Background: Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterised by abnormal fear and anxiety in social situations. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a brain imaging technique that can be used to illustrate neural activation to emotionally salient stimuli. However, no attempt has yet been made to statistically collate fMRI studies of brain activation, using the activation likelihood-estimate technique, in response to emotion recognition tasks in individuals with social anxiety disorder. Methods: A systematic search of fMRI studies of neural responses to socially (...) emotive cues in SAD and GSP was undertaken. Activation likelihood-estimate (ALE) meta-analysis, a voxel based meta-analytic technique, was used to estimate the most significant activations during emotional recognition. Results: 7 studies were eligible for inclusion in the meta-analysis, constituting a total of 91 subjects with SAD or GSP, and 93 healthy controls. The most significant areas of activation during emotional recognition versus neutral stimuli in individuals with social anxiety disorder compared to controls were: bilateral amygdala, left medial temporal lobe encompassing the entorhinal cortex, left medial aspect of the inferior temporal lobe encompassing perirhinal cortex and parahippocampus, right anterior cingulate, right globus pallidus, and distal tip of right postcentral gyrus. Conclusion: The results are consistent with neuroanatomic models of the role of the amygdala in fear conditioning, and the importance of the limbic circuitry in mediating anxiety symptoms. (shrink)
The availability of a range of new psychotropic agents raises the possibility that these will be used for enhancement purposes (smart pills, happy pills, and pep pills). The enhancement debate soon raises questions in philosophy of medicine and psychiatry (eg, what is a disorder?), and this debate in turn raises fundament questions in philosophy of language, science, and ethics. In this paper, a naturalistic conceptual framework is proposed for addressing these issues. This framework begins by contrasting classical and critical concepts (...) of categories, and then puts forward an integrative position that is based on cognitive-affective research. This position can in turn be used to consider the debate between pharmacological Calvinism (which may adopt a moral metaphor of disorder) and psychotropic utopianism (which may emphasize a medical metaphor of disorder). I argue that psychiatric treatment of serious psychiatric disorders is justified, and that psychotropics are an acceptable kind of intervention. The use of psychotropics for sub-threshold phenomena requires a judicious weighing of the relevant facts (which are often sparse) and values. (shrink)
Psychopharmacology - a remarkable development -- Philosophical questions raised by psychopharmacology -- How to think about science, language, and medicine : classical, critical, and integrated perspectives -- Conceptual questions about psychotropics -- Explanatory questions about psychotropics -- Moral questions about psychotropics.
Understanding the origins of evil behaviour is one of our most important intellectual tasks. A distinction can perhaps be drawn between overt sadistic cruelty and the lack of empathy to suffering that is a hallmark of evil. There is increasing data available on the prevalence, proximal psychobiological underpinnings, and distal evolutionary basis for these contrasting phenomena.
Many of Rose's criticisms of determinism in biology have clear relevance to modern cognitive and psychiatric science; too narrow a focus on the brain as an information processing machine runs the risk of neglecting the context in which information processing takes place, and too narrow a focus on the neuroscience of psychopathology runs the risk of neglecting other levels of explanation for these phenomena. It should be emphasized, however, that animal and genetic studies of phenomena of interest to cognitive and (...) psychiatric science (e.g., Alzheimer's disorder, schizophrenia, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and violence), while perhaps only providing a partial perspective, may be useful in understanding these phenomena and in leading to appropriate psychiatric interventions. (shrink)