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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder mainly characterised by deficits in social communication as well as by narrow patterns of behaviour and interests (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), often accompanied by language, intellectual and sensory impairments. The severity of these impairments may lead to deficits in the development of daily living activities such as simple meal preparation and feeding, community skills (e.g. buying groceries), personal care (e.g. dressing) and personal hygiene skills (bathing, toileting, hand washing, teeth brushing) needed for independence. Among others, the lack of independence in personal hygiene skills increases the burden of the caregiver and makes children with ASD more dependent (Flynn & Healy, 2012). Therefore, it is important to develop tools for helping individuals with ASD in increasing their ability to perform these basic life activities which will lead to savings that can be invested in other critical areas of needs.
An unusually long-lasting community-acquired outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease (LD) occurred in the inhabitants of a town in northern Italy from 2005 to 2008. Overall, 43 cases were diagnosed including five deaths. Hundreds of water samples were collected for Legionella isolation but only two clinical samples were obtained. Clinical strains were ST23 as were environmental isolates detected in most Legionella-positive patients' homes and those from a public fountain. Although no Legionella was found in the municipal water mains, a continuous chlorination was applied in 2008. This action resulted in a halving of cases, although incidence remained tenfold higher than the Italian average incidence until the end of 2013, when it dropped to the expected rate. Retrospective analyses of prevalent wind direction suggested that a hidden cooling tower could have been the main cause of this uncommon outbreak, highlighting the importance of implementation of cooling tower registers in supporting LD investigations.
What determines inter-individual variability to impairments in behavioural control that may underlie road-traffic accidents, and impulsive and violent behaviours occurring under the influence of cannabis, the most widely used illicit drug worldwide?
Employing a double-blind, repeated-measures design, we investigated the genetic and neural basis of variable sensitivity to cannabis-induced behavioural dyscontrol in healthy occasional cannabis users. Acute oral challenge with placebo or Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, was combined with functional magnetic resonance imaging, while participants performed a response inhibition task that involved inhibiting a pre-potent motor response. They were genotyped for rs1130233 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the protein kinase B (AKT1) gene.
Errors of inhibition were significantly (p = 0.008) increased following administration of THC in carriers of the A allele, but not in G allele homozygotes of the AKT1 rs1130233 SNP. The A allele carriers also displayed attenuation of left inferior frontal response with THC evident in the sample as a whole, while there was a modest enhancement of inferior frontal activation in the G homozygotes. There was a direct relationship (r = − 0.327, p = 0.045) between the behavioural effect of THC and its physiological effect in the inferior frontal gyrus, where AKT1 genotype modulated the effect of THC.
These results require independent replication and show that differing vulnerability to acute psychomotor impairments induced by cannabis depends on variation in a gene that influences dopamine function, and is mediated through modulation of the effect of cannabis on the inferior frontal cortex, that is rich in dopaminergic innervation and critical for psychomotor control.
Depression is the most common psychiatric manifestation in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). In addition, depressive symptoms may be considered to be a prodromal manifestation of PD. In recent years, the association between PD and depression has been the focus of neuroimaging studies using functional and structural techniques.
The aim of this study was to review the main neuroimaging studies assessing the comorbidity between depression and PD. Literature searches were conducted to find the major neuroimaging studies that consider primarily the comorbidity between depression and PD using the indices Web of Science and Lilacs.
In total, 296 papers were identified, and 18 of these studies were selected for the current review. The principal neuroimaging technique used was SPECT. The structural neuroimaging studies that have evaluated the impact of current or previous bouts of depression on the neurodegenerative process of PD are scarce and inclusive. The instruments that were used to evaluate depression differed among the studies. Several brain regions appear to be involved in depression, particularly the limbic system and the basal ganglia. In addition, the serotonergic, dopaminergic, and noradrenergic systems also appear to be associated with depressive symptoms in PD.
Several brain regions and neurotransmitter systems are involved in depression in PD; however, the variety of criteria used to evaluate depressive symptoms precludes more specific conclusions.
Functional impairment scales are important to assess Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) patients. The present study aims to evaluate the reliability, internal consistency, validity and factorial structure of the Disability Profile/Clinician-Rate (DP) scale, as well as to present an interview-guide to support its application by clinicians. University students (n = 173) of both genders participated in the study (SAD = 84 and Non-SAD = 89), with ages ranging between 17 and 35 years, systematically diagnosed. The SAD group presented more difficulties when compared to the Non-SAD group. The DP presented, for the SAD group, internal consistency of 0.68 (lifetime) and 0.67 (last two weeks). Inter-rater reliability varied from 0.75 to 0.93. Two factors were extracted and the correlation among such factors and the Social Phobia Inventory subscales presented association between fear and avoidance symptoms and the functional impairments. The scale presents good psychometric properties and can contribute to the assessment of functional impairments.
Cannabis can induce transient psychotic symptoms, but not all users experience these adverse effects. We compared the neural response to Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in healthy volunteers in whom the drug did or did not induce acute psychotic symptoms.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, pseudorandomized design, 21 healthy men with minimal experience of cannabis were given either 10 mg THC or placebo, orally. Behavioural and functional magnetic resonance imaging measures were then recorded whilst they performed a go/no-go task.
The sample was subdivided on the basis of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale positive score following administration of THC into transiently psychotic (TP; n = 11) and non-psychotic (NP; n = 10) groups. During the THC condition, TP subjects made more frequent inhibition errors than the NP group and showed differential activation relative to the NP group in the left parahippocampal gyrus, the left and right middle temporal gyri and in the right cerebellum. In these regions, THC had opposite effects on activation relative to placebo in the two groups. The TP group also showed less activation than the NP group in the right middle temporal gyrus and cerebellum, independent of the effects of THC.
In this first demonstration of inter-subject variability in sensitivity to the psychotogenic effects of THC, we found that the presence of acute psychotic symptoms was associated with a differential effect of THC on activation in the ventral and medial temporal cortex and cerebellum, suggesting that these regions mediate the effects of the drug on psychotic symptoms.
Neurodevelopmental alterations have been described inconsistently in psychosis probably because of lack of standardization among studies. The aim of this study was to conduct the first longitudinal and population-based magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) evaluation of the presence and size of the cavum septum pellucidum (CSP) and adhesio interthalamica (AI) in a large sample of patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP).
FEP patients (n=122) were subdivided into schizophrenia (n=62), mood disorders (n=46) and other psychosis (n=14) groups and compared to 94 healthy next-door neighbour controls. After 13 months, 80 FEP patients and 52 controls underwent a second MRI examination.
We found significant reductions in the AI length in schizophrenia FEP in comparison with the mood disorders and control subgroups (longer length) at the baseline assessment, and no differences in any measure of the CSP. By contrast, there was a diagnosis×time interaction for the CSP length, with a more prominent increase for this measure in the psychosis group. There was an involution of the AI length over time for all groups but no diagnosis×time interaction.
Our findings suggest that the CSP per se may not be linked to the neurobiology of emerging psychotic disorders, although it might be related to the progression of the disease. However, the fact that the AI length was shown to be shorter at the onset of the disorder supports the neurodevelopmental model of schizophrenia and indicates that an alteration in this grey matter junction may be a risk factor for developing psychosis.
We investigated whether there is an association between anxiety disorders
and mitral valve prolapse. We compared mitral valve prolapse prevalence in
individuals with panic disorder (n = 41), social anxiety
disorder (n = 89) and in healthy controls
(n = 102) in an attempt to overcome the biases of
previous studies. Our results show no associations between panic disorder or
social anxiety disorder and mitral valve prolapse, regardless of the
diagnostic criteria employed, and that the relationship between these
conditions seems not to be clinically relevant.
In this work, the epitaxial silicon deposition by SiHCl3-hydrogen mixtures in a AMT 7700 barrel reactor was analyzed through a detailed model where a three dimensional flow dynamic was solved by reduction to a two dimensional geometry under cylindrical coordinates. The model was used to investigate the role of the reactor geometry and of the process parameters on the axial deposition uniformity. A comparison with industrial experimental data was also performed.
We conducted a systematic review to assess the evidence for specific effects of cannabis on brain structure and function. The review focuses on the cognitive changes associated with acute and chronic use of the drug.
We reviewed literature reporting neuroimaging studies of chronic or acute cannabis use published up until January 2009. The search was conducted using Medline, EMBASE, LILACS and PsycLIT indexing services using the following key words: cannabis, marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, cannabidiol, CBD, neuroimaging, brain imaging, computerized tomography, CT, magnetic resonance, MRI, single photon emission tomography, SPECT, functional magnetic resonance, fMRI, positron emission tomography, PET, diffusion tensor MRI, DTI-MRI, MRS and spectroscopy.
Sixty-six studies were identified, of which 41 met the inclusion criteria. Thirty-three were functional (SPECT/PET/fMRI) and eight structural (volumetric/DTI) imaging studies. The high degree of heterogeneity across studies precluded a meta-analysis. The functional studies suggest that resting global and prefrontal blood flow are lower in cannabis users than in controls. The results from the activation studies using a cognitive task are inconsistent because of the heterogeneity of the methods used. Studies of acute administration of THC or marijuana report increased resting activity and activation of the frontal and anterior cingulate cortex during cognitive tasks. Only three of the structural imaging studies found differences between users and controls.
Functional neuroimaging studies suggest a modulation of global and prefrontal metabolism both during the resting state and after the administration of THC/marijuana cigarettes. Minimal evidence of major effects of cannabis on brain structure has been reported.
Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) is a non-invasive in vivo method used to quantify metabolites that are relevant to a wide range of brain processes. This paper briefly describes neuroimaging using MRS and provides a systematic review of its application to anxiety disorders.
A literature review was performed in the PubMed, Lilacs and Scielo databases using the keywords spectroscopy and anxiety disorder. References of selected articles were also hand-searched for additional citations.
Recent studies have shown that there are significant metabolic differences between patients with anxiety disorders and healthy controls in various regions of the brain. Changes were mainly found in N-acetylaspartate, which is associated with neuronal viability, but some of them were also seen in creatine, a substance that is thought to be relatively constant among individuals with different pathological conditions.
MRS is a sophisticated neuroimaging technique that has provided useful insights into the biochemical and neurobiological basis of many anxiety disorders. Nevertheless, its utilization in some anxiety disorders is still modest, particularly social phobia and generalised anxiety. Although it is an extremely useful advance in neuroimaging, further research in other brain areas and patient populations is highly advisable.