Boltri M., Sapuppo W. (2021). Anorexia Nervosa and Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review. Psychiatry Research, 306: 1-9.
Recent research has shown a growing interest in exploring the relationship between anorexia nervosa (AN) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Both conditions seem to share areas of cognitive, social and behavioural impairment, leading to relevant implications on treatment, especially when they are in comorbidity. This literature review aims to synthesise the latest studies on this topic to investigate the co-occurrence of AN and ASD, suggest future research directions and consider implications for treatment.
Records were systematically (PRISMA guidelines) identified through PubMed, EBSCOhost, Scopus and Web of Science searching.
Thirteen studies met the eligibility criteria and were therefore included in the review. Results seem to confirm an overrepresentation of ASD symptoms in AN. Only few studies investigated the AN-ASD comorbidity in young people and report slightly lower rates than those conducted with adults.
Analysed studies suggest that while the comorbidity seems to exacerbate the severity of the condition, autistic traits appear to be rather stable over time and not related to body weight. Thus, future longitudinal studies and gender- specific assessment tools can help clarify the relationship between the two disorders, examine the onset of ASD symptoms and develop structured guidelines for treatment.
Giusberti, F. & Brighetti, G. (2021). Una volta non si chiamavano processi cognitivi. Psychological Research Journal, 2: 117-128
Lo scopo di questo contributo è quello di mettere in risalto una linea di ricerca che era già presente nei primi decenni della ricca produzione di Renzo Canestrari, estremamente innovativa per quel periodo, e relativa allo studio dei processi mentali, che oggi costituiscono i fondamenti della psicologia cognitiva. Questi lavori rappresentano una intuizione anticipatoria non solo di settori di ricerca, ma anche di metodologie di ricerca empiriche e sperimentali associate allo studio degli aspetti quantitativi dei processi mentali. Di particolare rilievo sono gli studi sulla percezione visiva di impronta gestaltista, arricchiti di analisi sperimentali applicate anche sovente a casi clinici. Non va inoltre dimenticato il contributo offerto da Canestrari allo studio psicologico delle modificazioni sociali intervenute nel secondo dopoguerra.
Caputi, M., Dulay, K., Bulgarelli, D., Houston Price, C., Cerrato, G., Fanelli, M., Masento, N., & Molina, P. (2021). See & Eat! Using E-books to Promote Vegetable Eating Among Preschoolers: Findings From an Italian Sample. Frontiers in Psychology
Different strategies have been developed to help parents with introducing new or disliked vegetables. Nonetheless, many parents of preschoolers struggle against children’s refusal to eat vegetables. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of e-books in promoting positive attitudes toward vegetables through repeated visual exposures. A total of 61 families with preschoolers joined the See & Eat study and received an e-book about one of two vegetables chosen from a list of 24. Parents provided ratings of children’s willingness to taste, intake, and liking of the chosen vegetables before and after reading the e-book; parents also evaluated their children’s food fussiness and their agreement with respect to three mealtime goals of the family. Using a 2 (vegetable: target or non-target) × 2 (time: pre-test or post-test) within-subjects analysis, results from 53 families revealed a significant increase in children’s willingness to taste, intake, and liking at post-test of both target and non-target vegetables. Following a two-week parent-child e-book reading intervention, children’s food fussiness and parents’ endorsement of positive mealtime goals slightly but significantly increased. Results suggest that e-books are effective in encouraging healthy eating among preschoolers and that the positive effect of e-book reading can generalize to other vegetables.
Caputi, M., Cugnata, F., & Brombin, C. (2021). Theory of mind and loneliness: Effects of a conversation-based training at school. International Journal of Psychology, 56(2), 257-265
Conversation-based training programmes are known to be effective in enhancing theory of mind (ToM). The possible consequences of such training programmes on the understanding of other constructs have rarely been investigated. The present research aimed to evaluate the effects of two different types of conversation-based training on ToM and loneliness. Two hundred and ten fourth and fifth graders (52% boys; Mage = 9.66 years, SD = 0.85), randomly divided into two groups (ToM and no-ToM training condition), were administered at a 5-week intervention. ToM and loneliness were measured before and twice after the intervention (1 week and 2 months later). Linear mixed-effects models showed that, soon after the intervention, children in the ToM training condition obtained significantly higher ToM scores and significantly lower loneliness scores compared to children in the no-ToM training condition. Nonetheless, at the follow-up, ToM and loneliness scores were not significantly different for the two training conditions. These findings suggest that a relatively short intervention based on group discussion of mental states is sufficient to improve mentalizing abilities and to tackle feelings of loneliness among fourth and fifth graders in the short but not in the long term.
Spada, M. M., Nikčević, A. V., Kolubinski, D. C., Offredi, A., Giuri, S., Gemelli, A., Brugnoni, A., Ferrari, A., & Caselli, G. (2021). Metacognitions, rumination, and worry in Personality Disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders – In Press – Published on-line 18 June 2021
Research on metacognitions and repetitive negative thinking in patients with Personality Disorder (PD) is scarce. We aimed to determine if metacognitions and repetitive negative thinking differed between patients with PD and those without PD, and if metacognitions would predict repetitive negative thinking in patients with PD controlling for several variables. A sample of 558 clinical participants were assessed for the presence of a PD diagnosis and completed the following questionnaires: Penn-State Worry Questionnaire, Ruminative Response Scale, Metacognitions Questionnaire 30, Beck Anxiety Inventory and Beck Depression Inventory. Compared to patients without a diagnosis of PD, patients with a PD diagnosis reported higher scores on both rumination and worry (as well as depression and anxiety) and three out of five of the MCQ-30 subscales (positive beliefs about worry, negative beliefs about thoughts concerning uncontrollability and danger, and beliefs about the need to control thoughts). Furthermore, the results of two hierarchical regression analyses in patients with a diagnosis of PD indicated that positive beliefs about worry and negative beliefs about thoughts concerning uncontrollability and danger were independent predictors of worry, and that negative beliefs about thoughts concerning uncontrollability and danger and cognitive self-consciousness were independent predictors of rumination. Metacognitions and repetitive negative thinking may play a role in the severity of psychological distress experienced in PD presentations. The implications of these findings are discussed.
Akbari, M., Bahadori, M. H., Milan, B. B., Caselli, G., & Spada, M. M. (2021). Metacognitions as a predictor of online gaming in adolescents: Psychometric properties of the metacognitions about online gaming scale among Iranian adolescents. Addictive Behaviors, 118, 106904
The Metacognitions about Online Gaming Scale (MOGS) measures maladaptive metacognitions about online gaming. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate psychometric properties of the MOGS, including its factor structure, reliability, and predictive validity among Iranian adolescents. The scale was administered to 769 Iranian adolescents (577 male, mean age = 16.39 ± 1.68 years) with an age range of 15–19 years. The participants completed the Persian-translated version of the MOGS, the Big Five Inventory-10, the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale 21, the Video-Game Related Cognitions Scale, the Motives for Online Gaming Questionnaire, and the Problematic Online Gaming Questionnaire. The results of the Exploratory Factor Analysis (n = 350) and Confirmatory Factor Analysis (n = 419) confirmed three-factors similar to the parent version, including “negative metacognitions about uncontrollability of online gaming” (N-MOGU), “negative metacognitions about dangers of online gaming” (N-MOGD), and “positive metacognitions about online gaming” (P-MOG). The Persian MOGS’s reliability showed a suitable internal consistency for the P-MOG, the N-MOGU, the N-MOGD, and the total score in both confirmatory and exploratory samples (range 0.79 to 0.93). A hierarchical regression analysis showed that the Persian MOGS predicted 33.9% of the variance in problematic online gaming independently of personality traits, anxiety, depression, stress, and both gaming-related cognitions and gaming motives. Furthermore, the results of analyses of variance with follow-up Bonferroni pairwise comparisons showed that interaction between the factors of MOGS and types of game and tools of gaming was significant. The findings provide evidence that the Persian MOGS among Iranian adolescents appears psychometrically appropriate to be used by researchers and practitioners dealing with the prevention and treatment of problematic online gaming.
Caselli, G., Marino, C., & Spada, M. M. (2021). Modelling Online Gaming Metacognitions: The Role of Time Spent Gaming in Predicting Problematic Internet Use. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 39, 72-182.
In recent years there have been growing concerns about problematic Internet use (PIU) as potential mental health problem. Among the many activities available on the Internet, the time spent gaming appears one of the most frequent risk factors in developing PIU. The aim of the current study was to model the relationship between negative affect, metacognitions about online gaming, frequency of online gaming and PIU. A total of 326 Italian gamers (mean age = 27 years, SD = 5.65 years; 93.3% males) participated in the study. The pattern of relationships specified by the theoretical model was examined through path analysis. Results showed that negative affect was directly associated with all other variables. Specifically, positive, strong and direct associations were found between negative affect and both positive and negative metacognitions about online gaming. Moreover, negative metacognitions about online gaming were strongly linked to PIU. Overall, the theoretical model was supported showing that metacognitions about online gaming may play a role in the association between time spent on online gaming to a broader pattern of PIU. Results are discussed within the context of the metacognitive model of psychopathology and clinical implications based on this model are outlined.
Vergallito, A., Gallucci, A., Pisoni, A., Caselli, G., Ruggiero, G. M., Sassaroli, S., & Lauro, L. J. R. (2021). Non-invasive brain stimulation effectiveness in anxiety disorder treatment: a meta-analysis on sham/behavior-controlled studies. medRxiv
Background Recently, the possibility of using non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) to treat mental disorders received considerable attention. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) are considered effective treatments for depressive symptoms. However, no recommendation is available for anxiety disorders, suggesting that evidence is still limited.
Objective We systematically revised the existing literature, and quantitatively analyzed the effectiveness of rTMS and tDCS in anxiety disorders treatment.
Method Following PRISMA guidelines, 3 electronic databases were screened to the end of February 2020 to select English-written peer-reviewed articles including (i) a clinical sample of patients with anxiety disorders, (ii) the use of a NIBS technique, (iii) the inclusion of a control condition, and (iv) pre-post scores at a validated questionnaire measuring anxious symptoms.
Results Eleven papers met the inclusion criteria, comprising 154 participants assigned to the real stimulation condition and 164 to the sham or control group. The Hedge g for scores at disorder specific and general anxiety questionnaires before and after the treatment was computed as effect size and analyzed in two independent random-effects meta-analyses. Considering the well-known comorbidity between anxiety and depression, a third meta-analysis was run, analyzing depression scores outcomes. Results showed a significant effect of NIBS in reducing questionnaires scores in the real vs. control condition at specific and general anxiety measures, and depressive symptoms.
Conclusion Albeit preliminary, our findings highlighted that real stimulation reduced anxiety and depression scores compared to the control condition, suggesting that NIBS can alleviate clinical symptoms in patients with anxiety diseases.
Spadini S, Ferro M, Lamanna J, Malgaroli A. (2021). Activity-based anorexia animal model: a review of the main neurobiological findings. J Eat Disord. 2021 Oct – 2;9(1):123.
Background: The genesis of anorexia nervosa (AN), a severe eating disorder with a pervasive effect on many brain functions such as attention, emotions, reward processing, cognition and motor control, has not yet been understood. Since our current knowledge of the genetic aspects of AN is limited, we are left with a large and diversified number of biological, psychological and environmental risk factors, called into question as potential triggers of this chronic condition with a high relapse rate. One of the most valid and used animal models for AN is the activity-based anorexia (ABA), which recapitulates important features of the human condition. This model is generated from naïve rodents by a self-motivated caloric restriction, where a fixed schedule food delivery induces spontaneous increased physical activity.
Aim: In this review, we sought to provide a summary of the experimental research conducted using the ABA model in the pursuit of potential neurobiological mechanism(s) underlying AN.
Method: The experimental work presented here includes evidence for neuroanatomical and neurophysiological changes in several brain regions as well as for the dysregulation of specific neurochemical synaptic and neurohormonal pathways.
Results: The most likely hypothesis for the mechanism behind the development of the ABA phenotype relates to an imbalance of the neural circuitry that mediates reward processing. Evidence collected here suggests that ABA animals show a large set of alterations, involving regions whose functions extend way beyond the control of reward mechanisms and eating habits. Hence, we cannot exclude a primary role of these alterations from a mechanistic theory of ABA induction.
Conclusions: These findings are not sufficient to solve such a major enigma in neuroscience, still they could be used to design ad hoc further experimental investigation. The prospect is that, since treatment of AN is still challenging, the ABA model could be more effectively used to shed light on the complex AN neurobiological framework, thus supporting the future development of therapeutic strategies but also the identification of biomarkers and diagnostic tools. Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is a severe eating disorder with a dramatic effect on many functions of our brain, such as attention, emotions, cognition and motion control. Since our current knowledge of the genetic aspects behind the development of AN is still limited, many biological, psychological and environmental factors must be taken into account as potential triggers of this condition. One of the most valid animal models for studying AN is the activity-based anorexia (ABA). In this model, rodents spontaneously limit food intake and start performing increased physical activity on a running wheel, a result of the imposition of a fixed time schedule for food delivery. In this review, we provide a detailed summary of the experimental research conducted using the ABA model, which includes extended evidence for changes in the anatomy and function of the brain of ABA rodents. The hope is that such integrated view will support the design of future experiments that will shed light on the complex brain mechanisms behind AN. Such advanced knowledge is crucial to find new, effective strategies for both the early diagnosis of AN and for its treatment.
Keywords: ABA; Activity-based anorexia; Animal model; Anorexia nervosa; Behavior; Eating disorders; Psychiatric disorder.
doi: 10.1186/s40337-021-00481-x. PMID: 34600568.
Ferro M, Lamanna J, Spadini S, Nespoli A, Sulpizio S, Malgaroli A. (2021). Synaptic plasticity mechanisms behind TMS efficacy: insights from its application to animal models. Journal of Neural Transmission. 2021 Nov
Neural plasticity is defined as a reshape of communication paths among neurons, expressed through changes in the number and weights of synaptic contacts. During this process, which occurs massively during early brain development but continues also in adulthood, specific brain functions are modified by activity-dependent processes, triggered by external as well as internal stimuli. Since transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) produces a non-invasive form of brain cells activation, many different TMS protocols have been developed to treat neurological and psychiatric conditions and proved to be beneficial. Although neural plasticity induction by TMS has been widely assessed on human subjects, we still lack compelling evidence about the actual biological and molecular mechanisms. To support a better comprehension of the involved phenomena, the main focus of this review is to summarize what has been found through the application of TMS to animal models. The hope is that such integrated view will shed light on why and how TMS so effectively works on human subjects, thus supporting a more efficient development of new protocols in the future.
Caputi, M., Forresi, B., Giani, L., Michelini, G., & Scaini, S. (2021). Italian children’s well-being after lockdown: Predictors of psychopathological symptoms in times of Covid-19. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18, 11429
The first Italian lockdown imposed to fight the spread of COVID-19 caused important disruptions in families’ everyday lives. The main aim of this research was to investigate the predictors of psychopathology in children aged 5–10 years, immediately after the national 2-month lockdown. A total of 158 Italian parents (148 mothers, 10 fathers, mean age = 41 years) were recruited and asked to complete an online research concerning their 158 children (76 boys, mean age = 7.4 years). Parents completed questionnaires on parent–child conflict, resilience, temperament, behavior, and previous adverse childhood experiences. Hierarchical regressions showed that children’s psychopathology was predicted by low child resilience, high novelty seeking and harm avoidance, adverse experiences, and high flooding levels. Moreover, girls exposed to adverse experiences appeared more vulnerable to psychopathology. The recruitment of a convenience sample, the small sample size, and the cross-sectional design of our study limit the generalizability and interpretation of the present findings. Nonetheless, this research extends our knowledge of children’s functioning in such an exceptional period. Shedding light on predictors of children’s psychopathology following prolonged quarantine can indeed guide effective psychological interventions now and in future similar situations.
Forresi B, Caputi M, Scaini S, Caffo E, Aggazzotti G, Righi E. (2021). Parental Internalizing Psychopathology and PTSD in Offspring after the 2012 Earthquake in Italy. Children, 8(10), 930
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common in youths after earthquakes, with parental psychopathology among the most significant predictors. This study investigated the contribution and the interactional effects of parental internalizing psychopathology, the severity of exposure to the earthquake, and past traumatic events to predict PTSD in offspring, also testing the reverse pattern. Two years after the 2012 earthquake in Italy, 843 children and adolescents (9–15 years) living in two differently affected areas were administered a questionnaire on traumatic exposure and the UCLA PTSD Reaction Index. Anxiety, depression, and somatization were assessed in 1162 parents through the SCL-90-R. General linear model showed that, for offspring in the high-impact area, predictors of PTSD were earthquake exposure, past trauma, and parental internalizing symptoms, taken individually. An interaction between earthquake exposure and parental depression or anxiety (not somatization) was also found. In the low-impact area, youth PTSD was only predicted by earthquake exposure. The reverse pattern was significant, with parental psychopathology explained by offspring PTSD. Overall, findings support the association between parental and offspring psychopathology after natural disasters, emphasizing the importance of environmental factors in this relationship. Although further research is needed, these results should be carefully considered when developing mental health interventions.
Giani, L., Caputi, M., Forresi, B., Michelini, G., & Scaini, S. (2021). Evaluation of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy efficacy in the treatment of separation anxiety disorder in childhood and adolescence: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, 1-24
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a well-established treatment for anxiety disorders. However, few efforts have been made to summarize the impact of specific intervention-related variables on therapeutic outcomes in different-aged youth with a separation anxiety disorder (SAD). PRISMA guidelines were followed to provide an efficacy overview of different disorder-specific CBT protocols against transdiagnostic ones among youth with SAD. Literature search was conducted in Pubmed, EBSCOhost, PsychInfo, PsycArticles, PSYNDEX, Medline, and ERIC. In total, 9 papers met the eligibility criteria. Overall, preschoolers benefited more from disorder-specific CBT protocols, whereas school-aged children and adolescents from transdiagnostic ones. Interventions aimed at removing SAD maintenance factors, by including parent-sessions, were efficacious, especially among younger children. Psychotherapy had higher efficacy than drug treatments, with individual- and group-CBT addressing SAD symptoms similarly. Findings support CBT as the golden standard for SAD in youth, impacting on the core symptoms in a time-limited, goal-directed way, with long-term effects.
Mansueto G., Faravelli C. (2021). Stressful life events and psychosis: Gender differences. Stress and Health.
Mansueto G., Lugoboni F., Casari R., Bertoldi A., Cosci F. (2021). Mono- and poly-therapy with benzodiazepines or Z-drugs. Results from a tertiary-care Addiction Unit study. The International Journal of Risk & Safety in Medicine 32(4): 295-320.
Mansueto G., Leão Lopes F., Grassi L., Cosci F. (2021). Impact of COVID-19 outbreak on Italian healthcare workers versus general population: results from an online survey. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy
COVID-19 pandemic has been a stressful condition. We explored life changes and health-related consequences of COVID-19 outbreak in Italian healthcare workers in comparison to the general population.
A total of 593 subjects participated to the online CoRonavIruS Health Impact Survey. Life events and changes, physical health and worries were evaluated referring to 2 weeks prior to the survey. Mood states and daily behaviour were retrospectively evaluated referring to 3 months before COVID-19 (T1) and 2 weeks prior to the survey (T2). Student t test, Mann–Whitney test and multivariate logistic regression analyses were run.
Five hundred and twenty-one subjects were analysed (healthcare workers: n = 163, 31.84%; general population: n = 349, 68.16%). Healthcare workers were more likely to report fatigue and have spent more time outside home during the 2 weeks prior to the survey than the general population (χ2(df) = 266.03(17), p < 0.001, R2 = 0.57). From T1 to T2, healthcare workers had a significant increase in negative mood, worry, restlessness, loneliness and a decrease in happiness, while subjects from the general population had a statistically significant increase in negative mood, worry, attention, concentration difficulties and a decrease in happiness, pleasure related to daily activities, time spent outdoors and alcohol use.
In the framework of a growing literature on healthcare workers’ status during the COVID-19 pandemic, the present study allowed to identify fatigue and loneliness as psychosomatic modifiable variables in need of being monitored and, possibly managed, to ameliorate the health status of healthcare workers.
Cosci F., Mansueto G., Benemei S., Chiarugi A., De Cesaris F., Sensky T. (2021). Mental pain as a global person-centred outcome measure. CNS Spectrums. 1-7.
BackgroundMental pain has been proposed as a global person-centered outcome measure. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to test an essential requisite of such a measure, namely that mental pain incorporates independent contributions from a range of discrete but disparate outcome measures.
MethodsTwo hundred migraine patients were assessed concerning migraine disability, psychosomatic syndromes, mental pain, depression, anxiety, and psychosocial dimensions. General linear models were tested to verify which measures would individually make unique contributions to overall mental pain.
ResultsThe final model, accounting for 44% of variance, identified that higher mental pain was associated with more severe depressive symptoms, higher migraine disability, lower well-being, and poorer quality of life.
ConclusionIn this sample, mental pain was shown to behave as expected of a global outcome measure, since multiple measures of symptomatology and quality of life showed modest but significant bivariate correlations with mental pain and some of these measures individually made unique contributions to overall mental pain.
Mansueto G., Carrozzino D. Christensen K.S., Cosci F. (2021). Clinimetric properties of the Smoking Abstinence Expectancies Questionnaire. Addictive Behaviors.
Smoking abstinence expectancies are beliefs about negative and positive short-term psychological and physiological consequences of not smoking. The Smoking Abstinence Expectancies Questionnaire (SAEQ) is a widely used Patient-Reported Outcome Measure (PROM) to assess smoking abstinence expectancies. It has four subscales: negative mood, somatic symptoms, harmful consequences, positive consequences. Although studied from a psychometric perspective, the SAEQ needs further evaluation. Clinimetrics, and its Clinimetric Criteria for Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (CLIPROM), offers a robust method to evaluate the SAEQ. We verified construct validity and sensitivity of the Italian version of the SAEQ applying CLIPROM criteria. A total of 293 adult Italian smokers were consecutively enrolled at two smoking cessation clinics and assessed via the SAEQ. Item Response Theory models (i.e., combining Rasch and Mokken analyses) were used to test construct validity and sensitivity. The total score of the SAEQ was not found to be unidimensional but each SAEQ subscale score was. PSI (0.90) indicated that the total score of the SAEQ could reliably discriminate between respondents with different levels of the trait under assessment, whereas SAEQ subscales on negative mood and harmful consequences could reliably distinguish between different groups but not between different subjects (PSI ranging from 0.77 and 0.78). Overall, the total score of the SAEQ is a sensitive screening PROM and can be used at smoking cessation clinics to discriminate between subjects with different levels of smoking abstinence expectancies. SAEQ subscales should be used to detect severity and subjective burden of a wide range of expected effects of nicotine abstinence.
Carrozzino D. Christensen K.S., Mansueto G., Brailovskaia J., Margraf J., Cosci F. (2021). A clinimetric analysis of the Euthymia, Resilience, and Positive Mental Health Scales. Journal of Affective Disorders.
Euthymia has been described as a transdiagnostic construct characterized by the absence of mood disturbances and the presence of an integration of psychic forces, such as coping strategy and well-being. A multidimensional measure, the Euthymia Scale (ES), has been proposed to assess it. We investigated construct and concurrent validity of the ES.
Construct validity was studied via Rasch and Mokken analyses and compared with that of the 11-item Resilience Scale (RS-11) and 9-item Positive Mental Health Scale (PMH-Scale). A total of 951 participants were recruited (77.5% women; 24.86 ± 5.62 years).
The ES, RS and PMH demonstrated similar sensitivity and construct validity. Findings indicate minor needs for adjustments only. As expected the ES demonstrated a strong negative correlation with neuroticism.
The convenience sample of subjects recruited primarily from female Italian university students and a community-based data collection limit the generalizability of the present findings. The cross-sectional design precludes the assessment of test-retest reliability, predictive and incremental validity. Only self-report measures and a Likert version of the ES were used.
ES is the most comprehensive measure of euthymia. The RS-11 is a valid measure of a specific component of euthymia, namely subjective ability to cope with stress and empower well-being in face of life adversities. The PMH-Scale is a valid measure of overall positive mental health.
Mansueto, G., Cavallo, C., Palmieri, S., Ruggiero, G. M., Sassaroli, S., & Caselli, G. (2021). Adverse childhood experiences and repetitive negative thinking in adulthood: a systematic review. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy.
It has been proposed that repetitive negative thinking (worry and rumination) may be more common among adults who have been exposed to childhood adverse experiences, leading to emotional disorders and other adverse outcomes. The current study aims to present a comprehensive evaluation of the literature examining the relationship between the exposure to childhood adversities, repetitive negative thinking and clinical outcomes in adulthood.
In accordance with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) criteria, a search was conducted on PubMed and Ebsco. A manual search of reference lists was also run. Search terms were ‘childhood adversity/childhood abuse/childhood neglect/early loss event AND worry or rumination’.
A total of 18 studies met the inclusion criteria. In both non-clinical and clinical populations, worry and rumination seem to be common among adults exposed to childhood abuse or childhood neglect. Among adults who have been exposed to childhood adversities, rumination seems to be associated with worse clinical outcomes such as severe psychiatric symptoms, depression, dysphoria, suicidal ideation, cognitive complaints, post-traumatic stress symptoms and aggression.
Early experiences of abuse and neglect may be associated with a tendency to engage in repetitive negative thinking, such as worry and rumination, in adulthood. Among adults, with a history of childhood adversities, tailored treatment to reduce repetitive negative thinking should be considered.
Ajmone, P. F., Allegri, B., Cereda, A., Michelini, G., Dall’Ara, F., Mariani, M., Rigamonti, C., Selicorni, A., Vizziello, P. & Costantino, M. A. (2021). Neuropsychiatric Functioning in CDLS: A Detailed Phenotype and Genotype Correlation. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Background: Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS) is a rare genetic disorder and its phenotype clinical expression is widely variable. Despite the growing interest on genotype-phenotype correlations and on behaviour phenotype of genetic syndromes, specific studies in CdLS cohorts evaluating the correlations between genotype and neurodevelopmental characteristics, Behaviour and communicative aspects are limited, most of these studies are descriptive and there is a lack of specific assessment protocols.
Methods: Neurodevelopmental and Behavioural phenotype of all the patients (N = 38) was assessed using a specific neuropsychiatric protocol, concerning Intellectual Quotient (IQ), General Quotient of Development (GQ), communicative skills, behavioural aspects and adaptive behaviour based on direct and indirect evaluation. Subsequently, we searched for possible genotype–phenotype correlations comparing individuals with NIPBL variants (CdLS NIPBL mutated group) and patients with negative molecular results (CdLS clinical diagnosis group).
Results: The first part of the study showed a higher percentage of subjects with normal Intellectual Quotient (IQ) and Borderline Intellectual Functioning if compared with previous data; adaptive skills were lower than expected for age in all participants and the weakest areas were Socialization, Motor Skills, and Communication. Expressive language was more compromised than receptive language, nevertheless receptive abilities were also impaired. 39.5% of the sample presented with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). By stratifying CdLS phenotypes by genetic, NIPBL mutated individuals demonstrated a worse trend in cognitive functioning, in communication expressive skills, in motor skills and in ASD symptoms in comparison with the Clinical Diagnosis Group. Individuals with non-Truncating mutation (mostly missense) displayed better abilities in Communication and in relational aspects with no ASD while Truncating individuals presented with worse abilities in Daily Living Skills, Socialization, Motor Skills, and Communicative abilities.
Conclusions: These findings should increase our awareness of the strengths and weaknesses points in CdLS individuals to guide appropriate targeted management; interventions addressing communicative impairments represent a clinical priority in CdLS patients.
Spadini S, Racchetti G, Adiletta A, Lamanna J, Moro AS, Ferro M, Zimarino V, Malgaroli A. (2021). A novel integrated approach to estimate the mitochondrial content of neuronal cells and brain tissues. J Neurosci Methods. 2021 Nov
Background: Mitochondria and their dynamics fuel most cellular processes both in physiological and pathological conditions. In the central nervous system, mitochondria sustain synaptic transmission and plasticity via multiple mechanisms which include their redistribution and/or expansion to higher energy demanding sites, sustaining activity changes and promoting morphological circuit adaptations.
New method: To be able to evaluate changes in mitochondrial number and protein phenotype, we propose a novel methodological approach where the simultaneous analysis of both mitochondrial DNA and protein content is performed on each individual microsample, avoiding non-homogeneous loss of material.
Results: We validated this method on neuronal-like cells and tissue samples and obtained estimates for the mitochondrial/genomic DNA ratio as well as for the abundance of protein counterparts. When the mitochondrial content per cell was evaluated in different brain areas, our results matched the known regional variation in aerobic-anaerobic metabolism. When long-term potentiation (LTP) was induced on hippocampal neurons, we detected increases in the abundance of mitochondria that correlated with the degree of synaptic enhancement.
Conclusions: Our approach can be effectively used to study the mitochondrial content andits changes in different brain cells and tissues.
Keywords: Energy metabolism; LTP; Mitochondria; Neuronal metabolism; Synaptic plasticity; Synaptic transmission.
Nese, M., Riboli, G., Brighetti, G., Visciano, R., Giunti, D., & Borlimi, R. (2021). Sexual Fantasies across Gender and Sexual Orientation in Young Adults: A Multiple Correspondence Analysis. Sexes, 2(4), 523-533
Differences in the content of sexual fantasies across gender have been widely documented, while less attention was given to the role of sexual orientation. Previous studies focused on differences in the prevalence of broad themes consisting of sets of contents. The current study aimed to increase the knowledge about sexual fantasies in heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual men and women. A descriptive approach that allows visualizing the patterns of fantasies reported by different groups using Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA) is presented. A sample of 3136 of young adults, 1754 women (Mage = 22.50, SD = 1.72, range 18–25) and 1382 men (Mage = 22.50, SD = 1.70, range 18–25), completed an online questionnaire assessing the presence of 29 different sexual fantasies. The prevalence of each fantasy among each group is shown. Also, relationships between fantasies and the distribution of groups along the two principal dimensions highlighted by MCA are represented. Heterosexuals women reported fewer fantasies and showed opposite patterns of response compared to heterosexual men. There was a substantial overlapping in the fantasies reported by gay and bisexual men, while responses of lesbian and bisexual women were more differentiated. These results indicate that the content of sexual fantasies varies according to both gender and sexual orientation.
Moderato, L., Lazzeroni, D., Oppo, A., Dell’Orco, F., Moderato, P., & Presti, G. (2021). Acute stress response profiles in health workers facing SARS-CoV-2. Frontiers in Psychology 12
Objective: The study is an explorative investigation aimed to assess the differences in acute stress response patterns of health workers facing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) during Italy’s first lockdown.
Methods: A cross-sectional investigation using convenience sampling method was conducted in Italy during April 2020. Eight hundred fifty-eight health workers participated in the research filling out self-report measures including Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD-7), Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), and Impact of Event Scale–Revised (IES-R).
Results: Moderate/severe depression was found in 28.9% (95% CI, 25.8–32.04), moderate/severe anxiety in 55.4% (95% CI, 51.9–58.8), insomnia in 15% (95% CI, 12.5–17.5), and distress in 52.5% (95% CI, 48.5%–56.6) of participants. The 3% of health workers reported frequent suicidal thoughts. Female sex, working for >15 h/week in a COVID-19 unit, and living apart from family were associated with a significantly higher risk of distress, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and functional impairment. Four profiles were identified on the basis of psychopathological measures: Profile_0 included 44% (N = 270); Profile_1, 25.6% (N = 157); Profile_2, 19.1% (N = 117); and Profile_3, 11.3% (N = 69) of participants. Results showed a significant effect for Profiles X IES-R (η2 = 0.079; f = 0.29), indicating that in all profiles, except for Profile_0, avoidance scale is lower than hyperarousal and intrusion symptoms scales of the IES-R. This characteristic could be a probable index of the control exerted by the responders to not fly away from their job.
Conclusion: The identification of specific profiles could help psychiatrists and emergency psychologists to build specific interventions in terms of both primary and secondary prevention to face future waves of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Cesareo, M., Tagliabue, M., Oppo, A., & Moderato, P. (2021). The ubiquity of social reinforcement: A nudging exploratory study to reduce the overuse of smartphones in social contexts. Cogent Psychology, 8(1)
In this study, we analyze the interaction between smartphones and their users as contingencies of reinforcement underpinning social behavior. We posit the introduction of a nudge: an environmental intervention meant to guide behavior that can be easily avoided in a social context. Our experiment takes us to an Italian pub with the hypothesis that a simple environmental factor (a basket featuring a social cue) will contribute to a reduction in digital social interactions in favor of physical social interactions. Data were collected employing a momentary time sampling where we recorded an increase in estimated time with no smartphone interactions and a decrease in estimated time with all the customers seated at one table using their smartphones in the experimental condition. These results were significant and suggest that the nudge was effective at reducing smartphone use among the patrons. Moreover, the estimates of these digital interactions were shorter for the statistical unit when compared to the control. Together, the results of study demonstrate that a nudge can reduce smartphone use in contexts of social interaction. However, it may be difficult to sustain alternative behavior without providing consequences that reinforce its future occurrences.
Palmieri, S., Gentile, N., Da Ros, A., & Spada, M. M. (2021). Profiling metacognition in binge eating disorder. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 39(2), 163-171.
Research has shown that metacognition may play a role in problem eating. In this study we explored whether aspects of metacognition are relevant to the understanding of binge eating in patients with Binge Eating Disorder. We aimed to ascertain: (1) the presence of metacognitive beliefs about binge eating; (2) the goal of, and stop signal for, binge eating; and (3) the impact of binge eating on self-consciousness. Ten Binge Eating Disorder patients took part in the study and were assessed using the metacognitive profiling semi-structured interview. Results suggested that all patients endorsed both positive and negative metacognitive beliefs about binge eating. The goals of binge eating were stop thinking about personal concerns and improve emotional state. All patients reported that they did not know when these goals had been reached. The stop signals for binge eating included physical discomfort, beliefs about binge eating not being the best way to solve problems, and environmental stimuli. All patients also confirmed that a reduction in self-consciousness occurred during a binge eating episode. The results of this study confirm that metacognition may indeed be relevant to the understanding of Binge Eating Disorder.
Akbari, M., Seydavi, M., Palmieri, S., Mansueto, G., Caselli, G., & Spada, M. M. (2021). Fear of missing out (FoMO) and internet use: A comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of behavioral addictions.
Background and aims
FoMO has been considered a predisposing factor toward excessive internet use, and a great deal of literature has investigated the link between FoMO and internet use. However, there is still a lack of cohesion in the literature.
The current study have been conducted and reported in accordance with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA).
In the current systematic review and meta-analysis of 86 effect-sizes, representative of 55,134 participants (Mean age = 22.07, SD = 6.15, females = 58.37%), we found that the strength of the trait FoMO- internet use association significantly varies from r = 0.11 to r = 0.63. In some populations, FoMO appears to increase with age and it is reverse in other populations. Facebook use was unrelated to FoMO in some populations, and higher FoMO was linked with stopping Instagram use for some individuals. The FoMO- internet use association was independent of their severity, as the interaction was not significant, and this association was neither linear nor curvilinear. The FoMO-internet use association does not appear to be associated with depressive, anxiety, and stress symptoms or level of life satisfaction. The COVID-19 pandemic was the only significant moderator of the FoMO-internet use association, strengthening this relationship.
Discussion and Conclusions
FoMO demonstrates a considerable role in internet use; however, there is no evidence of interaction or bi-directional association between the mentioned. Overall, we still don’t know what factors contribute to individuals exhibiting distinct patterns in the FoMO-internet use association.
Palmieri, S., Mansueto, G., Ruggiero, G. M., Caselli, G., Sassaroli, S., & Spada, M. M. (2021). Metacognitive beliefs across eating disorders and eating behaviours: A systematic review. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy.
Literature has pointed out a probable association between metacognitive beliefs and eating disorders. To date, no study has synthetized all research exploring the differences or similarities in metacognitive beliefs across different eating disorders diagnoses and eating problems.
To review the evidence on metacognitive beliefs across the spectrum of eating disorders and eating behaviours.
A comprehensive search was conducted on PubMed and PsycInfo. The search terms used were: ‘eating disorders/anorexia/bulimia/binge eating disorder/binge eating’ AND ‘metacognitions/metacognitive beliefs’. A manual search of reference lists was also run.
Eleven studies were identified. Anorexia Nervosa was broadly characterized by higher levels of metacognitive beliefs compared to the general population, particularly negative beliefs about worry and beliefs about the need to control thoughts. Positive beliefs about worry were higher in Anorexia Nervosa compared to Bulimia Nervosa and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, and in Bulimia Nervosa compared to Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Negative beliefs about worry were higher in Anorexia Nervosa compared to Bulimia Nervosa. Cognitive self-consciousness was higher in Anorexia Nervosa compared to Bulimia Nervosa and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
Metacognitive beliefs appear to be implicated in eating disorders and eating behaviours.
Palmieri, S., Mansueto, G., Scaini, S., Caselli, G., Sapuppo, W., Spada, M. M., Sassaroli, S., & Ruggiero, G. M. (2021). Repetitive Negative Thinking and Eating Disorders: A Meta-Analysis of the Role of Worry and Rumination. Journal of clinical medicine, 10(11), 2448.
Eichenberg, C., Grossfurthner, M., Kietaibl, S., Riboli, G., Borlimi, R., & Holocher-Benetka, S. (2021). Emotional distress in the early stages of the COVID-19 related lockdowns depending on the severity of the pandemic and emergency measures: a comparative online-survey in Germany, Austria and Italy. BMC psychiatry, 21(1), 1-13.
The first wave of the COVID-19-pandemic hit different countries with varying degrees of severity, so that differences in the type and level of emergency measures were also necessary. It can be assumed that the psychological burden was higher in countries subjected to a more severe course of the pandemic (Italy) than in countries subjected to a less severe one (Germany, Austria).
Sassaroli, S., Caselli, G., Mansueto, G., Palmieri, S., Pepe, A., Veronese, G., & Ruggiero, G. M. (2021). Validating the Diathesis–Stress Model Based Case Conceptualization Procedure in Cognitive Behavioral Therapies: The LIBET (Life Themes and Semi-Adaptive Plans—Implications of Biased Beliefs, Elicitation and Treatment) Procedure. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 1-39.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approaches use case formulation procedures based on the diathesis–stress conceptualization model, arranged in two dimensions: emotional vulnerability (present in a patient’s consciousness in terms of core beliefs) and coping strategies. Nevertheless, despite its pivotal role, there are a limited number of validation studies for this model. Life themes and semi-adaptive plans: Implications of biased beliefs, elicitation and treatment (LIBET) is a CBT case formulation method grounded on the CBT diathesis–stress model that aims to help validate the CBT case formulation model, and, in particular, its bidimensional arrangement. In LIBET, the two classic CBT dimensions are called “life themes,” which are mental states of focused attention to emotional sensitivities represented as core beliefs in consciousness, and “semi-adaptive plans,” which are the rigid management strategies of “life themes” implemented by adopting coping strategies such as anxious safety behaviors, compulsive controls and aggressive or rewarding strategies. The study uses quantitative textual analysis to validate the LIBET procedure in a clinical sample. The investigation discusses the extent to which the results can be considered a validation of the arrangement of the general CBT diathesis–stress model in the two dimensions of core beliefs and coping strategies.
Sbrizzi C., Sapuppo W. (2021). Effects of Pet Therapy in Elderly Patients with Neurocognitive Disorders: A Brief Review. Dementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders Extra. 11:198-206
Introduction: Neurocognitive disorders (NCDs) are disturbances highly related to age. This means that, with the increasing trend in life expectancy, there is also an increase in this diagnosis, although NCDs are not exclusively found in the population over 65 years old. Likely, they will increase in the coming years together with improvements in diagnosis. In addition to the use of medicines and rehabilitative techniques, pet therapy is also used. Pet therapy makes use of animals with therapeutic, rehabilitative, educational, and recreational purposes for people affected by physical, neuromotor, and psychiatric disorders. Pet therapy seems to be functional for increasing social and communication competencies, facilitating verbal and body language, increasing self-esteem, improving quality of life, and reducing anxiety/stress. Methods: This study was based on scientific papers and publications obtained from the PubMed and Google Scholar databases. Moreover, other articles from further cross-references were included. Specific database research criteria were (a) articles published in 2018 or later, (b) samples containing only adults over 65 years old, (c) written in English or Italian, and (d) on the topic of animal-assisted intervention. Results: Uncertain results were obtained. Although a positive effect was found, the included articles were of insufficient methodological rigor. Discussion/Conclusion: Although many studies reported positive results, these could not be generalized because of the numerous biases present (e.g., small sample size, lack of methodological rigor, lack of protocol, etc.). Future studies, therefore, should seek to address the limitations found in the analyzed studies.
Andreola, C., Mascheretti, S., Belotti, R., Ogliari, A., Marino, C., Battaglia, M., & Scaini, S. (2021). The heritability of reading and reading-related neurocognitive components: A multi-level meta-analysis. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 121,175–200
Reading ability is a complex task requiring the integration of multiple cognitive and perceptual systems supporting language, visual and orthographic processes, working memory, attention, motor movements, and higher-level comprehension and cognition. Estimates of genetic and environmental influences for some of these reading-related neurocognitive components vary across reports.
By using a multi-level meta-analysis approach, we synthesized the results of behavioral genetic research on reading-related neurocognitive components (i.e. general reading, letter-word knowledge, phonological decoding, reading comprehension, spelling, phonological awareness, rapid automatized naming, and language) of 49 twin studies spanning 4.1–18.5 years of age, with a total sample size of more than 38,000 individuals.
Except for language for which shared environment seems to play a more important role, the causal architecture across most of the reading-related neurocognitive components can be represented by the following equation a² > e² > c². Moderators analysis revealed that sex and spoken language did not affect the heritability of any reading-related skills; school grade levels moderated the heritability of general reading, reading comprehension and phonological awareness.
Scaini, S., Centorame, G., Lissandrello, F., Sardella, S., Stazi, M. A., Fagnani, C., Brombin, C., & Battaglia, M. (2021). The role of genetic and environmental factors in covariation between anxiety and anger in childhood. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 30(4), 607-617.
Higher levels of anger expression, as well as lower levels of anger control, have been reported for adults with anxiety disorders compared to individuals without anxiety disorders. Different to the research on adults, very few studies examined the relationship between anxiety and anger in childhood. In our study, we investigated 398 Italian twin pairs (74 MZ male, 70 MZ female, 134 same-sex dizygotic-53 male, 81 female-, and 120 unlike-sex dizygotic twin pairs), aged 8–17 (mean 13.06 ± 2.59): (i) the heritability of a childhood anger phenotype; (ii) the association between five anxiety domains and anger; (iii) the role of possible common etiological factors in explaining the observed comorbidity and overlap in the risk between anxiety phenotypes and anger. The study demonstrated that anger, assessed by CBCL items, is heritable in children at a similar rate to prior studies (40%). Our research found low to moderate rate of correlation between anger and anxiety (from 0.10 to 0.19). Finally, the present study found that the majority of etiological influences on anxiety and anger are independent of each other. Data showed that shared environmental influences have some small effects on the phenotypic covariation between the anxiety phenotypes and anger (12%); whereas unique environmental influences have an almost negligible effect (1%). Our analyses did not reveal the effect of genetic effects in explaining the covariation between these phenotypes.
Scaini, S., Caputi, M., Giani, L., & Forresi, B. (2021). Temperament profiles to differentiate between stress-resilient and stress-affected children during Covid-19 pandemic. Psychology Hub, 38(3), 7-16.
Covid-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to individual resilience, especially among children who are the most affected by its psychological consequences.
We aim to investigate temperament profiles that might constitute a potential risk factor for the development of psychopathology and low levels of resilience in children experiencing Covid-19 quarantine. Through a snowball sampling from the general population, we recruited parents of 158 Italian children aged 5 to 10 years (48% boys, M = 7.4, SD = 1.8). Parents completed questionnaires to assess their children’s temperament, psychopathological symptoms, and resilience, respectively through the Junior Temperament and Character Inventory, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, and the Child and Youth Resilience Measure. Profile Analysis was employed to outline temperament differences between stress-resilient and stress-affected
children. Results evidenced that resilient children displayed high levels of persistence and reward dependence, and low levels of novelty seeking. Behavioral difficulties were associated with low levels of persistence and reward dependence, and high levels of novelty seeking. Internalizing symptoms were more likely among children with high harm avoidance and low persistence. These findings underscore the importance of examining different temperament dimensions and their associations, especially when profiling phenotypes in trying to identify the links among temperament, vulnerability to psychopathology and resilience during stressful periods.
Scaini, S., Palmieri, S., Caselli, G., & Nobile, M. (2021). Rumination thinking in childhood and adolescence: a brief review of candidate genes. Journal of Affective Disorders
Background: rumination has been reported as a cognitive vulnerability factor in adolescent and adult depression. The present brief review aimed at summarizing the results of the genetic studies that investigate the candidate genes for rumination in children and adolescents.
Methods: bibliographic research was conducted on PubMed and Science Direct from their inception to February 2020. The search terms used were: ‘rumination, ruminative thinking, repetitive thinking and ‘gene, gen*’.
Results: eight studies were identified. Results suggest that variations in the 5-HTTLPR and BDNF genes may contribute to the tendency to ruminate, modelling the relationship between life stress and rumination.
Limitations: the interpretation of these results is limited by the sample sizes of the selected studies, the study designs, and the heterogeneity of the instruments assessing rumination.
Conclusions: these findings partially support the notion that variation in in the 5-HTTLPR and BDNF genes is associated with biological sensitivity to rumination.
Scaini, S., Piron, R., Nicoli, S., Fiore, F., DiGiuseppe, R., Ruggiero, M.G., Caruso. C. (2021). A Cross‑Validation of the Anger Cognitions Scale‑Revised: Cognitions and Anger in an Italian Adolescent Sample. Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy, 1-17
The Angry Cognitions Scale (ACS; Martin and Dahlen in J Ration Emot Cogn Behav Therapy 25(3): 155–173, 2007) is a comprehensive instrument designed to test cognitions that are related to anger. This paper presents data on the Italian-language version of the Angry Cognition Scale-Revised (ACS-R; Soto and DiGiuseppe in which beliefs best predict anger, 2016) in a sample of adolescents aged 11–19 years. The revised version attempted to refine the ACS to better represent Ellis’s theory of irrational beliefs and clarify the coping strategies subscale. Our study attempted to (a) test the factorial structure of the ACS-R-adolescent version, (b) provide psychometric information on internal consistency and test–retest reliability data on the questionnaire in the Italian culture, and (c) test the convergent and predictive validity of the ACS-R-adolescent version relative to other questionnaires. Factor analysis supports a multidimensional model, but the distribution of the items is different from the original validation; in particular, a three-factor solution was supported rather the hypothesized seven factors. Specifically, we labelled the factors as follows: Factor 1 is labelled as Hostile verbal and involves catastrophic cognitive attributions; Factor 2 is labelled Adaptive thoughts on the negative consequences of anger; and Factor 3 is called Demandingness and generalizations. The internal consistency appears optimal for all three factors (from .720 to .888). In addition, analyses reveal good test–retest reliability and convergent validity.