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An interesting aspect of complex plasma is its ability to self-organize into a variety of structural configurations and undergo transitions between these states. A striking phenomenon is the isotropic-to-string transition observed in electrorheological complex plasma under the influence of a symmetric ion wake field. Such transitions have been investigated using the Plasma Kristall-4 (PK-4) microgravity laboratory on the International Space Station. Recent experiments and numerical simulations have shown that, under PK-4-relevant discharge conditions, the seemingly homogeneous direct current discharge column is highly inhomogeneous, with large axial electric field oscillations associated with ionization waves occurring on microsecond time scales. A multi-scale numerical model of the dust–plasma interactions is employed to investigate the role of the electric field in the charge of individual dust grains, the ion wake field and the order of string-like structures. Results are compared with those for dust strings formed in similar conditions in the PK-4 experiment.
Bipolar disorder is a highly heritable polygenic disorder. Recent
enrichment analyses suggest that there may be true risk variants for
bipolar disorder in the expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) in the
We sought to assess the impact of eQTL variants on bipolar disorder risk
by combining data from both bipolar disorder genome-wide association
studies (GWAS) and brain eQTL.
To detect single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that influence
expression levels of genes associated with bipolar disorder, we jointly
analysed data from a bipolar disorder GWAS (7481 cases and 9250 controls)
and a genome-wide brain (cortical) eQTL (193 healthy controls) using a
Bayesian statistical method, with independent follow-up replications. The
identified risk SNP was then further tested for association with
hippocampal volume (n = 5775) and cognitive performance
(n = 342) among healthy individuals.
Integrative analysis revealed a significant association between a brain
eQTL rs6088662 on chromosome 20q11.22 and bipolar disorder (log Bayes
factor = 5.48; bipolar disorder P =
5.85×10–5). Follow-up studies across multiple independent
samples confirmed the association of the risk SNP (rs6088662) with gene
expression and bipolar disorder susceptibility (P =
3.54×10–8). Further exploratory analysis revealed that
rs6088662 is also associated with hippocampal volume and cognitive
performance in healthy individuals.
Our findings suggest that 20q11.22 is likely a risk region for bipolar
disorder; they also highlight the informative value of integrating
functional annotation of genetic variants for gene expression in
advancing our understanding of the biological basis underlying complex
disorders, such as bipolar disorder.
Frontal release signs, a subset of neurological soft signs, are common in schizophrenia.
To explore the relationship between frontal release signs and neuropsychological tests of frontal lobe function in people with schizophrenia, their siblings and healthy controls.
Neuropsychological tests and frontal release signs were measured in a cohort of index cases (n=302), their siblings (n=240) and healthy controls (n=346).
The mean total score of frontal release signs was 1.5 (s.d. = 1.58) in the schizophrenia group, 0.54 (s.d.=0.92) for siblings and 0.42 (s.d.=0.77) for controls. Schizophrenia group scores were greater than healthy control or sibling cohort scores (P < 0.0001), which did not differ. In all three cohorts, right grasp reflex scores positively correlated with number of perseverative errors on the Wisconsin Card Sort Task (P<0.05). In the schizophrenia group, frontal release signs scores showed an inverse correlation with IQ (R = −0.199, P<0.0005).
Our findings of relationships between frontal release signs and cognitive assays of cortical dysfunction and the increased frequency of these signs in people with schizophrenia implicate a cortical origin for these clinical signs and evidence of frontal lobe dysfunction in this disorder.
The association of attentional, neuropsychological, and behavioural abnormalities with Tourette's syndrome (TS) suggests that the abnormal function of the disorder extends beyond the motor circuits of the basal ganglia. To explore this possibility we studied, with conventional 18-channel electroencephalography, monozygotic twins ranging from 8 to 26 years of age, where at least one member of the twin pair suffered from TS. In nine out of the 11 twin pairs that differed in clinical severity of the tic disorder, the twin with the more severe course of illness had a significantly more abnormal electroencephalogram (EEG) by qualitative visual analysis. Most of the differences were due to excessive frontocentral theta activity, suggesting dysfunction outside the basal ganglia. There was also a significant relationship between a lower global neuropsychological testing score and a worse overall EEG. In eight of nine twin sets with different global neuropsychological testing scores, the twin with the lower score had a worse EEG. A similar relationship was found between birth weight and overall EEG quality. In the nine sets that differed in birth weight, the twin with a lower birth weight had a worse EEG in seven of the sets. The EEG findings are unlikely to be a medication effect because the same result was seen in the six twin pairs who had been medication-free for at least six months before entry into the study. The origin of this slowing may relate to the interaction between environmental insults to the central nervous system and the genetic component of TS, an interaction producing damage to the cortex, thalamus, or both.
The issue of progressive cognitive decline in patients with schizophrenia has been debated. We performed a cross-sectional study of patients with chronic schizophrenia, aged from 18 to 69 years, in order to address this issue. The patients included in this study passed a rigorous screen for any comorbid condition with an adverse impact on central nervous system function. We assessed intellectual deterioration with a battery of neuropsychological tests known to be sensitive to cognitive impairment in progressive dementia. No evidence of accelerated intellectual decline was found. No significant differences were found between the five age-derived cohorts (18–29, 30–39, 40–49, 50–59, and 60–69 years of age) on the Mini-Mental State Examination, Dementia Rating Scale, or other tests sensitive to dementia. While performance on the Boston Naming Test significantly declined with age, this was mainly due to age rather than duration of illness. However, it is important to note that mean performances on the majority of the tests were abnormal across all cohorts studied. These results suggest that intellectual function does not markedly decline during the adulthood of patients with schizophrenia. The course of schizophrenia is more consistent with a static encephalopathy than a dementing disorder.
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