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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.
It has been suggested that people with psychopathic disorders lack
empathy because they have deficits in processing distress cues (e.g.
fearful facial expressions).
To investigate brain function when individuals with psychopathy and a
control group process facial emotion.
Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging we compared six
people scoring ⩾25 on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist–Revised and nine
non-psychopathic healthy volunteers during an implicit emotion processing
task using fearful, happy and neutral faces.
The psychopathy group showed significantly less activation than the
control group in fusiform and extrastriate cortices when processing both
facial emotions. However, emotion type affected response pattern. Both
groups increased fusiform and extrastriate cortex activation when
processing happy faces compared with neutral faces, but this increase was
significantly smaller in the psychopathy group. In contrast, when
processing fearful faces compared with neutral faces, the control group
showed increased activation but the psychopathy group decreased
activation in the fusiform gyrus.
People with psychopathy have biological differences from controls when
processing facial emotion, and the pattern of response differs according
to emotion type.
Alzheimer's disease manifests considerable heterogeneity, the cause of which is unknown.
To determine the familial (genotypic) influence on phenomenology (phenotype) in Alzheimer's disease.
Affected sibling pairs with Alzheimer's disease were assessed for a range of cognitive and non-cognitive symptoms. Resemblance for phenotypic characteristics was estimated using intraclass correlations for continuous traits and by pairwise concordance for dichotomous traits. The relationship between age of onset and APOE genotype was examined using linear regression analysis.
Significant familial effects on age of onset (intraclass correlation 0.41) and mood state (intraclass correlation 0.26), and a relatively high pairwise concordance for agitation (excess concordance 0.1) were found. The APOE locus was found to account for 4% of the variance in age of onset.
Substantial familial influence on age of onset, depression and agitation suggests that genotype does influence phenotype in Alzheimer's disease. Establishing the molecular basis for this phenotypic variation may prove relevant to other neuropsychiatric disorders.
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