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Cognitive screening tests are culture bound and have been shown to perform differently depending on the culture, even with adequate translation. Khan et al examine in detail ways in which the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) has been modified for different languages and cultures and produce a systematic guide for future modifications. However, questions arise regarding the availability of the MoCA. Other important issues in the transcultural use and modification of neuropsychiatric tests include providing a culturally safe context for testing, understanding the cultural context in which screening takes place and assessing other neuropsychiatric conditions, which may manifest differently in different cultural contexts and which affect cognition.
The relationship between irritability as a subjective experience and the behavioural indicators typically used to measure the construct are not known. Its links to mood, and contextual relationships, vary with age and are yet to be thoroughly examined.
First, to interrogate the relationship between the subjective experience of irritability and mood, and that with its behavioural indicators. Second, to determine how these relationships vary with age and over time.
This study examined data from a previous clinical trial of adolescents and young adults (N = 82) with bipolar disorder, who received a psychological intervention over 18 months. Participants completed a battery of questionnaires, which included assessments of irritability. Analyses of covariance were conducted to examine the interaction between mood symptoms, subjective measures of irritability, behavioural measures of irritability and age over time.
Subjective irritability scores differed significantly over time when controlling for manic, but not depressive, symptom scores. Further, subjective irritability significantly differed when controlling for behavioural measures of irritability (temper outbursts and argumentativeness). There were significant interactions between scores of depressive symptoms, temper outbursts and subjective irritability with age, wherein younger participants showed no correlation between depressive symptoms and temper outbursts. In addition, younger participants showed lower correlations between subjective irritability and both depressive and temper outburst scores, than older participants.
Subjective irritability is linked to mood morbidity and behavioural outbursts, and these relationships are contingent on age. Our novel findings suggest that subjective irritability should be assessed in greater detail in patients with mood disorders.
Irritability is a transdiagnostic phenomenon that, despite its ubiquity and significant impact, is poorly conceptualised, defined and measured. As it lacks specificity, efforts to examine irritability in adults by using a diagnostic category perspective have been hamstrung. Therefore, using a Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) approach to examine irritability in adults, which spans many constructs and domains, may have a better chance of yielding underlying mechanisms that can then be mapped onto various diagnostic categories. Recently, a model has been proposed for irritability in children and adolescents that uses the RDoC framework; however, this model, which accounts for chronic, persistent irritability, may not necessarily transpose to adults. Therefore, use of the RDoC framework to examine irritability in adults is urgently needed, as it may shed light on this currently amorphous phenomenon and the many disorders within which it operates.
Cognitive impairment plays a key role in determining the course of illness and functional outcomes in mood disorders. This article summarises and discusses important papers within this thematic series of BJPsych Open that contribute to a greater understanding of the complexity of ‘Cognition in Mood Disorders’.
Emotional cognition and effective interpretation of affective information is an important factor in social interactions and everyday functioning, and difficulties in these areas may contribute to aetiology and maintenance of mental health conditions. In younger people with depression and anxiety, research suggests significant alterations in behavioural and brain activation aspects of emotion processing, with a tendency to appraise neutral stimuli as negative and attend preferentially to negative stimuli. However, in ageing, research suggests that emotion processing becomes subject to a ‘positivity effect’, whereby older people attend more to positive than negative stimuli.
This review examines data from studies of emotion processing in Late-Life Depression and Late-Life Anxiety to attempt to understand the significance of emotion processing variations in these conditions, and their interaction with changes in emotion processing that occur with ageing.
We conducted a systematic review following PRISMA guidelines. Articles that used an emotion-based processing task, examined older persons with depression or an anxiety disorder and included a healthy control group were included.
In Late-Life Depression, there is little consistent behavioural evidence of impaired emotion processing, but there is evidence of altered brain circuitry during these processes. In Late-Life Anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress disorder, there is evidence of interference with processing of negative or threat-related words.
How these findings fit with the positivity bias of ageing is not clear. Future research is required in larger groups, further examining the interaction between illness and age and the significance of age at disease onset.
Cognitive impairment is a core feature of depression and has a negative effect on a person's functioning, in psychosocial and interpersonal areas, and on workforce performance. Cognitive impairment often persists, even with the remittance of mood symptoms. One potential way of improving treatment of cognitive impairment would be to identify variables that predict cognitive change in patients with depression.
To systematically examine findings from studies that investigate baseline variables and how they predict, or correlate with, cognitive change in mood disorders, and to examine methodological issues from these studies.
Studies that directly measured associations between at least one baseline variable and change in cognitive outcome in patients with current major depressive episode were identified using PubMed and Web of Science databases. Narrative review technique was used because of the heterogeneity of patient samples, outcome measures and study procedures. The review was registered on PROSPERO with registration number CRD42020150975.
Twenty-four studies met the inclusion criteria. Evidence from the present review for prediction of cognitive change from baseline variables was limited for demographic factors, with some preliminary evidence for depression, cognitive and biological factors. Identification of patterns across studies was difficult because of methodological variability across studies.
Findings from the present review suggest there may be some baseline variables that are useful in predicting cognitive change in mood disorders. This is an area warranting further research focus.
Cognitive impairment is considered a core feature of major depressive disorder (MDD) and research into psychological treatments aiming to address cognitive impairment are gaining momentum. Compared with the well-established research base of cognitive treatment trials in schizophrenia, including meta-analyses, mood disorder research is much more preliminary.
To focus on identifying the important factors to consider in developing larger-scale psychological treatment trials targeting cognitive impairment in mood disorders. Trial design recommendations have been published for cognitive treatment trials in bipolar disorder.
An in-depth discussion of methodological considerations in the development of cognitive treatment trials for MDD.
Methodological considerations include: screening for, and defining, cognitive impairment; mood state when cognitive intervention begins; medication monitoring during cognitive interventions; use of concomitant therapy; level of therapist involvement; duration and dose of treatment; choice of specific cognitive training exercises; home practice; improving adherence; appropriate comparison therapies in clinical trials; and choice of primary outcomes.
As well as guidance for clinical trial development, this review may be helpful for clinicians wanting to provide cognitive interventions for individuals with MDD.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is recommended in treatment guidelines as an efficacious therapy for treatment-resistant depression. However, it has been associated with loss of autobiographical memory and short-term reduction in new learning.
To provide clinically useful guidelines to aid clinicians in informing patients regarding the cognitive side-effects of ECT and in monitoring these during a course of ECT, using complex data.
A Committee of clinical and academic experts from Australia and New Zealand met to the discuss the key issues pertaining to ECT and cognitive side-effects. Evidence regarding cognitive side-effects was reviewed, as was the limited evidence regarding how to monitor them. Both issues were supplemented by the clinical experience of the authors.
Meta-analyses suggest that new learning is impaired immediately following ECT but that group mean scores return at least to baseline by 14 days after ECT. Other cognitive functions are generally unaffected. However, the finding of a mean score that is not reduced from baseline cannot be taken to indicate that impairment, particularly of new learning, cannot occur in individuals, particularly those who are at greater risk. Therefore, monitoring is still important. Evidence suggests that ECT does cause deficits in autobiographical memory. The evidence for schedules of testing to monitor cognitive side-effects is currently limited. We therefore make practical recommendations based on clinical experience.
Despite modern ECT techniques, cognitive side-effects remain an important issue, although their nature and degree remains to be clarified fully. In these circumstances it is useful for clinicians to have guidance regarding what to tell patients and how to monitor these side-effects clinically.
The term ‘mood stabiliser’ is ill-defined and lacks clinical utility. We propose a framework to evaluate medications and effectively communicate their mood stabilising properties – their acute and prophylactic efficacy across the domains of mania and depression. The standardised framework provides a common definition to facilitate research and clinical practice.
Declaration of interest
The Treatment Algorithm Group (TAG) was supported logistically by Servier who provided financial assistance with travel and accommodation for those TAG members travelling interstate or overseas to attend the meeting in Sydney (held on 18 November 2017). None of the committee were paid to participate in this project and Servier have not had any input into the content, format or outputs from this project.
Studies using acute tryptophan depletion (ATD) to examine the effects of a rapid reduction in serotonin function have shown a reduction in global cognitive status during ATD in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD). Based on the severe cholinergic loss evident in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and Parkinson's disease and dementia (PDD), we predicted that a reduction of global cognitive status during ATD would be greater in these conditions than in AD.
Patients having DLB or PDD underwent ATD in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, counterbalanced, crossover design.
While the study intended to test 20 patients, the protocol was poorly tolerated and terminated after six patients attempted, but only four patients – three with DLB and one with PDD – completed the protocol. The Modified Mini-Mental State Examination (3MSE) score was reduced in all three DLB patients and unchanged in the PDD and dementia patient during ATD compared with placebo.
This reduction in global cognitive function and the poor tolerability may fit with the hypothesis that people with dementia with Lewy bodies have sensitivity to the effects of reduced serotonin function.
Impaired neuropsychological function and differences in facial emotion
processing are features of major depression. Some aspects of these
functions may change during treatment and may be useful in assessing
treatment response, even at an early stage of treatment.
To examine early and later changes in neuropsychological functioning and
facial emotion processing as potential markers of treatment response in
In total, 68 newly admitted in-patients with a primary diagnosis of major
depression and 50 healthy controls completed an assessment, including
mood ratings, neuropsychological measures and facial emotion processing
measures at three time points (baseline, 10–14 days and 6 weeks).
Pervasive neuropsychological impairment was evident at baseline in
patients with depression compared with healthy controls. During 6 weeks
of treatment, only simple reaction time, verbal working memory and the
recognition of angry facial expressions showed differential change in
those whose depression responded to treatment compared with treatment
non-responders in the depression group. None of the measures showed a
significant difference between treatment responders and non-responders at
Despite significant impairment in neuropsychological functioning in the
depression group, most measures failed to differentiate between treatment
responders and non-responders at 10–14 days or at 6 weeks. Simple
reaction time, verbal working memory and recognition of angry facial
expressions may be useful in assessing response in severe depression but
probably not at an early stage.
Facial emotion processing was examined in patients with severe depression (n = 68) and a healthy control group (n = 50), using the Facial Expression Recognition Task. A negative interpretation bias was observed in the depression group: neutral faces were more likely to be interpreted as sad and less likely to be interpreted as happy, compared with controls. The depression group also displayed a specific deficit in the recognition of facial expressions of disgust, compared with controls. This may relate to impaired functioning of frontostriatal structures, particularly the basal ganglia.
Embedded piezoresistive microcantilever (EPM) sensors have been used in the detection of a variety of analyte species. EPM sensors utilize a tiny piezoresistive microcantilever partially embedded into a sensing material to produce a sensing element that is compact, simple, resistant to movement and shock, and suitable for remote sensing applications. In the current project, we have used sensing materials comprised of an immobilizing polymer functionalized with either target enzymes or antibodies to detect two biological agents, Bacillus subtilis and Diisopropyl fluorophosphate (DFP). DFP is used as a simulant for organophosphate nerve agents, while BG is a large bacterial spore used as a simulant for other bacterial spores such as bacillus anthracis. Sensing results are presented for both types of EPM sensors.
Seclusion of psychiatric inpatients is used as a last resort in managing disturbed behaviour. Research on factors contributing to its use is limited. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of a change in unit size and other variables, such as time of day and nursing workload, on the rates of use of seclusion in an intensive care inpatient psychiatric unit. Rates of seclusion were examined in randomly selected nursing shifts across three time periods; one before and two after a change in the size of the unit. Effects on seclusion rates of size, shift and four nursing workforce variables were explored using multivariate analysis. Unit size, shift and nurse hours together explained 23% of the variance in seclusion use. Of particular significance was the change from a 20 bed unit to two separate 10 bed units. The findings have implications for the organisation of inpatient psychiatric units. Smaller units may allow better management of disturbed behaviour.