Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 1216
The molecular genetic basis of music ability and music-related phenotypes
In the past decade, researchers have sought to uncover potential genes that underlie various musical traits through molecular genetic approaches once the genetic basis of a musical trait has been established using behavioral genetic methods. Since the 1980s, progress in molecular genetic technology and bioinformatics has brought about the advent of human molecular genetic approaches, especially for elucidating the genetic mechanisms of complex diseases. In contrast, the investigation of the molecular genetic basis of music ability only began to surface in recent years, with Irma Järvelä, a clinical geneticist at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and her collaborators contributing a sizeable and significant research output on this topic. Although this field is still in its infancy, some exciting and converging results are already beginning to emerge.
Detecting Unidentified Changes
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2014-01-13)
Does becoming aware of a change to a purely visual stimulus necessarily cause the observer to be able to identify or localise the change or can change detection occur in the absence of identification or localisation? Several theories of visual awareness stress that we are aware of more than just the few objects to which we attend. In particular, it is clear that to some extent we are also aware of the global properties of the scene, such as the mean luminance or the distribution of spatial frequencies. It follows that we may be able to detect a change to a visual scene by detecting a change to one or more of these global properties. However, detecting a change to global property may not supply us with enough information to accurately identify or localise which object in the scene has been changed. Thus, it may be possible to reliably detect the occurrence of changes without being able to identify or localise what has changed. Previous attempts to show that this can occur with natural images have produced mixed results. Here we use a novel analysis technique to provide additional evidence that changes can be detected in natural images without also being identified or localised. It is likely that this occurs by the observers monitoring the global properties of the scene.
Transfer of Learning between Hemifields in Multiple Object Tracking: Memory Reduces Constraints of Attention
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-12-11)
Many tasks involve tracking multiple moving objects, or stimuli. Some require that individuals adapt to changing or unfamiliar conditions to be able to track well. This study explores processes involved in such adaptation through an investigation of the interaction of attention and memory during tracking. Previous research has shown that during tracking, attention operates independently to some degree in the left and right visual hemifields, due to putative anatomical constraints. It has been suggested that the degree of independence is related to the relative dominance of processes of attention versus processes of memory. Here we show that when individuals are trained to track a unique pattern of movement in one hemifield, that learning can be transferred to the opposite hemifield, without any evidence of hemifield independence. However, learning is not influenced by an explicit strategy of memorisation of brief periods of recognisable movement. The findings lend support to a role for implicit memory in overcoming putative anatomical constraints on the dynamic, distributed spatial allocation of attention involved in tracking multiple objects.
Hepatitis C Transmission and Treatment in Contact Networks of People Who Inject Drugs
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-11-01)
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) chronically infects over 180 million people worldwide, with over 350,000 estimated deaths attributed yearly to HCV-related liver diseases. It disproportionally affects people who inject drugs (PWID). Currently there is no preventative vaccine and interventions feature long treatment durations with severe side-effects. Upcoming treatments will improve this situation, making possible large-scale treatment interventions. How these strategies should target HCV-infected PWID remains an important unanswered question. Previous models of HCV have lacked empirically grounded contact models of PWID. Here we report results on HCV transmission and treatment using simulated contact networks generated from an empirically grounded network model using recently developed statistical approaches in social network analysis. Our HCV transmission model is a detailed, stochastic, individual-based model including spontaneously clearing nodes. On transmission we investigate the role of number of contacts and injecting frequency on time to primary infection and the role of spontaneously clearing nodes on incidence rates. On treatment we investigate the effect of nine network-based treatment strategies on chronic prevalence and incidence rates of primary infection and re-infection. Both numbers of contacts and injecting frequency play key roles in reducing time to primary infection. The change from "less-" to "more-frequent" injector is roughly similar to having one additional network contact. Nodes that spontaneously clear their HCV infection have a local effect on infection risk and the total number of such nodes (but not their locations) has a network wide effect on the incidence of both primary and re-infection with HCV. Re-infection plays a large role in the effectiveness of treatment interventions. Strategies that choose PWID and treat all their contacts (analogous to ring vaccination) are most effective in reducing the incidence rates of re-infection and combined infection. A strategy targeting infected PWID with the most contacts (analogous to targeted vaccination) is the least effective.
Tobacco smoking predicts depression and poorer quality of life in heart disease
BACKGROUND: We report on the prospective association between smoking and depression and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD). METHODS: Prospective study of 193 patients with assessment of depression occurring 3-, 6- and 9- months (T1, 2, and 3, respectively) following discharge from hospital for a cardiac event. HRQOL was assessed at T3. T1 depression was assessed by clinical interview; T2 and T3 depression was assessed by self-report. Smoking at time of cardiac event was assessed by self-report. Multivariate analyses controlled for known demographic, psychosocial and clinical correlates of depression. RESULTS: Smoking at the time of index cardiac event increased the likelihood of being diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) at T1 by 4.30 [95% CI, 1.12-16.46; p < .05]. The likelihood of receiving a diagnosis of minor depression, dysthymia or MDD as a combined group was increased by 8.03 [95% CI, 2.35-27.46; p < .01]. Smoking did not reliably predict depression at T2 or T3 and did not reliably predict persistent depression. Smoking increased the likelihood of being classified as depressed according to study criteria at least once during the study period by 5.19 [95% CI, 1.51-17.82; p < .01]. Smoking independently predicted worse mental HRQOL. CONCLUSIONS: The findings support a role for smoking as an independent predictor of depression in CAD patients, particularly in the first 3 months post-cardiac event. The well-established imperative to encourage smoking cessation in these patients is augmented and the findings may add to the evidence for smoking cessation campaigns in the primary prevention of depression.
Disparities in reported psychosocial assessment across public and private maternity settings: a national survey of women in Australia
(BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2013-07-04)
BACKGROUND: Psychosocial assessment and depression screening is now recommended for all women who are pregnant or have recently given birth in Australia. Existing studies which have examined the extent of participation by women in such population-based programs have been primarily concerned with depression screening rather than a more comprehensive examination of psychosocial assessment, and have not been sufficiently inclusive of the 30% of women whose maternity care is provided in the private sector. Whether there are disparities in equity of access to perinatal psychosocial assessment is also unknown. METHODS: A sub-sample of women (N = 1804) drawn from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health participated in the study. Overall rates of assessment across five psychosocial domains (current emotional health; mental health history; current level of support; current drug or alcohol use; experience of domestic violence or abuse), as well as receipt of mental health promotion information, were examined. Log binomial regression was performed to investigate whether there were socio-demographic or health system inequalities among women who are and are not assessed across each domain. RESULTS: Two-thirds of women (66.8%) reported being asked about their current emotional health in the antenatal period, increasing to 75.6% of women in the postnatal period. Rates decreased markedly for reported assessment of mental health history (52.9% during pregnancy and 41.2% postnatally). Women were least likely to be asked about their experience of domestic violence or abuse in both the antenatal and postnatal periods (in total, 35.7% and 31.8%, respectively).In terms of equity of access to psychosocial assessment, women who gave birth in the public hospital sector were more likely to report being assessed across all domains of assessment in the antenatal period, compared with women who gave birth in the private sector, after adjusting for other significant covariates. State of residence was associated with reported rates of assessment across all domains in both the antenatal and postnatal periods. Women from non-English speaking backgrounds and women with more than one child were less likely to be assessed across various domains. CONCLUSION: This study provides an important insight into the reported overall penetration of and access to perinatal psychosocial assessment among a sample of women in Australia. Opportunities to minimise the current shortfall in assessment rates, particularly in the private sector, and for ongoing monitoring of assessment activity at a national level are discussed.
Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes: parental perceptions of child health and family functioning and their relationship to adolescent metabolic control
BACKGROUND: Adolescents with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) show less effective metabolic control than other age groups, partly because of biological changes beyond their control and partly because in this period of developmental transition, psychosocial factors can militate against young people upholding their lifestyle and medical regimens. Parents have an important role to play in supporting adolescents to self-manage their disease, but resultant family tensions can be high. In this study, we aimed to assess family functioning and adolescent behaviour/ adjustment and examine the relationships between these parent-reported variables and adolescent metabolic control (HbA1c), self-reported health and diabetes self-care. METHOD: A sample of 76 parents of Australian adolescents with T1D completed the Child Health Questionnaire -Parent form. Their adolescent child with T1D provided their HbA1c level from their most recent clinic visit, their self-reported general health, and completed a measure of diabetes self-care. RESULTS: Parent-reported family conflict was high, as was disease impact on family dynamics and parental stress. Higher HbA1c (poorer metabolic control) and less adequate adolescent self-care were associated with lower levels of family functioning, more adolescent behavioural difficulties and poorer adolescent mental health. CONCLUSIONS: The implication of these findings was discussed in relation to needs for information and support among Australian families with an adolescent with T1D, acknowledging the important dimension of family functioning and relationships in adolescent chronic disease management.
Genome-wide association analysis of eating disorder-related symptoms, behaviors, and personality traits
Eating disorders (EDs) are common, complex psychiatric disorders thought to be caused by both genetic and environmental factors. They share many symptoms, behaviors, and personality traits, which may have overlapping heritability. The aim of the present study is to perform a genome-wide association scan (GWAS) of six ED phenotypes comprising three symptom traits from the Eating Disorders Inventory 2 [Drive for Thinness (DT), Body Dissatisfaction (BD), and Bulimia], Weight Fluctuation symptom, Breakfast Skipping behavior and Childhood Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder trait (CHIRP). Investigated traits were derived from standardized self-report questionnaires completed by the TwinsUK population-based cohort. We tested 283,744 directly typed SNPs across six phenotypes of interest in the TwinsUK discovery dataset and followed-up signals from various strata using a two-stage replication strategy in two independent cohorts of European ancestry. We meta-analyzed a total of 2,698 individuals for DT, 2,680 for BD, 2,789 (821 cases/1,968 controls) for Bulimia, 1,360 (633 cases/727 controls) for Childhood Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder trait, 2,773 (761 cases/2,012 controls) for Breakfast Skipping, and 2,967 (798 cases/2,169 controls) for Weight Fluctuation symptom. In this GWAS analysis of six ED-related phenotypes, we detected association of eight genetic variants with P < 10(-5) . Genetic variants that showed suggestive evidence of association were previously associated with several psychiatric disorders and ED-related phenotypes. Our study indicates that larger-scale collaborative studies will be needed to achieve the necessary power to detect loci underlying ED-related traits.
Hepatitis C Virus Phylogenetic Clustering Is Associated with the Social-Injecting Network in a Cohort of People Who Inject Drugs
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2012-10-26)
It is hypothesized that social networks facilitate transmission of the hepatitis C virus (HCV). We tested for association between HCV phylogeny and reported injecting relationships using longitudinal data from a social network design study. People who inject drugs were recruited from street drug markets in Melbourne, Australia. Interviews and blood tests took place three monthly (during 2005-2008), with participants asked to nominate up to five injecting partners at each interview. The HCV core region of individual isolates was then sequenced and phylogenetic trees were constructed. Genetic clusters were identified using bootstrapping (cut-off: 70%). An adjusted Jaccard similarity coefficient was used to measure the association between the reported injecting relationships and relationships defined by clustering in the phylogenetic analysis (statistical significance assessed using the quadratic assignment procedure). 402 participants consented to participate; 244 HCV infections were observed in 238 individuals. 26 genetic clusters were identified, with 2-7 infections per cluster. Newly acquired infection (AOR = 2.03, 95% CI: 1.04-3.96, p = 0.037, and HCV genotype 3 (vs. genotype 1, AOR = 2.72, 95% CI: 1.48-4.99) were independent predictors of being in a cluster. 54% of participants whose infections were part of a cluster in the phylogenetic analysis reported injecting with at least one other participant in that cluster during the study. Overall, 16% of participants who were infected at study entry and 40% of participants with newly acquired infections had molecular evidence of related infections with at least one injecting partner. Likely transmission clusters identified in phylogenetic analysis correlated with reported injecting relationships (adjusted Jaccard coefficient: 0.300; p<0.001). This is the first study to show that HCV phylogeny is associated with the injecting network, highlighting the importance of the injecting network in HCV transmission.
Can Attention Be Confined to Just Part of a Moving Object? Revisiting Target-Distractor Merging in Multiple Object Tracking
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2012-07-30)
While it was initially thought that attention was space-based, more recent work has shown that attention can also be object-based, in that observers find it easier to attend to different parts of the same object than to different parts of different objects. Such studies have shown that attention more easily spreads throughout an object than between objects. However, it is not known to what extent attention can be confined to just part of an object and to what extent attending to part of an object necessarily causes the entire object to be attended. We have investigated this question in the context of the multiple object tracking paradigm in which subjects are shown a scene containing a number of identical moving objects and asked to mentally track a subset of them, the targets, while not tracking the remainder, the distractors. Previous work has shown that joining each target to a distractor by a solid connector so that each target-distractor pair forms a single physical object, a technique known as target-distractor merging, makes it hard to track the targets, suggesting that attention cannot be restricted to just parts of objects. However, in that study the target-distractor pairs continuously changed length, which in itself would have made tracking difficult. Here we show that it remains difficult to track the targets even when the target-distractor pairs do not change length and even when the targets can be differentiated from the connectors that join them to the distractors. Our experiments suggest that it is hard to confine attention to just parts of objects, at least in the case of moving objects.
The Categorisation of Non-Categorical Colours: A Novel Paradigm in Colour Perception
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-03-25)
In this paper, we investigate a new paradigm for studying the development of the colour 'signal' by having observers discriminate and categorize the same set of controlled and calibrated cardinal coloured stimuli. Notably, in both tasks, each observer was free to decide whether two pairs of colors were the same or belonged to the same category. The use of the same stimulus set for both tasks provides, we argue, an incremental behavioural measure of colour processing from detection through discrimination to categorisation. The measured data spaces are different for the two tasks, and furthermore the categorisation data is unique to each observer. In addition, we develop a model which assumes that the principal difference between the tasks is the degree of similarity between the stimuli which has different constraints for the categorisation task compared to the discrimination task. This approach not only makes sense of the current (and associated) data but links the processes of discrimination and categorisation in a novel way and, by implication, expands upon the previous research linking categorisation to other tasks not limited to colour perception.