Browsing by Subject "psykologia"

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  • Virta, Maarit (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is developmental neurobiological disability. In adults, the prevalence of ADHD has been estimated to be about 4 %. In addition to the difficulties of attention, the problems in executive functioning are typical. The psychiatric comorbidities are common. The most extensively studied treatments are pharmacological. There is also evidence about the usefulness of the cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) in the treatment of adults with ADHD. There are some preliminary results about the effectiveness of cognitive training and hypnosis in children, but there is no scientific proof in adults. This dissertation is based on two intervention studies. In the first study, the usefulness of the new group CBT (n = 29) and the maintenance of the symptom reduction in the follow-up of six months were studied. In the second study, the usefulness of short hypnotherapy (n = 9), short individual CBT (n = 10) and computerized cognitive training (n = 9) were examined by comparing groups with each other and to the control group (n = 10). The participation in the group CBT and the participants' satisfaction were good. There were no changes in self-reports during waiting period of three months. After the rehabilitation, the symptoms decreased. Participants having symptom reduction during rehabilitation maintained their benefit through 6-month follow-up period. In a combined ADHD symptom score based on self-reports, seven participants in the hypnotherapy, six in the CBT, two in the cognitive training and two controls improved. Using independent evaluations, improvement was found in six of the hypnotherapy, seven of the CBT, two of the cognitive training and three of the control participants. There was no treatment-related improvement in cognitive performance. Thus, in the hypnotherapy and CBT groups, some encouraging improvement was seen. In the cognitive training group, there was improvement in the trained tasks but no generalization of the improvement. The results support the earlier results from the usefulness of CBT in the treatment of adults with ADHD. Also the hypnotherapy seems a useful rehabilitation. More research is needed to evaluate the usefulness of cognitive training. These promising results warrant further studies with more participants and with longer treatment duration. Also different measures of cognitive functioning and quality of life are needed. It is important in addition to the medication to arrange psychosocial interventions for the ADHD adults.
  • Pölönen, Monika (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    The use of head-mounted displays (HMDs) can produce both positive and negative experiences. In an effort increase positive experiences and avoid negative ones, researchers have identified a number of variables that may cause sickness and eyestrain, although the exact nature of the relationship to HMDs may vary, depending on the tasks and the environments. Other non-sickness-related aspects of HMDs, such as users opinions and future decisions associated with task enjoyment and interest, have attracted little attention in the research community. In this thesis, user experiences associated with the use of monocular and bi-ocular HMDs were studied. These include eyestrain and sickness caused by current HMDs, the advantages and disadvantages of adjustable HMDs, HMDs as accessories for small multimedia devices, and the impact of individual characteristics and evaluated experiences on reported outcomes and opinions. The results indicate that today s commercial HMDs do not induce serious sickness or eyestrain. Reported adverse symptoms have some influence on HMD-related opinions, but the nature of the impact depends on the tasks and the devices used. As an accessory to handheld devices and as a personal viewing device, HMDs may increase use duration and enable users to perform tasks not suitable for small screens. Well-designed and functional, adjustable HMDs, especially monocular HMDs, increase viewing comfort and usability, which in turn may have a positive effect on product-related satisfaction. The role of individual characteristics in understanding HMD-related experiences has not changed significantly. Explaining other HMD-related experiences, especially forward-looking interests, also requires understanding more stable individual traits and motivations.
  • Reiman, Teemu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    Failures in industrial organizations dealing with hazardous technologies can have widespread consequences for the safety of the workers and the general population. Psychology can have a major role in contributing to the safe and reliable operation of these technologies. Most current models of safety management in complex sociotechnical systems such as nuclear power plant maintenance are either non-contextual or based on an overly-rational image of an organization. Thus, they fail to grasp either the actual requirements of the work or the socially-constructed nature of the work in question. The general aim of the present study is to develop and test a methodology for contextual assessment of organizational culture in complex sociotechnical systems. This is done by demonstrating the findings that the application of the emerging methodology produces in the domain of maintenance of a nuclear power plant (NPP). The concepts of organizational culture and organizational core task (OCT) are operationalized and tested in the case studies. We argue that when the complexity of the work, technology and social environment is increased, the significance of the most implicit features of organizational culture as a means of coordinating the work and achieving safety and effectiveness of the activities also increases. For this reason a cultural perspective could provide additional insight into the problem of safety management. The present study aims to determine; (1) the elements of the organizational culture in complex sociotechnical systems; (2) the demands the maintenance task sets for the organizational culture; (3) how the current organizational culture at the case organizations supports the perception and fulfilment of the demands of the maintenance work; (4) the similarities and differences between the maintenance cultures at the case organizations, and (5) the necessary assessment of the organizational culture in complex sociotechnical systems. Three in-depth case studies were carried out at the maintenance units of three Nordic NPPs. The case studies employed an iterative and multimethod research strategy. The following methods were used: interviews, CULTURE-survey, seminars, document analysis and group work. Both cultural analysis and task modelling were carried out. The results indicate that organizational culture in complex sociotechnical systems can be characterised according to three qualitatively different elements: structure, internal integration and conceptions. All three of these elements of culture as well as their interrelations have to be considered in organizational assessments or important aspects of the organizational dynamics will be overlooked. On the basis of OCT modelling, the maintenance core task was defined as balancing between three critical demands: anticipating the condition of the plant and conducting preventive maintenance accordingly, reacting to unexpected technical faults and monitoring and reflecting on the effects of maintenance actions and the condition of the plant. The results indicate that safety was highly valued at all three plants, and in that sense they all had strong safety cultures. In other respects the cultural features were quite different, and thus the culturally-accepted means of maintaining high safety also differed. The handicraft nature of maintenance work was emphasised as a source of identity at the NPPs. Overall, the importance of safety was taken for granted, but the cultural norms concerning the appropriate means to guarantee it were little reflected. A sense of control, personal responsibility and organizational changes emerged as challenging issues at all the plants. The study shows that in complex sociotechnical systems it is both necessary and possible to analyse the safety and effectiveness of the organizational culture. Safety in complex sociotechnical systems cannot be understood or managed without understanding the demands of the organizational core task and managing the dynamics between the three elements of the organizational culture.
  • Klenberg, Liisa (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Executive functions (EFs) are essential for coordination and controlling of other cognitive functions and behavior. EFs are involved in all purposeful activity, and for children, they are important for learning and functioning in school environments. Difficulties in EFs are common in school-age children with developmental disabilities, such as attention deficit disorder (ADHD). This thesis consists of three studies addressing EFs in school-age children. The first study employed neuropsychological tests from the Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment NEPSY to examine age-related differences in EFs in a sample of 400 children. The second study investigated the methodological factors related to EF measures in a sample of 340 children using response inhibition tasks from the NEPSY-II, the second edition of the Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment. The third study aimed at constructing a new instrument, the Attention and Executive Function Rating Inventory ATTEX, for the clinical assessment of EFs and verifying the psychometric properties of the rating scale in a sample of 916 children. Age-related improvement in EF task performance continued throughout the school-age period, proceeding from inhibition to attention control, and further to fluency of actions. A closer examination of response inhibition showed developmental variation even within this EF domain. The developmental change was apparent at school age, but different outcome measures and the cognitive requirements of tasks had an effect on how the development of response inhibition was depicted. In the assessment of everyday EF behaviors, the ATTEX rating scale demonstrated high internal consistency reliability and good criterion and discriminant validity for ADHD. The EF profiles were different for the ADHD subtypes, and children with predominantly inattentive symptoms showed more wide-ranging difficulties in EFs than children with combined symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. Carefully examined, reliable, and valid measures are essential for both the scientific research and clinical assessment of EFs. Factors related to the measures, e.g., materials, stimuli, and the selected outcome measure, and the cognitive processes involved in tasks have effect on how development of EFs is depicted. Close examination of these factors can help to attain a more consisted account on EF development. In the clinical assessment of EF difficulties, the measures need to be sensitive to the actual difficulties that arise in every-day situations. These are best assessed with standardized rating scales. The new rating scale presented in this thesis proved to be a suitable measure both for screening and examining the detailed EF profiles of children in school situations.
  • Karhula, Kati (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Health care personnel often have irregular working hours and stressful work characteristics, which may challenge employees possibilities to sleep and recover sufficiently. The aim of this study was to examine the association of stressful work characteristics, measured as job strain, with sleep and psychophysiological recovery in shift working health care professionals. As part of the Finnish Public Sector Study, 95 participants were recruited from hospital wards that belonged to the top (high job strain, HJS, n=42) or bottom quartiles on job strain (low job strain, LJS, n=53) as determined by the average job strain score among the employees of the ward. These participants experienced job strain at least as high (HJS group) or as low (LJS group) as the average on their ward. Measurements included a Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), and 3-week field measures of sleep-wake rhythm with sleep diary and actigraphy. The 3-week rosters included three pre-selected, circadian rhythm and recovery controlled measurement days, one morning shift, one night shift and a day off, and the following measurements: ratings of sleepiness (Karolinska Sleepiness Scale), Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT), 24h heart rate variability (HRV) measurements and saliva samples of stress biomarkers (cortisol and alpha-amylase). The rosters of the HJS group included more single days off and quick returns than the rosters of the LJS group. Severe sleepiness (KSS score of ≥7) was more common in the HJS group in quick returns. The HJS group reported poorer recovery from all work shifts and after morning shifts than the LJS group. High job strain was not associated with extended working hours. The HJS group had more difficulties in initiating sleep after evening shifts, more often reduced sleep efficiency before morning shifts, and took fewer and shorter naps before the first night shift than the LJS group. Additionally, the HJS group had more often lapses in the PVT during night shifts. Insufficient sleep (31%) and sleep complaints (often 68%) were common in shift workers regardless of the job strain group. The TSST resulted in, on average, a 2.27-fold increase in cortisol concentration in the HJS group and a 1.48-fold increase in the LJS group (non-significant group difference). The HJS group also had higher salivary alpha-amylase levels 30 minutes after awakening in the morning shift. Apart from that, the salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase levels, profiles and total secretion showed no statistically significant stress group differences. Heart rate and HRV, before and during sleep, were similar in both job strain groups. Shift work contributed to impaired sleep in both the high and low job strain groups, although the sleep impairments were more pronounced in the HJS group. Associations between job strain and psychophysiological stress-related reactions and recovery were modest. Intervention studies are needed to determine whether increasing recovery time by reducing the number of quick returns and single days off would also reduce job strain and improve sleep quality among shift workers. Emphasising the importance of sufficient sleep might promote shift workers´ recovery and well-being.
  • Seppänen, Miia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Music training shapes functional and structural constructs in the brain particularly in the areas related to sound processing. The enhanced brain responses to sounds in musicians when compared to non-musicians might be explained by the intensive auditory perceptual learning that occurs during music training. Yet the relationship between musical expertise and rapid plastic changes in brain potentials during auditory perceptual learning has not been systematically studied. This was the topic of the current thesis, in conditions where participants either actively attended to the sounds or did not. The electroencephalography (EEG) and behavioral sound discrimination task results showed that the perceptual learning of complex sound patterns required active attention to the sounds even from musicians, and that the different practice styles of musicians modulated the perceptual learning of sound features. When using simple sounds, musical expertise was found to enhance the rapid plastic changes (i.e., neural learning) even when attention was directed away from listening. The rapid plasticity in musicians was found particularly in temporal lobe areas which have specialized in processing sounds. However, right frontal lobe activation, which is related to involuntary attention shifts to sound changes, did not differ between musicians and non-musicians. Behavioral discrimination accuracy for sounds was found to be at the maximum level initially in musicians, while non-musicians improved their accuracy in discerning behavioral discrimination between active conditions. Yet, the performances in standardized attention and memory tests did not differ between musicians and non-musicians. Taken together, musical expertise seems to enhance the preattentive brain responses during auditory perceptual learning.
  • Hintsa, Taina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    Work stress is after musculoskeletal disorders the second most common work-related health problem in the European Union, affecting 28% of EU employees. Furthermore, a 50% excessive cardiovascular disease risk among employees with work stress is reported. High job demands combined with low job control according to the Job Demands-Job Control model, or high effort combined with low rewards according to Effort-Reward Imbalance model, are likely to produce work stress in the majority of employees. Atherosclerotic wall thickening is a validated marker of an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This study examined the role of childhood and adolescent factors as antecedents of work stress and early atherosclerosis, and in the relationship between them. The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study, (the CRYF project) started in 1980 when the participants were at the age of three to 18 years. Follow-ups have been conducted every three years until 1992, after that in 1997 and 2001, and the latest is ongoing in 2008. The participants parents reported their socioeconomic position in 1980 and 1983, and their life satisfaction in 1983. Biological risk factors were measured in 1980 and 2001. Type A behaviour was reported in 1986, 1989 and 2001. In the 2001 follow-up when the participants were aged 24 to 39, work stress was assessed from responses to questionnaires on job demands-job control and effort-reward imbalance, and education. Ultrasound measurement of the carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) was used to assess atherosclerosis. There were 755, 746, 1014 and 494 participants in studies I-IV, respectively. The results showed that low parental socioeconomic position and parental life dissatisfaction during childhood and adolescence predicted higher levels of job strain 18 years later, and that education mediated the relationship between parental socioeconomic position and job strain. Childhood and adolescent family factors were not related to the effort-reward imbalance. Parental life satisfaction was associated with high rewards at work among the men, and high parental socioeconomic position was associated with high reward among the women. Among the men, the eagerness-energy component of Type A behaviour across different developmental periods predicted increased CIMT. Among the women, hard-driving component of Type A behaviour predicted decreased CIMT. Low leadership characteristic in adolescence and early adulthood was associated with both high job strain and increased CIMT, and attenuated the relationship between job strain and CIMT to non-significance in men. The current findings add to the literature on the relationship between job strain and health literature in adopting a developmental perspective. The results imply that work stress does not completely originate from work. There are childhood and adolescent environmental and dispositional effects on work stress and CIMT several years later, and these partly seem to operate through educational attainment.
  • Alatupa, Saija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Social exclusion, in general, is seen as a long-term process that is multidimensional and cumulative. It includes educational, occupational, social, normative and the exercise of power; the present study focused on the first three of these dimensions. They were chosen, because they are closely related to the other dimensions of exclusion (normative and the exercise of power) and because they were most relevant from the public health view. Particular interest was to find those less serious factors of the exclusion process that can still be influenced. Thus, the aim of the present study was to examine in two large population-based samples childhood and adolescence characteristics that may be involved in the process of educational, occupational or social exclusion. It was hypothesized that 1) social status among classmates is related to temperament and that social status is associated with higher self-esteem. Further expectations were that 2) disruptive childhood behaviour is associated with both poor school performance at comprehensive school and 3) a lower socioeconomic position in adulthood and that 4) poor school performance associates with obesity in adulthood. The findings supported the hypotheses. Adolescent s self-perception of their social self-esteem was highly associated with social and general self-esteem, whereas the association with family self-esteem was lower in magnitude. It was shown that different aspects of self-esteem have a different impact on a person s social status in general. Disruptive childhood behaviour was associated with poor school performance throughout the school years, but its impact first started in middle childhood. Within these associations a gender-related difference was also found: hyperactivity was negatively associated with girls school performance, while aggression was detrimental for boys school success. Disruptive childhood behaviour further associated with educational and occupational status in adulthood, but it had no effect on income. Childhood aggression predicted educational and occupational status in adulthood, whereas hyperactivity only had an effect on education. A gender-related association was also found between poor school performance and adulthood obesity: poor school performance was a risk factor for women s health. To sum up, it was shown that early behaviour and school performance are associated with later socioeconomic and health-related outcomes. These finding suggest that the roots of detrimental development can already be found in childhood. From the perspective of public health and its improvement, identifying those children at risk is highly relevant.
  • Komsi, Niina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Studying the continuity and underlying mechanisms of temperament change from early childhood through adulthood is clinically and theoretically relevant. Knowledge of the continuity and change of temperament from infancy onwards, especially as perceived by both parents is, however, still scanty. Only in recent years have researchers become aware that personality, long considered as stable in adulthood, may also change. Further, studies that focus on the transactional change of child temperament and parental personality also seem to be lacking, as are studies focusing on transactions between child temperament and more transient parental characteristics, like parental stress. Therefore, this longitudinal study examined the degree of continuity of temperament over five years from the infant s age of six months to the child s age of five and a half years, as perceived by both biological parents, and also investigated the bidirectional effects between child temperament and parents personality traits and overall stress experienced during that time. First, moderate to high levels of continuity of temperament from infancy to middle childhood were shown, depicting the developmental links between affectively positive and well-adjusted temperament characteristics, and between characteristics of early and later negative affectivity. The continuity of temperament was quantitatively and qualitatively similar in both parents ratings. The findings also demonstrate that infant and childhood temperament characteristics cluster to form stable temperament types that resemble personality types shown in child and adult personality studies. Second, the parental personality traits of extraversion and neuroticism were shown to be highly stable over five years, but evidence of change in relation to parents views of their child s temperament was also shown: an infant s higher positive affectivity predicted an increase in parental extraversion, while the infant s higher activity level predicted a decrease in parental neuroticism over five years. Furthermore, initially higher parental extraversion predicted higher ratings of the child s effortful control, while initially higher parental neuroticism predicted the child s higher negative affectivity. In terms of changes in parental stress, the infant s higher activity level predicted a decrease in maternal overall stress, while initially higher maternal stress predicted a higher level of child negative affectivity in middle childhood. Together, the results demonstrate that the mother- and father-rated temperament of the child shows continuity during the early years of life, but also support the view that the development of these characteristics is sensitive to important contextual factors such as parental personality and overall stress. While parental personality and experienced stress were shown to have an effect on the child s developing temperament, the reverse was also true: the parents own personality traits and perceived stress seemed to be highly stable, but also susceptible to their experiences of their child s temperament.
  • Rosti-Otajärvi, Eija (Helsingin yliopisto, 2009)
    Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the central nervous system, characterized especially by myelin and axon damage. Cognitive impairment in MS is common but difficult to detect without a neuropsychological examination. Valid and reliable methods are needed in clinical practice and research to detect deficits, follow their natural evolution, and verify treatment effects. The Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT) is a measure of sustained and divided attention, working memory, and information processing speed, and it is widely used in MS patients neuropsychological evaluation. Additionally, the PASAT is the sole cognitive measure in an assessment tool primarly designed for MS clinical trials, the Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite (MSFC). The aims of the present study were to determine a) the frequency, characteristics, and evolution of cognitive impairment among relapsing-remitting MS patients, and b) the validity and reliability of the PASAT in measuring cognitive performance in MS patients. The subjects were 45 relapsing-remitting MS patients from Seinäjoki Central Hospital, Department of Neurology and 48 healthy controls. Both groups underwent comprehensive neuropsychological assessments, including the PASAT, twice in a one-year follow-up, and additionally a sample of 10 patients and controls were evaluated with the PASAT in serial assessments five times in one month. The frequency of cognitive dysfunction among relapsing-remitting MS patients in the present study was 42%. Impairments were characterized especially by slowed information processing speed and memory deficits. During the one-year follow-up, the cognitive performance was relatively stable among MS patients on a group level. However, the practice effects in cognitive tests were less pronounced among MS patients than healthy controls. At an individual level the spectrum of MS patients cognitive deficits was wide in regards to their characteristics, severity, and evolution. The PASAT was moderately accurate in detecting MS-associated cognitive impairment, and 69% of patients were correctly classified as cognitively impaired or unimpaired when comprehensive neuropsychological assessment was used as a "gold standard". Self-reported nervousness and poor arithmetical skills seemed to explain misclassifications. MS-related fatigue was objectively demonstrated as fading performance towards the end of the test. Despite the observed practice effect, the reliability of the PASAT was excellent, and it was sensitive to the cognitive decline taking place during the follow-up in a subgroup of patients. The PASAT can be recommended for use in the neuropsychological assessment of MS patients. The test is fairly sensitive, but less specific; consequently, the reasons for low scores have to be carefully identified before interpreting them as clinically significant.
  • Antila, Mervi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Bipolar I disorder is a severe psychiatric disorder characterized by episodic mood alterations that can be manic, depressive or mixed. Bipolar disorder seems to be highly genetic, but the etiology of this complex disorder has remained elusive. In recent years, studies have found that euthymic patients with bipolar disorder may have impairments particularly in executive functioning, verbal learning and memory. These impairments may be present also among some of the relatives of these patients, who may be vulnerable to the disorder. Using neuropsychological variables as endophenotypes, i.e. intermediate phenotypes between genes and the phenotypes, has been suggested to aid search for the etiological background of the disorder, but evidence is sparse on whether these variables fulfill the criteria for endophenotypes. The present thesis is part of the Genetic Epidemiology and Molecular Genetics of Severe Mental Disorders in Finland project. The specific aim was to investigate whether neuropsychological test variables would indicate genetic liability to the disorder and could therefore be regarded as endophenotypes. Thus, cognitive functions and their heritability were studied in bipolar I disorder patients and in their unaffected first-degree relatives from a population-based sample of families, comparing them to a population-based control group. In order to add homogeneity to the subgroups of bipolar disorder patients and their relatives, cognitive functions and their heritability were further studied in a group of families affected by bipolar I disorder only (bipolar families) and another group of families affected by both bipolar I disorder and schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorders (mixed families). Finally, the effect of processing speed on other cognitive functions was investigated. The study showed that especially executive functioning and processing speed fulfilled the endophenotype criteria. Impairments in these functions were found in bipolar patients and in their relatives irrespective of other severe psychopathology in the family. These functions were highly heritable in these families. Study also showed that generalized impairment in verbal memory may associate more with bipolar disorder than to vulnerability to other psychotic disorders, and be more related to fully developed disease; impairments in verbal learning and memory were found only in patients, and they were not found to be highly heritable. Finally, the most potential endophenotype, i.e. processing speed, seemed to contribute to a range of other cognitive dysfunctions seen in bipolar disorder patients. Processing speed, in particular, has also been shown to be a valid endophenotype in subsequent association analyses in psychiatric genetics in Finland and internationally. Information concerning cognitive impairments and their association with the psychosocial consequences of bipolar disorder is important in planning treatment. It is also important to understand and acknowledge that patients may have cognitive impairments that affect their everyday life. Psychosocial interventions and neuropsychological rehabilitation may supplement other conventional treatments for bipolar patients.
  • Latvala, Antti (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Alcohol and other substance use disorders (SUDs) result in great costs and suffering for individuals and families and constitute a notable public health burden. A multitude of factors, ranging from biological to societal, are associated with elevated risk of SUDs, but at the level of individuals, one of the best predictors is a family history of SUDs. Genetically informative twin and family studies have consistently indicated this familial risk to be mainly genetic. In addition, behavioral and temperamental factors such as early initiation of substance use and aggressiveness are associated with the development of SUDs. These familial, behavioral and temperamental risk factors often co-occur, but their relative importance is not well known. People with SUDs have also been found to differ from healthy controls in various domains of cognitive functioning, with poorer verbal ability being among the most consistent findings. However, representative population-based samples have rarely been used in neuropsychological studies of SUDs. In addition, both SUDs and cognitive abilities are influenced by genetic factors, but whether the co-variation of these traits might be partly explained by overlapping genetic influences has not been studied. Problematic substance use also often co-occurs with low educational level, but it is not known whether these outcomes share part of their underlying genetic influences. In addition, educational level may moderate the genetic etiology of alcohol problems, but gene-environment interactions between these phenomena have also not been widely studied. The incidence of SUDs peaks in young adulthood rendering epidemiological studies in this age group informative. This thesis investigated cognitive functioning and other correlates of SUDs in young adulthood in two representative population-based samples of young Finnish adults, one of which consisted of monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs enabling genetically informative analyses. Using data from the population-based Mental Health in Early Adulthood in Finland (MEAF) study (n=605), the lifetime prevalence of DSM-IV any substance dependence or abuse among persons aged 21—35 years was found to be approximately 14%, with a majority of the diagnoses being alcohol use disorders. Several correlates representing the domains of behavioral and affective factors, parental factors, early initiation of substance use, and educational factors were individually associated with SUDs. The associations between behavioral and affective factors (attention or behavior problems at school, aggression, anxiousness) and SUDs were found to be largely independent of factors from other domains, whereas daily smoking and low education were still associated with SUDs after adjustment for behavioral and affective factors. Using a wide array of neuropsychological tests in the MEAF sample and in a subsample (n=602) of the population-based FinnTwin16 (FT16) study, consistent evidence of poorer verbal cognitive ability related to SUDs was found. In addition, participants with SUDs performed worse than those without disorders in a task assessing psychomotor processing speed in the MEAF sample, whereas no evidence of more specific cognitive deficits was found in either sample. Biometrical structural equation models of the twin data suggested that both alcohol problems and verbal ability had moderate heritabilities (0.54—0.72), and that their covariation could be explained by correlated genetic influences (genetic correlations -0.20 to -0.31). The relationship between educational level and alcohol problems, studied in the full epidemiological FT16 sample (n=4,858), was found to reflect both genetic correlation and gene-environment interaction. The co-occurrence of low education and alcohol problems was influenced by overlapping genetic factors. In addition, higher educational level was associated with increased relative importance of genetic influences on alcohol problems, whereas environmental influences played a more important role in young adults with lower education. In conclusion, SUDs, especially alcohol abuse and dependence, are common among young Finnish adults. Behavioral and affective factors are robustly related to SUDs independently of many other factors, and compared to healthy peers, young adults who have had SUDs during their life exhibit significantly poorer verbal cognitive ability, and possibly less efficient psychomotor processing. Genetic differences between individuals explain a notable proportion of individual differences in risk of alcohol dependence, verbal ability, and educational level, and the co-occurrence of alcohol problems with poorer verbal cognition and low education is influenced by shared genetic backgrounds. Finally, various environmental factors related to educational level in young adulthood moderate the relative importance of genetic factors influencing the risk of alcohol problems, possibly reflecting differences in social control mechanisms related to educational level.
  • Castaneda, Anu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    Background. Evidence of cognitive dysfunction in depressive and anxiety disorders is growing. However, the neuropsychological profile of young adults has received only little systematic investigation, although depressive and anxiety disorders are major public health problems for this age group. Available studies have typically failed to account for psychiatric comorbidity, and samples derived from population-based settings have also seldom been investigated. Burnout-related cognitive functioning has previously been investigated in only few studies, again all using clinical samples and wide age groups. Aims. Based on the information gained by conducting a comprehensive review, studies on cognitive impairment in depressive and anxiety disorders among young adults are rare. The present study examined cognitive functioning in young adults with a history of unipolar depressive or anxiety disorders in comparison to healthy peers, and associations of current burnout symptoms with cognitive functioning, in a population-based setting. The aim was also to determine whether cognitive deficits vary as a function of different disorder characteristics, such as severity, psychiatric comorbidity, age at onset, or the treatments received. Methods. Verbal and visual short-term memory, verbal long-term memory and learning, attention, psychomotor processing speed, verbal intelligence, and executive functioning were measured in a population-based sample of 21-35 year olds. Performance was compared firstly between participants with pure non-psychotic depression (n=68) and healthy peers (n=70), secondly between pure (n=69) and comorbid depression (n=57), and thirdly between participants with anxiety disorders (n=76) and healthy peers (n=71). The diagnostic procedure was based on the SCID interview. Fourthly, the associations of current burnout symptoms, measured with the Maslach Burnout Inventory General Survey, and neuropsychological test performance were investigated among working young adults (n=225). Results. Young adults with depressive or anxiety disorders, with or without psychiatric comorbidity, were not found to have major cognitive impairments when compared to healthy peers. Only mildly compromised verbal learning was found among depressed participants. Pure and comorbid depression groups did not differ in cognitive functioning, either. Among depressed participants, those who had received treatment showed more impaired verbal memory and executive functioning, and earlier onset corresponded with more impaired executive functioning. In anxiety disorders, psychotropic medication and low psychosocial functioning were associated with deficits in executive functioning, psychomotor processing speed, and visual short-term memory. Current burnout symptoms were associated with better performance in verbal working memory and verbal intelligence. However, lower examiner-rated social and occupational functioning was associated with problems in verbal attention, memory, and learning. Conclusions. Depression, anxiety disorders, or burnout symptoms may not be associated with major cognitive deficits among young adults derived from the general population. Even psychiatric comorbidity may not aggravate cognitive functioning in depressive or anxiety disorders among these young adults. However, treatment-seeking in depression was found to be associated with cognitive deficits, suggesting that these deficits relate to increased distress. Additionally, early-onset depression, found to be associated with executive dysfunction, may represent a more severe form of the disorder. In anxiety disorders, those with low symptom-related psychosocial functioning may have cognitive impairment. An association with self-reported burnout symptoms and cognitive deficits was not detected, but individuals with low social and occupational functioning may have impaired cognition.
  • Torniainen, Minna (2013)
    Schizophrenia is considered to be a neurodevelopmental disorder. Although the aetiology of schizophrenia remains largely unknown, it appears to result from several factors, including genetic vulnerability and environmental insults as well as their interactions. Schizophrenia is usually associated with broad cognitive impairment and related problems in psychosocial functioning. As in patients with schizophrenia, patients with schizoaffective disorder, a psychiatric disorder characterized by both symptoms of schizophrenia and prominent affective symptoms, also show cognitive impairment. Previous research has identified many risk factors for schizophrenia, such as obstetric complications and male sex. In addition, in Finland, internal genetic isolates with a high prevalence of schizophrenia have been identified. However, few studies have investigated the relationship between these risk factors for schizophrenia and cognitive functioning. The aims of the thesis were to characterize cognitive functioning in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder and to examine whether clinical characteristics are related to cognitive impairment in these disorders. An additional aim was to investigate whether previously identified risk factors for schizophrenia (low and high birth weight, male sex, originating from an internal isolate) are associated with cognitive impairment in families with schizophrenia, and whether the illness or the degree of genetic loading for the illness modifies this relationship. The present thesis is a part of the Genetic Epidemiology and Molecular Genetics of Schizophrenia in Finland project. Previously the project has focused on the genetic epidemiology of schizophrenia in Finland as a whole and within the genetic isolate, as well as on neuropsychological deficits in schizophrenia patients and their family members, and on the use of neuropsychological variables as endophenotypes in genetic analyses. Schizophrenia patients with a high genetic loading for schizophrenia were identified from nationwide health care registers. In the present thesis, groups of persons with schizophrenia (n = 218), persons with schizoaffective disorder (n = 62) and their unaffected first-degree relatives (n = 438) were investigated. The control group comprised 123 persons and, in the study focusing on the isolate, 112 persons. The participants were diagnosed on the basis of a diagnostic interview and case records from mental health care contacts. The participants underwent a battery of neuropsychological tests, assessing processing speed, executive functions, attention, working memory, verbal learning and memory and verbal ability. The schizophrenia group demonstrated broad cognitive impairment compared to the control group with large effect sizes. In schizoaffective disorder, broad cognitive impairment with effect sizes ranging from medium to large were detected. Differences in clinical characteristics accounted for the differences in cognitive functioning between the diagnostic groups. Irrespective of diagnosis, patients with severe negative symptoms and a high dose of antipsychotic medication had the most severe cognitive impairment. Both low and high birth weight were associated with more severe cognitive impairment than intermediate birth weight in persons with schizophrenia and their first-degree relatives. Sex differences in cognitive functions were mostly preserved in schizophrenia families when compared to controls despite large cognitive impairment in schizophrenia, and mild cognitive impairment in first-degree relatives. In persons with schizophrenia and their first-degree relatives, persons from the internal isolate had slightly better performance in some of the cognitive measures than persons from the rest of the country. However, no such differences were noticed in the controls. In conclusion, persons with schizoaffective disorder demonstrated broad cognitive impairment, which was milder than in schizophrenia. The results suggest that symptom severity predicts the level of cognitive impairment in these disorders more accurately than categorical diagnosis does. The results also showed that the assessed schizophrenia risk factors may have distinct associations with cognitive functioning. Low and high birth weight were associated with slightly lower cognitive performance than intermediate birth weight in persons with schizophrenia and in their first-degree relatives. Despite sex differences in illness characteristics, sex did not affect the level of cognitive impairment in persons with schizophrenia or in their first-degree relatives. Originating from an internal isolate was associated with slightly higher cognitive performance than originating from the rest of Finland both in persons with schizophrenia and in their first-degree relatives, but not in the control group. This difference may reflect differences in the genetic aetiology of schizophrenia between the isolate and the rest of Finland.
  • Kalakoski, Virpi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    When experts construct mental images, they do not rely only on perceptual features; they also access domain-specific knowledge and skills in long-term memory, which enables them to exceed the capacity limitations of the short-term working memory system. The central question of the present dissertation was whether the facilitating effect of long-term memory knowledge on working memory imagery tasks is primarily based on perceptual chunking or whether it relies on higher-level conceptual knowledge. Three domains of expertise were studied: chess, music, and taxi driving. The effects of skill level, stimulus surface features, and the stimulus structure on incremental construction of mental images were investigated. A method was developed to capture the chunking mechanisms that experts use in constructing images: chess pieces, street names, and visual notes were presented in a piecemeal fashion for later recall. Over 150 experts and non-experts participated in a total of 13 experiments, as reported in five publications. The results showed skill effects in all of the studied domains when experts performed memory and problem solving tasks that required mental imagery. Furthermore, only experts' construction of mental images benefited from meaningful stimuli. Manipulation of the stimulus surface features, such as replacing chess pieces with dots, did not significantly affect experts' performance in the imagery tasks. In contrast, the structure of the stimuli had a significant effect on experts' performance in every task domain. For example, taxi drivers recalled more street names from lists that formed a spatially continuous route than from alphabetically organised lists. The results suggest that the mechanisms of conceptual chunking rather than automatic perceptual pattern matching underlie expert performance, even though the tasks of the present studies required perception-like mental representations. The results show that experts are able to construct skilled images that surpass working memory capacity, and that their images are conceptually organised and interpreted rather than merely depictive.
  • Lovio, Riikka (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    Dyslexia is a highly heritable neurobiological disorder defined as a persistent difficulty in learning to read. Phonological processing skills, associating letters to sounds, and word retrieval are deficient in many children with dyslexia. Poor reading accuracy and slow reading speed are, in turn, characteristic for adults with dyslexia. Intact processing of even minor differences in speech sounds is essential for language development and reading skills. Speech perception requires sound discrimination and phoneme identification, despite the variation in their acoustical features. Accurate phonological representations are also important for learning the connection between sounds and letters. Difficulties in auditory processing are common in individuals with dyslexia. Cortical auditory processing can be investigated by recording the electroencephalography (EEG). The detection of changes in the regularities of the auditory input gives rise to neural activity in the brain that is seen as a mismatch negativity (MMN) response of the event-related potential (ERP) recorded by EEG. As the recording of MMN requires neither a subject s behavioural response nor attention towards the sounds, it is suitable for studies of even young children. Despite its advantages over behavioural measures, a major obstacle to the use of the MMN method has been the relatively long duration of its recording. However, the multi-feature MMN paradigm with several types of sound changes was recently developed in order to obtain a comprehensive profile of auditory sensory memory and discrimination accuracy in a short recording time. The present thesis investigated cortical multi-attribute auditory processing in dyslexia and the efficacy of intervention on reading-related skills and cortical speech sound discrimination. Moreover, the feasibility of the multi-feature paradigm for dyslexia research, and studies in children was tested for the first time. In this thesis, the multi-feature paradigm was found to be well suited for studies investigating central auditory processing in dyslexia and in children. The results showed that cortical auditory processing is aberrant in dyslexia. In children at risk for dyslexia, auditory processing seems to be deficient even at the initial phase of sound encoding. Furthermore, these children also showed a widespread pattern of abnormal cortical auditory discrimination processes. Adults with dyslexia, in turn, have difficulties in discriminating sound frequency and duration features in a complex auditory environment. Early intervention can influence the developmental path of dyslexia, however. The results of this thesis show that even a short intervention with audio-visual letter-sound exercises improves children s reading-related skills and cortical discrimination of vowel contrasts.
  • Brattico, Elvira (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    In a musical context, the pitch of sounds is encoded according to domain-general principles not confined to music or even to audition overall but common to other perceptual and cognitive processes (such as multiple pattern encoding and feature integration), and to domain-specific and culture-specific properties related to a particular musical system only (such as the pitch steps of the Western tonal system). The studies included in this thesis shed light on the processing stages during which pitch encoding occurs on the basis of both domain-general and music-specific properties, and elucidate the putative brain mechanisms underlying pitch-related music perception. Study I showed, in subjects without formal musical education, that the pitch and timbre of multiple sounds are integrated as unified object representations in sensory memory before attentional intervention. Similarly, multiple pattern pitches are simultaneously maintained in non-musicians' sensory memory (Study II). These findings demonstrate the degree of sophistication of pitch processing at the sensory memory stage, requiring neither attention nor any special expertise of the subjects. Furthermore, music- and culture-specific properties, such as the pitch steps of the equal-tempered musical scale, are automatically discriminated in sensory memory even by subjects without formal musical education (Studies III and IV). The cognitive processing of pitch according to culture-specific musical-scale schemata hence occurs as early as at the sensory-memory stage of pitch analysis. Exposure and cortical plasticity seem to be involved in musical pitch encoding. For instance, after only one hour of laboratory training, the neural representations of pitch in the auditory cortex are altered (Study V). However, faulty brain mechanisms for attentive processing of fine-grained pitch steps lead to inborn deficits in music perception and recognition such as those encountered in congenital amusia (Study VI). These findings suggest that predispositions for exact pitch-step discrimination together with long-term exposure to music govern the acquisition of the automatized schematic knowledge of the music of a particular culture that even non-musicians possess.
  • Kujala, Anu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    Comprehension of a complex acoustic signal - speech - is vital for human communication, with numerous brain processes required to convert the acoustics into an intelligible message. In four studies in the present thesis, cortical correlates for different stages of speech processing in a mature linguistic system of adults were investigated. In two further studies, developmental aspects of cortical specialisation and its plasticity in adults were examined. In the present studies, electroencephalographic (EEG) and magnetoencephalographic (MEG) recordings of the mismatch negativity (MMN) response elicited by changes in repetitive unattended auditory events and the phonological mismatch negativity (PMN) response elicited by unexpected speech sounds in attended speech inputs served as the main indicators of cortical processes. Changes in speech sounds elicited the MMNm, the magnetic equivalent of the electric MMN, that differed in generator loci and strength from those elicited by comparable changes in non-speech sounds, suggesting intra- and interhemispheric specialisation in the processing of speech and non-speech sounds at an early automatic processing level. This neuronal specialisation for the mother tongue was also reflected in the more efficient formation of stimulus representations in auditory sensory memory for typical native-language speech sounds compared with those formed for unfamiliar, non-prototype speech sounds and simple tones. Further, adding a speech or non-speech sound context to syllable changes was found to modulate the MMNm strength differently in the left and right hemispheres. Following the acoustic-phonetic processing of speech input, phonological effort related to the selection of possible lexical (word) candidates was linked with distinct left-hemisphere neuronal populations. In summary, the results suggest functional specialisation in the neuronal substrates underlying different levels of speech processing. Subsequently, plasticity of the brain's mature linguistic system was investigated in adults, in whom representations for an aurally-mediated communication system, Morse code, were found to develop within the same hemisphere where representations for the native-language speech sounds were already located. Finally, recording and localization of the MMNm response to changes in speech sounds was successfully accomplished in newborn infants, encouraging future MEG investigations on, for example, the state of neuronal specialisation at birth.
  • Lepistö, Tuulia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    Autism and Asperger syndrome (AS) are neurodevelopmental disorders characterised by deficient social and communication skills, as well as restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour. The language development in individuals with autism is significantly delayed and deficient, whereas in individuals with AS, the structural aspects of language develop quite normally. Both groups, however, have semantic-pragmatic language deficits. The present thesis investigated auditory processing in individuals with autism and AS. In particular, the discrimination of and orienting to speech and non-speech sounds was studied, as well as the abstraction of invariant sound features from speech-sound input. Altogether five studies were conducted with auditory event-related brain potentials (ERP); two studies also included a behavioural sound-identification task. In three studies, the subjects were children with autism, in one study children with AS, and in one study adults with AS. In children with autism, even the early stages of sound encoding were deficient. In addition, these children had altered sound-discrimination processes characterised by enhanced spectral but deficient temporal discrimination. The enhanced pitch discrimination may partly explain the auditory hypersensitivity common in autism, and it may compromise the filtering of relevant auditory information from irrelevant information. Indeed, it was found that when sound discrimination required abstracting invariant features from varying input, children with autism maintained their superiority in pitch processing, but lost it in vowel processing. Finally, involuntary orienting to sound changes was deficient in children with autism in particular with respect to speech sounds. This finding is in agreement with previous studies on autism suggesting deficits in orienting to socially relevant stimuli. In contrast to children with autism, the early stages of sound encoding were fairly unimpaired in children with AS. However, sound discrimination and orienting were rather similarly altered in these children as in those with autism, suggesting correspondences in the auditory phenotype in these two disorders which belong to the same continuum. Unlike children with AS, adults with AS showed enhanced processing of duration changes, suggesting developmental changes in auditory processing in this disorder.
  • Ylinen, Sari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    Different languages use temporal speech cues in different linguistic functions. In Finnish, speech-sound duration is used as the primary cue for the phonological quantity distinction ― i.e., a distinction between short and long phonemes. For the second-language (L2) learners of Finnish, quantity is often difficult to master if speech-sound duration plays a less important role in the phonology of their native language (L1). The present studies aimed to investigate the cortical representations for phonological quantity in native speakers and L2 users of Finnish by using behavioral and electrophysiological methods. Since long-term memory representations for different speech units have been previously shown to participate in the elicitation of the mismatch negativity (MMN) brain response, MMN was used to compare the neural representation for quantity between native speakers and L2 users of Finnish. The results of the studies suggested that native Finnish speakers' MMN response to quantity was determined by the activation of native-language phonetic prototypes rather than by phoneme boundaries. In addition, native speakers seemed to process phoneme quantity and quality independently from each other by separate brain representations. The cross-linguistic MMN studies revealed that, in native speakers of Finnish, the MMN response to duration or quantity-degree changes was enhanced in amplitude selectively in speech sounds, whereas this pattern was not observed in L2 users. Native speakers' MMN enhancement is suggested to be due to the pre-attentive activation of L1 prototypes for quantity. In L2 users, the activation of L2 prototypes or other L2 learning effects were not reflected in the MMN, with one exception. Even though L2 users failed to show native-like brain responses to duration changes in a vowel that was similar in L1 and L2, their duration MMN response was native-like for an L2 vowel with no counterpart in L1. Thus, the pre-attentive activation of L2 users' representations was determined by the degree of similarity of L2 sounds to L1 sounds. In addition, behavioral experiments suggested that the establishment of representations for L2 quantity may require several years of language exposure.