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Author: Adam J Guastella (78)


Dec
1969

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are complex, pervasive, and heterogeneous neurodevelopmental conditions with varying trajectories, significant male bias and largely unknown etiology. However, an understanding of the biological mechanisms driving pathophysiology is evolving. Immune system aberrations, as identified through cytokine profiles, are believed to have a role in ASD.

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Dec
2017

There is increasing evidence for associations between polymorphisms of the oxytocin receptor (OXTR) gene and autism spectrum disorder, but to date no study has established links with autistic traits in healthy subjects and potential cultural differences. The present research firstly investigated associations between three widely studied OXTR SNPs and autistic and empathic traits (rs53576 (G/A); rs2254298 (G/A); rs2268498 (T/C)) in two independent studies on male and female Caucasian (n = 537) and Chinese students (n = 280). Autistic and empathic traits were measured in all subjects in the two independent groups using the Autism -Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) respectively, together with their sub-scales.

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Sep
2017

Overview of Human Oxytocin Research.

Curr Top Behav Neurosci 2017 Sep 2. Epub 2017 Sep 2.
Keith M Kendrick, Adam J Guastella, Benjamin Becker
Social dysfunction is a core symptom of many psychiatric disorders and current medications have little or no remedial effects on this. Following on from extensive studies on animal models demonstrating that the neuropeptide oxytocin plays an important role in social recognition and bonding, human-based research has explored its therapeutic potential for social dysfunction in psychiatric disorders. Here we outline the historical background of this human-based research and some of the current methodological challenges it is facing.

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Aug
2017

Neuroticism, a 'Big Five' personality trait, has been associated with sub-clinical traits of both autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The objective of the current study was to examine whether causal overlap between ASD and ADHD traits can be accounted for by genetic and environmental risk factors that are shared with neuroticism. We performed twin-based structural equation modeling using self-report data from 12 items of the Neo Five-Factor Inventory Neuroticism domain, 11 Social Responsiveness Scale items, and 12 Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale items obtained from 3,170 young adult Australian individual twins (1,081 complete pairs).

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Oct
2017

In this article, we conduct a comprehensive review of existing evidence for the safety and therapeutic potential of intranasal oxytocin in pediatric populations. Unique considerations for dosing and delivery of oxytocin to the nasal passageway in pediatric populations and methods to promote adherence are reviewed. Intranasal oxytocin has been administered to 261 children in three open-label studies and eight randomized controlled trials.

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May
2017

Azeotropic distillation is typically required to achieve fluorine-18 radiolabeling during the production of positron emission tomography (PET) imaging agents. However, this time-consuming process also limits fluorine-18 incorporation, due to radioactive decay of the isotope and its adsorption to the drying vessel. In addressing these limitations, the fluorine-18 radiolabeling of one model rhenium(I) complex is reported here, which is significantly improved under conditions that do not require azeotropic drying.

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Apr
2017

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a pervasive neurodevelopmental condition characterized by variable impairments in communication and social interaction as well as restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. Heterogeneity of presentation is a hallmark. Investigations of immune system problems in ASD, including aberrations in cytokine profiles and signaling, have been increasing in recent times and are the subject of ongoing interest.

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Apr
2017

Since the documented observations of Kanner in 1943, there has been great debate about the diagnoses, the sub-types, and the diagnostic threshold that relates to what is now known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Reflecting this complicated history, there has been continual refinement from DSM-III with 'Infantile Autism' to the current DSM-V diagnosis. The disorder is now widely accepted as a complex, pervasive, heterogeneous condition with multiple etiologies, sub-types, and developmental trajectories.

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May
2017

Whether and under which conditions D-cycloserine (DCS) augments the effects of exposure-based cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and posttraumatic stress disorders is unclear.
To clarify whether DCS is superior to placebo in augmenting the effects of cognitive behavior therapy for anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and posttraumatic stress disorders and to evaluate whether antidepressants interact with DCS and the effect of potential moderating variables.
PubMed, EMBASE, and PsycINFO were searched from inception to February 10, 2016.

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Dec
1969

Cognitive impairments contribute significantly to disease burden in young individuals presenting with major psychiatric disorders. The capacity to encode the consequences of one's actions may be of particular importance for real-world functioning due to its fundamental role in goal-directed behavior.
Here, we investigated a dimensional measure of causal awareness during a probabilistic learning task in 92 young individuals with an admixture of major mood and psychotic illnesses, at early and more established stages.

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Dec
2016

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a group of heterogeneous neurodevelopmental conditions associated with persistent, stereotyped or repetitive actions, and patterns of interest that are maintained in spite of possible negative outcomes. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether impairments in the ability to execute flexible goal-directed actions may be an underlying feature in ASD contributing to these symptoms. Young adults diagnosed with ASD were recruited along with controls and adults with social anxiety disorder (SAD).

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Jul
2016

Research into Theory of Mind (ToM) in alcohol use disorder (AUD) is sparse and the extant findings contradictory. The objective of this paper was to conduct a meta-analysis to determine whether individuals with AUD show ToM deficits across the available published literature.
A comprehensive literature search was performed with the PsychInfo, PubMed and Web Science databases for studies from 1990 to March 2015, pairing the keywords 'alcohol' and 'theory of mind'.

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Dec
2015

Although well established in chronic schizophrenia, the key determinants of functioning remain unknown during the early phase of a psychotic disorder. The aim of this study was to comprehensively examine the social cognitive, basic neurocognitive and clinical predictors of concurrent social functioning and global functioning in an early psychosis sample.
This study examined the relationship between social cognition, basic neurocognition and clinical symptoms with concurrent functioning in 51 early psychosis individuals.

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Mar
2016

Autonomic nervous system (ANS) dysfunction is a putative underlying mechanism for increased cardiovascular disease risk in individuals with psychiatric disorders. Previous studies suggest that this risk may be related to psychotropic medication use. In the present study we systematically reviewed and analyzed published studies of heart rate variability (HRV), measuring ANS output, to determine the effect of psychiatric illness and medication use.

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Feb
2016

Observed impairment in reciprocal social interaction is a diagnostic hallmark of autism spectrum disorders. There is no effective medical treatment for these problems. Psychological treatments remain costly, time intensive, and developmentally sensitive for efficacy.

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Nov
2015

Schizophrenia is associated with significant impairments in both higher and lower order social cognitive performance and these impairments contribute to poor social functioning. People with schizophrenia report poor social functioning to be one of their greatest unmet treatment needs. Recent studies have suggested the potential of oxytocin as such a treatment, but mixed results render it uncertain what aspects of social cognition are improved by oxytocin and, subsequently, how oxytocin might best be applied as a therapeutic.

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Feb
2015

Social interaction skill is important for psychological wellbeing, stress regulation, protection from disability and overall life satisfaction. Increase in activity of the vagus nerve, measured by heart rate variability (HRV), is associated with social interaction skill and decreased stress. In this meta-analysis we collated statistics from thirteen studies consisting of 787 participants who were participating in social interactions while HRV was simultaneously collected.

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Dec
2014

Youth with mental health problems often have difficulties engaging in education and employment. In Australia, youth mental health services have been widely established with a key aim of improving role functioning; however, there is little knowledge of those who are not engaged in employment, education or training (NEET) and the factors which may influence this. This study aimed to examine NEET status and its correlates in a sample of such youth.

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Jan
2015

Social anxiety is thought to be maintained by biased attentional processing towards threatening information. Research has further shown that the experimental attenuation of this bias, through the implementation of attentional bias modification (ABM), may serve to reduce social anxiety vulnerability. However, the mechanisms underlying ABM remain unclear.

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Feb
2015

Accumulating evidence demonstrates the important role of oxytocin (OT) in the modulation of social cognition and behavior. This has led many to suggest that the intranasal administration of OT may benefit psychiatric disorders characterized by social dysfunction, such as autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia. Here, we review nasal anatomy and OT pathways to central and peripheral destinations, along with the impact of OT delivery to these destinations on social behavior and cognition.

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Nov
2014

Between 30 and 60% of adults with unipolar or bipolar disorders exhibit impairments across multiple domains. However, little is known about impaired functioning in youth with mood disorders.
To examine the prevalence of objective, subjective and observer-rated disability in a large, representative sample of young people with a primary mood disorder.

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Jan
2015

The nature of sleep-wake abnormalities in individuals with mental disorders remains unclear. The present study aimed to examine the differences in objective ambulatory measures of the sleep-wake and activity cycles across young people with anxiety, mood or psychotic disorders.
Participants underwent several days of actigraphy monitoring.

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Apr
2015

There is increasing interest in oxytocin as a therapeutic to treat social deficits in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of a course of oxytocin nasal spray to improve social behavior in youth with ASD.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial across two Australian university sites between February 2009 and January 2012, 50 male participants aged between 12 and 18 years, with Autistic or Asperger's Disorder, were randomized to receive either oxytocin (n = 26) or placebo (n = 24) nasal sprays (either 18 or 24 International Units), administered twice-daily for 8 weeks.

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Sep
2014

Individuals with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) have a significant reduction in the number of oxytocin-producing neurons (42%) in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus. A number of animal studies and observations of humans show that lesions in this region can produce PWS-like symptoms. Given the evidence for potential oxytocin deficiency, we tested the effects of a course of intranasal oxytocin on PWS symptoms.

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Mar
2015

Social-cognitive deficits contribute to poor functional outcomes in early psychosis; however, no effective pharmacological treatments exist for these problems. This study was the first to investigate the efficacy of an extended treatment of oxytocin nasal spray combined with social cognition training (SCT) to improve social cognition, clinical symptoms, and social functioning in early psychosis. In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, between-subjects trial, 52 individuals (aged 16-35 years) diagnosed with an early psychosis schizophrenia-spectrum illness were recruited.

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Dec
1969

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive fear and habitual avoidance of social situations. Decision-making models suggest that patients with anxiety disorders may fail to exhibit goal-directed control over actions. We therefore investigated whether such biases may also be associated with social anxiety and to examine the relationship between such behavior with outcomes from cognitive-behavioral therapy.

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Dec
2015

The Transitions Study was designed to establish a cohort of young people (12-25 years) seeking help for mental health problems, in order to longitudinally explore and refine a clinical staging model of the development and progression of mental disorders. This paper presents the baseline demographic and clinical characteristics of the cohort, particularly the nature and severity of psychopathology.
All eligible young people attending one of four headspace clinical services were invited to participate, and completed a battery of self-report and interviewer-administered measures of psychopathology and functional impairment at baseline, which will be repeated at the annual follow up.

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Sep
2014

The inability to regulate autonomic activity during social interactions is believed to contribute to social and emotional dysregulation in children. Research has employed heart rate variability (HRV) during both socially engaging and socially disengaging dyadic tasks between children and adults to assess this.
We conducted a meta-analysis including evidence from 18 studies comprising 1,544 children who were categorized as either healthy or at risk/diagnosed with psychopathology.

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Dec
1969

Research suggests that anxiety is maintained by an attentional bias to threat, and a growing base of evidence suggests that anxiety may additionally be associated with the deficient attentional processing of positive stimuli. The present study sought to examine whether such anxiety-linked attentional biases were associated with either stimulus driven or attentional control mechanisms of attentional selectivity. High and low trait anxious participants completed an emotional variant of an antisaccade task, in which they were required to prosaccade towards, or antisaccade away from a positive, neutral or threat stimulus, while eye movements were recorded.

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Nov
2013

It is an open question as to whether differential developmental trajectories, potentially representing underlying pathophysiological processes, can form the basis of a more useful typology in young persons who present for mental health care.
A cohort of 605 young people was recruited from youth mental health services that target the early phases of anxiety, mood or psychotic disorders. Participants were assigned to one of three clinical sub-types (anxious-depression; mania-fatigue; developmental-psychotic) according to putative developmental trajectories.

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Dec
2013

Epidemiological literature indicates that the relationship between alcohol consumption and health outcomes reflects a J-shaped curve such that moderate alcohol consumption confers a protective effect in comparison to abstinence, while heavy consumption is associated with poorer health. While heart rate variability (HRV) may underpin the relationship between drinking and poor health in heavy drinkers, it is unclear whether HRV is increased in moderate, habitual drinkers relative to nonhabitual drinkers. HRV and drinking habits were assessed in 47 volunteers.

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Dec
1969

Polyvagal theory emphasizes that autonomic nervous system functioning plays a key role in social behavior and emotion. The theory predicts that psychiatric disorders of social dysfunction are associated with reduced heart rate variability, an index of autonomic control, as well as social inhibition and avoidance. The purpose of this study was to examine whether heart rate variability was reduced in treatment-seeking patients diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, a disorder characterized by social fear and avoidance.

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Dec
1969

Antisocial behaviours and psychopathic traits place an individual at risk for criminality, mental illness, substance dependence, and psychosocial dysfunction. Social cognition deficits appear to be associated with psychopathic traits and are believed to contribute to interpersonal dysfunction. Most research investigating the relationship of these traits with social cognition has been conducted either in children or adult forensic settings.

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Sep
2013

Previous research has suggested that psychotic symptoms are associated with impairments in social cognition. However, there is limited research evaluating this association in the context of younger patients with a broad range of mental health problems. In the present study, we evaluated social cognitive performance in 115 treatment-seeking participants who presented to a youth mental health service with affective or psychotic disturbances.

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May
2013

After 30 years of consensus-derived diagnostic categories in mental health, it is time to head in new directions. Those categories placed great emphasis on enhanced reliability and the capacity to identify them via standardized checklists. Although this enhanced epidemiology and health services planning, it failed to link broad diagnostic groupings to underlying pathophysiology or specific treatment response.

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Sep
2013

Past research has highlighted an important role of the autonomic nervous system in alcohol dependence and capacity for self-regulation. While previous studies have examined alcohol dependent inpatients, it remains unclear whether resting-state HRV, a potential psychophysiological marker of ones capacity for self-regulation, is related to craving in patients who currently consume alcohol. Thus, the aim of the present study was to determine whether HRV predicts alcohol craving in dependent individuals in the community.

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Sep
2013

Many studies have highlighted the potential of oxytocin (OT) to enhance facial affect recognition in healthy humans. However, inconsistencies have emerged with regard to the influence of OT on the recognition of specific emotional expressions (happy, angry, fear, surprise, disgust, and sadness). In this study, we conducted a meta-analysis of seven studies comprising 381 research participants (71 females) examining responses to the basic emotion types to assess whether OT enhances the recognition of emotion from human faces and whether this was influenced by the emotion expression and exposure time of the face.

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Dec
1969

Cumulative evidence over the last decade indicates that intranasally administered oxytocin (OT) has a major impact on social behavior and cognition. In parallel, researchers have also highlighted the effects of OT on cardiovascular (CV) and autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulation. Taken at face value, these two streams of research appear largely unrelated.

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Mar
2013

Over the past century, the polypeptide oxytocin has played an important role in medicine with major highlights including the identification of its involvement in parturition and the milk let-down reflex. Oxytocin is now implicated in an extensive range of psychological phenomena including reward and memory processes and has been investigated as a treatment for several psychiatric disorders including addiction, anxiety, autism, and schizophrenia. In this review, we first provide an historical overview of oxytocin and describe key aspects of its physiological activity.

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Dec
1969

Clinical staging of mental disorders proposes that individuals can be assessed at various sub-syndromal and later developed phases of illness. As an adjunctive rating, it may complement traditional diagnostic silo-based approaches. In this study, we sought to determine the relationships between clinical stage and neuropsychological profile in young persons presenting to youth-focused mental health services.

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Dec
1969

Distress and/or dysfunction are well established as key reasons for help-seeking. We explore the characteristics of groups defined by high or low distress or disability in young people with unipolar depression (UP) or bipolar disorder (BD).
Individuals aged 12 to 25 years presenting to youth mental health services for the first time with a primary diagnosis of UP or BD were assessed using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (Kessler-10) and the Work and Social Adjustment Scale (WSAS).

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May
2013

A series of studies have reported on the salubrious effects of oxytocin nasal spray on social cognition and behavior in humans, across physiology (e.g., eye gaze, heart rate variability), social cognition (e.

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Dec
2012

Adults who stutter are at significant risk of developing social phobia. Cognitive theorists argue that a critical factor maintaining social anxiety is avoidance of social information. This avoidance may impair access to positive feedback from social encounters that could disconfirm fears and negative beliefs.

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Nov
2012

Research in animals and humans suggests a role of oxytocin in social approach to strangers. We tested this by introducing undergraduate students to opposite-gendered strangers, with each member of the pair having taken either oxytocin or placebo. One hundred and four undergraduate students were paired up and engaged in a face-to-face conversation structured with a series of intimate topics for discussion.

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Nov
2012

It is well established that heart rate variability (HRV) plays an important role in social communication. Polyvagal theory suggests that HRV may provide a sensitive marker of one's ability to respond and recognize social cues. The aim of the present study was to directly test this hypothesis.

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Dec
1969

Oxytocin (OT) plays a key regulatory role in human social behaviour. While prior studies have examined the effects of OT on observable social behaviours, studies have seldom examined the effects of OT on psychophysiological markers such as heart rate variability (HRV), which provides an index of individual's motivation for social behaviour. Furthermore, no studies have examined the impact of OT on HRV under resting conditions, which provides an index of maximal capacity for social engagement.

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Apr
2013

Previous studies with prairie voles suggest that the hormone oxytocin is crucial for bond formation - indicated when a partner preference is formed towards the target vole. In this study, we conduct the first empirical test of whether oxytocin likewise promotes partner preferences in humans. Seventy-six undergraduate students received either oxytocin or placebo before being introduced to a male and female persona (via pre-recorded videoclips).

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Jan
2013

To facilitate early intervention, there is a need to distinguish unipolar versus bipolar illness trajectories in adolescents and young adults with adult-type mood disorders.
Detailed clinical and neuropsychological evaluation of 308 young persons (aged 12 to 30 years) with moderately severe unipolar and bipolar affective disorders.
Almost 30% (90/308) of young people (mean age=19.

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