English summaries

English Summaries (06/2016)

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Johanna Stenberg, Siiri Laari, Jenni Uimonen, Riikka Pihlaja & Erja Poutiainen

Cognitive performance in working-aged adults – normative data from the AINO-project

Cognitive assessment is based on known distributions of cognitive skills in the normal population. The expected test performance depends on demographic factors, such as age, of the examinee. More Finnish normative data are needed. This article describes the cognitive performance of a working-aged Finnish sample in commonly used cognitive tests in order to improve the usability of the tests in clinical decision making. Additionally, the effects of age on different areas of cognitive functioning are investigated. The data consists of a healthy control group recruited for a prospective cohort study (”AINO-project”) focusing on neuropsychological factors related to ischemic stroke. The cognitive performance of 50 subjects aged 23–65 and age-related differences are described with test scores and other clinically relevant variables. The younger group performed better in tests measuring verbal memory, visuospatial perception and psychomotor functioning. The older group’s performance was more error-prone in tests requiring effective executive control. However, in some tests age had no effect and in arithmetic tasks the older group performed even better than the younger ones. Some errors were found even in tasks developed to screen brain dysfunction.The results are in line with the earlier research findings on the age effects on cognition. The article partly fulfills the obvious need for accurate normative neuropsychological data.

Keywords: normative data, cognitive performance, psychological tests, age groups

Vilja Helminen

Moral intuitions as an underlying factor in political ideology

Political ideology is a complex phenomenon which is affected by many cultural, social and psychological factors. Political issues, such as the right to abortion, same-sex marriage or the death penalty, are often essentially moral. In moral decision making, intuitive processes play an important part and such moral intuitions might also be one underlying factor in political ideology. The present review examines the connection between moral intuitions and political ideology from the point of view of cognitive factors, sensitivity to disgust and fearand socially motivated cognition. The Moral Foundations Theory defines six foundations that the moral judgements of individuals are based on. Liberals and conservatives use different foundations when making moral judgements. Cognitive ability and style are connected to both individual differences in moral foundations and political ideology. In addition, the individual differences between liberals and conservatives are also affected by sensitivity to threat and disgust. In other words, the differences in political ideology are partly explained by differences in moral intuitions, which in turn are related to individual differences in cognitive processing and evolutionary systems which promote avoidance of threatening situations and diseases.

Keywords: political ideology, conservatism, liberalism, moral intuitions, moral foundations theory

Maija Lindgren, Inkeri Heiskanen, Markus M. Jokela, Sebastian Therman, Minna Torniainen-Holm, Tuukka Mehtälä, Ulla Pulkkinen, Greta Voutilainen & Jaana Suvisaari

Theory of mind in a first-episode psychosis population using the Hinting Task

Impaired social functioning is one of the most apparent features in psychotic illnesses. Deficits in social cognition may explain impaired functioning even more than the other cognitive deficits related to psychosis. Among the areas of social cognition, especially relevant to psychosis appear to be deficiencies in theory of mind (ToM), the ability to perceive and interpret the mental states of others. This study examined the theory of mind in young adults with first-episode psychosis (FEP, N = 56) using the Finnish-language translation of the Hinting Task. Matched controls were identified from the Population Information System (N = 51). Participants with FEP performed worse than controls on the ToM measure (Cohen’s d = 0.55). However, 68 percent of the variance between the groups was explained by general cognitive deficits, especially problems in episodic memory. The performance of the best functioning patient quartile did not differ from the control group. Those with a schizophrenia diagnosis performed weaker than controls, even when general cognitive performance was controlled for.  The results on the Finnish-language Hinting Task in the FEP and control groups are consistent with international findings. Especially in schizophrenia, ToM deficits can be seen in early phases of the psychotic illness and are partly independent from other cognitive functions.

Keywords: social cognition, theory of mind, Hinting Task, first-episode psychosis, schizophrenia, cognition

Krista Koivula

Forwards together – the couple resiliency of parents with a severely ill child

This narrative review article considers the dyadic resiliency of parents with severely ill children. In recent years, the development of medical expertise and technology has en-abled the survival of children who would previously have died of their illnesses. The effects of children’s severe illness on parental psychological well-being and couple relationship has been studied for decades, but only in the last decade has it been confirmed that adversity encountered together can also strengthen both the parents and the whole family. According to recent definitions resiliency consists of 1) long-term adaptive effort in the face of challenge, 2) recovery after the challenging situation and 3) the process of learning and growth that increases understanding and skills. Since Froma Walsh’s (1996, 2003 and 2011) and Michael Rutter’s (1987 and 1999) relational definitions, resiliency has no longer been viewed only as an individual trait or skill, but more as an interactional process with its own specific qualities that are different from intrapsychic resiliency. Interest has also increased concerning the dyadic processes underlying survival and post-traumatic growth that allow couples to jointly adapt to adversities and to grow by encountering them. The purpose of this review article is to collect the existing research data on resiliency and to reflect on the applicability of the resiliency theory to the inspection of the psychological well-being and dyadic survival of parents whose child is severely ill.

Keywords: resiliency, post-traumatic growth, parents, child´s illness