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The objective of this study was to examine the association between dietary inflammatory potential and memory and cognitive functioning among a representative sample of the US older adult population. Cross-sectional data from the 2011–2012 and 2013–2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were utilised to identify an aggregate sample of adults 60–85 years of age (n 1723). Dietary inflammatory index (DII®) scores were calculated using 24-h dietary recall interviews. Three memory-related assessments were employed, including the Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s disease (CERAD) Word Learning subset, the Animal Fluency test and the Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST). Inverse associations were observed between DII scores and the different memory parameters. Episodic memory (CERAD) (badjusted=−0·39; 95 % CI −0·79, 0·00), semantic-based memory (Animal Fluency Test) (badjusted=−1·18; 95 % CI −2·17, −0·20) and executive function and working-memory (DSST) (badjusted=−2·80; 95 % CI −5·58, −0·02) performances were lowest among those with the highest mean DII score. Though inverse relationships were observed between DII scores and memory and cognitive functioning, future work is needed to further explore the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the complex relationship between inflammation-related dietary behaviour and memory and cognition.
Falls and fall-related injury are common and become more prevalent with increasing age. Risk factors for falling are numerous, synergistic and complex, and require multidisciplinary assessment. The evidence base for intervention strategies continues to improve, but is often limited by the methodological difficulties that are inherent in falls research. The most effective intervention is a multifactorial approach that targets identified risk factors. Multicomponent exercise, either in a group or individually, is one of the most effective components of intervention. Other successful components include home hazard modification and psychotropic medication withdrawal. Primary prevention does not appear to be cost effective, but secondary prevention far outweighs the cost of falls and fall-related injury.
The science of extra-solar planets is one of the most rapidly changing areas of astrophysics and since 1995 the number of planets known has increased by almost two orders of magnitude. A combination of ground-based surveys and dedicated space missions has resulted in 560-plus planets being detected, and over 1200 that await confirmation. NASA's Kepler mission has opened up the possibility of discovering Earth-like planets in the habitable zone around some of the 100,000 stars it is surveying during its 3 to 4-year lifetime. The new ESA's Gaia mission is expected to discover thousands of new planets around stars within 200 parsecs of the Sun. The key challenge now is moving on from discovery, important though that remains, to characterisation: what are these planets actually like, and why are they as they are?
In the past ten years, we have learned how to obtain the first spectra of exoplanets using transit transmission and emission spectroscopy. With the high stability of Spitzer, Hubble, and large ground-based telescopes the spectra of bright close-in massive planets can be obtained and species like water vapour, methane, carbon monoxide and dioxide have been detected. With transit science came the first tangible remote sensing of these planetary bodies and so one can start to extrapolate from what has been learnt from Solar System probes to what one might plan to learn about their faraway siblings. As we learn more about the atmospheres, surfaces and near-surfaces of these remote bodies, we will begin to build up a clearer picture of their construction, history and suitability for life.
The Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory, EChO, will be the first dedicated mission to investigate the physics and chemistry of Exoplanetary Atmospheres. By characterising spectroscopically more bodies in different environments we will take detailed planetology out of the Solar System and into the Galaxy as a whole.
EChO has now been selected by the European Space Agency to be assessed as one of four M3 mission candidates.
Background. We measured psychopathic traits in boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) selected for difficult and aggressive behaviour. We asked (i) whether psychopathic tendencies can be measured in ASD independent of the severity of autistic behaviour; (ii) whether individuals with ASD with callous–unemotional (CU) traits differ in their cognitive profile from those without such traits; and (iii) how the cognitive data from this study compare with previous data of youngsters with psychopathic tendencies.
Method. Twenty-eight ASD boys were rated on psychopathic tendencies, autistic traits and a range of cognitive measures assessing mentalizing ability, executive functions, emotion recognition and ability to make moral–conventional distinction.
Results. Our results indicate that psychopathic tendencies are not related to severity of ASD. In addition, such tendencies do not seem to be related to core autistic cognitive deficits, specifically in ‘mind-reading’ or executive function. Boys with co-occurring ASD and CU tendencies share some behaviours and aspects of cognitive profile with boys who have psychopathic tendencies alone.
Conclusions. Callous/psychopathic acts in a small number of individuals with ASD probably reflect a ‘double hit’ involving an additional impairment of empathic response to distress cues, which is not part and parcel of ASD itself.
This study is an attempt to demonstrate confabulation in schizophrenia. Twelve patients who met DSM-III-R criteria for schizophrenia were matched for age, sex and pre-morbid IQ with 12 volunteers, 9 of whom were normal healthy subjects, with the remainder being depressed patients. To elicit confabulation, subjects were asked to recall narratives. In addition, subjects were examined on a number of neuropsychological tests. Confabulation was denned as recall of information not present in the narrative. Variable amounts of confabulation were observed in all schizophrenics, while only one control subject confabulated. The content and structure of their productions differed from previously reported forms of confabulation in that schizophrenic patients spontaneously rearranged the original narratives to produce new ideas. The amount of confabulation was found to be related to difficulties in suppressing inappropriate responses (Hayling test) and formal thought disorder, but unrelated to understanding of the gist or moral of the narratives. Tentative mechanisms for the process of confabulation are proposed, based on specific difficulties with comprehension, response monitoring and response suppression.