• Discoveries in the Genetics of Psychiatric Disorders

      Sigler, Danni (Temple University. Grey Matters, 2021-12)
      What makes schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders different from one another? Conceptually, both are thought to arise from early changes in brain development, and thus belong to the broader category of neurodevelopmental conditions [1]. Today, a particular neurodevelopmental or psychiatric diagnosis is defined by its specific symptomatology – the sum and constellation of an individual’s troubling behaviors and experiences.It was only in the past few decades that scientists have been able to study the biological origin of such neurodevelopmental disorders by examining their genetic contributions. This has been a rapidly advancing area of research and medicine. In certain cases, genetic diagnoses can now help understand and treat individuals with developmental conditions based on their specific genetic profile, in a more personalized and sophisticated fashion than symptom-based diagnoses alone could allow. Since an accurate and informative diagnosis is the cornerstone of good clinical decision making, it is important to acknowledge how advances in genetics are now enriching the diagnosis of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders.
    • Fungus Among Us

      Hilty, Christopher; Kitabwalla, Fatema; Pandey, Abhi; Bhatti, Saira; Sigler, Danni; Farkas, Daniel (Temple University. Grey Matters, 2021-05)
      Everyone knows that drugs are bad for you. That’s why they’re illegal, right? This outdated idea is facing increased scrutiny, as we’ve already begun to see the prohibition and regulation of some of these substances being reexamined. For example, marijuana is federally recognized as a Schedule 1 drug, a classification that implies it has a high abuse potential and no recognized medicinal value. However, this classification has been challenged by many recent studies that have shown its potential as a treatment option for various conditions ranging from mild nausea to debilitating epilepsy [1]. Another drug in this Schedule 1 category is psilocybin, which was once considered a revolutionary tool in psychotherapy. This drug isn’t some modern creation synthesized in a lab, it’s a naturally occurring substance found in certain species of mushrooms . The ritual consumption of these mushrooms dates back thousands of years in Mexico, where it had been used for both medicinal and spiritual purposes [2]. In the late 1950’s, isolation of the psy choactive psilocybin molecule allowed scientists to evaluate its potential as a treatment option for various mood disorders and alcoholism [3]. However, as the war on drugs ramped up, funding for these studies dried out. After a hiatus that spanned multiple decades, research on this promising molecule is finally resuming. Recent studies indicate that psilocybin can be a powerful treat ment option for various ailments such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), addiction, and depression. Its ability to produce a “mystical-type experience” is thought to be correlated with its effectiveness, though the cause of this experience is still under investigation [4]. Despite the uncertainty surrounding this phenomenon, the positive therapeutic results of the drug offer hope for a new tool to fight the rising mental health issues and addic tion epidemics that lurk below the surface of our society.
    • Social Media and Body Dysmorphic Disorder

      Sigler, Danni (Temple University. Grey Matters, 2021-12)
      The prevalence of social media in today’s society has increased greatly over the past ten years, especially amongst adolescents who are growing up with the internet and media influencing how they view themselves and the world around them. Social media’s uprise has not only influenced society but also mental health. This influence can be more detrimental at a young age because the adolescent brain is still developing. It is also at this time where symptoms of mental illness, such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), can begin to develop [1]. It is important to notice the effects media has on adolescents’ mental health during this developmental moment in their lives. This increased presence of social media could potentially increase the severity of Body Dysmorphic Disorder symptoms.