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-- Despite living in strong and supportive families for over 20 years, many children exposed to severe early deprivation in Romanian institutions aged 0-3 experience a range of mental health problems in early adulthood. Experiencing severe deprivation and neglect in childhood can have a lasting psychological impact into early adulthood, according to a unique study which has followed the mental health of a group of children adopted from Romanian institutions to UK families in the 1990s. Published in The Lancet, this is the first large-scale study to follow a group of children who were subjected to extreme deprivation into adulthood, tracking how their mental health and cognition has developed as a result. The English and Romanian Adoptees study began shortly after the fall of the communist regime in Romania. Children living in institutions were subjected to extremely poor hygiene, insufficient food, little personalised care and no social or cognitive stimulation. The study, running since 1990, analyses the mental health of 165 children who spent time in Romanian institutions and who were adopted by families in the UK between the ages of two weeks and 43 months. In the UK, they joined socioeconomically advantaged, stable, caring and supportive families. Comparing against 52 children adopted within the UK, the study has followed them throughout their childhood using questionnaires, IQ tests and interviews with the children and their parents to analyse social, emotional and cognitive outcomes at ages 6, 11 and 15. The latest part of the study followed the adoptees to ages 22 to 25 years old. It includes around three-quarters of the original adoptees - 39 UK adoptees, 50 Romanian adoptees who had spent less than six months in an institution as children and 72 who had spent over six months. The researchers found that the amount of time spent in a Romanian institution was an important marker of children's future mental health. Romanian adoptees who had spent less than six months had similar rates of mental health symptoms as UK adoptees. However, adoptees who had spent more time in the institutions had higher rates of social, emotional and cognitive problems throughout their lives. People who had lived in Romanian institutions for more than six months as children had higher rates of social problems including autistic features, difficulties engaging with others, inattention and overactivity which persisted from childhood into adulthood. They were also three to four times more likely to experience emotional problems as adults, and had lower educational attainment and employment rates than the other UK and Romanian adoptees. This all despite living in strong and supportive families for over 20 years. As children, more adoptees who lived in Romanian institutions for over six months had an IQ of less than 80, but this recovered within normal levels (an IQ of 90 or above) by early adulthood, suggesting developmental delays but no permanent impact on general cognitive abilities. Additionally, one in five (21%, 15 children) adoptees who spent over six months in Romanian institutions did not experience any mental health problems throughout their lives. The next steps of the research will involve an in-depth genetic analysis of the most exposed adoptees who did not develop mental health problems to distinguish whether genetic and epigenetic differences contribute to resilience. "Being exposed to very severe conditions in childhood can be associated with lasting and deep-seated social, emotional and cognitive problems, which are complex and vary over time," said lead author Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke, King's College London, UK, who conducted the follow-up study while at the University of Southampton. "This highlights the importance of assessing patients from deprived backgrounds when providing mental health support and carefully planning care when these patients transfer from child to adult mental health care. Although focussed on children adopted from Romanian institutions in the early 1990s, our findings may also be relevant to large numbers of children who are still exposed to abusive or neglectful conditions around the world." [1] Because the children were different ages when they entered institutions and lived there for different amounts of time, the study could not determine whether there is a window during childhood development when children may be more or less likely to be affected by deprivation. In addition, it cannot control for other early risk factors affecting the child's mental health, such as maternal smoking or substance abuse during pregnancy, but the authors argue that there are unlikely to be significant differences among the two groups of Romanian adoptees. Writing in a linked Comment, Professor Frank Verhulst, Erasmus University Medical Centre, The Netherlands, said: "Whatever the underlying mechanisms, the findings of Sonuga-Barke and colleagues' study elegantly support the rule of the earlier the better for improving the caregiving environment for young children whose basic needs are profoundly violated. This finding is true for millions of children around the world who are exposed to war, terrorism, violence, or mass migration. As a consequence, many young children face trauma, displacement, homelessness, or family disruption." From its beginning the study was funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, the UK Medical Research Council, the UK Department of Health, the Jacobs Foundation and the Nuffield Foundation. It was conducted by scientists from the University of Southampton, King's College London, Ruhr University Bochum, The Amy Winehouse Foundation and the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics. [1] Quote direct from author and cannot be found in the text of the Article. IF YOU WISH TO PROVIDE A LINK FOR YOUR READERS, PLEASE USE THE FOLLOWING, WHICH WILL GO LIVE AT THE TIME THE EMBARGO LIFTS: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(17)30045-4/fulltext


Skoluda N.,University of Marburg | Strahler J.,University of Marburg | Schlotz W.,Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics | Niederberger L.,University of Zürich | And 6 more authors.
Psychoneuroendocrinology | Year: 2015

Objectives: The phenomenon of stress is understood as a multidimensional concept which can be captured by psychological and physiological measures. There are various laboratory stress protocols which enable stress to be investigated under controlled conditions. However, little is known about whether these protocols differ with regard to the induced psycho-physiological stress response pattern. Methods: In a within-subjects design, 20 healthy young men underwent four of the most common stress protocols (Stroop test [Stroop], cold pressor test [CPT], Trier Social Stress Test [TSST], and bicycle ergometer test [Ergometer]) and a no-stress control condition (rest) in a randomized order. For the multidimensional assessment of the stress response, perceived stress, endocrine and autonomic biomarkers (salivary cortisol, salivary alpha-amylase, and heart rate) were obtained during the experiments. Results: All stress protocols evoked increases in perceived stress levels, with the highest levels in the TSST, followed by Ergometer, Stroop, and CPT. The highest HPA axis response was found in the TSST, followed by Ergometer, CPT, and Stroop, whilst the highest autonomic response was found in the Ergometer, followed by TSST, Stroop, and CPT. Conclusions: These findings suggest that different stress protocols differentially stimulate various aspects of the stress response. Physically demanding stress protocols such as the Ergometer test appear to be particularly suitable for evoking autonomic stress responses, whereas uncontrollable and social-evaluative threatening stressors (such as the TSST) are most likely to elicit HPA axis stress responses. The results of this study may help researchers in deciding which stress protocol to use, depending on the individual research question. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Arnal L.H.,University of Geneva | Arnal L.H.,New York University | Flinker A.,New York University | Kleinschmidt A.,University of Geneva | And 3 more authors.
Current Biology | Year: 2015

Screaming is arguably one of the most relevant communication signals for survival in humans. Despite their practical relevance and their theoretical significance as innate [1] and virtually universal [2, 3] vocalizations, what makes screams a unique signal and how they are processed is not known. Here, we use acoustic analyses, psychophysical experiments, and neuroimaging to isolate those features that confer to screams their alarming nature, and we track their processing in the human brain. Using the modulation power spectrum (MPS [4, 5]), a recently developed, neurally informed characterization of sounds, we demonstrate that human screams cluster within restricted portion of the acoustic space (between ∼30 and 150 Hz modulation rates) that corresponds to a well-known perceptual attribute, roughness. In contrast to the received view that roughness is irrelevant for communication [6], our data reveal that the acoustic space occupied by the rough vocal regime is segregated from other signals, including speech, a pre-requisite to avoid false alarms in normal vocal communication. We show that roughness is present in natural alarm signals as well as in artificial alarms and that the presence of roughness in sounds boosts their detection in various tasks. Using fMRI, we show that acoustic roughness engages subcortical structures critical to rapidly appraise danger. Altogether, these data demonstrate that screams occupy a privileged acoustic niche that, being separated from other communication signals, ensures their biological and ultimately social efficiency. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


Omigie D.,Lille University of Science and Technology | Omigie D.,University Pierre and Marie Curie | Omigie D.,French National Center for Scientific Research | Omigie D.,French Institute of Health and Medical Research | And 2 more authors.
Neuropsychology Review | Year: 2014

The current review examines the possibility that training-related changes that take place in the brains of musicians may have a beneficial effect on their cognitive outcome and recovery following neurological damage. First, we propose three different mechanisms by which training-related brain changes might result in relatively preserved function in musicians as compared to non-musicians with cerebral lesions. Next, we review the neuropsychological literature examining musical ability in professional musicians following brain damage, specifically of vascular, tumoral and epileptic aetiology. Finally, given that assessment of musician patients can greatly inform our understanding of the influence of premorbid experience on postmorbid recovery, we suggest some basic guidelines for the future evaluation of relevant patients. © 2014, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


Pfordresher P.Q.,State University of New York at Buffalo | Larrouy-Maestri P.,State University of New York at Buffalo | Larrouy-Maestri P.,University of Liège | Larrouy-Maestri P.,Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience | Year: 2015

In recent years there has been a remarkable increase in research focusing on deficits of pitch production in singing. A critical concern has been the identification of “poor pitch singers,” which we refer to more generally as individuals having a “vocal pitch imitation deficit.” The present paper includes a critical assessment of the assumption that vocal pitch imitation abilities can be treated as a dichotomy. Though this practice may be useful for data analysis and may be necessary within educational practice, we argue that this approach is complicated by a series of problems. Moreover, we argue that a more informative (and less problematic) approach comes from analyzing vocal pitch imitation abilities on a continuum, referred to as effect magnitude regression, and offer examples concerning how researchers may analyze data using this approach. We also argue that the understanding of this deficit may be better served by focusing on the effects of experimental manipulations on different individuals, rather than attempt to treat values of individual measures, and isolated tasks, as absolute measures of ability. © 2015 Pfordresher and Larrouy-Maestri.


Koelsch S.,Free University of Berlin | Jacobs A.M.,Free University of Berlin | Jacobs A.M.,Center for Cognitive Neuroscience Berlin | Jacobs A.M.,Dahlem Institute For Neuroimaging Of Emotion Dine | And 5 more authors.
Physics of Life Reviews | Year: 2015

Despite an explosion of research in the affective sciences during the last few decades, interdisciplinary theories of human emotions are lacking. Here we present a neurobiological theory of emotions that includes emotions which are uniquely human (such as complex moral emotions), considers the role of language for emotions, advances the understanding of neural correlates of attachment-related emotions, and integrates emotion theories from different disciplines. We propose that four classes of emotions originate from four neuroanatomically distinct cerebral systems. These emotional core systems constitute a quartet of affect systems: the brainstem-, diencephalon-, hippocampus-, and orbitofrontal-centred affect systems. The affect systems were increasingly differentiated during the course of evolution, and each of these systems generates a specific class of affects (e.g., ascending activation, pain/pleasure, attachment-related affects, and moral affects). The affect systems interact with each other, and activity of the affect systems has effects on - and interacts with - biological systems denoted here as emotional effector systems. These effector systems include motor systems (which produce actions, action tendencies, and motoric expression of emotion), peripheral physiological arousal, as well as attentional and memory systems. Activity of affect systems and effector systems is synthesized into an emotion percept (pre-verbal subjective feeling), which can be transformed (or reconfigured) into a symbolic code such as language. Moreover, conscious cognitive appraisal (involving rational thought, logic, and usually language) can regulate, modulate, and partly initiate, activity of affect systems and effector systems. Our emotion theory integrates psychological, neurobiological, sociological, anthropological, and psycholinguistic perspectives on emotions in an interdisciplinary manner, aiming to advance the understanding of human emotions and their neural correlates. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.


Overath T.,Duke University | Overath T.,New York University | McDermott J.H.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Zarate J.M.,New York University | And 2 more authors.
Nature Neuroscience | Year: 2015

Speech contains temporal structure that the brain must analyze to enable linguistic processing. To investigate the neural basis of this analysis, we used sound quilts, stimuli constructed by shuffling segments of a natural sound, approximately preserving its properties on short timescales while disrupting them on longer scales. We generated quilts from foreign speech to eliminate language cues and manipulated the extent of natural acoustic structure by varying the segment length. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we identified bilateral regions of the superior temporal sulcus (STS) whose responses varied with segment length. This effect was absent in primary auditory cortex and did not occur for quilts made from other natural sounds or acoustically matched synthetic sounds, suggesting tuning to speech-specific spectrotemporal structure. When examined parametrically, the STS response increased with segment length up to â 1/4500 ms. Our results identify a locus of speech analysis in human auditory cortex that is distinct from lexical, semantic or syntactic processes. © 2015 Nature America, Inc.


Poeppel D.,New York University | Poeppel D.,Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics
Current Opinion in Neurobiology | Year: 2014

New tools and new ideas have changed how we think about the neurobiological foundations of speech and language processing. This perspective focuses on two areas of progress. First, focusing on spatial organization in the human brain, the revised functional anatomy for speech and language is discussed. The complexity of the network organization undermines the well-regarded classical model and suggests looking for more granular computational primitives, motivated both by linguistic theory and neural circuitry. Second, focusing on recent work on temporal organization, a potential role of cortical oscillations for speech processing is outlined. Such an implementational-level mechanism suggests one way to deal with the computational challenge of segmenting natural speech. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.


Rimmele J.M.,University of Hamburg | Sussman E.,Yeshiva University | Poeppel D.,New York University | Poeppel D.,Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics
International Journal of Psychophysiology | Year: 2015

Listening situations with multiple talkers or background noise are common in everyday communication and are particularly demanding for older adults. Here we review current research on auditory perception in aging individuals in order to gain insights into the challenges of listening under noisy conditions.Informationally rich temporal structure in auditory signals - over a range of time scales from milliseconds to seconds - renders temporal processing central to perception in the auditory domain. We discuss the role of temporal structure in auditory processing, in particular from a perspective relevant for hearing in background noise, and focusing on sensory memory, auditory scene analysis, and speech perception.Interestingly, these auditory processes, usually studied in an independent manner, show considerable overlap of processing time scales, even though each has its own 'privileged' temporal regimes. By integrating perspectives on temporal structure processing in these three areas of investigation, we aim to highlight similarities typically not recognized. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.


Omigie D.,Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics
Cognitive Neuroscience | Year: 2015

Elucidating the cognitive, affective, and reward processes that take place during music listening is the aim of a growing number of researchers. Several authors have used the Bayesian brain framework and existing models of reward to interpret neural activity observed during musical listening. The claims from Friston and colleagues regarding the role of dopamine, as well as the demonstration that salience-seeking behavior naturally emerges from minimizing free energy, will be of potential interest to those seeking to understand the general principles underlying our motivation to hear music. © 2015 Taylor & Francis.

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