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Executive and mnemonic impairments have been well documented in the high-risk states for development of psychosis and have been pinpointed as a possible core neuropsychological dysfunction. However, their neurofunctional correlates are still not clear.
fMRI was used in 17 patients at risk for developing psychosis (ARMS, “at risk mental state”), 10 patients with a first episode of psychosis (FEP) and 15 age-matched healthy comparison subjects to examine neural responses to increasing difficulty of mnemonic engagement in an object–location paired associate memory task. Groups were matched in terms of age, IQ, gender, and psychopathology ratings. Accuracy and reaction time were recorded during the scan.
As the mnemonic load increased, response latency increased and response accuracy decreased in an approximately linear fashion. No main effect for group was observed. However, a trend towards decreased accuracy in FEP subjects, as compared with controls, was evident. As the task difficulty increased, increased brain activity was observed in the medial frontal cortex and in the medial posterior parietal cortex. Between-groups differences in activation were observed in a cluster spanning the MFG, SFG and SMA and in the right precuneus. However, these neurofunctional abnormalities were more evident in the most demanding level of the task than in the easy level, with the ARMS groups showing less activation than controls and higher activation than FEP.
Abnormal neural activity in medial frontal cortex and posterior parietal cortex during paired associate learning task may represent a neurofunctional substrates of vulnerability to psychosis.
People with ‘prodromal’ symptoms have a very high risk of developing psychosis. We used functional MRI to examine the neurocognitive basis of this vulnerability.
Cross-sectional comparison of subjects with an ARMS (n=17), first episode schizophreniform psychosis (n=10) and healthy volunteers (n=15). Subjects were studied using functional MRI while they performed an overt verbal fluency task, a random movement generation paradigm and an N-Back working memory task.
During an N-Back task the ARMS group engaged inferior frontal and posterior parietal cortex less than controls but more than the first episode group. During a motor generation task, the ARMS group showed less activation in the left inferior parietal cortex than controls, but greater activation than the first episode group. During verbal fluency using ‘Easy’ letters, the ARMS group demonstrated intermediate activation in the left inferior frontal cortex, with first episode groups showing least, and controls most, activation. When processing ‘Hard’ letters, differential activation was evident in two left inferior frontal regions. In its dorsolateral portion, the ARMS group showed less activation than controls but more than the first episode group, while in the opercular part of the left inferior frontal gyrus / anterior insula activation was greatest in the first episode group, weakest in controls and intermediate in the ARMS group.
The ARMS is associated with abnormalities of regional brain function that are qualitatively similar to those in patients who have just developed psychosis but less severe.
There is increasing evidence that changes in connections linking brain regions, as well as grey matter volumetric abnormalities are important in schizophrenia. The extent to which these are related to being at risk of psychosis as opposed to having a psychotic disorder is unclear. We will review the diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) findings which inform us about white matter integrity and organization, and relate it to our own work which compares grey matter volumes and white matter integrity in people at high risk of psychosis, patients with first episode psychosis, and healthy volunteers. We will also discuss the relationship of these findings to clinical symptoms and outcome.
30 subjects with an ‘at risk mental state’ (PACE criteria), 15 first psychotic episode patients and 30 controls were studied using an SPGR sequence and DTI.
Both the volumetric and DTI datasets were analysed using voxel based techniques in standard space. There were frontal and temporal grey matter reductions in the first episode group and more modest temporo-parietal volume reductions in the ‘at risk’ group. The first episode group had reduced fractional anisotropy in the superior longitudinal fasciculus bilaterally, left anterior corpus callosal and right superior fronto-occiptal tracts relative to controls, with qualitatively similar but less severe reductions in the ‘at risk’ subjects.
Abnormalities in the frontal and temporal grey matter and the tracts connecting them were evident in patients with first episode schizophrenia, with similar but less marked abnormalities in subjects with an ‘at risk’ mental state.
While recent research points to the potential benefits of clinical intervention before the first episode of psychosis, the logistical feasibility of this is unclear.
To assess the feasibility of providing a clinical service for people with prodromal symptoms in an inner city area where engagement with mental health services is generally poor.
Following a period of liaison with local agencies to promote the service, referrals were assessed and managed in a primary care setting. Activity of the service was audited over 30 months.
People with prodromal symptoms were referred by a range of community agencies and seen at their local primary care physician practice. Over 30 months, 180 clients were referred; 58 (32.2%) met criteria for an at risk mental state, most of whom (67.2%) had attenuated psychotic symptoms. Almost 30% were excluded due to current or previous psychotic illness, of which two-thirds were in the first episode of psychosis. The socio-demographic composition of the 'at risk' group reflected that of the local population, with an over-representation of clients from an ethnic minority. Over 90% of suitable clients remained engaged with the service after 1 year.
It is feasible to provide a clinical service for people with prodromal symptoms in a deprived inner city area with a large ethnic minority population.
We followed up a cohort (n = 35) of clients with an “At Risk Mental State” (ARMS) for almost 2 years (mean 21.3 months). At baseline, these clients had taken part in research looking at the relationship between reasoning biases, memory, personality styles and delusional ideation. During the follow-up period, clients underwent a package of intervention from a specialist early detection team. Eighty percent (n = 28) of these clients were successfully re-interviewed. There was improvement across the cohort as a whole, however five participants (17.9%) had made the transition to psychosis at follow-up. Those who had become psychotic had lower levels of manic symptomatology at baseline than those who did not enter the first episode. Further, across the cohort, impaired working memory and delusional ideation at baseline combined to predict 45% of the delusional ideation at follow-up. These preliminary findings suggest that working memory impairments may be linked to the persistence of delusional ideation and that manic symptoms in someone with an ARMS may suggest that such an individual is less likely to develop a frank psychotic episode.
Biases in cognition such as Jumping to Conclusions (JTC) and Verbal Self-Monitoring (VSM) are thought to underlie the formation of psychotic symptoms. This prospective study in people with an At Risk Mental State (ARMS) for psychosis examined how these cognitive biases changed over time, and predicted clinical and functional outcomes. Twenty-three participants were assessed at clinical presentation and a mean of 31 months later. Performance on a JTC and VSM tasks were measured at both time points. Relationships to symptom severity, level of function and the incidence of psychotic disorder were then examined. The levels of symptoms, function and VSM all improved over time, while JTC was stable. Five participants (22%) developed a psychotic disorder during the follow-up period, but the risk of transition was not related to performance on either task at baseline, or to longitudinal changes in task performance. JTC performance correlated with symptom severity at baseline and follow-up. Similarly, performance on the two tasks was not related to the level of functioning at follow-up. Thus, while the ARMS is associated with both VSM and JTC biases, neither predict the onset of psychosis or the overall functional outcome.
Standard lessons from economics tell us that an externality creates inefficiency, and that this inefficiency can be removed by internalizing the externality. This papers considers how successfully these lessons can be extended to intergenerational externalities such as emissions of greenhouse gas. For intergenerational externalities, the standard lessons involve comparisons between states whose populations of people differ, either in their identities or their numbers. Common notions of efficiency break down in these comparisons. This paper supplies a new notion of efficiency that allows the lessons to survive, but at the cost of reducing their practical significance.
Background: Our view is that sleep disturbance may be a contributory causal factor in the development and maintenance of psychotic experiences. A recent series of randomized controlled intervention studies has shown that cognitive-behavioural approaches can improve sleep in people with psychotic experiences. However, the effects of psychological intervention for improving sleep have not been evaluated in young people at ultra-high risk of psychosis. Improving sleep might prevent later transition to a mental health disorder. Aims: To assess the feasibility and acceptability of an intervention targeting sleep disturbance in young people at ultra-high risk of psychosis. Method: Patients were sought from NHS mental health services. Twelve young people at ultra-high risk of psychosis with sleep problems were offered an eight-session adapted CBT intervention for sleep problems. The core treatment techniques were stimulus control, circadian realignment, and regulating day-time activity. Participants were assessed before and after treatment and at a one month follow-up. Results: All eligible patients referred to the study agreed to take part. Eleven patients completed the intervention, and one patient withdrew after two sessions. Of those who completed treatment, the attendance rate was 89% and an average of 7.6 sessions (SD = 0.5) were attended. There were large effect size improvements in sleep. Post-treatment, six patients fell below the recommended cut-off for clinical insomnia. There were also improvements in negative affect and psychotic experiences. Conclusion: This uncontrolled feasibility study indicates that treating sleep problems in young people at ultra-high of psychosis is feasible, acceptable, and may be associated with clinical benefits.
Experiences of bereavement can be stressful and are frequently complicated by emotional, familial, and financial issues. Some—though not all—caregivers may benefit from bereavement support. While considered standard within palliative care services in Australia, bereavement support is not widely utilized by family caregivers. There is little research focused on the forms of bereavement support desired or required by family caregivers, how such care is viewed, and/or how bereavement support is experienced. This study examined the experiences of bereaved family caregivers and their impressions of and interactions with bereavement support.
This paper reports on one aspect of a broader study designed to explore a range of experiences of patients and caregivers to and through palliative care. Focusing on experiences of bereavement, it draws on qualitative semistructured interviews with 15 family caregivers of palliative care patients within a specialist palliative care unit of an Australian metropolitan hospital. The interviews for this stage of the study were initiated 3–9 months after an initial interview with a family caregiver, during which time the palliative patient had died, and they covered family caregivers' experiences of bereavement and bereavement support. Interviews were digitally audiotaped and transcribed in full. A thematic analysis was conducted utilizing the framework approach wherein interview transcripts were reviewed, key themes identified, and explanations developed.
The research identified four prevalent themes: (1) sociocultural constructions of bereavement support as for the incapable or socially isolated; (2) perceptions of bereavement support services as narrow in scope; (3) the “personal” character of bereavement and subsequent incompatibility with formalized support, and (4) issues around the timing and style of approaches to being offered support.
Significance of results:
Systematic pre-bereavement planning and careful communication about the services offered by palliative care bereavement support centers may improve receipt of support among bereaved family caregivers in need.
Reasoning is an activity of ours by which we come to satisfy synchronic requirements of rationality. However, reasoning itself is regulated by diachronic permissions of rationality. For each synchronic requirement there appears to be a corresponding diachronic permission, but the requirements and permissions are not related to each other in a systematic way. It is therefore a puzzle how reasoning according to permissions can systematically bring us to satisfy requirements.
It is unknown whether prodromal services improve outcomes in those who go on to develop psychosis, and whether these patients are demographically different from the overall first-episode population.
To compare sociodemographic features, duration of untreated psychosis, hospital admission and frequency of compulsory treatment in the first year after the onset of psychosis in patients who present to prodromal services with patients who did not present to services until the first episode of psychosis.
We compared two groups of patients with first-episode psychosis: one who made transition after presenting in the prodromal phase and the other who had presented with a first episode.
The patients who had presented before the first episode were more likely to be employed and less likely to belong to an ethnic minority group. They had a shorter duration of untreated psychosis, and were less likely to have been admitted to hospital and to have required compulsory treatment.
Patients who develop psychosis after being engaged in the prodromal phase have a better short-term clinical outcome than patients who do not present until the first episode. Patients who present during first episodes may be more likely to have sociodemographic features associated with relatively poor outcomes.
Both egalitarianism and prioritarianism give value to equality. Prioritarianism has an additively separable value function whereas egalitarianism does not. I show that in some cases prioritarianism and egalitarianism necessarily have different implications: I describe two alternatives G and H such that egalitarianism necessarily implies G is better than H whereas prioritarianism necessarily implies G and H are equally good. I also raise a doubt about the intelligibility of prioritarianism.
Expected utility theory tells us how we should make decisions under uncertainty: we should choose the option that leads to the greatest expectation of utility. This may, however, not be the option that is likely to produce the best result – that may be the wrong choice if it also creates a small chance of a great disaster. A small chance of disaster may be the most important consideration in decision making. Climate change creates a small chance of disaster, and some authors believe this to be the most important consideration in deciding our response to climate change. To know whether they are right, we need to make a moral judgement about just how bad the disaster would be.
Dorsey rejects Conclusion, so he believes he must reject one of the premises. He argues that the best option is to reject Premise 3. Rejecting Premise 3 entails a certain sort of discontinuity in value. So Dorsey believes he has an argument for discontinuity.
Impaired spatial working memory (SWM) is a robust feature of schizophrenia and has been linked to the risk of developing psychosis in people with an at-risk mental state (ARMS). We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine the neural substrate of SWM in the ARMS and in patients who had just developed schizophrenia.
fMRI was used to study 17 patients with an ARMS, 10 patients with a first episode of psychosis and 15 age-matched healthy comparison subjects. The blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) response was measured while subjects performed an object–location paired-associate memory task, with experimental manipulation of mnemonic load.
In all groups, increasing mnemonic load was associated with activation in the medial frontal and medial posterior parietal cortex. Significant between-group differences in activation were evident in a cluster spanning the medial frontal cortex and right precuneus, with the ARMS groups showing less activation than controls but greater activation than first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients. These group differences were more evident at the most demanding levels of the task than at the easy level. In all groups, task performance improved with repetition of the conditions. However, there was a significant group difference in the response of the right precuneus across repeated trials, with an attenuation of activation in controls but increased activation in FEP and little change in the ARMS.
Abnormal neural activity in the medial frontal cortex and posterior parietal cortex during an SWM task may be a neural correlate of increased vulnerability to psychosis.