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One of the longstanding debates in life-course epidemiology is whether an adverse intrauterine environment, often proxied by birth weight, causally increases the future risk of cardiometabolic disease. The use of a discordant twin study design, which controls for the influence of shared genetic and environmental confounding factors, may be useful to investigate whether this relationship is causal. We conducted a discordant twin study of 120 monozygotic (MZ) and 148 dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs from the UK Biobank to explore the potential causal relationships between birth weight and a broad spectrum of later-life cardiometabolic risk factors. We used a linear mixed model to investigate the association between birth weight and later-life cardiometabolic risk factors for twins, allowing for both within-pair differences and between-pair differences in birth weight. Of primary interest is the within-pair association between differences in birth weight and cardiometabolic risk factors, which could reflect an intrauterine effect on later-life risk factors. We found no strong evidence of association in MZ twins between the within-pair differences in birth weight and most cardiometabolic risk factors in later life, except for nominal associations with C-reactive protein and insulin-like growth factor 1. However, these associations were not replicated in DZ twin pairs. Our study provided no strong evidence for intrauterine effects on later-life cardiometabolic risk factors, which is consistent with previous large-scale studies of singletons testing the potential causal relationship. It does not support the hypothesis that adverse intrauterine environments increase the risk of cardiometabolic disease in later life.
Human ability to adapt to shifting ecological regimes is tied to flexibility in our senses of place to engage and expand spatial and temporal scales. The challenge of regional conservation is to build intelligible senses of place from a mosaic of land uses that seemingly compete with one another and have difficulties scaling-up to characterise a regional geography. A regional place-making framework is developed that connects ecological relationships, structural forces of society and socio-cultural meanings in ways that negotiate tension between narratives of stability and change. Place-making asserts change as aspirational narratives of what should be, and inclusion of a temporal scale that recognises future states of conditions and relationships across communities. Place-making asserts stability due to concerns for restoring native ecosystems and production of socio-cultural heritage. Regional place-making is where global narratives meet local particularities in ways that integrate and prioritise narratives linked to stability and change.
In the early fourth century CE, after the escalation of a series of succession disputes among the imperial Sima clan, the Jin dynasty collapsed and its capital city of Luoyang 洛陽 was destroyed. However, the end of the dynasty did not cause the Sima clan to fall from power entirely. Instead, the Jin dynasty was reestablished in the new capital of Jiankang 建康, the city known today as Nanjing. The earlier incarnation of the Jin would come to be known as the Western Jin dynasty, while the restored Jin dynasty is referred to as the Eastern Jin. The impact of this cataclysm on the inhabitants of Luoyang and the surrounding regions is difficult to quantify, and even harder to understand in more personal terms. We know that many of those who did not perish fled to the southeast, crossing the Yangzi River to resettle in the new capital. Later texts refer to this period as “The disorder of the Yongjia Reign” (Yongjia zhi luan 永嘉之亂). This epithet uses the imperial reign name given to the period between 307 and 313, even though the disasters did not neatly begin and end with those years. Although the Yongjia troubles are addressed throughout surviving historiographic material, there is no work of history dedicated to documenting the ensuing exodus from Luoyang to Jiankang.
Recent studies have used Mendelian randomization (MR) to investigate the observational association between low birth weight (BW) and increased risk of cardiometabolic outcomes, specifically cardiovascular disease, glycemic traits, and type 2 diabetes (T2D), and inform on the validity of the Barker hypothesis. We used simulations to assess the validity of these previous MR studies, and to determine whether a better formulated model can be used in this context. Genetic and phenotypic data were simulated under a model of no direct causal effect of offspring BW on cardiometabolic outcomes and no effect of maternal genotype on offspring cardiometabolic risk through intrauterine mechanisms; where the observational relationship between BW and cardiometabolic risk was driven entirely by horizontal genetic pleiotropy in the offspring (i.e. offspring genetic variants affecting both BW and cardiometabolic disease simultaneously rather than a mechanism consistent with the Barker hypothesis). We investigated the performance of four commonly used MR analysis methods (weighted allele score MR (WAS-MR), inverse variance weighted MR (IVW-MR), weighted median MR (WM-MR), and MR-Egger) and a new approach, which tests the association between maternal genotypes related to offspring BW and offspring cardiometabolic risk after conditioning on offspring genotype at the same loci. We caution against using traditional MR analyses, which do not take into account the relationship between maternal and offspring genotypes, to assess the validity of the Barker hypothesis, as results are biased in favor of a causal relationship. In contrast, we recommend the aforementioned conditional analysis framework utilizing maternal and offspring genotypes as a valid test of not only the Barker hypothesis, but also to investigate hypotheses relating to the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease more broadly.
This Perceptual Dialectology (PD) study asked residents of Cardiff, Wales, about their perceptions of English in the United Kingdom (UK). In addition, because face to face exposure to dialect variation has rarely been included as a variable in PD studies, participants were asked about their travel experience to ascertain whether this might influence their responses to a PD map task. Participants’ responses to the map task were analyzed using ArcGIS to create composite maps. Results show that these Cardiffians perceive “dialect or regional” speech boundaries to be located around major cities in England and Wales but also southwest Wales. Composite maps and polygon counts suggest that the more traveled respondents have a more nuanced perception of dialect regions than those who claim to travel less, suggesting that travel experience may influence PD participants’ responses to map tasks.
Seed dispersal is an important ecological process that structures plant communities and influences ecosystem functioning. Loss of animal dispersers therefore poses a serious threat to forest ecosystems, particularly in the tropics where zoochory predominates. A prominent example is the near-total extinction of seed dispersers on the tropical island of Guam following the accidental introduction of the invasive brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis), negatively impacting seedling recruitment and forest regeneration. We investigated frugivory by a remnant population of Såli (Micronesian starling – Aplonis opaca) on Guam and two other island populations (Rota, Saipan) to evaluate their ecological role as a seed disperser in the Mariana archipelago. Using a combination of behavioural observations, nest contents and fecal samples, we documented frugivory of 37 plant species. Native plants comprised the majority (66%) of all species and 90% of all seeds identified in fecal and nest contents. Diet was highly similar across age classes and sampling years. In addition, plant species consumed by Såli comprised 88% of bird-dispersed adult trees and 54% of all adult trees in long-term forest monitoring plots, demonstrating the Såli’s broad diet and potential for restoring native forests. Overall, we provide the most comprehensive assessment to date of frugivory by the Såli and confirm its importance as a seed disperser on Guam and throughout the Marianas.
The cognitive process of worry, which keeps negative thoughts in mind and elaborates the content, contributes to the occurrence of many mental health disorders. Our principal aim was to develop a straightforward measure of general problematic worry suitable for research and clinical treatment. Our secondary aim was to develop a measure of problematic worry specifically concerning paranoid fears.
An item pool concerning worry in the past month was evaluated in 250 non-clinical individuals and 50 patients with psychosis in a worry treatment trial. Exploratory factor analysis and item response theory (IRT) informed the selection of scale items. IRT analyses were repeated with the scales administered to 273 non-clinical individuals, 79 patients with psychosis and 93 patients with social anxiety disorder. Other clinical measures were administered to assess concurrent validity. Test-retest reliability was assessed with 75 participants. Sensitivity to change was assessed with 43 patients with psychosis.
A 10-item general worry scale (Dunn Worry Questionnaire; DWQ) and a five-item paranoia worry scale (Paranoia Worries Questionnaire; PWQ) were developed. All items were highly discriminative (DWQ a = 1.98–5.03; PWQ a = 4.10–10.7), indicating small increases in latent worry lead to a high probability of item endorsement. The DWQ was highly informative across a wide range of the worry distribution, whilst the PWQ had greatest precision at clinical levels of paranoia worry. The scales demonstrated excellent internal reliability, test-retest reliability, concurrent validity and sensitivity to change.
The new measures of general problematic worry and worry about paranoid fears have excellent psychometric properties.
Persecutory delusions may be unfounded threat beliefs maintained by
safety-seeking behaviours that prevent disconfirmatory evidence being
successfully processed. Use of virtual reality could facilitate new
To test the hypothesis that enabling patients to test the threat
predictions of persecutory delusions in virtual reality social
environments with the dropping of safety-seeking behaviours (virtual
reality cognitive therapy) would lead to greater delusion reduction than
exposure alone (virtual reality exposure).
Conviction in delusions and distress in a real-world situation were
assessed in 30 patients with persecutory delusions. Patients were then
randomised to virtual reality cognitive therapy or virtual reality
exposure, both with 30 min in graded virtual reality social environments.
Delusion conviction and real-world distress were then reassessed.
In comparison with exposure, virtual reality cognitive therapy led to
large reductions in delusional conviction (reduction 22.0%,
P = 0.024, Cohen's d = 1.3) and
real-world distress (reduction 19.6%, P = 0.020, Cohen's
d = 0.8).
Cognitive therapy using virtual reality could prove highly effective in
Background: Many patients do not respond adequately to current pharmacological or psychological treatments for psychosis. Persistent persecutory delusions are common in clinical services, and cause considerable patient distress and impairment. Our aim has been to build a new translational personalized treatment, with the potential for wide use, that leads to high rates of recovery in persistent persecutory delusions. We have been developing, and evaluating individually, brief modular interventions, each targeting a key causal factor identified from our cognitive model. These modules are now combined in “The Feeling Safe Programme”. Aims: To test the feasibility of a new translational modular treatment for persistent persecutory delusions and provide initial efficacy data. Method: 12 patients with persistent persecutory delusions in the context of non-affective psychosis were offered the 6-month Feeling Safe Programme. After assessment, patients chose from a personalized menu of treatment options. Four weekly baseline assessments were carried out, followed by monthly assessments. Recovery in the delusion was defined as conviction falling below 50% (greater doubt than certainty). Results: 11 patients completed the intervention. One patient withdrew before the first monthly assessment due to physical health problems. An average of 20 sessions (SD = 4.4) were received. Posttreatment, 7 out of 11 (64%) patients had recovery in their persistent delusions. Satisfaction ratings were high. Conclusions: The Feeling Safe Programme is feasible to use and was associated with large clinical benefits. To our knowledge this is the first treatment report focused on delusion recovery. The treatment will be tested in a randomized controlled trial.
Background: Ruminative negative thinking has typically been considered as a factor maintaining common emotional disorders and has recently been shown to maintain persecutory delusions in psychosis. The Perseverative Thinking Questionnaire (PTQ) (Ehring et al., 2011) is a transdiagnostic measure of ruminative negative thinking that shows promise as a “content-free” measure of ruminative negative thinking. Aims: The PTQ has not previously been studied in a psychosis patient group. In this study we report for the first time on the psychometric properties of Ehring et al.'s PTQ in such a group. Method: The PTQ was completed by 142 patients with current persecutory delusions and 273 non-clinical participants. Participants also completed measures of worry and paranoia. A confirmatory factor analysis was performed on the clinical group's PTQ responses to assess the factor structure of the measure. Differences between groups were used to assess criterion reliability. Results: A three lower-order factor structure of the PTQ (core characteristics of ruminative negative thinking, perceived unproductiveness, and capturing mental capacity) was replicated in the clinical sample. Patients with persecutory delusions were shown to experience significantly higher levels of ruminative negative thinking on the PTQ than the general population sample. The PTQ demonstrated high internal reliability. Conclusions: This study did not include test-retest data, and did not compare the PTQ against a measure of depressive rumination but, nevertheless, lends support for the validity of the PTQ as a measure of negative ruminative thinking in patients with psychosis.
Background: Paranoia may build directly upon negative thoughts about the self. There have been few direct experimental tests of this hypothesis. Aims: The aim of the study was to test the immediate effects of manipulating self-esteem in individuals vulnerable to paranoia. Method: A two condition cross-over experimental test was conducted. The participants were 26 males reporting paranoid ideation in the past month. Each participant experienced a neutral immersive virtual reality (VR) social environment twice. Before VR participants received a low self-confidence manipulation or a high self-confidence manipulation. The order of manipulation type was randomized. Paranoia about the VR avatars was assessed. Results: The low self-confidence manipulation, relative to the high self-confidence manipulation, led to significantly more negative social comparison in virtual reality and higher levels of paranoia. Conclusions: Level of self-confidence affects the occurrence of paranoia in vulnerable individuals. The clinical implication is that interventions designed to improve self-confidence may reduce persecutory ideation.