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Schizophrenia (SZ) is a severe neuropsychiatric disorder associated with disrupted connectivity within the thalamic-cortico-cerebellar network. Resting-state functional connectivity studies have reported thalamic hypoconnectivity with the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex as well as thalamic hyperconnectivity with sensory cortical regions in SZ patients compared with healthy comparison participants (HCs). However, fundamental questions remain regarding the clinical significance of these connectivity abnormalities.
Resting state seed-based functional connectivity was used to investigate thalamus to whole brain connectivity using multi-site data including 183 SZ patients and 178 matched HCs. Statistical significance was based on a voxel-level FWE-corrected height threshold of p < 0.001. The relationships between positive and negative symptoms of SZ and regions of the brain demonstrating group differences in thalamic connectivity were examined.
HC and SZ participants both demonstrated widespread positive connectivity between the thalamus and cortical regions. Compared with HCs, SZ patients had reduced thalamic connectivity with bilateral cerebellum and anterior cingulate cortex. In contrast, SZ patients had greater thalamic connectivity with multiple sensory-motor regions, including bilateral pre- and post-central gyrus, middle/inferior occipital gyrus, and middle/superior temporal gyrus. Thalamus to middle temporal gyrus connectivity was positively correlated with hallucinations and delusions, while thalamus to cerebellar connectivity was negatively correlated with delusions and bizarre behavior.
Thalamic hyperconnectivity with sensory regions and hypoconnectivity with cerebellar regions in combination with their relationship to clinical features of SZ suggest that thalamic dysconnectivity may be a core neurobiological feature of SZ that underpins positive symptoms.
Our understanding of the complex relationship between schizophrenia symptomatology and etiological factors can be improved by studying brain-based correlates of schizophrenia. Research showed that impairments in value processing and executive functioning, which have been associated with prefrontal brain areas [particularly the medial orbitofrontal cortex (MOFC)], are linked to negative symptoms. Here we tested the hypothesis that MOFC thickness is associated with negative symptom severity.
This study included 1985 individuals with schizophrenia from 17 research groups around the world contributing to the ENIGMA Schizophrenia Working Group. Cortical thickness values were obtained from T1-weighted structural brain scans using FreeSurfer. A meta-analysis across sites was conducted over effect sizes from a model predicting cortical thickness by negative symptom score (harmonized Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms or Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale scores).
Meta-analytical results showed that left, but not right, MOFC thickness was significantly associated with negative symptom severity (βstd = −0.075; p = 0.019) after accounting for age, gender, and site. This effect remained significant (p = 0.036) in a model including overall illness severity. Covarying for duration of illness, age of onset, antipsychotic medication or handedness weakened the association of negative symptoms with left MOFC thickness. As part of a secondary analysis including 10 other prefrontal regions further associations in the left lateral orbitofrontal gyrus and pars opercularis emerged.
Using an unusually large cohort and a meta-analytical approach, our findings point towards a link between prefrontal thinning and negative symptom severity in schizophrenia. This finding provides further insight into the relationship between structural brain abnormalities and negative symptoms in schizophrenia.
We describe the performance of the Boolardy Engineering Test Array, the prototype for the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder telescope. Boolardy Engineering Test Array is the first aperture synthesis radio telescope to use phased array feed technology, giving it the ability to electronically form up to nine dual-polarisation beams. We report the methods developed for forming and measuring the beams, and the adaptations that have been made to the traditional calibration and imaging procedures in order to allow BETA to function as a multi-beam aperture synthesis telescope. We describe the commissioning of the instrument and present details of Boolardy Engineering Test Array’s performance: sensitivity, beam characteristics, polarimetric properties, and image quality. We summarise the astronomical science that it has produced and draw lessons from operating Boolardy Engineering Test Array that will be relevant to the commissioning and operation of the final Australian Square Kilometre Array Path telescope.
To limit tail biting incidence, most pig producers in Europe tail dock their piglets. This is despite EU Council Directive 2008/120/EC banning routine tail docking and allowing it only as a last resort. The paper aims to understand what it takes to fulfil the intentions of the Directive by examining economic results of four management and housing scenarios, and by discussing their consequences for animal welfare in the light of legal and ethical considerations. The four scenarios compared are: ‘Standard Docked’, a conventional housing scenario with tail docking meeting the recommendations for Danish production (0.7 m2/pig); ‘Standard Undocked’, which is the same as ‘Standard Docked’ but with no tail docking, ‘Efficient Undocked’ and ‘Enhanced Undocked’, which have increased solid floor area (0.9 and 1.0 m2/pig, respectively) provision of loose manipulable materials (100 and 200 g/straw per pig per day) and no tail docking. A decision tree model based on data from Danish and Finnish pig production suggests that Standard Docked provides the highest economic gross margin with the least tail biting. Given our assumptions, Enhanced Undocked is the least economic, although Efficient Undocked is better economically and both result in a lower incidence of tail biting than Standard Undocked but higher than Standard Docked. For a pig, being bitten is worse for welfare (repeated pain, risk of infections) than being docked, but to compare welfare consequences at a farm level means considering the number of affected pigs. Because of the high levels of biting in Standard Undocked, it has on average inferior welfare to Standard Docked, whereas the comparison of Standard Docked and Enhanced (or Efficient) Undocked is more difficult. In Enhanced (or Efficient) Undocked, more pigs than in Standard Docked suffer from being tail bitten, whereas all the pigs avoid the acute pain of docking endured by the pigs in Standard Docked. We illustrate and discuss this ethical balance using numbers derived from the above-mentioned data. We discuss our results in the light of the EU Directive and its adoption and enforcement by Member States. Widespread use of tail docking seems to be accepted, mainly because the alternative steps that producers are required to take before resorting to it are not specified in detail. By tail docking, producers are acting in their own best interests. We suggest that for the practice of tail docking to be terminated in a way that benefits animal welfare, changes in the way pigs are housed and managed may first be required.
It is well known that web-based interventions can be effective treatments for depression. However, dropout rates in web-based interventions are typically high, especially in self-guided web-based interventions. Rigorous empirical evidence regarding factors influencing dropout in self-guided web-based interventions is lacking due to small study sample sizes. In this paper we examined predictors of dropout in an individual patient data meta-analysis to gain a better understanding of who may benefit from these interventions.
A comprehensive literature search for all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of psychotherapy for adults with depression from 2006 to January 2013 was conducted. Next, we approached authors to collect the primary data of the selected studies. Predictors of dropout, such as socio-demographic, clinical, and intervention characteristics were examined.
Data from 2705 participants across ten RCTs of self-guided web-based interventions for depression were analysed. The multivariate analysis indicated that male gender [relative risk (RR) 1.08], lower educational level (primary education, RR 1.26) and co-morbid anxiety symptoms (RR 1.18) significantly increased the risk of dropping out, while for every additional 4 years of age, the risk of dropping out significantly decreased (RR 0.94).
Dropout can be predicted by several variables and is not randomly distributed. This knowledge may inform tailoring of online self-help interventions to prevent dropout in identified groups at risk.
The current study compared beef production, quality and fatty acid (FA) profiles of yearling steers fed a control diet containing 70 : 30 red clover silage (RCS) : barley-based concentrate, a diet containing 11% sunflower seed (SS) substituted for barley, and diets containing SS with15% or 30% wheat dried distillers’ grain with solubles (DDGS). Additions of DDGS were balanced by reductions in RCS and SS to maintain crude fat levels in diets. A total of two pens of eight animals were fed per diet for an average period of 208 days. Relative to the control diet, feeding the SS diet increased (P<0.05) average daily gain, final live weight and proportions of total n-6 FA, non-conjugated 18:2 biohydrogenation products (i.e. atypical dienes) with the first double bond at carbon 8 or 9 from the carboxyl end, conjugated linoleic acid isomers with the first double bond from carbon 7 to 10 from the carboxyl end, t-18:1 isomers, and reduced (P<0.05) the proportions of total n-3 FA, conjugated linolenic acids, branched-chain FA, odd-chain FA and 16:0. Feeding DDGS-15 and DDGS-30 diets v. the SS diet further increased (P<0.05) average daily gains, final live weight, carcass weight, hot dressing percentage, fat thickness, rib-eye muscle area, and improved instrumental and sensory panel meat tenderness. However, in general feeding DGGS-15 or DDGS-30 diets did not change FA proportions relative to feeding the SS diet. Overall, adding SS to a RCS-based diet enhanced muscle proportions of 18:2n-6 biohydrogenation products, and further substitutions of DDGS in the diet improved beef production, and quality while maintaining proportions of potentially functional bioactive FA including vaccenic and rumenic acids.
Tail biting is a serious animal welfare and economic problem in pig production. Tail docking, which reduces but does not eliminate tail biting, remains widespread. However, in the EU tail docking may not be used routinely, and some ‘alternative’ forms of pig production and certain countries do not allow tail docking at all. Against this background, using a novel approach focusing on research where tail injuries were quantified, we review the measures that can be used to control tail biting in pigs without tail docking. Using this strict criterion, there was good evidence that manipulable substrates and feeder space affect damaging tail biting. Only epidemiological evidence was available for effects of temperature and season, and the effect of stocking density was unclear. Studies suggest that group size has little effect, and the effects of nutrition, disease and breed require further investigation. The review identifies a number of knowledge gaps and promising avenues for future research into prevention and mitigation. We illustrate the diversity of hypotheses concerning how different proposed risk factors might increase tail biting through their effect on each other or on the proposed underlying processes of tail biting. A quantitative comparison of the efficacy of different methods of provision of manipulable materials, and a review of current practices in countries and assurance schemes where tail docking is banned, both suggest that daily provision of small quantities of destructible, manipulable natural materials can be of considerable benefit. Further comparative research is needed into materials, such as ropes, which are compatible with slatted floors. Also, materials which double as fuel for anaerobic digesters could be utilised. As well as optimising housing and management to reduce risk, it is important to detect and treat tail biting as soon as it occurs. Early warning signs before the first bloody tails appear, such as pigs holding their tails tucked under, could in future be automatically detected using precision livestock farming methods enabling earlier reaction and prevention of tail damage. However, there is a lack of scientific studies on how best to respond to outbreaks: the effectiveness of, for example, removing biters and/or bitten pigs, increasing enrichment, or applying substances to tails should be investigated. Finally, some breeding companies are exploring options for reducing the genetic propensity to tail bite. If these various approaches to reduce tail biting are implemented we propose that the need for tail docking will be reduced.
We investigated the influence of Swedish recommended vitamins A, D3 and E supplementation levels on muscle tenderness and fatty acid (FA) composition under indoor or outdoor finishing programmes. Swedish Red breed steer calves were divided into vitamin supplemented (n = 12) and non-supplemented (n = 15) groups while on pasture prior to the finishing period. This trial began at the beginning of the winter housing period during which the steers were fed a 55 : 45 dry matter barley : grass silage diet indoors. The indoor finished group was comprised of vitamin supplemented (n = 6) and non-supplemented (n = 8) steers slaughtered after about 155 days on feed. Vitamin supplemented steers were provided with 100 g mineral supplement providing 400 000 IU vitamin A, 100 000 IU D3 and 3000 IU E daily as recommended for Swedish production practices. In spring, outdoor finished vitamin supplemented (n = 6) and non-supplemented (n = 7) steers grazed semi-natural grassland for an additional 120 days before slaughter. During pasture, vitamin supplemented steers had free-choice access to a mineral supplement containing vitamins A, D3 and E. The mineral supplement for the non-supplemented steers did not contain vitamins A, D3 and E and was provided at the same amount as the vitamin supplemented steers. Shear force values were similar between vitamin supplemented and non-supplemented steers after ageing 2, 7 and 14 days within indoor and outdoor finishing programmes. The shear force values had decreased by 14 days of ageing within all programmes. The μ- and m-calpain activity did not differ between vitamin supplemented and non-supplemented steers for either the indoor or outdoor finishing programmes. The calpastatin activity was higher for the indoor, vitamin supplemented steers. Indoor finished vitamin supplemented steers had a greater proportion of C18:1c-9 and total monounsaturated fatty acids, whereas the non-supplemented steers had a greater proportion of total saturated fatty acids. We concluded that the meat quality from steers not receiving vitamin supplementation was similar to that of steers receiving vitamins A, D3 and E supplementation at Swedish recommended levels under indoor and outdoor finishing programmes.
In 2005 we obtained very precise interferometric measurements of the pole-on rapid rotator Vega (A0 V) with the longest baselines of the Center for High Angular Angular Resolution (CHARA) Array and the Fiber Linked Unit for Optical Recombination (FLUOR). For the analysis of these data, we developed a code for mapping sophisticated PHOENIX model atmospheres on to the surface of rotationally distorted stars described by a Roche-von Zeipel formalism. Given a set of input parameters for a star or binary pair, this code predicts the interferometric visibility, spectral energy distribution and high-resolution line spectrum expected for the system. For the gravity-darkened Vega, our model provides a very good match to the K-band interferometric data, a good match to the spectral energy distribution – except below 160 nm – and a rather poor match to weak lines in the high dispersion spectrum where the model appears overly gravity darkened. In 2006, we used the CHARA Array and FLUOR to obtain high precision measurements of the massive, non-eclipsing, double-line spectroscopic binary Spica, a 4-day period system where both components are gravity darkened rapid rotators. These data supplement recent data obtained with the Sydney University Stellar Interferometer (SUSI). Our study follows the classic 1971 study by Herbison-Evans et al. who resolved Spica as a binary with the Narrabri Stellar Intensity Interferometer (NSII). We will report on our progress modeling the new interferometric and archival spectroscopic data, with the goal towards better constraining the apsidal constant.
The Lyot Project near-infrared JHK coronagraph achieved first light on the Advanced Electro-Optical System (AEOS) in March 2004. Optical pupil plane imaging at video rates from this coronagraph provides data on atmospheric scintillation and quasi-static pupil intensity variations. We examine the effect of these variations on coronagraphic performance. Early simulations suggested Strehl ratio reductions of the order of 2–3% due to residual uncorrected phase aberrations in H-band. We find that static or quasi-static pupil illumination non-uniformity in I-band reduces Strehl by $\sim$2%. A lower bound on the effects of dynamic illumination variation over the pupil is also $\sim$2% in I-band. Some of the static intensity variations in the pupil are due to pinned deformable mirror (DM) actuators. We simulate the effects a pinned actuator has on the coronagraph. The resultant speckles in simulated coronagraphic images show similarities to some Lyot Project PSFs. This highlights the importance of knowledge of the pupil in next-generation extreme AO coronagraphs in order to realize the predicted photometric dynamic range of their images.