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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.
The second Singapore Mental Health Study (SMHS) – a nationwide, cross-sectional, epidemiological survey - was initiated in 2016 with the intent of tracking the state of mental health of the general population in Singapore. The study employed the same methodology as the first survey initiated in 2010. The SMHS 2016 aimed to (i) establish the 12-month and lifetime prevalence and correlates of major depressive disorder (MDD), dysthymia, bipolar disorder, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD) (which included alcohol abuse and dependence) and (ii) compare the prevalence of these disorders with reference to data from the SMHS 2010.
Door-to-door household surveys were conducted with adult Singapore residents aged 18 years and above from 2016 to 2018 (n = 6126) which yielded a response rate of 69.0%. The subjects were randomly selected using a disproportionate stratified sampling method and assessed using World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview version 3.0 (WHO-CIDI 3.0). The diagnoses of lifetime and 12-month selected mental disorders including MDD, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, GAD, OCD, and AUD (alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence), were based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) criteria.
The lifetime prevalence of at least one mood, anxiety or alcohol use disorder was 13.9% in the adult population. MDD had the highest lifetime prevalence (6.3%) followed by alcohol abuse (4.1%). The 12-month prevalence of any DSM-IV mental disorders was 6.5%. OCD had the highest 12-month prevalence (2.9%) followed by MDD (2.3%). Lifetime and 12-month prevalence of mental disorders assessed in SMHS 2016 (13.8% and 6.4%) was significantly higher than that in SMHS 2010 (12.0% and 4.4%). A significant increase was observed in the prevalence of lifetime GAD (0.9% to 1.6%) and alcohol abuse (3.1% to 4.1%). The 12-month prevalence of GAD (0.8% vs. 0.4%) and OCD (2.9% vs. 1.1%) was significantly higher in SMHS 2016 as compared to SMHS 2010.
The high prevalence of OCD and the increase across the two surveys needs to be tackled at a population level both in terms of creating awareness of the disorder and the need for early treatment. Youth emerge as a vulnerable group who are more likely to be associated with mental disorders and thus targeted interventions in this group with a focus on youth friendly and accessible care centres may lead to earlier detection and treatment of mental disorders.
Nasal irrigation is commonly performed in patients with chronic rhinosinusitis after functional endoscopic sinus surgery. This study systematically assessed the clinical efficacy of nasal irrigation from the medical literature.
The PubMed, Embase and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials databases were searched using a comprehensive strategy, limited to English-language articles, published from October 1971 to March 2017, and comprising human subjects.
A total of 824 trials were identified, 5 of which, involving 331 participants, were included in this systematic review. After selection, only three trials were eligible for inclusion in a meta-analysis. Nasal irrigation using normal saline and various solutions was found to be effective in reducing symptom scores and endoscopic scores for chronic rhinosinusitis patients after functional endoscopic sinus surgery. Comparison of outcome measures, such as eosinophil count reduction, revealed that various solutions are more effective than normal saline alone; however, no statistical significance was found in terms of reduced symptom or endoscopic scores.
Based on the current limited evidence, nasal irrigation is an effective therapy for chronic rhinosinusitis patients after functional endoscopic sinus surgery. However, when comparing various solutions with normal saline, no significant difference was found in symptom scores or endoscopic scores.
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.
Vascular stenosis, the abnormal narrowing of blood vessels, arises from defective developmental processes or atherosclerosis-related adult pathologies. Stenosis triggers a series of adaptive cellular responses that induces adverse remodeling, which can progress to partial or complete vessel occlusion with numerous fatal outcomes. Despite its severity, the cellular interactions and biophysical cues that regulate this pathological progression are poorly understood. Here, we report the design and fabrication of a three-dimensional (3D) in vitro system to model vascular stenosis so that specific cellular interactions and responses to hemodynamic stimuli can be investigated. Tubular cellularized constructs (cytotubes) were produced, using a collagen casting system, to generate a stenotic arterial model. Fabrication methods were developed to create cytotubes containing co-cultured vascular cells, where cell viability, distribution, morphology, and contraction were examined. Fibroblasts, bone marrow primary cells, smooth muscle cells (SMCs), and endothelial cells (ECs) remained viable during culture and developed location- and time-dependent morphologies. We found cytotube contraction to depend on cellular composition, where SMC-EC co-cultures adopted intermediate contractile phenotypes between SMC- and EC-only cytotubes. Our fabrication approach and the resulting artery model can serve as an in vitro 3D culture system to investigate vascular pathogenesis and promote the tissue engineering field.
Texture-engineered ceramics enable access to a vast array of novel texture-property relations leading to property values ranging between those of single crystals and isotropic bulk ceramics. Recently developed templated grain growth and magnetic alignment texturing methods yield high quality crystallographic texture, and thus significant advances in achievable texture-engineered properties in magnetic, piezoelectric, electronic, optical, thermoelectric, and structural ceramics. In this paper, we outline the fundamental basis for these texture-engineered properties and review recent contributions to the field of texture-engineered ceramics with an update on the properties of textured lead-free and lead-based piezoelectrics. We propose that further property improvements can be realized through development of processes that improve crystallographic alignment of the grain structure, create biaxial texture, and explore a wider array of crystallographic orientations. There is a critical need to model the physics of texture-engineered ceramics, and more comprehensively characterize texture, thus enabling testing of texture orientation-property relations and materials performance. We believe that in situ measurements of texture evolution can lead to a more fundamental and comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms of texture development.
Given the concerns regarding the adverse health outcomes associated with weight gain and metabolic syndrome in relation to use of second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs), we aimed in this study to explore whether the increase in the use of SGAs would have any impacts on the trend of excess mortality in people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (BPD).
Two nationwide samples of individuals with schizophrenia and BPD were identified in Taiwan's National Health Insurance Research Database in 2003 and in 2008, respectively. Age- and gender-standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated for each of the 3-year observation periods. The SMRs were compared between the calendar year cohorts, by disease group, and by causes of death.
The mortality gap for people with schizophrenia decreased slightly, revealing an SMR of 3.40 (95% CI 3.30–3.50) for the 2003 cohort and 3.14 (3.06–3.23) for the 2008 cohort. The mortality gap for BPD individuals remained relatively stable with only those aged 15–44 years having an SMR rising significantly from 7.04 (6.38–7.76) to 9.10 (8.44–9.79). Additionally, in this group of BPD patients aged 15–44 years, the natural-cause-SMR increased from 5.65 (4.93–6.44) to 7.16 (6.46–7.91).
Compared with the general population, the gap in the excess mortality for people with schizophrenia reduced slightly. However, the over 200% difference between the cohorts in the excess mortality for BPD individuals aged 15–44 years could be a warning sign. Future research to further examine the related factors underlying those changes is warranted.
Macdunnoughia crassisigna Warren (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) is a highly destructive herbivore that poses a serious risk to cotton, maize, soybean, and cruciferous vegetables in East Asia. Examining the effects of various biotic and abiotic factors on the flight performance of M. crassisigna is crucial for a better understanding of its trans-regional migration. In this study, the flight activity of M. crassisignai moths of different ages, under different temperatures and relative humidity (RH) levels, was evaluated by tethering individuals to computerized flight mills for a 24-h trial period. The results showed that M. crassisignai had the capacity for sustained flight and the flight ability was strongest in 3-day-old individuals, and then their flight performance decreased significantly in older moths. For both sexes, temperature had a significant effect on their flight performance, and the flight activity was relatively higher at 24–28°C than other temperatures. There was a significant effect of RH on all flight parameters of the tested moths, and the flight activity was relatively higher at RH of 60–75% than other RH levels. For 3-day-old moths under the optimum conditions (24°C and 75% RH) throughout the 24 h scotophase, their mean flight distance reached 66 km, and the mean flight duration reached 13.5 h, suggesting M. crassisigna possess strong potential to undertake long-distance migration. These findings will be helpful for developing sound forecasting systems of this pest species.
Better understanding of the complex interplay among key determinants of functional outcome is crucial to promoting recovery in psychotic disorders. However, this is understudied in the early course of illness. We aimed to examine the relationships among negative symptoms, neurocognition, general self-efficacy and global functioning in first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients using structural equation modeling (SEM).
Three hundred and twenty-one Chinese patients aged 26–55 years presenting with FEP to an early intervention program in Hong Kong were recruited. Assessments encompassing symptom profiles, functioning, perceived general self-efficacy and a battery of neurocognitive tests were conducted. Negative symptom measurement was subdivided into amotivation and diminished expression (DE) domain scores based on the ratings in the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms.
An initial SEM model showed no significant association between functioning and DE which was removed from further analysis. A final trimmed model yielded very good model fit (χ2 = 15.48, p = 0.63; comparative fit index = 1.00; root mean square error of approximation <0.001) and demonstrated that amotivation, neurocognition and general self-efficacy had a direct effect on global functioning. Amotivation was also found to mediate a significant indirect effect of neurocognition and general self-efficacy on functioning. Neurocognition was not significantly related to general self-efficacy.
Our results indicate a critical intermediary role of amotivation in linking neurocognitive impairment to functioning in FEP. General self-efficacy may represent a promising treatment target for improvement of motivational deficits and functional outcome in the early illness stage.
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.
An MP tandem Van de Graaff accelerator at the University of Rochester has been employed since May 1977 to detect 14C in various terrestrial samples. The carbon sample sizes required are 1mg or less. Dating accuracies based on reproducibility now approach (± 80 years). Measurements have been made on 1850 wood, Australian sucrose, a carbon sample from Mt Shasta, a baby woolly mammoth, and an Egyptian bull mummy wrapping.
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.
Relapse is distressingly common after the first episode of psychosis, yet it is poorly understood and difficult to predict. Investigating changes in cognitive function preceding relapse may provide new insights into the underlying mechanism of relapse in psychosis. We hypothesized that relapse in fully remitted first-episode psychosis patients was preceded by working memory deterioration.
Visual memory and verbal working memory were monitored prospectively in a 1-year randomized controlled trial of remitted first-episode psychosis patients assigned to medication continuation (quetiapine 400 mg/day) or discontinuation (placebo). Relapse (recurrence of positive symptoms of psychosis), visual (Visual Patterns Test) and verbal (Letter–Number span test) working memory and stressful life events were assessed monthly.
Remitted first-episode patients (n = 102) participated in the study. Relapsers (n = 53) and non-relapsers (n = 49) had similar baseline demographic and clinical profiles. Logistic regression analyses indicated relapse was associated with visual working memory deterioration 2 months before relapse [odds ratio (OR) 3.07, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.19–7.92, P = 0.02], more stressful life events 1 month before relapse (OR 2.11, 95% CI 1.20–3.72, P = 0.01) and medication discontinuation (OR 5.52, 95% CI 2.08–14.62, P = 0.001).
Visual working memory deterioration beginning 2 months before relapse in remitted first-episode psychosis patients (not baseline predictor) may reflect early brain dysfunction that heralds a psychotic relapse. The deterioration was found to be unrelated to a worsening of psychotic symptoms preceding relapse. Testable predictors offer insight into the brain processes underlying relapse in psychosis.
A nationwide population-based cohort was used to examine the severity of liver cirrhosis and risk of mortality from oral cancer.
The cohort consisted of 3583 patients with oral cancer treated by surgery between 2008 and 2011 in Taiwan. They were grouped on the basis of normal liver function (n = 3471), cirrhosis without decompensation (n = 72) and cirrhosis with decompensation (n = 40). The primary endpoint was mortality. Hazard ratios of death were also determined.
The mortality rates in the respective groups were 14.8 per cent, 20.8 per cent and 37.5 per cent at one year (p < 0.001). The adjusted hazard ratios of death at one year for each group compared to the normal group were 2.01 (p = 0.021) for cirrhotic patients without decompensation, 4.84 (p < 0.001) for those with decompensation and 2.65 (p < 0.001) for those receiving chemotherapy.
Liver cirrhosis can be used to predict one-year mortality in oral cancer patients. Chemotherapy should be used with caution and underlying co-morbidities should be managed in cirrhotic patients to reduce mortality risk.