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Altered expression of the complement component C4A gene is a known risk factor for schizophrenia. Further, predicted brain C4A expression has also been associated with memory function highlighting that altered C4A expression in the brain may be relevant for cognitive and behavioral traits.
We obtained genetic information and performance measures on seven cognitive tasks for up to 329 773 individuals from the UK Biobank, as well as brain imaging data for a subset of 33 003 participants. Direct genotypes for variants (n = 3213) within the major histocompatibility complex region were used to impute C4 structural variation, from which predicted expression of the C4A and C4B genes in human brain tissue were predicted. We investigated if predicted brain C4A or C4B expression were associated with cognitive performance and brain imaging measures using linear regression analyses.
We identified significant negative associations between predicted C4A expression and performance on select cognitive tests, and significant associations with MRI-based cortical thickness and surface area in select regions. Finally, we observed significant inconsistent partial mediation of the effects of predicted C4A expression on cognitive performance, by specific brain structure measures.
These results demonstrate that the C4 risk locus is associated with the central endophenotypes of cognitive performance and brain morphology, even when considered independently of other genetic risk factors and in individuals without mental or neurological disorders.
Associations between smell identification deficits (SID) and impairments in basic cognitive domains have been shown in patients with neuropsychiatric disorders.
We analyzed social and basic cognitive deficits and SID.
To assess differences in affective decision making tasks in patients with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, their 1st degree relatives and healthy controls. Methods: We examined 51 patients with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders (49% female, age 33.1 years, SD 11), 21 first-degree relatives (61.9% female, age 49.5 years, SD 17.6, one affected, others non-affected) and 51 matched healthy controls (49% female, age 33 years, SD 12.1). Psychopathology was evaluated using the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS). Subjects were administered the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT), the Facially Expressed Emotion Labelling (FEEL) test, the spatial span subtest of the Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised (WMS-R) and the Mehrfachwahl-Wortschatz Test (MWT-B).
Patients, controls and 1st degree relatives differed in age (p = 0.000), WMS-R (p = 0.000) and FEEL scores (p = 0.007). In healthy controls, patients and 1st degree relatives FEEL correlated with age (p = 0.005, p = 0.003, p = 0.004, respectively). In patients FEEL also correlated with MWT-B (p = 0.000), UPSIT (p = 0.000) and PANSS negative scores (p = 0.016); furthermore, UPSIT correlated with MWT-B (p = 0.001). In 1st degree relatives age correlated with WMS-R (p = 0.04) and FEEL (p = 0.004), both of which inter-correlated (p = 0.006).
We found that SID, basic and social cognition, i.e. affective decision-making processes, inter-correlate in patients with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders and are partly under the influence of negative symptoms. Some of these relationships can also be seen in 1st degree relatives of patients.
Schizophrenia has often been associated with a reduced skin flush response to niacin. Blunted response suggests potential disturbance in phospholipid metabolism.
We performed niacin skin tests in patients with schizophrenia, their first-degree relatives and healthy controls.
To examine possible differences in skin flush response to niacin.
We examined 51 patients (female 49%, age 33.1 years, SD 11), with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, 51 matched healthy controls (female 49%, age 33 years, SD 12.1), and 21 first-degree relatives (female 61,9%, age 49,5 years, SD 17,6, one affected, others non-affected). The Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale and the Mini International Neuropsychiatrie Interview were used to assess psychopathology and diagnosis, respectively. The non-invasive niacin skin flush test was used to assess vasodilatative reaction to four different concentrations of niacin on the forearms of subjects.
We found no differences in total scores on the niacin skin flush test between the three groups (p = 0.774). Mean scores were 60.27 (SD 14.2) in healthy controls, 58.84 (SD 10.2) in patients and 58.48 (SD 9.4) in first-degree relatives.
Contrary to our expectations we did not find a significantly blunted niacin skin flush reaction in patients with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders compared to healthy controls or 1st degree relatives.
Sex-related differences in smell identification have been shown in healthy subjects, however, in patients with schizophrenia these findings are still controversial.
We analyzed sex-related differences with respect to smell identification in patients with schizophrenia, their first-degree relatives and healthy controls.
To assess possible sex-related differences in smell identification.
The sample consisted of 51 patients with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders (49% female; mean age 33.1 years; SD: 11), 21 first-degree relatives (61.9% female, age 49.5 years, SD 17.6, one affected, others non-affected) ; mean age 49.5 years; SD: 17.6) and 51 matched healthy controls (49% female; mean age 33 years; SD: 12.1). The Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) and the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (M.I.N.I.) were used to assess psychopathology and diagnosis, respectively. The University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT), a standardized, multiple- and forced-choice scratch- and sniff test consisting of 40 items, was administered to all subjects.
We found no significant differences in smell identification between the three groups (p = 0.182). Also, the female and male subgroups did not differ significantly in smell identification (p = 0.105, p = 0.387, respectively). The mean UPSIT scores were 34.4 (SD: 4.1) for healthy women (males: 33.2; SD: 3.5), 32.0 (SD: 5.1) for women with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders (males: 32.5; SD: 4.4), and 34.5 (SD: 2.6) for female first-degree relatives (males: 30.5; SD: 2.8).
We found neither significant differences in smell identification in patients with schizophrenia-spectrum disorders, their first-degree relatives or healthy controls, nor sex-related differences.
A large body of literature reported widespread structural and functional abnormalities throughout the brain in schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SZ). Corresponding with the typical symptomatology in SZ where sensory dysfunctions contribute to the core social and cognitive impairment, converging evidence suggests a disturbed interplay between higher-order (cognitive) and lower-order (sensory) regions. This talk will discuss the results of several recent studies, investigating brain connectivity in SZ using functional magnetic resonance imaging data from large samples. Within-network sensorimotor as well as sensorimotor-thalamic aberrations in SZ robustly appear among the core findings across studies, both during performance of cognitive tasks and during rest. We utilized machine learning to distinguish SZ from healthy controls based on connectivity profiles. When classifying on sensorimotor connections alone, not only can we reach accuracies largely above chance but also, these accuracies are as good as when incorporating whole brain connectivity in the classification. Whereas the overall accuracy levels in distinguishing SZ from controls are not useful in a clinical context, these results underline the robustness of the sensorimotor findings on the individual subject level. Targeting the sensory and perceptual domains may thus be key for future research to get a better understanding of the heterogeneity of clinical manifestations in severe mental disorders and to map clinical symptoms to imaging phenotypes.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
Childhood trauma increases risk of a range of mental disorders including psychosis. Whereas the mechanisms are unclear, previous evidence has implicated atypical processing of emotions among the core cognitive models, in particular suggesting altered attentional allocation towards negative stimuli and increased negativity bias. Here, we tested the association between childhood trauma and brain activation during emotional face processing in patients diagnosed with psychosis continuum disorders. In particular, we tested if childhood trauma was associated with the differentiation in brain responses between negative and positive face stimuli. We also tested if trauma was associated with emotional ratings of negative and positive faces.
We included 101 patients with a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) schizophrenia spectrum or bipolar spectrum diagnosis. History of childhood trauma was obtained using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Brain activation was measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging during presentation of faces with negative or positive emotional expressions. After the scanner session, patients performed emotional ratings of the same faces.
Higher levels of total childhood trauma were associated with stronger differentiation in brain responses to negative compared with positive faces in clusters comprising the right angular gyrus, supramarginal gyrus, middle temporal gyrus and the lateral occipital cortex (Cohen's d = 0.72–0.77). In patients with schizophrenia, childhood trauma was associated with reporting negative faces as more negative, and positive faces as less positive (Cohen's d > 0.8).
Along with the observed negativity bias in the assessment of emotional valence of faces, our data suggest stronger differentiation in brain responses between negative and positive faces with higher levels of trauma.
Fibre Reinforced Polymer (FRP) is becoming a valid alternative to many traditional heavy metal industries because of its high specific stiffness over the more classical construction metals. Recent trend of more complex geometry of composites is causing increasing difficulty in composite manufacturing. A method to optimize the manufacturing process is thus imposed to ensure and improve the quality of manufactured parts. Because of the irregular 3D shapes of the composites, traditional flat sensor system is becoming unfavorable and nonpractical for monitoring purpose. In this work, the current development status of a deformable microsystem for in situ cure degree monitoring of a glass fibre reinforced plastic is presented. To accommodate the non-flat shape of the composites, the proposal is to interconnect non-deformable functional island, which contains the capacitive sensor for cure degree monitoring, with meander-shaped deformable interconnections. The developed sensor system is able to withstand the manufacturing process where change of pressure and internal strain, thus force exerted on the sensor system, is involved.
We determined the association between neighborhood socio-environmental factors and insomnia symptoms in a nationally representative sample of US adults aged >50 years.
Data were analyzed from two waves (2006 and 2010) of the Health and Retirement Study using 7,231 community-dwelling participants (3,054 men and 4,177 women) in the United States. Primary predictors were neighborhood physical disorder (e.g. vandalism/graffiti, feeling safe alone after dark, and cleanliness) and social cohesion (e.g. friendliness of people, availability of help when needed, etc.); outcomes were insomnia symptoms (trouble falling asleep, night awakenings, waking too early, and feeling unrested).
After adjustment for age, income, race, education, sex, chronic diseases, body mass index, depressive symptoms, smoking, and alcohol consumption, each one-unit increase in neighborhood physical disorder was associated with a greater odds of trouble falling asleep (odds ratio (OR) = 1.09, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.04–1.14), waking too early (OR = 1.05, 95% CI: 1.00–1.10), and, in adults aged ≥69 years (adjusting for all variables above except age), feeling unrested in the morning (OR = 1.11, 95% CI: 1.02–1.22 in 2006). Each one-unit increase in lower social cohesion was associated with a greater odds of trouble falling asleep (OR = 1.06, 95% CI: 1.01–1.11) and feeling unrested (OR = 1.09, 95% CI: 1.04–1.15).
Neighborhood-level factors of physical disorder and social cohesion are associated with insomnia symptoms in middle-aged and older adults. Neighborhood-level factors may affect sleep, and consequently health, in our aging population.
The present work shows results on elemental distribution analyses in Cu(In,Ga)Se2 thin films for solar cells performed by use of wavelength-dispersive and energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry (EDX) in a scanning electron microscope, EDX in a transmission electron microscope, X-ray photoelectron, angle-dependent soft X-ray emission, secondary ion-mass (SIMS), time-of-flight SIMS, sputtered neutral mass, glow-discharge optical emission and glow-discharge mass, Auger electron, and Rutherford backscattering spectrometry, by use of scanning Auger electron microscopy, Raman depth profiling, and Raman mapping, as well as by use of elastic recoil detection analysis, grazing-incidence X-ray and electron backscatter diffraction, and grazing-incidence X-ray fluorescence analysis. The Cu(In,Ga)Se2 thin films used for the present comparison were produced during the same identical deposition run and exhibit thicknesses of about 2 μm. The analysis techniques were compared with respect to their spatial and depth resolutions, measuring speeds, availabilities, and detection limits.
Let Ω⊂ℝN be a smooth bounded domain and let f⁄≡0 be a possibly discontinuous and unbounded function. We give a necessary and sufficient condition on f for the existence of positive solutions for all λ>0 of Dirichlet periodic parabolic problems of the form Lu=h(x,t,u)+λf(x,t), where h is a nonnegative Carathéodory function that is sublinear at infinity. When this condition is not fulfilled, under some additional assumptions on h we characterize the set of λs for which the aforementioned problem possesses some positive solution. All results remain true for the corresponding elliptic problems.
A cross-sectional study was conducted in participants with schizophrenia to explore a potential association between the patients' remission status and neurocognitive functioning and to examine whether these factors have an impact on functional outcome.
Psychopathological symptoms were rated by means of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale with symptom remission being assessed by applying the severity component of the recently proposed remission criteria. Tests for the cognitive battery were selected to cover domains known to be impaired in patients with schizophrenia. Next to pre-morbid intelligence, attention performance, executive functioning, verbal fluency, verbal learning and memory, working memory and visual memory were assessed. The joint effect of remission status and neurocognitive functioning on treatment outcome was investigated by logistic regression analysis.
Out of 140 patients included in the study, 62 were symptomatically remitted. Mean age, education and sex distribution were comparable in remitted and non-remitted patients. Remitted patients showed significantly higher values on tests of verbal fluency, alertness and optical vigilance. Both symptomatic remission as well as performance on tests of working memory and verbal memory had a significant effect on the patients' employment status.
In the present study neuropsychological measures of frontal lobe functioning were associated with symptomatic remission from schizophrenia. In addition, both symptomatic remission and performance on tests of working memory and verbal memory had a significant effect on the patients' employment status. Longitudinal follow-up data are needed to determine how the associations of these determinants of functional outcome interact and change over time.
High-resolution Hα velocity fields provide important observational constraints on the dark matter distribution in dwarf and low surface brightness galaxies. These two-dimensional data show that dark matter-dominated galaxies tend to be more consistent with cored halos than cuspy halos, at odds with theoretical expectations. Using N-body/SPH simulations of disk galaxy formation in cuspy spherical and triaxial dark matter halos, as well as cored dark matter halos, we “observe” the simulated galaxies under a variety of realistic observing conditions. We use these mock IFU velocity field observations to determine how well the underlying dark matter halo can be recovered and to test the hypothesis that cusps can be obscured by triaxial dark matter halos.
Epinephrine enhances emotional memory whereas β-adrenoceptor antagonists (β-blockers, BBs) impair it. However, the effects of BB administration on memory are sex dependent. Therefore, we predicted differential effects of epinephrine and the BB metoprolol given to male and female patients after cardiac surgery (CS) on traumatic memories and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
We performed a prospective observational study and determined the number of standardized traumatic memories (NTRM) and PTSD symptom intensity in cardiac surgical patients at 1 day before surgery, and at 1 week and 6 months after the procedure. PTSD symptoms and NTRM were quantified using validated questionnaires. Metoprolol could be administered any time post-operatively.
Baseline NTRM was not significantly different between male (n=95) and female patients (n=33). One week after CS, the NTRM in male patients was significantly higher. Metoprolol had no significant effect in either sex. At 6 months, females with metoprolol (n=18) showed a significantly lower NTRM and significantly lower PTSD symptom scores than females without BBs (n=15, p=0.02). By contrast, the totally administered dosage of epinephrine correlated with NTRM in males (r=0.33, p<0.01) but not in females (r=0.21, p=0.29).
β-Adrenergic stimulation with epinephrine enhances memory for adverse experiences in males but not in females whereas β-blockade selectively reduces memory for post-operative adverse events and PTSD symptoms in females.
Different methods for Na incorporation are known for the use of Na-free substrates like stainless steel or polyimide foil. In this work Cu(In,Ga)Se2 (CIGS) absorber layers with different amounts of Na are investigated. The CIGS samples were prepared via a roll-to-roll deposition process with ion beam assistance (Solarion) and by a multi-stage low temperature co-evaporation process (HZB). Na was either incorporated via in-situ co-evaporation of NaF (for roll-to-roll deposition) or by a Na-containing precursor (for multi-stage deposition).
With increasing amounts of Na an increase of VOC is observed for both deposition tech-niques. In contrast, within the deposition parameters used, jSC decreases with increasing Na amount for co-evaporation of NaF while it seems unaffected when using a NaF precursor layer. The elemental depth profiles of the different CIGS thin films were studied via secondary ion mass spectroscopy and were found to depend strongly on the deposition technique.
It seems that beneficial effects of the addition of Na are independent of the method of in-corporation, even if the distribution of Na in the CIGS layer is different due to different methods of incorporation and CIGS deposition processes.
The objective of this work is to increase the open circuit voltage of CuGaSe2(CGS)-based solar cells without decreasing their efficiency. For that, the interface between the p-type CGS absorber and the n-type CdS/ZnO window layer is compared using three different recipes for the growth of the buffer layer. Results show the importance of the adaptation of the CdS buffer layer to the CuGaSe2 absorber film. A maximum open circuit voltage of 922 mV is achieved for the devices when using 60ºC as the chemical bath temperature and a low thiourea concentration. Drive-level capacitance profiling, external quantum efficiency and temperature dependent current-voltage measurements reveal a better quality of the CdS/CuGaSe2 interface for this buffer layer deposition conditions. Factors such as the larger depletion region width and the lower doping level, reducing the tunnelling component, are pointed out as responsible of the higher Voc.
Chalcopyrite-type thin films - CuInS2, CuInSe2, CuGaSe2, and Cu(In,Ga)Se2 - in various completed solar cells were studied in cross-section by means of electron-backscatter diffraction (EBSD). Valuable information on grain sizes, local grain orientations, film textures, and grain boundaries were extracted from the EBSD linescans and maps. The grain-size distributions from the chalcopyrite-type thin films can be represented well by lognormal distribution functions. The EBSD measurements on CuGaSe2 thin film reveal a <110> fiber texture, in good agreement with x-ray diffraction texture analysis performed on the same sample. The EBSD maps from all samples studied exhibit considerable twinning in the chalcopyrite-type thin films. Indeed, the most frequent types of grain boundaries in these thin films are (near) Σ3 60°-<221> and 71°-<110> twins. It is shown that rotational 180°-<221> twins (which are symmetrically equivalent to 71°-<110>) are more frequently found than anion- or cation-terminated 60°-<221> twin boundaries.