The Trich Learning Centre (TLC) recently hosted a webinar with Brian L. Odlaug, MPH, a Visiting Researcher in the Faculty of Health & Medical Sciences at University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Mr. Odlaug is the co-author of three books on the treatment of addictive-impulsive-compulsive disorders and has authored over 125 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. He is a peer-reviewer for over 30 journals, a grant reviewer for the European Commission and National Research Foundation of South Africa, and is a professional member of several patient advocacy groups.
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The webinar focussed on the current state of research in skin picking disorder, including an overview of the research conducted / published over the past year. Specifically, the webinar aimed to help participants understand why we use different types of brain imaging (i.e., MRI, fMRI, DTI, etc), what these techniques mean, and where in the brain the current research has focused.
Firstly, an overview of the disorder was provided, describing the criteria for the diagnosis of skin picking disorder as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM5). Mr. Odlaug also briefly covered what we know about who gets skin picking disorder and why.
Much of the latest research into skin picking utilises the advanced diagnostic technology we have at our disposal in modern medicine. Mr. Odlaug therefore goes on to looks at the use of brain imaging and discusses the different functions of the brain and how this is related to skin picking. Of specific relevence was mention of the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) which is involved in error detection, focus, motivations and the regulation of our emotional reactions. According to Mr. Odlaug reduced activity or damage to this area of the brain has been found in people with OCD, which we can assume would be similar to those with skin picking disorder.
Finally, the latest research into the treatment of skin picking disorder was outlined. A review of the study involving the anticonvulsant drug, Lamotrigine, commonly prescribed for epilepsy and bipolar disorder was described as well as a discussion on the importance of assessing cognitive affective processing.