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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.
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by a heterogeneous clinical phenotype that emerges from interactions among genetic, biological, neurodevelopmental, and psychosocial factors. In the present family study, we evaluated the familial aggregation of key clinical, personality, and neurodevelopmental phenotypes in probands with BPD (n = 103), first-degree biological relatives (n = 74; 43% without a history of psychiatric disorder), and non-psychiatric controls (n = 99).
Participants were assessed on DSM-IV psychiatric diagnoses, symptom dimensions of emotion dysregulation and impulsivity, ‘big five’ personality traits, and neurodevelopmental characteristics, as part of a larger family study on neurocognitive, biological, and genetic markers in BPD.
The most common psychiatric diagnoses in probands and relatives were major depression, substance use disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, and avoidant personality disorder. There was evidence of familial aggregation for specific dimensions of impulsivity and emotion dysregulation, and the big five traits neuroticism and conscientiousness. Both probands and relatives reported an elevated neurodevelopmental history of attentional and behavioral difficulties.
These results support the validity of negative affectivity- and impulse-spectrum phenotypes associated with BPD and its familial risk. Further research is needed to investigate the aggregation of neurocognitive, neural and genetic factors in families with BPD and their associations with core phenotypes underlying the disorder.
There has recently been an increased interest in mental health indicators for the monitoring of population wellbeing, which is among the targets of Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations. Levels of subjective wellbeing and suicide rates have been proposed as indicators of population mental health, but prior research is limited.
Data on individual happiness and life satisfaction were sourced from a population-based survey in Hong Kong (2011). Suicide data were extracted from Coroner's Court files (2005–2013). Area characteristic variables included local poverty rate and four factors derived from a factor analysis of 21 variables extracted from the 2011 census. The associations between mean happiness and life satisfaction scores and suicide rates were assessed using Pearson correlation coefficient at two area levels: 18 districts and 30 quantiles of large street blocks (LSBs; n = 1620). LSB is a small area unit with a higher level of within-unit homogeneity compared with districts. Partial correlations were used to control for area characteristics.
Happiness and life satisfaction demonstrated weak inverse associations with suicide rate at the district level (r = −0.32 and −0.36, respectively) but very strong associations at the LSB quantile level (r = −0.83 and −0.84, respectively). There were generally very weak or weak negative correlations across sex/age groups at the district level but generally moderate to strong correlations at the LSB quantile level. The associations were markedly attenuated or became null after controlling for area characteristics.
Subjective wellbeing is strongly associated with suicide at a small area level; socioeconomic factors can largely explain this association. Socioeconomic factors could play an important role in determining the wellbeing of the population, and this could inform policies aimed at enhancing population wellbeing.
The discovery of the first electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave signal has generated follow-up observations by over 50 facilities world-wide, ushering in the new era of multi-messenger astronomy. In this paper, we present follow-up observations of the gravitational wave event GW170817 and its electromagnetic counterpart SSS17a/DLT17ck (IAU label AT2017gfo) by 14 Australian telescopes and partner observatories as part of Australian-based and Australian-led research programs. We report early- to late-time multi-wavelength observations, including optical imaging and spectroscopy, mid-infrared imaging, radio imaging, and searches for fast radio bursts. Our optical spectra reveal that the transient source emission cooled from approximately 6 400 K to 2 100 K over a 7-d period and produced no significant optical emission lines. The spectral profiles, cooling rate, and photometric light curves are consistent with the expected outburst and subsequent processes of a binary neutron star merger. Star formation in the host galaxy probably ceased at least a Gyr ago, although there is evidence for a galaxy merger. Binary pulsars with short (100 Myr) decay times are therefore unlikely progenitors, but pulsars like PSR B1534+12 with its 2.7 Gyr coalescence time could produce such a merger. The displacement (~2.2 kpc) of the binary star system from the centre of the main galaxy is not unusual for stars in the host galaxy or stars originating in the merging galaxy, and therefore any constraints on the kick velocity imparted to the progenitor are poor.
Knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of the population regarding severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) in endemic areas of Lu'an in China were assessed before and after an intervention programme. The pre-intervention phase was conducted using a sample of 425 participants from the 12 selected villages with the highest rates of endemic SFTS infection. A predesigned interview questionnaire was used to assess KAP. Subsequently, an intervention programme was designed and applied in the selected villages. KAP was re-assessed for each population in the selected villages using the same interview questionnaire. Following 2 months of the programme, 339 participants had completed the re-assessed survey. The impact of the intervention programme was evaluated using suitable statistical methods. A significant increase in the KAP and total KAP scores was noted following the intervention programme, whereas the proportion of correct knowledge, the positive attitudes and the effective practices toward SFTS of respondents increased significantly. The intervention programme was effective in improving KAP level of SFTS in populations that were resident in endemic areas.
The SkyMapper Transient survey (SMT) is exploring variability in the southern sky by performing (a) a rolling search to discover and study supernovæ, and (b) a Target of Opportunity programme that uses the robotic SkyMapper Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory. The supernova survey is obtaining a non-targeted sample of Type Ia supernovæ (SNe Ia) at low redshifts, z < 0.1, and studying other interesting transients found with the search strategy. We have a Target of Opportunity programme with an automatic response mechanism to search for optical counterparts to gravitational-wave and fast radio-burst events; it benefits from SkyMapper’s large field of view of 5.7 sq. deg. and a rapid data reduction pipeline.
We present first results of the SMT survey. The SMT pipeline can process and obtain potential candidates within 12 hours of observation. It disentangles real transients from processing artefacts using a machine-learning algorithm. To date, SMT has discovered over 60 spectroscopically confirmed supernovæ, several peculiar objects, and over 40 SNe Ia including one (SNIa 2016hhd) which was found within the first few days of explosion. We have also participated in searches for optical counterparts of gravitational waves, fast radio bursts and other transients, and have published observations of the optical counterpart of the gravitational-wave event GW170817. We also participate in coordinated observations with the Deeper Wider Faster programme, and the Kepler K2 cosmology project.
One of the biggest medical challenges after the detonation of a nuclear device will be implementing a strategy to assess the severity of radiation exposure among survivors and to triage them appropriately. Those found to be at significant risk for radiation injury can be prioritized to receive potentially lifesaving myeloid cytokines and to be evacuated to other communities with intact health care infrastructure prior to the onset of severe complications of bone marrow suppression. Currently, the most efficient and accessible triage method is the use of sequential complete blood counts to assess lymphocyte depletion kinetics that correlate with estimated whole-body dose radiation exposure. However, even this simple test will likely not be available initially on the scale required to assess the at-risk population. Additional variables such as geographic location of exposure, sheltering, and signs and symptoms may be useful for initial sorting. An interdisciplinary working group composed of federal, state, and local public health experts proposes an Exposure And Symptom Triage (EAST) tool combining estimates of exposure from maps with clinical assessments and single lymphocyte counts if available. The proposed tool may help sort survivors efficiently at assembly centers near the damage and fallout zones and enable rapid prioritization for appropriate treatment and transport. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018; 12: 386–395)
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a highly heritable neurodevelopmental disorder, yet the search for definite genetic etiologies remains elusive. Delineating ASD endophenotypes can boost the statistical power to identify the genetic etiologies and pathophysiology of ASD. We aimed to test for endophenotypes of neuroanatomy and associated intrinsic functional connectivity (iFC) via contrasting male youth with ASD, their unaffected brothers and typically developing (TD) males.
The 94 participants (aged 9–19 years) – 20 male youth with ASD, 20 unaffected brothers and 54 TD males – received clinical assessments, and undertook structural and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging scans. Voxel-based morphometry was performed to obtain regional gray and white matter volumes. A seed-based approach, with seeds defined by the regions demonstrating atypical neuroanatomy shared by youth with ASD and unaffected brothers, was implemented to derive iFC. General linear models were used to compare brain structures and iFC among the three groups. Assessment of familiality was investigated by permutation tests for variance of the within-family pair difference.
We found that atypical gray matter volume in the mid-cingulate cortex was shared between male youth with ASD and their unaffected brothers as compared with TD males. Moreover, reduced iFC between the mid-cingulate cortex and the right inferior frontal gyrus, and increased iFC between the mid-cingulate cortex and bilateral middle occipital gyrus were the shared features of male ASD youth and unaffected brothers.
Atypical neuroanatomy and iFC surrounding the mid-cingulate cortex may be a potential endophenotypic marker for ASD in males.
Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating a continuous core from Lake Gun Nur, northern Mongolia, shows a period between 10 and 8 ka BP that could not be dated accurately. Further dating on alkali-insoluble residue and humic acid from the same samples in the Gun Nur core suggest that this AMS 14C date anomaly is neither analytical nor material related. We hypothesize that the 14C anomaly may be derived from increasing production rates of 14C caused by diminished solar activity, a low 14CO2/14CO ratio in the atmosphere, or an unstable 14C flux in the lower atmosphere caused by changing geomagnetic field strength. Our results imply that the 14C data used for 14C age calibration cannot correct the age-depth regression between 8 and 10 ka BP to fit the age-depth model along with other time intervals.
Radiocarbon dating by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) of the shell bar section of Qaidam Basin, NE Tibetan Plateau, shows that this section was formed between ~39.7 and ~17.5 14C kyr BP and represented the highest paleolake development period since the Late Pleistocene. It was difficult to obtain reliable dates due to the low organic carbon content, which was formed mainly by authochtonous algae-bacteria (Zhang et al. 2007a). In order to improve the dating, 14C ages of both the alkali residual and acid-soluble components of the organic carbon were measured to check the consistency of the dating results. Total organic carbon (TOC) content and stable carbon isotopes (δ13Corg) might also be used as critical references for checking the reliability of dates. For example, in our study of the shell bar section from Qaidam Basin, we found that when the TOC content was higher than 0.15% and/or δ13Corg was lower than −23, the AMS dates were reliable. AMS dating of fossil shells demonstrated that they could provide valuable age information. The ages given by fossil shells are comparable to those of bulk carbonate from a similar sampling site, and are about 15~18 kyr older than the ages given by organic matter. Due to the U/Th dating requirements and open nature of the system, we concluded that U/Th dating results are unreliable and that this technique is unsuitable for dating halite deposits from Qaidam Basin.
Accurate and reliable dating of paleosols, animal remains, and artifacts is of crucial importance in reconstructing environmental change and understanding the interrelationship between human activities and natural environments. Dating different materials in the same sample can help resolve problems such as soil carbon sources and carbon storage state. Conventional radiocarbon dating of soil (inorganic and organic matter) and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating of animal remains (fossil bones and teeth) result in different ages for materials from the same sample position in a typical loess section at Xinglong Mountain, Yuzhong County, Gansu Province in NW China. Inorganic matter is ∼3400 yr older than organic matter, 4175 ± 175 cal BP to 3808 ± 90 cal BP. A 1610-yr difference between the 14C ages of fossils (animal bones and teeth) and soil organic matter suggests that a depositional hiatus exists in the studied profile. The varying 14C ages of fossils and soil organic and inorganic matter have important implications for paleoclimate reconstructions from loess sections. It is critical to consider the meaning of the variable 14C ages from different material components from the same sample position in terms of soil organic and inorganic carbon storage, vegetation history reconstruction, archaeology, and the study of ancient civilizations.
Conventional and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon, TL, OSL, and IRSL dating results on samples from the cores D100 and I70 from Ejina Basin, one of the most important inland basins in arid-hyperarid NW China, show that it is difficult to determine the ages of sediments at different depths. AMS ages of core D100 samples demonstrate that the sediments at depths from 10 to 90 m were formed between 14 to 30 kyr BP. The inverted ages from both the D100 and I70 cores imply that there was a strong reworking of the sediments during and after deposition processes. The inverted ages also indicate drastic fluctuations of groundwater bearing soluble organic matters, which might be related to neotectonic activities and climate changes during the period. Consequently, it is impossible to establish an accurate and reliable chronology for the cores based only on these dates. All AMS ages, if they are reliable and acceptable, indicate a high deposition rate (5∼8 mm/yr), and since all TL, OSL, and IRSL ages are much older than those given by AMS, it makes these methods questionable for determining the ages of lacustrine-fluvial-alluvial deposits.
A trend toward greater body size in dizygotic (DZ) than in monozygotic (MZ) twins has been suggested by some but not all studies, and this difference may also vary by age. We analyzed zygosity differences in mean values and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) among male and female twins from infancy to old age. Data were derived from an international database of 54 twin cohorts participating in the COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins), and included 842,951 height and BMI measurements from twins aged 1 to 102 years. The results showed that DZ twins were consistently taller than MZ twins, with differences of up to 2.0 cm in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.9 cm in adulthood. Similarly, a greater mean BMI of up to 0.3 kg/m2 in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.2 kg/m2 in adulthood was observed in DZ twins, although the pattern was less consistent. DZ twins presented up to 1.7% greater height and 1.9% greater BMI than MZ twins; these percentage differences were largest in middle and late childhood and decreased with age in both sexes. The variance of height was similar in MZ and DZ twins at most ages. In contrast, the variance of BMI was significantly higher in DZ than in MZ twins, particularly in childhood. In conclusion, DZ twins were generally taller and had greater BMI than MZ twins, but the differences decreased with age in both sexes.
We use three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) simulations to investigate the quasi-equilibrium states of galactic disks regulated by star formation feedback. We incorporate effects from massive-star feedback via time-varying heating rates and supernova (SN) explosions. We find that the disks in our simulations rapidly approach a quasi-steady state that satisfies vertical dynamical equilibrium. The star formation rate (SFR) surface density self-adjusts to provide the total momentum flux (pressure) in the vertical direction that matches the weight of the gas. We quantify feedback efficiency by measuring feedback yields, ηc≡ Pc/ΣSFR (in suitable units), for each pressure component. The turbulent and thermal feedback yields are the same for HD and MHD simulations, ηth ~ 1 and ηturb ~ 4, consistent with the theoretical expectations. In MHD simulations, turbulent magnetic fields are rapidly generated by turbulence, and saturate at a level corresponding to ηmag,t ~ 1. The presence of magnetic fields enhances the total feedback yield and therefore reduces the SFR, since the same vertical support can be supplied at a smaller SFR. We suggest further numerical calibrations and observational tests in terms of the feedback yields.
For over 100 years, the genetics of human anthropometric traits has attracted scientific interest. In particular, height and body mass index (BMI, calculated as kg/m2) have been under intensive genetic research. However, it is still largely unknown whether and how heritability estimates vary between human populations. Opportunities to address this question have increased recently because of the establishment of many new twin cohorts and the increasing accumulation of data in established twin cohorts. We started a new research project to analyze systematically (1) the variation of heritability estimates of height, BMI and their trajectories over the life course between birth cohorts, ethnicities and countries, and (2) to study the effects of birth-related factors, education and smoking on these anthropometric traits and whether these effects vary between twin cohorts. We identified 67 twin projects, including both monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins, using various sources. We asked for individual level data on height and weight including repeated measurements, birth related traits, background variables, education and smoking. By the end of 2014, 48 projects participated. Together, we have 893,458 height and weight measures (52% females) from 434,723 twin individuals, including 201,192 complete twin pairs (40% monozygotic, 40% same-sex dizygotic and 20% opposite-sex dizygotic) representing 22 countries. This project demonstrates that large-scale international twin studies are feasible and can promote the use of existing data for novel research purposes.
In Taiwan, avian influenza virus (AIV) subtypes H5N2, H6N1 and H7N3 have been identified in domestic poultry, and several strains of these subtypes have become endemic in poultry. To evaluate the potential of avian-to-human transmission due to occupational exposure, an exploratory analysis of AIV antibody status in poultry workers was conducted. We enrolled 670 poultry workers, including 335 live poultry vendors (LPVs), 335 poultry farmers (PFs), and 577 non-poultry workers (NPWs). Serum antibody titres against various subtypes of viruses were analysed and compared. The overall seropositivity rates in LPVs and PFs were 2·99% (10/335) and 1·79% (6/335), respectively, against H5N2; and 0·6% (2/335) and 1·19% (4/335), respectively, for H7N3 virus. Of NPWs, 0·35% (2/577) and 0·17% (1/577) were seropositive for H5N2 and H7N3, respectively. Geographical analysis revealed that poultry workers whose workplaces were near locations where H5N2 outbreaks in poultry have been reported face greater risks of being exposed to viruses that result in elevated H5N2 antibody titres. H6N1 antibodies were detected in only one PF, and no H7N9 antibodies were found in the study subjects. Subclinical infections caused by H5N2, H6N1 and H7N3 viruses were thus identified in poultry workers in Taiwan. Occupational exposure is associated with a high risk of AIV infection, and the seroprevalence of particular avian influenza strains in humans reflects the endemic strains in poultry in this region.
With the proportion of older adults in Hong Kong projected to double in size in the next 30 years, it is important to develop measures for detecting individuals in the earliest stage of Alzheimer's disease (AD, 0.5 in Clinical Dementia Rating, CDR). We tested the utility of a non-verbal prospective memory task (PM, ability to remember what one has to do when a specific event occurs in the future) as an early marker for AD in Hong Kong Chinese.
A large community dwelling sample of older adults who are healthy controls (CDR 0, N = 125), in the earliest stage of AD (CDR 0.5, N = 125), or with mild AD (CDR 1, N = 30) participated in this study. Their reaction time/accuracy data were analyzed by mixed-factor analyses of variance to compare the performance of the three CDR groups. Logistic regression analyses were performed to test the discriminative power of these measures for CDR 0 versus 0.5 participants.
Prospective memory performance declined as a function of AD severity: CDR 0 > CDR 0.5 > CDR 1, suggesting the effects of early-stage AD and AD progression on PM. After partialling out the variance explained by psychometric measures (e.g., ADAS-Cog), reaction time/accuracy measures that reflected the PM still significantly discriminated between CDR 0 versus 0.5 participants in most of the cases.
The effectiveness of PM measures in discriminating individuals in the earliest stage of AD from healthy older adults suggests that these measures should be further developed as tools for early-stage AD discrimination.