BMJ 2007; 335 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39402.499282.471 (Published 22 November 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:1102

The ill effects of social isolation could in part be hormonally mediated. In mice kept in total isolation for four weeks, expression of 5α-reductase type I—the brain enzyme responsible for producing the stress relieving hormone allopregnanolone—was halved. The enzyme acts on the parts of the brain involved in emotional learning, fear, and stress responses. The researchers say this may account for the anxiety, aggression, and memory impairments that are sometimes seen in socially isolated people (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 14 November 2007; www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0709419104).

No matter how fancy and sophisticated surgical technology and procedures become, the tenets of good teaching remain the same. Surgical training still “relies heavily on mentorship, support, and role modelling by committed postgraduate trainers,” says an otolaryngologist in the Bulletin of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (2007;89:346-7; doi: 10.1308/147363507X248587). He says: “You need to be aware of what the trainees' worries or concerns are. They won't always tell you directly so you need to be able …

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