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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.
The Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Consortium and the National Center for Advancing Translational Science (NCATS) undertook a Common Metrics Initiative to improve research processes across the national CTSA Consortium. This was implemented by Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the 64 CTSA academic medical centers. Three metrics were collaboratively developed by NCATS staff, CTSA Consortium teams, and outside consultants for Institutional Review Board Review Duration, Careers in Clinical and Translational Research, and Pilot Award Publications and Subsequent Funding. The implementation program included training on the metric operational guidelines, data collection, data reporting system, and performance improvement framework. The implementation team provided small-group coaching and technical assistance. Collaborative learning sessions, driver diagrams, and change packages were used to disseminate best and promising practices. After 14 weeks, 84% of hubs had produced a value for one metric and about half had produced an initial improvement plan. Overall, hubs reported that the implementation activities facilitated their Common Metrics performance improvement process. Experiences implementing the first three metrics can inform future directions of the Common Metrics Initiative and other research groups implementing standardized metrics and performance improvement processes, potentially including other National Institutes of Health institutes and centers.
Better understanding of interplay among symptoms, cognition and functioning in first-episode psychosis (FEP) is crucial to promoting functional recovery. Network analysis is a promising data-driven approach to elucidating complex interactions among psychopathological variables in psychosis, but has not been applied in FEP.
This study employed network analysis to examine inter-relationships among a wide array of variables encompassing psychopathology, premorbid and onset characteristics, cognition, subjective quality-of-life and psychosocial functioning in 323 adult FEP patients in Hong Kong. Graphical Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator (LASSO) combined with extended Bayesian information criterion (BIC) model selection was used for network construction. Importance of individual nodes in a generated network was quantified by centrality analyses.
Our results showed that amotivation played the most central role and had the strongest associations with other variables in the network, as indexed by node strength. Amotivation and diminished expression displayed differential relationships with other nodes, supporting the validity of two-factor negative symptom structure. Psychosocial functioning was most strongly connected with amotivation and was weakly linked to several other variables. Within cognitive domain, digit span demonstrated the highest centrality and was connected with most of the other cognitive variables. Exploratory analysis revealed no significant gender differences in network structure and global strength.
Our results suggest the pivotal role of amotivation in psychopathology network of FEP and indicate its critical association with psychosocial functioning. Further research is required to verify the clinical significance of diminished motivation on functional outcome in the early course of psychotic illness.
The COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins) project is a large international collaborative effort to analyze individual-level phenotype data from twins in multiple cohorts from different environments. The main objective is to study factors that modify genetic and environmental variation of height, body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) and size at birth, and additionally to address other research questions such as long-term consequences of birth size. The project started in 2013 and is open to all twin projects in the world having height and weight measures on twins with information on zygosity. Thus far, 54 twin projects from 24 countries have provided individual-level data. The CODATwins database includes 489,981 twin individuals (228,635 complete twin pairs). Since many twin cohorts have collected longitudinal data, there is a total of 1,049,785 height and weight observations. For many cohorts, we also have information on birth weight and length, own smoking behavior and own or parental education. We found that the heritability estimates of height and BMI systematically changed from infancy to old age. Remarkably, only minor differences in the heritability estimates were found across cultural–geographic regions, measurement time and birth cohort for height and BMI. In addition to genetic epidemiological studies, we looked at associations of height and BMI with education, birth weight and smoking status. Within-family analyses examined differences within same-sex and opposite-sex dizygotic twins in birth size and later development. The CODATwins project demonstrates the feasibility and value of international collaboration to address gene-by-exposure interactions that require large sample sizes and address the effects of different exposures across time, geographical regions and socioeconomic status.
Andrew Harding, in his excursus on ‘legal transplantation’, observed: ‘[W]e do live in a world of legal connectivity in which we share common problems which can only be addressed by a limited range of solutions which are unlikely not to have been tried before’. This prescient remark is apt in the context of the growing importance of the proportionality concept in the Australian public law arena. The proportionality concept attained particular prominence when the High Court of Australia found a freedom of political communication impliedly embedded in the Constitution. It was inevitable that with the establishment of such an implied fundamental constitutional guarantee, the High Court had to craft a principle to enable the saving or invalidation of legislation claimed to be in violation of the implied freedom.
We investigated whether neurobehavioral markers of risk for emotion dysregulation were evident among newborns, as well as whether the identified markers were associated with prenatal exposure to maternal emotion dysregulation. Pregnant women (N = 162) reported on their emotion dysregulation prior to a laboratory assessment. The women were then invited to the laboratory to assess baseline respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) and RSA in response to an infant cry. Newborns were assessed after birth via the NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale. We identified two newborn neurobehavioral factors—arousal and attention—via exploratory factor analysis. Low arousal was characterized by less irritability, excitability, and motor agitation, while low attention was related to a lower threshold for auditory and visual stimulation, less sustained attention, and poorer visual tracking abilities. Pregnant women who reported higher levels of emotion dysregulation had newborns with low arousal levels and less attention. Larger decreases in maternal RSA in response to cry were also related to lower newborn arousal. We provide the first evidence that a woman's emotion dysregulation while pregnant is associated with risks for dysregulation in her newborn. Implications for intergenerational transmission of emotion dysregulation are discussed.
Introduction: Many drugs, including cannabis and alcohol, cause impairment and contribute to motor vehicle collisions (MVCs). Policy makers require knowledge of the prevalence of drug use in crash-involved drivers, and types of drugs used in order to develop effective prevention programs. This issue is particularly relevant with the recent legalization of cannabis. We aim to study the prevalence of alcohol, cannabis, sedating medications, and other drugs in injured drivers from 4 Canadian Provinces. Methods: This prospective cohort study obtained excess clinical blood samples from consecutive injured drivers who attended a participating Canadian trauma centre following a MVC. Blood samples were analyzed using a broad spectrum toxicology screen capable of detecting cannabinoids, cocaine, amphetamines (including their major analogues), and opioids as well as psychotropic pharmaceuticals (including antihistamines, benzodiazepines, other hypnotics, and sedating antidepressants). Alcohol and cannabinoids were quantified. Health records were reviewed to extract demographic, medical, and MVC information using a standardized data collection tool. Results: This study has been collecting data in 4 trauma centres in British Columbia (BC) since 2011 and was launched in 2 trauma centres in Alberta (AB), 1 in Saskatchewan (SK), and 2 in Ontario (ON) in 2018. In preliminary results from BC (n = 2412), 8% of injured drivers tested positive for THC and 13% for alcohol. Preliminary results from other provinces (n = 301) suggest a regional variation in prevalence of drivers testing positive for THC (10% - 27%), alcohol (17% - 29%), and other drugs. By May 2018, an estimated 4500 cases from BC, 600 from AB, 150 from SK, and 650 from ON will have been analyzed. We will report the prevalence of positive tests for alcohol, THC, other recreational drugs, and sedating medications, pre and post cannabis legalization. The number of cases with alcohol and/or THC levels above Canadian per se limits will also be reported. Results will be reported according to province, driver sex, age, single vs. multi vehicle crashes, and requirement for hospital admission. Conclusion: This will be among the largest international datasets on drug use by injured drivers. Our findings will provide patterns of drug and alcohol impairment in 4 Canadian provinces pre and post cannabis legalization. The significance of these findings and implication for impaired driving policy and prevention programs in Canada will be discussed.