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Childhood is a crucial neurodevelopmental period. We investigated whether childhood reading for pleasure (RfP) was related to young adolescent assessments of cognition, mental health, and brain structure.
We conducted a cross-sectional and longitudinal study in a large-scale US national cohort (10 000 + young adolescents), using the well-established linear mixed model and structural equation methods for twin study, longitudinal and mediation analyses. A 2-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis for potential causal inference was also performed. Important factors including socio-economic status were controlled.
Early-initiated long-standing childhood RfP (early RfP) was highly positively correlated with performance on cognitive tests and significantly negatively correlated with mental health problem scores of young adolescents. These participants with higher early RfP scores exhibited moderately larger total brain cortical areas and volumes, with increased regions including the temporal, frontal, insula, supramarginal; left angular, para-hippocampal; right middle-occipital, anterior-cingulate, orbital areas; and subcortical ventral-diencephalon and thalamus. These brain structures were significantly related to their cognitive and mental health scores, and displayed significant mediation effects. Early RfP was longitudinally associated with higher crystallized cognition and lower attention symptoms at follow-up. Approximately 12 h/week of youth regular RfP was cognitively optimal. We further observed a moderately significant heritability of early RfP, with considerable contribution from environments. MR analysis revealed beneficial causal associations of early RfP with adult cognitive performance and left superior temporal structure.
These findings, for the first time, revealed the important relationships of early RfP with subsequent brain and cognitive development and mental well-being.
The origins of metal coinage and the monetisation of ancient economies have long been a research focus in both archaeology and economic history. Recent excavations of an Eastern Zhou period (c. 770–220 BC) bronze foundry at Guanzhuang in Henan Province, China, have yielded clay moulds for casting spade coins. The technical characteristics of the moulds demonstrate that the site functioned as a mint for producing standardised coins. Systematic AMS radiocarbon-dating indicates that well-organised minting developed c. 640–550 BC, making Guanzhuang the world's oldest-known, securely dated minting site. This discovery provides important new data for exploring the origin of monetisation in ancient China.
Neuroimaging characteristics have demonstrated disrupted functional organization in schizophrenia (SZ), involving large-scale networks within grey matter (GM). However, previous studies have ignored the role of white matter (WM) in supporting brain function.
Using resting-state functional MRI and graph theoretical approaches, we investigated global topological disruptions of large-scale WM and GM networks in 93 SZ patients and 122 controls. Six global properties [clustering coefficient (Cp), shortest path length (Lp), local efficiency (Eloc), small-worldness (σ), hierarchy (β) and synchronization (S) and three nodal metrics [nodal degree (Knodal), nodal efficiency (Enodal) and nodal betweenness (Bnodal)] were utilized to quantify the topological organization in both WM and GM networks.
At the network level, both WM and GM networks exhibited reductions in Eloc, Cp and S in SZ. The SZ group showed reduced σ and β only for the WM network. Furthermore, the Cp, Eloc and S of the WM network were negatively correlated with negative symptoms in SZ. At the nodal level, the SZ showed nodal disturbances in the corpus callosum, optic radiation, posterior corona radiata and tempo-occipital WM tracts. For GM, the SZ manifested increased nodal centralities in frontoparietal regions and decreased nodal centralities in temporal regions.
These findings provide the first evidence for abnormal global topological properties in SZ from the perspective of a substantial whole brain, including GM and WM. Nodal centralities enhance GM areas, along with a reduction in adjacent WM, suggest that WM functional alterations may be compensated for adjacent GM impairments in SZ.
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