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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.
Disturbances in trait emotions are a predominant feature in schizophrenia. However, less is known about (a) differences in trait emotion across phases of the illness such as the clinical high-risk (CHR) phase and (b) whether abnormalities in trait emotion that are associated with negative symptoms are driven by primary (i.e. idiopathic) or secondary (e.g. depression, anxiety) factors.
To examine profiles of trait affective disturbance and their clinical correlates in individuals with schizophrenia and individuals at CHR for psychosis.
In two studies (sample 1: 56 out-patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and 34 demographically matched individuals without schizophrenia (controls); sample 2: 50 individuals at CHR and 56 individuals not at CHR (controls)), participants completed self-report trait positive affect and negative affect questionnaires, clinical symptom interviews (positive, negative, disorganised, depression, anxiety) and community-based functional outcome measures.
Both clinical groups reported lower levels of positive affect (specific to joy among individuals with schizophrenia) and higher levels of negative affect compared with controls. For individuals with schizophrenia, links were found between positive affect and negative symptoms (which remained after controlling for secondary factors) and between negative affect and positive symptoms. For individuals at CHR, links were found between both affect dimensions and both types of symptom (which were largely accounted for by secondary factors).
Both clinical groups showed some evidence of reduced trait positive affect and elevated trait negative affect, suggesting that increasing trait positive affect and reducing trait negative affect is an important treatment goal across both populations. Clinical correlates of these emotional abnormalities were more integrally linked to clinical symptoms in individuals with schizophrenia and more closely linked to secondary influences such as depression and anxiety in individuals at CHR.
To compare and validate neurocognitive tests in the Harmonized Cognitive Assessment Protocol (HCAP) for the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS), and to identify appropriate tests to be administered in future waves of CHARLS.
We recruited 825 individuals from the CHARLS sample and 766 subjects from hospitals in six provinces and cities in China. All participants were administered the HCAP-neurocognitive tests, and their informants were interviewed regarding the respondents’ functional status. Trained clinicians administered the Clinical Dementia Rating scale (CDR) to assess the respondents’ cognitive status independently.
The testing protocol took an average of 58 minutes to complete. Refusal rates for tests of general cognition, episodic memory, and language were less than 10%. All neurocognitive test scores significantly correlated with the CDR global score (correlation coefficients ranged from 0.139 to 0.641). The Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) - telephone interview for cognitive status (TICS), community screening instrument for dementia (CSI-D) for respondent, episodic memory and language tests each accounted for more than 20% of the variance in global CDR score (p < 0.001) in bivariate tests. In the CHARLS subsample, age and education were associated with neuropsychological performance across most cognitive domains, and with functional status.
A brief set of the CHARLS-HCAP neurocognitive tests are feasible and valid to be used in the CHARLS sample and hospital samples. It could be applied in the future waves of the CHARLS study, and it allows estimating the prevalence of dementia in China through the population-based CHARLS.
Background: SMA is a neurodegenerative disease caused by biallelic deletion/mutation of SMN1. Copies of a similar gene (SMN2) modify disease severity. In a phase 1 study, SMN GRT onasemnogene abeparvovec (AVXS-101) improved outcomes of symptomatic SMA patients with two SMN2 copies (2xSMN2) dosed ≤6 months. Because motor neuron loss can be insidious and disease progression is rapid, early intervention is critical. This study evaluates AVXS-101 in presymptomatic SMA newborns. Methods: SPR1NT is a multicenter, open-label, phase 3 study enrolling ≥27 SMA patients with 2–3xSMN2. Asymptomatic infants ≤6 weeks receive a one-time intravenous AVXS-101 infusion (1.1x1014 vg/kg). Safety and efficacy are assessed through study end (18 [2xSMN2] or 24 months [3xSMN2]). Primary outcomes: independent sitting for ≥30 seconds (18 months [2xSMN2]) or assisted standing (24 months [3xSMN2]). Results: From April–September 2018, 7 infants received AVXS-101 (4 female; 6 with 2xSMN2) at ages 8–37 days. Mean baseline CHOP-INTEND score was 41.7 (n=6), which increased by 6.8, 11.0, 18.0, and 22.5 points at day 14 (n=4), month 1 (n=3), 2 (n=3), and 3 (n=2). Updated data available at the time of the congress will be presented. Conclusions: Preliminary data from SPR1NT show rapid motor function improvements in presymptomatic SMA patients.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACE) exhibit long-lasting consequences on later life and are considered as a major public health problem. ACEs can be divided into household dysfunctions, which affect the child indirectly, and direct maltreatment. As a high correlation between ACEs in general is known, we assessed the risk for child maltreatment associated with the occurrence of household dysfunctions. To provide a better understanding for the mechanisms leading to the deleterious sequelae of ACEs, we furthermore assessed whether the long-term consequences of household dysfunction are mediated by child maltreatment and thereby might be targeted by effective child protection programs.
A representative sample of the German population above the age of 14 (N = 2531) was assessed in a cross-sectional observational population-based survey.
The data reveal that mental illness of a household member was associated with significantly increased risks for all child maltreatment subtypes (ORs 4.95–5.55), just as household substance abuse (ORs 5.32–6.98), violence against the mother (ORs 4.43–10.26), incarceration of a household member (ORs 6.11–14.93) and parental separation (OR 3.37–4.87). Child maltreatment partially mediated the association of household mental illness, substance abuse and parental separation with later depression, anxiety, life satisfaction and subjective general health status and completely mediated the associations of intimate partner violence (IPV) and incarceration of a household member with anxiety, depression and subjective health status in adulthood.
ACEs linked to household dysfunction are associated with an increased risk for all subtypes of child maltreatment. The assessed widespread consequences of household dysfunction are mediated by child maltreatment. This underlines the role of prevention of child maltreatment in families with household dysfunction and implies child protection as a priority in any interventions.
To extend evidence on the short-term variability of passive and active suicidal ideation (SI) and the association with suggested proximal risk factors such as interpersonal variables (perceived burdensomeness [PB], thwarted belongingness [TB], hopelessness, and depression) in real-time.
This is an observational study using a prospective design applying ecological momentary assessments (EMA). Eligible for study inclusion were inpatients with unipolar depression, current or lifetime suicidal ideation, and fluent German. Over six days, 74 participants rated their momentary level of passive and active SI, PB, TB, depressiveness, and hopelessness up to 10 times per day on smartphones. Data was collected from August 2015 to July 2017. Compliance was excellent (89.7%).
Mean squared successive differences supported temporal instability for all variables. According intra-class correlations, between 25% and 47% of variance was accounted for by within-person variability. Multilevel analysis demonstrated significant positive associations between hopelessness, depressiveness, PB, and TB with passive SI. Prospectively, hopelessness and PB remained predictors of passive SI. For active SI, hopelessness, depression, PB, and TB were significantly associated cross-sectionally. Prospectively, hopelessness, PB, and the interaction PBxTB predicted active SI. All models were controlled for previous level of SI.
This study provides further evidence on the short-term variability of SI in very short time frames implying the need of assessing SI repeatedly in clinical and research settings. The associations between interpersonal variables and passive and active SI were only partial in line with assumptions of the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide. Overall, the effects were small warranting further investigation.
This paper aims to situate the Late Formative urban center of Izapa, Chiapas, Mexico into the greater discussion of early Mesoamerican writing systems. The elites of Izapa produced elaborate carved stone monuments in an era that bore witness to the fluorescence of three great hieroglyphic programs—the Zapotec, the Epi-Olmec, and the Maya—and, yet, only a handful of glyphs appear in Izapa's monumental corpus. In a discussion that includes Izapan iconoglyphs, possible nominal phrases, and the calendrical inscriptions on Izapa Stela 27, Stela 9, and Miscellaneous Monument 60, this study juxtaposes Izapan visual culture with representational systems to the east and west, and ultimately explores the narrative domains of greatest salience to Izapa's elite: image and cyclical time.
Individuals with schizophrenia have deficits in social cognition that are associated with poor functional outcome. Unfortunately, current treatments result in only modest improvement in social cognition. Oxytocin, a neuropeptide with pro-social effects, has significant benefits for social cognition in the general population. However, studies examining the efficacy of oxytocin in schizophrenia have yielded inconsistent results. One reason for inconsistency may be that oxytocin has typically not been combined with psychosocial interventions. It may be necessary for individuals with schizophrenia to receive concurrent psychosocial treatment while taking oxytocin to have the context needed to make gains in social cognitive skills.
The current study tested this hypothesis in a 24-week (48 session) double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that combined oxytocin and Cognitive-Behavioral Social Skills Training (CBSST), which included elements from Social Cognition and Interaction Training (SCIT). Participants included 62 outpatients diagnosed with schizophrenia (placebo n = 31; oxytocin n = 31) who received 36 IU BID, with supervised administration 45 min prior to sessions on CBSST group therapy days. Participants completed a battery of measures administered at 0, 12, and 24 weeks that assessed social cognition.
CBSST generally failed to enhance social cognition from baseline to end of study, and there was no additive benefit of oxytocin beyond the effects of CBSST alone.
Findings suggest that combined CBSST and oxytocin had minimal benefit for social cognition, adding to the growing literature indicating null effects of oxytocin in multi-dose trials. Methodological and biological factors may contribute to inconsistent results across studies.
Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is a powerful tool for macromolecular to near-atomic resolution structure determination in the biological sciences. The specimen is maintained in a near-native environment within a thin film of vitreous ice and imaged in a transmission electron microscope. The images can then be processed by a number of computational methods to produce three-dimensional information. Recent advances in sample preparation, imaging, and data processing have led to tremendous growth in the field of cryo-EM by providing higher resolution structures and the ability to investigate macromolecules within the context of the cell. Here, we review developments in sample preparation methods and substrates, detectors, phase plates, and cryo-correlative light and electron microscopy that have contributed to this expansion. We also have included specific biological applications.
Varroa destructor is considered the most damaging parasite affecting honeybees (Apis mellifera L.). However, some honeybee populations such as the savannah honeybee (Apis mellifera scutellata) can survive mite infestation without treatment. It is unclear if survival is due to resistance mechanisms decreasing parasite reproduction or to tolerance mechanisms decreasing the detrimental effects of mites on the host. This study investigates both aspects by quantifying the reproductive output of V. destructor and its physiological costs at the individual host level. Costs measured were not consistently lower when compared with susceptible honeybee populations, indicating a lack of tolerance. In contrast, reproduction of V. destructor mites was distinctly lower than in susceptible populations. There was higher proportion of infertile individuals and the reproductive success of fertile mites was lower than measured to date, even in surviving populations. Our results suggest that survival of savannah honeybees is based on resistance rather than tolerance to this parasite. We identified traits that may be useful for breeding programmes aimed at increasing the survival of susceptible populations. African honeybees may have benefited from a lack of human interference, allowing natural selection to shape a population of honeybees that is more resistant to Varroa mite infestation.
Cognition is increasingly being recognized as an important aspect of psychotic disorders and a key contributor to functional outcome. In the past, comparative studies have been performed in schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder with regard to cognitive performance, but the results have been mixed and the cognitive measures used have not always assessed the cognitive deficits found to be specific to psychosis. A set of optimized cognitive paradigms designed by the Cognitive Neuroscience Test Reliability and Clinical Applications for Schizophrenia (CNTRACS) Consortium to assess deficits specific to schizophrenia was used to measure cognition in a large group of individuals with schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder.
A total of 519 participants (188 with schizophrenia, 63 with schizo-affective disorder and 268 controls) were administered three cognitive paradigms assessing the domains of goal maintenance in working memory, relational encoding and retrieval in episodic memory and visual integration.
Across the three domains, the results showed no major quantitative differences between patient groups, with both groups uniformly performing worse than healthy subjects.
The findings of this study suggests that, with regard to deficits in cognition, considered a major aspect of psychotic disorder, schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder do not demonstrate major significant distinctions. These results have important implications for our understanding of the nosological structure of major psychopathology, providing evidence consistent with the hypothesis that there is no natural distinction between cognitive functioning in schizophrenia and schizo-affective disorder.
Although usually thought of as external environmental stressors, a significant heritable component has been reported for measures of stressful life events (SLEs) in twin studies.
We examined the variance in SLEs captured by common genetic variants from a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 2578 individuals. Genome-wide complex trait analysis (GCTA) was used to estimate the phenotypic variance tagged by single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). We also performed a GWAS on the number of SLEs, and looked at correlations between siblings.
A significant proportion of variance in SLEs was captured by SNPs (30%, p = 0.04). When events were divided into those considered to be dependent or independent, an equal amount of variance was explained for both. This ‘heritability’ was in part confounded by personality measures of neuroticism and psychoticism. A GWAS for the total number of SLEs revealed one SNP that reached genome-wide significance (p = 4 × 10−8), although this association was not replicated in separate samples. Using available sibling data for 744 individuals, we also found a significant positive correlation of R2 = 0.08 in SLEs (p = 0.03).
These results provide independent validation from molecular data for the heritability of reporting environmental measures, and show that this heritability is in part due to both common variants and the confounding effect of personality.
The objective of the present study was to compare the performance of seven different, widely applied crop models in predicting heat and drought stress effects. The study was part of a recent suite of model inter-comparisons initiated at European level and constitutes a component that has been lacking in the analysis of sources of uncertainties in crop models used to study the impacts of climate change. There was a specific focus on the sensitivity of models for winter wheat and maize to extreme weather conditions (heat and drought) during the short but critical period of 2 weeks after the start of flowering. Two locations in Austria, representing different agro-climatic zones and soil conditions, were included in the simulations over 2 years, 2003 and 2004, exhibiting contrasting weather conditions. In addition, soil management was modified at both sites by following either ploughing or minimum tillage. Since no comprehensive field experimental data sets were available, a relative comparison of simulated grain yields and soil moisture contents under defined weather scenarios with modified temperatures and precipitation was performed for a 2-week period after flowering. The results may help to reduce the uncertainty of simulated crop yields to extreme weather conditions through better understanding of the models’ behaviour. Although the crop models considered (DSSAT, EPIC, WOFOST, AQUACROP, FASSET, HERMES and CROPSYST) mostly showed similar trends in simulated grain yields for the different weather scenarios, it was obvious that heat and drought stress caused by changes in temperature and/or precipitation for a short period of 2 weeks resulted in different grain yields simulated by different models. The present study also revealed that the models responded differently to changes in soil tillage practices, which affected soil water storage capacity.
We have been carrying out a systematic survey of the star formation and ISM properties in the host galaxies of z∼6 quasars. Our 250 GHz observations, together with available data from the literature, yield a sample of 14 z∼6 quasars that are bright in millimeter dust continuum emission with estimated FIR luminosities of a few 1012 to 1013 L⊙. Most of these millimeter-detected z∼6 quasars have also been detected in molecular CO line emission, indicating molecular gas masses on order of 1010 M⊙. We have searched for [C II] 158 micron fine structure line emission toward four of the millimeter bright z∼6 quasars with ALMA and all of them have been detected. All these results suggest massive star formation at rates of about 600 to 2000 M⊙ yr−1 over the central few kpc region of these quasar host galaxies.
To counteract plasma instabilities like Neoclassical Tearing Modes (NTM-modes) in nuclear fusion reactors (JET, ITER, DEMO) high power microwaves are used for the Electron Cyclotron Resonance Heating (ECRH) and for the plasma current drive (CD). The foreseen power level for ITER (Cadarache, France) is Ptot = 24 MW at f = 170 GHz. Each transmission line is designed for a maximum of 2 MW power. The vacuum and tritium barrier to the ITER vacuum vessel is realized by a CVD diamond disk window assembly. Diamond has an extremely high thermal conductivity of about k = 2100 W/Km and a very low loss tangent of tan δ < 10-5 for this frequency and shows therefore a very small microwave absorption. The normalized absorbed power A=Pabs/P0 can be calculated as A = (f/c) • π • (1+εr‘) • tan δ • t (with the rule of thumb estimate: (f/c)=0.5 mm-1; π • (1+εr‘) = 20; tan δ =10-5; A=10-4 • t [mm]); i.e. each t = 1 mm thickness of diamond absorbs Pabs = 100 W of Po = 1 MW microwave power transmitted through the CVD diamond window with an effective tanδ of 10-5.