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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) share abnormalities in hot executive functions such as reward-based decision-making, as measured in the temporal discounting task (TD). No studies, however, have directly compared these disorders to investigate common/distinct neural profiles underlying such abnormalities. We wanted to test whether reward-based decision-making is a shared transdiagnostic feature of both disorders with similar neurofunctional substrates or whether it is a shared phenotype with disorder-differential neurofunctional underpinnings.
Age and IQ-matched boys with ASD (N = 20), with OCD (N = 20) and 20 healthy controls, performed an individually-adjusted functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) TD task. Brain activation and performance were compared between groups.
Boys with ASD showed greater choice-impulsivity than OCD and control boys. Whole-brain between-group comparison revealed shared reductions in ASD and OCD relative to control boys for delayed-immediate choices in right ventromedial/lateral orbitofrontal cortex extending into medial/inferior prefrontal cortex, and in cerebellum, posterior cingulate and precuneus. For immediate-delayed choices, patients relative to controls showed reduced activation in anterior cingulate/ventromedial prefrontal cortex reaching into left caudate, which, at a trend level, was more decreased in ASD than OCD patients, and in bilateral temporal and inferior parietal regions.
This first fMRI comparison between youth with ASD and with OCD, using a reward-based decision-making task, shows predominantly shared neurofunctional abnormalities during TD in key ventromedial, orbital- and inferior fronto-striatal, temporo-parietal and cerebellar regions of temporal foresight and reward processing, suggesting trans-diagnostic neurofunctional deficits.
This study aimed to assess head and neck cancer patient satisfaction with the use of a touch-screen computer patient-completed questionnaire for assessing Adult Co-morbidity Evaluation 27 co-morbidity scores prior to treatment, along with its clinical reliability.
A total of 96 head and neck cancer patients were included in the audit. An accurate Adult Co-morbidity Evaluation 27 co-morbidity score was achieved via patient-completed questionnaire assessment for 97 per cent of participants.
In all, 96 per cent of patients found the use of a touch-screen computer acceptable and would be willing to use one again, and 62 per cent would be willing to do so without help. Patients were more likely to be willing to use the computer again without help if they were aged 65 years or younger (χ2 test; p = 0.0054) or had a performance status of 0 or 1 (χ2 test; p = 0.00034).
Use of a touch-screen computer is an acceptable approach for assessing Adult Co-morbidity Evaluation 27 scores at pre-treatment assessment in a multidisciplinary joint surgical–oncology clinic.
Serotonin is under-researched in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), despite accumulating evidence for its involvement in impulsiveness and the disorder. Serotonin further modulates temporal discounting (TD), which is typically abnormal in ADHD relative to healthy subjects, underpinned by reduced fronto-striato-limbic activation. This study tested whether a single acute dose of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine up-regulates and normalizes reduced fronto-striato-limbic neurofunctional activation in ADHD during TD.
Twelve boys with ADHD were scanned twice in a placebo-controlled randomized design under either fluoxetine (between 8 and 15 mg, titrated to weight) or placebo while performing an individually adjusted functional magnetic resonance imaging TD task. Twenty healthy controls were scanned once. Brain activation was compared in patients under either drug condition and compared to controls to test for normalization effects.
Repeated-measures whole-brain analysis in patients revealed significant up-regulation with fluoxetine in a large cluster comprising right inferior frontal cortex, insula, premotor cortex and basal ganglia, which further correlated trend-wise with TD performance, which was impaired relative to controls under placebo, but normalized under fluoxetine. Fluoxetine further down-regulated default mode areas of posterior cingulate and precuneus. Comparisons between controls and patients under either drug condition revealed normalization with fluoxetine in right premotor-insular-parietal activation, which was reduced in patients under placebo.
The findings show that a serotonin agonist up-regulates activation in typical ADHD dysfunctional areas in right inferior frontal cortex, insula and striatum as well as down-regulating default mode network regions in the context of impulsivity and TD.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are often co-morbid and share performance and brain dysfunctions during working memory (WM). Serotonin agonists modulate WM and there is evidence of positive behavioural effects in both disorders. We therefore used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate shared and disorder-specific brain dysfunctions of WM in these disorders, and the effects of a single dose of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) fluoxetine.
Age-matched boys with ADHD (n = 17), ASD (n = 17) and controls (n = 22) were compared using fMRI during an N-back WM task. Patients were scanned twice, under either an acute dose of fluoxetine or placebo in a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized design. Repeated-measures analyses within patients assessed drug effects on performance and brain function. To test for normalization effects of brain dysfunctions, patients under each drug condition were compared to controls.
Under placebo, relative to controls, both ADHD and ASD boys shared underactivation in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Fluoxetine significantly normalized the DLPFC underactivation in ASD relative to controls whereas it increased posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) deactivation in ADHD relative to control boys. Within-patient analyses showed inverse effects of fluoxetine on PCC deactivation, which it enhanced in ADHD and decreased in ASD.
The findings show that fluoxetine modulates brain activation during WM in a disorder-specific manner by normalizing task-positive DLPFC dysfunction in ASD boys and enhancing task-negative default mode network (DMN) deactivation in ADHD.
We present the KMOS (K-band Multi-Object Spectrograph) Cluster and VIRIAL (VLT IRIFU Absorption Line) Guaranteed Time Observation (GTO) programs. KMOS provides 24 arms each feeding an integral field unit (14×14 spaxels of 0.2″ pixels) for IZ, YJ, H and K band near infrared (NIR) medium resolution spectroscopy (R ∼ 3500). Targets are selected from a 7.2′ diameter patrol field. Ultra-deep spectroscopy of ∼ 80 early-type cluster galaxies (∼ 20hr on source) and ∼ 200 (∼ 10hr on source) early-type field galaxies at 1 < z < 2 will dramatically improve the situation at z > 1 for which measurements of stellar velocity dispersions and absorption indices are limited to a few, often relatively young passively evolving galaxies (e.g. Bezanson 2013). In ESO Periods P92 and P93, 15 nights worth of data has been collected for KMOS-Clusters and 6 nights for VIRIAL: this will be supplemented with more data in upcoming semesters. All galaxies have multiband HST imaging including existing or upcoming WFC3 IR imaging, providing stellar mass maps and sizes. Combined with our dispersion measurements, this will allow us to examine the fundamental plane and the dynamical mass of a large sample of z > 1 galaxies for the first time, for both cluster and field galaxies.
What determines inter-individual variability to impairments in behavioural control that may underlie road-traffic accidents, and impulsive and violent behaviours occurring under the influence of cannabis, the most widely used illicit drug worldwide?
Employing a double-blind, repeated-measures design, we investigated the genetic and neural basis of variable sensitivity to cannabis-induced behavioural dyscontrol in healthy occasional cannabis users. Acute oral challenge with placebo or Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, was combined with functional magnetic resonance imaging, while participants performed a response inhibition task that involved inhibiting a pre-potent motor response. They were genotyped for rs1130233 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the protein kinase B (AKT1) gene.
Errors of inhibition were significantly (p = 0.008) increased following administration of THC in carriers of the A allele, but not in G allele homozygotes of the AKT1 rs1130233 SNP. The A allele carriers also displayed attenuation of left inferior frontal response with THC evident in the sample as a whole, while there was a modest enhancement of inferior frontal activation in the G homozygotes. There was a direct relationship (r = − 0.327, p = 0.045) between the behavioural effect of THC and its physiological effect in the inferior frontal gyrus, where AKT1 genotype modulated the effect of THC.
These results require independent replication and show that differing vulnerability to acute psychomotor impairments induced by cannabis depends on variation in a gene that influences dopamine function, and is mediated through modulation of the effect of cannabis on the inferior frontal cortex, that is rich in dopaminergic innervation and critical for psychomotor control.
Although cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), few reliable predictors of treatment outcome have been identified. The present study examined the neural correlates of symptom improvement with CBT among OCD patients with predominantly contamination obsessions and washing compulsions, the most common OCD symptom dimension.
Participants consisted of 12 OCD patients who underwent symptom provocation with contamination-related images during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning prior to 12 weeks of CBT.
Patterns of brain activity during symptom provocation were correlated with a decrease on the Yale–Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS) after treatment, even when controlling for baseline scores on the YBOCS and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and improvement on the BDI during treatment. Specifically, activation in brain regions involved in emotional processing, such as the anterior temporal pole and amygdala, was most strongly associated with better treatment response. By contrast, activity in areas involved in emotion regulation, such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, correlated negatively with treatment response mainly in the later stages within each block of exposure during symptom provocation.
Successful recruitment of limbic regions during exposure to threat cues in patients with contamination-based OCD may facilitate a better response to CBT, whereas excessive activation of dorsolateral prefrontal regions involved in cognitive control may hinder response to treatment. The theoretical implications of the findings and their potential relevance to personalized care approaches are discussed.
Differentiating bipolar from recurrent unipolar depression is a major clinical challenge. In 18 healthy females and 36 females in a depressive episode – 18 with bipolar disorder type I, 18 with recurrent unipolar depression – we applied pattern recognition analysis using subdivisions of anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) blood flow at rest, measured with arterial spin labelling. Subgenual ACC blood flow classified unipolar v. bipolar depression with 81% accuracy (83% sensitivity, 78% specificity).
The catecholamine reuptake inhibitors methylphenidate (MPH) and atomoxetine (ATX) are the most common treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study compares the neurofunctional modulation and normalization effects of acute doses of MPH and ATX within medication-naive ADHD boys during working memory (WM).
A total of 20 medication-naive ADHD boys underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging during a parametric WM n-back task three times, under a single clinical dose of either MPH, ATX or placebo in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over design. To test for normalization effects, brain activations in ADHD under each drug condition were compared with that of 20 age-matched healthy control boys.
Relative to healthy boys, ADHD boys under placebo showed impaired performance only under high WM load together with significant underactivation in the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Both drugs normalized the performance deficits relative to controls. ATX significantly enhanced right DLPFC activation relative to MPH within patients, and significantly normalized its underactivation relative to controls. MPH, by contrast, both relative to placebo and ATX, as well as relative to controls, upregulated the left inferior frontal cortex (IFC), but only during 2-back. Both drugs enhanced fronto-temporo-striatal activation in ADHD relative to control boys and deactivated the default-mode network, which were negatively associated with the reduced DLPFC activation and performance deficits, suggesting compensation effects.
The study shows both shared and drug-specific effects. ATX upregulated and normalized right DLPFC underactivation, while MPH upregulated left IFC activation, suggesting drug-specific laterality effects on prefrontal regions mediating WM.
A pandemic H1N1 infection wave in the USA occurred during spring 2009. Some hypothesized that for regions affected by the spring wave, an autumn outbreak would be less likely or delayed compared to unaffected regions because of herd immunity. We investigated this hypothesis using the Outpatient Influenza-like Illness (ILI) Network, a collaboration among the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health departments, and care providers. We evaluated the likelihood of high early autumn incidence given high spring incidence in core-based statistical areas (CBSAs). Using a surrogate incidence measure based on influenza-related illness ratios, we calculated the odds of high early autumn incidence given high spring incidence. CBSAs with high spring ILI ratios proved more likely than unaffected CBSAs to have high early autumn ratios, suggesting that elevated spring illness did not protect against early autumn increases. These novel methods are applicable to planning and studies involving other infectious diseases.
The well-known recurrent nova T Pyx has brightened by 7 magnitudes, starting on 2011 April 14, its first eruption since 1966. T Pyx is unique amongst recurrent novæ in being surrounded by a nebula formed of material ejected during previous eruptions. The latest eruption therefore offers the rare opportunity to observe a light echo sweeping through the existing shell, and a new one forming. The sudden exposure of the existing shell to high-energy light is expected to result in a change of the dust morphology as well as in the part destruction of molecules. We observe this process in the near- and mid-IR during several epochs using ESO's VLT instruments Sinfoni, Visir and Isaac. Unfortunately, in the data analysed so far we only have a tentative detection in Brα from the shell, so might in the end have to be content with upper limits for the emission from the various molecular bands and ionised lines.
The optoelectronic behavior of diodes deposited by plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition was investigated for a series of different silane concentrations in the gas phase. The purpose of this work was to correlate device characteristics with inherent properties of microcrystalline silicon by experiments and numerical simulations. Dark diode characteristics and, therefore, the open circuit voltage behavior of this series were dominated by the bulk properties of the i-layer (equilibrium carrier concentration) as shown by numerical modeling. Measurement of the solar cell output parameters as a function of the temperature showed that the fill factor of solar cells with small silane concentrations is dominated by the dark diode characteristics. This is in contrast to the temperature dependent fill factor of solar cells with large silane concentration which is limited by the extraction efficiency of the photogenerated carriers. Interface effects dominated the temperature dependent blue response. The gain in blue response increased with temperature and silane concentration by up to 200 % which revealed transport limiting material properties in the vicinity of the p/i-interface. This behavior was attributed to the nucleation region.
Numerical simulations of the current-voltage characteristics of PECVD-microcrystalline silicon based p-i-n diodes were performed to study the affect of defect density and mobility on solar cell performance. Depending on the combination of both parameters the ideality factor increases or decreases with applied forward bias. The reason is the variable contribution of volume recombination to the total diode current and space charge stored in defect states. The decrease in dark current with reduced hydrogen dilution can partly be attributed to a decrease in recombination centers by the same factor as predicted for midgap defect states by the analytic diode theory. Microcrystalline silicon solar cells deposited in the highly crystalline regime (high H-dilution) are limited by recombination of photogenerated carriers and high dark current. Both can be attributed to a large number of recombination centers. The fill factor of our state-of-theart solar cell is limited by the dark current for small illumination intensities, by series resistance for high illumination levels and by both at its maximum under AM1.5 illumination. Short-circuit current and open-circuit voltage pairs measured under intensities from 10-6 to 30 suns reveal a diode characteristic corresponding to an ideality factor of one at large forward bias.
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.
Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by stereotyped/obsessional behaviours and social and communicative deficits. However, there is significant variability in the clinical phenotype; for example, people with autism exhibit language delay whereas those with Asperger syndrome do not. It remains unclear whether localized differences in brain anatomy are associated with variation in the clinical phenotype.
We used voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to investigate brain anatomy in adults with ASD. We included 65 adults diagnosed with ASD (39 with Asperger syndrome and 26 with autism) and 33 controls who did not differ significantly in age or gender.
VBM revealed that subjects with ASD had a significant reduction in grey-matter volume of medial temporal, fusiform and cerebellar regions, and in white matter of the brainstem and cerebellar regions. Furthermore, within the subjects with ASD, brain anatomy varied with clinical phenotype. Those with autism demonstrated an increase in grey matter in frontal and temporal lobe regions that was not present in those with Asperger syndrome.
Adults with ASD have significant differences from controls in the anatomy of brain regions implicated in behaviours characterizing the disorder, and this differs according to clinical subtype.
Most neuroimaging studies of specific phobia have investigated the animal subtype. The blood-injection-injury (BII) subtype is characterized by a unique biphasic psychophysiological response, which could suggest a distinct neural substrate, but direct comparisons between phobia types are lacking.
This study compared the neural responses during the presentation of phobia-specific stimuli in 12 BII phobics, 14 spider (SP) phobics and 14 healthy controls using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Subjective ratings showed that the experimental paradigm produced the desired symptom-specific effects. As in many previous studies, when viewing spider-related stimuli, SP phobics showed increased activation in dorsal anterior cingulate and anterior insula, compared to BII phobics and healthy controls. However, when viewing images of blood-injection-injuries, participants with BII phobia mainly showed increased activation in the thalamus and visual/attention areas (occipito-temporo-parietal cortex), compared with the other two groups. The degree of provoked anxiety and disgust by phobia-relevant images was strongly associated with activation in several common regions across the two phobia groups (thalamus, cerebellum, occipito-temporal regions) but only correlated with activation in the dorsal anterior cingulate gyrus and the anterior insula in the SP phobics.
These results suggest partially distinct neurobiological substrates of animal and BII phobias and support their current classification as two distinct subtypes in the DSM-IV-TR. Further research is needed to better understand the precise neurobiological mechanisms in BII phobia and particularly the fainting response.
Autism-spectrum disorder is increasingly recognised, with recent studies estimating that 1% of children in South London are affected. However, the biology of comorbid mental health problems in people with autism-spectrum disorder is poorly understood.
To investigate the brain anatomy of people with autism-spectrum disorder with and without psychosis.
We used in vivo magnetic resonance imaging and compared 30 adults with autism-spectrum disorder (14 with a history of psychosis) and 16 healthy controls.
Compared with controls both autism-spectrum disorder groups had significantly less grey matter bilaterally in the temporal lobes and the cerebellum. In contrast, they had increased grey matter in striatal regions. However, those with psychosis also had a significant reduction in grey matter content of frontal and occipital regions. Contrary to our expectation, within autism-spectrum disorder, comparisons revealed that psychosis was associated with a reduction in grey matter of the right insular cortex and bilaterally in the cerebellum extending into the fusiform gyrus and the lingual gyrus.
The presence of neurodevelopmental abnormalities normally associated with autism-spectrum disorder might represent an alternative ‘entry-point’ into a final common pathway of psychosis.
Fatigue is the central symptom in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and yet very little is known about its neural correlates. The aim of this study was to explore the functional brain response, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to the imaginal experience of fatigue in CFS patients and controls.
We compared the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) responses of 12 CFS patients and 11 healthy controls to a novel fatigue provocation procedure designed to mimic real-life situations. A non-fatiguing anxiety-provoking condition was also included to control for the non-specific effects of negative affect.
During the provocation of fatigue, CFS patients reported feelings of both fatigue and anxiety and, compared to controls, they showed increased activation in the occipito-parietal cortex, posterior cingulate gyrus and parahippocampal gyrus, and decreased activation in dorsolateral and dorsomedial prefrontal cortices. The reverse pattern of findings was observed during the anxiety-provoking scenarios.
The results may suggest that, in CFS patients, the provocation of fatigue is associated with exaggerated emotional responses that patients may have difficulty suppressing. These findings are discussed in relation to the cognitive-behavioural model of CFS.
Our understanding of anatomical differences in people with autistic-spectrum disorder, is based on mixed-gender or male samples.
To study regional grey-matter and white-matter differences in the brains of women with autistic-spectrum disorder.
We compared the brain anatomy of 14 adult women with autistic-spectrum disorder with 19 controls using volumetric magnetic resonance imaging and voxel-based morphometry Results Women with autistic-spectrum disorder had a smaller density bilaterally of grey matter in the frontotemporal cortices and limbic system, and of white matter in the temporal lobes (anterior) and pons. In contrast, they had a larger white-matter density bilaterally in regions of the association and projection fibres of the frontal, parietal, posterior temporal and occipital lobes, in the commissural fibres of the corpus callosum (splenium) and cerebellum (anterior lobe). Further, we found a negative relationship between reduced grey-matter density in right limbic regions and social communication ability.
Women with autistic-spectrum disorder have significant differences in brain anatomy from controls, in brain regions previously reported as abnormal in adult men with the disorder. Some anatomical differences may be related to clinical symptoms.
The production of grammatically complex sentences is impaired in schizophrenia. It has been suggested that impaired syntax processing reflects a risk for the disorder.
To examine the neural correlates of syntax production in people with schizophrenia using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Six patients with schizophrenia and six healthy volunteers spoke about seven Rorschach inkblots for 3 min each while correlates of brain activation were measured with fMRI. Participants produced varying amounts of syntactically simple and complex sentences during each 3 min run. The number of simple and complex sentences was correlated separately with the BOLD contrast.
In the comparison between the control group and the patient group, the number of complex sentences produced was correlated with activation in the posterior portion of the right middle temporal (Brodmann area 21) and left superior frontal (BA 10) gyri in the control group but not in the patients.
The absence of activation in the right posterior temporal and left superior frontal cortex in patients with schizophrenia might contribute to the articulation of grammatically more simple speech in people with this disorder.