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Concept: Adulthood


To examine influences of adiposity from early adolescence to early 20s on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in the multiethnic Determinants of young Adult Social well-being and Health (DASH) longitudinal study.

Concepts: Cohort study, Longitudinal study, Epidemiology, Sociology, Adult, Adulthood, Adult development


Synesthesia is a condition where presentation of one perceptual class consistently evokes additional experiences in different perceptual categories. Synesthesia is widely considered a congenital condition, although an alternative view is that it is underpinned by repeated exposure to combined perceptual features at key developmental stages. Here we explore the potential for repeated associative learning to shape and engender synesthetic experiences. Non-synesthetic adult participants engaged in an extensive training regime that involved adaptive memory and reading tasks, designed to reinforce 13 specific letter-color associations. Following training, subjects exhibited a range of standard behavioral and physiological markers for grapheme-color synesthesia; crucially, most also described perceiving color experiences for achromatic letters, inside and outside the lab, where such experiences are usually considered the hallmark of genuine synesthetes. Collectively our results are consistent with developmental accounts of synesthesia and illuminate a previously unsuspected potential for new learning to shape perceptual experience, even in adulthood.

Concepts: Psychology, Color, Qualia, Philosophy of perception, Adult, Sources of knowledge, Synesthesia, Adulthood


Using a life course approach, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors co-hosted a 2-day meeting with 15 multidisciplinary experts to consider evidence linking factors in early adulthood to subsequent cancer risk and strategies for putting that evidence into practice to reduce cancer incidence. This paper provides an overview of key themes from those meeting discussions, drawing attention to the influence that early adulthood can have on lifetime cancer risk and potential strategies for intervention during this phase of life. A number of social, behavioral, and environmental factors during early adulthood influence cancer risk, including dietary patterns, physical inactivity, medical conditions (e.g., obesity, diabetes, viral infections), circadian rhythm disruption, chronic stress, and targeted marketing of cancer-causing products (e.g., tobacco, alcohol). Suggestions for translating research into practice are framed in the context of the four strategic directions of the National Prevention Strategy: building healthy and safe community environments; expanding quality preventive services in clinical and community settings; empowering people to make healthy choices; and eliminating health disparities. Promising strategies for prevention among young adults include collaborating with a variety of community sectors as well as mobilizing young adults to serve as advocates for change. Young adults are a heterogeneous demographic group, and targeted efforts are needed to address the unique needs of population subgroups that are often underserved and under-represented in research studies.

Concepts: Medicine, Epidemiology, Disease, Infectious disease, Infection, Obesity, Adult, Adulthood


Childhood abuse increases adult risk for morbidity and mortality. Less clear is how this “toxic” stress becomes embedded to influence health decades later, and whether protective factors guard against these effects. Early biological embedding is hypothesized to occur through programming of the neural circuitry that influences physiological response patterns to subsequent stress, causing wear and tear across multiple regulatory systems. To examine this hypothesis, we related reports of childhood abuse to a comprehensive 18-biomarker measure of multisystem risk and also examined whether presence of a loving parental figure buffers against the impact of childhood abuse on adult risk. A total of 756 subjects (45.8% white, 42.7% male) participated in this ancillary substudy of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study. Childhood stress was determined by using the Risky Families Questionnaire, a well-validated retrospective self-report scale. Linear regression models adjusting for age, sex, race, parental education, and oral contraceptive use found a significant positive relationship between reports of childhood abuse and multisystem health risks [B (SE) = 0.68 (0.16); P < 0.001]. Inversely, higher amounts of reported parental warmth and affection during childhood was associated with lower multisystem health risks [B (SE) = -0.40 (0.14); P < 0.005]. A significant interaction of abuse and warmth (P < 0.05) was found, such that individuals reporting low levels of love and affection and high levels of abuse in childhood had the highest multisystem risk in adulthood.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Linear regression, Biology, Heart, Risk, Artery, Adult, Adulthood


Happiness is an important indicator of well-being, and little is known about how it changes in the early adult years. We examined trajectories of happiness from early adulthood to midlife in 2 Canadian longitudinal samples: high school seniors followed from ages 18-43 and university seniors followed from ages 23-37. Happiness increased into the 30s in both samples, with a slight downturn by age 43 in the high school sample. The rise in happiness after high school and university remained after controlling for important baseline covariates (gender, parents' education, grades, self-esteem), time-varying covariates known to be associated with happiness (marital status, unemployment, self-rated physical health), and number of waves of participation. The upward trend in happiness runs counter to some previous cross-sectional research claiming a high point in happiness in the late teens, decreasing into midlife. As cross-sectional designs do not assess within-person change, longitudinal studies are necessary for drawing accurate conclusions about patterns of change in happiness across the life span. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Longitudinal study, Epidemiology, Cross-sectional study, Sociology, Adolescence, High school, Adult, Adulthood


Circuits in the auditory cortex are highly susceptible to acoustic influences during an early postnatal critical period. The auditory cortex selectively expands neural representations of enriched acoustic stimuli, a process important for human language acquisition. Adults lack this plasticity. Here we show in the murine auditory cortex that juvenile plasticity can be reestablished in adulthood if acoustic stimuli are paired with disruption of ecto-5'-nucleotidase-dependent adenosine production or A1-adenosine receptor signaling in the auditory thalamus. This plasticity occurs at the level of cortical maps and individual neurons in the auditory cortex of awake adult mice and is associated with long-term improvement of tone-discrimination abilities. We conclude that, in adult mice, disrupting adenosine signaling in the thalamus rejuvenates plasticity in the auditory cortex and improves auditory perception.

Concepts: Brain, Cerebral cortex, Auditory system, Linguistics, Thalamus, Adult, Adulthood, Second language acquisition


Regular leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) benefits health and is thought to be less prevalent in lower socioeconomic groups. Evidence suggests that childhood socioeconomic circumstances can impact on adult health and behaviour however, it is unclear if this includes an influence on adult LTPA. This review tested the hypothesis that a lower childhood socioeconomic position (SEP) is associated with less frequent LTPA during adulthood. Studies were located through a systematic search of MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL and SPORTDiscus and by searching reference lists. Eligible studies were English-language publications testing the association between any indicator of childhood SEP and an LTPA outcome measured during adulthood. Forty-five papers from 36 studies, most of which were European, were included. In most samples, childhood SEP and LTPA were self-reported in midlife. Twenty-two studies found evidence to support the review’s hypothesis and thirteen studies found no association. Accounting for own adult SEP partly attenuated associations. There was more evidence of an association in UK compared with Scandinavian cohorts and in women compared with men. Results did not vary by childhood SEP indicator or age at assessment of LTPA. This review found evidence of an association between less advantaged childhood SEP and less frequent LTPA during adulthood. Understanding how associations vary by gender and place could provide insights into underlying pathways.

Concepts: The Association, Adult, Coming of age, Adulthood


An increasing number of animal and human studies are indicating that inflammation is associated with behavioral disorders including aggression. This study investigates the association between chronic physical aggression during childhood and plasma cytokine levels in early adulthood.

Concepts: Adult, Coming of age, Adulthood, Adult development


In this study of visual (V-only) and audiovisual (AV) speech recognition in adults aged 22-92 years, the rate of age-related decrease in V-only performance was more than twice that in AV performance. Both auditory-only (A-only) and V-only performance were significant predictors of AV speech recognition, but age did not account for additional (unique) variance. Blurring the visual speech signal decreased speech recognition, and in AV conditions involving stimuli associated with equivalent unimodal performance for each participant, speech recognition remained constant from 22 to 92 years of age. Finally, principal components analysis revealed separate visual and auditory factors, but no evidence of an AV integration factor. Taken together, these results suggest that the benefit that comes from being able to see as well as hear a talker remains constant throughout adulthood and that changes in this AV advantage are entirely driven by age-related changes in unimodal visual and auditory speech recognition. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Factor analysis, Principal component analysis, Ageing, Singular value decomposition, Adult, Adulthood


The gut microbiome, which hosts up to 1000 bacterial species that encode about 5 million genes, perform many of the functions required for host physiology and survival. Consequently, it is also known as “our forgotten organ”. The recent development of next-generation sequencing technologies has greatly improved metagenomic research. In particular, it has increased our knowledge about the microbiome and its mutually beneficial relationships with the human host. Microbial colonization begins immediately at birth. Although influenced by a variety of stimuli, namely, diet, physical activity, travel, illness, hormonal cycles and therapies, the microbiome is practically stable in healthy adults. This suggests that the microbiome plays a role in the maintenance of a healthy state in adulthood. Quantitative and qualitative alterations in the composition of the gut microbiome could lead to pathological dysbiosis, and have been related to an increasing number of intestinal and extra-intestinal diseases. With the increase in knowledge about gut microbiome functions, it is becoming increasingly more possible to develop novel diagnostic, prognostic and, most important, therapeutic strategies based on microbiome manipulation.

Concepts: Scientific method, Medicine, Human, Bacteria, Biology, Adult, Hosts file, Adulthood