Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences - Research Publications

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    Social cognitive determinants of ecstasy use to target in evidence-based interventions: a meta-analytical review
    Peters, G-JY ; Kok, G ; Abraham, C (WILEY, 2008-01-01)
    AIMS: The health hazards and prevalence of ecstasy use have been documented in two decades of research, but no review reporting on potentially modifiable antecedents of use is available. The aim of this study was to integrate systematically research identifying cognitive correlates of ecstasy use. Such research has the potential to identify targets for evidence-based interventions designed to discourage use. METHODS: The databases PsycINFO and MedLine were searched, inclusion criteria applied to resulting hits, and descendency and ancestry approaches applied to the selected publications. Reported associations between cognitive determinants, including intention to use and ecstasy use measures, were synthesized by calculating a weighted mean effect size, r. RESULTS: The pattern of associations lent support both to the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) and the expectancy approach as descriptions of potentially useful determinants. Attitudes were associated most strongly with intention and use, followed by subjective norm and perceived behavioural control. CONCLUSIONS: Consideration of the strength of associations and the potential modifiability of identified cognitions suggests that evidence-based interventions to discourage ecstasy use should target negative expectancies, perceived behavioural control and anticipated regret, and consider tailoring perceived behavioural control elements.
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    Dynamic causal modelling for EEG and MEG
    Kiebel, SJ ; Garrido, MI ; Moran, RJ ; Friston, KJ (SPRINGER, 2008-06-01)
    Dynamic Causal Modelling (DCM) is an approach first introduced for the analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to quantify effective connectivity between brain areas. Recently, this framework has been extended and established in the magneto/encephalography (M/EEG) domain. DCM for M/EEG entails the inversion a full spatiotemporal model of evoked responses, over multiple conditions. This model rests on a biophysical and neurobiological generative model for electrophysiological data. A generative model is a prescription of how data are generated. The inversion of a DCM provides conditional densities on the model parameters and, indeed on the model itself. These densities enable one to answer key questions about the underlying system. A DCM comprises two parts; one part describes the dynamics within and among neuronal sources, and the second describes how source dynamics generate data in the sensors, using the lead-field. The parameters of this spatiotemporal model are estimated using a single (iterative) Bayesian procedure. In this paper, we will motivate and describe the current DCM framework. Two examples show how the approach can be applied to M/EEG experiments.
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    Schizophrenia-like psychosis and aceruloplasminemia.
    Walterfang, M ; March, E ; Varghese, D ; Miller, K ; Simpson, L ; Tomlinson, B ; Velakoulis, D (Informa UK Limited, 2006-12)
    Schizophrenia-like illnesses occur in a variety of medical and neurological conditions but to date have not been described in association with aceruloplasminemia. Aceruloplasminemia is an autosomal recessive disorder of iron metabolism which leads to iron deposition in the basal ganglia, thalamus, cerebellum and hippocampus and which usually presents in middle age with extrapyramidal symptoms and dementia. We describe a 21-year-old woman on treatment for aceruloplasminemia who presented with schizophrenia-like psychosis and declining function in the absence of neurological signs. Neuropsychological testing showed significant dominant hemisphere deficits. Magnetic resonance imaging showed bilateral iron deposition in the cerebellar dentate nuclei and thalami, frontal atrophy, and periventricular white matter hyperintensities. Functional imaging suggested global hypoperfusion. The clinical, cognitive and imaging findings were not typical for either aceruloplasminemia or schizophrenia alone and the possible relationship between the two disorders is discussed with particular reference to implications for our understanding of schizophrenia.
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    Meeting the support and information needs of women with advanced breast cancer: a randomised controlled trial
    Aranda, S ; Schofield, P ; Weih, L ; Milne, D ; Yates, P ; Faulkner, R (NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP, 2006-09-18)
    Addressing psychosocial and quality of life needs is central to provision of excellent care for people with advanced cancer. This study tested a brief nurse-delivered intervention to address the needs of urban women with advanced breast cancer. This study was conducted at four large urban hospitals in Australia. One hundred and five women with advanced breast cancer were recruited and randomised to receive the intervention or usual care, then asked to complete the European Organisation of Research and Treatment of Quality of life Q-C30 version (2.0) (EORTC Q-C30) (version 2) and Supportive Care Needs Survey (SCNS) at 1 month and 3 months postrecruitment. No significant differences were detected between intervention and usual care groups in the SCNS or the EORTC Q-C30 subscale scores. However, when the groups were divided into high needs (score of above 50) and low baseline needs (score of 50 or below) for each SCNS subscale, a significant difference between intervention and usual care groups was found in the psychological/emotional subscale among women with high baseline needs. In conclusions, this study demonstrated that a face-to-face session and follow-up phone call with a breast care nurse significantly reduced the psychological and emotional needs of those with high initial needs. There was no evidence of the intervention influencing the quality of life; or perceived needs of women with low initial psychological/emotional needs or perceived needs in other domains. Possibly, the intervention was not sufficiently intense to achieve an effect.
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    How does increasingly plainer cigarette packaging influence adult smokers' perceptions about brand image? An experimental study
    Wakefield, MA ; Germain, D ; Durkin, SJ (BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2008-12-01)
    BACKGROUND: Cigarette packaging is a key marketing strategy for promoting brand image. Plain packaging has been proposed to limit brand image, but tobacco companies would resist removal of branding design elements. METHOD: A 3 (brand types) x 4 (degree of plain packaging) between-subject experimental design was used, using an internet online method, to expose 813 adult Australian smokers to one randomly selected cigarette pack, after which respondents completed ratings of the pack. RESULTS: Compared with current cigarette packs with full branding, cigarette packs that displayed progressively fewer branding design elements were perceived increasingly unfavourably in terms of smokers' appraisals of the packs, the smokers who might smoke such packs, and the inferred experience of smoking a cigarette from these packs. For example, cardboard brown packs with the number of enclosed cigarettes displayed on the front of the pack and featuring only the brand name in small standard font at the bottom of the pack face were rated as significantly less attractive and popular than original branded packs. Smokers of these plain packs were rated as significantly less trendy/stylish, less sociable/outgoing and less mature than smokers of the original pack. Compared with original packs, smokers inferred that cigarettes from these plain packs would be less rich in tobacco, less satisfying and of lower quality tobacco. CONCLUSION: Plain packaging policies that remove most brand design elements are likely to be most successful in removing cigarette brand image associations.
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    The Use of the Cancellation Technique to Quantify the Hermann Grid Illusion
    Howe, PDL ; Livingstone, MS ; Sporns, O (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2007-02-28)
    When observers view a grid of mid-gray lines superimposed on a black background, they report seeing illusory dark gray smudges at the grid intersections, an effect known as the Hermann grid illusion. The strength of the illusion is often measured using the cancellation technique: A white disk is placed over one of these intersections and the luminance of the disk is reduced until the disk disappears. Its luminance at this point, i.e., the disk's detection threshold, is taken to be a measure of the strength of the illusion. Our experiments showed that some distortions of the Hermann grid, which were sufficient to completely disrupt the illusion, did not reduce the disk's detection threshold. This showed that the cancellation technique is not a valid method for measuring the strength of the Hermann grid illusion. Those studies that attempted to use this technique inadvertently studied a different effect known as the blanking phenomenon. We conclude by presenting an explanation for the latter effect.
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    Acquired dyslexia and dysgraphia in Chinese.
    Yin, W ; He, S ; Weekes, BS (Hindawi Limited, 2005)
    Understanding how the mappings between orthography and phonology in alphabetic languages are learned, represented and processed has been enhanced by the cognitive neuropsychological investigation of patients with acquired reading and writing disorders. During the past decade, this methodology has been extended to understanding reading and writing in Chinese leading to new insights about language processing, dyslexia and dysgraphia. The aim of this paper is to review reports of patients who have acquired dyslexia and acquired dysgraphia in Chinese and describe the functional architecture of the reading and writing system. Our conclusion is that the unique features of Chinese script will determine the symptoms of acquired dyslexia and dysgraphia in Chinese.
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    Deep dysgraphia in Turkish.
    Raman, I ; Weekes, BS (Hindawi Limited, 2005)
    Deep dysgraphic patients make semantic errors when writing to dictation and they cannot write nonwords. Extant reports of deep dysgraphia come from languages with relatively opaque orthographies. Turkish is a transparent orthography because the bidirectional mappings between phonology and orthography are completely predictable. We report BRB, a biscriptal Turkish-English speaker who has acquired dysgraphia characterised by semantic errors as well as effects of grammatical class and imageability on writing in Turkish. Nonword spelling is abolished. A similar pattern of errors is observed in English. BRB is the first report of acquired dysgraphia in a truly transparent writing system. We argue that deep dysgraphia results from damage to the mappings that are common to both languages between word meanings and orthographic representations.
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    What explains between-school differences in rates of smoking?
    Henderson, M ; Ecob, R ; Wight, D ; Abraham, C (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2008-06-20)
    BACKGROUND: Schools have the potential to influence their pupils' behaviour through the school's social organisation and culture (non-formal school characteristics), as well as through the formal curriculum. This paper examines whether these school characteristics (which include a measure of quality of social relationships) can account for school differences in smoking rates. METHODS: This study uses a longitudinal survey involving 5,092 pupils in 24 Scottish schools. Pupils' smoking (at age 15/16), cognitive measures, attitude to school and pupils' rating of teacher pupil relationships (at age 13/14) were linked to school level data comprising teacher assessed quality of pupil-staff relationships, school level deprivation, staying on rates and attendance. Analysis involved multi-level modelling. RESULTS: Overall, 25% of males and 39% of females reported smoking, with rates by school ranging from 8% to 33% for males and from 28% to 49% for females. When individual socio-economic and socio-cultural factors were controlled for there was still a large school effect for males and a smaller (but correlated) school effect for females at 15/16 years. For girls their school effect was explained by their rating of teacher-pupil relationships and attitude to school. These variables were also significant in predicting smoking among boys. However, the school effect for boys was most radically attenuated and became insignificant when the interaction between poor quality of teacher - pupil relationships and school level affluence was fitted, explaining 82% of the variance between schools. In addition, researchers' rating of the schools' focus on caring and inclusiveness was also significantly associated with both male and female smoking rates. CONCLUSION: School-level characteristics have an impact on male and female pupils' rates of smoking up to 15/16 years of age. The size of the school effect is greater for males at this age. The social environment of schools, in particular the quality of teacher-pupil relationships, pupils' attitude to school and the school's focus on caring and inclusiveness, can influence both boys' and girls' smoking. This provides support for the school-wide or "Health Promoting School" approach to smoking prevention.