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Article Summaries for May 2018 Psychosomatic Medicine, Volume 80, Issue 4

doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000593

Hackman et al. tested the associations between socioeconomic position (SEP) and resting cerebral blood flow (CBF), an indicator of baseline brain function. Stable high SEP across the lifespan was associated with higher CBF globally and in the inferior frontal gyrus. The association between childhood SEP and CBF was modified by age, particularly in the middle frontal gyrus, with an inverse association only among individuals with low parental education. These differential patterns in midlife may relate to disparities in cerebrovascular and neurocognitive outcomes in later-life.

Pages 336–344;

Hunter et al. investigated the effects of smartphone availability during experimentally manipulated conditions of social exclusion. Participants who had their smartphone with them – whether or not they actually used it - exhibited lower levels of salivary alpha amylase and reported lower levels of feeling excluded than those without their phones. The results suggest that the mere presence of a phone, and not necessarily phone use, may offer some protection in socially uncomfortable settings. This article is accompanied online by a brief video explaining the study.

Pages 345–352;

Skvortsova et al. explored the effects of positive verbal suggestions and oxytocin on treatment expectations and placebo responses in the context of experimentally manipulated pain and itch. Depending upon group assignment, participants received a nasal spray (placebo or oxytocin), either with our without suggestions about the pain- and itch-relieving properties of the spray. Positive verbal suggestions induced expectations of lower pain and itch. Positive verbal suggestions also elicited placebo analgesia but did not decrease itch. No effect of oxytocin on the placebo effect or on expectations was found.

Pages 353–360;

Animal models are frequently used to examine the stress response, but experiments seldom include females. Tsilimigras et al. investigated the connection between the microbiota-gut-brain axis and behavioral stress response using a mixed-sex mouse cohort. The data suggest sex influences stress responses and the microbiota-gut-brain axis. Studies of behavior and the microbiome would benefit from consideration of how sex differences drive behavior and the microbial community structure.

Pages 361–369;

The association of catatonia with subsequent medical complications has been documented, but no comprehensive large-scale study has been performed. In a retrospective cohort study of 1,719 patients with schizophrenia, Funayama et al. found that catatonic stupor in schizophrenia was associated with an increased risk for mortality. In addition, catatonia was predictive of specific medical complications, including pneumonia, urinary tract infection, sepsis, dehydration, deep venous thrombosis, decubitus, and renal failure, among other disorders. These findings indicate that patients with catatonia require careful medical monitoring.

Pages 370–376;

Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is often triggered by acute emotional or physical stressors. However, no studies have investigated emotional competencies among patients with this syndrome. Compare et al. found that takotsubo patients who experienced emotional triggers had higher levels of deficits in competencies such as emotional intelligence and metacognition compared to a matched sample of patients with acute myocardial infarction and takosubo patients who experienced only physical triggers. Patients with emotional triggers showed a specific dysfunctional profile of emotional competence, even after adjusting for depressive symptoms.

Pages 377–384;

Depression is associated with an increased risk of mortality in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD), but survival may be improved in patients whose depression symptoms remit following treatment. Carney et al. found that fatigue and anhedonia were the most common residual symptoms after depression treatment in patients with CHD and major depression. In addition to offering standard treatments, providing interventions that specifically target these common residual symptoms may improve both depression and survival in these patients.

Pages 385–392;

Childhood trauma has been associated with increased psychological and physical morbidity in adulthood. This may reflect the long-term consequences of impaired stress perception and regulation. Bossé et al. examined the association of childhood trauma with physiologic and subjective measures of stress in adults with and without cardiovascular disease. Childhood trauma was associated with greater questionnaire-based levels of perceived stress, but not with hair cortisol concentration, a marker of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity.

Pages 393–402;

Smith et al. examined potential mechanisms by which depressive symptoms may relate to poor clinical outcomes in lung transplant recipients. Both elevated depressive symptoms and poorer functional exercise capacity were independently associated with greater mortality during the follow-up period (median 4.5 years). Depression was also associated with greater risk of chronic lung allograft dysfunction, an incapacity of the transplanted lung to achieve or maintain normal function. As modifiable risk factors, depression and exercise capacity have prognostic importance post lung transplantation.

Pages 403–409;

Copyright © 2018 by American Psychosomatic Society