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


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


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


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


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, Adolf Hitler, Compulsory sterilization, Nazi Germany, Nazism, Nazi Party, Saar, Saarland


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


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


Mental illness, previous suicidal behavior and loss of a relative by suicide are strong risk factors for suicidality. Both mental illness and suicide are stigmatized, which is a burden for those affected and potentially contributes to suicidality among stigmatized individuals. Many consequences of stigma, e. g. social isolation, low self-esteem and hopelessness, are well-known predictors of suicidality. Interventions to reduce stigmatization might therefore be an important component of successful suicide prevention. This paper discusses the currently available knowledge regarding this hypothesis. Many studies confirmed the association between the stigmatization of mental illness and suicidality and there is initial evidence for the influence of suicide stigma and suicidality. Nevertheless, the effectiveness of anti-stigma interventions to reduce suicidality and prevent suicide has not yet been tested. Reducing stigma among members of the general population and mental health care professionals as well as programs to support individuals in coping with stigmatization could be important components of successful suicide prevention.

Concepts: Health care, Psychology, Mental health, Mental disorder, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Psychiatry, Suicide


The increasing migration of people from their homeland in far distant regions to Europe in the last few years has strongly influenced the rise of previously rarely seen diseases. They not only originate from the respective homeland but also from the transit countries during the migration process. We report the case of a 27-year-old male migrant from Eritrea, who after months of flight as a refugee travelling through various African countries, presented at our hospital with a progressive, painful radiculopathy. Whole spine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed a focus located in the myelon, extending from T11 to the medullary conus. The differential diagnostic clarification ultimately revealed an infection with Schistosoma mansoni. After guideline-conform treatment with praziquantel for 3 days and additional administration of corticosteroids for 3 months, a slow regression of the findings and improvement of the symptoms could be shown clinically and by MRI. This case study shows the importance of taking the medical history and that a closer look at the potential exposure in the homeland and transit countries should be of great benefit in reaching the diagnosis, especially in patients with a migration background.

Concepts: Africa, Medical imaging, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Schistosomiasis, Schistosoma mansoni, Magnetic resonance imaging


Despite a growing body of evidence on motor dysfunction in schizophrenia spectrum disorders, the neuronal correlates of genuine motor abnormalities (GMA) are not fully elucidated at present. Moreover, the clinical relevance of a potential “motor intermediate phenotype” remains controversial. This systematic review aims at characterizing a "motor intermediate phenotype" in schizophrenia spectrum disorders. The second goal of this systematic review is to discuss GMA-associated brain alterations as potential biomarkers of psychosis risk syndrome and manifest motor symptoms against the background of current neuroimaging evidence. The detailed clinical assessment of GMA in the context of multimodal imaging could, in the future promote the early recognition of psychotic disorders and the initiation of disorder-oriented and individualized treatment. Taken as a whole the data provide initial evidence that motor dysfunction in schizophrenic spectrum disorders must be considered dimensionally. The predictive value of neurobiological results with respect to the transition to a life-threatening catatonia or the development of chronic dyskinesia, cannot currently be conclusively assessed.

Concepts: Schizophrenia, Hallucination, Psychosis, Delusion, Dopamine, Thought disorder, Schizoaffective disorder, Schizotypy