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Cover page of Medical residency match applicants undervalue factors that predict stress and burnout.

Medical residency match applicants undervalue factors that predict stress and burnout.

(2022)

In the medical residency match process, applicants' ranking decisions are influenced by multiple factors related to training, geography, and lifestyle expectations. Ranking decisions directly impact match results, with implications for emotional outcomes such as happiness and stress. The present study explored the decision factors considered most important by applicants when creating rank order lists (ROLs), and how match outcomes and program factors predicted happiness, enthusiasm, stress, and life satisfaction. Senior medical students (n = 182) at a large public university in California completed surveys at three timepoints, spanning from shortly before Match Day to several months into PGY-1. Study findings support that both program-related (e.g., training quality, program size) and non-program-related (e.g., geography, work life balance) factors are important to applicants when making ROL decisions. Applicants who matched with their top choice program initially experienced emotional benefits, but these emotional differences did not persist into PGY-1, where all matched applicants had similar levels of emotion and life satisfaction. The emotional cost and benefits of matching with programs of different ROL positions (e.g., matching with top-choice program or not) were most apparent shortly after matching but in the long-term, a stronger predictor of PGY-1 emotions was perceived person-program alignment. Person-program alignment (e.g., call schedule, patient caseload) also predicted burnout in the first few months of a residency program. These findings show that, when applicants are making ranking decisions, they undervalue factors that predict stress and burnout during residency.

Cover page of Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings before the 2020-21 winter surge of COVID-19 in the United States.

Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings before the 2020-21 winter surge of COVID-19 in the United States.

(2022)

Objective

COVID-19 in the US disproportionately affected, and continues to affect, racial/ethnic minorities. Although risky social gatherings for Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2020 contributed substantially to the "winter surge" in cases and deaths, no research examines potential racial/ethnic differences in behaviors related to holiday gatherings.

Design

We used the Understanding America Survey (UAS) - Coronavirus Tracking, a nationally representative study of US adults, to examine associations between race/ethnicity and risky holiday gathering behavior (i.e., gathering with non-household members and with little to no social distancing or mask-wearing). We applied logistic regression models to examine racial/ethnic and socioeconomic differences in risky holiday gatherings while accounting for a person's pre-holiday perception of COVID-19 risk as well as related behaviors.

Results

Non-Hispanic Black adults showed a lower prevalence of attending a risky Thanksgiving gathering than did non-Hispanic White adults (15 % vs 43 %, p <.001). The magnitude of this racial/ethnic difference was also found for risky Christmas gatherings. Hispanic and "Other" race/ethnicity adults also appeared less likely than non-Hispanic whites to attend a risky holiday gathering. Higher-income households attended a risky holiday gathering more frequently, when compared with lower income households (p <.001). Logistic regression results, which controlled for other COVID-19 related behaviors, support these main findings.

Conclusions

Racial/ethnic minorities, and non-Hispanic Black adults in particular, appeared least likely to have engaged in risky holiday gatherings in late 2020. If replicated, our findings appear consistent with the notion that behavioral modification among racial/ethnic minorities may have reduced the intensity of the 2020/21 "winter surge" in COVID-19.

Cover page of The Serological Sciences Network (SeroNet) for COVID-19: Depth and Breadth of Serology Assays and Plans for Assay Harmonization.

The Serological Sciences Network (SeroNet) for COVID-19: Depth and Breadth of Serology Assays and Plans for Assay Harmonization.

(2022)

In October 2020, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Serological Sciences Network (SeroNet) was established to study the immune response to COVID-19, and "to develop, validate, improve, and implement serological testing and associated technologies" (https://www.cancer.gov/research/key-initiatives/covid-19/coronavirus-research-initiatives/serological-sciences-network). SeroNet is comprised of 25 participating research institutions partnering with the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR) and the SeroNet Coordinating Center. Since its inception, SeroNet has supported collaborative development and sharing of COVID-19 serological assay procedures and has set forth plans for assay harmonization. To facilitate collaboration and procedure sharing, a detailed survey was sent to collate comprehensive assay details and performance metrics on COVID-19 serological assays within SeroNet. In addition, FNLCR established a protocol to calibrate SeroNet serological assays to reference standards, such as the U.S. severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) serology standard reference material and first WHO international standard (IS) for anti-SARS-CoV-2 immunoglobulin (20/136), to facilitate harmonization of assay reporting units and cross-comparison of study data. SeroNet institutions reported development of a total of 27 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) methods, 13 multiplex assays, and 9 neutralization assays and use of 12 different commercial serological methods. FNLCR developed a standardized protocol for SeroNet institutions to calibrate these diverse serological assays to reference standards. In conclusion, SeroNet institutions have established a diverse array of COVID-19 serological assays to study the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 and vaccines. Calibration of SeroNet serological assays to harmonize results reporting will facilitate future pooled data analyses and study cross-comparisons. IMPORTANCE SeroNet institutions have developed or implemented 61 diverse COVID-19 serological assays and are collaboratively working to harmonize these assays using reference materials to establish standardized reporting units. This will facilitate clinical interpretation of serology results and cross-comparison of research data.

Cover page of A cognitive neurogenetic approach to uncovering the structure of executive functions.

A cognitive neurogenetic approach to uncovering the structure of executive functions.

(2022)

One central mission of cognitive neuroscience is to understand the ontology of complex cognitive functions. We addressed this question with a cognitive neurogenetic approach using a large-scale dataset of executive functions (EFs), whole-brain resting-state functional connectivity, and genetic polymorphisms. We found that the bifactor model with common and shifting-specific components not only was parsimonious but also showed maximal dissociations among the EF components at behavioral, neural, and genetic levels. In particular, the genes with enhanced expression in the middle frontal gyrus (MFG) and the subcallosal cingulate gyrus (SCG) showed enrichment for the common and shifting-specific component, respectively. Finally, High-dimensional mediation models further revealed that the functional connectivity patterns significantly mediated the genetic effect on the common EF component. Our study not only reveals insights into the ontology of EFs and their neurogenetic basis, but also provides useful tools to uncover the structure of complex constructs of human cognition.

Cover page of The messy landscape of eye movements and false memories.

The messy landscape of eye movements and false memories.

(2022)

Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a common treatment for PTSD. However, skeptics like James Ost question the theoretical underpinnings, highlight inconsistency of empirical findings surrounding the efficacy of such therapy, and warn against unknown drawbacks. Little is known about the impact of the eye movements, a critical component in EMDR, on susceptibility to false memories, and the existing literature is contradictory. We review the literature and present new findings to help tell the story of the effects of eye movements on memory. Taken as a whole, this small body of work suggests that eye movements do not reliably affect susceptibility to misinformation, nor do they appear to enhance memory, but they do seem to increase spontaneous false memories.

Cover page of Women with lower systemic inflammation demonstrate steeper cognitive decline with age: Results from a large prospective, longitudinal sample.

Women with lower systemic inflammation demonstrate steeper cognitive decline with age: Results from a large prospective, longitudinal sample.

(2022)

Background

Men and women experience large disparities in prevalence, detection, and clinical course of neurodegenerative diseases. Inflammation has been implicated in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, yet there is a paucity of literature documenting sex differences in this phenomenon in prospective, longitudinal studies.

Methods

Participants were 4217 non-smoking individuals (62.2% female; aged 46-91 at enrollment) enrolled in the Health and Retirement Study who provided dried blood spots and completed a standardized assessment of cognitive function 3 times across 8 years. Inflammation was indexed using C-reactive protein (CRP).

Results

Higher CRP was associated with lower concurrent cognitive function, b = -0.13 (SE = 0.06), p < .05, but less decline in cognitive function over time, b = 0.02 (SE = 0.01), p < .05. Sex moderated the association between CRP and decline in total cognitive function, b = 0.02 (SE = 0.01), p < .05, such that the steepest declines in cognitive function were observed among women with the lowest CRP concentrations.

Conclusions

Women with lower systemic inflammation as measured by CRP may be at risk of going undetected for neurodegenerative disease, especially given their overall higher cognitive scores. This may perpetuate sex-related disparities in prevention and clinical course. Attention to the underlying biological mechanisms explaining the link between lower CRP and risk for cognitive decline for women and its potential clinical implications are needed.

Cover page of Psychoneuroimmunology in the time of COVID-19: Why neuro-immune interactions matter for mental and physical health.

Psychoneuroimmunology in the time of COVID-19: Why neuro-immune interactions matter for mental and physical health.

(2022)

The brain and immune system are intricately connected, and perturbations in one system have direct effects on the other. This review focuses on these dynamic psychoneuroimmune interactions and their implications for mental and physical health in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, we describe how psychological states influence antiviral immunity and the vaccine response, and how immune changes triggered by COVID (either via infection with SARS-CoV-2 or associated stressors) can influence the brain with effects on cognition, emotion, and behavior. We consider negative psychological states, which have been the primary focus of psychological research in the context of COVID-19 (and psychoneuroimmunology more generally). We also consider positive psychological states, including positive affect and eudaimonic well-being, given increasing evidence for their importance as modulators of immunity. We finish with a discussion of interventions that may be effective in improving immune function, the neuro-immune axis, and ultimately, mental and physical health.

Cover page of Applying Interleaving Strategy of Learning Materials and Perceptual Modality to Address Secondary Students' Need to Restore Cognitive Capacity.

Applying Interleaving Strategy of Learning Materials and Perceptual Modality to Address Secondary Students' Need to Restore Cognitive Capacity.

(2022)

Online courses are prevalent around the world, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Long hours of highly demanding online learning can lead to mental fatigue and cognitive depletion. According to Attention Restoration Theory, 'being away' or a mental shift could be an important strategy to allow a person to recover from the cognitive overload. The present study aimed to test the interleaving strategy as a mental shift method to help sustain students' online learning attention and to improve learning outcomes. A total of 81 seventh-grade Chinese students were randomly assigned to four learning conditions: blocked (by subject matter) micro-lectures with auditory textual information (B-A condition), blocked (by subject matter) micro-lectures with visual textual information (B-V condition), interleaved (by subject matter) micro-lectures with auditory textual information (I-A condition), and interleaved micro-lectures by both perceptual modality and subject matter (I-all condition). We collected self-reported data on subjective cognitive load (SCL) and attention level, EEG data during the 40 min of online learning, and test results to assess learning outcomes. The results showed that the I-all condition showed the best overall outcomes (best performance, low SCL, and high attention). This study suggests that interleaving by both subject matter and perceptual modality should be preferred in scheduling and planning online classes.

Cover page of Association between genetic and socioenvironmental risk for schizophrenia during upbringing in a UK longitudinal cohort.

Association between genetic and socioenvironmental risk for schizophrenia during upbringing in a UK longitudinal cohort.

(2022)

Background

Associations of socioenvironmental features like urbanicity and neighborhood deprivation with psychosis are well-established. An enduring question, however, is whether these associations are causal. Genetic confounding could occur due to downward mobility of individuals at high genetic risk for psychiatric problems into disadvantaged environments.

Methods

We examined correlations of five indices of genetic risk [polygenic risk scores (PRS) for schizophrenia and depression, maternal psychotic symptoms, family psychiatric history, and zygosity-based latent genetic risk] with multiple area-, neighborhood-, and family-level risks during upbringing. Data were from the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, a nationally-representative cohort of 2232 British twins born in 1994-1995 and followed to age 18 (93% retention). Socioenvironmental risks included urbanicity, air pollution, neighborhood deprivation, neighborhood crime, neighborhood disorder, social cohesion, residential mobility, family poverty, and a cumulative environmental risk scale. At age 18, participants were privately interviewed about psychotic experiences.

Results

Higher genetic risk on all indices was associated with riskier environments during upbringing. For example, participants with higher schizophrenia PRS (OR = 1.19, 95% CI = 1.06-1.33), depression PRS (OR = 1.20, 95% CI = 1.08-1.34), family history (OR = 1.25, 95% CI = 1.11-1.40), and latent genetic risk (OR = 1.21, 95% CI = 1.07-1.38) had accumulated more socioenvironmental risks for schizophrenia by age 18. However, associations between socioenvironmental risks and psychotic experiences mostly remained significant after covariate adjustment for genetic risk.

Conclusion

Genetic risk is correlated with socioenvironmental risk for schizophrenia during upbringing, but the associations between socioenvironmental risk and adolescent psychotic experiences appear, at present, to exist above and beyond this gene-environment correlation.