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In recent years, the discovery of massive quasars at
has provided a striking challenge to our understanding of the origin and growth of supermassive black holes in the early Universe. Mounting observational and theoretical evidence indicates the viability of massive seeds, formed by the collapse of supermassive stars, as a progenitor model for such early, massive accreting black holes. Although considerable progress has been made in our theoretical understanding, many questions remain regarding how (and how often) such objects may form, how they live and die, and how next generation observatories may yield new insight into the origin of these primordial titans. This review focusses on our present understanding of this remarkable formation scenario, based on the discussions held at the Monash Prato Centre from November 20 to 24, 2017, during the workshop ‘Titans of the Early Universe: The Origin of the First Supermassive Black Holes’.
Substantial clinical heterogeneity of major depressive disorder (MDD) suggests it may group together individuals with diverse aetiologies. Identifying distinct subtypes should lead to more effective diagnosis and treatment, while providing more useful targets for further research. Genetic and clinical overlap between MDD and schizophrenia (SCZ) suggests an MDD subtype may share underlying mechanisms with SCZ.
The present study investigated whether a neurobiologically distinct subtype of MDD could be identified by SCZ polygenic risk score (PRS). We explored interactive effects between SCZ PRS and MDD case/control status on a range of cortical, subcortical and white matter metrics among 2370 male and 2574 female UK Biobank participants.
There was a significant SCZ PRS by MDD interaction for rostral anterior cingulate cortex (RACC) thickness (β = 0.191, q = 0.043). This was driven by a positive association between SCZ PRS and RACC thickness among MDD cases (β = 0.098, p = 0.026), compared to a negative association among controls (β = −0.087, p = 0.002). MDD cases with low SCZ PRS showed thinner RACC, although the opposite difference for high-SCZ-PRS cases was not significant. There were nominal interactions for other brain metrics, but none remained significant after correcting for multiple comparisons.
Our significant results indicate that MDD case-control differences in RACC thickness vary as a function of SCZ PRS. Although this was not the case for most other brain measures assessed, our specific findings still provide some further evidence that MDD in the presence of high genetic risk for SCZ is subtly neurobiologically distinct from MDD in general.
The Comprehensive Assessment of Neurodegeneration and Dementia (COMPASS-ND) cohort study of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA) is a national initiative to catalyze research on dementia, set up to support the research agendas of CCNA teams. This cross-country longitudinal cohort of 2310 deeply phenotyped subjects with various forms of dementia and mild memory loss or concerns, along with cognitively intact elderly subjects, will test hypotheses generated by these teams.
The COMPASS-ND protocol, initial grant proposal for funding, fifth semi-annual CCNA Progress Report submitted to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research December 2017, and other documents supplemented by modifications made and lessons learned after implementation were used by the authors to create the description of the study provided here.
The CCNA COMPASS-ND cohort includes participants from across Canada with various cognitive conditions associated with or at risk of neurodegenerative diseases. They will undergo a wide range of experimental, clinical, imaging, and genetic investigation to specifically address the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of these conditions in the aging population. Data derived from clinical and cognitive assessments, biospecimens, brain imaging, genetics, and brain donations will be used to test hypotheses generated by CCNA research teams and other Canadian researchers. The study is the most comprehensive and ambitious Canadian study of dementia. Initial data posting occurred in 2018, with the full cohort to be accrued by 2020.
Availability of data from the COMPASS-ND study will provide a major stimulus for dementia research in Canada in the coming years.
The purpose of this study was to examine whether vehicle type based on size (car vs. other = truck/van/SUV) had an impact on the speeding, acceleration, and braking patterns of older male and female drivers (70 years and older) from a Canadian longitudinal study. The primary hypothesis was that older adults driving larger vehicles (e.g., trucks, SUVs, or vans) would be more likely to speed than those driving cars. Participants (n = 493) had a device installed in their vehicles that recorded their everyday driving. The findings suggest that the type of vehicle driven had little or no impact on per cent of time speeding or on the braking and accelerating patterns of older drivers. Given that the propensity for exceeding the speed limit was high among these older drivers, regardless of vehicle type, future research should examine what effect this behaviour has on older-driver road safety.
The current study examined whether social status and social integration, two related but distinct indicators of an adolescent's standing within a peer network, mediate the association between risky symptoms (depressive symptoms and deviant behavior) and substance use across adolescence. The sample of 6,776 adolescents participated in up to seven waves of data collection spanning 6th to 12th grades. Scores indexing social status and integration were derived from a social network analysis of six schools and subsequent psychometric modeling. Results of latent growth models showed that social integration and status mediated the relation between risky symptoms and substance use and that risky symptoms mediated the relation between social standing and substance use during the high school transition. Before this transition, pathways involving deviant behavior led to high social integration and status and in turn to substance use. After this transition, both deviant behavior and depressive symptoms led to low social integration and status and in turn greater substance use. These findings suggest that the high school transition is a risky time for substance use related to the interplay of increases in depressive symptoms and deviant behavior on the one hand and decreases in social status and integration on the other.
Using validated psychological assessment instruments, this study examined the psychological distress associated with potential language barriers experienced by over 135 000 Puerto Rican residents who either temporarily or permanently migrated to the continental United States with the landfall of Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Participants were Puerto Rican residents (n = 107) who remained in Puerto Rico (control) or left the island for at least 3 months because of Hurricane Maria (migrants). Participants completed an online survey in their preferred language (Spanish or English), which assessed self-reported English language proficiency, Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist for DSM 5, Patient Health Questionnaire 9-item depression scale, and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale. It was hypothesized that migrants with lower self-reported English proficiency would have comparatively higher indices of post-disaster distress than those with a higher proficiency.
Dividing the migrant group by preferred language for questionnaire completion, the Fisher’s exact test showed significant differences in prevalence of severe mental distress, as defined by K6 scores above 13, between the Spanish-preferring migrants (30.4%), English-preferring migrants (0%), and controls (9.6%).
Our results support a possible correlation between decreased language proficiency in post-disaster migrants and a higher risk factor for severe mental distress.