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  • Inhibitory neuron migration and IPL formation in the developing zebrafish retina.

    16 March 2018

    The mature vertebrate retina is a highly ordered neuronal network of cell bodies and synaptic neuropils arranged in distinct layers. Little, however, is known about the emergence of this spatial arrangement. Here, we investigate how the three main types of retinal inhibitory neuron (RIN)--horizontal cells (HCs), inner nuclear layer amacrine cells (iACs) and displaced amacrine cells (dACs)--reach their specific laminar positions during development. Using in vivo time-lapse imaging of zebrafish retinas, we show that RINs undergo distinct phases of migration. The first phase, common to all RINs, is bipolar migration directed towards the apicobasal centre of the retina. All RINs then transition to a less directionally persistent multipolar phase of migration. Finally, HCs, iACs and dACs each undergo cell type-specific migration. In contrast to current hypotheses, we find that most dACs send processes into the forming inner plexiform layer (IPL) before migrating through it and inverting their polarity. By imaging and quantifying the dynamics of HCs, iACs and dACs from birth to final position, this study thus provides evidence for distinct and new migration patterns during retinal lamination and insights into the initiation of IPL formation.

  • The ciliary marginal zone of the zebrafish retina: clonal and time-lapse analysis of a continuously growing tissue.

    2 February 2018

    Clonal analysis is helping us understand the dynamics of cell replacement in homeostatic adult tissues (Simons and Clevers, 2011). Such an analysis, however, has not yet been achieved for continuously growing adult tissues, but is essential if we wish to understand the architecture of adult organs. The retinas of lower vertebrates grow throughout life from retinal stem cells (RSCs) and retinal progenitor cells (RPCs) at the rim of the retina, called the ciliary marginal zone (CMZ). Here, we show that RSCs reside in a niche at the extreme periphery of the CMZ and divide asymmetrically along a radial (peripheral to central) axis, leaving one daughter in the peripheral RSC niche and the other more central where it becomes an RPC. We also show that RPCs of the CMZ have clonal sizes and compositions that are statistically similar to progenitor cells of the embryonic retina and fit the same stochastic model of proliferation. These results link embryonic and postembryonic cell behaviour, and help to explain the constancy of tissue architecture that has been generated over a lifetime.

  • Is age really cruel to experts? Compensatory effects of activity.

    28 January 2018

    Age-related decline may not be as pronounced in complex activities as it is in basic cognitive processes, but ability deterioration with age is difficult to deny. However, studies disagree on whether age is kinder to more able people than it is to their less able peers. In this article, we investigated the "age is kinder to the more able" hypothesis by using a chess database that contains activity records for both beginners and world-class players. The descriptive data suggested that the skill function across age captures the 3 phases as described in Simonton's model of career trajectories: initial rise to the peak of performance, postpeak decline, and eventual stabilization of decline. We therefore modeled the data with a linear mixed-effect model using the cubic function that captures 3 phases. The results show that age may be kind to the more able in a subtler manner than has previously been assumed. After reaching the peak at around 38 years, the more able players deteriorated more quickly. Their decline, however, started to slow down at around 52 years, earlier than for less able players (57 years). Both the decline and its stabilization were significantly influenced by activity. The more players engaged in playing tournaments, the less they declined and the earlier they started to stabilize. The best experts may not be immune to aging, but their previously acquired expertise and current activity enable them to maintain high levels of skill even at an advanced age.

  • Chess databases as a research vehicle in psychology: Modeling large data.

    6 March 2018

    The game of chess has often been used for psychological investigations, particularly in cognitive science. The clear-cut rules and well-defined environment of chess provide a model for investigations of basic cognitive processes, such as perception, memory, and problem solving, while the precise rating system for the measurement of skill has enabled investigations of individual differences and expertise-related effects. In the present study, we focus on another appealing feature of chess-namely, the large archive databases associated with the game. The German national chess database presented in this study represents a fruitful ground for the investigation of multiple longitudinal research questions, since it collects the data of over 130,000 players and spans over 25 years. The German chess database collects the data of all players, including hobby players, and all tournaments played. This results in a rich and complete collection of the skill, age, and activity of the whole population of chess players in Germany. The database therefore complements the commonly used expertise approach in cognitive science by opening up new possibilities for the investigation of multiple factors that underlie expertise and skill acquisition. Since large datasets are not common in psychology, their introduction also raises the question of optimal and efficient statistical analysis. We offer the database for download and illustrate how it can be used by providing concrete examples and a step-by-step tutorial using different statistical analyses on a range of topics, including skill development over the lifetime, birth cohort effects, effects of activity and inactivity on skill, and gender differences.

  • Migrant perinatal depression study: a prospective cohort study of perinatal depression on the Thai-Myanmar border.

    12 March 2018

    Perinatal depression is a significant contributor to maternal morbidity. Migrant women in resource-poor settings may be at increased risk, yet little research has been conducted in low-income and middle-income settings. This prospective cohort study of migrant women on the Thai-Myanmar border aims to establish prevalence of perinatal depression, identify risk factors for perinatal depression and examine associations with infant outcomes.Participating women are labour migrants and refugees living on the Thai-Myanmar border. A total of 568 women were recruited in their first trimester of pregnancy and are being followed up to 1-year postpartum.At baseline, women in our study had a median age of 25 years, the predominant ethnicity was Sgaw Karen (48.9%), agriculture was the main employment sector (39.2%) and educational attainment was low with a median of 4 years of education. In the first trimester of pregnancy, a quarter (25.8%; 95% CI 22.3 to 29.5) of all women were depressed as diagnosed by the Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnosis of DSM-IV Disorders.Follow-up is ongoing and expected to continue until January 2018. The prevalence of depression at later stages of pregnancy and during the first postpartum year will be identified, and associations between depression status and demographic, social, migration-related, medical, obstetric and infant factors will be quantified.NCT02790905.

  • Study finds virtual reality can help treat severe paranoia

    5 May 2016

    Virtual reality can help treat severe paranoia by allowing people to face situations that they fear, an Oxford University study has found. The virtual reality simulations allowed the patients to learn that the situations they feared (such as a crowded tube train) were actually safe.

  • Can psychological therapies help people who self-harm?

    16 May 2016

    A review by the respected Cochrane organisation, and led by Oxford University Professor of Psychiatry Keith Hawton, has found that psychological therapies, more commonly known as 'talking treatments', may help people who self-harm.

  • Success for Cognitive Research Facility as funding renewed

    29 November 2016

    The NIHR Oxford cognitive health Clinical Research Facility has been awarded £3.7m to continue its life-changing work translating innovative research into better treatments for cognitive health.

  • Antipsychotic medication linked to reduced rate of violent crime

    8 May 2014

    In a new study, Dr Seena Fazel, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at Oxford University, found that people who use antipsychotic medicines to treat psychiatric illness were nearly half as likely to commit a violent crime compared with when they are not using it. Only a minority of patients perpetrate crimes, said Dr. Fazel. "But even in this minority, it may be to a large extent a modifiable risk."

  • Elizabeth Braithwaite shortlisted for Medical Research Council’s Max Perutz Science Writing Award

    3 October 2013

    "Oxford University researcher Elizabeth Braithwaite, from the Department of Psychiatry at Warneford Hospital, was among 11 finalists from 200 applicants in the Medical Research Council’s Max Perutz Science Writing Award. She was shortlisted for her article about research she is undertaking into depression during pregnancy" [Oxford Mail, 03/10/2013, p.8]

  • Applications Invited for Wellcome Trust Oxford DPhil Scheme for Psychiatrists

    21 September 2015

    Psychiatrists at any stage in their training in the UK who wish to do a DPhil (PhD) can apply for this prestigious scheme which pays an appropriate clinical salary, fees, and research costs, for three years. Up to four places are available.

  • BBC World Service: Why does funk music make us want to dance?

    14 March 2016

    Professor Morten Kringelbach, from the University of Oxford Department of Psychiatry, explains how we get pleasure from certain kinds of syncopated beats.

  • Congratulations Marco Narajos, Sophie Behrman & Jane Walker !

    24 July 2015

    Marco Narajos, Sophie Behrman & Jane Walker were shortlisted by the Royal College of Psychiatrists for the 'medical student', 'senior trainee' & ‘academic researcher of the year’ award 2015, respectively.

  • Oxford receives 9 Million GBP in Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care

    12 August 2013

    The National Institute for Health Research announces 24 Million GBP funding for 13 new Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs) to help tackle major health challenges. Lord Howe, Health Minister said: This is great news for patients - this funding could potentially help the development of ground breaking treatments which could revolutionize care. With a growing elderly population, the need for innovative and effective solutions has never been more important (NIHR Website, see quote below).

  • BBC File on 4: Dementia - what do we know?

    2 March 2016

    Prof Simon Lovestone features in this investigative radio programme that explores the balance for the need for more research with the need for better care for people living with dementia.