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Data from pre-adolescent brain activation study may clarify risk factors for mental health disorders



Brain activation data in adolescents from the largest longitudinal neuroimaging study to date provides valuable new information about the cognitive processes and brain systems that underlie adolescent development and that could contribute to mental and physical health problems in adulthood. The study was published online today in Nature Neuriscience.

Because of the remarkable maturation of the brain, cognitive and emotional maturation – and the occurrence of many mental disorders – occurring between the ages of 10 and 20, it is vital to monitor neural development and its effects through the numerous risk factors involved in this Period occur to understand. Area of ​​interest. To date, however, most human neuroimaging studies have focused on adult functioning.

The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (ABCD) Study, launched in 2016, is a 10-year, multi-site longitudinal study that included nearly 12,000 adolescents ages 9-10 at 21 research sites across the country.

These latest findings reveal which regions of the brain are involved in a number of important psychological processes, including cognitive control, reward processing, working memory, and social / emotional functions.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers observed brain activation during a series of three different tasks and identified how differences in activity patterns related to individual differences in these processes.

This study – possibly the greatest task activation work of all time – shows the regions of the brain that are activated by each task, how well they capture individual differences, and will likely serve as the basis for any subsequent work that children follow as they age.

Hugh Garavan, PhD, Principal Investigator and Professor of Psychiatry, Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont

The brain maps aim to improve scientists’ understanding of the psychological processes that put young people at greater risk of developing mental and physical health problems and can provide clues by identifying the brain correlates of factors that affect development what interventions could help improve outcomes.

“These brain activation maps and spatial reproducibility results will serve as the gold standard for the neuroscientific community and could help influence study design,” says Bader Chaarani, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont and lead author of the study.

The study’s authors state that these brain activation maps enable “cross-sectional analyzes of inter-individual and group differences” as well as “have the potential to investigate fundamental predictors of future development and behavior and to quantify changes in brain function that can result from the numerous influences of which they are expected to influence development and behavior. “


Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont

Journal reference:

Chaarani, B., et al. (2021) Baseline brain function in the pre-adolescents of the ABCD study. Natural neuroscience.

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Adults at risk for mental health disorders drawn to city living, study finds



People with a genetic predisposition to certain mental illnesses prefer living in big cities, according to a new study. File photo by John Angelillo / UPI | License photo

October 27 (UPI) – People genetically predisposed to mental disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and anorexia nervosa prefer to live in urban areas as adults, according to a study published Wednesday by JAMA Psychiatry.

The data showed that those at higher genetic risk for these disorders were 5 to 10% more likely than adults to “prefer to move from rural to urban areas”.

This means that people with more genetic mutations that increase their risk of mental health problems are drawn to urban settings, which is significant given that long urban living is linked to an increased risk of schizophrenia, the researchers said .

“This study adds to the evidence against the dichotomy between simplified nature and care, and shows that genes and environment are correlated,” said study co-author Dr. Evangelos Vassos, in an email to UPI.

“It shows that genetic predispositions to a wide variety of mental illnesses … are related to where people live,” said Vassos, a consulting psychiatrist at King’s College London.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, less than 1% of people in the United States have schizophrenia, a mental disorder characterized by disorders in thought processes, perceptions, emotional responsiveness, and social interaction.

Symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations, delusions, and unusual ways of thinking, as well as decreased expression of emotions and difficulties in social relationships.

A study published in 2017 found that teenagers who grew up in urban neighborhoods were nearly 70% more likely to have psychotic experiences, such as

However, a study published in August by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that cities in the United States have fewer levels of depression than more rural areas.

For this study, Vassos and his colleagues analyzed data from nearly 386,000 British adults, ages 37 to 73, who participated in the UK Biobank, a compendium of health records and genetic information for hundreds of thousands of people.

Polygenic risk scores, or risk measures for specific health disorders, were available to all participants, the researchers said.

The data showed that people with higher polygenic risk scores for schizophrenia and anorexia nervosa were 5% more likely to move from rural areas to cities.

Similarly, participants with higher risk scores for bipolar disorder, a condition characterized by periods of depression and abnormally elevated mood, were 10% more likely to live in urban areas.

Conversely, people with a genetic predisposition to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were 9% less likely to prefer city life than more rural areas.

“Our hypothesis is that people at high or low genetic risk for psychiatric disorders may have subtle traits that are different from people at medium genetic risk,” said Vassos.

“So it’s not that easy to tell people that they need to move from the cities to the more rural areas in order to improve their mental health,” he said.

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Judge rules in favor of Dougco schools in civil lawsuit



Douglas County schools filed a civil lawsuit against the newly formed health department on Wednesday, October 20.

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colorado – A U.S. District Court judge in Denver issued an injunction to stop the Douglas County Board of Health’s school mask exemption.

The decision was made on Tuesday afternoon after the two sides presented their arguments on Monday and Tuesday.

> The video above is from October 21st when the Dougco Schools filed their civil lawsuit.

On Friday, October 8th, the health department approved a public health order that would allow parents or guardians to exempt their children from masking requirements by filing an application “because of the adverse effects on their physical and / or mental health Person ”in writing and signed. “

The school district said public health regulations ignore science and guidance on how to contain COVID-19 and put the health and learning of vulnerable students – those with chronic illnesses, respiratory problems and other serious health challenges – at risk.

RELATED: Douglas County’s Health Department Approves Public Health Order Granting Parents Power To Relieve Their Children From Wearing Masks

Eighteen students, whose only identifiers are initials, are listed as joint plaintiffs in the lawsuit. In a press release announcing the lawsuit, the school district gave examples of some of the disabilities that co-plaintiffs put at high risk when contracting COVID-19:

“Students with certain disabilities or illnesses are at greater risk of developing serious, life-threatening illnesses, and it is our responsibility as a school district to ensure that every student receives an inclusive, friendly public education – a responsibility the district takes very seriously. The message is simple: In these very complex times, our weakest children must not be left behind. Everyone wants a return to normal, but a return to normal cannot come at the expense of those with chronic and severe health problems. That is why this legal step is being taken. ”

Last week, Doug Benevento, president of Douglas County Board of Health, told 9NEWS the board was confident their order struck the right balance for masking requirements in schools.

“We are confident that our arrangement strikes the right balance with the mask requirement in our schools. Our arrangement enables masking, but offers exceptions for parents with children who would be negatively affected by a blanket mask requirement from a health or psychological point of view, ”said the statement. “The pending lawsuit by an asthmatic student against the school district alleging against the [Americans with Disabilities Act] shows that a blanket mask mandate does not create this balance. Our order is also more proactive than any of the requirements the state of Colorado currently has. “

RELATED: No, Disposable Masks cannot be recycled at most municipal recycling centers

RELATED: Confusion Over Douglas County’s New Child Public Health Ordinance and Masks

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Reactive Attachment Disorder: Symptoms, Treatment



Reactive attachment disorder, also known as RAD, is a mood or behavior disorder that affects babies and children. It includes difficulties with bonding and relationship building, as well as social patterns that are inadequate but without an intellectual disability or profound developmental disorder (such as autism) to explain these characteristics.

In addition, the reactive attachment disorder is caused by some type of caring problem, e.g.

The term “reactive attachment disorder” is sometimes abbreviated to “attachment disorder”, but reactive attachment disorder is actually a type of attachment disorder.

aquaARTS studio / Getty Images

Reactive attachment disorder vs. disinhibited social attachment disorder

Attachment disorders are sometimes described as inhibited or uninhibited. These terms are used to describe the behavior of babies and young children.

Children who fall into the category of inhibited difficulty regulating their emotions, who do not prefer specific adults or caregivers, do not seek consolation from the caregiver, or show much affection or a combination of these behaviors. On the other hand, children who fall into the category of inhibitions may be evenly or excessively preoccupied with all adults, including strangers, and they do not have a preference for primary caregivers.

The reactive attachment disorder is the inhibited form of the attachment disorder. There used to be only one diagnosis of both inhibited and uninhibited attachment, but that has changed with more recent research. The disinhibited type of attachment disorder is known as disinhibited social engagement disorder, or DSED.


The characteristics of reactive attachment disorder are the inhibited type, which means that the child behaves in a way that shows little or no attachment to the parents or other caregivers. This is seen in babies and young children. They are unable to form healthy and secure bonds with their parents or primary caregivers.

Symptoms of reactive attachment disorder

Symptoms of RAD include:

  • Avoiding comfort during stress
  • Avoidance of physical contact
  • Difficulty dealing with emotions
  • Don’t be concerned if left alone
  • Avoid making eye contact, smiling, or engaging
  • Emotional distance
  • Excessive rocking or self-calming
  • Inability to show guilt, remorse, or regret
  • Inconsolable crying
  • Little or no interest in interacting with others
  • Must be in control
  • Tantrums, anger, sadness


Reactive attachment disorder can be diagnosed by a psychiatrist such as a child psychiatrist or psychologist. They do this by assessing the child against the diagnostic criteria of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). They then assess the child on how the symptoms affect their ability to function.

Diagnostic criteria for reactive attachment disorders

  • Patterns of not seeking consolation or not reacting to emergency situations
  • Two or more forms of social and / or emotional stress, such as B. minimal engagement with others, limited positive affect, and episodes of inexplicable irritability or anxiety in non-threatening interactions with caregivers
  • A history of unmet needs, changes in caregivers, or an unusual environment that prevents attachment
  • Does not meet diagnostic criteria for an autism spectrum disorder
  • Behavioral symptoms that started before age 5
  • At least 9 months old, measured as developmental age


The specific causes of reactive attachment disorder are not as simple as they may seem. While child abuse and neglect can lead to attachment disorders, there is more to it than that. Children who receive inconsistent care or are placed with new primary caregivers are also at increased risk of reactive attachment disorder. This can happen even when parents and other caregivers mean well and do their best.

Children may experience an event or challenge that is not overtly harmful, such as moving geographically or something that cannot be avoided, such as the death of a family member. Even if they are too young to understand what is happening, they may not feel loved, are insecure, or cannot trust their caregivers.

Causes of a reactive attachment disorder

Possible causes of RAD are:

  • Attention only if the child behaves incorrectly (only negative attention)
  • To be left alone for hours without interaction, touch or play
  • Emotional needs are not consistently met
  • Experiencing trauma or a very frightening, difficult event
  • Having an emotionally unavailable parent
  • Hospitalization
  • Inconsistent care or response to needs
  • Loss of a caregiver or other family member, e. B. a sibling
  • Multiple main caregivers or change of caregivers
  • Neglect or abuse by parents, caregivers, or others
  • Not being comforted when crying or in despair
  • Not being fed for hours if you are hungry
  • Have not changed a diaper for hours
  • Only some needs are met, or needs are only met sometimes
  • Physical needs are not consistently met
  • Separation from parents or other caregivers


Treatment for reactive attachment disorder goes beyond the child alone. The whole family can be involved to support healthy bonding. The process involves a combination of talk therapy, other therapies, and education that will benefit children as well as parents and other caregivers.

Treatment of reactive attachment disorders

Treatment options for RAD include:

  • Family therapy with child and carer
  • Parent courses to learn effective strategies
  • Play therapy with the child to teach social and other skills
  • Teaching social skills in a different way
  • Special educational offers at schools
  • Talk therapy with the child, the caregivers, or both


Managing reactive attachment disorder involves strategies to support both the child and the adults who interact with the child. This is because the bond between children and their caregivers involves two or more people, and their interactions can help create a more secure bond. For this reason, coping includes support, self-care, and stress management for adults, as well as healthy eating and adequate sleep and physical activity for children and adults.

A word from Verywell

If your child or someone you know is struggling with attachment issues, help is available. Even if your child is diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder, it does not mean that it was caused by you or that it was your fault. Sometimes things happen that are beyond your control, no matter how hard we try. The main concern is that the child is getting the care they need.

Contact a family doctor, general practitioner, or psychologist for support for the child. It is also important that you and other primary caregivers of the child have all the support they need to care for the child.

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