Publications by authors named "Amber R Miller"

7 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Social conversation skill improvements associated with the Social Tools And Rules for Teens program for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: Results of a randomized controlled trial.

Autism 2019 07 31;23(5):1224-1235. Epub 2018 Oct 31.

University of California, Santa Barbara, USA.

There has been a significant increase in the development of interventions to improve the social competence and success of adolescents with autism spectrum disorder. The current investigation used direct observation and coding of social conversations as a rigorous method to further assess the efficacy of the Social Tools And Rules for Teens socialization intervention for adolescents with autism spectrum disorder in the context of a randomized controlled trial. A total of 35 adolescents with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder were randomized to either a treatment or waitlist control group. The 20-week group intervention took place once a week for 90 min per session. Brief video-recorded conversations between participants and unfamiliar, untrained peers were recorded at pre- and post-time points and coded for selected social behaviors (i.e. questions asked, positive facial expressions, and mutual engagement). Results revealed a significant Group × Time treatment effect for both questions asked and positive facial expressions. The findings support that the Social Tools And Rules for Teens intervention can positively impact specific, observable social behaviors through systematic coding of live social conversations within the context of a randomized controlled trial. This investigation is one of the first randomized controlled trials of a group socialization intervention to use systematic coding of live social conversations to assess social competence improvements.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1362361318808781DOI Listing
July 2019

A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Social Tools And Rules for Teens (START) Program: An Immersive Socialization Intervention for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

J Autism Dev Disord 2018 03;48(3):892-904

Koegel Autism Center, Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology, Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, 93106-9490, USA.

Adolescents with ASD face numerous personal and contextual barriers that impede the development of social motivation and core competencies, warranting the need for targeted intervention. A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 40 adolescents to evaluate the merits of a multi-component socialization intervention that places emphasis on experiential learning. This investigation evaluated the impact of the 20-week START program on the social functioning of adolescents with ASD. Significant Group × Time differences between START and waitlist control groups were found across multiple measures. Secondary analyses of the entire program cohort also yielded significant improvement trends across all measures. These findings may be an important step in identifying optimal strategies to target the complex factors limiting optimal social development in ASD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3380-1DOI Listing
March 2018

Social Tools And Rules for Teens (The START Program): Program Description and Preliminary Outcomes of an Experiential Socialization Intervention for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

J Autism Dev Disord 2016 May;46(5):1806-23

Department of Counseling, Clinical & School Psychology, Koegel Autism Center, University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, 93106-9490, USA.

Experiential learning is an essential process in the development of core social competencies. Unfortunately, adolescents with autism spectrum disorders often do not possess the prerequisite skillset and motivation to sustain the level of social immersion needed to benefit from this learning process. These persisting social vulnerabilities can limit their long-term relational success and associated quality of life, creating a need for comprehensive social programming. This paper describes a multi-component socialization intervention that simultaneously targets motivational, conceptual, and skill deficits using a hybrid experiential/didactic treatment approach. Evidence of social competence improvements was noted in survey and live conversational measures, indicating that the START program may hold promise as a method for improving the social success of participating adolescents with ASD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-016-2715-7DOI Listing
May 2016

Abnormal activity-dependent brain lactate and glutamate+glutamine responses in panic disorder.

Biol Psychiatry 2013 Jun 17;73(11):1111-9. Epub 2013 Jan 17.

Department of Psychiatry, University of California Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, California 95817, USA.

Background: Prior evidence suggests panic disorder (PD) is characterized by neurometabolic abnormalities, including increased brain lactate responses to neural activation. Increased lactate responses could reflect a general upregulation of metabolic responses to neural activation. However, prior studies in PD have not measured activity-dependent changes in brain metabolites other than lactate. Here we examine activity-dependent changes in both lactate and glutamate plus glutamine (glx) in PD.

Methods: Twenty-one PD patients (13 remitted, 8 symptomatic) and 12 healthy volunteers were studied. A single-voxel, J-difference, magnetic resonance spectroscopy editing sequence was used to measure lactate and glx changes in visual cortex induced by visual stimulation.

Results: The PD patients had significantly greater activity-dependent increases in brain lactate than healthy volunteers. The differences were significant for both remitted and symptomatic PD patients, who did not differ from each other. Activity-dependent changes in glx were significantly smaller in PD patients than in healthy volunteers. The temporal correlation between lactate and glx changes was significantly stronger in control subjects than in PD patients.

Conclusions: The novel demonstration that glx responses are diminished and temporally decoupled from lactate responses in PD contradicts the model of a general upregulation of activity-dependent brain metabolic responses in PD. The increase in activity-dependent brain lactate accumulation appears to be a trait feature of PD. Given the close relationship between lactate and pH in the brain, the findings are consistent with a model of brain metabolic and pH dysregulation associated with altered function of acid-sensitive fear circuits contributing to trait vulnerability in PD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.12.015DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3636170PMC
June 2013

An open trial of pregabalin as an acute and maintenance adjunctive treatment for outpatients with treatment resistant bipolar disorder.

J Affect Disord 2013 May 4;147(1-3):407-10. Epub 2012 Oct 4.

Sutter Community Hospitals, Sacramento, CA, USA.

Background: Pregabalin is a structural analog of GABA, similar to gabapentin. It does not have a FDA indication for any psychiatric disorder in the USA. There has been one case report of the successful use of pregabalin as an augmenting agent in a patient with Bipolar Disorder (BD). In the present open label study, not subsidized by the manufacturer, the investigators prospectively evaluated the acute and maintenance efficacy of pregabalin as an adjunctive medication for a group of treatment refractory outpatients with BD.

Methods: Older adolescent and adult outpatients with any type of DSM-IV diagnosed BD, who were considered treatment nonresponders to multiple standard medications for BD, were treated with adjunctive pregabalin. The baseline mood state before initiation of pregabalin was compared to the mood state after an acute trial of pregabalin using the Clinical Global Impression-Bipolar Version Scale (CGI-BP). All acute responders were treated for a minimum of two months. Follow-up maintenance treatment data was obtained for the acute pregabalin responders for three years after the 18 month acute phase of the study.

Results: Fifty-eight total patients were treated adjunctively with pregabalin. Twenty-four (41%) were rated as acute responders. For the acute responders, pregabalin produced either a mood stabilizing effect, antidepressant effect or antimanic effect. Intolerable side-effects were the most common reason (79%) for a failed acute trial of pregabalin. None of the side effects resulted in serious medical complications. No patient abused pregabalin, and there were no adverse drug-drug interactions despite an average of 3.3 concurrent other psychiatric medications. The maintenance data revealed that 10 (42%) of the original 24 acute pregabalin responders were still taking pregabalin as an add-on medicine for an average of 45.2 months (range 42-48, SD: 2.35).

Limitations: This study has an open label observation design.

Conclusions: The results of this preliminary open study suggest that pregabalin is a safe and effective acute and maintenance adjunctive treatment for a significant number of treatment-resistant outpatients with any type of BPD. It appears to have mood stabilizing and antidepressant properties in addition to antimanic effects. Similar studies using a double-blind, randomly controlled design would be useful to confirm the reliability and validity of the results of this study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2012.09.005DOI Listing
May 2013

An open trial of pregabalin as an acute and maintenance adjunctive treatment for outpatients with treatment resistant bipolar disorder.

J Affect Disord 2013 May 4;147(1-3):407-10. Epub 2012 Oct 4.

Sutter Community Hospitals, Sacramento, CA, USA.

Background: Pregabalin is a structural analog of GABA, similar to gabapentin. It does not have a FDA indication for any psychiatric disorder in the USA. There has been one case report of the successful use of pregabalin as an augmenting agent in a patient with Bipolar Disorder (BD). In the present open label study, not subsidized by the manufacturer, the investigators prospectively evaluated the acute and maintenance efficacy of pregabalin as an adjunctive medication for a group of treatment refractory outpatients with BD.

Methods: Older adolescent and adult outpatients with any type of DSM-IV diagnosed BD, who were considered treatment nonresponders to multiple standard medications for BD, were treated with adjunctive pregabalin. The baseline mood state before initiation of pregabalin was compared to the mood state after an acute trial of pregabalin using the Clinical Global Impression-Bipolar Version Scale (CGI-BP). All acute responders were treated for a minimum of two months. Follow-up maintenance treatment data was obtained for the acute pregabalin responders for three years after the 18 month acute phase of the study.

Results: Fifty-eight total patients were treated adjunctively with pregabalin. Twenty-four (41%) were rated as acute responders. For the acute responders, pregabalin produced either a mood stabilizing effect, antidepressant effect or antimanic effect. Intolerable side-effects were the most common reason (79%) for a failed acute trial of pregabalin. None of the side effects resulted in serious medical complications. No patient abused pregabalin, and there were no adverse drug-drug interactions despite an average of 3.3 concurrent other psychiatric medications. The maintenance data revealed that 10 (42%) of the original 24 acute pregabalin responders were still taking pregabalin as an add-on medicine for an average of 45.2 months (range 42-48, SD: 2.35).

Limitations: This study has an open label observation design.

Conclusions: The results of this preliminary open study suggest that pregabalin is a safe and effective acute and maintenance adjunctive treatment for a significant number of treatment-resistant outpatients with any type of BPD. It appears to have mood stabilizing and antidepressant properties in addition to antimanic effects. Similar studies using a double-blind, randomly controlled design would be useful to confirm the reliability and validity of the results of this study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2012.09.005DOI Listing
May 2013

Application of molecular techniques to elucidate the influence of cellulosic waste on the bacterial community structure at a simulated low-level-radioactive-waste site.

Appl Environ Microbiol 2010 May 19;76(10):3106-15. Epub 2010 Mar 19.

Department of Microbiology and Center for Biofilm Engineering, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana 59717, USA.

Low-level-radioactive-waste (low-level-waste) sites, including those at various U.S. Department of Energy sites, frequently contain cellulosic waste in the form of paper towels, cardboard boxes, or wood contaminated with heavy metals and radionuclides such as chromium and uranium. To understand how the soil microbial community is influenced by the presence of cellulosic waste products, multiple soil samples were obtained from a nonradioactive model low-level-waste test pit at the Idaho National Laboratory. Samples were analyzed using 16S rRNA gene clone libraries and 16S rRNA gene microarray (PhyloChip) analyses. Both methods revealed changes in the bacterial community structure with depth. In all samples, the PhyloChip detected significantly more operational taxonomic units, and therefore relative diversity, than the clone libraries. Diversity indices suggest that diversity is lowest in the fill and fill-waste interface (FW) layers and greater in the wood waste and waste-clay interface layers. Principal-coordinate analysis and lineage-specific analysis determined that the Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria phyla account for most of the significant differences observed between the layers. The decreased diversity in the FW layer and increased members of families containing known cellulose-degrading microorganisms suggest that the FW layer is an enrichment environment for these organisms. These results suggest that the presence of the cellulosic material significantly influences the bacterial community structure in a stratified soil system.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.01688-09DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2869122PMC
May 2010