Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Der Nervenarzt


Spinocerebellar ataxias are genetically heterogeneous autosomal dominant ataxia disorders. To date more than 30 different subtypes are known. In Germany particularly SCA1, SCA2, SCA3 and SCA6 are prevalent, as well as the less frequent subtypes SCA5, SCA14, SCA15, SCA17 and SCA28. Genetic causes range from coding repeat expansions (polyglutamine diseases), to non-coding expansions as well as conventional mutations. In some subtypes the genetic background is currently unknown. Age of onset, typical clinical findings and geographic distribution may help to reach a correct diagnosis; however a definitive diagnosis requires molecular genetic testing.

Concepts: Ataxia, Evolution, Genetic disorder, Greek loanwords, Gene, Spinocerebellar ataxia, DNA, Genetics


Psychosocial interventions improve cognitive abilities (cognitive stimulation, cognitive training), enhance emotional well-being (activity planning, reminiscence), reduce behavioral symptoms (aromatherapy, music therapy) and promote everyday functioning (occupational therapy). Through these effects they reinforce and augment pharmacological treatments for dementia. In addition, psychosocial interventions complement the treatment of patients by supporting family caregivers (educational groups, support programs). The potential of psychosocial interventions in dementia needs to be explored further in studies using improved methodology to determine effective components, clinical relevance and duration of effects, predictors of individual treatment response and health-economic implications.

Concepts: Behaviorism, Music therapy, Perception, Psychiatry, Therapy, Family, Medicine, Psychology


Depressive disorders are common and lead to both individual suffering and high socioeconomic costs. Despite the fact that several effective therapies are available, remission is often not achieved. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can be a therapeutic option in these cases.

Concepts: Dysthymia, Classification of Pharmaco-Therapeutic Referrals, Self-harm, Electroconvulsive therapy, Suicide, Therapy, Medicine, Major depressive disorder


The Forensic Therapeutic Outpatient Clinic (FTA) in Berlin targets the professional aftercare treatment of classified high-risk violent and sexual offenders released from prison or forensic psychiatric hospitals.

Concepts: Deinstitutionalisation, Mental disorder, Involuntary commitment, Anti-psychiatry, Clinic, Psychiatry, Psychiatric hospital, Hospital


When the National Socialists (NS) came to power in 1933, the German health care system was reorganized according to the principles of eugenics. Neuropsychiatric patients were victims of compulsory sterilisation and “euthanasia”. As the Saar territory did not become part of the German Reich until the 1 March 1935, it is of special interest how quickly and completely NS health care policies were implemented.

Concepts: Medicine, Nazi Party, Adolf Hitler, Saar, Compulsory sterilization, Saarland, Nazi Germany, Nazism


Current international projections suggest that reducing the prevalence of seven well-established risk factors, midlife hypertension and obesity, diabetes mellitus, depression, physical inactivity, smoking and low educational attainment, may also substantially reduce the prevalence of Alzheimer’s dementia (AD).

Concepts: Metabolic syndrome, Childhood obesity, Myocardial infarction, Dementia, Stroke, Hypertension, Obesity, Diabetes mellitus


This article reviews the results of longitudinal studies on frontal brain volume reduction in patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders and focuses on the relationship with antipsychotic treatment. Based on a systematic literature search all studies were included in which results on changes of brain volumes over a longer period of time were correlated with antipsychotic treatment dose and disease severity. The findings indicate that there is evidence for grey and white matter volume changes of the frontal brain, which cannot be explained by the severity of the disease alone but are also very likely a manifestation of long-term effects of antipsychotics. Whether second generation antipsychotics have an advantage compared to first generation antipsychotics is currently unclear. Considering the contribution of antipsychotics to the changes in brain structure, which seem to depend on cumulative dosage and can exert adverse effects on neurocognition, negative and positive symptoms and psychosocial functioning, the guidelines for antipsychotic long-term drug treatment should be reconsidered. This is the reason why we and others recommend prescribing the lowest dose necessary to control symptoms. In non-schizophrenic psychiatric disorders, antipsychotics should be used only with great caution after a careful risk-benefit assessment. Moreover, treatment approaches which can help to minimize antipsychotic medication or even administer them only selectively are of increasing importance.

Concepts: Chlorpromazine, Psychosis, Clozapine, Psychiatry, Psychiatric medication, Antipsychotic, Atypical antipsychotic, Schizophrenia


Cranial nerve lesions require a thorough diagnostic work-up and known etiologies have to be excluded before the term idiopathic can be considered. The focus of the present review is on idiopathic peripheral facial nerve paralysis (Bell’s palsy) for which this terminology has been established. For all other cranial nerve lesions the typical clinical signs, established etiologies and possible diagnostic pitfalls are discussed.

Concepts: Neurological disorders, Solitary nucleus, Medical terms, Parotid gland, Time, Bell's palsy, Facial nerve, Cranial nerves


This article focusses on the possibilities, varieties, indications, and benefits of psychotherapy with elderly patients.

Concepts: Integrative body psychotherapy, Psychotherapy


Religion and spirituality (R/S) as empirically measurable and treatment-relevant variables are growing in significance in psychiatry and psychotherapy worldwide. In a survey conducted among physicians in charge of psychiatric residency training in Germany respondents were asked about the integration of R/S in their curricula. Data suggest that subjects (n = 285) attach considerable importance to R/S and especially to existential issues. The importance of R/S in psychiatric training is essentially linked to the trainers' personal views of the world and the corporate culture of the training centers. A possible selection bias and the need to integrate R/S in psychiatric training on the basis of scientific evidence and ethical considerations are discussed.

Concepts: Psychology, Psychotherapy, Medical education, Pathology, Physician, Scientific method, Religion, Medical school