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Major depressive disorder (MDD) was previously associated with negative affective biases. Evidence from larger population-based studies, however, is lacking, including whether biases normalise with remission. We investigated associations between affective bias measures and depressive symptom severity across a large community-based sample, followed by examining differences between remitted individuals and controls.
Participants from Generation Scotland (N = 1109) completed the: (i) Bristol Emotion Recognition Task (BERT), (ii) Face Affective Go/No-go (FAGN), and (iii) Cambridge Gambling Task (CGT). Individuals were classified as MDD-current (n = 43), MDD-remitted (n = 282), or controls (n = 784). Analyses included using affective bias summary measures (primary analyses), followed by detailed emotion/condition analyses of BERT and FAGN (secondary analyses).
For summary measures, the only significant finding was an association between greater symptoms and lower risk adjustment for CGT across the sample (individuals with greater symptoms were less likely to bet more, despite increasingly favourable conditions). This was no longer significant when controlling for non-affective cognition. No differences were found for remitted-MDD v. controls. Detailed analysis of BERT and FAGN indicated subtle negative biases across multiple measures of affective cognition with increasing symptom severity, that were independent of non-effective cognition [e.g. greater tendency to rate faces as angry (BERT), and lower accuracy for happy/neutral conditions (FAGN)]. Results for remitted-MDD were inconsistent.
This suggests the presence of subtle negative affective biases at the level of emotion/condition in association with depressive symptoms across the sample, over and above those accounted for by non-affective cognition, with no evidence for affective biases in remitted individuals.
Depression is a challenge to diagnose reliably and the current gold standard for trials of DSM-5 has been in agreement between two or more medical specialists. Research studies aiming to objectively predict depression have typically used brain scanning. Less expensive methods from cognitive neuroscience may allow quicker and more reliable diagnoses, and contribute to reducing the costs of managing the condition. In the current study we aimed to develop a novel inexpensive system for detecting elevated symptoms of depression based on tracking face and eye movements during the performance of cognitive tasks.
In total, 75 participants performed two novel cognitive tasks with verbal affective distraction elements while their face and eye movements were recorded using inexpensive cameras. Data from 48 participants (mean age 25.5 years, standard deviation of 6.1 years, 25 with elevated symptoms of depression) passed quality control and were included in a case-control classification analysis with machine learning.
Classification accuracy using cross-validation (within-study replication) reached 79% (sensitivity 76%, specificity 82%), when face and eye movement measures were combined. Symptomatic participants were characterised by less intense mouth and eyelid movements during different stages of the two tasks, and by differences in frequencies and durations of fixations on affectively salient distraction words.
Elevated symptoms of depression can be detected with face and eye movement tracking during the cognitive performance, with a close to clinically-relevant accuracy (~80%). Future studies should validate these results in larger samples and in clinical populations.
Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is a major health problem in many countries and its current treatment involves multiple parenteral injections with toxic drugs and requires intensive health services. Previously, the efficacy of a single subcutaneous injection with a slow-release formulation consisting of poly(lactide-co-glycolide) (PLGA) microparticles loaded with an antileishmanial 3-nitro-2-hydroxy-4,6-dimethoxychalcone (CH8) was demonstrated in mice model. In the search for more easily synthesized active chalcone derivatives, and improved microparticle loading, CH8 analogues were synthesized and tested for antileishmanial activity in vitro and in vivo. The 3-nitro-2′,4′,6′-trimethoxychalcone (NAT22) analogue was chosen for its higher selectivity against intracellular amastigotes (selectivity index = 1489, as compared with 317 for CH8) and more efficient synthesis (89% yield, as compared with 18% for CH8). NAT22 was loaded into PLGA / polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) polymeric blend microspheres (NAT22-PLGAk) with average diameter of 1.9 μm. Although NAT22-PLGAk showed similar activity to free NAT22 in killing intracellular parasites in vitro (IC50 ~ 0.2 μm), in vivo studies in Leishmania amazonensis – infected mice demonstrated the significant superior efficacy of NAT22-PLGAk to reduce the parasite load. A single intralesional injection with NAT22-PLGAk was more effective than eight injections with free NAT22. Together, these results show that NAT22-PLGAk is a promising alternative for single-dose localized treatment of CL.
Mental health and substance use disorders are the leading cause of long-term disability and a cause of significant mortality, worldwide. However, it is widely recognised that clinical practice in psychiatry has not fundamentally changed for over half a century. The Royal College of Psychiatrists is reviewing its trainee curriculum to identify neuroscience that relates to psychiatric practice. To date though, neuroscience has had very little impact on routine clinical practice. We discuss how a pragmatic approach to neuroscience can address this problem together with a route to implementation in National Health Service care. This has implications for altered funding priorities and training future psychiatrists. Five training recommendations for psychiatrists are identified.
Declaration of interest
J.D.S. receives direct funding from MRC Program Grant MR/S010351/1 aimed at developing machine learning-based methods for routinely acquired NHS data and indirect funding from the Wellcome Trust STRADL study. M.P.P. receives payments for an UpToDate chapter on methamphetamine and is principal investigator on the following grants: NIGMS P20GM121312 and NIDA U01 DA041089 and receives support from the William K. Warren Foundation.
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