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Conventional pharmacological approaches have limited effectiveness for schizophrenia. There is interest in the application of oxytocin, which is involved in social cognition. Clinical trials have yielded mixed results, with a gap in understanding neural mechanisms.
To evaluate the behavioural impact of oxytocin administration on a social learning task in individuals with schizophrenia, and elucidate any differential neural activity produced.
We recruited 20 clinically stable right-handed men diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. In a double-blind cross-over randomised controlled study, 40 IU of oxytocin or placebo were administered before functional magnetic resonance imaging of participants playing a multi-round economic exchange game of trust. Participants had the role of investors (investment trials) receiving repayment on their investments (repayment trials), playing one session against a computer and a second against a player believed to be human.
During investment trials, oxytocin increased neural signalling in the right lateral parietal cortex for both human and computer player trials, and attenuated signalling in the right insula for human player trials. For repayment trials, oxytocin elicited signal increases in left insula and left ventral caudate, and a signal decrease in right amygdala during the human player trials; conversely it resulted in right dorsal caudate activation during the computer player trials. We did not find a significant change in behavioural performance associated with oxytocin administration, or any associations with symptoms.
During a social learning task oxytocin modulates cortical and limbic substrates of the reward-processing network. These perturbations can be putatively linked to the pathoaetiology of schizophrenia.
The first two articles in this series have shown the direction of travel for health and social care in England, and how the status quo in already stressed systems is not viable. It is difficult to disagree with the principles of ‘integrated care’, yet we currently lack evidenced models on which we might build. There is a need for experiential learning and sharing of experiences. This third article describes in more granularity the experiences, positive and negative, of an early-adopting integrating service in south-east London that incorporated aspects of the local authority and secondary care physical and mental health services. It provides structured guidance on which types of integration one might aim for, managing internal and external relationships, and discussion on evaluating progress.
Seed retention, and ultimately seed shatter, are extremely important for the efficacy of harvest weed seed control (HWSC) and are likely influenced by various agroecological and environmental factors. Field studies investigated seed-shattering phenology of 22 weed species across three soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.]-producing regions in the United States. We further evaluated the potential drivers of seed shatter in terms of weather conditions, growing degree days, and plant biomass. Based on the results, weather conditions had no consistent impact on weed seed shatter. However, there was a positive correlation between individual weed plant biomass and delayed weed seed–shattering rates during harvest. This work demonstrates that HWSC can potentially reduce weed seedbank inputs of plants that have escaped early-season management practices and retained seed through harvest. However, smaller individuals of plants within the same population that shatter seed before harvest pose a risk of escaping early-season management and HWSC.