This study assessed the intrapersonal and interpersonal functioning of a three-couple expedition group that included a 2 1/2-year-old child which was ice-locked on a boat in the High Arctic during a major portion of the expedition. Personality assessment indicated that team members were generally well adjusted, scoring relatively higher on well-being and achievement and relatively lower on stress reactivity. Weekly mood ratings showed that the group exhibited significantly higher positive than negative affect. Reported negative events were relatively most frequent at the beginning of the Arctic stay and toward the end of the darkness period and were lowest during the initial darkness interval. The period of darkness had both a salutary and negative impact. A highly important means of coping with stress was seeking emotional support from one's partner. Selection of couples with strong bonds with their partner appears to be one viable approach for crew selection for long-duration missions.
A reinvestigation of a Danish family with X-linked inherited congenital nystagmus through 6 generations revealed a congenital stationary retinal dysfunction syndrome with characteristics of both incomplete congenital stationary night blindness and Aland Eye Disease. In spite of rather uniform electrophysiological findings in our patients, this retinal disorder which affects both cones and rods demonstrated considerable intrafamilial diversity with respect to visual acuity, nystagmus, refractive state and fundus pigmentation.
In a sub-arctic region at 69 degrees N, seven individuals with self-reported insomnia during the 'dark period' and seven without, were followed with repeated measures of melatonin and questioned on ten different sleep variables, from the beginning of January to the vernal equinox in March.
The distribution of melatonin over a 24-hour period (five time points) indicated an increase in melatonin levels in both groups in the middle of January and a decrease at the time of year when the sun first rises over the horizon (23rd-24th of January). Moreover, an indication of a delayed phase shift of melatonin secretion was found during the dark period, which returned to "normal" secretion during the night at the equinox in March. Individuals with sleep problems had a slower return to "normal" melatonin secretion than those without sleep problems. A positive correlation between morning tiredness and morning levels of melatonin was found among individuals with sleep disturbances, but not in controls.
This study indicates changes in the internal circadian rhythm in humans at the end of the annual dark period of winter when there is a rapid increase in the number of hours of sunlight. For vulnerable individuals, the disturbance in sleep, and in particlar morning tiredness, lasts at least until the vernal equinox in March.
Geomagnetic variations of partly interplanetary origin, with cyclic signatures in human affairs and pathology include the incidence of various diseases, regarding which this study of healthy subjects attempted to determine an underlying mechanism by worldwide archival and physiological monitoring, notably of heart rate variability (HRV). In the past half-century, the possible health and other hazards of natural, solar variability-driven temporal variations in the earth's magnetic field have become a controversial subject in view of the inconsistent results. Some well-documented claims of associations between geomagnetic storms and myocardial infarction or stroke have been rejected by a study based on more comprehensive data analyzed by rigorous methods - covering, however, only part of a solar cycle in only part of a hemisphere. It seems possible that inter-solar cycle and geographic variability, if not geographic differences, may account for discrepancies. Herein, we examine the start of a planetary study on any influence of geomagnetic disturbances that are most pronounced in the auroral oval, on human HRV. The magnetic field variations exhibit complex spectra and include the frequency band between 0.001-10 Hz, which is regarded as ultra-low frequency by physicists. Since the 'ultra-low-frequency' range, like other endpoints used in cardiology, refers to much higher frequencies than the about-yearly changes that are here shown to play a role in environmental-organismic interactions revealed by HRV, the current designations used in cardiology are all placed in quotation marks to indicate the need for possible revision. Whether or not this suggestion has an immediate response, we have pointed to a need for the development of instrumentation and software that renders the assessment of circadian, infradian and even infra-annual (truly low frequency) modulations routinely feasible. HRV was examined on the basis of nearly continuous 7-day records by ECG between December 10, 1998, and November 2, 2000, on 19 clinically healthy subjects, 21 to 54 years of age, in Alta, Norway. A geomagnetic record was obtained from the Auroral Observatory of the University of Tromsø. First, frequency-domain measures of HRV were compared for each person in 24-hour spans of high geomagnetic disturbance versus quiet conditions. Second, cross-spectra between geomagnetic activity and HRV measures were quantified via the squared coherence spectrum using 7-day time series. A 7.5% increase in the 24-hour average of heart rate, HR (P = 0.00020) and a decrease in HRV were documented on days of high geomagnetic disturbance. The decrease in HRV was validated statistically for the 'total frequency', 'TF' endpoint (18.6% decrease, P= 0.00009). The decrease in spectral power was found primarily in the 'circaminutan frequency', 'VLF' (21.9% decrease, P
While dark adapted, two Apollo-Soyuz astronauts saw eighty-two light flash events during a complete 51 degrees orbit which passed near the north magnetic pole and through the South Atlantic Anomaly. The frequency of events at the polar parts of the orbit is 25 times that noted in equatorial latitudes and no increased frequency was noted in the South Atlantic Anomaly at the 225-km altitude. The expected flux of heavy particles at the northern and southern points is 1-2 min-1 per eye, and the efficiency for seeing HZE particles which were below the Cerenkov threshold is 50%.
Evidence has accumulated over the past 15 years that affect in humans is cyclical. In winter there is a tendency to depression, with remission in summer, and this effect is stronger at higher latitudes. In order to determine whether human cognition is similarly rhythmical, this study investigated the cognitive processes of 100 participants living at 69 degrees N. Participants were tested in summer and winter on a range of cognitive tasks, including verbal memory, attention and simple reaction time tasks. The seasonally counterbalanced design and the very northerly latitude of this study provide optimal conditions for detecting impaired cognitive performance in winter, and the conclusion is negative: of five tasks with seasonal effects, four had disadvantages in summer. Like the menstrual cycle, the circannual cycle appears to influence mood but not cognition.
The pineal gland, via its hormone melatonin, is of major importance in the transduction of photoperiodic information in animals. It is concerned both with the synchronisation of annual cycles in photoperiodic mammals and with regulation of circadian rhythmicity in lower vertebrates. Its role, if any, in mammalian circadian systems is still speculative. By analogy with animal work the function of the human pineal is most likely to be concerned with seasonal and circadian rhythms. The study of human pineal function depends heavily on the measurement of melatonin in plasma or urine. Radioimmunoassay (RIA) and gaschromatography-mass-spectrometry (GCMS) have been successfully employed to establish the basic 24-hour rhythm. GCMS has also served to validate RIA. Following early work the reported human plasma levels of melatonin have stabilized approximately at less than 20 pg/ml in daytime with mean night time levels around 40-80 pg/ml. The high sensitivity of GCMS measures daytime levels of 2-5 pg/ml. With confidence established in melatonin assays, its physiological and pathological variations can be investigated in full. Development of assays for urinary melatonin metabolites has made possible the longterm study of circadian variations in different environments. The rhythm of melatonin production can be dissociated from the sleep wake cycle in environmental isolation and behaves like a "strong" oscillator variable. In the unusual social and photoperiodic conditions of Antarctica it remains strongly entrained to the 24 hour day. Whilst measurement of melatonin can provide circumstantial evidence of its function, abolition of its production and its administration in humans can uncover causal relationships. The effects of abolition of the melatonin rhythm by beta-adrenergic antagonists or pinealectomy has not yet been extensively studied in man. Melatonin administration, always (to date), in pharmacological amounts has hypnotic effects in man and may, in some individuals modify the rhythmic characteristics of its own secretion. It remains to be seen whether, in physiological amounts, it is causally related to aspects of human sleep and other circadian or seasonal rhythms.
A case of highly asymmetric retinitis pigmentosa is reported. Signs of pigmentary retinopathy appeared in the first eye following optic disc vasculitis or neuroretinitis of unknown etiology. Within 2 years the visual field became markedly restricted and the dark adaptation thresholds elevated. Twelve years later this eye was almost blind and the ERG was non-recordable. In the fellow eye, the first pigmentary changes were observed 5 years after the initial presentation, and the progression was slow. Nineteen years after the initial examination the visual field of the less affected eye was constricted to 30 degrees nasally and 60 degrees temporally, the dark adaptation threshold was only slightly elevated, and the full-field ERG was within normal range. It is possible that neuroretinitis or vasculitis of the optic disc caused the earlier onset and the more progressive course of pigmentary retinopathy in the initially affected eye.
To examine the clinical picture and molecular genetics of 12 Norwegian families with autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP) in order to achieve a genotype-phenotype correlation.
In addition to a clinical ophthalmological examination, fundus photography, dark adaptometry and electroretinography were performed. Four genes were analysed: rhodopsin (RHO); retinitis pigmentosa 1 (RP1); retinal degeneration slow/peripherin (RDS/peripherin), and inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase 1 (IMPDH1). Seven of the families had been examined about 20 years previously. A total of 63 patients or first-degree relatives (aged 18-79 years) were examined.
Mutations were found only in the RHO gene. Seven families were given a diagnosis of classical RP. Two of them had novel mutation 1003delG, and one family had the mutation V345M. Four families had pericentral retinal dystrophy (PRD), two families with the mutation A164V and one with novel mutation I179F. One family was given a diagnosis of central and pericentral retinal dystrophy (CPRD), a special type of cone/rod dystrophy, and no mutation was found.
Six of 12 families had an RHO mutation. The mutation V345M and the novel mutation 1003delG both caused classical RP, the former indicating the most unfavourable prognosis. Two of the families with PRD had the A164V mutation with a favourable prognosis, whereas the novel mutation I179F caused PRD with extremely variable expressivity.