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1.  Older and wiser? An affective science perspective on age-related challenges in financial decision making 
Financial planning decisionss are fundamentally affective in nature; they are decisions related to money, longevity and quality of life. Over the next several decades people will be increasingly responsible for managing their own assets and investments, and they will be subject to the affective influences on active, personal decision-making. Many of these crucial decisions are made and revised across the lifespan, including when to buy or sell a home, how to save for childrens’ education, how to manage healthcare costs, when to retire, how much to save for retirement and how to allocate retirement funds. As average life expectancy increases, many retirees will be faced with inadequate savings to live comfortably until the end of their lives. In the current article, we examine the problems of and potential solutions to inadequate financial planning through the lens of affective science, with an emphasis on how brain-based changes in affective processing with age might contribute to the challenge of financial planning.
doi:10.1093/scan/nsq056
PMCID: PMC3073391  PMID: 20587596
affect; neuroscience; retirement; decision-making; aging
2.  Novelty as a Dimension in the Affective Brain 
NeuroImage  2009;49(3):2871.
Many neuroscience studies have demonstrated that the human amygdala is a central element in the neural workspace that computes affective value. Emerging evidence suggests that novelty is an affective dimension that engages the amygdala independently of other affective properties. This current study is the first in which novelty, valence, and arousal were systematically examined for their relative contributions to amygdala activation during affective processing. Healthy young adults viewed International Affective Picture System (IAPS) images that varied along the dimensions of valence (positive, negative, neutral), arousal (high, mid, low), and novelty (novel, familiar). The results demonstrate that, in comparison to negative (vs. positive) and high (vs. low) arousal stimuli, the amygdala has higher peak responses and a selectively longer timecourse of activation to novel (vs. familiar) stimuli. In addition, novelty differentially engaged other affective brain areas including those involved in controlling and regulating amygdala responses (e.g. orbitofrontal cortex), as well as those transmitting sensory signals that the amygdala modulates (e.g. occipitotemporal visual cortex). Taken together with other findings, these results support the idea that an essential amygdala function is signaling stimulus importance or salience. The results also suggest that novelty is a critical stimulus dimension for amygdala engagement (in addition to valence and arousal).
doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.09.047
PMCID: PMC2818231  PMID: 19796697
affect; amygdala; emotion; fMRI; neuroimaging; novelty
3.  Sensitivity of revised diagnostic criteria for the behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia 
Brain  2011;134(9):2456-2477.
Based on the recent literature and collective experience, an international consortium developed revised guidelines for the diagnosis of behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia. The validation process retrospectively reviewed clinical records and compared the sensitivity of proposed and earlier criteria in a multi-site sample of patients with pathologically verified frontotemporal lobar degeneration. According to the revised criteria, ‘possible’ behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia requires three of six clinically discriminating features (disinhibition, apathy/inertia, loss of sympathy/empathy, perseverative/compulsive behaviours, hyperorality and dysexecutive neuropsychological profile). ‘Probable’ behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia adds functional disability and characteristic neuroimaging, while behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia ‘with definite frontotemporal lobar degeneration’ requires histopathological confirmation or a pathogenic mutation. Sixteen brain banks contributed cases meeting histopathological criteria for frontotemporal lobar degeneration and a clinical diagnosis of behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies or vascular dementia at presentation. Cases with predominant primary progressive aphasia or extra-pyramidal syndromes were excluded. In these autopsy-confirmed cases, an experienced neurologist or psychiatrist ascertained clinical features necessary for making a diagnosis according to previous and proposed criteria at presentation. Of 137 cases where features were available for both proposed and previously established criteria, 118 (86%) met ‘possible’ criteria, and 104 (76%) met criteria for ‘probable’ behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia. In contrast, 72 cases (53%) met previously established criteria for the syndrome (P < 0.001 for comparison with ‘possible’ and ‘probable’ criteria). Patients who failed to meet revised criteria were significantly older and most had atypical presentations with marked memory impairment. In conclusion, the revised criteria for behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia improve diagnostic accuracy compared with previously established criteria in a sample with known frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Greater sensitivity of the proposed criteria may reflect the optimized diagnostic features, less restrictive exclusion features and a flexible structure that accommodates different initial clinical presentations. Future studies will be needed to establish the reliability and specificity of these revised diagnostic guidelines.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr179
PMCID: PMC3170532  PMID: 21810890
behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia; diagnostic criteria; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; FTD; pathology

Results 1-3 (3)