Pebbles I stumbled on this week (notables from the web)



A Chopin Nocturne...



FDA To Mine Big Databases For Safety Problems

from Pharmalot

The effort, called Sentinel Initiative,
will be the first time the FDA will have an opportunity to monitor
almost immediately how drugs are affecting the public. To do so, the
agency will mine databases of more than 20 million patients who receive
their drugs through Medicare. The idea, of course, is to catch side
effects that might otherwise go undetected for months or years.

Also covered at the Wall Street Journal Health Blog


A Musical Aptitude Section Of The Genome?

Molecular and statistical genetic studies in 15 Finnish families have shown that there is a substantial genetic component in musical aptitude.

Musical aptitude was determined using three tests: a test for auditory structuring ability (Karma Music test), and the Seashore pitch and time discrimination subtests. The study represents the first systematic molecular genetic study that aims in the identification of candidate genes associated with musical aptitude.

File this under "Interesting if true" -- or what scientists call "needs replication."



As General Surgery Ranks Dwindle, Patients May Suffer



Sexual Dysfunction On Anti-Depressants Higher Than Thought, Longer Lasting

from Furious Seasons by

Thanks to CL Psych who flagged this issue the other day and posted one academic paper acknowledging that not only are there weird problems such as genital anesthesia--such a polite term--connected with anti-depressant use in some cases, but that the rate of sexual dysfunction on the happy pills isn't very happy at all. In fact, it's much higher than doctors have commonly assumed and than pharma companies have been willing to admit.

Dawdy -- a fearless chronicler of others' and his own experience with depression and antidepressants -- notes that he himself experienced no sexual side-effects.



The shifting sands of the 'autism epidemic'

The Economist has a short but telling article on whether the so-called 'autism epidemic', occasionally touted in the media, may simply be a change in how developmental problems are diagnosed.

It covers a new study that did something really simple - it tracked down 38 people who, years ago, had been diagnosed with a delay in language and re-assessed them using the latest diagnostic interviews.


More like this

Really?! Come on... Molecular and statistical genetic studies in 15 Finnish families have shown that there is a substantial genetic component in musical aptitude. Musical aptitude was determined using three tests: a test for auditory structuring ability (Karma Music test), and the Seashore pitch…
The evidentiary landscape regarding antidepressant efficacy seems to grow ever more slippery. Now comes a study, drawn to my attention by the busy-eyed Philip Dawdy at Furious Seasons, that finds that the beneficial effects of placebo treatment of depression last longer than generally thought. As…
This post over at Neuroskeptic reignites a debate -- if it ever really stopped -- as to the role of impaired adult neurogenesis in causing depression and the function of anti-depressants in stimulating neurogenesis to treat the disease. This is one of those hot topics in neuroscience. If you…
Philip Dawdy takes a interesting look at a new study of the safety of placebo arms in clinical trials of antidepressants in teens. My own quick scan of the study [which Dawdy makes available as pdf download] suggests it's full of great nuggets. Its take-home: Placebo treatments produced remission…