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Recent documents in eScholarship@UMMS
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Mapping and analysis of Caenorhabditis elegans transcription factor sequence specificities

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 8:27pm

Caenorhabditis elegans is a powerful model for studying gene regulation, as it has a compact genome and a wealth of genomic tools. However, identification of regulatory elements has been limited, as DNA-binding motifs are known for only 71 of the estimated 763 sequence-specific transcription factors (TFs). To address this problem, we performed protein binding microarray experiments on representatives of canonical TF families in C. elegans, obtaining motifs for 129 TFs. Additionally, we predict motifs for many TFs that have DNA-binding domains similar to those already characterized, increasing coverage of binding specificities to 292 C. elegans TFs (~40%). These data highlight the diversification of binding motifs for the nuclear hormone receptor and C2H2 zinc finger families, and reveal unexpected diversity of motifs for T-box and DM families. Motif enrichment in promoters of functionally related genes is consistent with known biology, and also identifies putative regulatory roles for unstudied TFs.

Cancer Biology

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 3:30pm

This chapter in Cancer Concepts: A Guidebook for the Non-Oncologist focuses on DNA mutations that cause cancer, abnormal regulation of cell growth and death, and metastasis.

Genetic Disorders

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 2:28pm

Learning of Equivalence Classes

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 2:28pm

Discusses the formation and learning processes for stimulance equivalence classes.

Computational Approaches to Measurement of Visual Attention: Modeling Overselectivity in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 2:28pm

Alterations in gazing patterns and visual attention have often been noted among patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) relative to neurotypical individuals. Here, the authors discuss visual attention with a particular focus on attention overselectivity. Overselectivity is observed when a subject focuses on a limited subset of available stimuli, or attends to a limited spatial field of vision. It is a widely-observed problem among individuals with IDD, notably, children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In this chapter, the authors survey computational and experimental approaches to analyze selective visual attention patterns, including overselectivity. These may provide useful computational frameworks for modeling visual attention in ASD patients and quantifying how it differs from neurotypical patterns. Computer-automated routines would be a boon for the field, distilling key dependent measures for aberrant attentional processes (a) for group studies of pathological processes and (b) on a single-subject basis for clinical description and possible remediation of attentional deficits.

Obesity and Weight Regulation

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 2:28pm

Addresses the causes of obesity in people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and offers strategies for decreasing destructive eating behaviors and encouraging healthful choices.

Use of Antidepressants in Children and Adolescents

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 2:28pm

In this chapter, we review the developmental considerations that are necessary when prescribing antidepressant medications for children and a discussion of the background and challenges of conducting psychotropic medication trials in children and adolescents.

Head Circumference Measurement and Growth: Application to Neurodevelopment

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 2:28pm

Whole brain volume and head size, estimated by the measurement of occipito-frontal circumference (OFC), have been implicated in a variety of developmental disorders. The goals of this chapter are to review the (a) relation of head growth to general neurodevelopment, (b) growth patterns in premature infants and relation to outcome, (c) overgrowth and its relation to neurodevelopmental disorders, and (d) relation between psychological syndromes and growth patterns. Additionally, this chapter (e) discusses head circumference size and growth in pathologic conditions, focusing on atypical development in overgrowth syndromes and pervasive developmental disorders such as autism. Last, this chapter (f) reviews some practical and technical issues involved in the use of head circumference data for clinical documentation and for research. In summary, increased HC and growth have been found to be associated with higher IQ in neurotypical populations. However, this relationship may more accurately be represented by a U-shaped function, with developmental disorders associated with high and low extremes. In addition, a number of genes have been found to be associated with macrocephaly, which may also contribute to developmental disabilities, including autism. Thus, head circumference may be a useful biological marker for assessing developmental risk and for stratification in genetic analysis.

The Farkas System of Craniofacial Anthropometry: Methodology and Normative Databases

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 2:28pm

LG Farkas created the first comprehensive craniofacial surface anthropometric atlas Anthropometry of the Head and Face in Medicine in 1981, and he has continued to develop new measurements and normative data through revision and updates of the atlas and published datasets. Trained in both plastic surgery and medical anthropology, Dr. Farkas created a meticulous measurement system that is based on the identification of anthropometric landmarks. Over the last 25 years he provided extensive hands-on training for clinicians and scientists in North America and around the world. This attention to detail is essential, since these procedures are painstaking and careful instruction is required. The Farkas system of craniofacial anthropometry has found increasing application in medical and clinical genetics and in plastic and oral/maxillofacial surgery. Quantitative measurements have rendered the diagnosis of dysmorphic features both objective and reliable, a boon to geneticists and surgeons alike. Also, surgical planning has benefited from these metrics which are useful in the assessment of post-operative success. Both of these developments have been facilitated by the publication of the Farkas methods and norms, which continue to be expanded and updated. This craniofacial surface measurement system has become a popular standard reference, providing the most extensive normative database extant for North America.

Idiosyncratic variables affecting functional analysis outcomes: A review (2001-2010)

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 2:28pm

Although typical functional analyses often produce clear outcomes, some studies have reported ambiguous results that cannot be interpreted. Such undifferentiated outcomes may occur if test conditions do not include relevant antecedent or consequent events. Clinicians then may try to modify the functional analysis conditions to include those events. Hanley, Iwata, and McCord (2003) reviewed the functional analysis literature through the year 2000 and described idiosyncratic variables included in modified functional analyses. The objective of the present review was to present a quantitative analysis of idiosyncratic antecedents and consequences in modified functional analyses during the past decade (2001 to 2010). We discuss the range of stimulus parameters tested and the assessment strategies used for informing the modified analysis conditions.

Simple and Complex Discrimination Learning

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 2:28pm

My goal is to provide a general introduction to current behavior-analytic perspectives and methodology concerning simple and complex discrimination. My intended audience is broad—professional scientists and clinicians of all disciplines who want an informed introduction to relevant behavior-analytic methods and theory, students who are in the process of becoming professional scientists or clinicians, teachers of behavioral science, and interested nonprofessionals who want to learn something about behavior analysis as a scientific discipline. Given my objectives and intended audiences, I will not try to explain highly technical quantitative theory (e.g., Nevin, Davison, Odum, & Shahan, 2007). Rather, my goal is to present and discuss simple and complex discrimination learning from the perspective of a behavior analyst who has focused on (a) understanding discrimination learning in children and adults with and without intellectual or other developmental disabilities and in certain nonhumans and (b) translating research findings into instructional technology. Thus, I plan to travel a familiar path that has been set out by Skinner (1968), Keller (1968), M. Sidman (1971), and other leading figures of my discipline. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)

Translational Research in Behavior Analysis

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 2:28pm

This chapter discusses the modern push by funding organizations such as the National Institutes of Health to translate basic research findings into applications that benefit human health and well-being. Dube notes that these translational activities were an early development in behavior analysis and discusses how research in applied settings has often produced a reverse translation in which applied research findings are fed back into basic research activities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)

Health U.: A Nutrition Curriculum for Teenagers with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 2:28pm

The Health U. curriculum is designed to be taught by registered dietitians or educators who have had college-level courses in nutrition. It contains age-appropriate nutrition education materials for adolescents and young adults with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. The goal of the Health U. program is to encourage a healthy lifestyle and includes 10 lessons, each of which provides a short discussion where new concepts are introduced, an activity that provides hands-on learning, time to engage in movement/physical activity, and a "taste test" that encourages expansion of students' food repertoires.

Discovering Behavioral Intervention: A Parent’s Interactive Guide to ABA

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 2:28pm

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) affect one in 110 children in the U.S. Parents of children with ASD need clear and accurate information to communicate with professionals as they seek appropriate services, including applied behavior analysis (ABA) based intervention. Behavioral professionals can assist parents in this endeavor by recommending resources, including online courses. This paper describes the development and evaluation of an online course on ABA for parents of children with ASD. Parents completing a summative field test (N=21) made significant gains in knowledge and reported high levels of satisfaction. Implications include the potential for enhanced parent-professional collaboration in treatment decision-making.

Innovations in Behavioral Intervention Preparation for Paraprofessionals Working with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 2:28pm

Given the empirically validated success of behavioral intervention based on applied behavior analysis for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities, the demand for knowledgeable and skilled paraprofessional teaching staff is very high. Unfortunately, there currently exists a widely recognized shortage of such practitioners. This article describes the development of an online training program aimed at preparing paraprofessionals for face-to-face training and supervision as part of a solution to the growing demand. The focus of the program has been on moving beyond traditional online pedagogy, which has limited interactivity. Instead, the approach to teaching fundamental knowledge and implementation skills in behavioral intervention methods incorporates first-person simulations, typical of live mentor/mentee training. Preliminary program evaluation data are also described.

Rapid Cue Reversal Learning

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 2:28pm

Excerpt: Rapid cue reversal learning refers to the ability to alter one’s response after encountering just a few examples of a change in consequences for a behavior. Typically, rapid cue reversal learning is assessed after training on simple discrimination tasks in which an individual is presented with two (or more) stimuli (such as pictures or objects), and responses to one stimulus are reinforced (i.e., followed by praise, snack foods, or access to a toy), whereas responses to the other stimulus are not. Once a learning criterion is met, the stimulus functions are reversed such that responses to the originally positive stimulus are no longer reinforced and responses to the previously negative stimulus are reinforced. Reversals are often embedded in a variety of instructional tasks and are used as one measure of cognitive inflexibility in individuals diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disability.

Decreased cortical thickness in drug naive first episode schizophrenia: in relation to serum levels of BDNF

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 3:21pm

This study was to examine cortical thickness in drug naive, first episode schizophrenia patients, and to explore its relationship with serum levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Forty-five drug naive schizophrenia patients and 28 healthy controls were enrolled in the study. Freesurfer was used to parcellate cortical regions, and vertex-wise group analysis was used for whole brain cortical thickness. The clusters for the brain regions that demonstrated group differences were extracted, and the mean values of thickness were calculated. Serum levels of BDNF were measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). After controlling for age and gender, significantly thinner cortical thickness was found in left insula and superior temporal gyrus in the patient group compared with the healthy control group (HC group) (p's < 0.001). Lower serum levels of BDNF were also found in the patient group compared with the HC group (p = 0.001). Correlation analysis showed a significant positive relationship between thickness of left insula and serum levels of BDNF within the HC group (r = 0.396, p = 0.037) but there was no such relationship within the patient group (r = 0.035, p = 0.819). Cortical thinning is present in drug naive, first episode schizophrenia patients, indicating neurodevelopmental abnormalities at the onset of schizophrenia. Left insula might be an imaging biomarker in detecting the impaired protective role of neurotrophic factor for the brain development in schizophrenia.

Population-based initiatives in college mental health: students helping students to overcome obstacles

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 3:21pm

College students' need for mental health care has increased dramatically, leaving campus counseling and mental health centers struggling to meet the demand. This has led to the investigation and development of extra-center, population-based interventions. Student-to-student support programs are but one example. Students themselves are a plentiful, often-untapped resource that extends the reach of mental health services on campus. Student-to-student programs capitalize on students' natural inclination to assist their peers. A brief review of the prevalence and effects of mental disorders in the college population is provided, followed by a broad overview of the range of peer-to-peer programs that can be available on college campuses. Two innovative programs are highlighted: (1) a hospital- and community-based program, the College Mental Health Program (CMHP) at McLean Hospital, and 2) the Student Support Network (SSN) at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The subsequent section reviews the literature on peer-to-peer programs for students with serious and persistent mental illness for which there is a small but generally positive body of research. This lack of an empirical basis in college mental health leads the authors to argue for development of broad practice-research networks.

Neuropsychiatry and Neural Cubism

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 3:21pm

The art movement known as Cubism did not represent a failure of perspective but, rather, was a movement aimed at advancing art by juxtaposing different perspectives. In this issue, Taylor and colleagues describe the current approach by neurologists and psychiatrists to patients with brain disorders as "Neural Cubism" because of the competing angles of these specialists' perspectives about these disorders. They advocate both integrated training for all residents in the two fields and a system of "nested hierarchies" to reclassify brain disorders according to their effect on levels of brain function. The unspoken premise of their article is that it is time for psychiatry and neurology to reunite.This Commentary takes the view that reuniting the long-separated specialties of neurology and psychiatry would not necessarily create better care for all patients with brain disorders but that trainees in both fields would benefit from increased training in the complementary specialty. The new Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education clinical neuroscience milestones for psychiatry training and psychiatry milestones for neurology training are steps in the right direction. Increasing opportunities for combined neurology-psychiatry training will help create a cadre of specialists equipped to efficiently care for complex patients within emerging accountable care organizations. Drawing from two fields in the service of understanding brain-behavior interactions increases the potential for innovation at their interface. The author concludes that the time has come to increase the neurological and neuroscience content of psychiatry training but not to unite the two fields.

Influence of the HCR-20, LS/CMI, and PCL-R on Decisions About Parole Suitability Among Lifers

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 3:21pm

Among 5,181 inmates indeterminately sentenced to life in California who were evaluated for parole suitability between January 2009 and November 2010, 11% were granted parole. After administration of the HCR-20, LS/CMI, and PCL-R, psychologists judged most inmates (78%) to be at low or moderate risk for future violence. This overall risk rating (ORR) was significantly associated with parole suitability decisions. Moderate to large associations were observed between the ORR and all risk indices. The HCR-20 Clinical and Risk Management scales demonstrated the strongest associations with parole suitability decisions. Among the LS/CMI scales, Procriminal Attitudes and Leisure/Recreation were most predictive of failure to obtain parole. PCL-R scores had little influence on parole suitability decisions beyond the HCR-20 and LS/CMI. Overall, findings suggest parole board members' decisions were consistent with empirically supported practice, in that individuals assessed to be at relatively low risk were far more likely to be granted parole than those assessed to be at moderate or high risk for future violence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).