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Pre-diagnostic deficits in social motivation are hypothesized to contribute to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a heritable neurodevelopmental condition. We evaluated psychometric properties of a social motivation index (SMI) using parent-report item-level data from 597 participants in a prospective cohort of infant siblings at high and low familial risk for ASD. We tested whether lower SMI scores at 6, 12, and 24 months were associated with a 24-month ASD diagnosis and whether social motivation’s course differed relative to familial ASD liability. The SMI displayed good internal consistency and temporal stability. Children diagnosed with ASD displayed lower mean SMI T-scores at all ages and a decrease in mean T-scores across age. Lower group-level 6-month scores corresponded with higher familial ASD liability. Among high-risk infants, strong decline in SMI T-scores was associated with 10-fold odds of diagnosis. Infant social motivation is quantifiable by parental report, differentiates children with versus without later ASD by age 6 months, and tracks with familial ASD liability, consistent with a diagnostic and susceptibility marker of ASD. Early decrements and decline in social motivation indicate increased likelihood of ASD, highlighting social motivation’s importance to risk assessment and clarification of the ontogeny of ASD.
Successful research and development requires interdisciplinary collaboration, often across organisational boundaries and for extended timeframes, such as in innovation networks or ecosystems. Open Organisation (OO) research can support collaboration and knowledge exchange in such situations. It builds on established concepts of Open Innovation through enhancing the exchange of knowledge by the exchange of humans. This paper contributes to OO research by presenting an OO lifecycle framework, which analyses evolving organisational and collaboration characteristics and resulting management needs.
Anhedonia – a diminished interest or pleasure in activities – is a core self-reported symptom of depression which is poorly understood and often resistant to conventional antidepressants. This symptom may occur due to dysfunction in one or more sub-components of reward processing: motivation, consummatory experience and/or learning. However, the precise impairments remain elusive. Dissociating these components (ideally, using cross-species measures) and relating them to the subjective experience of anhedonia is critical as it may benefit fundamental biology research and novel drug development.
Using a battery of behavioural tasks based on rodent assays, we examined reward motivation (Joystick-Operated Runway Task, JORT; and Effort-Expenditure for Rewards Task, EEfRT) and reward sensitivity (Sweet Taste Test) in a non-clinical population who scored high (N = 32) or low (N = 34) on an anhedonia questionnaire (Snaith–Hamilton Pleasure Scale).
Compared to the low anhedonia group, the high anhedonia group displayed marginal impairments in effort-based decision-making (EEfRT) and reduced reward sensitivity (Sweet Taste Test). However, we found no evidence of a difference between groups in physical effort exerted for reward (JORT). Interestingly, whilst the EEfRT and Sweet Taste Test correlated with anhedonia measures, they did not correlate with each other. This poses the question of whether there are subgroups within anhedonia; however, further work is required to directly test this hypothesis.
Our findings suggest that anhedonia is a heterogeneous symptom associated with impairments in reward sensitivity and effort-based decision-making.
Monoclonal antibody therapeutics to treat coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have been authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Many barriers exist when deploying a novel therapeutic during an ongoing pandemic, and it is critical to assess the needs of incorporating monoclonal antibody infusions into pandemic response activities. We examined the monoclonal antibody infusion site process during the COVID-19 pandemic and conducted a descriptive analysis using data from 3 sites at medical centers in the United States supported by the National Disaster Medical System. Monoclonal antibody implementation success factors included engagement with local medical providers, therapy batch preparation, placing the infusion center in proximity to emergency services, and creating procedures resilient to EUA changes. Infusion process challenges included confirming patient severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) positivity, strained staff, scheduling, and pharmacy coordination. Infusion sites are effective when integrated into pre-existing pandemic response ecosystems and can be implemented with limited staff and physical resources.
Studying phenotypic and genetic characteristics of age at onset (AAO) and polarity at onset (PAO) in bipolar disorder can provide new insights into disease pathology and facilitate the development of screening tools.
To examine the genetic architecture of AAO and PAO and their association with bipolar disorder disease characteristics.
Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) and polygenic score (PGS) analyses of AAO (n = 12 977) and PAO (n = 6773) were conducted in patients with bipolar disorder from 34 cohorts and a replication sample (n = 2237). The association of onset with disease characteristics was investigated in two of these cohorts.
Earlier AAO was associated with a higher probability of psychotic symptoms, suicidality, lower educational attainment, not living together and fewer episodes. Depressive onset correlated with suicidality and manic onset correlated with delusions and manic episodes. Systematic differences in AAO between cohorts and continents of origin were observed. This was also reflected in single-nucleotide variant-based heritability estimates, with higher heritabilities for stricter onset definitions. Increased PGS for autism spectrum disorder (β = −0.34 years, s.e. = 0.08), major depression (β = −0.34 years, s.e. = 0.08), schizophrenia (β = −0.39 years, s.e. = 0.08), and educational attainment (β = −0.31 years, s.e. = 0.08) were associated with an earlier AAO. The AAO GWAS identified one significant locus, but this finding did not replicate. Neither GWAS nor PGS analyses yielded significant associations with PAO.
AAO and PAO are associated with indicators of bipolar disorder severity. Individuals with an earlier onset show an increased polygenic liability for a broad spectrum of psychiatric traits. Systematic differences in AAO across cohorts, continents and phenotype definitions introduce significant heterogeneity, affecting analyses.
Post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) is a transient period of recovery following traumatic brain injury (TBI) characterised by disorientation, amnesia, and cognitive disturbance. Agitation is common during PTA and presents as a barrier to patient outcome. A relationship between cognitive impairment and agitation has been observed. This prospective study aimed to examine the different aspects of cognition associated with agitation.
The sample comprised 82 participants (75.61% male) admitted to an inpatient rehabilitation hospital in PTA. All patients had sustained moderate to extremely severe brain injury as assessed using the Westmead Post-Traumatic Amnesia Scale (WPTAS) (mean duration = 42.30 days, SD = 35.10). Participants were assessed daily using the Agitated Behaviour Scale and WPTAS as part of routine clinical practice during PTA. The Confusion Assessment Protocol was administered two to three times per week until passed criterion was achieved (mean number assessments = 3.13, SD = 3.76). Multilevel mixed modelling was used to investigate the association between aspects of cognition and agitation using performance on items of mental control, orientation, memory free recall, memory recognition, vigilance, and auditory comprehension.
Findings showed that improvement in orientation was significantly associated with lower agitation levels. A nonsignificant trend was observed between improved recognition memory and lower agitation.
Current findings suggest that the presence of disorientation in PTA may interfere with a patient’s ability to understand and engage with the environment, which in turn results in agitated behaviours. Interventions aimed at maximizing orientation may serve to minimize agitation during PTA.
We summarize some of the past year's most important findings within climate change-related research. New research has improved our understanding of Earth's sensitivity to carbon dioxide, finds that permafrost thaw could release more carbon emissions than expected and that the uptake of carbon in tropical ecosystems is weakening. Adverse impacts on human society include increasing water shortages and impacts on mental health. Options for solutions emerge from rethinking economic models, rights-based litigation, strengthened governance systems and a new social contract. The disruption caused by COVID-19 could be seized as an opportunity for positive change, directing economic stimulus towards sustainable investments.
A synthesis is made of ten fields within climate science where there have been significant advances since mid-2019, through an expert elicitation process with broad disciplinary scope. Findings include: (1) a better understanding of equilibrium climate sensitivity; (2) abrupt thaw as an accelerator of carbon release from permafrost; (3) changes to global and regional land carbon sinks; (4) impacts of climate change on water crises, including equity perspectives; (5) adverse effects on mental health from climate change; (6) immediate effects on climate of the COVID-19 pandemic and requirements for recovery packages to deliver on the Paris Agreement; (7) suggested long-term changes to governance and a social contract to address climate change, learning from the current pandemic, (8) updated positive cost–benefit ratio and new perspectives on the potential for green growth in the short- and long-term perspective; (9) urban electrification as a strategy to move towards low-carbon energy systems and (10) rights-based litigation as an increasingly important method to address climate change, with recent clarifications on the legal standing and representation of future generations.
Social media summary
Stronger permafrost thaw, COVID-19 effects and growing mental health impacts among highlights of latest climate science.
A wealth of research documents the rise of affective polarization, or the increasing disdain for the out-party in American politics. In this paper, we analyze ANES data from 1988 to 2016 to investigate the contribution of core value polarization to the phenomenon of out-party enmity. We find that greater differences in fundamental principles relate significantly to emotionally intense evaluations of the opposing party and its candidates, as well as the ideological out-group, independent of issue attitude extremity and the strength of one's partisan and ideological identities. Moreover, ANES panel data from 1992 to 1996 reveal that past value extremity promotes future affective polarization. These results are important for our understanding of the nature and extent of value-based polarization in American politics.
UK Biobank is a well-characterised cohort of over 500 000 participants including genetics, environmental data and imaging. An online mental health questionnaire was designed for UK Biobank participants to expand its potential.
Describe the development, implementation and results of this questionnaire.
An expert working group designed the questionnaire, using established measures where possible, and consulting a patient group. Operational criteria were agreed for defining likely disorder and risk states, including lifetime depression, mania/hypomania, generalised anxiety disorder, unusual experiences and self-harm, and current post-traumatic stress and hazardous/harmful alcohol use.
A total of 157 366 completed online questionnaires were available by August 2017. Participants were aged 45–82 (53% were ≥65 years) and 57% women. Comparison of self-reported diagnosed mental disorder with a contemporary study shows a similar prevalence, despite respondents being of higher average socioeconomic status. Lifetime depression was a common finding, with 24% (37 434) of participants meeting criteria and current hazardous/harmful alcohol use criteria were met by 21% (32 602), whereas other criteria were met by less than 8% of the participants. There was extensive comorbidity among the syndromes. Mental disorders were associated with a high neuroticism score, adverse life events and long-term illness; addiction and bipolar affective disorder in particular were associated with measures of deprivation.
The UK Biobank questionnaire represents a very large mental health survey in itself, and the results presented here show high face validity, although caution is needed because of selection bias. Built into UK Biobank, these data intersect with other health data to offer unparalleled potential for crosscutting biomedical research involving mental health.
The SCN5A gene is implicated in many arrhythmogenic and cardiomyopathic processes. We identified a novel SCN5A variant in a family with significant segregation in individuals affected with progressive sinus and atrioventricular nodal disease, atrial arrhythmia, dilated cardiomyopathy, and early sudden cardiac arrest.
A patient pedigree was created following the clinical evaluation of three affected individuals, two monozygotic twins and a paternal half-brother, which lead to the evaluation of a paternal half-sister (four siblings with the same father and three mothers) all of whom experienced varying degrees of atrial arrhythmias, conduction disease, and dilated cardiomyopathy in addition to a paternal history of unexplained death in his 50s with similar autopsy findings. The index male underwent sequencing of 58 genes associated with cardiomyopathies. Sanger sequencing was used to provide data for bases with insufficient coverage and for bases in some known regions of genomic segmental duplications. All clinically significant and novel variants were confirmed by independent Sanger sequencing.
All relatives tested were shown to have the same SCN5A variant of unknown significance (p. Asp197His) and the monozygotic twins shared a co-occurring NEXN (p. Glu575*). Segregation analysis demonstrates likely pathogenic trait for the SCN5A variant with an additional possible role for the NEXN variant in combination.
There is compelling clinical evidence suggesting that the SCN5A variant p. Asp197His may be re-classified as likely pathogenic based on the segregation analysis of our family of interest. Molecular mechanism studies are pending.
As the IAU heads towards its second century, many changes have simultaneously transformed Astronomy and the human condition world-wide. Amid the amazing recent discoveries of exoplanets, primeval galaxies, and gravitational radiation, the human condition on Earth has become blazingly interconnected, yet beset with ever-increasing problems of over-population, pollution, and never-ending wars. Fossil-fueled global climate change has begun to yield perilous consequences. And the displacement of people from war-torn nations has reached levels not seen since World War II.
While research on conspiracy theories and those who believe them has recently undergone a renaissance, there still exists a great deal of uncertainty about the measurement of conspiratorial beliefs and orientations, and the consequences of a conspiratorial mindset for expressly political attitudes and behaviors. We first demonstrate, using data from the 2012 American National Election Study, that beliefs in a variety of specific conspiracy theories are simultaneously, but differentially, the product of both a general tendency toward conspiratorial thinking and left/right political orientations. Next, we employ unique data including a general measure of conspiratorial thinking to explore the predictors of specific conspiracy beliefs. We find that partisan and ideological self-identifications are more important than any other variable in predicting ‘birther’ beliefs, while conspiratorial thinking is most important in predicting conspiracy beliefs about the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a highly heterogeneous condition in terms of symptom presentation and, likely, underlying pathophysiology. Accordingly, it is possible that only certain individuals with MDD are well-suited to antidepressants. A potentially fruitful approach to parsing this heterogeneity is to focus on promising endophenotypes of depression, such as neuroticism, anhedonia, and cognitive control deficits.
Within an 8-week multisite trial of sertraline v. placebo for depressed adults (n = 216), we examined whether the combination of machine learning with a Personalized Advantage Index (PAI) can generate individualized treatment recommendations on the basis of endophenotype profiles coupled with clinical and demographic characteristics.
Five pre-treatment variables moderated treatment response. Higher depression severity and neuroticism, older age, less impairment in cognitive control, and being employed were each associated with better outcomes to sertraline than placebo. Across 1000 iterations of a 10-fold cross-validation, the PAI model predicted that 31% of the sample would exhibit a clinically meaningful advantage [post-treatment Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) difference ⩾3] with sertraline relative to placebo. Although there were no overall outcome differences between treatment groups (d = 0.15), those identified as optimally suited to sertraline at pre-treatment had better week 8 HRSD scores if randomized to sertraline (10.7) than placebo (14.7) (d = 0.58).
A subset of MDD patients optimally suited to sertraline can be identified on the basis of pre-treatment characteristics. This model must be tested prospectively before it can be used to inform treatment selection. However, findings demonstrate the potential to improve individual outcomes through algorithm-guided treatment recommendations.
UK Biobank is a well-characterised cohort of over 500 000 participants that offers unique opportunities to investigate multiple diseases and risk factors.
An online mental health questionnaire completed by UK Biobank participants was expected to expand the potential for research into mental disorders.
An expert working group designed the questionnaire, using established measures where possible, and consulting with a patient group regarding acceptability. Case definitions were defined using operational criteria for lifetime depression, mania, anxiety disorder, psychotic-like experiences and self-harm, as well as current post-traumatic stress and alcohol use disorders.
157 366 completed online questionnaires were available by August 2017. Comparison of self-reported diagnosed mental disorder with a contemporary study shows a similar prevalence, despite respondents being of higher average socioeconomic status than the general population across a range of indicators. Thirty-five per cent (55 750) of participants had at least one defined syndrome, of which lifetime depression was the most common at 24% (37 434). There was extensive comorbidity among the syndromes. Mental disorders were associated with high neuroticism score, adverse life events and long-term illness; addiction and bipolar affective disorder in particular were associated with measures of deprivation.
The questionnaire represents a very large mental health survey in itself, and the results presented here show high face validity, although caution is needed owing to selection bias. Built into UK Biobank, these data intersect with other health data to offer unparalleled potential for crosscutting biomedical research involving mental health.
Declaration of interest
G.B. received grants from the National Institute for Health Research during the study; and support from Illumina Ltd. and the European Commission outside the submitted work. B.C. received grants from the Scottish Executive Chief Scientist Office and from The Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation during the study. C.S. received grants from the Medical Research Council and Wellcome Trust during the study, and is the Chief Scientist for UK Biobank. M.H. received grants from the Innovative Medicines Initiative via the RADAR-CNS programme and personal fees as an expert witness outside the submitted work.
The correlation between ideology and partisanship in the mass public has increased in recent decades amid a climate of persistent and growing elite polarization. Given that core values shape subsequent political predispositions, as well as the demonstrated asymmetry of elite polarization, this article hypothesizes that egalitarianism and moral traditionalism moderate the relationship between ideology and partisanship in that the latter relationship will have increased over time only among individuals who maintain conservative value orientations. An analysis of pooled American National Election Studies surveys from 1988 to 2012 supports this hypothesis. The results enhance scholarly understanding of the role of core values in shaping mass belief systems and testify to the asymmetric nature and mass public reception of elite cues among liberals and conservatives.
Whether monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins differ from each other in a variety of phenotypes is important for genetic twin modeling and for inferences made from twin studies in general. We analyzed whether there were differences in individual, maternal and paternal education between MZ and DZ twins in a large pooled dataset. Information was gathered on individual education for 218,362 adult twins from 27 twin cohorts (53% females; 39% MZ twins), and on maternal and paternal education for 147,315 and 143,056 twins respectively, from 28 twin cohorts (52% females; 38% MZ twins). Together, we had information on individual or parental education from 42 twin cohorts representing 19 countries. The original education classifications were transformed to education years and analyzed using linear regression models. Overall, MZ males had 0.26 (95% CI [0.21, 0.31]) years and MZ females 0.17 (95% CI [0.12, 0.21]) years longer education than DZ twins. The zygosity difference became smaller in more recent birth cohorts for both males and females. Parental education was somewhat longer for fathers of DZ twins in cohorts born in 1990–1999 (0.16 years, 95% CI [0.08, 0.25]) and 2000 or later (0.11 years, 95% CI [0.00, 0.22]), compared with fathers of MZ twins. The results show that the years of both individual and parental education are largely similar in MZ and DZ twins. We suggest that the socio-economic differences between MZ and DZ twins are so small that inferences based upon genetic modeling of twin data are not affected.