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Abnormal effort-based decision-making represents a potential mechanism underlying motivational deficits (amotivation) in psychotic disorders. Previous research identified effort allocation impairment in chronic schizophrenia and focused mostly on physical effort modality. No study has investigated cognitive effort allocation in first-episode psychosis (FEP).
Cognitive effort allocation was examined in 40 FEP patients and 44 demographically-matched healthy controls, using Cognitive Effort-Discounting (COGED) paradigm which quantified participants’ willingness to expend cognitive effort in terms of explicit, continuous discounting of monetary rewards based on parametrically-varied cognitive demands (levels N of N-back task). Relationship between reward-discounting and amotivation was investigated. Group differences in reward-magnitude and effort-cost sensitivity, and differential associations of these sensitivity indices with amotivation were explored.
Patients displayed significantly greater reward-discounting than controls. In particular, such discounting was most pronounced in patients with high levels of amotivation even when N-back performance and reward base amount were taken into consideration. Moreover, patients exhibited reduced reward-benefit sensitivity and effort-cost sensitivity relative to controls, and that decreased sensitivity to reward-benefit but not effort-cost was correlated with diminished motivation. Reward-discounting and sensitivity indices were generally unrelated to other symptom dimensions, antipsychotic dose and cognitive deficits.
This study provides the first evidence of cognitive effort-based decision-making impairment in FEP, and indicates that decreased effort expenditure is associated with amotivation. Our findings further suggest that abnormal effort allocation and amotivation might primarily be related to blunted reward valuation. Prospective research is required to clarify the utility of effort-based measures in predicting amotivation and functional outcome in FEP.
Better understanding of interplay among symptoms, cognition and functioning in first-episode psychosis (FEP) is crucial to promoting functional recovery. Network analysis is a promising data-driven approach to elucidating complex interactions among psychopathological variables in psychosis, but has not been applied in FEP.
This study employed network analysis to examine inter-relationships among a wide array of variables encompassing psychopathology, premorbid and onset characteristics, cognition, subjective quality-of-life and psychosocial functioning in 323 adult FEP patients in Hong Kong. Graphical Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator (LASSO) combined with extended Bayesian information criterion (BIC) model selection was used for network construction. Importance of individual nodes in a generated network was quantified by centrality analyses.
Our results showed that amotivation played the most central role and had the strongest associations with other variables in the network, as indexed by node strength. Amotivation and diminished expression displayed differential relationships with other nodes, supporting the validity of two-factor negative symptom structure. Psychosocial functioning was most strongly connected with amotivation and was weakly linked to several other variables. Within cognitive domain, digit span demonstrated the highest centrality and was connected with most of the other cognitive variables. Exploratory analysis revealed no significant gender differences in network structure and global strength.
Our results suggest the pivotal role of amotivation in psychopathology network of FEP and indicate its critical association with psychosocial functioning. Further research is required to verify the clinical significance of diminished motivation on functional outcome in the early course of psychotic illness.
TAOS II is a next-generation occultation survey with the goal of measuring the size distribution of the small end of the Kuiper Belt (objects with diameters 0.5–30 km). Such objects have magnitudes r > 30, and are thus undetectable by direct imaging. The project will operate three telescopes at San Pedro Mártir Observatory in Baja California, México. Each telescope will be equipped with a custom-built camera comprised of a focal-plane array of CMOS imagers. The cameras will be capable of reading out image data from 10,000 stars at a cadence of 20 Hz. The telescopes will monitor the same set of stars simultaneously to search for coincident occultation detections, thus minimising the false-positive rate. This talk described the project, and reported on the progress of the development of the survey infrastructure.
We present a high precision frequency determination method for digitized NMR FID signals. The method employs high precision numerical integration rather than simple summation as in many other techniques. With no independent knowledge of the other parameters of a NMR FID signal (phase ф, amplitude A, and transverse relaxation time T2) this method can determine the signal frequency f0 with a precision of if the observation time T ≫ T2. The method is especially convenient when the detailed shape of the observed FT NMR spectrum is not well defined. When T2 is +∞ and the signal becomes pure sinusoidal, the precision of the method is which is one order more precise than the ±1 count error induced precision of a typical frequency counter. Analysis of this method shows that the integration reduces the noise by bandwidth narrowing as in a lock-in amplifier, and no extra signal filters are needed. For a pure sinusoidal signal we find from numerical simulations that the noise-induced error in this method reaches the Cramer-Rao Lower Band (CRLB) on frequency determination. For the damped sinusoidal case of most interest, the noise-induced error is found to be within a factor of 2 of CRLB when the measurement time T is 2 or 3 times larger than T2. We discuss possible improvements for the precision of this method.
We examined the spatial distribution pattern and meteorological drivers of dengue fever (DF) in Guangdong Province, China. Annual incidence of DF was calculated for each county between 2005 and 2011 and the geographical distribution pattern of DF was examined using Moran's I statistic and excess risk maps. A time-stratified case-crossover study was used to investigate the short-term relationship between DF and meteorological factors and the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI). High-epidemic DF areas were restricted to the Pearl River Delta region and the Han River Delta region, Moran's I of DF distribution was significant from 2005 to 2006 and from 2009 to 2011. Daily vapour pressure, mean and minimum temperatures were associated with increased DF risk. Maximum temperature and SOI were negatively associated with DF transmission. The risk of DF was non-randomly distributed in the counties in Guangdong Province. Meteorological factors could be important predictors of DF transmission.
SXP 1062 is an exceptional case of a young neutron star in a wind-fed high-mass X-ray binary associated with a supernova remnant. A unique combination of measured spin period, its derivative, luminosity and young age makes this source a key probe for the physics of accretion and neutron star evolution. Theoretical models proposed to explain the properties of SXP 1062 shall be tested with new data.
We survey HII free-free emission around ∼60 spectroscopically confirmed young stellar objects (YSOs) in the Large Magellanic Cloud using the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) at 3.3 and 5.5 cm. From each YSOs' infrared spectrum, we: a) quantify how embedded/evolved the YSO is through principle component analysis (PCA) of the silicate absorption (Seale et al. 2009); and b) estimate the mass from SED models (Robitaille et al. 2007). We have four main results: (1) Based on mass estimates from SED models and ATCA detection limits, we find that most massive YSOs are in HII regions regardless of age; (2) Older massive YSOs (as indicated by silicate PCA index) are much more likely to be resolved than younger YSOs, indicating evolving HII regions; (3) Resolved (typically older) sources usually have lower densities. Thus, in our survey we see a transition from ultra-compact HII to HII regions; and (4) We find that accretion about the massive YSO is likely non-spherical, resulting in HII regions in the shape of prolate spheroids.
Motivated by recent experimental observations, we consider a steady-state boundary layer flow with polymers in forced convection above a heated plate and study how the heat transport might be affected by the polymers. We discuss how a set of equations can be derived for the problem and how these equations can be solved numerically by an iterative scheme. By carrying out such a scheme, we find that the effect of the polymers is equivalent to producing a space-dependent effective viscosity that first increases from the zero-shear value at the plate then decreases rapidly back to the zero-shear value far from the plate. We further show that such an effective viscosity leads to a decrease in the streamwise velocity near the plate, which in turn leads to a reduction in heat transport.
Previous studies have suggested that Lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum) has antioxidant effects and possibly beneficial effects on blood pressure, plasma lipids and glucose, but these have not been confirmed in subjects with mild hypertension or hyperlipidaemia. The objective of the present study was to assess the cardiovascular, metabolic, antioxidant and immunomodulatory responses to therapy with Lingzhi in patients with borderline elevations of blood pressure and/or cholesterol in a controlled cross-over trial. A total of twenty-six patients received 1·44 g Lingzhi daily or matching placebo for 12 weeks in a randomised, double-blind, cross-over study with placebo-controlled run-in and cross-over periods. Body weight, blood pressure, metabolic parameters, urine catecholamines and cortisol, antioxidant status and lymphocyte subsets were measured after each period. Lingzhi was well tolerated and data from twenty-three evaluable subjects showed no changes in BMI or blood pressure when treated with Lingzhi or placebo. Plasma insulin and homeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance were lower after treatment with Lingzhi than after placebo. TAG decreased and HDL-cholesterol increased with Lingzhi but not with placebo in the first treatment period, but significant carry-over effects prevented complete analysis of these parameters. Urine catecholamines and cortisol, plasma antioxidant status and blood lymphocyte subsets showed no significant differences across treatments. Results indicate that Lingzhi might have mild antidiabetic effects and potentially improve the dyslipidaemia of diabetes, as shown previously in some animal studies. Further studies are desirable in patients with hyperglycaemia.
Background: The Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease Neuropsychological Assessment Battery (CERAD-NAB) offers information on the clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and gives a profile of cognitive functioning. This study explores the effects of age, education and gender on participants' performance on eight subtests in the Chinese-Cantonese version of the CERAD-NAB.
Methods: The original English version of the CERAD-NAB was translated and content-validated into a Chinese-Cantonese version to suit the Hong Kong Chinese population. The battery was administered to 187 healthy volunteers aged 60 to 94 years. Participants were excluded if they had neurological, medical or psychiatric disorders (including dementia). Stepwise multiple linear regression analyses were performed to assess the relative contribution of the demographic variables to the scores on each subtest.
Results: The Cantonese version of CERAD-NAB was shown to have good content validity and excellent inter-rater reliability. Stepwise multiple regression analyses revealed that performances on seven and four out of eight subtests in the CERAD-NAB were significantly influenced by education level and age, respectively. Age and education had significant effects on participants' performance on many tests. Gender also showed a significant effect on one subtest.
Conclusions: The preliminary data will serve as an initial phase for clinical interpretation of the CERAD-NAB for Cantonese-speaking Chinese elders.
We are presently using the Chandra X-ray Observatory to conduct the first systematic X-ray survey of planetary nebulae (PNe) in the solar neighborhood. The Chandra Planetary Nebula Survey (ChanPlaNS) is a 570 ks Chandra Cycle 12 Large Program targeting 21 high-excitation PNe within ~1.5 kpc of Earth. When complete, this survey will provide a suite of new X-ray diagnostics that will inform the study of late stellar evolution, binary star astrophysics, and wind interactions. Among the early results of ChanPlaNS (when combined with archival Chandra data) is a surprisingly high detection rate of relatively hard X-ray emission from CSPNe. Specifically, X-ray point sources are clearly detected in roughly half of the ~30 high-excitation PNe observed thus far by Chandra, and all but one of these X-ray-emitting CSPNe display evidence for a hard (few MK) component in their Chandra spectra. Only the central star of the Dumbbell appears to display “pure” hot blackbody emission from a ~200 kK hot white dwarf photosphere in the X-ray band. Potential explanations for the“excess” hard X-ray emission detected from the other CSPNe include late-type companions (heretofore undetected, in most cases) whose coronae have been rejuvenated by recent interactions with the mass-losing WD progenitor, non-LTE effects in hot white dwarf photospheres, self-shocking variable winds from the central star, and slow (re-)accretion of previously ejected red giant envelope mass.
Aim: To describe the recruitment, ophthalmic examination methods and distribution of ocular biometry of participants in the Norfolk Island Eye Study, who were individuals descended from the English Bounty mutineers and their Polynesian wives. Methods: All 1,275 permanent residents of Norfolk Island aged over 15 years were invited to participate, including 602 individuals involved in a 2001 cardiovascular disease study. Participants completed a detailed questionnaire and underwent a comprehensive eye assessment including stereo disc and retinal photography, ocular coherence topography and conjunctival autofluorescence assessment. Additionally, blood or saliva was taken for DNA testing. Results: 781 participants aged over 15 years were seen (54% female), comprising 61% of the permanent Island population. 343 people (43.9%) could trace their family history to the Pitcairn Islanders (Norfolk Island Pitcairn Pedigree). Mean anterior chamber depth was 3.32mm, mean axial length (AL) was 23.5mm, and mean central corneal thickness was 546 microns. There were no statistically significant differences in these characteristics between persons with and without Pitcairn Island ancestry. Mean intra-ocular pressure was lower in people with Pitcairn Island ancestry: 15.89mmHg compared to those without Pitcairn Island ancestry 16.49mmHg (P = .007). The mean keratometry value was lower in people with Pitcairn Island ancestry (43.22 vs. 43.52, P = .007). The corneas were flatter in people of Pitcairn ancestry but there was no corresponding difference in AL or refraction. Conclusion: Our study population is highly representative of the permanent population of Norfolk Island. Ocular biometry was similar to that of other white populations. Heritability estimates, linkage analysis and genome-wide studies will further elucidate the genetic determinants of chronic ocular diseases in this genetic isolate.
Co-doped GeO2 ceramic films were prepared via a liquid phase
co-deposition (LPCD) process. The oxide samples were transformed into
Ge1-xCox films (x = 0.75, 3.2 and 11.5%) after annealing under
hydrogen atmosphere. The crystallinity of Ge1-xCox film decreases
with increasing Co content. The Ge1-xCox films are p-type (hole
density 1020 ~ 1021 cm-3). The 3.2% film has higher
electrical conductivity and hole density compared with the other two
samples. The 0.75% film is superparamagnetic at 300 K while the 3.2%
and 11.5% films exhibit blocked superparamagnetic behaviors. Hysteresis
loops can be observed in the magnetization curves of the 3.2 and 11.5%
samples. The observed ferromagnetisms are on only a local (a few nanometers)
scale, which most likely arise from different size and chemical distribution
in every sample.
Metal-catalyzed graphitization from vapor phase sources of carbon is now an established technique for producing few-layer graphene, a candidate material of interest for post-silicon electronics. Here we describe two alternative metal-catalyzed graphene formation processes utilizing solid phase sources of carbon. In the first, carbon is introduced as part of a cosputtered Ni-C alloy; in the second, carbon is introduced as one of the layers in an amorphous carbon (a-C)/Ni bilayer stack. We examine the quality and characteristics of the resulting graphene as a function of starting film thicknesses, Ni-C alloy composition or a-C deposition method (physical or chemical vapor deposition), and annealing conditions. We then discuss some of the competing processes playing a role in graphitic carbon formation and review recent evidence showing that the graphitic carbon in the a-C/Ni system initially forms by a metal-induced crystallization mechanism (analogous to what is seen with Al-induced crystallization of amorphous Si) rather than by the dissolution-upon-heating/precipitation-upon-cooling mechanism seen when graphene is grown by metal-catalyzed chemical vapor deposition methods.
Amorphous Si/SiOx multi-layered films and nanostructures were deposited on Si substrates by the glancing angle deposition technique using Ar ion beam sputtering of a Si sputter target in an intermittent oxygen atmosphere at room temperature. The chemical composition of the samples was characterized by time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry, as well as - for quantifying these first results - by elastic recoil detection analysis using a 200 MeV Au ion beam. The latter method was found to lead to a significant alteration of the sample morphology, resulting in the formation of complex nanometric structures within the layer stacks. In order to investigate these swift heavy ion irradiation induced effects in more detail, a series of experiments was conducted to determine the dominating influences. For this purpose, specific glancing angle deposited multilayered films and nanostructures were irradiated to constant ion fluence with the same 200 MeV Au ion beam at different incidence angles. Scanning electron microscopy of the stacks before and after swift Au ion irradiation revealed considerable changes in film morphology and density as a function of the ion incidence angle, such as an increased porosity of the silicon layers, accompanied by a layer swelling. In contrast, the SiOx layers did not show such effects, but exhibited clearly visible swift heavy ion tracks. The observed effects became stronger with decreasing ion incidence angle.
Increased mass losses from the Greenland ice sheet and inferred contributions to sea-level rise have heightened the need for hydrologic observations of meltwater exiting the ice sheet. We explore whether temporal variations in ice-sheet surface hydrology can be linked to the development of a downstream sediment plume in Kangerlussuaq Fjord by comparing: (1) plume area and suspended sediment concentration from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery and field data; (2) ice-sheet melt extent from Special Sensor Microwave/Imager (SSM/I) passive microwave data; and (3) supraglacial lake drainage events from MODIS. Results confirm that the origin of the sediment plume is meltwater release from the ice sheet. Interannual variations in plume area reflect interannual variations in surface melting. Plumes appear almost immediately with seasonal surface-melt onset, provided the estuary is free of landfast sea ice. A seasonal hysteresis between melt extent and plume area suggests late-season exhaustion in sediment supply. Analysis of plume sensitivity to supraglacial events is less conclusive, with 69% of melt pulses and 38% of lake drainage events triggering an increase in plume area. We conclude that remote sensing of sediment plume behavior offers a novel tool for detecting the presence, timing and interannual variability of meltwater release from the ice sheet.