A 5-year study of 333 Australians found those with the short-short version of the 5-HTTLPR promoter of the SERT serotonin transporter gene were more likely than other adults to be depressed if they had suffered abuse as a child. However, if they hadn't suffered childhood abuse, they were likely to be happier than the rest of the population. This may help resolve inconsistent previous results about the effects of the allele.
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have published a new study (behind paywall - summary) on the effects of "magic mushrooms". Volunteers were given 4 doses of psilocybin spaced one month apart. The study built on previous work and attempted to optimize the experience for long-lasting positive effects:
61% of volunteers considered the psilocybin experience during either or both the [highest dosage] sessions to have been the single most spiritually significant of their lives, with 83% rating it in their top five. Consistent with this, 94% and 89% of volunteers, respectively, indicated that the experiences on those same sessions increased their well-being or life satisfaction and positively changed their behavior at least moderately.[more inside]
Serotonin is back in the news. Recent research shows that it plays an impressive number of roles throughout the body, both below the neck and above it. [more inside]
A gene variant associated with serotonin transport (STG) , and normally associated with depression is strangely more prevalent, but also less likely to induce depression in collectivistic East Asian cultures. The study took data from 29 countries, and found a consistent trend towards this same genetic variant being strongly associated with episodes of major depression in Western cultures.
"Researchers found that failing to publish negative findings inflated the reported effectiveness of all 12 of the antidepressants studied." See also: Serotonin and Depression: A Disconnect between the Advertisements and the Scientific Literature. [more inside]