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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.
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.
AFM-based nanoelectrical modes have numerous
applications in fields ranging from semiconductors
to biology. The data produced have traditionally
been in the form of a 2D map, generated in contact
mode, with a single electrical data point per
XY location. Electrical ramps
or spectra would be generated at a few, carefully
selected locations. This article discusses a new
approach to nanoelectrical imaging that creates an
electrical data cube and a correlated nanomechanical
data cube while operating at normal imaging speeds.
This approach avoids contact mode imaging, thus
extending electrical measurements to soft and
fragile samples and improving measurement
consistency. Moreover, this is a general approach
that is applicable to most nanoelectrical modes and
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.
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.
Depressive symptoms are prominent psychopathological features of Huntington's disease (HD), making a negative impact on social functioning and well-being.
We compared the frequencies of a history of depression, previous suicide attempts and current subthreshold depression between 61 early-stage HD participants and 40 matched controls. The HD group was then split based on the overall HD group's median Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale-depression score into a group of 30 non-depressed participants (mean 0.8, s.d. = 0.7) and a group of 31 participants with subthreshold depressive symptoms (mean 7.3, s.d. = 3.5) to explore the neuroanatomy underlying subthreshold depressive symptoms in HD using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
Frequencies of history of depression, previous suicide attempts or current subthreshold depressive symptoms were higher in HD than in controls. The severity of current depressive symptoms was also higher in HD, but not associated with the severity of HD motor signs or disease burden. Compared with the non-depressed HD group DTI revealed lower fractional anisotropy (FA) values in the frontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, insula and cerebellum of the HD group with subthreshold depressive symptoms. In contrast, VBM measures were similar in both HD groups. A history of depression, the severity of HD motor signs or disease burden did not correlate with FA values of these regions.
Current subthreshold depressive symptoms in early HD are associated with microstructural changes – without concomitant brain volume loss – in brain regions known to be involved in major depressive disorder, but not those typically associated with HD pathology.
EURECA (European Underground Rare Event Calorimeter Array) is an
astro-particle physics facility aiming to directly detect galactic dark
matter. The Laboratoire Souterrain de Modane has been selected as host
laboratory. The EURECA collaboration unites CRESST, EDELWEISS and the
Spanish-French experiment ROSEBUD, thus concentrating and focussing effort
on cryogenic detector research in Europe into a single facility. EURECA will
use a target mass of up to one ton, enough to explore WIMP – nucleon scalar
scattering cross sections in the region of 10-9 – 10-10 picobarn.
A major advantage of EURECA is the planned use of more than just one target
material (multi target experiment for WIMP identification).
In a recent experiment, we found that mice previously infected with Bordetella pertussis were not protected against a later infection with Bordetella parapertussis, while primary infection with B. parapertussis conferred cross-protection. This challenges the common assumption made in most mathematical models for pathogenic strain dynamics that cross-immunity between strains is symmetric. Here we investigate the potential consequences of this pattern on the circulation of the two pathogens in human populations. To match the empirical dominance of B. pertussis, we made the additional assumption that B. parapertussis pays a cost in terms of reduced fitness. We begin by exploring the range of parameter values that allow the coexistence of the two pathogens, with or without vaccination. We then track the dynamics of the system following the introduction of anti-pertussis vaccination. Our results suggest that (1) in order for B. pertussis to be more prevalent than B. parapertussis, the former must have a strong competitive advantage, possibly in the form of higher infectivity, and (2) because of asymmetric cross-immunity, the introduction of anti-pertussis vaccination should have little effect on the absolute prevalence of B. parapertussis. We discuss the evidence supporting these predictions, and the potential relevance of this model for other pathogens.
To evaluate the current clinical attitude in enteral nutrition support and motility disorders in adult critically ill patients on German intensive care units.
A total of 1493 questionnaires, including 25 items on the medical environment, treatment of motility disorders and enteral nutrition, were sent to German intensive care units in September 2005. Responses were collected during a 2-month period.
A total of 593 questionnaires were returned (response rate 41%). The intensive care units were mainly led by anaesthesiologists (63%) or internists (17%). Standard nutrition protocols were used in 44%. Feeding was mainly started as a combined enteral–parenteral regimen (70%). Early enteral nutrition was performed in 58% using a volume of 250–500 mL (66%) and increased by 200–400 mL day−1 (55%). It was mainly delivered by gastric tube (76%) via continuous pump systems (72%) with short interruption intervals of <4 h (86%). Enteral nutrition solutions were mainly standard polymeric formulae (86%). Modified solutions for diabetics and those with renal or liver failure were uncommonly used; immunonutrition did not play a role. Prokinetic agents, especially metoclopramide, laxatives and neostigmine, were routinely used (39%). Further therapeutic options in motility dysfunction included purgative enemas (96%), gastrografin (72%) and colon massage (39%).
The concept of early enteral nutrition has been well established and approved in German intensive care units, though the recommendations only meet level C criteria in the current ESPEN guidelines. The current survey may serve for further updates on practical nutrition support in intensive care medicine.