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Despite widespread recognition that behavioral public policy (BPP) needs to move beyond nudging if the field is to achieve more significant impact, problem-solving approaches remain optimized to achieve tactical success and are evaluated by short-term metrics with the assumption of stable systems. As a result, current methodologies may contribute to the development of solutions that appear well formed but become ‘brittle’ in the face of more complex contexts if they fail to consider important contextual cues, broader system forces, and emergent conditions, which can take three distinct forms: contextual, systemic, and anticipatory brittleness. The Covid-19 pandemic and vaccination rollout present an opportunity to identify and correct interventional brittleness with a new methodological approach – strategic BPP (SBPP) – that can inform the creation of more resilient solutions by embracing more diverse forms of evidence and applied foresight, designing interventions within ecosystems, and iteratively developing solutions. To advance the case for adopting a SBPP and ‘roughly right’ modes of inquiry, we use the Covid-19 vaccination rollout to define a new methodological roadmap, while also acknowledging that taking a more strategic approach may challenge current BPP norms.
Changes in inflammatory and metabolic markers are implicated in the pathogenesis in both the development and progression of bipolar disorder (BD). Notwithstanding, these markers have not been investigated in newly diagnosed BD.
We compared high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and homocysteine (Hcy) levels in 372 patients with newly diagnosed BD, 106 unaffected first-degree relatives (URs), and 201 healthy control persons (HCs). Within the patient group, we also investigated possible associations between hs-CRP and Hcy, respectively, with illness-related characteristics and psychotropic medication.
No statistically significant differences in Hcy and hs-CRP levels were found when comparing BD and URs with HCs. Similarly, there were no differences when comparing only patients in remission or patients with affective symptoms, respectively, with HCs. Hcy levels were found to be 11.9% (95% CI: 1.030–1.219) higher in patients with BD when compared with their URs (p = 0.008), when adjusting for folate and cobalamin status, age, sex, and self-reported activity levels. Hcy levels were significantly associated with folate, cobalamin, gender, and age in all models (p < 0.05).
Our results do not support hs-CRP or Hcy as markers in newly diagnosed BD.
In observational studies, type-2 diabetes is associated with increased risk of dementia; however, the causal nature of this association remains unanswered. In an unselected nationwide study of all Danes, we wanted to test whether type-2 diabetes is associated with dementia subtypes, and to test whether potential associations are of a causal nature.
In the current study of nationwide observational registry data in all Danes above the age of 65 years (n = 784 434) combined with genetic consortia data on 213 370 individuals, we investigated the associations between type-2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, unspecified dementia and all-cause dementia, and whether observational associations were of a causal nature by applying a two-sample Mendelian randomisation strategy. We addressed key biases inherent in Mendelian randomisation approaches.
Important confounders (age, ethnicity, size of community, region, civil status and education level) were captured on all 784 434 individuals and adjusted for in the models. Multifactorial adjusted hazard ratios were 1.13 (1.06–1.21) for Alzheimer's disease, 1.98 (1.83–2.14) for vascular dementia, 1.53 (1.48–1.59) for unspecified dementia and 1.48 (1.44–1.53) for all-cause dementia in persons with type-2 diabetes v. without. Results were similar for men and women. The two-sample Mendelian randomisation estimate for the association between the genetic instrument and Alzheimer's disease was 1.04 (0.98–1.10), consistent with sensitivity estimates, addressing pleiotropy, measurement bias and weak instrument bias.
In a nationwide study of all Danes above the age of 65 years, we show that type-2 diabetes is associated with major subtypes of dementia – with particularly strong associations for vascular dementia and unspecified dementia – the two types of dementia with the most obvious vascular pathologies. Although the present two-sample Mendelian randomisation approach using genetic consortia data suggests that type-2 diabetes is not a direct cause of Alzheimer's disease, we were unable to test the causal nature of type-2 diabetes for vascular dementia and unspecified dementia, because no publicly available genetic consortia data yet exist for these dementia endpoints. The causal nature of type-2 diabetes for dementia with vascular pathologies is pivotal questions to solve for future public health recommendations and therapeutic advice.
Differences in health outcomes between meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters might relate to differences in dietary intakes between these diet groups. We assessed intakes of major protein-source foods and other food groups in six groups of meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Oxford study.
Materials and methods
Data were from 30, 239 participants who answered four questions regarding their consumption of meat, fish, dairy or eggs and completed a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) in 2010. Participants were categorized as regular meat-eaters (> 50 grams of total/any meat per day: n = 12,997); low meat-eaters (< 50 grams of total/any meat per day: n = 4,650); poultry-eaters (poultry but no red meat: n = 591); fish-eaters (no meat but consumed fish: n = 4,528); vegetarians (no meat or fish: n = 6,672); and vegans (no animal products: n = 801). FFQ foods were categorised into 45 food groups. Analysis of variance was used to test for differences between age-adjusted mean intakes of each food group by diet group.
We found that regular meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans, respectively, consumed about a third, quarter and a fifth of their total energy intake from high protein-source foods. Compared with regular meat-eaters, low and non-meat-eaters consumed higher amounts of high-protein meat alternatives (soy, legumes, pulses, nuts, seeds) and other plant-based foods (whole grains, vegetables, fruits) and lower amounts of refined grains, fried foods, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened beverages.
Overall, our results suggest that there were large differences in the amounts and types of protein-rich and other foods eaten by regular, low and non-meat-eaters. These findings provide insight into potential nutritional explanations for differences in health outcomes between diet groups.
Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is associated with reduced life expectancy in patients with affective disorders, however, whether MetS also plays a role before the onset of affective disorder is unknown. We aimed to investigate whether MetS, inflammatory markers or oxidative stress act as risk factors for affective disorders, and whether MetS is associated with increased inflammation and oxidative stress.
We conducted a high-risk study including 204 monozygotic (MZ) twins with unipolar or bipolar disorder in remission or partial remission (affected), their unaffected co-twins (high-risk) and twins with no personal or family history of affective disorder (low-risk). Metabolic Syndrome was ascertained according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) criteria. Inflammatory markers and markers of oxidative stress were analyzed from fasting blood and urine samples, respectively.
The affected and the high-risk group had a significantly higher prevalence of MetS compared to the low-risk group (20% v. 15% v. 2.5%, p = 0.0006), even after adjusting for sex, age, smoking and alcohol consumption. No differences in inflammatory and oxidative markers were seen between the three groups. Further, MetS was associated with alterations in inflammatory markers, and oxidative stress was modestly correlated with inflammation.
Metabolic syndrome is associated with low-grade inflammation and may act as a risk factor and a trait marker for affective disorders. If confirmed in longitudinal studies, this suggests the importance of early intervention and preventive approaches targeted towards unhealthy lifestyle factors that may contribute to later psychopathology.
Reports of changes in patients’ social behavior during deep brain stimulation (DBS) raised the question whether DBS induces changes in personality. This study explored if (1) DBS is associated with changes in personality in patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression (TRD), (2) how personality dimensions and depression are associated, and (3) if TRD patients’ self-ratings of personality are valid.
TRD patients were assessed before DBS (n = 30), 6 months (t2, n = 21), 2 (t3, n = 17) and 5 years (t4, n = 11) after the initiation of DBS of the supero-lateral branch of the medial forebrain bundle (slMFB-DBS). Personality was measured with the NEO-Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI), depression severity with Hamilton (HDRS), and Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS).
Personality dimensions did not change with slMFB-DBS compared with baseline. Extraversion was negatively correlated with HDRS28 (r = −0.48, p < 0.05) and MADRS (r = −0.45, p < 0.05) at t2. Inter-rater reliability was high for the NEO-FFI at baseline (Cronbach's α = 0.74) and at t4 (α = 0.65). Extraversion [t(29) = −5.20; p < 0.001] and openness to experience [t(29) = −6.96; p < 0.001] differed statistically significant from the normative sample, and did not predict the antidepressant response.
slMFB-DBS was not associated with a change in personality. The severity of depression was associated with extraversion. Personality of TRD patients differed from the healthy population and did not change with response, indicating a possible scar effect. Self-ratings of personality seem valid to assess personality during TRD.
Pattern analysis has emerged as a tool to depict the role of multiple nutrients/foods in relation to health outcomes. The present study aimed at extracting nutrient patterns with respect to breast cancer (BC) aetiology.
Nutrient patterns were derived with treelet transform (TT) and related to BC risk. TT was applied to twenty-three log-transformed nutrient densities from dietary questionnaires. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95 % confidence intervals computed using Cox proportional hazards models quantified the association between quintiles of nutrient pattern scores and risk of overall BC, and by hormonal receptor and menopausal status. Principal component analysis was applied for comparison.
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
Women (n 334 850) from the EPIC study.
The first TT component (TC1) highlighted a pattern rich in nutrients found in animal foods loading on cholesterol, protein, retinol, vitamins B12 and D, while the second TT component (TC2) reflected a diet rich in β-carotene, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamins C and B6, fibre, Fe, Ca, K, Mg, P and folate. While TC1 was not associated with BC risk, TC2 was inversely associated with BC risk overall (HRQ5 v. Q1=0·89, 95 % CI 0·83, 0·95, Ptrend<0·01) and showed a significantly lower risk in oestrogen receptor-positive (HRQ5 v. Q1=0·89, 95 % CI 0·81, 0·98, Ptrend=0·02) and progesterone receptor-positive tumours (HRQ5 v. Q1=0·87, 95 % CI 0·77, 0·98, Ptrend<0·01).
TT produces readily interpretable sparse components explaining similar amounts of variation as principal component analysis. Our results suggest that participants with a nutrient pattern high in micronutrients found in vegetables, fruits and cereals had a lower risk of BC.
This article is one of a series exploring the spatialization of sound sources in recorded songs and how they may be understood (see also ‘The Virtual Performance Space in Rock’, twentieth-century music 5/2). Its theoretical basis is multi-faceted, utilizing notions of ecological perception, of the sound-box, of the singer's persona, and of interpersonal distance in communication, as well as further concepts from cognitive science. It focuses particularly on image schemata and proxemics, exemplifying them across a range of genres, while also addressing them critically, for instance from a feminist perspective. Finally, it explores how this theoretical basis helps us not only to understand the contribution of spatialization to the interpretation of songs and their meanings, but also to shed light on the role of other musical domains.
The ancient Sri Lankan city of Anuradhapura is currently the subject of one of the world's largest and most intensive archaeological research projects. Having traced its growth from an Iron Age village to a medieval city, the research team now moves to the task of modelling the surrounding landscape. Three seasons of fieldwork have located numerous sites of which the most prominent in the urban period are monasteries. Here is a clue about how the early urban hinterland was managed which has implications well beyond Sri Lanka.
The integration of optical interconnects in printed circuit boards (PCB) is a rapidly growing field worldwide due to a continuously increasing need for high-speed data transfer. There are any concepts discussed, among which are the integration of optical fibers or the generation of waveguides by UV lithography, embossing, or direct laser writing. The devices presented so far require many different materials and process steps, but particularly also highly-sophisticated assembly steps in order to couple the optoelectronic elements to the generated waveguides. In order to overcome these restrictions, an innovative approach is presented which allows the embedding of optoelectronic components and the generation of optical waveguides in only one optical material. This material is an inorganic-organic hybrid polymer, in which the waveguides are processed by two-photon absorption (TPA) processes, initiated by ultra-short laser pulses. In particular, due to this integration and the possibility of in situ positioning the optical waveguides with respect to the optoelectronic components by the TPA process, no complex packaging or assembly is necessary. Thus, the number of necessary processing steps is significantly reduced, which also contributes to the saving of resources such as energy or solvents. The material properties and the underlying processes will be discussed with respect to optical data transfer in PCBs.
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