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Recent genetic evidence implicates glutamatergic-receptor variations in schizophrenia. Glutamatergic excess during early life in people with schizophrenia may cause excitotoxicity and produce structural deficits in the brain. Cortical thickness and gyrification are reduced in schizophrenia, but only a subgroup of patients exhibits such structural deficits. We delineate the structural variations among unaffected siblings and patients with schizophrenia and study the role of key glutamate-receptor polymorphisms on these variations.
Gaussian Mixture Model clustering was applied to the cortical thickness and gyrification data of 114 patients, 112 healthy controls, and 42 unaffected siblings to identify subgroups. The distribution of glutamate-receptor (GRM3, GRIN2A, and GRIA1) and voltage-gated calcium channel (CACNA1C) variations across the MRI-based subgroups was studied. The comparisons in clinical symptoms and cognition between patient subgroups were conducted.
We observed a “hypogyric,” “impoverished-thickness,” and “supra-normal” subgroups of patients, with higher negative symptom burden and poorer verbal fluency in the hypogyric subgroup and notable functional deterioration in the impoverished-thickness subgroup. Compared to healthy subjects, the hypogyric subgroup had significant GRIN2A and GRM3 variations, the impoverished-thickness subgroup had CACNA1C variations while the supra-normal group had no differences.
Disrupted gyrification and thickness can be traced to the glutamatergic receptor and voltage-gated calcium channel dysfunction respectively in schizophrenia. This raises the question of whether MRI-based multimetric subtyping may be relevant for clinical trials of agents affecting the glutamatergic system.
Awe is a feeling of wonder and amazement in response to experiencing something so vast that it transcends one's current frames of reference. Across three experiments (N = 557), we tested the inhibition effect of awe on aggression. We used a narrative recall task paradigm (Studies 1 and 2) and a video (Study 3) to induce the emotion of awe. After inducing awe, we first examined participants’ emotion and their sense of ‘small self’, and then the manifestation of aggressiveness in a Shooting Game (Study 1), Tangram Help/Hurt Task (Studies 2 and 3) and Aggression-IAT (Study 3), respectively. Results indicated that awe reduced aggression and increased prosociality and a sense of small self relative to neutral affect and positive emotions of happiness and amusement. Mediation analyses evidenced mixed support for a sense of small self mediating the effect of awe on aggression and prosociality.
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