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The design and the early commissioning of the ELI-Beamlines laser facility’s 30 J, 30 fs, 10 Hz HAPLS (High-repetition-rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System) beam transport (BT) system to the P3 target chamber are described in detail. It is the world’s first and with 54 m length, the longest distance high average power petawatt (PW) BT system ever built. It connects the HAPLS pulse compressor via the injector periscope with the 4.5 m diameter P3 target chamber of the plasma physics group in hall E3. It is the largest target chamber of the facility and was connected first to the BT system. The major engineering challenges are the required high vibration stability mirror support structures, the high pointing stability optomechanics as well as the required levels for chemical and particle cleanliness of the vacuum vessels to preserve the high laser damage threshold of the dielectrically coated high-power mirrors. A first commissioning experiment at low pulse energy shows the full functionality of the BT system to P3 and the novel experimental infrastructure.
Gravitational waves from coalescing neutron stars encode information about nuclear matter at extreme densities, inaccessible by laboratory experiments. The late inspiral is influenced by the presence of tides, which depend on the neutron star equation of state. Neutron star mergers are expected to often produce rapidly rotating remnant neutron stars that emit gravitational waves. These will provide clues to the extremely hot post-merger environment. This signature of nuclear matter in gravitational waves contains most information in the 2–4 kHz frequency band, which is outside of the most sensitive band of current detectors. We present the design concept and science case for a Neutron Star Extreme Matter Observatory (NEMO): a gravitational-wave interferometer optimised to study nuclear physics with merging neutron stars. The concept uses high-circulating laser power, quantum squeezing, and a detector topology specifically designed to achieve the high-frequency sensitivity necessary to probe nuclear matter using gravitational waves. Above 1 kHz, the proposed strain sensitivity is comparable to full third-generation detectors at a fraction of the cost. Such sensitivity changes expected event rates for detection of post-merger remnants from approximately one per few decades with two A+ detectors to a few per year and potentially allow for the first gravitational-wave observations of supernovae, isolated neutron stars, and other exotica.
This study aimed to assess whether increasing operative experience results in better surgical outcomes in endoscopic middle-ear surgery.
A retrospective single-institution cohort study was performed. Patients underwent endoscopic tympanoplasty between May 2013 and April 2019 performed by the senior surgeon or a trainee surgeon under direct supervision from the senior surgeon. Following data collection, statistical analysis compared success rates between early (learning curve) surgical procedures and later (experienced) tympanoplasties.
In total, 157 patients (86 male, 71 female), with a mean age of 41.6 years, were included. The patients were followed up for an average of 43.2 weeks. The overall primary closure rate was 90.0 per cent.
This study demonstrates an early learning curve for endoscopic ear surgery that improves with surgical experience. Adoption of the endoscopic technique did not impair the success rates of tympanoplasty.
Abnormal brain structure of frontal and temporal brain regions has been suggested to occur in patients with schizophrenia who have frequent auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH). However, it is unknown whether this is specific to this patient subgroup. In this study tested the hypothesis that frontotemporal gray matter volume changes would characterize patients with persistent AVH (pAVH) in contrast to healthy controls and patients without AVH. Using structural magnetic resonance imaging at 3T, we studied 20 patients with schizophrenia and 14 matched healthy controls. Ten patients were classified as having chronic and treatment resistant AVH, whereas the remaining 10 patients either never had AVH in the past or were in full remission with regard to AVH (nAVH). Using a multivariate statistical technique for structural data, i.e. 'source-based morphometry' (SBM), we investigated naturally grouping patterns of gray matter volume variation among individuals, the magnitude of their expression between-groups and the relationship between gray matter volume and AVH-specific measures. SBM identified a lower expression of medial and inferior frontal as well as bilateral temporal gray matter volume between pAVH and nAVH. This pattern did not differ between nAVH patients and controls and was associated with 'physical' AVH characteristics (such as symptom duration, location, frequency and intensity) in the pAVH patient group. These results suggest that a pattern of lower gray matter volume in medial frontal and bilateral temporal cortical regions differentiates between patients with persistent AVH and non-hallucinating patients. Moreover, the data support a specific role of this neural pattern in AVH symptom expression.
Postoperative cognitive impairment is among the most common medical complications associated with surgical interventions – particularly in elderly patients. In our aging society, it is an urgent medical need to determine preoperative individual risk prediction to allow more accurate cost–benefit decisions prior to elective surgeries. So far, risk prediction is mainly based on clinical parameters. However, these parameters only give a rough estimate of the individual risk. At present, there are no molecular or neuroimaging biomarkers available to improve risk prediction and little is known about the etiology and pathophysiology of this clinical condition. In this short review, we summarize the current state of knowledge and briefly present the recently started BioCog project (Biomarker Development for Postoperative Cognitive Impairment in the Elderly), which is funded by the European Union. It is the goal of this research and development (R&D) project, which involves academic and industry partners throughout Europe, to deliver a multivariate algorithm based on clinical assessments as well as molecular and neuroimaging biomarkers to overcome the currently unsatisfying situation.
Background: Biallelic variants in POLR1C are associated with POLR3-related leukodystrophy (POLR3-HLD), or 4H leukodystrophy (Hypomyelination, Hypodontia, Hypogonadotropic Hypogonadism), and Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS). The clinical spectrum of POLR3-HLD caused by variants in this gene has not been described. Methods: A cross-sectional observational study involving 25 centers worldwide was conducted between 2016 and 2018. The clinical, radiologic and molecular features of 23 unreported and previously reported cases of POLR3-HLD caused by POLR1C variants were reviewed. Results: Most participants presented between birth and age 6 years with motor difficulties. Neurological deterioration was seen during childhood, suggesting a more severe phenotype than previously described. The dental, ocular and endocrine features often seen in POLR3-HLD were not invariably present. Five patients (22%) had a combination of hypomyelinating leukodystrophy and abnormal craniofacial development, including one individual with clear TCS features. Several cases did not exhibit all the typical radiologic characteristics of POLR3-HLD. A total of 29 different pathogenic variants in POLR1C were identified, including 13 new disease-causing variants. Conclusions: Based on the largest cohort of patients to date, these results suggest novel characteristics of POLR1C-related disorder, with a spectrum of clinical involvement characterized by hypomyelinating leukodystrophy with or without abnormal craniofacial development reminiscent of TCS.
Objectives: To adequately monitor the course of cognitive functioning in persons with moderate to severe dementia, relevant cognitive tests for the advanced dementia stages are needed. We examined the ability of a test developed for the advanced dementia stages, the Severe Impairment Battery Short version (SIB-S), to measure cognitive change over time. Second, we examined type of memory impairment measured with the SIB-S in different dementia stages. Methods: Participants were institutionalized persons with moderate to severe dementia (N = 217). The SIB-S was administered at 6-month intervals during a 2-year period. Dementia severity at baseline was classified according to Global Deterioration Scale criteria. We used mixed models to evaluate the course of SIB-S total and domain scores, and whether dementia stage at baseline affected these courses. Results: SIB-S total scores declined significantly over time, and the course of decline differed significantly between dementia stages at baseline. Persons with moderately severe dementia declined faster in mean SIB-S total scores than persons with moderate or severe dementia. Between persons with moderate and moderately severe dementia, there was only a difference in the rate of decline of semantic items, but not episodic and non-semantic items. Conclusions: Although modest floor and slight ceiling effects were noted in severe and milder cases, respectively, the SIB-S proved to be one of few available adequate measures of cognitive change in institutionalized persons with moderate to severe dementia. (JINS, 2019, 25, 204–214)
Selecting bulls for reproductive soundness requires that the bull be structurally sound, free of abnormalities that impair his ability to produce adequate numbers of motile, morphologically normal spermatozoa, and be able to successfully complete coitus. This review discusses the diagnosis and etiology of abnormalities of the penis, prepuce as well as common musculoskeletal conditions that prevent normal pasture breeding soundness. A review of testicular and thermoregulation addresses the potential impact of musculoskeletal disorders on normal sperm production.
The discovery of the first electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational wave signal has generated follow-up observations by over 50 facilities world-wide, ushering in the new era of multi-messenger astronomy. In this paper, we present follow-up observations of the gravitational wave event GW170817 and its electromagnetic counterpart SSS17a/DLT17ck (IAU label AT2017gfo) by 14 Australian telescopes and partner observatories as part of Australian-based and Australian-led research programs. We report early- to late-time multi-wavelength observations, including optical imaging and spectroscopy, mid-infrared imaging, radio imaging, and searches for fast radio bursts. Our optical spectra reveal that the transient source emission cooled from approximately 6 400 K to 2 100 K over a 7-d period and produced no significant optical emission lines. The spectral profiles, cooling rate, and photometric light curves are consistent with the expected outburst and subsequent processes of a binary neutron star merger. Star formation in the host galaxy probably ceased at least a Gyr ago, although there is evidence for a galaxy merger. Binary pulsars with short (100 Myr) decay times are therefore unlikely progenitors, but pulsars like PSR B1534+12 with its 2.7 Gyr coalescence time could produce such a merger. The displacement (~2.2 kpc) of the binary star system from the centre of the main galaxy is not unusual for stars in the host galaxy or stars originating in the merging galaxy, and therefore any constraints on the kick velocity imparted to the progenitor are poor.
The Taipan galaxy survey (hereafter simply ‘Taipan’) is a multi-object spectroscopic survey starting in 2017 that will cover 2π steradians over the southern sky (δ ≲ 10°, |b| ≳ 10°), and obtain optical spectra for about two million galaxies out to z < 0.4. Taipan will use the newly refurbished 1.2-m UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory with the new TAIPAN instrument, which includes an innovative ‘Starbugs’ positioning system capable of rapidly and simultaneously deploying up to 150 spectroscopic fibres (and up to 300 with a proposed upgrade) over the 6° diameter focal plane, and a purpose-built spectrograph operating in the range from 370 to 870 nm with resolving power R ≳ 2000. The main scientific goals of Taipan are (i) to measure the distance scale of the Universe (primarily governed by the local expansion rate, H0) to 1% precision, and the growth rate of structure to 5%; (ii) to make the most extensive map yet constructed of the total mass distribution and motions in the local Universe, using peculiar velocities based on improved Fundamental Plane distances, which will enable sensitive tests of gravitational physics; and (iii) to deliver a legacy sample of low-redshift galaxies as a unique laboratory for studying galaxy evolution as a function of dark matter halo and stellar mass and environment. The final survey, which will be completed within 5 yrs, will consist of a complete magnitude-limited sample (i ⩽ 17) of about 1.2 × 106 galaxies supplemented by an extension to higher redshifts and fainter magnitudes (i ⩽ 18.1) of a luminous red galaxy sample of about 0.8 × 106 galaxies. Observations and data processing will be carried out remotely and in a fully automated way, using a purpose-built automated ‘virtual observer’ software and an automated data reduction pipeline. The Taipan survey is deliberately designed to maximise its legacy value by complementing and enhancing current and planned surveys of the southern sky at wavelengths from the optical to the radio; it will become the primary redshift and optical spectroscopic reference catalogue for the local extragalactic Universe in the southern sky for the coming decade.
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.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with elevated risk for metabolic syndrome (MetS). However, the direction of this association is not yet established, as most prior studies employed cross-sectional designs. The primary goal of this study was to evaluate bidirectional associations between PTSD and MetS using a longitudinal design.
A total of 1355 male and female veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan underwent PTSD diagnostic assessments and their biometric profiles pertaining to MetS were extracted from the electronic medical record at two time points (spanning ~2.5 years, n = 971 at time 2).
The prevalence of MetS among veterans with PTSD was just under 40% at both time points and was significantly greater than that for veterans without PTSD; the prevalence of MetS among those with PTSD was also elevated relative to age-matched population estimates. Cross-lagged panel models revealed that PTSD severity predicted subsequent increases in MetS severity (β = 0.08, p = 0.002), after controlling for initial MetS severity, but MetS did not predict later PTSD symptoms. Logistic regression results suggested that for every 10 PTSD symptoms endorsed at time 1, the odds of a subsequent MetS diagnosis increased by 56%.
Results highlight the substantial cardiometabolic concerns of young veterans with PTSD and raise the possibility that PTSD may predispose individuals to accelerated aging, in part, manifested clinically as MetS. This demonstrates the need to identify those with PTSD at greatest risk for MetS and to develop interventions that improve both conditions.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of multiple neural networks during the brain's ‘resting state’ could facilitate biomarker development in patients with Huntington's disease (HD) and may provide new insights into the relationship between neural dysfunction and clinical symptoms. To date, however, very few studies have examined the functional integrity of multiple resting state networks (RSNs) in manifest HD, and even less is known about whether concomitant brain atrophy affects neural activity in patients.
Using MRI, we investigated brain structure and RSN function in patients with early HD (n = 20) and healthy controls (n = 20). For resting-state fMRI data a group-independent component analysis identified spatiotemporally distinct patterns of motor and prefrontal RSNs of interest. We used voxel-based morphometry to assess regional brain atrophy, and ‘biological parametric mapping’ analyses to investigate the impact of atrophy on neural activity.
Compared with controls, patients showed connectivity changes within distinct neural systems including lateral prefrontal, supplementary motor, thalamic, cingulate, temporal and parietal regions. In patients, supplementary motor area and cingulate cortex connectivity indices were associated with measures of motor function, whereas lateral prefrontal connectivity was associated with cognition.
This study provides evidence for aberrant connectivity of RSNs associated with motor function and cognition in early manifest HD when controlling for brain atrophy. This suggests clinically relevant changes of RSN activity in the presence of HD-associated cortical and subcortical structural abnormalities.
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is characterized by alterations in brain function that are identifiable also during the brain's ‘resting state’. One functional network that is disrupted in this disorder is the default mode network (DMN), a set of large-scale connected brain regions that oscillate with low-frequency fluctuations and are more active during rest relative to a goal-directed task. Recent studies support the idea that the DMN is not a unitary system, but rather is composed of smaller and distinct functional subsystems that interact with each other. The functional relevance of these subsystems in depression, however, is unclear.
Here, we investigated the functional connectivity of distinct DMN subsystems and their interplay in depression using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging.
We show that patients with MDD exhibit increased within-network connectivity in posterior, ventral and core DMN subsystems along with reduced interplay from the anterior to the ventral DMN subsystems.
These data suggest that MDD is characterized by alterations of subsystems within the DMN as well as of their interactions. Our findings highlight a critical role of DMN circuitry in the pathophysiology of MDD, thus suggesting these subsystems as potential therapeutic targets.
The contribution of vegetative recruitment by non-tree species to the regeneration of tropical forests in man-made clearings or tree-fall gaps tends to be ignored. In a series of field studies near Amacayacu, Colombian Amazonia, we tested if hemiepiphytic aroids quickly colonize such open habitats through seed dispersal, sprouting plant fragments, or lateral invasion of flagellar aroids from the closed forest nearby. A seed germination experiment applying two soil substrates and three shade levels showed that abundant light reduced the germination success of three Philodendron species. A total of 400 cuttings from five Philodendron species were placed in forest clearings and almost 12% of these sprouted within 14 wk. Monitoring more than 2000 aroid plants over 14 mo in different habitats showed that recruitment was low (0.3 plants per 10 m2) compared with initial densities (3.1 plants per 10 m2). Flagellar aroids grew about 2.5 times faster than non-flagellar aroids. In forest edges they reached a mean apical growth of 98 cm in 14 mo. However, non-flagellar aroids were five to six times more abundant than flagellar individuals everywhere. It was concluded that hemiepiphytic aroids colonize open habitats mostly through a post-disturbance survival of plants or plant fragments.