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Abnormal processing of social feedback is an important contributor to social dysfunction in depression, however the exact mechanisms remain unclear. One important factor may be the extent to which social processing depends on expectations, in particular whether social feedback confirms or violates expectations.
To answer this question, we studied behavioral and brain responses during the evaluative processing of social feedback in 25 individuals with subthreshold depression (SD) and 25 healthy controls (HCs). Participants completed a Social Judgment Task in which they first indicated expectation about whether a peer would like them or not, and then received peer's feedback indicating acceptance or rejection.
Individuals with SD who reported greater depressive symptoms gave fewer positive expectations. Compared to HCs, individuals with SD showed reduced activation in the medial prefrontal cortex when expecting positive feedback. They also exhibited increased dorsal anterior cingulate cortex after receipt of unexpected social rejection, and reduced ventral striatum activity after receipt of unexpected social acceptance.
The observed alternations are specific to unexpected social feedback processing and highlight an important role of expectancy violation in the brain dysfunction of social feedback perception and evaluation in individuals at risk for depression.
Does a leader's ethnicity affect the regional distribution of basic services such as education in Africa? Several influential studies have argued in the affirmative, by using educational attainment levels to show that children who share the ethnicity of the president during their school-aged years have higher attainment than their peers. In this paper we revisit this empirical evidence and show that it rests on problematic assumptions. Some models commonly used to test for favouritism do not take adequate account of educational convergence and once this is properly accounted for the results are found to be unstable. Using Kenya as a test case, we argue that there is no conclusive evidence of ethnic favouritism in primary or secondary education, but rather a process of educational convergence among the country's larger ethnic groups. This evidence matters, as it shapes how we understand the ethnic calculus of politicians.
As uncertainty remains about whether clinical response influences cognitive function after electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for depression, we examined the effect of remission status on cognitive function in depressed patients 4 months after a course of ECT.
A secondary analysis was undertaken on participants completing a randomised controlled trial of ketamine augmentation of ECT for depression who were categorised by remission status (MADRS ⩽10 v. >10) 4 months after ECT. Cognition was assessed with self-rated memory and neuropsychological tests of anterograde verbal and visual memory, autobiographical memory, verbal fluency and working memory. Patients were assessed through the study, healthy controls on a single occasion, and compared using analysis of variance.
At 4-month follow-up, remitted patients (N = 18) had a mean MADRS depression score of 3.8 (95% CI 2.2–5.4) compared with 27.2 (23.0–31.5) in non-remitted patients (N = 19), with no significant baseline differences between the two groups. Patients were impaired on all cognitive measures at baseline. There was no deterioration, with some measures improving, 4-months after ECT, at which time remitted patients had significantly improved self-rated memory, anterograde verbal memory and category verbal fluency compared with those remaining depressed. Self-rated memory correlated with category fluency and autobiographical memory at follow-up.
We found no evidence of persistent impairment of cognition after ECT. Achieving remission improved subjective memory and verbal memory recall, but other aspects of cognitive function were not influenced by remission status. Self-rated memory may be useful to monitor the effects of ECT on longer-term memory.
Growing evidence has indicated that right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (RVLPFC) is critical in down-regulating emotional responses to social exclusion, and that depression is accompanied by social emotional dysregulation associated with reduced lateral prefrontal engagement. This study used anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to examine whether stimulating RVLPFC could improve emotional down-regulation of social exclusion in individuals with high depressive mood (DM).
A total of 96 high and 94 low DM individuals received active or sham tDCS while viewing social exclusion or individual negative pictures under no-reappraisal (passive viewing) and reappraisal conditions. Participants rate their negative emotional experience following the presentation of each image. Pupil diameter and visual fixation duration were also recorded during the task.
It was found that tDCS-activated RVLPFC induced a stronger regulation effect on social exclusion than individual negative emotions. The effect of tDCS on regulation of social exclusion was more pronounced in low v. high DM individuals.
These findings demonstrate the specific role of RVLPFC on social emotion regulation, which has implications for refining target areas for the treatment of social emotion dysregulation in depression. However the findings do not suggest that high DM individuals benefit from a single-tDCS session on the emotion regulation of social exclusion. Thus we suggest to use multiple tDCS sessions or transcranial magnetic stimulation to further explore the therapeutic proposal in the future.
Climate change involves human societies in problems of loss: depletion, disappearance, and collapse. The climate changes and changes other things, in specifically destructive ways. What can and should sociology endeavour to know about this particular form of social change? This article outlines the sociology of loss as a project for sociological engagement with climate change, one that breaks out of environmental sociology as the conventional silo of research and bridges to other subfields. I address four interrelated dimensions of loss that climate change presents: the materiality of loss; the politics of loss; knowledge of loss; and practices of loss. Unlike “sustainability”—the more dominant framing in the social sciences of climate change—the sociology of loss examines what does, will, or must disappear rather than what can or should be sustained. Though the sociology of loss requires a confrontation with the melancholia of suffering people and places, it also speaks to new solidarities and positive transformations.
Negative biases in emotional processing are well recognised in people who are currently depressed but are less well described in those with a history of depression, where such biases may contribute to vulnerability to relapse.
To compare accuracy, discrimination and bias in face emotion recognition in those with current and remitted depression.
The sample comprised a control group (n = 101), a currently depressed group (n = 30) and a remitted depression group (n = 99). Participants provided valid data after receiving a computerised face emotion recognition task following standardised assessment of diagnosis and mood symptoms.
In the control group women were more accurate in recognising emotions than men owing to greater discrimination. Among participants with depression, those in remission correctly identified more emotions than controls owing to increased response bias, whereas those currently depressed recognised fewer emotions owing to decreased discrimination. These effects were most marked for anger, fear and sadness but there was no significant emotion × group interaction, and a similar pattern tended to be seen for happiness although not for surprise or disgust. These differences were confined to participants who were antidepressant-free, with those taking antidepressants having similar results to the control group.
Abnormalities in face emotion recognition differ between people with current depression and those in remission. Reduced discrimination in depressed participants may reflect withdrawal from the emotions of others, whereas the increased bias in those with a history of depression could contribute to vulnerability to relapse. The normal face emotion recognition seen in those taking medication may relate to the known effects of antidepressants on emotional processing and could contribute to their ability to protect against depressive relapse.
Evidence suggests a reversal of the normal left-lateralised response to speech in schizophrenia.
To test the brain's response to emotional prosody in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
BOLD contrast functional magnetic resonance imaging of subjects while they passively listened or attended to sentences that differed in emotional prosody.
Patients with schizophrenia exhibited normal right-lateralisation of the passive response to ‘pure’ emotional prosody and relative left-lateralisation of the response to unfiltered emotional prosody. When attending to emotional prosody, patients with schizophrenia activated the left insula more than healthy controls. When listening passively, patients with bipolar disorder demonstrated less activation of the bilateral superior temporal gyri in response to pure emotional prosody, and greater activation of the left superior temporal gyrus in response to unfiltered emotional prosody. In both passive experiments, the patient groups activated different lateral temporal lobe regions.
Patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may display some left-lateralisation of the normal right-lateralised temporal lobe response to emotional prosody.
It is now beyond question that the symptoms observed in schizophrenia include a range of cognitive neuropsychological deficits that may be more enduring than psychotic symptoms (Cassens et al. 1990; Goldberg et al. 1993) Goldberg et al. (1993) found that a group of patients treated with clozapine whose psychotic symptoms improved significantly over a 15 month study period showed no improvement in cognitive impairments. He argued that the enduring cognitive deficits are responsible for failure of patients to rehabilitate socially even when psychotic symptoms are in remission. Clearly an understanding of neuropsychological deficits is Important from a clinical as well as a theoretical viewpoint. There is, however, still much debate about the nature of these deficits and how they related to the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia and also to the neurobiological substrate of this disorder.
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