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The brain functional correlates of delusions have been relatively little studied. However, a virtual reality paradigm simulating travel on the London Underground has been found to evoke referential ideation in both healthy subjects and patients with schizophrenia, making brain activations in response to such experiences potentially identifiable.
Ninety patients with schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder and 28 healthy controls underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while they viewed virtual reality versions of full and empty Barcelona Metro carriages.
Compared to the empty condition, viewing the full carriage was associated with activations in the visual cortex, the cuneus and precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex, the inferior parietal cortex, the angular gyrus and parts of the middle and superior temporal cortex including the temporoparietal junction bilaterally. There were no significant differences in activation between groups. Nor were there activations associated with referentiality or presence of delusions generally in the patient group. However, patients with persecutory delusions showed a cluster of reduced activation compared to those without delusions in a region in the right temporal/occipital cortex.
Performance of the metro task is associated with a widespread pattern of activations, which does not distinguish schizophrenic patients and controls, or show an association with referentiality or delusions in general. However, the finding of a cluster of reduced activation close to the right temporoparietal junction in patients with persecutory delusions specifically is of potential interest, as this region is believed to play a role in social cognition.
Although executive impairment has been reported in mania, its brain functional correlates have been relatively little studied. This study examined goal management, believed to be more closely related to executive impairment in daily life than other executive tasks, using a novel functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) paradigm in patients in this illness phase.
Twenty-one currently manic patients with bipolar disorder and 30 matched healthy controls were scanned while performing the Computerized Multiple Elements Test (CMET). This requires participants to sequentially play four simple games, with transition between games being made either voluntarily (executive condition) or automatically (control condition).
CMET performance was impaired in the manic patients compared to the healthy controls. Manic patients failed to increase activation in the lateral frontal, cingulate and inferior parietal cortex when the executive demands of the task increased, while this increase was observed in the healthy controls. Activity in these regions was associated with task performance.
Manic patients show evidence of impaired goal management, which is associated with a pattern of reduced medial and lateral frontal and parietal activity.
The first demonstration of laser action in ruby was made in 1960 by T. H. Maiman of Hughes Research Laboratories, USA. Many laboratories worldwide began the search for lasers using different materials, operating at different wavelengths. In the UK, academia, industry and the central laboratories took up the challenge from the earliest days to develop these systems for a broad range of applications. This historical review looks at the contribution the UK has made to the advancement of the technology, the development of systems and components and their exploitation over the last 60 years.
The brain functional correlates of autobiographical recall are well established, but have been little studied in schizophrenia. Additionally, autobiographical memory is one of a small number of cognitive tasks that activates rather than de-activates the default mode network, which has been found to be dysfunctional in this disorder.
Twenty-seven schizophrenic patients and 30 healthy controls underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while viewing cue words that evoked autobiographical memories. Control conditions included both non-memory-evoking cues and a low level baseline (cross fixation).
Compared to both non-memory evoking cues and low level baseline, autobiographical recall was associated with activation in default mode network regions in the controls including the medial frontal cortex, the posterior cingulate cortex and the hippocampus, as well as other areas. Clusters of de-activation were seen outside the default mode network. There were no activation differences between the schizophrenic patients and the controls, but the patients showed clusters of failure of de-activation in non-default mode network regions.
According to this study, patients with schizophrenia show intact activation of the default mode network and other regions associated with recall of autobiographical memories. The finding of failure of de-activation outside the network suggests that schizophrenia may be associated with a general difficulty in de-activation rather than dysfunction of the default mode network per se.
Impairments of contextual processing and theory of mind (ToM) have both been offered as accounts of the deviant language characterising formal thought disorder (FTD) in schizophrenia. This study investigated these processes in patients' dialogue. We predicted that FTD patients would show a decrement in linguistic alignment, associated with impaired ToM in dialogue.
Speech samples were elicited via participation in an interactive computer-based task and a semi-structured interview to assess contextual processing abilities and ToM skills in dialogue, respectively, and from an interactive card-sorting task to measure syntactic alignment. Degree of alignment in dialogue and the syntactic task, and evidence of ToM in (i) dialogue and (ii) a traditional ToM task were compared across schizophrenia patients with FTD (n = 21), non-FTD patients (n = 22) and healthy controls (n = 21).
FTD patients showed less alignment than the other two groups in dialogue, and than healthy controls on the syntactic task. FTD patients showed poorer performance on the ToM task than the other two groups, but only compared to the healthy controls in dialogue. The FTD group's degree of alignment in dialogue was correlated with ToM performance in dialogue but not with the traditional ToM task or with syntactic alignment.
In dialogue, FTD patients demonstrate an impairment in employing available contextual information to facilitate their own subsequent production, which is associated with a ToM deficit. These findings indicate that a contextual processing deficit impacts on exploiting representations via the production system impoverishing the ability to make predictions about upcoming utterances in dialogue.
Although executive and other cognitive deficits have been found in patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD), whether these have brain functional correlates has been little studied. This study aimed to examine patterns of task-related activation and de-activation during the performance of a working memory task in patients with the disorder.
Sixty-seven DSM-IV BPD patients and 67 healthy controls underwent fMRI during the performance of the n-back task. Linear models were used to obtain maps of within-group activations and areas of differential activation between the groups.
On corrected whole-brain analysis, there were no activation differences between the BPD patients and the healthy controls during the main 2-back v. baseline contrast, but reduced activation was seen in the precentral cortex bilaterally and the left inferior parietal cortex in the 2-back v. 1-back contrast. The patients showed failure of de-activation affecting the medial frontal cortex and the precuneus, plus in other areas. The changes did not appear to be attributable to previous history of depression, which was present in nearly half the sample.
In this study, there was some, though limited, evidence for lateral frontal hypoactivation in BPD during the performance of an executive task. BPD also appears to be associated with failure of de-activation in key regions of the default mode network.