Browsing by Subject "Master's Programme in Psychology"

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  • Kaidesoja, Milla (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Aims: The transdiagnostic cognitive-behavioral model of eating disorders (ED) views EDs as a single disorder with different clinical manifestations, but the CBT effectiveness research thus far has mostly only pooled results within individual ED categories. A panoramic meta-analysis (PMA) synthesizes evidence across indications, and here the aim is to explore whether a PMA in the context of CBT for EDs provides an unbiased and precise effect estimate when pooling across the ED diagnoses. Methods: Reviews that synthesize RCTs of CBT for EDs were searched, and reviews that met inclusion criteria and included meta-analytic data or valid data from a single RCT were included in the PMA. Two PMAs (CBT vs active controls, CBT vs inactive controls) were performed. The outcome most commonly employed in the meta-analyses identified in the search was chosen as the outcome of interest. Findings: Of the n=24 meta-analyses, only n=7 were eligible for the PMA. The analysis provided support for the effectiveness of CBT vs inactive controls ((SMD: 0.32, 95% CI: 0.05 to 0.59, I2= 38.1%) but results were inconclusive when CBT was compared to active controls (SMD: 0.01, 95% CI: -0.35 to 0.36, I2=75.2%). Conclusions: Due to the methodological limitations of this thesis, several central comprehensive meta-analyses had to be excluded from the PMA. Thus, this PMA failed to provide a precise and unbiased synthesis of existing data of the effectiveness of CBT for EDs across the diagnoses.
  • Mäkipelto, Ville (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Aims: Schizophrenia is characterized by cognitive impairment that associates with many problems in everyday life and functioning. Earlier research has hypothesized that antidepressant medication may associate with better cognitive functioning among schizophrenia patients, but empirical results are mixed. This study explored the profile of schizophrenia patients that use antidepressants and asked whether there is an association between antidepressant use and cognitive performance in a clinical patient sample. Because of effects on the central nervous system, benzodiazepines and anticholinergic medications were also considered. Methods: Study participants were drawn from the SUPER-Finland cohort, which was collected among patients with psychotic illnesses in 2016–2018 from all university hospital districts across Finland (n=10474). The analysis included working-age (18–70) patients with a schizophrenia diagnosis (F20) and complete results from the brief cognitive assessment (n=3411). Information about regular medications and psychosocial factors were gathered through questionnaire and interview. Cognition was assessed with CANTAB (Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery), out of which the subtests measuring reaction time (RTI) and visual learning (PAL) were included. The association of antidepressants on cognition was examined using both pooled antidepressants and various antidepressant groups as predictors in linear regression models. Gender, age, age of diagnosis, living status, relationship, education, and psychological distress were controlled in the models. Results: Over 35% of schizophrenia patients regularly used at least one antidepressant. On average, schizophrenia patients using antidepressants experienced lower well-being and more psychological distress than patients without antidepressants. The use of antidepressants was not generally associated with better or poorer cognitive performance. However, the use of SNRI antidepressants was associated with a significantly faster reaction time. The use of benzodiazepines was associated with poorer cognitive performance in both reaction time and visual learning. Conclusions: The results support the conclusion that there is generally no meaningful association between antidepressants and better cognitive performance in schizophrenia. However, the association of SNRI-medicines with a slightly faster reaction time is promising and warrants further research. Several psychosocial factors were associated with the cognitive performance of schizophrenia patients, which underlines the need for supporting psychosocial well-being in cognitive rehabilitation.
  • Pesonen, Noora (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Objectives. Recent results of both animal and human studies suggest that intestinal microbiota, i.e. microorganisms inhabiting the gastrointestinal system, may be connected to their host’s cognition. However, the diverse effects of intestinal microbiota are still poorly understood and especially knowledge of its associations with normative childhood cognitive development is very scarce. The purpose of the current study was to examine the possible associations between infant intestinal microbial composition, richness and diversity and cognitive performance in early childhood. Methods. The current study sample consisted of the children taking part in Finnish Health and Early Life Microbiota (HELMi) longitudinal birth cohort study. The cognitive abilities of 424 children were assessed at 2 years of age with Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, using cognitive, receptive language and expressive language subscales. Of 424 tested children, those from whom microbiota analysis for at least one fecal sample was available at the time of the start of this study, were included. Fecal samples were collected when infants were 3, 6 and 12 weeks old and 6, 9 and 12 months old, and the bacterial composition, richness and diversity were analyzed with 16S rRNA- amplicon sequencing method. Results and conclusions. Intestinal microbial composition in infancy was found to be related to cognitive abilities of the children, more specifically, receptive language skills and expressive language skills. A higher abundance of the genus Finegoldia at 12 weeks of age and the genus Serratia at 6 months of age were related to worse receptive language performance at 2 years of age. A higher abundance of the family Enterococcaceae at 12 weeks of age and the genus Alistipes at 6 months of age, were associated with worse expressive language skills. In addition, the children who scored in lowest 20th percentile in the receptive language tasks, had richer intestinal microbiota at 3 weeks and 6 months of age. Conclusions cannot yet be drawn based on these preliminary findings, but the results suggest that infant intestinal microbiota may be one of the factors influencing cognitive, especially verbal, development in early childhood.
  • Mylläri, Sanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Objective. Depression is associated with increased risk of chronic disease, which may be at least partly due to poor health behaviors. Growing body of evidence has associated depression with unhealthy diet. However, the association of depression with diet quality in the long run is not well known. Furthermore, it is unclear if dietary interventions could mitigate the harmful association of depression with diet. This study examined the association of depression with diet both cross-sectionally and longitudinally in a population-based prospective cohort. The effectiveness of an early-onset dietary intervention in modifying these associations was investigated. Methods. The sample (n = 457) was from The Special Turku Coronary Risk Factor Intervention Project (STRIP). The intervention group (n = 209) had undergone a dietary intervention lasting from age of 7 months until age of 20 years. Depression was measured at age 20 using Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI-II). Diet quality was assessed at ages 20 and 26 using a diet score calculated based on food diaries. Missing values were replaced using multiple imputation by chained equations. Linear regression analyses were used to analyze the association of depression at age 20 with diet at ages 20 and 26, as well as the modifying effect of intervention group on these associations. Results. No cross-sectional association was found for depression and diet at age 20. Depression at age 20 was longitudinally associated with worse diet quality at age 26. The associations did not differ between intervention and control groups at either of the time points. Conclusions. Contrary to previous research, this study did not find cross-sectional association for depression with diet. However, this study offers novel information on longitudinal associations, suggesting that depression may have effects on diet quality that can manifest after several years. Dietary intervention was not found effective in modifying these associations. Since long-term effects on diet may be an important factor explaining the association of depression with chronic diseases, ways to mitigate the adverse consequences of depression for diet should be explored further.
  • Michelsson, Erica (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    nformation and computer technologies (ICT), and to assess the relationships of cognitive ability and key factors relating to ICT use and attitudes. This study assessed a number of ICT related factors including internet addiction, smartphone and tablet use, social media use, computer self-efficacy, negative attitudes towards ICT, positive expectations towards ICT, and ICT use for work. Methods: The study sample was part of the PLASTICITY (Perinatal Adverse events and Special Trends in Cognitive Trajectory) -study. The sample consisted of a Finnish cohort born between 1971–1974 (n = 546), who lived through the ICT diffusion era. Multidimensional item response theory (MIRT) was used to assess the structural composition of the ICT-questionnaire. Cognitive abilities were measured with The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) when the examinees were 9 years old, and with Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Fourth Edition (WAIS-IV) when the examinees were 40-45 years old. Two structural equation models were created to describe the associations between subjective wealth, education, cognitive ability and the ICTQ factors. The model with adulthood cognitive abilities predicting ICT use was compared to the model with childhood cognitive abilities predicting adulthood ICT use. Results and discussion: ICT use and attitudes were affected by cognitive ability, education, and wealth, and computer self-efficacy and negative attitudes towards ICT emerged as central mediators in the social cognitive model of ICT use. Cognitive ability predicted four of the seven ICT factors: computer self-efficacy, negative attitudes towards ICT, computer use for work, and indirectly the use of smartphones and tablets. Cognitive ability did not predict internet addiction, social media use, and ICT hobbies, or positive expectations towards ICT. Based on the mediation analysis, some of this effect is likely to be attributable to the other consequences of cognitive ability, including education and wealth. However, at least some seem to reflect more direct cognitive selectivity, perhaps due to the verbal and information-processing skill demands of the ICT. Furthermore, cognitive ability measured during childhood, decades before the individuals were introduced to ICT, was as significant as a predictor for negative attitudes towards ICT and computer self-efficacy, as adulthood cognitive abilities. Overall, the results imply that cognitive ability is not associated with access to ICT, but affects the predispositions to use technology and the acquisition of ICT skills.
  • Ketvel, Laila (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Objective: Both stress-related exhaustion and depression have previously been associated with a decline in cognitive performance, but there is a lack of evidence on whether these conditions have different associations with different cognitive domains and whether they have additive effects on cognitive performance. Furthermore, very little is known about the cognitive effects of chronic stress-related exhaustion. Consequently, the aims of this study were to 1) examine the associations between current stress-related exhaustion and cognitive performance, 2) investigate whether different developmental trajectories of stress-related exhaustion are differently associated with cognitive performance, 3) compare the association between stress-related exhaustion and cognitive performance to the relationship between depressive symptoms and cognitive performance, 4) examine if individuals with comorbid stress-related exhaustion and depression have lower cognitive performance than individuals with at most one of these conditions (i.e., whether clinical stress-related exhaustion and clinical depression might have additive effects on cognitive performance). Methods: The data used in the study was a Finnish population-based sample of six cohorts born between 1962 and 1977 from the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study. Stress-related exhaustion was assessed using the Maastricht Questionnaire, depressive symptoms with the Beck Depression Inventory, and cognitive performance with four subtests of the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery, measuring visuospatial associative learning, reaction time, sustained attention, and executive functions. Cognitive performance and depressive symptoms were assessed in 2012, and stress-related exhaustion in 2001, 2007, and 2012. Participants were 35 to 50 years old in 2012. Linear associations between stress-related exhaustion and cognitive performance (N = 905) and depressive symptoms and cognitive performance (N = 904) were examined by conducting multivariate regression analyses. Age, sex, socioeconomic status, and parents’ socioeconomic status were controlled in the regression models. Additionally, multivariate analyses of variance were performed to investigate the different developmental trajectories of stress-related exhaustion and their relation to cognitive performance (N = 541) and the associations of comorbid stress-related exhaustion and depression with cognitive performance (N = 1273). Results and conclusion: The main finding was that high stress-related exhaustion is associated with slower reaction times, but not with performance in spatial working memory, visuospatial associative learning, or executive functions. Ongoing, chronic stress-related exhaustion was more strongly associated with slower reaction times than short-term exhaustion experienced years ago. Compared to depressive symptoms, high stress-related exhaustion was associated with slower reaction times also when subclinical cases were included, whereas only clinical levels of depressive symptoms had an association with slower reaction times. There were no differences in cognitive performance between individuals with only stress-related exhaustion or depression and those with comorbid stress-related exhaustion and depression, which supports the notion that these conditions do not have additive effects on cognitive performance. These findings add to the existing evidence of the cognitive effects of stress-related exhaustion in the general population and have several practical implications. Further research is needed on the topic, preferably with longitudinal designs, more comprehensive cognitive measures, and clinical assessment of the psychiatric symptoms.
  • Keskinen, Liisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Objectives: LARPing is an example of a hobby that requires a lot of time and dedication. Despite LARPing bringing energy and new experiences, it is also stressful. Different coping strategies are used to manage stress and its symptoms. The use of maladaptive, that is long-term harmful, coping strategies has been associated with more significant stress symptoms compared to adaptive, that is beneficial for functioning, coping strategies. Thus, studying the association between different coping strategies and stress symptoms can help to improve the well-being of LARPers. The purpose of this Master's Thesis is to study which coping strategies are associated with stress symptoms among LARPers and whether there is a difference in the strengths of the connections when comparing the associations of adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies with stress symptoms. Methods: The stress related to LARPing was studied online with a new survey. The survey included for example questions about the perceived stress in LARPing, possible causes of the stress, stress symptoms, coping strategies, and background information. 67.6% of the respondents identified as women, 22.5% as men and 9.9% as non-binary. Exploratory factor analyses were performed on the variables measuring coping strategies and the variables measuring stress symptoms. Sum variables of coping strategies and stress symptoms were formed based on the factor analyses. A relationship between the coping variables and stress symptom variables was examined by linear multi-explanatory regression analyses. Age, gender, and relationship status were controlled in all regression analyzes. Results and conclusions: Maladaptive coping strategies were associated with stress symptoms. LARPers who used more self-blame as a coping strategy reported more symptoms of anxiety and depression. In addition, substance use was associated with anxiety symptoms, avoidance with depressive symptoms, and increased use of social support with symptoms of brain overload, which included difficulties in concentration, memory, and sleeping. However, not all coping strategies that were perceived as maladaptive were associated with stress symptoms. Coping strategies that were perceived as adaptive were not associated with stress symptoms. Since maladaptive coping strategies are associated with symptoms of stress, the well-being of LARPers could be improved, for example, through psychoeducation. The psychoeducation could be given, for example, in the pre- or post-brief of a LARPing session and it should focus on diminishing the maladaptive coping strategies.
  • Kauhanen, Lina-Lotta (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Objective: The coronavirus disease COVID-19 causes neuropsychological problems to a proportion of patients having contracted the illness in the months following the illness and on a more long-term basis. Currently there is little knowledge about how the required level of care in the acute phase affects the presence of symptoms and their change over time. The objective of this study was to investigate the neuropsychological effects of COVID-19 from a patient self-reported symptoms and cognitive screening perspective. The study examines the effects of the required level of care in the acute phase and time since contracting the illness on self-reported symptoms and cognitive screening results three and six months after the acute phase. Furthermore, the aim was to illustrate the relationship between these two assessments. Methods: The data was collected within the RECOVID-20 project (Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District and University of Helsinki). Subjects (N = 164, of which 96 women, mean age 54.1 years) contracted COVID-19 in the spring of 2020. The data was collected from three different levels of care as required by the acute phase: intensive care unit patients, regular inpatient wards and patients who were ill at home. Self-reported symptoms were assessed with the A-B Neuropsychological Assessment Schedule and cognitive performance was measured by the Montreal Cognitive Assessment-Blind screening tool three and six months after the acute phase. Group differences and change over time was analysed using multivariate variance analyses and linear mixed models. Results and conclusions: About a third of all patients reported neuropsychological symptoms regardless of the level of care required in the acute phase both three and six months after the acute phase. Symptoms consisted mainly of fatigue, slowing and concentration problems. In the cognitive screening patients having received ICU and inpatient ward care performed worse compared to patients having been ill at home, but a statistically significant result was not detected when controlling for age. A statistically significant relationship between self-reported symptoms and cognitive performance was observed only in ICU patients at three months. Although the majority of COVID-19 patients do not have significant symptoms after the acute phase, there are patients that show preliminary signs of more chronic symptoms based on both self-reported symptoms and cognitive screening. More research is needed to investigate the causes of these symptoms.
  • Kukkonen, Aleksi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Objectives: Bisphenol A (BPA) is commonly used plasticizer that has endocrine disrupting properties. Fetal exposure to BPA has been associated with offspring behavioural problems. These associations may be mediated through BPA-induced alterations in the offspring DNA methylation (DNAm). This study examined whether fetal BPA exposure associates with behavioural problems and whether DNAm biomarker score for early pregnancy BPA exposure is linked with behavioural problems in the offspring. Methods: Participants were 442 mother-child pairs of the Finnish PREDO-cohort. I measured BPA from the early pregnancy urine samples and assayed DNAm in the cord blood with Illumina 450k or EPIC array. Mothers reported behavioural problems of their offspring with the Child Behaviour Checklist/1.5-5 (CBCL/1.5-5) at the mean child age of 3.8 years (SD = 1.0 years). I used LASSO regression to create a DNAm score for early pregnancy BPA exposure and tested the associations between BPA exposure, the DNAm score, and CBCL/1.5-5 scores with linear and logistic regressions. Results: After adjustments, early pregnancy BPA exposure was associated with higher risk for clinically meaningful internalizing (p = .02) and externalizing (p = .04) behavioural problems in the offspring. The DNAm score included eight CpG sites, explained 4.8% of the BPA variation, and was borderline significantly associated with a risk for clinically meaningful internalizing (p = .05) and externalizing behavioural problems (p = .06). Conclusions: Early pregnancy BPA exposure associated and DNAm biomarker for BPA exposure borderline associated with offspring behavioural problems. DNAm biomarker score for fetal BPA exposure showed promise and should be studied further in subsequent studies.
  • Närvänen, Eija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Objective. The FRIENDS programme is a group cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) programme, developed for the prevention and treatment of child and adolescent anxiety and depression. In the context of prevention, FRIENDS has been extensively researched; however, little research has been conducted on FRIENDS in a treatment setting and with different populations. To help fill this gap, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Finnish version of FRIENDS in reducing internalising symptoms in children diagnosed with psychiatric and neuropsychiatric disorders. Methods. The present study was conducted at Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) Child Psychiatry outpatient clinics in the Helsinki metropolitan area, Finland. The participating children (n = 99, mean age = 9.45 years, range 6–13 years, 68.7 % boys) were randomly assigned to either FRIENDS (n = 52) or a waitlist control group (n = 47), which received treatment as usual for a period of 3 months before the intervention. The children’s internalising symptoms were assessed using parent- and teacher-report questionnaires (Child Behavior Checklist and Teacher’s Report Form) at referral to treatment, pre-treatment, post-treatment, and six-month follow-up. Results and conclusions. In both groups, there was a medium-sized statistically significant decrease in parent-reported internalising symptoms immediately after the intervention; however, these improvements were not retained at six-month follow-up. Teacher-reported internalising symptoms followed a similar pattern of decrease during the intervention and increase during follow-up; however, these changes were smaller in magnitude and did not reach statistical significance, possibly due to loss of statistical power caused by missing data. Neither parent- or teacher-reports showed an intervention effect, with children’s internalising symptoms exhibiting similar changes regardless of whether they belonged to the intervention group or the waitlist control group, which received treatment as usual during the wait period. These results raise questions on the durability of treatment effects and the superiority of FRIENDS over active waitlist control conditions or treatment as usual when treating children diagnosed with diverse psychiatric and neuropsychiatric disorders in a community setting where treatment adherence and integrity may not be ideal.
  • Kosola, Salla (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Objectives – Neonatal hyperbilirubinemia (HB), also referred to as neonatal jaundice, can alter child’s neurodevelopment, and thus significantly increase infant’s risk for severe neurological disability. Although the majority of neonatal HB cases benign, there are several cases where bilirubin levels grow alarmingly and remain elevated, eventually causing permanent physical harm and frequently altering the development of central nervous system. Research on the long-term effects of HB has been lacking: the follow-ups have been relative short, and there are not many studies focusing on how neonatal HB might influence neurocognition in later adulthood (> 30 year of age). The aim of this study is to further investigate the association between neonatal HB and later cognitive performance in adulthood by using data from over 40-year-long Finnish follow-up study. Methods – In a longitudinal prospective study, data were collected from 125 subject who had experienced neonatal HB and from 77 controls. Cognitive performance was assessed at age of 40 by using various previously validated methods designed to assess executive function and attention, memory, verbal functions, and visuo-perceptual functions. Four factors were formed for neuropsychological variables: Cognitive flexibility, Visual memory and perception, Verbal memory, and Reading. In addition, all subjects had performed WAIS-IV assessments. Data from these assessments were used to create four new factors – Verbal comprehension, Working Memory, Perceptual Reasoning, and Processing Speed – reflecting different cognitive areas. Also, Full-Scale Intelligence Quotient (FSIQ) was included. Linear regression analyses were used to assess the relation between HB-classification and neuropsychological variables. Differences between the groups were further studied by pair-wise comparisons using t-test, after which Mann–Whitney-U test was used to take into account moderate to highly skewed distributions of the variables. Effects of different HB levels on later neurocognition was studied by using linear regression, where sex, mother’s age at birth, and mother’s education level were controlled. Results – Neonatal HB was associated with slower performance in Cognitive Flexibility, and with lower performance in Perceptual Reasoning and in FSIQ. Highest measured neonatal bilirubin levels within HB group had a linear effect on Verbal Comprehension at age of 40; however, the effect was not found in other cognitive domains. Conclusions – Neonatal HB has effect on performance in FSIQ at age of 40 years. In addition, it was associated with both poorer Perceptual Reasoning and slower Cognitive Flexibility. Results might be due to perceptual reasoning’s high vulnerability to neuronal damage and to difficulty of compensating perceptual biological limitations with learning. Since the measured neonatal bilirubin levels within HB group was associated only with lower performance in Verbal Reasoning in this study, it could be concluded that after reaching the inclusion criteria the excess level of bilirubin was no longer significant influence on severity of the outcome.
  • Gallen, Anastasia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Objectives. Formal musical training has shown promising effects on auditory discrimination in children, but it is not within reach of every family as it is time-consuming and costly. This study aimed to determine whether at-home musical intervention and activities enhance neural auditory speech sound discrimination accuracy in children with or without a familial dyslexia risk. Methods. A follow-up sample of 113 children with or without risk of dyslexia participated. During the first six months of infancy, 57 of the children with a familial risk participated in at-home music listening intervention, including vocal or instrumental music. Musical activities at home were assessed with a questionnaire at 24 months of age. Speech sound discrimination accuracy was assessed at 28 months, with change-elicited responses derived from EEG. Linear mixed-effects (LME) models were applied to study the association between neural responses and musical enrichment. Results. The LME models showed that the association between speech sound discrimination accuracy and musical activities differed between the groups. In post-hoc comparisons, this association differed between the vocal intervention group and the other risk groups. The group without the familial risk did not differ from the risk groups. Conclusions. The observed bidirectional associations of musical activities and vocal listening intervention with change-related cortical processing potentially reflect two separate mechanisms of neural maturation and compensatory activation. Hence, vocal intervention and musical activities might promote specific aspects of auditory neural development. Understanding these associations is relevant in both guiding future research and in preventing language disorders.
  • Malkki, Veera (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Aim. Measuring depression is often based on calculating sum scores of symptoms in which case the effectiveness of treatment is evaluated on the basis of the change in the sum scores. However, as a result of calculating the sum scores, data about symptoms is lost. Despite the mitigation of depression symptoms, functional deficiencies are common and therefore psychosocial functioning should also be measured when evaluating the effectiveness of treatment. The aim of this study is to determine whether individual depressive symptoms, regardless of diagnosis, predict the observed change in psychoso-cial function, while simultaneously considering the effect of total depression scores. In addition, it was sought to deter-mine whether individual changes in symptoms predict a change in psychosocial function when comparing subjects with a clinically significant improvement in psychosocial function with those with less change. Methodology. The data of the study (n = 214) comes from the psychotherapy quality-control register of HUS Psychiatry, where data collection is integrated into the psychotherapy process. The effects of changes in symptoms and depression sum scores on psychosocial functioning were studied using linear regression models and MIMIC-models. The clinical significance of changes in psychosocial functioning was predicted by logistic regression analyzes. Results and Conclusions. In regression models describing the association between symptom changes and psychosocial functioning, age, gender, diagnosis, or psychotherapy were not significant predictors. The connection of symptomatic changes with the observed change in psychosocial functioning did not depend on whether the person was diagnosed with depression or some other mental disorder. Of the depressive symptoms, only self-dissatisfaction or experiences of failure was associated with a change in psychosocial function (beta = -0.25, p-value = .003), while simultaneously taking into account the change in overall depression. Based on the results, self-dissatisfaction can predict a change in psychosocial function regardless of overall depression, which is why self-reported dissatisfaction appears to be an important symptom predictive of the effectiveness of short-term psychotherapy in general psychiatric patients.
  • O’Shea, Mia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Objectives. This study sought to investigate factors related to the elicitation of music-evoked autobiographical memories (MEAMs) in healthy aging to improve overall understanding of the phenomenon and to enhance the selection of optimal musical stimuli to be used for the neurological rehabilitation and care of elderly individuals. The characteristic contents of MEAMs of healthy older individuals were also explored. Methods. 113 healthy senior subjects (aged 60 – 86 years) listened to 70 preselected song excerpts and rated each on a 5-point Likert scale in five domains: valence, emotional intensity, arousal, familiarity and autobiographical salience. Correlational and linear mixed model analyses were conducted to discover the relationship between the rated variables. Eighty-one participants additionally chose to verbally describe their MEAMs in further detail. These submitted inserts (n = 2790) were manually categorized and labelled into non-mutually exclusive groups and sub-groups. Results and conclusions. The analyses revealed that all rating variables had statistically significant positive relationships with one another. Valence, emotional intensity, arousal and familiarity all had significant positive effects on the dependent variable autobiographical salience. Thus, in order to maximally evoke MEAMs in healthy elderly individuals, the chosen musical stimuli should be regarded by the listener as being pleasant, emotionally intense, physiologically arousing and familiar. The contents of elderly individuals’ MEAMs often involved music-related activity, such as singing, dancing or listening to music. They also frequently contained details of specific people or locations. Lastly, they often weren’t very temporally specific and memories from adolescence were more common than other life periods.
  • Oristo, Sini (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Objectives Autism generally refers to lingual, communicational and behavioral continuous traits, which are determined by genetics as well as environment. The purpose of this study was to examine to which extent the genetic autism risk explains the variation in autistic traits in two-year-old children in the normal population. Additionally the impact of the genetic autism risk was examined in conditions, where the mother of the child suffered from depressive symptoms during pregnancy and/or had alexithymia (trouble identifying feelings). Methods The sample was collected from the Child-Sleep cohort study (n=942). The child’s genetic autism risk was calculated by comparing the child’s genome with the genome of people with an autism diagnosis. All of the other information was collected with questionnaires. The child’s autistic traits were assessed according to the autism scale in BITSEA. The mother’s depressive symptoms during pregnancy were assessed according to the Ces-d (short) questionnaire and her trouble identifying feelings according to the TAS-20-questionnaire. The connections between the variables were examined with Pearson’s correlation coefficient. The autistic traits were examined with linear regression analysis. Results and conclusions The genetic autism risk explained 2% of the variation in the autistic traits of two-year-old children in the normal population. This result is in line with previous studies. Gender (autistic traits were more prevalent in males), maternal adolescence and the degree of maternal alexithymia were the best predictors of an autistic phenotype. Generally maternal maturity is considered a risk factor for the child’s more autistic phenotype, whereas our result possibly points out that the risk is rather created by paternal maturity instead. In addition of identifying the greatest risk factors, interactions between the genetic risk of autism and the psychological factors of the mother (depressive symptoms during pregnancy and trouble identifying emotions) were examined. However, these interactions were not statistically significant in this study. The impact of genes is already a verified fact – the next goal is to identify environments, where the genes interact, creating a more autistic phenotype.
  • Tasanko, Elisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Objective: Anxiety disorders are a worldwide burden, but the genetic factors predisposing to anxiety disorders are not known. This genome-wide association analysis (GWAS) of anxiety disorders aims to discover both disorder-specific and shared genetic associations between multiple anxiety disorders. More significant associations were expected to be observed with the composite phenotypes than with disorder-specific phenotypes. There are sex-differences in the prevalence of anxiety disorders, so genomic associations were also expected to differ between sexes. Methods: Anxiety disorder diagnoses were searched from the FinnGen data (https://www.finngen.fi/en) to create five groups of cases with broad (N = 24,662), core (N = 7671), phobic (N = 2296) and generalized (N = 2686) anxiety disorders, and panic disorders (N = 3549). In the case groups, 26 – 32 % were males. Controls were the participants without psychiatric diagnoses (N ~ 161,000). All GWASs were also conducted as a sex-stratified analysis. GWASs were conducted with a SAIGE v0.20 -pipeline with age, biological sex, 10 principal components, and genotyping batches as covariates. Results: Several loci associated significantly with multiple anxiety disorders and with specific anxiety disorders. The most significant association was between SORCS3 variants and panic disorder. The SORCS3 variants were also associated with males with panic disorder and core anxiety disorders. Conclusions: The GWAS of the broad anxiety resulted in less significant associations than was hypothesized. SORCS3 has previously been associated with multiple psychiatric phenotypes, but not with panic disorder. As hypothesized, different genetic associations were observed between the sexes. The effect sizes of associations observed were modest, which emphasizes how anxiety disorders develop from an interaction of multiple genetic and environmental risk factors.
  • Leppälä, Mira (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Aims. Exercise is known to be associated with longer sleep duration and better sleep quality. Good enough sleep has a positive impact not only on somatic and mental health, but also for example on memory and learning. However, so far there is no research of other hobbies than sport in relation to sleep. The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of sport hobbies, other hobbies and the time spent on hobbies on adolescents’ sleep duration and quality. Methods. Different hobbies and time spent on hobbies, sleep duration, sleep latency, sleep efficiency and sleep problems of 1374 adolescents (girls 66.4%, mean age 16.84 years) was measured with self-report questionnaire as a part of University of Helsinki SleepHelsinki! research project. Associations with different hobbies and sleep were analysed with ANOVAs and post hoc tests. The effect of time spent on hobbies on sleep was analysed with ANOVAs and regression analyses. Results. Sleep duration on weekdays on average was 7.28 hours, which is less than the recommended 8-10 hours per night, but on weekends adolescents slept enough, 9.26 hours. Girls reported more sleep problems and poorer sleep quality, but no sex differences were found in sleep duration. 58.4% of the adolescents reported having sports as their main hobby and 18.5% reported having no hobbies at all. Those with sports as their main hobby, had longer sleep duration and better sleep quality than those without any hobbies or whose main hobby was other than sports. When analysed separately for boys and girls, this positive association between sport hobbies and sleep was found only in girls. Time spent on hobbies was not associated with sleep duration or quality. Conclusion. Based on this study it seems most important that adolescents do sports in general, not necessarily the amount of time they spend with their hobbies. Adolescents without any hobbies slept less than others and had the worst sleep quality so special attention should be paid to get the most passive adolescents to exercise to improve their sleep and wellbeing.
  • Kankaanpää, Maija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    Tiivistelmä - Referat - Abstract Objective: Safe driving requires several cognitive skills from the driver, the main role of which is to detect, identify and predict risks. Especially inexperienced drivers have problems while identifying risks, but also aging and illness can weaken human feelings and functions. This affects the person's risk perception and impairs the ability to move safely in traffic. However, it is a challenge to spot the deterioration of the driver's driving ability. A simple method for estimating the driving ability will be a great support in detecting problems related to driving ability. Methods: In this study conducted on Hazard Perception method based test called Ajoarvio, which fits to the Finnish transport culture. The test implied the ability to detect risk situations in traffic. The Ajoarvio -test is a computer-assisted program that shows videos about real driving situations. These videos contain an event that represents potential danger to participants or others. There are also videos where there is no danger. The person should react when he/she detects a risk by clicking on the mouse button. The study included 62 people aged 18 - 68. Results: According to the study, the test was able to distinguish the subjects, and the testing experience significantly improved the results. Negative correlation was also observed between age and test result. So the driving experience improved performance, but ageing may weaken it. The test videos also demonstrated a structure related to the videos, where the videos were interpreted as focusing on three areas: 1. reaction and handling speed; 2. vigilance and situational awareness; and, 3. prediction and dynamic vision. Conclusions: The study shows that the test can detect discrepancies in the ability of the subjects to detect risks in traffic
  • Vartiainen, Erika (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Aims In previous research, the focus has been on how single factors (e.g. change of school, class or school size) are connected to motivation. No study has used a comprehensive set of aspects of school stability and investigated its association with school motivation. Further, no study has examined whether temperament modifies the connection between the stability of school environment and motivation. This study investigated 1) whether the instability of school environment is associated with students’ motivation and 2) whether this association is modified by temperament. Methods The sample consisted of 3369 Finnish ninth graders. Students’ school motivation and temperament traits (task orientation, reactivity and flexibility) were measured by self-report and teachers’ evaluation. A wide array of factors within school environment were assessed (by asking students and teachers), and three instability scales were formed: instability of physical space, social relationships, and general school structure. Results When adding all the instability scales to the model as predictors simultaneously, high instability in social relations and high instability of physical space were associated with lower student-rated and teacher-rated motivation. Instability of general school structure did not have significant main effect on student-rated or teacher-rated motivation. When adding all the two-way interactions between temperament traits and instability scales to the model as predictors simultaneously, temperament was found to have modifying effects on motivation: high reactivity modified both, the connection of instability of physical spaces and instability of social relationships on student-rated motivation in students. High flexibility modified the connection of instability of general school structure on student-rated motivation. High task orientation modified the connection of instability of physical spaces on teacher-rated motivation. In all the models, covariates included also students’ age, gender, and parental education. Conclusions Various dimensions of instability of school environment are differentially connected with students’ motivation. Temperament traits appear to modify these connections, indicating that different temperaments become differently motivated in instable school environments.
  • Hasanen, Allan (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    Tavoitteet. Intuitiivinen ja analyyttinen ajattelutyyli vaikuttavat tiedon käsittelyn syvyyteen ja omaan päättelyyn luottamiseen. Episteeminen kypsyys puolestaan ilmenee kehittyneenä tapana hahmottaa tiedon objektiivisen ja subjektiivisen dimension eroavaisuuksia, sekä ymmärryksenä tiedon monimutkaisuudesta ja varmuudesta. Tässä pro gradu -tutkielmassa tarkastellaan, voidaanko ajattelutyyleillä ennustaa vaihtelua episteemisessä kypsyydessä. Lisäksi tutkittiin, voidaanko avoimella ajattelutyylillä tai kyvyllä kognitiiviseen reflektioon ennustaa episteemistä kypsyyttä. Menetelmät. Otos koostui 460:sta 16-71- vuotiaasta suomalaisesta. Koehenkilöistä miehiä oli 19.3%, naisia 76.3% ja 4,3% ei valinnut kumpaakaan näistä vaihtoehdoista. Tutkimus toteutettiin internet-kyselynä, jonka koehenkilöt rekrytoitiin keskustelufoorumeilta ja opiskelijoiden sähköpostilistoilta. Koehenkilöt vastasivat kysymyksiin, joilla kartoitettiin heidän intuitiivista- analyyttistä- ja avointa ajattelutyyliä, kognitiivista reflektiota. Episteemistä kypsyyttä kartoitettiin tutkimalla episteemistä tasoa ja tiedon yksinkertaisuuteen/varmuuteen liittyviä tietokäsityksiä. Tulokset ja johtopäätökset. Intuitiivinen ajattelutyyli ennusti matalaa episteemistä tasoa ja korkeaa uskomusta tiedon yksinkertaisuudesta, mutta ei uskomuksia tiedon epävarmuudesta. Analyyttinen ajattelutyyli ennusti matalaa uskoa tiedon yksinkertaisuudesta, mutta ei korkeampaa episteemistä tasoa tai uskomuksia tiedon varmuudesta. Kriittinen reflektio puolestaan ennusti korkeampaa episteemistä tasoa ja uskomusta tiedon varmuuteen, sekä matalampaa uskomusta tiedon yksinkertaisuudesta. Tämän lisäksi matala avoin ajattelutyyli ainoastaan yhdessä korkean kognitiivisen reflektion kanssa ennustivat kokemusta tiedon varmuudesta. Rajoituksena tutkimuksessa oli opiskelijoiden yliedustuvuus aineistossa. Tutkimuksella pyrittiin selittämään vaihtelua ihmisten episteemisessä kypsyydessä, sekä tuotiin henkilökohtaisen epistemologian ja ajattelutyylien tutkimusaloja lähemmäs toisiaan.