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An evidence-based, integrated care package that addresses mental and physical health needs would help to transform the lives of people with schizophrenia. It should be underpinned with a co-ordinated approach by healthcare professionals and supported by the national healthcare system and by educational and research facilities. Collaboration between relevant stakeholders at national and local level is required to achieve this.
The UK Prescribing Observatory for Mental Health (POMH-UK), based at the Royal College of Psychiatrists within the College Centre for Quality Improvement, illustrates one such collaboration. POMH-UK facilitates national, audit-based, quality improvement programmes (QIPs) that address the use of medicines in psychiatric practice. Since POMH-UK began in 2005, it has initiated QIPs addressing several topics relevant to the treatment of schizophrenia, including the use of high-dose and combined antipsychotics in acute adult inpatient and forensic settings, screening for the metabolic side effects of antipsychotics, the quality of assessment of side effects in patients treated with depot/long-acting injection antipsychotics, and medicines reconciliation at the point of hospital admission.
Positive change in prescribing practice in psychiatric services has been achieved for many of these QIPs, although progress is gradual and gains are generally modest. Key elements of the QIPs are feedback of benchmarked performance for local clinical reflection and customised change interventions informed by the national audit findings and parallel qualitative work. The benefits and drawbacks of such an approach will be discussed, in the context of schizophrenia, with a view to evolving a model that other countries might replicate.
The search for life in the Universe is a fundamental problem of astrobiology and modern science. The current progress in the detection of terrestrial-type exoplanets has opened a new avenue in the characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres and in the search for biosignatures of life with the upcoming ground-based and space missions. To specify the conditions favourable for the origin, development and sustainment of life as we know it in other worlds, we need to understand the nature of global (astrospheric), and local (atmospheric and surface) environments of exoplanets in the habitable zones (HZs) around G-K-M dwarf stars including our young Sun. Global environment is formed by propagated disturbances from the planet-hosting stars in the form of stellar flares, coronal mass ejections, energetic particles and winds collectively known as astrospheric space weather. Its characterization will help in understanding how an exoplanetary ecosystem interacts with its host star, as well as in the specification of the physical, chemical and biochemical conditions that can create favourable and/or detrimental conditions for planetary climate and habitability along with evolution of planetary internal dynamics over geological timescales. A key linkage of (astro)physical, chemical and geological processes can only be understood in the framework of interdisciplinary studies with the incorporation of progress in heliophysics, astrophysics, planetary and Earth sciences. The assessment of the impacts of host stars on the climate and habitability of terrestrial (exo)planets will significantly expand the current definition of the HZ to the biogenic zone and provide new observational strategies for searching for signatures of life. The major goal of this paper is to describe and discuss the current status and recent progress in this interdisciplinary field in light of presentations and discussions during the NASA Nexus for Exoplanetary System Science funded workshop ‘Exoplanetary Space Weather, Climate and Habitability’ and to provide a new roadmap for the future development of the emerging field of exoplanetary science and astrobiology.
Objectives: Fluency is a major problem for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders, including fluency deficits for academic skills. The aim of this study was to determine neurocognitive predictors of academic fluency within and across domains of reading, writing, and math, in children and adults, with and without spina bifida. In addition to group differences, we expected some neurocognitive predictors (reaction time, inattention) to have similar effects for each academic fluency outcome, and others (dexterity, vocabulary, nonverbal reasoning) to have differential effects across outcomes. Methods: Neurocognitive predictors were reaction time, inattention, dexterity, vocabulary, and nonverbal reasoning; other factors included group (individuals with spina bifida, n=180; and without, n=81), age, and demographic and untimed academic content skill covariates. Univariate and multivariate regressions evaluated hypotheses. Results: Univariate regressions were significant and robust (R2=.78, .70, .73, for reading, writing, and math fluency, respectively), with consistent effects of covariates, age, reaction time, and vocabulary; group and group moderation showed small effect sizes (<2%). Multivariate contrasts showed differential prediction across academic fluency outcomes for reaction time and vocabulary. Conclusions: The novelty of the present work is determining neurocognitive predictors for an important outcome (academic fluency), within and across fluency domains, across population (spina bifida versus typical), over a large developmental span, in the context of well-known covariates. Results offer insight into similarities and differences regarding prediction of different domains of academic fluency, with implications for addressing academic weakness in spina bifida, and for evaluating similar questions in other neurodevelopmental disorders. (JINS, 2019, 25, 249–265)
SNP in the vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene is associated with risk of lower respiratory infections. The influence of genetic variation in the vitamin D pathway resulting in susceptibility to upper respiratory infections (URI) has not been investigated. We evaluated the influence of thirty-three SNP in eleven vitamin D pathway genes (DBP, DHCR7, RXRA, CYP2R1, CYP27B1, CYP24A1, CYP3A4, CYP27A1, LRP2, CUBN and VDR) resulting in URI risk in 725 adults in London, UK, using an additive model with adjustment for potential confounders and correction for multiple comparisons. Significant associations in this cohort were investigated in a validation cohort of 737 children in Manchester, UK. In all, three SNP in VDR (rs4334089, rs11568820 and rs7970314) and one SNP in CYP3A4 (rs2740574) were associated with risk of URI in the discovery cohort after adjusting for potential confounders and correcting for multiple comparisons (adjusted incidence rate ratio per additional minor allele ≥1·15, Pfor trend ≤0·030). This association was replicated for rs4334089 in the validation cohort (Pfor trend=0·048) but not for rs11568820, rs7970314 or rs2740574. Carriage of the minor allele of the rs4334089 SNP in VDR was associated with increased susceptibility to URI in children and adult cohorts in the United Kingdom.
Dementia is a neurodegenerative disorder with global impact, with the largest proportion of cases occurring in low- and middle-income countries. It is estimated that there are 46.8 million cases globally with approximately 10 million new cases each year or a new case occurring every 3 sec (Prince et al., 2015). For comparison there are 36.7 million HIV cases with an estimated 2 million new cases each year (WHO, 2017). The rise in dementia prevalence is largely due to population ageing, with the oldest being at highest risk. To date there are no diseases modifying medications for Alzheimer's disease or the other causes of dementia. Academics and research groups are increasingly focused on prevention or delay of dementia (Brayne and Miller, 2017) and a number of organizations now prioritize dementia, indicating a strong and coherent international effort to address this problem. Examples include the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has established a Global Dementia Observatory; the World Dementia Council; the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); the U.S. National Alzheimer's Project Act (NAPA); and the Global Council on Brain Health.
Capturing service users’ perspectives can highlight additional and different concerns to those of clinicians, but there are no up to date, self-report psychometrically sound measures of side effects of antipsychotic medications.
To develop a psychometrically sound measure to identify antipsychotic side effects important to service users, the Maudsley Side Effects (MSE) measure.
An initial item bank was subjected to a Delphi exercise (n = 9) with psychiatrists and pharmacists, followed by service user focus groups and expert panels (n = 15) to determine item relevance and language. Feasibility and comprehensive psychometric properties were established in two samples (N43 and N50). We investigated whether we could predict the three most important side effects for individuals from their frequency, severity and life impact.
MSE is a 53-item measure with good reliability and validity. Poorer mental and physical health, but not psychotic symptoms, was related to side-effect burden. Seventy-nine percent of items were chosen as one of the three most important effects. Severity, impact and distress only predicted ‘putting on weight’ which was more distressing, more severe and had more life impact in those for whom it was most important.
MSE is a self-report questionnaire that identifies reliably the side-effect burden as experienced by patients. Identifying key side effects important to patients can act as a starting point for joint decision making on the type and the dose of medication.
Thermoelectric materials have been of interest for several decades due to their ability to recapture waste heat of various systems and convert it to useful electricity. One method used to improve the thermoelectric efficiency of a material is to reduce the lattice thermal conductivity (kp) while not affecting the other properties. In order to reduce the kp of the material, this paper introduces silicon (Si) nanoparticles (NPs) in Mg2Si to manipulate phonon scattering and mean free path. A series of simulations is performed with the metal silicide thermoelectric material MgxSix. The objective of this work is two-fold: 1) to determine the optimal Si nanoparticle (NP) concentration and 2) to determine the optimal MgxSix stoichiometry for minimizing the kp of the system. It should be noted, however, that the assumed reduction in thermal conductivity is only a result of reduced phonon transport and that minimal impact is made on the transport of electrons. Interestingly, the uniform off-stoichiometry (49.55 atomic percent (a/o) Si) sample of MgxSix resulted in a reduction of kp of 84.62 %, while the Si NP sample, with matching a/o Si, resulted in a reduction of kp of 78.82 %.
Improving neurocognitive outcomes following treatment for brain metastases have become increasingly important. We propose that a brief telephone-based neurocognitive assessment may improve follow-up cognitive assessments in this palliative population. Aim: To prospectively assess the feasibility and reliability of a telephone based brief neurocognitive assessment compared to the same tests delivered face-to-face. Methods: Brain metastases patients to be treated with whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) were assessed using a brief validated neurocognitive battery at baseline, at 1 month and 3 months following WBRT (in person and over the phone). The primary outcome was feasibility and inter-procedural (in person versus telephone) reliability. The secondary objective was to evaluate the change in neurocognitive function before and after WBRT. Results: Out of 39 patients enrolled, 82% of patients completed the baseline in-person and telephone neurocognitive assessments. However, at 1 month, only 41% of enrolled patients completed the in-person and telephone cognitive assessments and at 3 months, only 10% of patients completed them. Results pertaining to reliability and change in neurocognitive function will be updated. Conclusion: The pre-defined definition of feasibility (at least 80% completion for face to face and telephone neurocognitive assessments) was met at baseline. However, a large proportion of participants did not complete either telephone or in person neurocognitive follow-up at 1 month and at 3 months post-WBRT. Attrition remained a challenge for neurocognitive testing in this population even when a telephone-based brief assessment was used.
The Murchison Widefield Array is a Square Kilometre Array Precursor. The telescope is located at the Murchison Radio–astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. The MWA consists of 4 096 dipoles arranged into 128 dual polarisation aperture arrays forming a connected element interferometer that cross-correlates signals from all 256 inputs. A hybrid approach to the correlation task is employed, with some processing stages being performed by bespoke hardware, based on Field Programmable Gate Arrays, and others by Graphics Processing Units housed in general purpose rack mounted servers. The correlation capability required is approximately 8 tera floating point operations per second. The MWA has commenced operations and the correlator is generating 8.3 TB day−1 of correlation products, that are subsequently transferred 700 km from the MRO to Perth (WA) in real-time for storage and offline processing. In this paper, we outline the correlator design, signal path, and processing elements and present the data format for the internal and external interfaces.
Knowledge on the ecology of humpback whales in the eastern North Atlantic is lacking by comparison with most other ocean basins. Humpback whales were historically over-exploited in the region and are still found in low relative abundances. This, coupled with their large range makes them difficult to study. With the aim of informing more effective conservation measures in Ireland, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group began recording sightings and images suitable for photo-identification of humpback whales from Irish waters in 1999. Validated records submitted by members of the public and data from dedicated surveys were analysed to form a longitudinal study of individually recognizable humpback whales. The distribution, relative abundance and seasonality of humpback whale sighting records are presented, revealing discrete important areas for humpback whales in Irish coastal waters. An annual easterly movement of humpback whales along the southern coast of Ireland is documented, mirroring that of their preferred prey: herring and sprat. Photo-identification images were compared with others collected throughout the North Atlantic (N = 8016), resulting in matches of two individuals between Ireland and Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands but no matches to known breeding grounds (Cape Verde and West Indies). This study demonstrates that combining public records with dedicated survey data is an effective approach to studying low-density, threatened migratory species over temporal and spatial scales that are relevant to conservation and management.
Loss of cortical volume in frontotemporal regions occurs in patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP) and longitudinal studies have reported progressive brain volume changes at different stages of the disease, even if cognitive deficits remain stable over time. We investigated cortical changes in patients over the 2 years following their FEP and their associations with clinical and cognitive measures.
Twenty-seven patients after their FEP (20 with schizophrenia, seven with schizo-affective disorder) and 25 healthy controls matched for age and gender participated in this study. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed on a 1.5-T scanner both at baseline and after 2 years. Area and thickness of the cortex were measured using surface-based morphometry (SBM). Patients also underwent neuropsychological testing at these two time points.
Progressive cortical thinning in the superior and inferior frontal and, to a lesser extent, superior temporal cortex was observed in patients. Cortical area remained constant. Cortical thinning was associated with duration of treatment at a trend level and was predicted by baseline measures of IQ and working memory. Cortical thinning occurred in the absence of clinical or cognitive deterioration.
The clinical implications of these cortical changes remain uncertain, but patients with less cognitive reserve may be more vulnerable to developing cortical abnormalities when exposed to medication or other disease-related biological factors.
The Millimetre Astronomy Legacy Team 90 GHz (MALT90) survey aims to characterise the physical and chemical evolution of high-mass star-forming clumps. Exploiting the unique broad frequency range and on-the-fly mapping capabilities of the Australia Telescope National Facility Mopra 22 m single-dish telescope1, MALT90 has obtained 3′ × 3′ maps towards ~2 000 dense molecular clumps identified in the ATLASGAL 870 μm Galactic plane survey. The clumps were selected to host the early stages of high-mass star formation and to span the complete range in their evolutionary states (from prestellar, to protostellar, and on to
regions and photodissociation regions). Because MALT90 mapped 16 lines simultaneously with excellent spatial (38 arcsec) and spectral (0.11 km s−1) resolution, the data reveal a wealth of information about the clumps’ morphologies, chemistry, and kinematics. In this paper we outline the survey strategy, observing mode, data reduction procedure, and highlight some early science results. All MALT90 raw and processed data products are available to the community. With its unprecedented large sample of clumps, MALT90 is the largest survey of its type ever conducted and an excellent resource for identifying interesting candidates for high-resolution studies with ALMA.