Publications by authors named "Richard Jennings"

174 Publications

Where myth and archaeology meet: Discovering the Gorgon Medusa's Lair.

PLoS One 2021 1;16(4):e0249606. Epub 2021 Apr 1.

Department of Earth Sciences and CIPHCN-Heritage Centre, University of Huelva, Huelva, Spain.

Here we report the discovery of ceramic fragments that form part of a Gorgoneion, a ceramic image representation of the Gorgon Medusa. The fragments were found in a deep part of Gorham's Cave, well known to ancient mariners as a natural shrine, between the 8th and 2nd century BCE. We discuss the context of this discovery, both within the inner topography of the cave itself, and also the broader geographical context. The discovery is situated at the extreme western end of the Mediterranean Sea, where it meets the Atlantic Ocean. The location was known to ancient mariners as the northern Pillar of Herakles, which marked the end of the known world. We relate the discovery, and its geographical and chronological context, to Greek legends that situated the lair of the Gorgon sisters at a location which coincides with the physical attributes and geographical position of Gorham's Cave. We thus provide, uniquely, a geographical and archaeological context to the myth of Perseus and the slaying of the Gorgon Medusa.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0249606PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8016213PMC
April 2021

Cardiac vagal control in response to acute stress during pregnancy: Associations with life stress and emotional support.

Psychophysiology 2021 Mar 13:e13808. Epub 2021 Mar 13.

Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Life stressors during pregnancy can disrupt maternal stress regulation and negatively impact offspring health. Despite the important role of cardiac vagal control (e.g., heart rate variability; HRV) in stress regulation, few studies have investigated how life stressors and emotional support influence vagal control during pregnancy. This study aimed to (a) characterize patterns of cardiac vagal control in response to a stressor administered in pregnancy, and (b) examine the effects of life stress and emotional support on vagal control during rest, reactivity, and recovery. Participants included 191 pregnant women (79% Black; 21% White) living in an urban U.S. city (73% receiving public assistance). Heart rate (HR) and HRV (indexed by RMSSD) were recorded continually during the preparation, task, and recovery periods of the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Participants reported recent life stressors (e.g., relationship problems, financial hardship) and emotional support. Piecewise growth curve modeling was used to model rates of reactivity and recovery, adjusting for gestational age at time of assessment and recent health problems. Life stress predicted greater HR and HRV reactivity to the TSST as well as greater HRV recovery (vagal rebound). However, associations were only evident for women reporting high emotional support. Results suggest that pregnant women living with frequent life stressors may exhibit more rapid autonomic responses to acute stress, including more rapid vagal rebound after stressors, potentially reflecting physiological adaptation to anticipated high-stress environments; emotional support may enhance these responses. Studies are needed to investigate long-term health outcomes related to this stress response pattern.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13808DOI Listing
March 2021

Attention and sensory integration for postural control in young adults with autism spectrum disorders.

Exp Brain Res 2021 Mar 6. Epub 2021 Mar 6.

Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Postural control impairments have been reported in adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Balance relies on the integration of multisensory cues, a process that requires attention. The purpose of this study was to determine if the influence of attention demands on sensory integration abilities relevant for balance partially contributes to postural control impairments in ASD. Young adults with ASD (N = 24) and neurotypical participants (N = 24) were exposed to sensory perturbations during standing. An established dual-task paradigm was used, requiring participants to maintain balance in these sensory challenging environments and to perform auditory information processing tasks (simple reaction time task and choice reaction time task). Balance was assessed using sway magnitude and sway speed, and attention demands were evaluated based on the response time in the auditory tasks. While young adults with ASD were able to maintain balance in destabilizing sensory conditions, they were more challenged (greater sway speed) than their neurotypical counterparts. Additionally, when exposed for an extended amount of time (3 min) to the most challenging sensory condition included in this study, adults with ASD exhibited a reduced ability to adapt their postural control strategies (sway speed was minimally reduced), demonstrating a postural inflexibility pattern in ASD compared to neurotypical counterparts. Finally, the impact of performing an auditory information processing task on balance and the dual-task cost on information processing (response time) was similar in both groups. ASD may disrupt temporal adaptive postural control processes associated with sensory reweighting that occurs in neurotypicals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00221-021-06058-zDOI Listing
March 2021

Dual impedance cardiography: An inexpensive and reliable method to assess arterial stiffness.

Psychophysiology 2021 Jan 26:e13772. Epub 2021 Jan 26.

Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Pulse wave velocity (PWV) is a common measure of arterial stiffness. Non-invasive methods to measure PWV are widely used in biomedical studies of aging and cardiovascular disease, but they are rarely used in psychophysiology. Barriers to wider use include the prohibitive costs of specialized equipment and need for trained technicians (e.g., ultrasonographers). Here, we describe an impedance cardiography method to measure PWV. By this method, impedance signals are dually collected from the thorax and calf. Combined with ensemble averaging of vascular signals, this dual impedance cardiography (d-ICG) method allows for the measurement of aortic flow onset and the arrival time of peripheral pulse waveforms to compute PWV. In a community sample of adults (aged 19-78 years), PWV measured with d-ICG exhibited a strong positive correlation with age. Moreover, age-specific mean PWV values were within the normative reference intervals established by large scale studies using other techniques. PWV derived from d-ICG exhibited high test-retest reliability across several days, as well as excellent inter-rater reliability. Last, PWV exhibited expected associations with known cardiovascular disease risk factors and indicators of autonomic cardiovascular control. d-ICG is an inexpensive and reliable method to assess arterial stiffness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13772DOI Listing
January 2021

Is stressor-evoked cardiovascular reactivity a pathway linking positive and negative emotionality to preclinical cardiovascular disease risk?

Psychophysiology 2021 Mar 5;58(3):e13741. Epub 2020 Dec 5.

Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Stressor-evoked cardiovascular reactivity, trait positive emotionality, and negative emotionality are all associated with cardiovascular disease. It is unknown, however, whether cardiovascular reactivity may constitute a pathway by which trait positive or negative emotionality relates to disease risk. Accordingly, this study modeled the cross-sectional relationships between trait positive and negative emotionality, stressor-evoked cardiovascular reactivity, and severity of a subclinical vascular marker of cardiovascular risk, carotid artery intima-media thickness (CA-IMT). The sample consisted of healthy, midlife adults free from clinical cardiovascular disease (N = 286; ages 30-54; 50% female). Trait positive and negative emotionality were measured by three questionnaires. Heart rate and blood pressure reactivity were assessed across three stressor tasks. CA-IMT was assessed by ultrasonography. Latent factors of positive and negative emotionality, blood pressure reactivity, heart rate reactivity, and CA-IMT were created using structural equation modeling. Greater negative emotionality was marginally associated with more CA-IMT (β = .21; p = .049), but lower blood pressure reactivity (β = -.19; p = .03). However, heightened blood pressure (β = .21; p = .03), but not heart rate reactivity (β = -.05; p = .75), associated with greater CA-IMT. Positive emotionality was uncorrelated with cardiovascular reactivity (blood pressure: β = -.04; p = .61; heart rate: β = .16; p = .11) and CA-IMT (β = .16; p = .07). Although trait negative emotionality associates with a known marker of cardiovascular disease risk, independent of positive emotionality, it is unlikely to occur via a stressor-evoked cardiovascular reactivity pathway.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13741DOI Listing
March 2021

Intrinsic Laryngeal Muscle Response to a Public Speech Preparation Stressor: Personality and Autonomic Predictors.

J Speech Lang Hear Res 2020 09 3;63(9):2940-2951. Epub 2020 Sep 3.

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Delaware, Newark.

Purpose Laboratory stressors have been shown to impact the activity of the intrinsic laryngeal muscles (ILMs), which may be part of the final causal pathway in some stress-induced voice disorders. Previous research suggests that personality traits such as stress reaction might increase one's susceptibility to these problems. Also, the autonomic nervous system response is implicated in the pathogenesis of voice disorders putatively involving ILM hyperfunction. The purpose of this study was to investigate personality and autonomic nervous system predictors of ILM responses to stressor exposure. Method Thirty-seven physically and vocally healthy female adults completed a personality questionnaire and were subjected to a speech preparation task intended to induce stress. Fine wire electromyography of the ILMs was performed so that the activity of these muscles could be measured prior to and during the stressor. Participants' trait stress reaction was measured as a personality-based predictive variable, as was respiratory-corrected respiratory sinus arrhythmia, a putative measure of vagal outflow to the heart. Results The personality measure trait stress reaction uniquely predicted thyroarytenoid, trapezius, and tibialis activity, whereas respiratory sinus arrhythmia uniquely predicted the activity of all muscles studied. Differences were observed in the autonomic predictor variable as a function of whether or not effects of respiration were accounted for in the variable's calculation. Conclusions This study explores the potential mediating roles of personality and autonomic function in ILM activity during a stressor. Both variables have value in predicting ILM activity during stressor exposure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1044/2020_JSLHR-19-00402DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7890219PMC
September 2020

Cerebrovascular function in hypertension: Does high blood pressure make you old?

Psychophysiology 2020 Aug 24:e13654. Epub 2020 Aug 24.

Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

The majority of individuals over an age of 60 have hypertension. Elevated blood pressure and older age are associated with very similar changes in brain structure and function. We review the parallel brain changes associated with increasing age and blood pressure. This review focuses on joint associations of aging and elevated blood pressure with neuropsychological function, regional cerebral blood flow responses to cognitive and metabolic challenges, white matter disruptions, grey matter volume, cortical thinning, and neurovascular coupling. Treatment of hypertension ameliorates many of these changes but fails to reverse them. Treatment of hypertension itself appears more successful with better initial brain function. We show evidence that sympathetic and renal influences known to increase blood pressure also impact brain integrity. Possible central mechanisms contributing to the course of hypertension and aging are then suggested. An emphasis is placed on psychologically relevant factors: stress, cardiovascular reactions to stress, and diet/obesity. The contribution of some of these factors to biological aging remains unclear and may provide a starting point for defining the independent and interacting effects of aging and increasing blood pressure on the brain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13654DOI Listing
August 2020

RSA reactivity to parent-child conflict as a predictor of dysregulated emotion and behavior in daily life.

Psychol Med 2020 Aug 17:1-9. Epub 2020 Aug 17.

Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Background: Individual variability in tonic (resting) and phasic (reactivity) respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) may underlie risk for dysregulated emotion and behavior, two transdiagnostic indicators that permeate most psychological disorders in youth. The interaction between tonic and phasic RSA may specify unique physiological profiles during the transition to adolescence. The current study utilized clinically referred youth (Mage = 12.03; s.d. = 0.92) to examine baseline RSA, RSA reactivity, and their interaction as predictors of dysregulated emotion and behavior in daily life.

Method: Participants were 162 youth (47% female; 60% minority) in psychiatric treatment for any mood or behavior problem. RSA was assessed during three, 2-minute baselines and an 8-minute parent-child conflict discussion task. Dysregulated emotion and behavior were assessed during a 4-day ecological momentary assessment protocol that included 10 time-based prompts over a long weekend.

Results: Greater RSA withdrawal to the conflict was associated with dysregulated basic emotion (sadness, anger, nervousness, stress) in daily life. Two distinct interactions also emerged, such that baseline RSA was related to dysregulated complex emotion (shame, guilt, loneliness, emptiness) and dysregulated behavior as a function of RSA reactivity to conflict. Lower baseline RSA and greater RSA withdrawal were associated with dysregulated complex emotion, while higher baseline RSA and greater RSA withdrawal were associated with dysregulated behavior.

Conclusions: Findings point to physiological profiles that increase the risk of dysregulated emotion and behavior during the transition to adolescence. Excessive RSA withdrawal uniquely, and in combination with baseline RSA, increased risk for dysregulation in daily life, underscoring the role of autonomic stress responding as a risk factor for psychopathology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291720002810DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7908813PMC
August 2020

Sympathetic arousal during the processing of dysphoric affect by youths at high and low familial risk for depression.

Psychophysiology 2020 12 14;57(12):e13664. Epub 2020 Aug 14.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Youths at high risk for depression have been shown to have problems in repairing their own sad mood. Given that sympathetic arousal has been implicated both in the experience and regulation of affect, an atypical pattern of arousal may be one of the factors that contribute to mood repair problems. In the current study, we measured sympathetic arousal of never-depressed youths at high (n = 56) and low (n = 67) familial risk for depression during sad mood induction and instructed mood repair. Sympathetic arousal was indexed by skin conductance level (SCL) and cardiac pre-ejection period (PEP); mood repair outcome was indexed by self-rated affect. High-risk youths demonstrated increased SCL during sadness induction, which persisted during mood repair; low-risk youths evidenced increased SCL only during mood repair. Shortened PEP was evident only among high-risk youths and only during mood repair. Furthermore, shortened PEP during mood induction predicted less successful mood repair in the low-risk but not in the high-risk group. The findings suggest that: (a) depression-prone youths differ from control peers in patterns of sympathetic responses to emotional stimuli, which may impair their ability to relieve sadness, and (b) activation patterns differ across subsystems (SCL vs. PEP) of sympathetic activity, in conjunction with depression risk status.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13664DOI Listing
December 2020

Gynecologic Risk Mitigation Considerations for Long-Duration Spaceflight.

Aerosp Med Hum Perform 2020 Jul;91(7):543-564

As NASA and its international partners, as well as the commercial spaceflight industry, prepare for missions of increasing duration and venturing outside of low-Earth orbit, mitigation of medical risk is of high priority. Gynecologic considerations constitute one facet of medical risk for female astronauts. This manuscript will review the preflight, in-flight, and postflight clinical evaluation, management, and prevention considerations for reducing gynecologic and reproductive risks in female astronauts. Relevant gynecological articles from databases including Ovid, Medline, Web of Science, various medical libraries, and NASA archives were evaluated for this review. In particular, articles addressing preventive measures or management of conditions in resource-limited environments were evaluated for applicability to future long-duration exploration spaceflight. Topics including abnormal uterine bleeding, anemia, bone mineral density, ovarian cysts, venous thromboembolism, contraception, fertility, and health maintenance were reviewed. Prevention and treatment strategies are discussed with a focus on management options that consider limitations of onboard medical capabilities. Long-duration exploration spaceflight will introduce new challenges for maintenance of gynecological and reproductive health. The impact of the space environment outside of low-Earth orbit on gynecological concerns remains unknown, with factors such as increased particle radiation exposure adding complexity and potential risk. While the most effective means of minimizing the impact of gynecologic or reproductive pathology for female astronauts is screening and prevention, gynecological concerns can arise unpredictably as they do on Earth. Careful consideration of gynecological risks and potential adverse events during spaceflight is a critical component to risk analysis and preventive medicine for future exploration missions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3357/AMHP.5538.2020DOI Listing
July 2020

The relationship between resting heart rate and aggression in males is racially variant.

Aggress Behav 2020 03 20;46(2):170-180. Epub 2020 Jan 20.

Departments of Criminology, Psychology, and Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Although resting heart rate is thought to be a generalizable risk factor for aggression, very little research has examined whether this relationship varies by race. We addressed this limitation using longitudinal data from the Pittsburgh Youth Study. Current data are from 197 men who participated in a teenage biosocial study (mean age = 15.7 years) and adult follow-up study (mean age = 32.1 years). Teenage resting heart rate interacted with race to predict teenage and adult aggression. The relationship between heart rate and aggression was significant in White, but not in Black males. To our knowledge, this is the first study to find that the relationship between resting heart rate and aggression is racially variant, suggesting that resting heart rate may not be a generalizable biomarker for conduct problems. At an intervention-level, findings could contribute to the development of more accurate risk assessment tools that take into account racial variance in risk factors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ab.21879DOI Listing
March 2020

Gray Matter Regions Associated With Functional Mobility in Community-Dwelling Older Adults.

J Am Geriatr Soc 2020 05 30;68(5):1023-1028. Epub 2019 Dec 30.

Department of Physical Therapy, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Background/objectives: Neuroimaging indicators of reduced brain health in the form of lower gray matter volume (GMV), lower fractional anisotropy (FA), and higher white matter hyperintensity volume (WMHV) have been related to global mobility measures, such as gait speed, in older adults. The purpose was to identify associations between brain regions and specific mobility functions to provide a greater understanding of the contribution of the central nervous system to independent living.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Research laboratory.

Participants: Seventy community-ambulating healthy older adults (mean age = 76 ± 5 years).

Measurements: Participants performed the following tests: gait speed, Five Times Sit to Stand, Four Square Step Test (FSST), and Dynamic Gait Index (DGI). Structural magnetic resonance imaging of each participant's brain was collected. Measures of regional GMV, tract-specific WMHV, and FA were extracted. Correlational analyses between the mobility measures and neuroimaging measures were conducted using whole brain and regional and tract-specific measures. This was followed by linear regression models relating the mobility measures to regions or tracts identified in the correlation analysis, and adjusting for age, sex, and body mass index.

Results: Significant associations were found between higher GMV in multiple regions, primarily the parietal and temporal lobes, and better performance in gait speed, DGI, and FSST. After adjusting for personal factors, greater parahippocampus GMV was independently associated with greater gait speed. Greater inferior parietal lobe, supramarginal gyrus, and superior temporal gyrus GMVs were associated with gait function. Greater postcentral gyrus, parahippocampus, and superior temporal gyrus GMVs were associated with faster FSST performance. The WMHV and FA were not significantly correlated with the mobility measures.

Conclusions: Gray matter regions associated with higher performance in mobility measures serving gait function and multidirectional stepping were those structures related to vestibular sensation, spatial navigation, and somatosensation. J Am Geriatr Soc 68:1023-1028, 2020.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jgs.16309DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7234898PMC
May 2020

The relationship of trauma exposure to heart rate variability during wake and sleep in midlife women.

Psychophysiology 2020 04 18;57(4):e13514. Epub 2019 Dec 18.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Traumatic experiences are common and linked to cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, yet the mechanisms underlying these relationships is less well understood. Few studies have examined trauma exposure and its relation to autonomic influence over cardiac function, a potential pathway linking trauma exposure to CVD risk. Investigating autonomic influence over cardiac function during both wake and sleep is critical, given particular links of sleep autonomic function to cardiovascular health. Among midlife women, we tested whether trauma exposure would be related to lower high frequency heart rate variability (HF-HRV), an index of vagal influence over cardiac function, during wake and sleep. Three hundred and one nonsmoking midlife women completed physical measures, a 24-hr electrocardiogram, actigraphy sleep measurement, and questionnaires about trauma (Brief Trauma Questionnaire), childhood abuse (Child Trauma Questionnaire [CTQ]), mood, demographics, and medical/psychiatric history. Relations between trauma and HF-HRV were assessed in linear mixed effects models adjusting for covariates (age, race, education, body mass index, blood pressure, psychiatric history, medication use, sleep, mood, childhood abuse history). Results indicated that most women had experienced trauma. Any trauma exposure as well as a greater number of traumatic experiences were associated with lower HF-HRV during wake and particularly during sleep. Relations were not accounted for by covariates. Among midlife women, trauma exposure was related to lower HF-HRV during wake and sleep. Trauma may have an important impact on vagal influence over the heart, particularly during sleep. Decreased vagal influence over cardiac function may be a key mechanism by which trauma is associated with CVD risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13514DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7067646PMC
April 2020

A novel computer-aided diagnosis system for the early detection of hypertension based on cerebrovascular alterations.

Neuroimage Clin 2020 2;25:102107. Epub 2019 Dec 2.

Bioimaging Laboratory, J.B Speed School of Engineering, University of Louisville, KY, USA. Electronic address:

Hypertension is a leading cause of mortality in the USA. While simple tools such as the sphygmomanometer are widely used to diagnose hypertension, they could not predict the disease before its onset. Clinical studies suggest that alterations in the structure of human brains' cerebrovasculature start to develop years before the onset of hypertension. In this research, we present a novel computer-aided diagnosis (CAD) system for the early detection of hypertension. The proposed CAD system analyzes magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) data of human brains to detect and track the cerebral vascular alterations and this is achieved using the following steps: i) MRA data are preprocessed to eliminate noise effects, correct the bias field effect, reduce the contrast inhomogeneity using the generalized Gauss-Markov random field (GGMRF) model, and normalize the MRA data, ii) the cerebral vascular tree of each MRA volume is segmented using a 3-D convolutional neural network (3D-CNN), iii) cerebral features in terms of diameters and tortuosity of blood vessels are estimated and used to construct feature vectors, iv) feature vectors are then used to train and test various artificial neural networks to classify data into two classes; normal and hypertensive. A balanced data set of 66 subjects were used to test the CAD system. Experimental results reported a classification accuracy of 90.9% which supports the efficacy of the CAD system components to accurately model and discriminate between normal and hypertensive subjects. Clinicians would benefit from the proposed CAD system to detect and track cerebral vascular alterations over time for people with high potential of developing hypertension and to prepare appropriate treatment plans to mitigate adverse events.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nicl.2019.102107DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6926373PMC
January 2021

Optic flow and attention alter locomotion differently in the young and old.

Gait Posture 2020 02 31;76:1-6. Epub 2019 Oct 31.

Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, 323 Benedum Engineering Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, United States; Department of Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh, 500 Eye&Ear Institute, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, United States. Electronic address:

Background: Optic flow is used in the control of walking speed and aids in navigation through space. However, the influence of attention on optic flow processing during locomotion is not known.

Research Question: Does attentional focus influence the processing of optic flow during locomotion in young and older adults?

Methods: Auditory and visual concurrent reaction time tasks were conducted while walking on a treadmill within an anterior-posterior modulating optic flow field in young and older adults. Optic flow was generated with full field back-projected scenes shown while walking on a treadmill under three conditions: a) optic flow consistent with the treadmill speed, b) slow sinusoidal modulation of the speed (SINE), and c) reversals of optic flow velocity from congruent with walking to the opposite direction (REV). Movement in response to the scenes along with reaction times were measured.

Results: The optic flow perturbations altered movement on the treadmill. Older adults responded more than young adults during the slowly changing sinusoidal perturbations, but not to the rapid reversing scenes. Our main hypothesis that sensory modality of a concurrent cognitive task influences the processing of optic flow was confirmed for the reversing optic flow condition but not for the sinusoidal optic flow. The impact of optic flow conditions on reaction times was only found during the REV condition, with impact on visual RTs being greater than auditory RTs.

Significance: Taken together, the results suggest attentional focus on sensory modality of concurrent tasks while walking can impact optic flow processing for navigation and control; however, the characteristics of the optic flow (e.g. perturbation speed) play an important role.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gaitpost.2019.10.022DOI Listing
February 2020

Corrigendum to "Socioeconomic status in childhood predicts sleep continuity in adult Black and White men" Sleep Health. 4 (2018) 49-55.

Sleep Health 2019 Aug 9;5(4):326. Epub 2019 Jun 9.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2019.04.007DOI Listing
August 2019

Early Aviation and the Movies.

Aerosp Med Hum Perform 2019 Apr;90(4):423-424

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http://dx.doi.org/10.3357/AMHP.5294.2019DOI Listing
April 2019

Prospective Associations of Adolescent Conscientiousness With Psychological Resources and Metabolic Syndrome in Black and White Men.

Psychosom Med 2019 05;81(4):341-351

From the Department of Psychiatry (Duggan), University of Pittsburgh; Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology, University of Pittsburgh (Jennings); and Departments of Psychiatry, Epidemiology, Psychology, and Clinical and Translational Science (Matthews), University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Objective: Conscientiousness predicts better psychological resources as well as lower cardiovascular mortality and lower metabolic syndrome (MetS) risk. However, the benefits of conscientiousness might be amplified, disabled, or reversed in disadvantaged groups. This study is the first to test these competing hypotheses for prospective associations between adolescent conscientiousness and adult psychological resources and MetS.

Method: Participants were 220 men (54.6% black) from the Pittsburgh Youth Study. Adolescent conscientiousness (M [SD] age = 16 [1]) was rated by participants and their parents. Adult (M [SD] age = 32 [1]) socioeconomic status (SES; occupation and education), psychological resources (composite of positive affect, purpose in life, optimism, self-mastery, and self-esteem), and MetS scores (glucose, lipids, waist circumference, and blood pressure) were measured. Hierarchical regressions were used to evaluate the association of conscientiousness with adult psychological resources and MetS scores, with testing of moderation by race and SES.

Results: Self- and parent-reported conscientiousness were associated with better psychological resources (βs = 0.23-0.29, ps ≤ .015), with no moderation by race or socioeconomic status. In the full sample, a three-way interaction of self-reported conscientiousness, race, and SES was obtained for MetS (β = 0.12, p = .093). Subgroup analysis indicated that self-reported conscientiousness was related to higher MetS scores in low SES black men (βint = -0.22, p = .022), but there was no comparable linear (βs ≤ 0.08, ps ≥ .50) or interaction (βs ≤ -0.13 ps ≥ .25) pattern in white men.

Conclusions: Adolescent conscientiousness was beneficial for adult psychological resources, regardless of race or SES. However, there may be physiological costs of conscientiousness for black men from disadvantaged backgrounds.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000000688DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7171695PMC
May 2019

The prospective relationship between prehypertension, race, and whole-brain white matter microstructure.

J Hum Hypertens 2020 01 25;34(1):82-89. Epub 2019 Feb 25.

Department of Psychiatry & Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Compared with whites, blacks develop hypertension earlier in life, progress from prehypertension to hypertension at an accelerated rate, and exhibit greater hypertension-mediated organ damage (e.g., kidney disease, stroke). In this paper, we tested whether the longitudinal associations between elevated systolic blood pressure and disruption of brain white matter structural integrity differ as a function of race. A community sample of 100 middle-aged adults with prehypertension underwent diffusion imaging to quantify indirect metrics of white matter structural integrity, including fractional anisotropy. Blood pressure and diffusion imaging measurements were collected at baseline and at a 2-year follow-up. Regression analyses showed that higher systolic blood pressure at baseline was associated with a decrease in fractional anisotropy over 2 years in blacks only (β = -0.51 [95% CI = -0.85, -0.16], t = -2.93, p = 0.004, ΔR = 0.09). These findings suggest that blacks are more susceptible to the impact of systolic prehypertension on white matter structural integrity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41371-019-0184-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6708769PMC
January 2020

Social Stratification and Risk for Cardiovascular Disease: Examination of Emotional Suppression as a Pathway to Risk.

Pers Soc Psychol Bull 2019 08 10;45(8):1202-1215. Epub 2018 Dec 10.

2 University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

This article examines whether emotional suppression is associated with socioeconomic position (SEP) in a community sample of Black and White men, and whether emotional suppression may help explain the aggregation of multiple biopsychosocial risk factors for cardiovascular disease at lower SEP (social support, depression, cardiovascular stress reactivity). Aim 1 tests whether multiple indicators of SEP show a consistent graded association with self-reported trait suppression, and whether suppression mediates associations between SEP and perceived social support and depressive affect. Aim 2 tests whether suppression during a laboratory anger recall task mediates associations between SEP and cardiovascular reactivity to the task. All measures of higher SEP were associated with lower suppression. Findings in this racially diverse sample of adult men suggest that socioeconomic disparities in emotional suppression may be more likely to confer cardiovascular risk through disruption of affect and social relationships, than through direct and immediate physiological pathways.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0146167218808504DOI Listing
August 2019

The expansion of later Acheulean hominins into the Arabian Peninsula.

Sci Rep 2018 11 29;8(1):17165. Epub 2018 Nov 29.

Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany.

The Acheulean is the longest lasting cultural-technological tradition in human evolutionary history. However, considerable gaps remain in understanding the chronology and geographical distribution of Acheulean hominins. We present the first chronometrically dated Acheulean site from the Arabian Peninsula, a vast and poorly known region that forms more than half of Southwest Asia. Results show that Acheulean hominin occupation expanded along hydrological networks into the heart of Arabia from Marine Isotope Stage (MIS) 7 until at least ~190 ka ̶ the youngest documented Acheulean in Southwest Asia. The site of Saffaqah features Acheulean technology, characterized by large flakes, handaxes and cleavers, similar to Acheulean assemblages in Africa. These findings reveal a climatically-mediated later Acheulean expansion into a poorly known region, amplifying the documented diversity of Middle Pleistocene hominin behaviour across the Old World and elaborating the terminal archaic landscape encountered by our species as they dispersed out of Africa.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-35242-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6265249PMC
November 2018

Depressive Symptoms During Childhood and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Black and White Men.

Psychosom Med 2019 Feb/Mar;81(2):176-183

From the Department of Psychiatry (Matthews, Jennings, Lee), University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice (Pardini), Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.

Objective: Depressive symptoms and major depression predict cardiovascular disease (CVD) and CVD risk factors in adulthood. Evidence regarding the role of depression in the development of CVD risk in youth is minimal. The study evaluated the prospective relationship of depressive symptoms in childhood and adolescence with adult CVD risk factors in black and white men.

Methods: Health behaviors and medical history were measured in 165 black and 146 white men (mean age = 32); a subset in the Pittsburgh area had a fasting blood draw to measure metabolic syndrome and inflammation. Adult CVD risk factors were related to depressive symptoms and childhood socioeconomic status (SES) prospectively measured annually from ages 7 to 16 years, followed by adjustments for adult SES and depressive symptoms.

Results: Men with higher depressive symptoms ages 7 to 16 smoked more cigarettes, B = 0.28 (standard error = 0.12), p = .015, and ate fewer servings of fruits and vegetables, B = -0.08 (0.04), p = .040, as adults. The association for smoking was independent of adult depressive symptoms (concurrent) and childhood and adult SES as well as race. Depressive symptoms during childhood were unrelated to the metabolic syndrome or biomarkers of inflammation in adulthood.

Conclusions: Depressive symptoms in childhood may predict later adverse health behaviors in black and white men. No evidence was found for an association between childhood depressive symptoms with metabolic syndrome or inflammation markers at ages approximately 32 years. The nature of the sample and lack of measurement of depressive disorder diagnosis tempers the conclusions, and future research is needed to determine associations with biological measures at later life span phases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000000652DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6355371PMC
April 2020

Perceptual Inhibition Associated with Sensory Integration for Balance in Older Adults.

Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2018 7;46(5-6):266-274. Epub 2018 Nov 7.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

Aims: Inhibition associated with perception has been implicated in sensory integration processes for balance when sensory conflict occurs. The current study examines the associations of three measures of inhibition (perceptual inhibition, motor inhibition, and Stroop interference) with standing balance under sensory conflict conditions in younger and older adults.

Methods: Perceptual inhibition, motor inhibition, and Stroop interference were measured in younger and older subjects. Standing balance under conditions of sensory conflict was evaluated using a modified dynamic posturography protocol. Correlative analysis was performed to examine the associations between the inhibition measures and sway.

Results: In older adults only, perceptual inhibition was correlated with sway when sensory conflict was present. Stroop interference and motor inhibition were not significantly correlated with sway under any posturography conditions.

Conclusion: Measures of perceptual inhibition are associated with reduced sensory integration capability for balance during sensory conflict conditions in older adults.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000493748DOI Listing
May 2019

Host in the machine: A neurobiological perspective on psychological stress and cardiovascular disease.

Am Psychol 2018 11;73(8):1031-1044

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh.

Psychological stress still attracts scientific, clinical, and public interest because of its suspected connection to health, particularly cardiovascular health. Psychological stress is thought to arise from appraisal processes that imbue events and contexts with personal significance and threat-related meaning. These appraisal processes are also thought to be instantiated in brain systems that generate and control peripheral physiological stress reactions through visceral motor (brain-to-body) and visceral sensory (body-to-brain) mechanisms. In the short term, physiological stress reactions may enable coping and adaptive action. Among some individuals, however, the patterning of these reactions may predict or contribute to pathology in multiple organ systems, including the cardiovascular system. At present, however, we lack a precise understanding of the brain systems and visceral control processes that link psychological appraisals to patterns of stress physiology and physical health. This understanding is important: A mechanistic account of how the brain connects stressful experiences to bodily changes and health could help refine biomarkers of risk and targets for cardiovascular disease prevention and intervention. We review research contributing to this understanding, focusing on the neurobiology of cardiovascular stress reactivity and cardiovascular health. We suggest that a dysregulation of visceral motor and visceral sensory processes during stressful experiences may confer risk for poor cardiovascular health among vulnerable individuals. We further describe a need for new interpretive frameworks and markers of this brain-body dysregulation in cardiovascular behavioral medicine. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/amp0000232DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6220680PMC
November 2018

Heart rate and hurtful behavior from teens to adults: Paths to adult health.

Dev Psychopathol 2019 10;31(4):1271-1283

Departments of Criminology, Psychiatry, and Psychology,University of Pennsylvania,Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,USA.

A low resting heart rate across development from infancy to young adulthood relates to greater aggression/hostility. Adult aggression and a high heart rate relate to health risk. Do some aggressive individuals retain low heart rate and less health risk across development while others show high heart rate and more risk? A longitudinal sample of 203 men assessed as teens (age 16.1) and adults (mean age 32.0) permitted us to assess (a) stability of heart rate levels and reactivity, (b) stability of aggression/hostility, and (c) whether change or stability related to health risk. Adults were assessed with Buss-Perry measures of aggression/hostility; teens with the Zuckerman aggression/hostility measure. Mean resting heart rate, heart rate reactivity to speech preparation, and aggression/hostility were moderately stable across development. Within age periods, mean heart rate level, but not reactivity, was negatively related to hostility/aggression. Maintaining low heart rate into adulthood was related to better health among aggressive individuals relative to those with increasing heart rate into adulthood. Analyses controlled for weight gain, socioeconomic status, race, health habits, and medication. Low heart rate as a characteristic of hostile/aggressive individuals may continue to relate to better health indices in adulthood, despite possible reversal of this relationship with aging.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0954579418000603DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6494736PMC
October 2019

Physiologically assessed hot flashes and endothelial function among midlife women.

Menopause 2018 11;25(11):1354-1361

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA.

Objective: Hot flashes are experienced by most midlife women. Emerging data indicate that they may be associated with endothelial dysfunction. No studies have tested whether hot flashes are associated with endothelial function using physiologic measures of hot flashes. We tested whether physiologically assessed hot flashes were associated with poorer endothelial function. We also considered whether age modified associations.

Methods: Two hundred seventy-two nonsmoking women reporting either daily hot flashes or no hot flashes, aged 40 to 60 years, and free of clinical cardiovascular disease, underwent ambulatory physiologic hot flash and diary hot flash monitoring; a blood draw; and ultrasound measurement of brachial artery flow-mediated dilation to assess endothelial function. Associations between hot flashes and flow-mediated dilation were tested in linear regression models controlling for lumen diameter, demographics, cardiovascular disease risk factors, and estradiol.

Results: In multivariable models incorporating cardiovascular disease risk factors, significant interactions by age (P < 0.05) indicated that among the younger tertile of women in the sample (age 40-53 years), the presence of hot flashes (beta [standard error] = -2.07 [0.79], P = 0.01), and more frequent physiologic hot flashes (for each hot flash: beta [standard error] = -0.10 [0.05], P = 0.03, multivariable) were associated with lower flow-mediated dilation. Associations were not accounted for by estradiol. Associations were not observed among the older women (age 54-60 years) or for self-reported hot flash frequency, severity, or bother. Among the younger women, hot flashes explained more variance in flow-mediated dilation than standard cardiovascular disease risk factors or estradiol.

Conclusions: Among younger midlife women, frequent hot flashes were associated with poorer endothelial function and may provide information about women's vascular status beyond cardiovascular disease risk factors and estradiol.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/GME.0000000000001239DOI Listing
November 2018

Should heart rate variability be "corrected" for heart rate? Biological, quantitative, and interpretive considerations.

Psychophysiology 2019 02 25;56(2):e13287. Epub 2018 Oct 25.

Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.

Metrics of heart period variability are widely used in the behavioral and biomedical sciences, although somewhat confusingly labeled as heart rate variability (HRV). Despite their wide use, HRV metrics are usually analyzed and interpreted without reference to prevailing levels of cardiac chronotropic state (i.e., mean heart rate or mean heart period). This isolated treatment of HRV metrics is nontrivial. All HRV metrics routinely used in the literature exhibit a known and positive relationship with the mean duration of the interval between two beats (heart period): as the heart period increases, so does its variability. This raises the question of whether HRV metrics should be "corrected" for the mean heart period (or its inverse, the heart rate). Here, we outline biological, quantitative, and interpretive issues engendered by this question. We provide arguments that HRV is neither uniformly nor simply a surrogate for heart period. We also identify knowledge gaps that remain to be satisfactorily addressed with respect to assumptions underlying existing HRV correction approaches. In doing so, we aim to stimulate further progress toward the rigorous use and disciplined interpretation of HRV. We close with provisional guidance on HRV reporting that acknowledges the complex interplay between the mean and variability of the heart period.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/psyp.13287DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6378407PMC
February 2019

Taking rejection to heart: Associations between blood pressure and sensitivity to social pain.

Biol Psychol 2018 11 21;139:87-95. Epub 2018 Oct 21.

Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

A reliable finding from the physical pain literature is that individuals with higher resting (i.e., tonic) blood pressure experience relatively less pain in response to nociceptive stimuli. Converging lines of evidence suggest that biological factors that influence the experience of physical pain may also relate to social pain. An open question, however, is whether higher blood pressure per se is a biological factor associated with lower sensitivity to social pain. This possible association was tested in three studies. Consistent with prior findings on physical pain, higher resting blood pressure was associated with lower self-reported sensitivity to social pain across individuals (Study 1 r = -.303, Study 2 r = -.262, -.246), even after adjusting for confounding factors related to blood pressure (Study 3 r = -.222). Findings suggest a previously unknown biological correlate of sensitivity to social pain, providing further evidence for possible shared substrates for physical and social pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2018.10.007DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6295662PMC
November 2018

Inhibition and decision-processing speed are associated with performance on dynamic posturography in older adults.

Exp Brain Res 2019 Jan 9;237(1):37-45. Epub 2018 Oct 9.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, 1300 WPIC, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213, USA.

Changes in cognition due to age have been associated with falls and reduced standing postural control. Sensory integration is one component of postural control that may be influenced by certain aspects of cognitive functioning. This study investigated associations between measures of cognitive function and sensory integration capabilities for healthy young and older adults. Dynamic posturography was performed using the Equitest Sensory Organization Test (SOT) protocol to evaluate sensory integration during standing using sway-referencing of the platform and/or visual scene to alter somatosensory and visual inputs. The Equilibrium Score was used as a measure of sway. Cognitive testing examined aspects of cognitive function that have been associated with falls in older adults. A correlational analysis investigated associations between the cognitive measures and postural sway during the altered sensory conditions of the SOT. For older subjects only, slower decision-processing speed was associated with increased sway during SOT conditions whenever somatosensation was altered. Reduced perceptual inhibition was associated with increased sway whenever somatosensation was intact, and particularly when vision was altered in the presence of somatosensation. Visuospatial construct ability was associated with sway only when the eyes were closed during altered somatosensation. Task-switching was associated with sway only when vision and somatosensation were intact. With increased age, deficits in decision speed and inhibition appear associated with the sensory integration crucial for balance maintenance. Associations are modulated by the availability of somatosensation and vision. These associations define situations and individual differences in aspects of cognition that may relate to situational loss of balance in older adults.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00221-018-5394-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6438625PMC
January 2019