Abstract: Systems biology interdisciplinary approaches have become an essential analytical tool that may yield novel and powerful insights about the nature of human health and disease. Complex disorders are known to be caused by the combination of genetic, environmental, immunological or neurological factors. Thus, to understand such disorders, it becomes necessary to address the study of this complexity from a novel perspective. Here, we present a review of integrative approaches that help to understand the underlying biological processes involved in the etiopathogenesis of neurological diseases, for example, those related to autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) endophenotypes. Furthermore, we highlight the role of systems biology in the discovery of new biomarkers or therapeutic targets in complex disorders, a key step in the development of personalized medicine, and we demonstrate the role of systems approaches in the design of classifiers that can shorten the time for behavioral diagnosis of autism.
Abstract: For many decades, Neuropsychological functioning has been a key point in the study of psychotic disorders. The main aim of these studies is to give a description of the neurocognitive “profile” of schizophrenia, with only little attention being paid to the common and discriminating features of different psychotic disorders. Recent studies support the hypothesis that patients affected by psychiatric disorders with psychotic symptoms have specific abnormalities of reality testing of ongoing perception, which become evident with source monitoring task. Ninety-eight patients and 50 controls were studied. Patients were divided by diagnosis and previous history of psychotic features and were administered Source Monitoring Task to test reality testing of ongoing perception. Frequencies of correct and false attributions were recorded. To obtain measures of observer sensitivity and response biases, a signal detection analysis was performed. Aims: Studying neuropsychological correlate of psychosis in euthymic mood disordered patients and patients with schizophrenia with or without delusions. Results: Patients with psychotic features use more lax criteria in evaluating self-generated, but not perceived stimuli compared to patients without psychotic features. Conclusions: Our findings support the hypothesis of selective biases in reality monitoring as neuropsychological correlates of psychosis.
Abstract: Reconstructing the past and anticipating the future, i.e., the ability of travelling in mental time, is thought to be at the heart of consciousness and, by the same token, at the center of human cognition. This extraordinary mental activity is possible thanks to the ability of being aware of ‘subjective time’. In the present study, we attempt to trace back the first recorded reflections on the relations between time and memory, to the end of the fourth century’s work, the Confessions, by the theologian and philosopher, St. Augustine. We concentrate on Book 11, where he extensively developed a series of articulated and detailed observations on memory and time. On the bases of selected paragraphs, we endeavor to highlight some concepts that may be considered as the product of the first or, at least, very early reflections related to our current notions of subjective time in mental time travel. We also draw a fundamental difference inherent to the frameworks within which the questions were raised. The contribution of St. Augustine on time and memory remains significant, notwithstanding the 16 centuries elapsed since it was made, likely because of the universality of its contents.
Abstract: Attempts to define cognition preceded John Stuart Mill’s life and continue to this day. John Stuart Mill envisioned a science of mental phenomena informed by associationism, empirical introspection, and neurophysiology, and he advanced specific ideas that still influence modern conceptions of cognition. The present article briefly reviews Mill’s personal history and the times in which he lived, and it traces the evolution of ideas that have run through him to contemporary cognitive concepts. The article also highlights contemporary problems in defining cognition and supports specific criteria regarding what constitutes cognition.
Abstract: Abnormal hippocampal function likely contributes to relational learning deficits observed in schizophrenia. It is unknown whether these deficits can be attenuated with a training intervention. The purpose of this project was to determine if training could facilitate relational learning of the transverse patterning task in schizophrenia. Healthy and schizophrenia subjects completed a version of transverse patterning that incorporated training. The majority of subjects with schizophrenia successfully learned transverse patterning when provided with training. A subgroup (approximately 25%) of schizophrenia subjects showed no tendency to learn with training. These results were replicated in a second study with a separate cohort and different stimuli. This study illustrates that relational learning of the transverse patterning can be facilitated in schizophrenia with training.
Abstract: According to some authors, episodic memory impairment may be a feature shared by all schizophrenic patients, whereas others argue in favor of the mnesic heterogeneity. Our aims were to determine whether patients can be grouped based on according to their mnesic performances. The California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT), an episodic verbal learning test, was compared in 61 schizophrenic patients and 61 matched healthy subjects. The 32 indices were calculated using CVLT Scoring Software. This process allowed us to describe patients’ episodic processes in detail (encoding, storage, retrieval). We isolated one group with normative data, another showed impairment of both encoding and retrieval processes, and in the last one, only encoding process was impaired. As schizophrenia is heterogeneous with regard to episodic memory, impairments should not be considered as a common core to the various forms of the illness and it would be fruitful to systematically assess episodic processes in detail to take into account individual abilities and challenges.