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On 31st January 2020, the Italian cabinet declared a 6-month national emergency after the detection of the first two COVID-19 positive cases in Rome, two Chinese tourists travelling from Wuhan. Between then and the total lockdown introduced on 22nd March 2020 Italy was hit by an unprecedented crisis. In addition to being the first European country to be heavily swept by the COVID-19 pandemic, Italy was the first to introduce stringent lockdown measures. The SARS-CoV-2 outbreak and related COVID-19 pandemic have been the worst public health challenge endured in recent history by Italy. Two months since the beginning of the first wave, the estimated excess deaths in Lombardy, the hardest hit region in the country, reached a peak of more than 23,000 deaths. The extraordinary pressures exerted on the Italian Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN) inevitably leads to questions about its preparedness and the appropriateness and effectiveness of responses implemented at both national and regional levels. The aim of the paper is to critically review the Italian response to the COVID-19 crisis spanning from the first early acute phases of the emergency (March–May 2020) to the relative stability of the epidemiological situation just before the second outbreak in October 2020.
DNA methylation of the elongation of very long chain fatty acids protein 2 (ELOVL2) was suggested as a biomarker of biological aging, while childhood maltreatment (CM) has been associated with accelerated biological aging. We investigated the association of age and CM experiences with ELOVL2 methylation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Furthermore, we investigated ELOVL2 methylation in the umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells (UBMC) of newborns of mothers with and without CM. PBMC and UBMC were isolated from 113 mother–newborn dyads and genomic DNA was extracted. Mothers with and without CM experiences were recruited directly postpartum. Mass array spectrometry and pyrosequencing were used for methylation analyses of ELOVL2 intron 1, and exon 1 and 5′ end, respectively. ELOVL2 5′ end and intron 1 methylation increased with higher age but were not associated with CM experiences. On the contrary, overall ELOVL2 exon 1 methylation increased with higher CM, but these changes were minimal and did not increase with age. Maternal CM experiences and neonatal methylation of ELOVL2 intron 1 or exon 1 were not significantly correlated. Our study suggests region-specific effects of chronological age and experienced CM on ELOVL2 methylation and shows that the epigenetic biomarker for age within the ELOVL2 gene does not show accelerated biological aging years after CM exposure.
A high-fibre diet is associated with a lower risk for diseases. However, few adults meet the dietary fibre recommendation. Therefore, the effects and acceptance of an algorithm-generated personalised dietary advice (PDA) compared with general advice (GA) on fibre intake were investigated.
A 6-week, single-blind randomised controlled trial with a 3-month follow-up.
PDA was based on habitual intake and provided fibre-rich alternatives using a website; GA contained brochures. Dietary intake was assessed at baseline, week 1, week 6 and 3-month follow-up. Both groups evaluated their advice at week 6. All participants had access to PDA from week 7 until 3-month follow-up.
Two groups of healthy adults: PDA (n 34) and GA (n 47). For 3-month follow-up analysis, participants were re-divided into visitors (n 52) and non-visitors (n 26) of the PDA.
At week 6, energy intake remained stable in both groups, but fibre intake per 1000 kcal increased non-significantly in both groups (PDA = Δ0·5 ± 2·8; GA = Δ0·8 ± 3·1, P = 0·128). Importantly, a significantly higher percentage of PDA participants adhered to the recommendation compared with week 1 (PDA = 21 % increase; GA = 4 % increase, P ≤ 0·001). PDA participants evaluated the advice significantly better compared with GA participants. At 3-month follow-up, fibre intake increased compared with baseline (visitors = Δ2·2 ± 2·6, P < 0·001; non-visitors = Δ1·5 ± 1·9, P = 0·001), but was insignificantly different between groups. Visitors had a decrease and non-visitors had an increase in energy intake (visitors =Δ − 132 ± 525; non-visitors = Δ109 ± 507, P = 0·055).
The algorithm-generated PDA was well accepted and stimulated adherence to the recommendations more than GA, indicating to be a suitable and cost-efficient method for improving dietary fibre intake in healthy adults.
This chapter will provide an overview of the various ways in which addictive disorders can be studied using human participants in laboratory settings. Human laboratory research provides an important piece of the translational research chain by enabling researchers to examine addictive behaviors in controlled settings using validated experimental methodologies. This chapter will cover three common laboratory techniques: cue exposure protocols, stress induction protocols, and addictive object self-administration protocols. The primary goal is to provide a methodological guide to conducting research using these approaches, but not extensively review previous research. Therefore, for each technique, we discuss the background and rationale, ethical considerations, strengths and limitations, and representative examples and promising future directions in the use of the technique to study substance and behavioral addictions.
The present study aimed to compare the effects of drinking different types of coffee before a high-glycaemic index (GI) meal on postprandial glucose metabolism and to assess the effects of adding milk and sugar into coffee. In this randomised, crossover, acute feeding study, apparently healthy adults (n 21) consumed the test drink followed by a high-GI meal in each session. Different types of coffee (espresso, instant, boiled and decaffeinated, all with milk and sugar) and plain water were tested in separate sessions, while a subset of the participants (n 10) completed extra sessions using black coffees. Postprandial levels of glucose, insulin, active glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and nitrotyrosine between different test drinks were compared using linear mixed models. Results showed that only preloading decaffeinated coffee with milk and sugar led to significantly lower glucose incremental AUC (iAUC; 14 % lower, P = 0·001) than water. Preloading black coffees led to greater postprandial glucose iAUC than preloading coffees with milk and sugar added (12–35 % smaller, P < 0·05 for all coffee types). Active GLP-1 and nitrotyrosine levels were not significantly different between test drinks. To conclude, preloading decaffeinated coffee with milk and sugar led to a blunted postprandial glycaemic response after a subsequent high-GI meal, while adding milk and sugar into coffee could mitigate the impairment effect of black coffee towards postprandial glucose responses. These findings may partly explain the positive effects of coffee consumption on glucose metabolism.
The wide spectrum of neuropsychiatric conditions collectively known as 'anxiety disorders” are highly comorbid with depression and are the most common psychiatric conditions encountered in the general population. Despite considerable advances in understanding symptomatology, the functional mechanisms of anxiety-related behaviour remain poorly understood.
Methods & Objectives
Using the CADITM platform, we carried out an analytical integration of quantitative differential proteomics data obtained from cingulate cortex (CC) synaptosomes of high and low-anxiety (HAB/LAB) mice to enable the detailed identification of the mechanisms that, at least in part, underlie the HAB phenotype.
The synaptic environment in the CC of HAB animals is dominated by the stabilization and enlargement of existing excitatory dendritic spines, increased high-frequency stimulation of excitatory glutamatergic synapses, enhanced control over the modulation of synaptic strength and relatively weakened inhibitory GABAergic control together with increased spontaneous synaptic activity in non-glutamatergic network members. This is coupled with increased oxidative phosphorylation, enhanced fatty acid oxidation and ATP production in synaptic mitochondria. While ketone bodies appear to be the main energy source for ATP synthesis, glucose/lactate metabolism is mainly used to maintain NADH/FADH2 homeostasis. The effects of increased oxidative and ionic stress appear simultaneously and synergistically controlled through at least seven different mechanisms without involving the glutathione-associated network.
In high-anxiety trait animals, cingulate cortex activity is characterized by low de novo synaptic spine generation, over-activation of excitatory networks, long-term potentiation (LTP) maintenance, significant neurotransmission imbalances and structural as well as metabolic adaptations to persistent mitochondrial Ca2+ loading and oxidative stress.
Introduction: Childhood obesity is rising in all countries. Dietary habits are modifiable factors which develop early in life. During growth, several factors, such as peer- influence and food availability, determine the development of food preferences and eating behaviour. Parents play also a key role model by influencing their own food intake.
Objetives: The purpose of this study was to assess the influence of parental role modelling, as predictor of fruits and vegetables intake in European pre-schoolers.
Methods: The present study included a sample of 6633 preschool children (51.9% boys) from six European centres (Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Poland and Spain), 3.5 to 5.5 years of age, participating in the ToyBox-study. Data on parental role modelling related with their own fruits and vegetables intake (portions/day) and children's fruits and vegetables intake (portions/day) were collected via standardized proxy-administered questionnaires. Linear regression model was used to assess this association. The adjusted model included socioeconomic status and weight status.
Results: In the unadjusted model, boys whose parents consumed fruits, showed a mean intake of 0.09 (95% CI: 0.08–0.11; p ≤ 0.001) portions of fruits more than the boys whose parents did not consume fruits. Also, girls whose parents consumed fruits, had intake of 0.10 (95% CI: 0.08–0.12; p ≤ 0.001) portions of fruits more than the girls whose parents did not consume fruits.
Moreover, boys whose parents consumed vegetables, showed a mean intake of 0.09 (95% CI: 0.07–0.11; p ≤ 0.001) portions of vegetables more than the boys whose parents did not consume vegetables. Also, girls whose parents consumed fruits, had intake of 0.11 (95% CI: 0.09–0.13; p ≤ 0.001) portions of vegetables more than the girls whose parents did not consume vegetables.
Finally, parental role related with fruits consumption explained 19.3% of fruits intake in European pre-schoolers and the 17.8% of vegetables intake in boys and 21.9% of vegetable intake in girls taking into consideration the potential effect of socioeconomic status of the family and the weight status of the children.
Conclusions: Parental role model of fruit intake has moderate effect on the pre-schooler's dietary intake. However, home environment characteristics such as family rules or availability and accessibility of foods should be considered as potential factors related to food intake in pre-schoolers.
Art programmes have been shown to contribute to the quality of life of people with dementia. To understand how people with dementia benefit from art programmes it is important to evaluate them. ‘Unforgettable’ is an interactive museum programme for people with dementia and their care-givers in the Netherlands. This study examined how it is experienced and appreciated by its users. It also investigated whether the user experience and appreciation are linked to their specific background characteristics. In a single-group design, we used a ‘take-home’ survey to collect the participants’ background characteristics and their experience and appreciation of the programme. A before and after intervention measurement took place, using a smiley face scale, to measure the change in mood of participants. Participants evaluated the programme very positively. Social interaction proved a key factor in their appreciation. The mood of the persons with dementia (N = 95) and care-givers (N = 104) improved after participation in the ‘Unforgettable’ programme. The results of this evaluation may contribute to the quality of art programmes in museums.
Stroke is a major cause of lasting disability worldwide. Virtual reality (VR) training has been introduced as a means of increasing the effectiveness of rehabilitation by providing large doses of task-related training with many repetitions and different modes of feedback. As VR is increasingly used in neurorehabilitation, cost considerations are important.
A cost-analysis was conducted based on the Virtual Reality for Upper Extremity in Subacute stroke (VIRTUES) trial, a recent international randomized controlled observer-blind multicenter trial. Average therapist time required per therapy session may differ between VR and conventional training (CT), leading to potential cost savings due to a therapist being able to supervise more than one patient at a time. Exploratory cost analyses are presented to explore such assumptions.
Based on our calculations, VR incurs extra costs as compared with CT when the same amount of therapist contact is provided, as was the case in VIRTUES. However, the exploratory analyses demonstrated that these costs may be rapidly counterbalanced when time for therapist supervision can be reduced.
Extra costs for VR can be outweighed by reduced therapist time and decreasing VR system costs in the nearer future, and not least by increased patient motivation.
Depression has been associated with abnormalities in neural underpinnings of Reward Learning (RL). However, inconsistencies have emerged, possibly owing to medication effects. Additionally, it remains unclear how neural RL signals relate to real-life behaviour. The current study, therefore, examined neural RL signals in young, mildly to moderately depressed – but non-help-seeking and unmedicated – individuals and how these signals are associated with depressive symptoms and real-life motivated behaviour.
Individuals with symptoms along the depression continuum (n = 87) were recruited from the community. They performed an RL task during functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and were assessed with the Experience Sampling Method (ESM), completing short questionnaires on emotions and behaviours up to 10 times/day for 15 days. Q-learning model-derived Reward Prediction Errors (RPEs) were examined in striatal areas, and subsequently associated with depressive symptoms and an ESM measure capturing (non-linearly) how anticipation of reward experience corresponds to actual reward experience later on.
Significant RPE signals were found in the striatum, insula, amygdala, hippocampus, frontal and occipital cortices. Region-of-interest analyses revealed a significant association between RPE signals and (a) self-reported depressive symptoms in the right nucleus accumbens (b = −0.017, p = 0.006) and putamen (b = −0.013, p = .012); and (b) the quadratic ESM variable in the left (b = 0.010, p = .010) and right (b = 0.026, p = 0.011) nucleus accumbens and right putamen (b = 0.047, p < 0.001).
Striatal RPE signals are disrupted along the depression continuum. Moreover, they are associated with reward-related behaviour in real-life, suggesting that real-life coupling of reward anticipation and engagement in rewarding activities might be a relevant target of psychological therapies for depression.
To examine the feasibility of using social media to assess the consumer nutrition environment by comparing sentiment expressed in Yelp reviews with information obtained from a direct observation audit instrument for grocery stores.
Trained raters used the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey in Stores (NEMS-S) in 100 grocery stores from July 2015 to March 2016. Yelp reviews were available for sixty-nine of these stores and were retrieved in February 2017 using the Yelp Application Program Interface. A sentiment analysis was conducted to quantify the perceptions of the consumer nutrition environment in the review text. Pearson correlation coefficients (ρ) were used to compare NEMS-S scores with Yelp review text on food availability, quality, price and shopping experience.
Detroit, Michigan, USA.
Yelp reviews contained more comments about food availability and the overall shopping experience than food price and food quality. Negative sentiment about food prices in Yelp review text and the number of dollar signs on Yelp were positively correlated with observed food prices in stores (ρ=0·413 and 0·462, respectively). Stores with greater food availability were rated as more expensive on Yelp. Other aspects of the food store environment (e.g. overall quality and shopping experience) were captured only in Yelp.
While Yelp cannot replace in-person audits for collecting detailed information on the availability, quality and cost of specific food items, Yelp holds promise as a cost-effective means to gather information on the overall cost, quality and experience of food stores, which may be relevant for nutrition outcomes.
Previous research shows that museum programs can be beneficial for the quality of life of people with dementia. This study evaluated the implementation of “Unforgettable,” an interactive museum program for people with dementia and their caregivers in the Netherlands, and investigated the impact of the program's implementation on the museums as an organization and on the attitudes toward dementia of the museum staff.
Semi-structured interviews were held with 23 stakeholders to identify facilitators and barriers to the implementation of the Unforgettable program in 12 Dutch museums. Based on the model of Meiland et al. (2004), an overview is made of factors influencing the different levels and phases of the implementation process. The impact of Unforgettable on the attitudes of the museum staff was assessed using the Approaches to Dementia Questionnaire (n = 176).
The training in the Unforgettable method, regular evaluation with the program guides and hosts, and cooperation with other organizations appeared essential for successful implementation of Unforgettable. A lack of promotional activities was an impeding factor. Compared to before the implementation, the museum employees’ attitudes toward people with dementia became more positive.
Both successful dissemination of the Unforgettable program and the more positive attitudes toward dementia of employees in museums implementing this program can contribute to the social participation of people with dementia and thereby to their quality of life.
Hospitalized older adults are at high risk of falling. The HELPER system is a ceiling-mounted fall detection system that sends an alert to a smartphone when a fall is detected. This article describes the performance of the HELPER system, which was pilot tested in a geriatric mental health hospital. The system’s accuracy in detecting falls was measured against the hospital records documenting falls. Following the pilot test, nurses were interviewed regarding their perceptions of this technology. In this study, the HELPER system missed one documented fall but detected four falls that were not documented. Although sensitivity (.80) of the system was high, numerous false alarms brought down positive predictive value (.01). Interviews with nurses provided valuable insights based on the operation of the technology in a real environment; these and other lessons learned will be particularly valuable to engineers developing this and other health and social care technologies.
Children with CHD and acquired heart disease have unique, high-risk physiology. They may have a higher risk of adverse tracheal-intubation-associated events, as compared with children with non-cardiac disease.
Materials and methods
We sought to evaluate the occurrence of adverse tracheal-intubation-associated events in children with cardiac disease compared to children with non-cardiac disease. A retrospective analysis of tracheal intubations from 38 international paediatric ICUs was performed using the National Emergency Airway Registry for Children (NEAR4KIDS) quality improvement registry. The primary outcome was the occurrence of any tracheal-intubation-associated event. Secondary outcomes included the occurrence of severe tracheal-intubation-associated events, multiple intubation attempts, and oxygen desaturation.
A total of 8851 intubations were reported between July, 2012 and March, 2016. Cardiac patients were younger, more likely to have haemodynamic instability, and less likely to have respiratory failure as an indication. The overall frequency of tracheal-intubation-associated events was not different (cardiac: 17% versus non-cardiac: 16%, p=0.13), nor was the rate of severe tracheal-intubation-associated events (cardiac: 7% versus non-cardiac: 6%, p=0.11). Tracheal-intubation-associated cardiac arrest occurred more often in cardiac patients (2.80 versus 1.28%; p<0.001), even after adjusting for patient and provider differences (adjusted odds ratio 1.79; p=0.03). Multiple intubation attempts occurred less often in cardiac patients (p=0.04), and oxygen desaturations occurred more often, even after excluding patients with cyanotic heart disease.
The overall incidence of adverse tracheal-intubation-associated events in cardiac patients was not different from that in non-cardiac patients. However, the presence of a cardiac diagnosis was associated with a higher occurrence of both tracheal-intubation-associated cardiac arrest and oxygen desaturation.
Decline in cognitive functioning precedes the first psychotic episode in the course of schizophrenia and is considered a hallmark symptom of the disorder. Given the low incidence of schizophrenia, it remains a challenge to investigate whether cognitive decline coincides with disease-related changes in brain structure, such as white matter abnormalities. The 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) is an appealing model in this context, as 25% of patients develop psychosis. Furthermore, we recently showed that cognitive decline also precedes the onset of psychosis in individuals with 22q11DS. Here, we investigate whether the early cognitive decline in patients with 22q11DS is associated with alterations in white matter microstructure.
We compared the fractional anisotropy (FA) of white matter in 22q11DS patients with cognitive decline [n = 16; −18.34 (15.8) VIQ percentile points over 6.80 (2.39) years] to 22q11DS patients without cognitive decline [n = 18; 17.71 (20.17) VIQ percentile points over 5.27 (2.03) years] by applying an atlas-based approach to diffusion-weighted imaging data.
FA was significantly increased (p < 0.05, FDR) in 22q11DS patients with a cognitive decline in the bilateral superior longitudinal fasciculus, the bilateral cingulum bundle, all subcomponents of the left internal capsule and the left superior frontal-occipital fasciculus as compared with 22q11DS patients without cognitive decline.
Within 22q11DS, the early cognitive decline is associated with microstructural differences in white matter. At the mean age of 17.8 years, these changes are reflected in increased FA in several tracts. We hypothesize that similar brain alterations associated with cognitive decline take place early in the trajectory of schizophrenia.
Vitamin D deficiency (plasma 25-hydroxycholecalciferol (25(OH)D)<50 nmol/l) is highly prevalent, increases risk of non-communicable diseases (NCD) and associates with increased oxidative stress in obese subjects, the elderly and patients suffering from NCD. If confirmed as an independent driver of oxidative stress, nutritional and other public health strategies to improve vitamin D status would be strongly supported. We investigated vitamin D/oxidative stress links without the confounding effects of advanced age, obesity, smoking or pre-existing disease. Plasma 25(OH)D and biomarkers of oxidative stress and antioxidant status (plasma allantoin, oxidised LDL, ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP), ascorbic acid, urine 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine) were measured in fasting samples from 196 consenting, healthy adults aged 18–26 years. Correlation between 25(OH)D and each biomarker as well as biomarker differences across 25(OH)D quartiles and groups (<25/25–49/≥50 nmol/l) were investigated. Median 25(OH)D was 40 nmol/l; >70 % of participants were vitamin D deficient. No significant correlations and no biomarker differences across 25(OH)D quartiles or groups were seen except for total antioxidant status. A weak direct association (r 0·252, P<0·05) was observed between 25(OH)D and FRAP, and those in the lowest 25(OH)D quartile and group had significantly lower FRAP values. Results did not reveal a clear link between vitamin D status and oxidative stress biomarkers in the absence of advanced age, obesity and disease, though some evidence of depleted antioxidant status in those with vitamin D deficiency was seen. Poor antioxidant status may pre-date increased oxidative stress. Study of effects of correction of deficiency on antioxidant status and oxidative stress in vitamin D-deficient but otherwise healthy subjects is needed.
Objectives: Treatments for childhood brain tumors (BT) confer substantial risks to neurological development and contribute to neuropsychological deficits in young adulthood. Evidence suggests that individuals who experience more significant neurological insult may lack insight into their neurocognitive limitations. The present study compared survivor, mother, and performance-based estimates of executive functioning (EF), and their associations with treatment intensity history in a subsample of young adult survivors of childhood BTs. Methods: Thirty-four survivors (52.9% female), aged 18 to 30 years (M=23.5; SD=3.4), 16.1 years post-diagnosis (SD=5.9), were administered self-report and performance-based EF measures. Mothers also rated survivor EF skills. Survivors were classified by treatment intensity history into Minimal, Average/Moderate, or Intensive/Most-Intensive groups. Discrepancies among survivor, mother, and performance-based EF estimates were compared. Results: Survivor-reported and performance-based measures were not correlated, although significant associations were found between mother-reported and performance measures. Survivors in the Intensive/Most-Intensive treatment group evidenced the greatest score discrepancies, reporting less executive dysfunction relative to mother-reported F(2,31)=7.81, p<.01, and performance-based measures F(14,50)=2.54, p<.05. Conversely, survivors in the Minimal treatment group reported greater EF difficulties relative to mothers t(8)=2.82, p<.05, but not performance-based estimates (ps>.05). Conclusions: There may be a lack of agreement among survivor, mother, and performance-based estimates of EF skills in young adult survivors of childhood BT, and these discrepancies may be associated with treatment intensity history. Neuropsychologists should use a multi-method, multi-reporter approach to assessment of EF in this population. Providers also should be aware of these discrepancies as they may be a barrier to intervention efforts. (JINS, 2016, 22, 900–910)
Children may influence household spending through ‘pester power’. The present study examined pestering through parent–child food shopping behaviours in relation to children’s diet and weight status.
Cross-sectional and prospective analyses drawn from the IDEFICS study, a cohort study of parents and their children. Children’s height and weight were measured and their recent diets were reported by parental proxy based on the Children’s Eating Habits Questionnaire-FFQ at baseline and 2-year follow-up. Parents also completed questionnaires at both time points about pestering, including whether the child goes grocery shopping with them, asks for items seen on television and is bought requested food items.
Participants were recruited from eight European countries for the IDEFICS study (non-nationally representative sample).
Study participants were children aged 2–9 years at enrolment and their parents. A total of 13 217 parent–child dyads were included at baseline. Two years later, 7820 of the children were re-examined.
Most parents (63 %) at baseline reported ‘sometimes’ acquiescing to their children’s requests to purchase specific foods. Pestering was modestly associated with weight and diet. At baseline, children whose parents ‘often’ complied consumed more high-sugar and high-fat foods. Children who ‘often’ asked for items seen on television were likely to become overweight after 2 years (OR=1·31), whereas ‘never’ asking protected against overweight (OR=0·72).
Pestering was modestly related to diet and weight in cross-sectional, but not longitudinal analyses. Asking for items seen on television had the most robust relationships across child outcomes and over time.
Describing and understanding growth patterns in tropical forests is crucial to assessing their role in carbon balance. Growth and vital rates of a protected gallery forest in central Brazil were estimated, based on six measurement intervals between 1985 and 2009. The sample consisted of all stems ≥ 10 cm diameter at breast height measured in 151 permanent plots (10 × 20 m), distributed in 10 transects perpendicular to the watercourse and 100 m apart from each other. Statistical significance of changes in density, basal area, growth and vital rates were tested using Wilcoxon signed-rank tests. Vital rates oscillated during the study period. Growth, recruitment and turnover rates fluctuated, but had a net decrease over the whole study period, whereas mortality seemed to be affected by a high disturbance event during the 1994–1999 period. The oscillatory behaviour of growth suggests that the forest is pulsating around a stable state (dynamic equilibrium). Nonetheless, persistence of decelerating growth trends may force the site's carrying capacity to a lower density or biomass state.