• Neural Correlates of Theory of Mind Are Preserved in Young Women with Anorexia Nervosa

      Leslie, Monica; Halls, Daniel; Leppanen, Jenni; Sedgewick, Felicity; Smith, Katherine; Hayward, Hannah; Lang, Katie; Fonville, Leon; Simic, Mima; Mandy, William; et al.
      People with anorexia nervosa (AN) commonly exhibit social difficulties, which may be related to problems with understanding the perspectives of others, commonly known as Theory of Mind (ToM) processing. However, there is a dearth of literature investigating the neural basis of these differences in ToM and at what age they emerge. This study aimed to test for differences in the neural correlates of ToM processes in young women with AN, and young women weight-restored from AN, as compared to healthy control participants (HC). Based on previous findings in AN, we hypothesised that young women with current or prior AN, as compared to HCs, would exhibit a reduced neural response in the medial prefrontal cortex, the inferior frontal gyrus, and the temporo-parietal junction whilst completing a ToM task. We recruited 73 young women with AN, 45 weight-restored young women, and 70 young women without a history of AN to take part in the current study. Whilst undergoing a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan, participants completed the Frith-Happé task, which is a commonly-used measure of ToM with demonstrated reliability and validity in adult populations. In this task, participants viewed the movements of triangles, which depicted either action movements, simple interactions, or complex social interactions. Viewing trials with more complex social interactions in the Frith-Happé task was associated with increased brain activation in regions including the right temporo-parietal junction, the bilateral medial prefrontal cortex, the cerebellum, and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. There were no group differences in neural activation in response to the ToM contrast. Overall, these results suggest that the neural basis of spontaneous mentalising is preserved in most young women with AN.
    • Setting an International Research Agenda for Fear of Cancer Recurrence: an online delphi consensus study

      Shaw, Joanne; Kamphuis, H; Sharpe, Louise; Lebel, Sophie; Smith, Allan Ben; Hulbert-Williams, Nicholas J; Dhillon, Haryana M; Butow, Phyllis; University of Sydney; University of Ottawa; University of New South Wales; University of Chester (Frontiers Media, 2021-02-22)
      Background: Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) is common amongst cancer survivors. There is rapidly growing research interest in FCR but a need to prioritise research to address the most pressing clinical issues and reduce duplication and fragmentation of effort. This study aimed to establish international consensus among clinical and academic FCR experts regarding priorities for FCR research. Methods: Members of the International Psycho-oncology Society (IPOS) Fear of Cancer Recurrence Special Interest Group (FORwards) were invited to participate in an online Delphi study. Research domains identified in Round 1 were presented and discussed at a focus group (Round 2) to consolidate the domains and items prior to presentation in further survey rounds (Round 3) aimed at gaining consensus on research priorities of international significance. Results: Thirty four research items were identified in Round 1 and 33 of the items were consolidated into 6 overarching themes through a focus group discussion with FCR experts. The 33 research items were presented in subsequent rounds of the delphi technique. Twenty one participants contributed to delphi round 1, 16 in round 2 and 25 and 29 participants for subsequent delphi rounds. Consensus was reached for 27 items in round 3.1. A further 4 research items were identified by panellists and included in round 3.2. After round 3.2, 35 individual research items were ratified by the panellists. Given the high levels of consensus and stability between rounds no further rounds were conducted. Overall intervention research was considered the most important focus for FCR research. Panellists identified models of care that facilitate greater access to FCR treatment and evaluation of the effectiveness of FCR interventions in real world settings as the two research items of highest priority. Defining the mechanisms of action and active components across FCR/P interventions, was the third highest priority identified. Conclusions: The findings of this study outline a research agenda for international FCR research. Intervention research to identify models of care that increase access to treatment, are based on a flexible approach based on symptom severity and can be delivered within routine clinical care, were identified as research areas to prioritise. Greater understanding of the active components and mechanisms of action of existing FCR interventions will facilitate increased tailoring of interventions to meet patient need.
    • Social Brain Hypothesis: Vocal and Gesture Networks of Wild Chimpanzees

      Roberts, Sam G. B.; Roberts, Anna I.; University of Chester (2016-11-24)
      A key driver of brain evolution in primates and humans is the cognitive demands arising from managing social relationships. In primates, grooming plays a key role in maintaining these relationships, but the time that can be devoted to grooming is inherently limited. Communication may act as an additional, more time-efficient bonding mechanism to grooming, but how patterns of communication are related to patterns of sociality is still poorly understood. We used social network analysis to examine the associations between close proximity (duration of time spent within 10m per hour spent in the same party), grooming, vocal communication and gestural communication (duration of time and frequency of behaviour per hour spent within 10 meters) in wild chimpanzees. The results were not corrected for multiple testing. Chimpanzees had differentiated social relationships, with focal chimpanzees maintaining some level of proximity to almost all group members, but directing gestures at and grooming with a smaller number of preferred social partners. Pairs of chimpanzees that had high levels of close proximity had higher rates of grooming. Importantly, higher rates of gestural communication were also positively associated with levels of proximity, and specifically gestures associated with affiliation (greeting, gesture to mutually groom) were related to proximity. Synchronized low-intensity pant-hoots were also positively related to proximity in pairs of chimpanzees. Further, there were differences in the size of individual chimpanzees’ proximity networks - the number of social relationships they maintained with others. Focal chimpanzees with larger proximity networks had a higher rate of both synchronized low- intensity pant-hoots and synchronized high-intensity pant-hoots. These results suggest that in addition to grooming, both gestures and synchronized vocalisations may play key roles in allowing chimpanzees to manage a large and differentiated set of social relationships. Gestures may be important in reducing the aggression arising from being in close proximity to others, allowing for proximity to be maintained for longer and facilitating grooming. Vocalisations may allow chimpanzees to communicate with a larger number of recipients than gestures and the synchronized nature of the pant-hoot calls may facilitate social bonding of more numerous social relationships. As group sizes increased through human evolution, both gestures and synchronized vocalizations may have played important roles in bonding social relationships in a more time-efficient manner than grooming.