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Schizophrenia is a disorder characterized by pervasive deficits in cognitive functioning. However, few well-powered studies have examined the degree to which cognitive performance is impaired even among individuals with schizophrenia not currently on antipsychotic medications using a wide range of cognitive and reinforcement learning measures derived from cognitive neuroscience. Such research is particularly needed in the domain of reinforcement learning, given the central role of dopamine in reinforcement learning, and the potential impact of antipsychotic medications on dopamine function.
The present study sought to fill this gap by examining healthy controls (N = 75), unmedicated (N = 48) and medicated (N = 148) individuals with schizophrenia. Participants were recruited across five sites as part of the CNTRaCS Consortium to complete tasks assessing processing speed, cognitive control, working memory, verbal learning, relational encoding and retrieval, visual integration and reinforcement learning.
Individuals with schizophrenia who were not taking antipsychotic medications, as well as those taking antipsychotic medications, showed pervasive deficits across cognitive domains including reinforcement learning, processing speed, cognitive control, working memory, verbal learning and relational encoding and retrieval. Further, we found that chlorpromazine equivalency rates were significantly related to processing speed and working memory, while there were no significant relationships between anticholinergic load and performance on other tasks.
These findings add to a body of literature suggesting that cognitive deficits are an enduring aspect of schizophrenia, present in those off antipsychotic medications as well as those taking antipsychotic medications.
Working memory (WM) deficits are seen as a core deficit in schizophrenia, implicated in the broad cognitive impairment seen in the illness. Here we examine the impact of WM storage of a single item on the operation of other cognitive systems.
We studied 37 healthy controls (HCS) and 43 people with schizophrenia (PSZ). Each trial consisted of a sequence of two potential target stimuli, T1 and T2. T1 was a letter presented for 100 ms. After delays of 100–800 ms, T2 was presented. T2 was a 1 or a 2 and required a speeded response. In one condition, subjects were instructed to ignore T1 but respond to T2. In another condition, they were required to report T1 after making their speeded response to T2 (i.e. to make a speeded T2 response while holding T1 in WM).
PSZ were dramatically slowed at responding to T2 when T1 was held in WM. A repeated measures ANOVA yielded main effects of group, delay, and condition with a group by condition interaction (p's < 0.001). Across delays, the slowing of the T2 response when required to hold T1 in memory, relative to ignoring T1, was nearly 3 times higher in PSZ than HCS (633 v. 219 ms).
Whereas previous studies have focused on reduced storage capacity, the present study found that PSZ are impaired at performing tasks while they are successfully maintaining a single item in WM. This may play a role in the broad cognitive impairment seen in PSZ.
The number of separable cognitive dimensions in schizophrenia has been debated. Guided by the extant factor analytic literature, the NIMH Measurement and Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia (MATRICS) initiative selected seven cognitive domains relevant to treatment studies in schizophrenia: speed of processing, attention/vigilance, working memory, verbal learning, visual learning, reasoning and problem solving, and social cognition. These domains are assessed in the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB). The aim of this study was to conduct a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) of the beta battery of the MCCB to compare the fit of the MATRICS consensus seven-domain model to other models in the current literature on cognition in schizophrenia.
Using data from 281 schizophrenia outpatients, we compared the seven correlated factors model with alternative models. Specifically, we compared the 7-factor model to (a) a single-factor model, (b) a three correlated factors model including speed of processing, working memory, and general cognition, and (c) a hierarchical model in which seven first-order factors loaded onto a second-order general cognitive factor.
Multiple fit indices indicated the seven correlated factors model was the best fit for the data and provided significant improvement in model fit beyond the comparison models.
These results support the assessment of these seven cognitive dimensions in clinical trials of interventions to improve cognition in schizophrenia. Because these cognitive factors are separable to some degree, it is plausible that specific interventions may have differential effects on the domains.
For heavy metals that have any degree of transfer though the placenta to the fetus, it is unlikely that there are safe limits for maternal blood levels. The only means of reducing fetal exposure is to minimise maternal exposure. There are few recommendations for levels of concern. With the exception of US recommendations for maternal Pb levels, but there are no international levels of concern or cut-off levels specifically for pregnancy for heavy metals, so that comparisons can generally only be made with national reference values relating to similar physiological statuses or age groups. These include recommendations for Cd levels by Germany (reference value for non-smoking adults aged 18–69 years, 1 µg/l) and for Hg by Germany (reference value for adults age 18–60 years with fish intake ⩽3 times per month, 2.0 µg/l) and the USA (cut-off level for women, 5.8 µg/dl). To illustrate the lack of cohesion, we present data on blood Pb, Cd and Hg levels from pregnant women enroled in the UK Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children study and compare the values with present levels of concern and recommended cut-off values. We also compare the levels with those found in other groups of pregnant women worldwide to strengthen the database for the development of levels of concern in pregnancy. The need for clarity of terminology in describing levels of concern is discussed. There is a pressing need for international consensus on levels of concern for all age groups and physiological statuses, particularly for pregnancy.
Cognition is increasingly being recognized as an important aspect of psychotic disorders and a key contributor to functional outcome. In the past, comparative studies have been performed in schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder with regard to cognitive performance, but the results have been mixed and the cognitive measures used have not always assessed the cognitive deficits found to be specific to psychosis. A set of optimized cognitive paradigms designed by the Cognitive Neuroscience Test Reliability and Clinical Applications for Schizophrenia (CNTRACS) Consortium to assess deficits specific to schizophrenia was used to measure cognition in a large group of individuals with schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder.
A total of 519 participants (188 with schizophrenia, 63 with schizo-affective disorder and 268 controls) were administered three cognitive paradigms assessing the domains of goal maintenance in working memory, relational encoding and retrieval in episodic memory and visual integration.
Across the three domains, the results showed no major quantitative differences between patient groups, with both groups uniformly performing worse than healthy subjects.
The findings of this study suggests that, with regard to deficits in cognition, considered a major aspect of psychotic disorder, schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder do not demonstrate major significant distinctions. These results have important implications for our understanding of the nosological structure of major psychopathology, providing evidence consistent with the hypothesis that there is no natural distinction between cognitive functioning in schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder.
We investigated a possible outbreak of H. pylori in a rural Northern Plains community. In a cross-sectional survey, we randomly sampled 244 households from a geocoded emergency medical system database. We used a complex survey design and global positioning system units to locate houses and randomly selected one eligible household member to administer a questionnaire and a 13C-urea breath test for active H. pylori infection (n = 166). In weighted analyses, active H. pylori infection was detected in 55·0% of the sample. Factors associated with infection on multivariate analysis included using a public drinking-water supply [odds ratio (OR) 12·2, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2·9–50·7] and current cigarette smoking (OR 4·1, 95% CI 1·7–9·6). People who lived in houses with more rooms, a possible indicator of decreased crowding in the home, were less likely to have active H. pylori infections (OR 0·7, 95% CI 0·5–0·9 for each additional room).
The current status of the DRIFT (Directional Recoil Identification From Tracks)
experiment at Boulby Mine is presented, including the latest limits on the WIMP
spin-dependent cross-section from 1.5 kg days of running with a mixture of CS2
and CF4. Planned upgrades to DRIFT IId are detailed, along with ongoing work
towards DRIFT III, which aims to be the world’s first 10 m3-scale directional
Dark Matter detector.
Neuroimaging research has demonstrated medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) hyporesponsivity and amygdala hyperresponsivity to trauma-related or emotional stimuli in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Relatively few studies have examined brain responses to the recollection of stressful, but trauma-unrelated, personal events in PTSD. In the current study, we sought to determine whether regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) abnormalities in mPFC and amygdala in PTSD could be observed during the recollection of trauma-unrelated stressful personal events.
Participants were 35 right-handed male combat veterans (MCVs) and female nurse veterans (FNVs) who served in Vietnam: 17 (seven male, 10 female) with current military-related PTSD and 18 (nine male, nine female) with no current or lifetime PTSD. We used positron emission tomography (PET) and script-driven imagery to study rCBF during the recollection of trauma-unrelated stressful versus neutral and traumatic events.
Voxelwise tests revealed significant between-group differences for the trauma-unrelated stressful versus neutral comparison in mPFC, specifically in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Functional region of interest (ROI) analyses demonstrated that this interaction in mPFC represented greater rCBF decreases in the PTSD group during trauma-unrelated stressful imagery relative to neutral imagery compared to the non-PTSD group. No differential amygdala activation was observed between groups or in either group separately.
Veterans with PTSD, compared to those without PTSD, exhibited decreased rCBF in mPFC during mental imagery of trauma-unrelated stressful personal experiences. Functional neuroanatomical models of PTSD must account for diminished mPFC responses that extend to emotional stimuli, including stressful personal experiences that are not directly related to PTSD.
Realization of property enhancements inherent to the presence of nanoparticles continues to be a challenge for the production of bulk nanocomposite materials with commercially available techniques. This study combines twin-screw compounding with surface modification of SiO2 nanoparticles to enable targeted dispersion in a SEBS block copolymer. Production of these composites with high levels of well-dispersed particulates aims to leverage aggregation for production of hierarchical structure. The aggregation state of the particles as well as the level of order in the block copolymer morphology was determined through USAXS and TEM. Particles coated with ligands miscible with the end-blocks of the BCP (minority component) increased dispersion at all loading levels observed up to 10 vol%. Ligands employed to increase miscibility of the nanoparticle with the mid-block (majority component) resulted in large aggregates for all loadings without disturbance of the BCP morphology.
Increasing prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been reported in Canada. We report the results of a prospective surveillance of MRSA infections in Alberta over a consecutive 3-year period. A total of 8910 unique clinical MRSA isolates was analysed from July 2005 to June 2008. The incidence of MRSA infection increased over the study period and was highest in males, age group ⩾85 years, and the Calgary Area. CMRSA10 (USA300) and CMRSA2 (USA100/800) were the most common PFGE strain types, representing 53·0% and 27·9% of all isolates, respectively. Significant differences were noted between MRSA strains in the source of infection and antimicrobial susceptibility. The incidence of MRSA infection in Alberta has nearly doubled in the last 3 years; this is attributed to the emergence of CMRSA10 as the predominant strain.
Fatty acids are the chemical moieties that are thought to stimulate oral nutrient sensors, which detect the fat content of foods. In animals, oral hypersensitivity to fatty acids is associated with decreased fat intake and body weight. The aims of the present study were to investigate oral fatty acid sensitivity, food selection and BMI in human subjects. The study included two parts; study 1 established in thirty-one subjects (29 (sem 1·4) years, 22·8 (sem 0·5) kg/m2) taste thresholds using 3-AFC (3-Alternate Forced Choice Methodology) for oleic, linoleic and lauric acids, and quantified oral lipase activity. During study 2, fifty-four subjects (20 (sem 0·3) years, 21·5 (sem 0·4) kg/m2) were screened for oral fatty acid sensitivity using oleic acid (1·4 mm), and they were defined as hypo- or hypersensitive via triplicate triangle tests. Habitual energy and macronutrient intakes were quantified from 2 d diet records, and BMI was calculated from height and weight. Subjects also completed a fat ranking task using custard containing varying amounts (0, 2, 6 and 10 %) of fat. Study 1 reported median lipase activity as 2 μmol fatty acids/min per l, and detection thresholds for oleic, linoleic and lauric acids were 2·2 (sem 0·1), 1·5 (sem 0·1) and 2·6 (sem 0·3) mm. Study 2 identified twelve hypersensitive subjects, and hypersensitivity was associated with lower energy and fat intakes, lower BMI (P < 0·05) and an increased ability to rank custards based on fat content (P < 0·05). Sensitivity to oleic acid was correlated to performance in the fat ranking task (r 0·4, P < 0·05). These data suggest that oral fatty acid hypersensitivity is associated with lower energy and fat intakes and BMI, and it may serve as a factor that influences fat consumption in human subjects.
In this case-control study, cases [community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA), n=79] and controls [community-associated methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (CA-MSSA), n=36] were defined as a laboratory-confirmed infection in a patient with no previous hospital-associated factors. Skin and soft tissue were the predominant sites of infection, both for cases (67·1%) and controls (55·6%). Most of the cases (79·7%) and controls (77·8%) were aged <30 years. Investigations did not reveal any significant statistical differences in acquiring a CA-MRSA or CA-MSSA infection. The most common shared risk factors included overcrowding, previous antibiotic usage, existing skin conditions, household exposure to someone with a skin condition, scratches/insect bites, and exposure to healthcare workers. Similar risk factors, identified for both CA-MRSA and CA-MSSA infections, suggest standard hygienic measures and proper treatment guidelines would be beneficial in controlling both CA-MRSA and CA-MSSA in remote communities.