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Guided by developmental psychopathology and dual-risk frameworks, the present study examined the interplay between childhood maltreatment and maternal major depression history in relation to neural reward responsiveness in youth. The sample consisted of 96 youth (ages 9–16; M = 12.29 years, SD = 2.20; 68.8% female) drawn from a large metropolitan city. Youth were recruited based on whether their mothers had a history of major depressive disorder (MDD) and were categorized into two groups: youth with mothers with a history of MDD (high risk; HR; n = 56) and youth with mothers with no history of psychiatric disorders (low risk; LR; n = 40). The reward positivity (RewP), an event-related potential component, was utilized to measure reward responsiveness and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire measured childhood maltreatment. We found a significant two-way interaction between childhood maltreatment and risk group in relation to RewP. Simple slope analysis revealed that in the HR group, greater childhood maltreatment was significantly associated with reduced RewP. The relationship between childhood maltreatment and RewP was not significant among the LR youth. The present findings demonstrate that the association between childhood maltreatment and blunted reward responsiveness is dependent on whether offspring have mothers with histories of MDD.
Neuroimaging studies have shown variance in brain response to emotional faces predicts cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) outcome. An important next step is to determine if individual differences in neural predictors of CBT response represent distinct patient groups.
In total, 90 patients with internalizing disorders completed a face-matching task during functional magnetic resonance imaging before and after 12 weeks of CBT and 45 healthy controls completed the task before and after 12 weeks. Patients exhibiting a pre-to-post CBT >50% reduction in symptom severity on two measures were considered treatment responders. Regions of interest (ROIs) for angry, fearful, and happy faces were submitted to receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis. Significant ROIs were then submitted to decision tree analysis to classify responder/non-responder subgroups. Psychophysiological interactions (PPI) were used to explore functional connectivity in the region(s) that delineated subgroups.
A total of 51 patients were treatment responders and ROC curve results were significant for all face types though specific regions varied. Decision tree results revealed superior occipital response to angry faces identified patient subgroups such that the subgroup with ‘high’ occipital activity had more responders than the ‘low’ occipital subgroup. Following CBT, the high, relative to low, occipital subgroup was less symptomatic. Controls exhibited stable superior occipital activation over time. Whole-brain PPI showed reduced baseline superior occipital-postcentral gyrus functional connectivity in responders compared to non-responders.
Preliminary findings indicate patients characterized by relatively more pre-treatment superior occipital gyrus engagement to angry faces and reduced superior occipital-postcentral gyrus connectivity, relative to non-responders, may represent a phenotype likely to benefit from CBT.
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a devastating rare disease that affects individuals regardless of ethnicity, gender, and age. The first-approved disease-modifying therapy for SMA, nusinursen, was approved by Health Canada, as well as by American and European regulatory agencies following positive clinical trial outcomes. The trials were conducted in a narrow pediatric population defined by age, severity, and genotype. Broad approval of therapy necessitates close follow-up of potential rare adverse events and effectiveness in the larger real-world population.
The Canadian Neuromuscular Disease Registry (CNDR) undertook an iterative multi-stakeholder process to expand the existing SMA dataset to capture items relevant to patient outcomes in a post-marketing environment. The CNDR SMA expanded registry is a longitudinal, prospective, observational study of patients with SMA in Canada designed to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of novel therapies and provide practical information unattainable in trials.
The consensus expanded dataset includes items that address therapy effectiveness and safety and is collected in a multicenter, prospective, observational study, including SMA patients regardless of therapeutic status. The expanded dataset is aligned with global datasets to facilitate collaboration. Additionally, consensus dataset development aimed to standardize appropriate outcome measures across the network and broader Canadian community. Prospective outcome studies, data use, and analyses are independent of the funding partner.
Prospective outcome data collected will provide results on safety and effectiveness in a post-therapy approval era. These data are essential to inform improvements in care and access to therapy for all SMA patients.
Little is known about the neural substrates of suicide risk in mood disorders. Improving the identification of biomarkers of suicide risk, as indicated by a history of suicide-related behavior (SB), could lead to more targeted treatments to reduce risk.
Participants were 18 young adults with a mood disorder with a history of SB (as indicated by endorsing a past suicide attempt), 60 with a mood disorder with a history of suicidal ideation (SI) but not SB, 52 with a mood disorder with no history of SI or SB (MD), and 82 healthy comparison participants (HC). Resting-state functional connectivity within and between intrinsic neural networks, including cognitive control network (CCN), salience and emotion network (SEN), and default mode network (DMN), was compared between groups.
Several fronto-parietal regions (k > 57, p < 0.005) were identified in which individuals with SB demonstrated distinct patterns of connectivity within (in the CCN) and across networks (CCN-SEN and CCN-DMN). Connectivity with some of these same regions also distinguished the SB group when participants were re-scanned after 1–4 months. Extracted data defined SB group membership with good accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity (79–88%).
These results suggest that individuals with a history of SB in the context of mood disorders may show reliably distinct patterns of intrinsic network connectivity, even when compared to those with mood disorders without SB. Resting-state fMRI is a promising tool for identifying subtypes of patients with mood disorders who may be at risk for suicidal behavior.
Early-life adversity (ELA) is a risk factor for internalizing psychopathology (IP). ELA is also linked to alterations in neural phenotypes of emotion processing and maladaptive emotion regulatory strategies, such as ruminative brooding, in adulthood. We therefore expected that ELA would predict cortical brain activation to emotional faces in transdiagnostic IP and in turn, mediate the extent of rumination amongst patients with IPs and ELA (IP + ELA).
One hundred and thirty-two individuals, including 102 treatment-seeking adults with heterogeneous IPs and 30 healthy controls (HCs) performed an Emotional Face-Matching Task during functional magnetic resonance imaging. Whole-brain analyses compared HC (n = 30), IP (n = 52), and IP + ELA (n = 50) neural responses to emotional (angry, fearful, happy, and sad) faces v. shapes, controlling for depression and anxiety symptoms. Parameter estimates of activation were extracted for significant between-group differences and tested as a mediator of ruminative brooding in IP + ELA.
IP + ELA demonstrated increased activation in the superior frontal gyrus and anterior cingulate cortex (fear), superior parietal lobule, precuneus, posterior cingulate, and inferior temporal gyrus (fear only), and cuneus (fear and angry). These regions were preferentially correlated with ruminative brooding in IP + ELA, many of which mediated the link between IP + ELA and ruminative brooding.
Results provide evidence that ELA history amongst IP patients augments engagement of brain regions involved in emotion processing, above and beyond what is accounted for by current symptoms. Though longitudinal designs are needed, alterations in the neural correlates of maladaptive processing of socio-emotional information may be a common pathway by which ELA poses risk for psychopathology.
Heightened reactivity to unpredictable threat (U-threat) is a core individual difference factor underlying fear-based psychopathology. Little is known, however, about whether reactivity to U-threat is a stable marker of fear-based psychopathology or if it is malleable to treatment. The aim of the current study was to address this question by examining differences in reactivity to U-threat within patients before and after 12-weeks of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
Participants included patients with principal fear (n = 22) and distress/misery disorders (n = 29), and a group of healthy controls (n = 21) assessed 12-weeks apart. A well-validated threat-of-shock task was used to probe reactivity to predictable (P-) and U-threat and startle eyeblink magnitude was recorded as an index of defensive responding.
Across both assessments, individuals with fear-based disorders displayed greater startle magnitude to U-threat relative to healthy controls and distress/misery patients (who did not differ). From pre- to post-treatment, startle magnitude during U-threat decreased only within the fear patients who received CBT. Moreover, within fear patients, the magnitude of decline in startle to U-threat correlated with the magnitude of decline in fear symptoms. For the healthy controls, startle to U-threat across the two time points was highly reliable and stable.
Together, these results indicate that startle to U-threat characterizes fear disorder patients and is malleable to treatment with CBT but not SSRIs within fear patients. Startle to U-threat may therefore reflect an objective, psychophysiological indicator of fear disorder status and CBT treatment response.
When sober, problematic drinkers display exaggerated reactivity to threats that are uncertain (U-threat). Since this aversive affective state can be alleviated via acute alcohol intoxication, it has been posited that individuals who exhibit heightened reactivity to U-threat at baseline are motivated to use alcohol as a means of avoidance-based coping, setting the stage for excessive drinking. To date, however, no study has attempted to characterize the dispositional nature of exaggerated reactivity to U-threat and test whether it is a vulnerability factor or exclusively a disease marker of problematic alcohol use.
The current investigation utilized a family study design to address these gaps by examining whether (1) reactivity to U-threat is associated with risk for problematic alcohol use, defined by family history of alcohol use disorder (AUD) and (2) reactivity to U-threat is correlated amongst adult biological siblings. A total of 157 families, and 458 individuals, participated in the study and two biological siblings completed a threat-of-shock task designed to probe reactivity to U-threat and predictable threat (P-threat). Startle potentiation was collected as an index of aversive responding.
Within biological siblings, startle potentiation to U-threat [intraclass correlation (ICC) = 0.35] and P-threat (ICC = 0.63) was significantly correlated. In addition, independent of an individuals’ own AUD status, startle potentiation to U-threat, but not P-threat, was positively associated with risk for AUD (i.e. AUD family history).
This suggests that heightened reactivity to U-threat may be a familial vulnerability factor for problematic drinking and a novel prevention target for AUD.
Recent meta-analyses of resting-state networks in major depressive disorder (MDD) implicate network disruptions underlying cognitive and affective features of illness. Heterogeneity of findings to date may stem from the relative lack of data parsing clinical features of MDD such as phase of illness and the burden of multiple episodes.
Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging data were collected from 17 active MDD and 34 remitted MDD patients, and 26 healthy controls (HCs) across two sites. Participants were medication-free and further subdivided into those with single v. multiple episodes to examine disease burden. Seed-based connectivity using the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) seed to probe the default mode network as well as the amygdala and subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (sgACC) seeds to probe the salience network (SN) were conducted.
Young adults with remitted MDD demonstrated hyperconnectivity of the left PCC to the left inferior frontal gyrus and of the left sgACC to the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex (PFC) and left hippocampus compared with HCs. Episode-independent effects were observed between the left PCC and the right dorsolateral PFC, as well as between the left amygdala and right insula and caudate, whereas the burden of multiple episodes was associated with hypoconnectivity of the left PCC to multiple cognitive control regions as well as hypoconnectivity of the amygdala to large portions of the SN.
This is the first study of a homogeneous sample of unmedicated young adults with a history of adolescent-onset MDD illustrating brain-based episodic features of illness.
The Vibrio cholerae O1 (VCO1) El Tor biotype appeared during the seventh cholera pandemic starting in 1961, and new variants of this biotype have been identified since the early 1990s. This pandemic has affected Vietnam, and a large outbreak was reported in southern Vietnam in 2010. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analyses (MLVA) were used to screen 34 VCO1 isolates from the southern Vietnam 2010 outbreak (23 patients, five contact persons, and six environmental isolates) to determine if it was genetically distinct from 18 isolates from outbreaks in southern Vietnam from 1999 to 2004, and two isolates from northern Vietnam (2008). Twenty-seven MLVA types and seven PFGE patterns were identified. Both analyses showed that the 2008 and 2010 isolates were distinctly clustered and separated from the 1999–2004 isolates.
Individuals with generalized social anxiety disorder (gSAD) exhibit attentional bias to salient stimuli, which is reduced in patients whose symptoms improve after treatment, indicating that mechanisms of bias mediate treatment success. Therefore, pre-treatment activity in regions implicated in attentional control over socio-emotional signals (e.g. anterior cingulate cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) may predict response to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), evidence-based psychotherapy for gSAD.
During functional magnetic resonance imaging, 21 participants with gSAD viewed images comprising a trio of geometric shapes (circles, rectangles or triangles) alongside a trio of faces (angry, fearful or happy) within the same field of view. Attentional control was evaluated with the instruction to ‘match shapes’, directing attention away from faces, which was contrasted with ‘match faces’, whereby attention was directed to emotional faces.
Whole-brain voxel-wise analyses showed that symptom improvement was predicted by enhanced pre-treatment activity in the presence of emotional face distractors in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and dorsal medial prefrontal cortex. Additionally, CBT success was foretold by less activity in the amygdala and/or increased activity in the medial orbitofrontal gyrus during emotion processing.
CBT response was predicted by pre-treatment activity in prefrontal regions and the amygdala. The direction of activity suggests that individuals with intact attentional control in the presence of emotional distractors, regulatory capacity over emotional faces and/or less reactivity to such faces are more likely to benefit from CBT. Findings indicate that baseline neural activity in the context of attentional control and emotion processing may serve as a step towards delineating mechanisms by which CBT exerts its effects.
The current status of the DRIFT (Directional Recoil Identification From Tracks)
experiment at Boulby Mine is presented, including the latest limits on the WIMP
spin-dependent cross-section from 1.5 kg days of running with a mixture of CS2
and CF4. Planned upgrades to DRIFT IId are detailed, along with ongoing work
towards DRIFT III, which aims to be the world’s first 10 m3-scale directional
Dark Matter detector.