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Article Summaries for January 2017 Psychosomatic Medicine, Volume 79, Issue 1

doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000435
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Neuromodulation methods such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) are increasingly common in research on health-relevant behaviors such as food consumption. Lowe et al. present a meta-analysis of single-session laboratory studies and systematic review of multisession clinical trials of such neuromodulation studies. Findings indicate a statistically significant effect of rTMS on food cravings in a single-session format but not tDCS; findings for eating behavior were less consistent.

Pages 2–13;

Low socioeconomic position (SEP) has been linked to cognitive decline and dementia; however, its relationship with aging-related brain changes is unknown. Elbejjani et al. examined the associations of life-course SEP with hippocampal volume and atrophy in community-dwelling older adults. Lower professional attainment in midlife, but not childhood SEP or educational attainment, was independently associated with smaller hippocampal volume and faster hippocampal atrophy. Accumulation of disadvantageous SEP and declining SEP over the life-course were also linked to faster atrophy.

Pages 14–23;

Disordered sleep is common in chronic inflammatory disorders, but the neurobiologic mechanisms are not well known. Bjurström et al. examined cellular inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and healthy controls before and after sleep. They found countervailing associations between proinflammatory production, sleep maintenance, and sleep depth, which together support the hypothesis of a homeostatic relationship in sleep maintenance, slow-wave sleep, and cytokine-specific cellular inflammation.

Pages 24–33;

Huang et al. examined heart rate variability in patients with somatic symptom disorder as defined by DSM-5 criteria. These patients showed a lower level of total power and low-frequency power than healthy controls. High-frequency power was significantly correlated with depression in men with somatic symptom disorder. The results suggest that patients with somatic symptom disorder have different patterns of heart rate variability, and sex plays a moderating role between psychologic factors and heart rate variability.

Pages 34–42;

Reduced autobiographic memory specificity (rAMS) is related to emotional disorders such as depression. Walentynowicz et al. investigated memory specificity, depressive symptoms, and rumination in individuals with somatic symptom disorder (SSD) and healthy controls. Responding to health-related word cues, SSD patients retrieved fewer specific and more categoric memories. Results were unrelated to increased levels of depressive symptoms and rumination, suggesting that individuals with SSD encode health-related events differently in memory.

Pages 43–49;

In a large prospective study of 2358 young and middle-aged patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), Xu et al. found that perceived stress lessened over time for both women and men, with most of the decrease occurring during the first month after AMI. However, women persistently experienced higher levels of perceived stress throughout the 12-month study compared with men, and this difference remained significant after adjustment for patients' demographic, health, and psychosocial characteristics. Psychologic stress may play an important role in explaining sex differences in cardiovascular health progression after AMI.

Pages 50–58;

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) has been proposed as an important mediator between stress-inducing environmental factors and the progression of atherosclerosis in the vasculature. In an animal model of atherosclerosis, Noller et al. explored whether SNS plasticity is driven by the progression of disease and/or by stress-related manipulation (stable vs. unstable social environment). Results showed that SNS plasticity was related to the progression of disease rather than by stress-related exposure. SNS hyperinnervation may influence pathophysiologic processes in the vessel wall.

Pages 59–70;

Supervised physical activity interventions have proved to be successful in diminishing health declines in older adults, but such methods can be costly and have limited reach. Awick et al. found that participants (mean age: 71) randomized to a 6-month DVD-delivered exercise program at home showed improved perceptions of self-esteem. Improvement in scores of exercise self-efficacy—belief in the ability to continue exercising in the future—was found to be a significant determinant of these improvements in self-esteem.

Pages 71–80;

Sun et al. used prospective data from the Health and Retirement Study to examine the association between self-perceptions and attitudes of aging with the rate of overnight hospitalization in the US population older than 50 years. Positive self-perceptions of aging were associated with a lower rate of hospitalization for 4 years, even after adjusting for sociodemographic factors, baseline health, and health behaviors.

Pages 81–90;

Traumatic stressors such as abuse or interpersonal violence during a woman’s life can affect the health of her children. Brunst et al. evaluated the association between maternal lifetime interpersonal trauma (IPT) and children’s asthma risk. They found that children born to mothers who experienced interpersonal trauma in childhood and adulthood, i.e., chronic IPT, were at increased risk for developing asthma by age 6—a relationship that was mediated through maternal active asthma during pregnancy.

Pages 91–100;

The perception of being unfairly treated because of one’s ethnic background is associated with poor health outcomes. Ikram et al. examined the cross-sectional association of perceived ethnic discrimination (PED) in five ethnic minority groups in the Netherlands. They found small but significant associations between PED and metabolic syndrome in some ethnic groups (Surinamese and Moroccans). Given the high prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in these groups, addressing PED might lead to beneficial health improvements.

Pages 101–111;

Copyright © 2016 by the American Psychosomatic Society