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Derntl B.,University of Vienna | Derntl B.,RWTH Aachen | Habel U.,RWTH Aachen | Habel U.,JARA BRAIN Julich Aachen Research Alliance
European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience | Year: 2011

Research on social cognition focuses on several human abilities with a huge diversity in the approaches to tap the different functions. Empathy, for instance, is a rather elaborated human ability, and several recent studies point to significant impairments in patients suffering from psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia or autism. Neuroimaging data from these patients commonly indicate neural dysfunctions accompanying the behavioral deficits. Studying the neural correlates of social cognition is of particular importance, because deficits in these domains may explain the major dysfunctions in psychiatric disorders that prevent effective (re) integration into work and social life. It has also become clearer that social cognition deficits, similar to emotion dysfunctions, may represent trait markers and endophenotypes of the diseases. However, there are several challenges for future studies on social cognitive dysfunctions: on the one hand, the complexity of the constructs and thus the variety of definitions which make it hard to develop adequate tasks. On the other hand, results are needed that particularly address the disorder specificity of these impairments, as well as their potential as endophenotypes via analyzing people at high-risk and their relatives. © 2011 Springer-Verlag. Source

Voigt A.,RWTH Aachen | Herholz D.,European Neuroscience Institute Gottingen | Fiesel F.C.,German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases | Kaur K.,RWTH Aachen | And 7 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Alteration and/or mutations of the ribonucleoprotein TDP-43 have been firmly linked to human neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). The relative impacts of TDP-43 alteration, mutation, or inherent protein function on neural integrity, however, remain less clear-a situation confounded by conflicting reports based on transient and/or random-insertion transgenic expression. We therefore performed a stringent comparative investigation of impacts of these TDP-43 modifications on neural integrity in vivo. To achieve this, we systematically screened ALS/FTLD-associated and synthetic TDP-43 isoforms via same-site gene insertion and neural expression in Drosophila; followed by transposon-based motor neuron-specific transgenesis in a chick vertebrate system. Using this bi-systemic approach we uncovered a requirement of inherent TDP-43 RNA-binding function-but not ALS/FTLD-linked mutation, mislocalization, or truncation-for TDP-43-mediated neurotoxicity in vivo. © 2010 Voigt et al. Source

Derntl B.,University of Vienna | Derntl B.,RWTH Aachen | Derntl B.,JARA BRAIN Julich Aachen Research Alliance | Seidel E.-M.,University of Vienna | And 4 more authors.
Schizophrenia Research | Year: 2012

Empathy is a rather elaborated human ability and several recent studies highlight significant impairments in patients suffering from psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression. Therefore, the present study aimed at comparing behavioral empathy performance in schizophrenia, bipolar and depressed patients with healthy controls. All subjects performed three tasks tapping the core components of empathy: emotion recognition, emotional perspective taking and affective responsiveness. Groups were matched for age, gender, and verbal intelligence. Data analysis revealed three main findings: First, schizophrenia patients showed the strongest impairment in empathic performance followed by bipolar patients while depressed patients performed similar to controls in most tasks, except for affective responsiveness. Second, a significant association between clinical characteristics and empathy performance was only apparent in depression, indicating worse affective responsiveness with stronger symptom severity and longer duration of illness. Third, self-report data indicate that particularly bipolar patients describe themselves as less empathic, reporting less empathic concern and less perspective taking. Taken together, this study constitutes the first approach to directly compare specificity of empathic deficits in severe psychiatric disorders. Our results suggest disorder-specific impairments in emotional competencies that enable better characterization of the patient groups investigated and indicate different psychotherapeutic interventions. © 2012 Elsevier B.V. Source

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