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Depressive symptoms are highly prevalent among partnered dementia caregivers, but the mechanisms are unclear. This study examined the mediating role of loneliness in the association between dementia and other types of care on subsequent depressive symptoms.
Prospective data from partnered caregivers were drawn from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging. The sample consisted of 4,672 partnered adults aged 50–70 living in England and Wales, followed up between 2006–2007 and 2014–2015. Caregiving was assessed across waves 3 (2006–2007), 4 (2008–2009), and 5 (2010–2011), loneliness at wave 6 (2012–2013), and subsequent depressive symptoms at wave 7 (2014–15). Multivariable logistic regression models were used to assess the association between caregiving for dementia and depressive symptoms compared to caregiving for other illnesses (e.g., diabetes, coronary heart disease (CHD), cancer, and stroke). Binary mediation analysis was used to estimate the indirect effects of caregiving on depressive symptoms via loneliness.
Care for a partner with dementia was associated with higher odds of depressive symptoms at follow-up compared to those not caring for a partner at all (odds ratio [OR] = 2.6, 95% confidence intervals [CI]: 1.4, 5.1). This association was partially mediated by loneliness (34%). Care for a partner with other conditions was also associated with higher odds of depressive symptoms compared to non-caregiving partners (OR = 1.7, 95% CI: 1.2, 2.5), but there was no evidence of an indirect pathway via loneliness.
Loneliness represents an important contributor to the relationship between dementia caregiving and subsequent depressive symptoms; therefore, interventions to reduce loneliness among partnered dementia caregivers should be considered.
Perceived discrimination is associated with worse mental health. Few studies have assessed whether perceived discrimination (i) is associated with the risk of psychotic disorders and (ii) contributes to an increased risk among minority ethnic groups relative to the ethnic majority.
We used data from the European Network of National Schizophrenia Networks Studying Gene-Environment Interactions Work Package 2, a population-based case−control study of incident psychotic disorders in 17 catchment sites across six countries. We calculated odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for the associations between perceived discrimination and psychosis using mixed-effects logistic regression models. We used stratified and mediation analyses to explore differences for minority ethnic groups.
Reporting any perceived experience of major discrimination (e.g. unfair treatment by police, not getting hired) was higher in cases than controls (41.8% v. 34.2%). Pervasive experiences of discrimination (≥3 types) were also higher in cases than controls (11.3% v. 5.5%). In fully adjusted models, the odds of psychosis were 1.20 (95% CI 0.91–1.59) for any discrimination and 1.79 (95% CI 1.19–1.59) for pervasive discrimination compared with no discrimination. In stratified analyses, the magnitude of association for pervasive experiences of discrimination appeared stronger for minority ethnic groups (OR = 1.73, 95% CI 1.12–2.68) than the ethnic majority (OR = 1.42, 95% CI 0.65–3.10). In exploratory mediation analysis, pervasive discrimination minimally explained excess risk among minority ethnic groups (5.1%).
Pervasive experiences of discrimination are associated with slightly increased odds of psychotic disorders and may minimally help explain excess risk for minority ethnic groups.
Mass asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid amplified testing of healthcare personnel (HCP) was performed at a large tertiary health system. A low period-prevalence of positive HCP was observed. Of those who tested positive, half had mild symptoms in retrospect. HCP with even mild symptoms should be isolated and tested.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen an increase in depression and anxiety among those with and without a history of mental illness. Commonly used forms of psychological therapy improve mental health by teaching psychotherapeutic strategies that assist people to better manage their symptoms and cope with life stressors. Minimal research to date has explored their application or value in managing mental health during significant broad-scale public health crises.
To determine which psychotherapeutic strategies people who have previously received therapy use to manage their distress during the COVID-19 pandemic, and whether the use and perceived helpfulness of these strategies has an effect on symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Data (N = 857) was drawn from multiple waves of a representative longitudinal study of the effects of COVID-19 on the mental health of Australian adults, which includes measures of anxiety, depression and experiences with psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic strategies.
Previous engagement in therapy with psychotherapeutic strategies had a protective effect on depressive but not anxiety symptoms. Common and helpful strategies used by respondents were exercise, mindfulness and breathing exercises. Using mindfulness and perceiving it to be helpful was associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety symptoms. No other strategies were associated with improved mental health.
Prior knowledge of psychotherapeutic strategies may play a role in managing mental health during unprecedented public health events such as a global pandemic. There may be value in promoting these techniques more widely in the community to manage general distress during such times.
Three holes were drilled to the bed of Rutford Ice Stream, through ice up to 2154 m thick, to investigate the basal processes and conditions associated with fast ice flow and the glacial history of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. A narrative of the drilling, measuring and sampling activities, as well as some preliminary results and initial interpretations of subglacial conditions, is given. These were the deepest subglacial access holes ever drilled using the hot-water drilling method. Samples of bed and englacial sediments were recovered, and a number of instruments were installed in the ice column and the bed. The ice–bed interface was found to be unfrozen, with an existing, well-developed subglacial hydrological system at high pressure, within ~1% of the ice overburden. The bed itself comprises soft, water-saturated sediments, consistent with previous geophysical interpretations. Englacial sediment quantity varies significantly between two locations ~2 km apart, and possibly over even shorter (~20 m) distances. Difficulties and unusual observations encountered while connecting to the subglacial hydrological system in one hole possibly resulted from the presence of a large clast embedded in the bottom of the ice.
Tuberculosis (TB) in children is a critical public health issue. In Bohol, Philippines, we found a high tuberculin skin test (TST)-positive prevalence (weighted prevalence = 6.4%) among 5476 children (<15 years) from 184 villages, with geographically isolated communities having prevalence as high as 29%. Therefore, we conducted a geospatial and hot spot analysis to examine the association between villages with high TST-positive prevalence (⩾6.5%) and access to medical care (distance (in kilometres and minutes of travel time) to the municipal Rural Health Units (RHU)), access to healthcare resources (distance to Provincial Health Office (PHO)) and socioeconomic determinants of health. Hot spot analysis revealed significant clusters of TST-positive prevalence in villages farthest from the PHO. Based on univariate analysis, the following variables associated with high prevalence were included in the multivariate model: minutes of travel time to the PHO, distance to the PHO, island villages and total deprivation based on socioeconomic indicators. In the final model, only distance to PHO in minutes was significant (P = 0.005). When evaluated further, greater than 1-hour drive significantly increased risk for TST-positivity (P = 0.003). Distance to healthcare resources likely increases the risk of TB transmission within the community. Expanding TB control efforts to geographically isolated areas is critical.
Altered neurocognitive function in schizophrenia could reflect both genetic and illness-specific effects.
To use functional magnetic resonance imaging to discriminate between the influences of the genetic risk for schizophrenia and environmental factors on the neural substrate of verbal fluency, a candidate schizophrenia endophenotype using a case control twin design.
We studied 23 monozygotic twin pairs: 13 pairs discordant for schizophrenia and 10 pairs of healthy volunteer twins. Groups were matched for age, gender, handedness, level of education, parental socio-economic status, and ethnicity. Behavioural performance and regional brain activation during a phonological verbal fluency task were assessed.
Relative to healthy control twins, both patients and their non-psychotic co-twins produced fewer correct responses and showed less activation in the medial temporal region and inferior frontal gyrus. Twins with schizophrenia showed greater activation than both their non-psychotic co-twins and controls in right lateral temporal cortex, reflecting reduced deactivation during word generation while their non-psychotic co-twins showed greater activation in the left temporal cortex.
Both genetic vulnerability to schizophrenia and schizophrenia were associated with impaired verbal fluency performance, reduced engagement of the medial temporal region and dorsal inferior frontal gyrus. Schizophrenia was specifically associated with an additional reduction in deactivation in the right temporal cortex.
Recent studies have identified DAAO as a probable susceptibility gene for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, little is known about how this gene may affect brain function to increase vulnerability to these disorders.
The present investigation examined the impact of DAAO genotype on brain function in patients with schizophrenia, patients with bipolar I disorder and healthy volunteers.
We tested the hypotheses that the high-risk variant of DAAO would be associated with altered prefrontal function and functional connectivity in schizophrenic and bipolar patients.
We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure brain responses during a verbal fluency task in a total of 121 subjects comprising 40 patients with schizophrenia, 33 patients with bipolar I disorder and 48 healthy volunteers. We then used statistical parametric mapping (SPM) and psycho-physiological interaction (PPI) analyses to estimate the main effects of diagnostic group, the main effect of genotype and their interaction on brain activation and functional connectivity.
In schizophrenic patients relative to bipolar patients and controls, the high-risk variant of DAAO was associated with lower deactivation in the left precuneus and greater activation in the right calcarine and posterior cingulate gyrus during task performance. In addiction, these areas expressed altered functional connectivity with the rest of the brain in schizophrenic patients relative to bipolar patients and controls.
Our results suggest that genetic variation in DAAO has a significant impact on brain function and provide preliminary evidence for a disease-specific pattern of gene action in specific brain regions.
Epidemiological studies have reported that the increased risk of developing psychosis in cannabis users is dose related. In addition, experimental research has shown that the active constituent of cannabis responsible for its psychotogenic effect is Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (Murray et al, 2007). Recent evidence has suggested an increased in potency (% TCH) in the cannabis seized in the UK (Potter et al, 2007).
We predicted that first episode psychosis patients are more likely to use higher potency cannabis and more frequently than controls.
We collected information concerning socio-demographic, clinical characteristics and cannabis use (age at first use, frequency, length of use, type of cannabis used) from a sample of 191 first-episode psychosis patients and 120 matched healthy volunteers. All were recruited as part of the Genetic and Psychosis (GAP) study which studied all patients who presented to the South London and Maudsley Trust.
There was no significant difference in the life-time prevalence of cannabis use or age at first use between cases and controls. However, cases were more likely to be regular users (p=0.05), to be current users (p=0.04) and to have smoked cannabis for longer (p=0.01). Among cannabis users, 86.8% of 1st Episode Psychosis Patients preferentially used Skunk/Sinsemilla compared to 27.7% of Controls. Only 13.2 % of 1st Episode psychosis Patients chose to use Resin/Hash compared to 76.3% of controls. The concentration of TCH in these in South East London, ranges between 8.5 and 14 % (Potter et al, 2007). Controls (47%) were more likely to use Hash (Resin) whose average TCH concentration is 3.4% (Potter et al, 2007).
Patients with first episode psychosis have smoked higher potency cannabis, for longer and with greater frequency, than healthy controls.
To examine the effect of a polymorphism in the Dopamine Transporter (DAT) gene on brain activation during executive function and, for the first time:
1. determine the extent to which this is altered in schizophrenia and
2. use a verbal fluency paradigm.
This is relevant since:
1. DAT plays a key role in the regulation of dopamine, which modulates cortical activation during cognitive tasks and
2. a disruption of dopamine function is a fundamental pathophysiological feature of schizophrenia.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure whole-brain responses during overt verbal fluency in 85 subjects: 44 healthy volunteers and 41 DSM-IV schizophrenia patients. Main effects of genotype and diagnostic group on activation and their interaction were estimated using an ANOVA in SPM5.
The 10-repeat allele of the 3'UTR VNTR was associated with greater activation than the 9-repeat allele in the left (Z=4.8; FWEp=0.005) and right (Z=4.2; FWEp=0.057) anterior insula and with decreased activation in the rostral anterior cingulate (Z=4.3 FWEp=0.04) during word generation (versus baseline). These effects were irrespective of diagnostic group but generally more marked in patients. There were also strong trends for groupxgenotype interactions in the left middle frontal gyrus and the left nucleus accumbens. Analysis was controlled for task performance, IQ, antipsychotic medication, psychopathology and demographics.
Cortical function during executive tasks is normally modulated by variation in the DAT gene, effect which is dependent on the brain region. DAT's effect may be altered in schizophrenia patients, which may reflect altered central dopamine function.
Abnormalities in event related potentials (ERPs) have long been looked at as markers of disease in Schizophrenia. Over recent years there is a trend in the field to move from averaged trials ERPs analysis in the time-voltage domain, to time-frequency single trials analysis. Oscillations in the Gamma band (30-50Hz) have received particular attention in the context of the theories of core deficits in neuronal synchronization in Schizophrenia. in this study we aimed at replicating previously found Gamma band deficits in a sample of Early Psychosis patients.
EEG was collected from 15 patients and 15 age matched controls using an auditory oddball paradigm. Time-frequency analysis in the Gamma band was performed using a Morlet wavelet transform. We tested differences between the groups using the Wilcoxon rank sum test, given the nonparametric nature of the data, to compare each group's average single trial Gamma power, maximizing the signal-to-noise ratio.
Patients with Early Psychosis showed, following target tones, a reduction in the total power of Gamma band activation (p< 0.01) as well as in induced Gamma band activation (p< 0.01). This was observed in a late latency interval at 400-500ms. the late burst of Gamma activity was not found in the frequent condition, for neither subjects group.
The findings are compatible with previous studies suggesting deficits in the late intrinsically generated cognitive processing of auditory stimuli in Schizophrenia, already present in its early stage. They add further evidence of deficits in neuronal synchronisation in the early stages of psychotic disorders.
Neurocognitive and functional neuroimaging studies point to frontal lobe abnormalities in schizophrenia. Molecular and behavioural genetic studies suggest that the frontal lobe is under significant genetic influence. We carried out structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the frontal lobe in monozygotic (MZ) twins concordant or discordant for schizophrenia and healthy MZ control twins.
The sample comprised 21 concordant pairs, 17 discordant affected and 18 discordant unaffected twins from 19 discordant pairs, and 27 control pairs. Groups were matched on sociodemographic variables. Patient groups (concordant, discordant affected) did not differ on clinical variables. Volumes of superior, middle, inferior and orbital frontal gyri were calculated using the Cavalieri principle on the basis of manual tracing of anatomic boundaries. Group differences were investigated covarying for whole-brain volume, gender and age.
Results for superior frontal gyrus showed that twins with schizophrenia (i.e. concordant twins and discordant affected twins) had reduced volume compared to twins without schizophrenia (i.e. discordant unaffected and control twins), indicating an effect of illness. For middle and orbital frontal gyrus, concordant (but not discordant affected) twins differed from non-schizophrenic twins. There were no group differences in inferior frontal gyrus volume.
These findings suggest that volume reductions in the superior frontal gyrus are associated with a diagnosis of schizophrenia (in the presence or absence of a co-twin with schizophrenia). On the other hand, volume reductions in middle and orbital frontal gyri are seen only in concordant pairs, perhaps reflecting the increased genetic vulnerability in this group.