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Extremely low birth weight (ELBW) survivors have higher rates of shyness, a risk factor for poorer outcomes across the life span. Due to advances in fetal and neonatal medicine, the first generation of ELBW survivors have survived to adulthood and become parents. However, no studies have investigated the transmission of their stress vulnerability to their offspring. We explored this phenomenon using a population-based cohort of ELBW survivors and normal birth weight (NBW) controls. Using data from three generations, we examined whether the shyness and parenting stress of ELBW and NBW participants (Generation 2) mediated the relation between the parenting style of their parents (Generation 1) and shyness in their offspring (Generation 3), and the extent to which exposure to perinatal adversity (Generation 2) moderated this mediating effect. We found that among ELBW survivors, parenting stress (in Generation 2) mediated the relation between overprotective parenting style in Generation 1 (grandparents) and child shyness in Generation 3. These findings suggest that perinatal adversity and stress may be transmitted to the next generation in humans, as reflected in their perceptions of their children as shy and socially anxious, a personality phenotype that may subsequently place their children at risk of later mental and physical health problems.
Post-disaster archaeological investigations at Jaffna Fort have revealed material demonstrating pre-colonial contact, shedding new light on the importance of the site in Indian Ocean trade and communications networks before European occupation.
Perinatal and later postnatal adversities have been shown to adversely affect socioeconomic trajectories, while enhanced early cognitive abilities improve them. However, little is known about the combined influence of these exposures on social mobility. In this study, we examined if childhood IQ moderated the association between four different types of postnatal adversity (childhood socioeconomic disadvantage, childhood sexual abuse, lifetime psychiatric disorder, and trait neuroticism) and annual earnings at 30–35 years of age in a sample of 88 extremely low birth weight survivors. Our results suggested that higher childhood IQ was associated with greater personal income at age 30–35. Extremely low birth weight survivors who did not face psychological adversities and who had higher childhood IQ reported higher income in adulthood. However, those who faced psychological adversity and had higher childhood IQ generally reported lower income in adulthood. Our findings suggest that cognitive reserve may not protect preterm survivors against the complex web of risk factors affecting their later socioeconomic attainment.
Genetic variation in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) is associated with several psychiatric conditions characterized by deficits in executive functioning (EF). A specific OXTR variant, rs2254298, has previously been associated with brain functioning in regions implicated in EF. Moreover, birth weight variation across the entire range is associated with individual differences in cortical structure and function that underlie EF. This is the first study to examine the main and interactive effect between rs2254298 and birth weight on EF in children. The sample consisted of 310 children from an ongoing longitudinal study. EF was measured at age 4.5 using observational tasks indexing working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control. A family-based design that controlled for population admixture, stratification, and nongenomic confounds was employed. A significant genetic association between rs2254298 and EF was observed, with more copies of the major allele (G) associated with higher EF. There was also a significant interaction between rs2254298 and birth weight, such that more copies of the major allele in combination with higher birth weight predicted better EF. Findings suggest that OXTR may be associated with discrete neurocognitive abilities in childhood, and these effects may be modulated by intrauterine conditions related to fetal growth and development.
While the trajectory of self-esteem from adolescence to adulthood varies from person to person, little research has examined how differences in early developmental processes might affect these pathways. This study examined how early motor skill development interacted with preterm birth status to predict self-esteem from adolescence through the early 30s. We addressed this using the oldest known, prospectively followed cohort of extremely low birth weight (<1000 g) survivors (N = 179) and normal birth weight controls (N = 145) in the world, born between 1977 and 1982. Motor skills were measured using a performance-based assessment at age 8 and a retrospective self-report, and self-esteem was reported during three follow-up periods (age 12–16, age 22–26, and age 29–36). We found that birth weight status moderated the association between early motor skills and self-esteem. Stable over three decades, the self-esteem of normal birth weight participants was sensitive to early motor skills such that those with poorer motor functioning manifested lower self-esteem, while those with better motor skills manifested higher self-esteem. Conversely, differences in motor skill development did not affect the self-esteem from adolescence to adulthood in individuals born at extremely low birth weight. Early motor skill development may exert differential effects on self-esteem, depending on whether one is born at term or prematurely.
Structural brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) traits share part of their genetic variance with cognitive traits. Here, we use genetic association results from large meta-analytic studies of genome-wide association (GWA) for brain infarcts (BI), white matter hyperintensities, intracranial, hippocampal, and total brain volumes to estimate polygenic scores for these traits in three Scottish samples: Generation Scotland: Scottish Family Health Study (GS:SFHS), and the Lothian Birth Cohorts of 1936 (LBC1936) and 1921 (LBC1921). These five brain MRI trait polygenic scores were then used to: (1) predict corresponding MRI traits in the LBC1936 (numbers ranged 573 to 630 across traits), and (2) predict cognitive traits in all three cohorts (in 8,115–8,250 persons). In the LBC1936, all MRI phenotypic traits were correlated with at least one cognitive measure, and polygenic prediction of MRI traits was observed for intracranial volume. Meta-analysis of the correlations between MRI polygenic scores and cognitive traits revealed a significant negative correlation (maximal r = 0.08) between the HV polygenic score and measures of global cognitive ability collected in childhood and in old age in the Lothian Birth Cohorts. The lack of association to a related general cognitive measure when including the GS:SFHS points to either type 1 error or the importance of using prediction samples that closely match the demographics of the GWA samples from which prediction is based. Ideally, these analyses should be repeated in larger samples with data on both MRI and cognition, and using MRI GWA results from even larger meta-analysis studies.
…the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than commonly understood. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.
John Maynard Keynes (1936, p. 383)
When Keynes wrote these lines, he certainly had in mind the influence of the ideas of laissez-faire economic liberalism, which he held responsible for the great boom and bust of the 1920s that led to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Today, another form of economic liberalism, neo-liberalism, has supplanted Keynes's own ideas, which had gained dominance in the postwar era. Our task, in this theoretical essay, is to explain how and why the ideas of neo-liberal economists and political philosophers obtained and retained their power in European policy debates and political discourse during the past three or four decades.
We define ‘neo-liberalism’, at its essence, as involving a commitment to certain core principles focused on market competition and a limited state. Our purpose is to explain the resilience of these core neo-liberal ideas, meaning their ability to endure, recur, or adapt over time; to predominate against rivals; and to survive despite their own many failures. We offer five lines of analysis as potential explanations for such resilience: first, the generality, flexibility, and mutability of neo-liberal ideas themselves; second, the gap between neo-liberal rhetoric and a reality in which they are not implemented; third, their advantages in policy debates and political discourse compared with alternatives; fourth, the power of interested actors who strategically adopt and promote neo-liberal ideas; and, fifth, the force of the institutions in which neo-liberal ideas are embedded.
Although, when viewed from afar, Europe may appear to be a haven of Social Democracy, strongly opposed to economic liberalism, closer analysis reveals that the place of ‘neo-liberal’ economic ideas in policy debates has grown steadily since the 1980s. Such ideas which, most simply stated, centre on extending market competition while limiting the state, have had a profound influence on the institutions, policies, and practices of capitalism across different European countries as well as in the European Union (EU). Neo-liberal ideas have continued to dominate policy debates through Europe's economic and political booms and busts.
This resilience of neo-liberal ideas is surprising. Europe offered a relatively ‘cold climate’ for economic liberalism in the 1970s, with well-entrenched alternative ideas based on Social and Christian Democracy – to say nothing of strong Marxist traditions. Powerful theoretical critiques have been made of neo-liberal ideas while policies inspired by neo-liberalism – such as allowing greater competition in financial markets, reducing regulation, and cutting back state spending and deficits even in economic downturns – have met with failure. The present difficulties of neo-liberalism can be contrasted with the past successes of alternative models, notably social democratic models. However, the greatest surprise came in the 2000s, first with the absence of any major re-evaluation of neo-liberal ideas about governing the markets in the face of the ‘dot-com’ boom and bust and then, even more significantly, with the economic crisis beginning in 2008. After a brief neo-Keynesian moment at the very inception of the crisis, far from abandoning neo-liberal ideas, European policy makers responded with calls for their extension. They accepted or even embraced ideas of reducing public expenditure, delegating greater powers to supranational bodies, increasing liberalization, and imposing ‘market discipline’ through austerity.