but the researchers believe smoking increases the risk. The team says this is a strong case study, but clinical studies should be conducted for concrete evidence.

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Image from:

4.) The Brain Can Be Harmed By Chronic Pain

A research Team from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine discovered that individuals suffering with long term chronic pain failed to deactivate the cortex associated with emotion, wearing out their neurons. They found that all the regions in the brain are constantly in a state of equilibrium. When one region activates, the other settles down, but in chronic pain sufferers, the frontal region of the cortex mostly associated with emotion never turns off. The team used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of individuals with chronic pain and pain-free volunteers. The participants tracked a moving bar on a computer screen. The pain-free group, activated and deactivated different brain regions to maintain equilibrium. While the chronic pain group did not successfully maintain equilibrium.

5.) New Spectrum Disorder: ALPIM syndrome

Jeremy D. Coplan and his team at SUNY Downstate Medical Center documented a correlation between panic disorder and four domains of physical illness. Patients who have illnesses that are not detectable medically may have a genetic propensity to develop real illnesses.

ALPIM stands for: A = Anxiety disorder / L = Ligamentous laxity / P = Pain  / I = Immune disorders / M = Mood disorders

This study documented high cases of physical disorders among patients with panic disorder compared to the general population. For example the investigators found that the joint laxity was at 59.3% compared to the 15% in the general population. This research could alter how the medical world view illnesses. Instead of seeing independent conditions in a person it can be viewed as a single spectrum disorder.


Catharine Paddock. (2015.) Major depression tied to smaller hippocampus.

James Gallagher. (2015). Smoking ‘may play schizophrenia role’.

MedicalXpress. (2015). Researchers identify new spectrum disorder called ALPIM syndrome.

ScienceDaily. (2015). A new wrinkle: Geometry of brain’s outer surface correlates with genetic heritage.

ScienceDaily. (2015). Chronic Pain Harms The Brain.

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