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The symptoms of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) are suggestive of cognitive rigidity, and previous work identified impaired flexible responding on set-shifting tasks in such patients. The basal ganglia are central to habit learning and are thought to be abnormal in OCD, contributing to inflexible, rigid habitual patterns of behaviour. Here, we demonstrate that increased cognitive inflexibility, indexed by poor performance on the set-shifting task, correlated with putamen morphology, and that patients and their asymptomatic relatives had common curvature abnormalities within this same structure. The association between the structure of the putamen and the extradimensional errors was found to be significantly familial in OCD proband–relative pairs. The data implicate changes in basal ganglia structure linked to cognitive inflexibility as a familial marker of OCD. This may reflect a predisposing heightened propensity toward habitual response patterns and deficits in goal-directed planning.
Although neuroimaging studies suggest brain regional abnormalities in depressive disorders, it remains unclear whether abnormalities are present at illness onset or reflect disease progression.
We hypothesized that cerebral variations were present in adolescents with subthreshold depression known to be at high risk for later full-blown depression.
We examined brain structural and diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance images of adolescents with subthreshold depression.
The participants were extracted from the European IMAGEN study cohort of healthy adolescents recruited at age 14. Subthreshold depression was defined as a distinct period of abnormally depressed or irritable mood, or loss of interest, plus two or more depressive symptoms but without diagnosis of Major Depressive Episode. Comparisons were performed between adolescents meeting these criteria and control adolescents within the T1-weighted imaging modality (118 and 475 adolescents respectively) using voxel-based morphometry and the diffusion tensor imaging modality (89 ad 422 adolescents respectively) using tract-based spatial statistics. Whole brain analyses were performed with a statistical threshold set to p< 0.05 corrected for multiple comparisons.
Compared with controls, adolescents with subthreshold depression had smaller gray matter volume in caudate nuclei, medial frontal and cingulate cortices; smaller white matter volume in anterior limb of internal capsules, left forceps minor and right cingulum; and lower fractional anisotropy and higher radial diffusivity in the genu of corpus callosum.
The findings suggest that adolescents with subthreshold depression have volumetric and microstructural gray and white matter changes in the emotion regulation frontal-striatal-limbic network.
Serotonin is well known to affect the multifaceted construct of impulsivity. Lowering brain serotonin levels is shown to increase impulsive choice in delay-discounting tasks (1) but improves response inhibition in stop-signal paradigms. (2) Administration of the antidepressant citalopram in healthy people increases tendency to perform go choices in a Go/No-Go task independent of outcome valence (3). It is rather unclear thought how serotonergic neurotransmission affects several aspects of cognition. We administered a single dose of 20 mg escitalopram, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, to 66 healthy participants, aged 18–45 years old, in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-groups study. Acute escitalopram administration had a beneficial effect on inhibitory control with reduced stop-signal reaction time observed in the treatment group. Participants made significantly more errors in a probabilistic learning task and had lower accuracy during the discrimination stage in an instrumental learning task thus indicating a learning impairment. More errors in the CANTAB intra-extra dimensional set shift task were also observed in the escitalopram-treated group. Our findings following acute administration of a clinically relevant dose of escitalopram show a dissociate role for serotonin in modulating cognition mediated by a potentially differential modulation of fronto-striatal loops.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
Goal-directed control guides optimal decision-making and it is an important cognitive faculty that protects against developing habits. Previous studies have found some evidence of goal-directed deficits when healthy individuals are stressed, and in psychiatric conditions characterised by compulsive behaviours and anxiety. Here, we tested if goal-directed control is affected by state anxiety, which might explain the former results.
We carried out a causal test of this hypothesis in two experiments (between-subject N = 88; within-subject N = 50) that used the inhalation of hypercapnic gas (7.5% CO2) to induce an acute state of anxiety in healthy volunteers. In a third experiment (N = 1413), we used a correlational design to test if real-life anxiety-provoking events (panic attacks, stressful events) are associated with impaired goal-directed control.
In the former two causal experiments, we induced a profoundly anxious state, both physiologically and psychologically, but this did not affect goal-directed performance. In the third, correlational, study, we found no evidence for an association between goal-directed control, panic attacks or stressful life eventsover and above variance accounted for by trait differences in compulsivity.
In sum, three complementary experiments found no evidence that anxiety impairs goal-directed control in human subjects.
Progress in understanding the underlying neurobiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has stalled in part because of the considerable problem of heterogeneity within this diagnostic category, and homogeneity across other putatively discrete, diagnostic categories. As psychiatry begins to recognize the shortcomings of a purely symptom-based psychiatric nosology, new data-driven approaches have begun to be utilized with the goal of solving these problems: specifically, identifying trans-diagnostic aspects of clinical phenomenology based on their association with neurobiological processes. In this review, we describe key methodological approaches to understanding OCD from this perspective and highlight the candidate traits that have already been identified as a result of these early endeavours. We discuss how important inferences can be made from pre-existing case-control studies as well as showcasing newer methods that rely on large general population datasets to refine and validate psychiatric phenotypes. As exemplars, we take ‘compulsivity’ and ‘anxiety’, putatively trans-diagnostic symptom dimensions that are linked to well-defined neurobiological mechanisms, goal-directed learning and error-related negativity, respectively. We argue that the identification of biologically valid, more homogeneous, dimensions such as these provides renewed optimism for identifying reliable genetic contributions to OCD and other disorders, improving animal models and critically, provides a path towards a future of more targeted psychiatric treatments.
Recurrent glioblastoma (GBM) has an unmet need for effective therapies. Toca 511 (vocimagene amiretrorepvec), a retroviral replicating vector with the transgene cytosine deaminase, selectively infects, persists and spreads in tumor. Subsequent oral administration of 5-fluorocytosine (Toca FC) produces 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) within infected cells. 5-FU kills cancer cells and myeloid derived suppressor cells, inducing robust antitumor immune responses in animal models. In 2 Phase 1 studies, Toca 511 was administered into the cavity wall after surgical resection (NCT01470794) or intratumoral injection by biopsy needle (NCT01156584). To provide context to the results observed, subjects were compared to an external lomustine treated control (Courtesy Denovo Biopharma; Wick 2010). Treatment with Toca 511/Toca FC from 2 Phase I studies showed significant improvement in OS HR equals to 0.48, p less than 0.001, with similar effect in the surgical resection (OS HR 0.45, p equals to 0.003) and intratumoral injection (OS HR 0.56, p equals to 0.060). Fewer related greater or equal to Grade 3 adverse events (AEs) were reported for Toca 511/Toca FC (2.5 percent) vs. lomustine (36.9 percent). There was a virtual absence of hematologic toxicity for Toca 511/Toca FC vs. lomustine (Grade greater or equal to 3 thrombocytopenia 23.8 percent). Discontinuations for AEs occurred in 0percent for Toca 511/Toca FC vs. 4.8 percent for lomustine. Toca 511 is surgically delivered and treatment-emergent AEs regardless of attribution included incision site pain (20 percent), procedural pain (12.5 percent), and wound infection (5 percent) vs. 0percent, 1.2 percent, 1.2 percent respectively for lomustine. Toca 511/Toca FC significantly improved survival and safety relative to lomustine. A Phase 2/3 trial has launched (NCT02414165).
There is evidence of executive function impairment in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) that potentially contributes to symptom development and maintenance. Nevertheless, the precise nature of these executive impairments and their neural basis remains to be defined.
We compared stopping and shifting, two key executive functions previously implicated in OCD, in the same task using functional magnetic resonance imaging, in patients with virtually no co-morbidities and age-, verbal IQ- and gender-matched healthy volunteers. The combined task allowed direct comparison of neural activity in stopping and shifting independent of patient sample characteristics and state variables such as arousal, learning, or current symptom expression.
Both OCD patients and controls exhibited right inferior frontal cortex activation during stopping, and left inferior parietal cortex activation during shifting. However, widespread under-activation across frontal-parietal areas was found in OCD patients compared to controls for shifting but not stopping. Conservative, whole-brain analyses also indicated marked divergent abnormal activation in OCD in the caudate and thalamus for these two cognitive functions, with stopping-related over-activation contrasting with shift-related under-activation.
OCD is associated with selective components of executive function, which engage similar common elements of cortico-striatal regions in different abnormal ways. The results implicate altered neural activation of subcortical origin in executive function abnormalities in OCD that are dependent on the precise cognitive and contextual requirements, informing current theories of symptom expression.
Resilience is the capacity of individuals to resist mental disorders despite exposure to stress. Little is known about its neural underpinnings. The putative variation of white-matter microstructure with resilience in adolescence, a critical period for brain maturation and onset of high-prevalence mental disorders, has not been assessed by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Lower fractional anisotropy (FA) though, has been reported in the corpus callosum (CC), the brain's largest white-matter structure, in psychiatric and stress-related conditions. We hypothesized that higher FA in the CC would characterize stress-resilient adolescents.
Three groups of adolescents recruited from the community were compared: resilient with low risk of mental disorder despite high exposure to lifetime stress (n = 55), at-risk of mental disorder exposed to the same level of stress (n = 68), and controls (n = 123). Personality was assessed by the NEO-Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI). Voxelwise statistics of DTI values in CC were obtained using tract-based spatial statistics. Regional projections were identified by probabilistic tractography.
Higher FA values were detected in the anterior CC of resilient compared to both non-resilient and control adolescents. FA values varied according to resilience capacity. Seed regional changes in anterior CC projected onto anterior cingulate and frontal cortex. Neuroticism and three other NEO-FFI factor scores differentiated non-resilient participants from the other two groups.
High FA was detected in resilient adolescents in an anterior CC region projecting to frontal areas subserving cognitive resources. Psychiatric risk was associated with personality characteristics. Resilience in adolescence may be related to white-matter microstructure.
Research using the Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) and other data shows that direct government payments to farmers increase rents and the price of land. However, some ARMS data is imputed and does not account for relationships between payments and other variables. We investigate various imputation methods and benefits gained from a method with a wide scope rather than a parsimonious range of variables. Using our method, we estimate that an additional dollar of direct payment increases land value about $2.69 more per acre than ARMS imputation methods and that our imputations (using an exhaustive iterative sequential regression) outperform other methods and/or smaller models.
Evidence suggests some overlap between the pathological use of food and drugs, yet how impulsivity compares across these different clinical disorders remains unclear. Substance use disorders are commonly characterized by elevated impulsivity, and impulsivity subtypes may show commonalities and differences in various conditions. We hypothesized that obese subjects with binge-eating disorder (BED) and abstinent alcohol-dependent cohorts would have relatively more impulsive profiles compared to obese subjects without BED. We also predicted decision impulsivity impairment in obesity with and without BED.
Thirty obese subjects with BED, 30 without BED and 30 abstinent alcohol-dependent subjects and age- and gender-matched controls were tested on delay discounting (preference for a smaller immediate reward over a larger delayed reward), reflection impulsivity (rapid decision making prior to evidence accumulation) and motor response inhibition (action cancellation of a prepotent response).
All three groups had greater delay discounting relative to healthy volunteers. Both obese subjects without BED and alcohol-dependent subjects had impaired motor response inhibition. Only obese subjects without BED had impaired integration of available information to optimize outcomes over later trials with a cost condition.
Delay discounting appears to be a common core impairment across disorders of food and drug intake. Unexpectedly, obese subjects without BED showed greater impulsivity than obese subjects with BED. We highlight the dissociability and heterogeneity of impulsivity subtypes and add to the understanding of neurocognitive profiles across disorders involving food and drugs. Our results have therapeutic implications suggesting that disorder-specific patterns of impulsivity could be targeted.
High post-release survival, low dispersal and the recruitment of captive-reared individuals into the wild population are critical to the success of any reintroduction programme. Reintroducing a migratory species poses an additional challenge as success also depends on the return of captive-reared individuals to breeding grounds in subsequent years. We investigated the effects of seven husbandry and management factors on the return rate of captive-reared eastern loggerhead shrikes Lanius ludovicianus migrans and documented the recruitment of returning individuals. During 2004–2010, 564 juveniles were released in Ontario, Canada, as part of a field propagation and release programme and there were 27 confirmed sightings of returning birds during 2005–2011. Returning birds were significantly more likely to have been released in large groups of juveniles (9–10 birds) at 5.5 weeks post-fledging from the Carden field propagation site. Comparisons of the number of young fledged and survival to 2 weeks post-fledging revealed similar results for pairs comprising one captive-reared and one wild-reared individual and pairs comprising two wild individuals. These results highlight the contribution of captive-reared shrikes to the recovery of the wild population and the importance of monitoring outcomes and evaluating techniques.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has been associated with response inhibition deficits under motivationally neutral contingencies. We examined response inhibition performance in the presence of reward and punishment. We further investigated whether the hypothesized difficulties in flexibly updating behaviour based on external feedback in OCD would also lead to a reduced ability to adjust to changes in the reward and punishment contingencies.
Participants completed a go/no-go task that used punishments or rewards to promote response activation or suppression. The task was administered to OCD patients free of current Axis-I co-morbidities including major depression (n = 20) and a group of healthy controls (n = 32).
Compared with controls, patients with OCD had increased commission errors in punishment conditions, and failed to slow down immediately after receiving punishment. The punishment-induced increase in commission errors correlated with self-report measures of OCD symptom severity. Additionally, patients did not differ from controls in adapting their overall response style to the changes in task contingencies.
Individuals with OCD showed reduced response control selectively under punishment conditions, manifesting in an impulsive response style that was related to their current symptom severity. This stresses failures of cognitive control in OCD, particularly under negative motivational contingencies.
Impairments in working memory are present in many psychiatric illnesses such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and schizophrenia. The dopamine transporter and catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) are proteins involved in dopamine clearance and the dopamine system is implicated in the modulation of working memory (WM) processes and neurochemical models of psychiatric diseases. The effects of functional polymorphisms of the dopamine transporter gene (DAT1) and the COMT gene were investigated using a visuospatial and numerical n-back working memory paradigm. Our n-back task was designed to reflect WM alone, and made no demands on higher executive functioning.
A total of 291 healthy volunteers (aged 18–45 years) were genotyped and matched for age, sex, and Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS) and National Adult Reading Test (NART) scores. To assess individual gene effects on WM, factorial mixed model analysis of variances (ANOVAs) were conducted with the between-subjects factor as genotype and difficulty level (0-, 1-, 2- and 3-back) entered as the within-subjects factor.
The analysis revealed that the DAT1 or COMT genotype alone or in combination did not predict performance on the n-back task in our sample of healthy volunteers.
Behavioral effects of DAT1 and COMT polymorphisms on WM in healthy volunteers may be non-existent, or too subtle to identify without exceedingly large sample sizes. It is proposed that neuroimaging may provide more powerful means of elucidating the modulatory influences of these polymorphisms.
Gaia will only achieve its unprecedented measurement accuracy requirements with detailed
calibration and correction for radiation damage. We present our Silvaco 3D engineering
software model of the Gaia CCD pixel and two of its applications for Gaia: (1) physically
interpreting supplementary buried channel (SBC) capacity measurements (pocket-pumping and
first pixel response) in terms of e2v manufacturing doping alignment tolerances; and (2)
deriving electron densities within a charge packet as a function of the number of
constituent electrons and 3D position within the charge packet as input to microscopic
models being developed to simulate radiation damage.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission occurs in 0.2%-10% of people after accidental needlestick exposures. However, postexposure prophylaxis is not currently recommended. We sought to determine the safety, tolerability, and acceptance of postexposure prophylaxis with peginterferon alfa-2b in healthcare workers (HCWs) exposed to blood from HCV-infected patients.
Open-label pilot trial of peginterferon alfa-2b for HCV postexposure prophylaxis.
TWO academic tertiary-referral centers.
HCWs exposed to blood from HCV-infected patients were informed of the availability of postexposure prophylaxis. Persons who elected postexposure prophylaxis were given weekly doses of peginterferon alfa-2b for 4 weeks.
Among 2,702 HCWs identified with potential exposures to bloodborne pathogens, 213 (7.9%) were exposed to an HCV antibody-positive source. Of 51 HCWs who enrolled in the study, 44 (86%) elected to undergo postexposure prophylaxis (treated group). Seven subjects elected not to undergo postexposure prophylaxis (untreated group). No cases of HCV transmission were observed in either the treated or untreated group, and no cases occurred in the remaining 162 HCWs who did not enroll in this study. No serious adverse events related to a peginterferon alfa-2b regimen were recorded, but minor adverse events were frequent.
In this pilot study, there was a lower than expected frequency of HCV transmission after accidental occupational exposure. Although peginterferon alfa-2b was safe, because of the lack of HCV transmission in either the treated or untreated groups there is little evidence to support routine postexposure prophylaxis against HCV in HCWs.
Central to understanding of the behavioural consequences of depression has been the theory that the disorder is accompanied by an increased sensitivity to negative compared with positive reinforcement (negative bias), whereas other theorists have emphasized a global reduction in sensitivity to reinforcement in depression (blunting).
In this study, we used a probabilistic selection task that was designed to examine independently rates of learning to predict both positive and negative reinforcement. Twenty-three depressed out-patients and 23 healthy controls from the local population participated in the study.
No evidence for a negative bias was observed on the task, either during acquisition of the task or during generalization of the learned information. Depressed patients responded slower on the task than controls but showed a similar modulation of reaction times (RTs) as controls following reinforcement. Evidence for blunting was observed on the training phase, as reflected in reduced trial-by-trial adjustment during this phase. However, this effect was related specifically to the severity of anhedonia, as measured by the Snaith–Hamilton Pleasure Scale (SHAPS), and was independent of overall depression severity.
We argue that the observation of a negative bias or blunting in a group of depressed patients may be dependent on the neuropsychological task and the symptoms of the patients tested. Our results provide insight into how these theories might be further tested.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has been associated with impairments in stop-signal inhibition, a measure of motor response suppression. The study used a novel paradigm to examine both thought suppression and response inhibition in OCD, where the modulatory effects of stimuli relevant to OCD could also be assessed. Additionally, the study compared inhibitory impairments in OCD patients with and without co-morbid depression, as depression is the major co-morbidity of OCD.
Volitional response suppression and unintentional thought suppression to emotive and neutral stimuli were examined using a novel thought stop-signal task. The thought stop-signal task was administered to non-depressed OCD patients, depressed OCD patients and healthy controls (n=20 per group).
Motor inhibition impairments were evident in OCD patients, while motor response performance did not differ between patients and controls. Switching to a new response but not motor inhibition was affected by stimulus relevance in OCD patients. Additionally, unintentional thought suppression as measured by repetition priming was intact. OCD patients with and without depression did not differ on any task performance measures, though there were significant differences in all self-reported measures.
Results support motor inhibition deficits in OCD that remain stable regardless of stimulus meaning or co-morbid depression. Only switching to a new response was influenced by stimulus meaning. When response inhibition was successful in OCD patients, so was the unintentional suppression of the accompanying thought.
Verbal memory is frequently and severely affected in schizophrenia and has been implicated as a mediator of poor clinical outcome. Whereas encoding deficits are well demonstrated, it is unclear whether retention is impaired. This distinction is important because accelerated forgetting implies impaired consolidation attributable to medial temporal lobe (MTL) dysfunction whereas impaired encoding and retrieval implicates involvement of prefrontal cortex.
We assessed a group of healthy volunteers (n=97) and pre-morbid IQ- and sex-matched first-episode psychosis patients (n=97), the majority of whom developed schizophrenia. We compared performance of verbal learning and recall with measures of visuospatial working memory, planning and attentional set-shifting, and also current IQ.
All measures of performance, including verbal memory retention, a memory savings score that accounted for learning impairments, were significantly impaired in the schizophrenia group. The difference between groups for delayed recall remained even after the influence of learning and recall was accounted for. Factor analyses showed that, in patients, all variables except verbal memory retention loaded on a single factor, whereas in controls verbal memory and fronto-executive measures were separable.
The results suggest that IQ, executive function and verbal learning deficits in schizophrenia may reflect a common abnormality of information processing in prefrontal cortex rather than specific impairments in different cognitive domains. Verbal memory retention impairments, however, may have a different aetiology.
Impairments in inhibitory function have been found in studies of cognition in schizophrenia. These have been linked to a failure to adequately maintain the task demands in working memory. As response inhibition is known to occur in both voluntary and involuntary processes, an important question is whether both aspects of response inhibition are specifically impaired in people with schizophrenia.
The subjects were 33 patients presenting with a first episode of psychosis (27 with schizophrenia and six with schizo-affective disorder) and 24 healthy controls. We administered two motor response tasks: voluntary response inhibition was indexed by the stop-signal task and involuntary response inhibition by the masked priming task. We also administered neuropsychological measures of IQ and executive function to explore their associations with response inhibition.
Patients with schizophrenia compared to healthy controls showed significantly increased duration of the voluntary response inhibition process, as indexed by the stop-signal reaction time (SSRT). By contrast, there were no group differences on the pattern of priming on the masked priming task, indicative of intact involuntary response inhibition. Neuropsychological measures revealed that voluntary response inhibition is not necessarily dependent on working memory.
These data provide evidence for a specific impairment of voluntary response inhibition in schizophrenia.