Goal-directed actions depend on our capacity to integrate the anticipated consequences of an action with the value of those consequences, with the latter derived from direct experience or inferred from predictive stimuli. Schizophrenia is associated with poor goal-directed performance, but whether this reflects a deficit in experienced or predicted value or in integrating these values with action-outcome information is unknown, as is the locus of any associated neuropathology.
Broad neuropsychological deficits have been consistently demonstrated in well-established bipolar disorder. The aim of the current study was to systematically review neuropsychological studies in first-episode bipolar disorders to determine the breadth, extent and predictors of cognitive dysfunction at this early stage of illness through meta-analytic procedures. Electronic databases were searched for studies published between January 1980 and December 2013. Twelve studies met eligibility criteria (N = 341, mean age = 28.2 years), and pooled effect sizes (ES) were calculated across eight cognitive domains. Moderator analyses were conducted to identify predictors of between-study heterogeneity. Controlling for known confounds, medium to large deficits (ES ? 0.5) in psychomotor speed, attention and working memory, and cognitive flexibility were identified, whereas smaller deficits (ES 0.20-0.49) were found in the domains of verbal learning and memory, attentional switching, and verbal fluency. A medium to large deficit in response inhibition was only detected in non-euthymic cases. Visual learning and memory functioning was not significantly worse in cases compared with controls. Overall, first-episode bipolar disorders are associated with widespread cognitive dysfunction. Since euthymia was not associated with superior cognitive performance in most domains, these results indicate that even in the earliest stages of disease, cognitive deficits are not mood-state dependent. The current findings have important implications for whether cognitive impairments represent neurodevelopmental or neurodegenerative processes. Future studies need to more clearly characterise the presence of psychotic features, and the nature and number of previous mood episodes.
It is generally assumed that choice between different actions reflects the difference between their action values yet little direct evidence confirming this assumption has been reported. Here we assess whether the brain calculates the absolute difference between action values or their relative advantage, that is, the probability that one action is better than the other alternatives. We use a two-armed bandit task during functional magnetic resonance imaging and modelled responses to determine both the size of the difference between action values (D) and the probability that one action value is better (P). The results show haemodynamic signals corresponding to P in right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) together with evidence that these signals modulate motor cortex activity in an action-specific manner. We find no significant activity related to D. These findings demonstrate that a distinct neuronal population mediates action-value comparisons, and reveals how these comparisons are implemented to mediate value-based decision-making.
The ability to learn contingencies between actions and outcomes in a dynamic environment is critical for flexible, adaptive behavior. Goal-directed actions adapt to changes in action-outcome contingencies as well as to changes in the reward-value of the outcome. When networks involved in reward processing and contingency learning are maladaptive, this fundamental ability can be lost, with detrimental consequences for decision-making. Impaired decision-making is a core feature in a number of psychiatric disorders, ranging from depression to schizophrenia. The argument can be developed, therefore, that seemingly disparate symptoms across psychiatric disorders can be explained by dysfunction within common decision-making circuitry. From this perspective, gaining a better understanding of the neural processes involved in goal-directed action, will allow a comparison of deficits observed across traditional diagnostic boundaries within a unified theoretical framework. This review describes the key processes and neural circuits involved in goal-directed decision-making using evidence from animal studies and human neuroimaging. Select studies are discussed to outline what we currently know about causal judgments regarding actions and their consequences, action-related reward evaluation, and, most importantly, how these processes are integrated in goal-directed learning and performance. Finally, we look at how adaptive decision-making is impaired across a range of psychiatric disorders and how deepening our understanding of this circuitry may offer insights into phenotypes and more targeted interventions.
To date, most studies of white matter changes in Bipolar Disorder (BD) have been conducted in older subjects and with well-established disorders. Studies of young people who are closer to their illness onset may help to identify core neurobiological characteristics and separate these from consequences of repeated illness episodes or prolonged treatment. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was used to examine white matter microstructural changes in 58 young patients with BD (mean age 23 years; range 16-30 years) and 40 controls. Whole brain voxelwise measures of fractional anisotropy (FA), parallel diffusivity (?//) and radial diffusivity (??) were calculated for all subjects. White matter microstructure differences (decreased FA corrected p<.05) were found between the patients with BD and controls in the genu, body and splenium of the corpus callosum as well as the superior and anterior corona radiata. In addition, significantly increased radial diffusivity (p<.01) was found in the BD group. Neuroimaging studies of young patients with BD may help to clarify neurodevelopmental aspects of the illness and for identifying biomarkers of disease onset and progression. Our findings provide evidence of microstructural white matter changes early in the course of illness within the corpus callosum and the nature of these changes suggest they are associated with abnormalities in the myelination of axons.
Oxytocin (OT) plays a key regulatory role in human social behaviour. While prior studies have examined the effects of OT on observable social behaviours, studies have seldom examined the effects of OT on psychophysiological markers such as heart rate variability (HRV), which provides an index of individuals motivation for social behaviour. Furthermore, no studies have examined the impact of OT on HRV under resting conditions, which provides an index of maximal capacity for social engagement.
An epistatic interaction of 5-HTTLPR and BDNF Val66Met polymorphisms has been implicated in the structure of rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) and amygdala (AMY): key regions associated with emotion processing. However, a functional epistasis of 5-HTTLPR and BDNF Val66Met on overt emotion processing has yet to be determined. Twenty-eight healthy, Caucasian female participants provided saliva samples for genotyping and underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during which an emotion processing protocol were presented. Confirming the validity of this protocol, we observed blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) activity consistent with fMRI meta-analyses on emotion processing. Region-of-interest analysis of the rACC and AMY revealed main effects of 5-HTTLPR and BDNF Val66Met, and an interaction of 5-HTTLPR and BDNF Val66Met. The effect of the BDNF Met66 allele was dependent on 5-HTTLPR alleles, such that participants with S and Met alleles had the greatest rACC and AMY activation during the presentation of emotional images relative to other genetic groupings. Increased activity in these regions was interpreted as increased reactivity to emotional stimuli, suggesting that those with S and Met alleles are more reactive to emotional stimuli relative to other groups. Although limited by a small sample, this study contributes novel and preliminary findings relating to a functional epistasis of the 5-HTTLPR and BDNF Val66Met genes in emotion processing and provides guidance on appropriate methods to determine genetic epistasis in fMRI.
The principles of quality by design (QbD) have been applied in cell culture manufacturing process development and characterization in the biotech industry. Here we share our approach and practice in developing and characterizing a cell culture manufacturing process using QbD principles for establishing a process control strategy. Process development and characterization start with critical quality attribute identification, followed by process parameter and incoming raw material risk assessment, design of experiment, and process parameter classification, and conclude with a design space construction. Finally, a rational process control strategy is established and documented.
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