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22 May 2024 at 01:41
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Bibliography on: Corvids: Behavior


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RJR: Recommended Bibliography 22 May 2024 at 01:41 Created: 

Corvids: Behavior

Audubon Magazine: Members of the crow family, known as the corvids, are among the smartest birds in the world. Some are capable of using tools, playing tricks, teaching each other new things, even holding "funerals." And yet there's still much we don't know about these fascinating, sometimes confounding creatures. All corvids have relatively big brains for their size. But while a seed storer like a Pinyon Jay or a nutcracker has a huge hippocampus — a region involved in memory — crows and ravens are more like primates. They have exceptionally large forebrains, the domain of analytical thought, higher-level sensory processing, and flexible behavior.

Created with PubMed® Query: ( (behavior OR behaviour OR ethology) AND \(corvus[TIAB] OR corvid[TIAB] OR OR corvids[TIAB] OR corvidae[TIAB] OR crow[TIAB] OR crows[TIAB] OR raven[TIAB] OR ravens[TIAB] OR jay[TIAB] OR jays[TIAB] OR magpie[TIAB] OR magpies[TIAB] OR jackdaw[TIAB] OR jackdaws[TIAB]) ) NOT pmcbook NOT ispreviousversion

Citations The Papers (from PubMed®)


RevDate: 2024-05-20
CmpDate: 2024-05-20

Broad HR, Dibnah AJ, Smith AE, et al (2024)

Anthropogenic disturbance affects calling and collective behaviour in corvid roosts.

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 379(1905):20230185.

Acoustic communication plays an important role in coordinating group dynamics and collective movements across a range of taxa. However, anthropogenic disturbance can inhibit the production or reception of acoustic signals. Here, we investigate the effects of noise and light pollution on the calling and collective behaviour of wild jackdaws (Corvus monedula), a highly social corvid species that uses vocalizations to coordinate collective movements at winter roosting sites. Using audio and video monitoring of roosts in areas with differing degrees of urbanization, we evaluate the influence of anthropogenic disturbance on vocalizations and collective movements. We found that when levels of background noise were higher, jackdaws took longer to settle following arrival at the roost in the evening and also called more during the night, suggesting that human disturbance may cause sleep disruption. High levels of overnight calling were, in turn, linked to disruption of vocal consensus decision-making and less cohesive group departures in the morning. These results raise the possibility that, by affecting cognitive and perceptual processes, human activities may interfere with animals' ability to coordinate collective behaviour. Understanding links between anthropogenic disturbance, communication, cognition and collective behaviour must be an important research priority in our increasingly urbanized world. This article is part of the theme issue 'The power of sound: unravelling how acoustic communication shapes group dynamics'.

RevDate: 2024-05-20
CmpDate: 2024-05-20

Walsh SL, Townsend SW, Engesser S, et al (2024)

Call combination production is linked to the social environment in Western Australian magpies (Gymnorhina tibicen dorsalis).

Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 379(1905):20230198.

It has recently become clear that some language-specific traits previously thought to be unique to humans (such as the capacity to combine sounds) are widespread in the animal kingdom. Despite the increase in studies documenting the presence of call combinations in non-human animals, factors promoting this vocal trait are unclear. One leading hypothesis proposes that communicative complexity co-evolved with social complexity owing to the need to transmit a diversity of information to a wider range of social partners. The Western Australian magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen dorsalis) provides a unique model to investigate this proposed link because it is a group-living, vocal learning species that is capable of multi-level combinatoriality (independently produced calls contain vocal segments and comprise combinations). Here, we compare variations in the production of call combinations across magpie groups ranging in size from 2 to 11 birds. We found that callers in larger groups give call combinations: (i) in greater diversity and (ii) more frequently than callers in smaller groups. Significantly, these observations support the hypothesis that combinatorial complexity may be related to social complexity in an open-ended vocal learner, providing an important step in understanding the role that sociality may have played in the development of vocal combinatorial complexity. This article is part of the theme issue 'The power of sound: unravelling how acoustic communication shapes group dynamics'.

RevDate: 2024-05-17

Erker TD, Arif Y, John JA, et al (2024)

Neuromodulatory effects of parietal high-definition transcranial direct-current stimulation on network-level activity serving fluid intelligence.

The Journal of physiology [Epub ahead of print].

Fluid intelligence (Gf) involves rational thinking skills and requires the integration of information from different cortical regions to resolve novel complex problems. The effects of non-invasive brain stimulation on Gf have been studied in attempts to improve Gf, but such studies are rare and the few existing have reached conflicting conclusions. The parieto-frontal integration theory of intelligence (P-FIT) postulates that the parietal and frontal lobes play a critical role in Gf. To investigate the suggested role of parietal cortices, we applied high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS) to the left and right parietal cortices of 39 healthy adults (age 19-33 years) for 20 min in three separate sessions (left active, right active and sham). After completing the stimulation session, the participants completed a logical reasoning task based on Raven's Progressive Matrices during magnetoencephalography. Significant neural responses at the sensor level across all stimulation conditions were imaged using a beamformer. Whole-brain, spectrally constrained functional connectivity was then computed to examine the network-level activity. Behaviourally, we found that participants were significantly more accurate following left compared to right parietal stimulation. Regarding neural findings, we found significant HD-tDCS montage-related effects in brain networks thought to be critical for P-FIT, including parieto-occipital, fronto-occipital, fronto-parietal and occipito-cerebellar connectivity during task performance. In conclusion, our findings showed that left parietal stimulation improved abstract reasoning abilities relative to right parietal stimulation and support both P-FIT and the neural efficiency hypothesis. KEY POINTS: Abstract reasoning is a critical component of fluid intelligence and is known to be served by multispectral oscillatory activity in the fronto-parietal cortices. Recent studies have aimed to improve abstract reasoning abilities and fluid intelligence overall through behavioural training, but the results have been mixed. High-definition transcranial direct-current stimulation (HD-tDCS) applied to the parietal cortices modulated task performance and neural oscillations during abstract reasoning. Left parietal stimulation resulted in increased accuracy and decreased functional connectivity between occipital regions and frontal, parietal, and cerebellar regions. Future studies should investigate whether HD-tDCS alters abstract reasoning abilities in those who exhibit declines in performance, such as healthy ageing populations.

RevDate: 2024-05-10

Espinoza MJ, Laviada I, Taberner Cerezo A, et al (2024)

Do birds select the plastics debris used for nest construction? A case study in a Mediterranean agricultural landscape.

Environmental research pii:S0013-9351(24)01022-3 [Epub ahead of print].

Plastic pollution is becoming a global problem due to its ubiquitous occurrence and the impacts detected for many species. However, the research about plastics in nests of terrestrial bird species has remained relatively overlooked in comparison to those devoted to marine ecosystems. Here we study the occurrence and patterns of use of anthropogenic material in nests of two passerine birds, the Eurasian magpie (Pica pica) and the European serin (Serinus serinus), breeding in an orange tree cultivation in Mediterranean Spain. Our results show that both species use extensively plastic debris as nest material; almost 71% of the European serin nests and 96% of nests of Eurasian magpies contained plastic debris. Furthermore, by analyzing the plastic debris availability in the agricultural landscape surveyed we confirmed a selection pattern in the two species. Thus, both species preferably select plastic filaments over other plastic debris. The Eurasian magpie does not select plastic based on size or color but the European serin avoid black plastics prefer smaller fragments in comparison to the average size available. Moreover, we suggest the apparent similarity of plastic filaments with the natural materials typically used by these species, as well as how they use the plastic in their nests could influence their selection behavior. More studies focused on terrestrial birds inhabiting human modified habitats could offer a deeper approach to how plastic debris interacts with wildlife in different ways.

RevDate: 2024-05-09

Driscoll RMH, Beaudry FEG, Cosgrove EJ, et al (2024)

Allele frequency dynamics under sex-biased demography and sex-specific inheritance in a pedigreed jay population.

Genetics pii:7667683 [Epub ahead of print].

Sex-biased demography, including sex-biased survival or migration, can alter allele frequency changes across the genome. In particular, we can expect different patterns of genetic variation on autosomes and sex chromosomes due to sex-specific differences in life histories, as well as differences in effective population size, transmission modes, and the strength and mode of selection. Here, we demonstrate the role that sex differences in life history played in shaping short-term evolutionary dynamics across the genome. We used a 25-year pedigree and genomic dataset from a long-studied population of Florida Scrub-Jays (Aphelocoma coerulescens) to directly characterize the relative roles of sex-biased demography and inheritance in shaping genome-wide allele frequency trajectories. We used gene dropping simulations to estimate individual genetic contributions to future generations and to model drift and immigration on the known pedigree. We quantified differential expected genetic contributions of males and females over time, showing the impact of sex-biased dispersal in a monogamous system. Due to female-biased dispersal, more autosomal variation is introduced by female immigrants. However, due to male-biased transmission, more Z variation is introduced by male immigrants. Finally, we partitioned the proportion of variance in allele frequency change through time due to male and female contributions. Overall, most allele frequency change is due to variance in survival and births. Males and females make similar contributions to autosomal allele frequency change, but males make higher contributions to allele frequency change on the Z chromosome. Our work shows the importance of understanding sex-specific demographic processes in characterizing genome-wide allele frequency change in wild populations.

RevDate: 2024-05-03
CmpDate: 2024-05-03

Stefanova V, Scheepers C, Wilson P, et al (2024)

Grandiose narcissism associates with higher cognitive performance under stress through more efficient attention distribution: An eye-tracking study.

PloS one, 19(5):e0302644 pii:PONE-D-23-23621.

Narcissism is a part of the Dark Triad that consists also of the traits of Machiavellianism and psychopathy. Two main types of narcissism exist: grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Being a Dark Triad trait, narcissism is typically associated with negative outcomes. However, recent research suggests that at least the grandiose type may be linked (directly or indirectly) to positive outcomes including lower levels of psychopathology, higher school grades in adolescents, deeper and more strategic learning in university students and higher cognitive performance in experimental settings. The current pre-registered, quasi-experimental study implemented eye-tracking to assess whether grandiose narcissism indirectly predicts cognitive performance through wider distribution of attention on the Raven's Progressive Matrices task. Fifty-four adults completed measures of the Dark Triad, self-esteem and psychopathology. Eight months to one year later, participants completed the Raven's, while their eye-movements were monitored during high stress conditions. When controlling for previous levels of psychopathology, grandiose narcissism predicted higher Raven's scores indirectly, through increased variability in the number of fixations across trials. These findings suggest that grandiose narcissism predicts higher cognitive performance, at least in experimental settings, and call for further research to understand the implications of this seemingly dark trait for performance across various settings.

RevDate: 2024-05-02
CmpDate: 2024-05-02

Tariq A, Ahmad SR, A Qadir (2024)

Nesting material adaptation of native bird species with anthropogenic litter along an urbanization gradient in Pakistan.

Environmental research, 249:118435.

Rapid urbanization and associated waste generation have become a mounting ecological concern for wildlife, especially avian communities. Research has primarily focused on investigating the impacts of human activities on marine birds with comparatively less focus on terrestrial species that live in far more anthropized environments and are at significant risk. Our study has explored the abundance and characteristics of anthropogenic litter in 70 nests of four generalist bird species: Bank Myna (Acridotheres ginginianus), Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis), Black Kite (Milvus migrans) and House Crow (Corvus splendens), within the city of Lahore (Pakistan) and its surroundings, by determining and following an urbanization gradient. The overall frequency of litter occurrence (FLO%) for all the sampled nests was 89%. Over 80% of the recorded litter items consisted of plastic materials, primarily dominated by sheet-like plastics. There was a strong association between fabric and Black Kite nests, and metal and House Crow nests. Litter incorporation increased across the gradient from rural to urban habitats. The highest FLO% was found in nests sampled from waste dumping sites and urban sites (95%-100%), where anthropogenic influence was more intense. The high level of litter incorporation is potentially indicative of a species' adaptive response to urbanization, associated with the decline in natural nesting material and availability of anthropogenic litter. These findings highlight the need for strengthening the existing global database for terrestrial litter and its effect on wildlife and devising policy actions for better waste management and conservation of natural ecosystem balance.

RevDate: 2024-05-01
CmpDate: 2024-05-01

Storms RF, Carere C, Musters R, et al (2024)

A robotic falcon induces similar collective escape responses in different bird species.

Journal of the Royal Society, Interface, 21(214):20230737.

Patterns of collective escape of a bird flock from a predator are fascinating, but difficult to study under natural conditions because neither prey nor predator is under experimental control. We resolved this problem by using an artificial predator (RobotFalcon) resembling a peregrine falcon in morphology and behaviour. We imitated hunts by chasing flocks of corvids, gulls, starlings and lapwings with the RobotFalcon, and compared their patterns of collective escape to those when chased by a conventional drone and, in case of starlings, hunted by wild peregrine falcons. Active pursuit of flocks, rather than only flying nearby by either the RobotFalcon or the drone, made flocks collectively escape more often. The RobotFalcon elicited patterns of collective escape in flocks of all species more often than the drone. Attack altitude did not affect the frequency of collective escape. Starlings escaped collectively equally often when chased by the RobotFalcon or a wild peregrine falcon. Flocks of all species reacted most often by collective turns, second most often by compacting and third by splitting into subflocks. This study demonstrates the potential of an artificial aerial predator for studying the collective escape behaviour of free-living birds, opening exciting avenues in the empirical study of prey-predator interactions.

RevDate: 2024-05-01
CmpDate: 2024-05-01

Kantha SS (2023)

Suicides of elite Japanese writers: The case of Ryunosuke Akutagawa.

The National medical journal of India, 36(2):117-123.

Background . To mark the 130th birth anniversary of Japanese writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927), I revisit his suicide (as recorded by his hand) in comparison to that of his junior contemporaries, who also chose a similar mode of death. Data sources . Two works of Akutagawa, namely Tenkibo (1926: Death Register) and Aru Ahono Issho (1927: The Life of a Stupid Man) in English translation of Jay Rubin were used as the main sources, in addition to published literature about his creativity. Results . In his final work, The Life of a Stupid Man, completed in the penultimate month before suicide, 7 among the 51 brief descriptions, Akutagawa had described his thoughts on illness and death, in addition to visiting his biological mother in a lunatic asylum, and studying a cadaver for his famous short story 'Rashomon'. These descriptions offer a fascinating perspective on Akutagawa's state of mind, before his suicide. Akutagawa's suicide is also compared with the suicides of five other renowned Japanese writers (Osamu Dazai, Yasunari Kawabata, Misuzu Kaneko, Yukio Mishima and Juzo Itami). Conclusion . Before his suicide, doctors offered Akutagawa various diagnoses: 'insomnia, gastric hyperacidity, gastric atony, dry pleurisy, neurasthenia, chronic conjunctivitis, brain fatigue'. Though it is uncertain, what percentage of hereditary factor(s) played a role, why the practitioners of the medical profession in 1920s Japan failed to save the life of this creative individual still remains a question.

RevDate: 2024-04-29
CmpDate: 2024-04-29

Smirnova AA, Bulgakova LR, Cheplakova MA, et al (2024)

Hooded crows (Corvus cornix) manufacture objects relative to a mental template.

Animal cognition, 27(1):36.

It was recently found that not only tool-specialized New Caledonian crows, but also Goffin cockatoos can manufacture physical objects in accordance with a mental template. That is, they can emulate features of existing objects when they manufacture new items. Both species spontaneously ripped pieces of card into large strips if they had previously learned that a large template was rewarded, and small strips when they previously learned that a small template was rewarded. Among New Caledonian crows, this cognitive ability was suggested as a potential mechanism underlying the transmission of natural tool designs. Here, we tested for the same ability in another non-specialised tool user-Hooded crows (Corvus cornix). Crows were exposed to pre-made template objects, varying first in colour and then in size, and were rewarded only if they chose pre-made objects that matched the template. In subsequent tests, birds were given the opportunity to manufacture versions of these objects. All three crows ripped paper pieces from the same colour material as the rewarded template, and, crucially, also manufactured objects that were more similar in size to previously rewarded, than unrewarded, templates, despite the birds being rewarded at random in both tests. Therefore, we found the ability to manufacture physical objects relative to a mental template in yet another bird species not specialized in using or making foraging tools in the wild, but with a high level of brain and cognitive development.

RevDate: 2024-04-24
CmpDate: 2024-04-24

Sutton AO, Strickland D, Lachapelle J, et al (2024)

Fecal DNA metabarcoding helps characterize the Canada jay's diet and confirms its reliance on stored food for winter survival and breeding.

PloS one, 19(4):e0300583 pii:PONE-D-23-24828.

Accurately determining the diet of wild animals can be challenging if food items are small, visible only briefly, or rendered visually unidentifiable in the digestive system. In some food caching species, an additional challenge is determining whether consumed diet items have been previously stored or are fresh. The Canada jay (Perisoreus canadensis) is a generalist resident of North American boreal and subalpine forests with anatomical and behavioural adaptations allowing it to make thousands of arboreal food caches in summer and fall that are presumably responsible for its high winter survival and late winter/early spring breeding. We used DNA fecal metabarcoding to obtain novel information on nestling diets and compiled a dataset of 662 published and unpublished direct observations or stomach contents identifications of natural foods consumed by Canada jays throughout the year. We then used detailed natural history information to make informed decisions on whether each item identified to species in the diets of winter adults and nestlings was best characterized as 'likely cached', 'likely fresh' (i.e., was available as a non-cached item when it appeared in a jay's feces or stomach), or 'either possible'. Of the 87 food items consumed by adults in the winter, 39% were classified as 'likely cached' and 6% were deemed to be 'likely fresh'. For nestlings, 29% of 125 food items identified to species were 'likely cached' and 38% were 'likely fresh'. Our results support both the indispensability of cached food for Canada jay winter survival and previous suggestions that cached food is important for late winter/early spring breeding. Our work highlights the value of combining metabarcoding, stomach contents analysis, and direct observations to determine the cached vs. non-cached origins of consumed food items and the identity of food caches, some of which could be especially vulnerable to degradation through climate change.

RevDate: 2024-04-19

Zhang C, Jia B, Zhu Y, et al (2024)

Human-level few-shot concept induction through minimax entropy learning.

Science advances, 10(16):eadg2488.

Humans learn concepts both from labeled supervision and by unsupervised observation of patterns, a process machines are being taught to mimic by training on large annotated datasets-a method quite different from the human pathway, wherein few examples with no supervision suffice to induce an unfamiliar relational concept. We introduce a computational model designed to emulate human inductive reasoning on abstract reasoning tasks, such as those in IQ tests, using a minimax entropy approach. This method combines identifying the most effective constraints on data via minimum entropy with determining the best combination of them via maximum entropy. Our model, which applies this unsupervised technique, induces concepts from just one instance, reaching human-level performance on tasks of Raven's Progressive Matrices (RPM), Machine Number Sense (MNS), and Odd-One-Out (O[3]). These results demonstrate the potential of minimax entropy learning for enabling machines to learn relational concepts efficiently with minimal input.

RevDate: 2024-04-17
CmpDate: 2024-04-17

Hamilton JB, Abiri A, Nicolas CA, et al (2024)

Black Appalachia's Oldest Old: Untold Stories of Experienced Racism and Coping With Religious Practices/Beliefs.

The Gerontologist, 64(5):.

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Racism and religion are recognized as prevailing Social Determinants of Health (SDoH). To explore ways in which racism and religion looms in the daily lives of African Americans, we analyzed the experiences of African Americans born during the Jim Crow years and living in the Southern Appalachian Region of the United States.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Twenty-seven African Americans participated in this qualitative descriptive study that utilized criterion sampling, open-ended semistructured interviews, and content analysis to identify a typology of categories related to experienced racism and ways in which religion was used in response to those experiences.

RESULTS: Participants were an average age of 82.22 years (SD = 5.07); primarily women (n = 19, 70.4%); married (n = 11, 40.7%); junior high school (n = 6, 22.2%), high school or general educational diploma (n = 7, 25.9%), completed college or professional school (n = 6, 22.2%); were retired (n = 27, 100.0%); and affiliated with Baptist churches (n = 18, 66.7%). Experiences with racism included inequities in healthcare and education, and racially motivated physical violence. Religious practices/beliefs included forgiveness, humility, and humanity.

DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Racism experienced by African American participants was likely countered by religious practices/beliefs inspired through intergenerational teachings with affiliations to the Black Church. These experiences of the oldest old) African Americans living in communities of the Southern Appalachia, United States, illustrate the pervasive nature of racism. The religious beliefs that are frequently transmitted intergenerationally through the Black Church are relevant to understand present-day encounters with racism among African Americans and possibly other communities of color.

RevDate: 2024-04-16

Samal S, R Dash (2023)

Developing a novel stock index trend predictor model by integrating multiple criteria decision-making with an optimized online sequential extreme learning machine.

Granular computing, 8(3):411-440.

It has always been the goal of many researchers to gain a thorough understanding of the patterns in the stock market and forecast the trends it will follow. The use of an advanced forecasting model can assist with accurately forecasting the future price of stocks, their fluctuations in the markets, as well as make profits in trading. With this motivation, in this study, a novel stock index trend predictor model is designed by integrating Multiple Criteria Decision-Making (MCDM) with an optimized Online Sequential Extreme Learning Machine (OSELM). Forecasting the future stock index prices and analyzing the upward or downward trends of these price forecasts are the two objectives of the proposed model. As the performance of OSELM is heavily dependent on the activation functions used in it, suitable selection of the activation function for OSELM is addressed as a MCDM problem. According to this approach, the trend prediction performance of six popular activation functions is assessed based on five regression-based and five classification-based criteria. In this investigation, three MCDM approaches are used to assess the performance matrix and determine which activation function is the best for OSELM based on six alternative models and ten criteria. To further optimize OSELM's performance, a hybrid crow search algorithm (hCSA) is incorporated in its training phase. By introducing the chaotic map and mutation operator in position update scheme and catfish behavior in the search process of original CSA, the proposed hCSA is able to achieve the right balance between exploration and exploitation improving the convergence. The proposed trend predictor model is empirically evaluated over historical data of three stock indices such as BSE SENSEX, S&P 500 and DJIA collected during pre-COVID and COVID time frame. In most of the test cases, the hCSA-OSELM model outperforms the state-of-the-art baseline models in terms of all evaluation criteria. When compared to the second-best baseline model, the suggested model is able to achieve the MSE improvements of 4-6%, 25-31%, and accuracy improvements of 0.4-0.8%, 0.9-1.3% over the pre-COVID and COVID time-frames, respectively. The statistical test also reveals the better performance of the proposed model. The robust and reliable MCDM-based model selection, superior prediction and classification outcomes clearly reveal that the proposed model can be used for financial time-series forecasting amid daily volatility as well as highly volatile markets.

RevDate: 2024-04-15

Schumm YR, Lederer-Ponzer N, Masello JF, et al (2024)

High prevalence of haemosporidian parasites in Eurasian jays.

Parasitology research, 123(4):182.

Avian haemosporidians are vector-borne parasites, infecting a great variety of birds. The order Passeriformes has the highest average infection probability; nevertheless, some common species of Passeriformes have been rather poorly studied. We investigated haemosporidians in one such species, the Eurasian jay Garrulus glandarius (Corvidae), from a forest population in Hesse, Central Germany. All individuals were infected with at least one haemosporidian genus (overall prevalence: 100%). The most common infection pattern was a mixed Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon infection, whereas no Plasmodium infection was detected. Results on lineage diversity indicate a rather pronounced host-specificity of Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon lineages infecting birds of the family Corvidae.

RevDate: 2024-04-09
CmpDate: 2024-04-09

Markiewicz R, Rahman F, Apperly I, et al (2024)

It is not all about you: Communicative cooperation is determined by your partner's theory of mind abilities as well as your own.

Journal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition, 50(5):833-844.

We investigated the relationship between Theory of Mind (ToM) and communicative cooperation. Specifically, we examined whether communicative cooperation is affected by the ToM ability of one's cooperative partner as well as their own. ToM is the attribution of mental states to oneself and others; cooperation is the joint action that leads to achieving a shared goal. We measured cooperation using a novel communicative cooperation game completed by participants in pairs. ToM was measured via the Movies for Assessment of Social Cognition (MASC) task and fluid intelligence via the Raven task. Findings of 350 adults show that ToM scores of both players were predictors of cooperative failure, whereas Raven scores were not. Furthermore, participants were split into low- and high-ToM groups through a median split of the MASC scores: high-ToM individuals committed significantly fewer cooperative errors compared to their low-ToM counterparts. Therefore, we found a direct relationship between ToM and cooperation. Interestingly, we also examined how ToM scores of paired participants determine cooperation. We found that pairs with two high-ToM individuals committed significantly fewer errors compared to pairs with two low-ToM individuals. We speculate that reduced cooperation in low-low ToM pairs is a result of less efficient development of conceptual alignment and recovery from misalignment, compared to high-high ToM dyads. For the first time, we thus demonstrate that it is not all about you; both cooperative partners make key, independent, contributions to cooperative outcomes. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2024 APA, all rights reserved).

RevDate: 2024-04-07

Hu B, Wang JM, Zhang QX, et al (2024)

Enterococcus faecalis provides protection during scavenging in carrion crow (Corvus corone).

Zoological research, 45(3):451-463.

The gut microbiota significantly influences host physiology and provides essential ecosystem services. While diet can affect the composition of the gut microbiota, the gut microbiota can also help the host adapt to specific dietary habits. The carrion crow (Corvus corone), an urban facultative scavenger bird, hosts an abundance of pathogens due to its scavenging behavior. Despite this, carrion crows infrequently exhibit illness, a phenomenon related to their unique physiological adaptability. At present, however, the role of the gut microbiota remains incompletely understood. In this study, we performed a comparative analysis using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing technology to assess colonic content in carrion crows and 16 other bird species with different diets in Beijing, China. Our findings revealed that the dominant gut microbiota in carrion crows was primarily composed of Proteobacteria (75.51%) and Firmicutes (22.37%). Significant differences were observed in the relative abundance of Enterococcus faecalis among groups, highlighting its potential as a biomarker of facultative scavenging behavior in carrion crows. Subsequently, E. faecalis isolated from carrion crows was transplanted into model mice to explore the protective effects of this bacterial community against Salmonella enterica infection. Results showed that E. faecalis down-regulated the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interferon gamma (IFN-γ), and interleukin 6 (IL-6), prevented S. enterica colonization, and regulated the composition of gut microbiota in mice, thereby modulating the host's immune regulatory capacity. Therefore, E. faecalis exerts immunoregulatory and anti-pathogenic functions in carrion crows engaged in scavenging behavior, offering a representative case of how the gut microbiota contributes to the protection of hosts with specialized diets.

RevDate: 2024-04-03
CmpDate: 2024-04-03

Wang Z, Mayer CH, J Li (2024)

A psychobiographical analysis of Empress Dowager Cixi: exploring the femininity castrated complex.

International review of psychiatry (Abingdon, England), 36(1-2):56-68.

In Chinese culture, there is a widely circulated phrase, 'A hen crows in the morning'. This phrase is used to humiliate women who steal power and engage in the political field. It demonstrates the complicated relationship between women and power in the context of Chinese culture. Women are not completely excluded from the politics, but women in power are often stigmatised. This study explores the life of Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908), the last female dominator in Chinese history, takes psychobiography as the research method, and attempts to understand the complicated relationship between women and power in Chinese culture through analysing Cixi's life from the perspective of complex and cultural complex theory which originated with C.G. Jung and analytical theory. The research findings show that humiliating and suppressing women with political talent can trigger their complexes, both personal and cultural. This study attempts to propose the femininity castrated complex to better describe the conscious and unconscious psychological dynamics impacting on women within patriarchal, political Chinese culture. This complex further relates to (1) denying her biological sex in order to avoid accusations of superego and, (2) the relationship with her son who is not only her son, but also her enemy regarding (political) power.

RevDate: 2024-03-30

Chambon R, Paillisson JM, Fournier-Sowinski J, et al (2024)

Agricultural habitat use and selection by a sedentary bird over its annual life cycle in a crop-depredation context.

Movement ecology, 12(1):26.

BACKGROUND: Modern agriculture has undoubtedly led to increasing wildlife-human conflicts, notably concerning bird damage in productive and attractive crops during some parts of the annual cycle. This issue requires utmost attention for sedentary birds that may impact agricultural crops at any stage of their annual life cycle. Reducing bird-human conflicts requires a better understanding of the relationship between bird foraging activity and the characteristics of agricultural areas, notably with respect to changes in food-resource availability and crop sensitivity across the year.

METHODS: We explored how GPS-tagged adult male western jackdaws- sedentary corvids- utilize agricultural areas throughout their annual cycle, in a context of crop depredation. More precisely, we described their daily occurrence distribution and the extent of habitat use and selection consistency with respect to landscape composition across time.

RESULTS: Jackdaws moved in the close agricultural surroundings of their urban nesting place over the year (< 2.5 km from the nest, on average). Daily occurrence distributions were restricted (< 2.2 km[2]), relatively centered on the nesting locality (distance between the daily occurrence centroid and the nest < 0.9 km), and rather spatially stable during each annual life-cycle period (overlap range: 63.4-76.1%). Their foraging patterns highlighted that they fed mainly in grasslands all year round, and foraged complementarily and opportunistically in maize (during sowing- coinciding with the first stages of the birds' breeding period) and cereal crops (during harvesting- their post-fledging period).

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate the very limited space use by breeding male jackdaws which foraged preferentially in grasslands. We call for future investigations in other agricultural contexts and also considering non-breeders for extrapolation purposes.

RevDate: 2024-03-28

Hooper R, Maher K, Moore K, et al (2024)

Ultimate drivers of forced extra-pair copulations in birds lacking a penis: jackdaws as a case-study.

Royal Society open science, 11(3):231226.

Forced copulation is common, presumably because it can increase male reproductive success. Forced extra-pair copulation (FEPC) occurs in birds, even though most species lack a penis and are widely thought to require female cooperation for fertilization. How FEPC persists, despite a presumed lack of siring success and likely non-negligible costs to the male, is unknown. Using the jackdaw (Corvus monedula) as a case study, we use SNPs to quantify the extra-pair paternity rate through FEPC and evaluate explanations for the persistence of FEPC in species without a penis. We then collate evidence for FEPC across penis-lacking birds. Combining genetic and behavioural analyses, our study suggests that the most likely explanations for the maintenance of FEPC in jackdaws are that it provides a selective advantage to males or it is a relic. Our literature review shows that across birds lacking a penis, FEPC is taxonomically widespread, and yet, little is known about its evolution. A broader implementation of the approach used here, combining both genetic and behavioural data, may shed light on why this widespread sexual behaviour persists. Additional work is necessary to understand whether a penis is needed for paternity through forced copulation and to quantify the costs of FEPC.

RevDate: 2024-03-28

Tummeleht L, Häkkä SSS, Jürison M, et al (2024)

Wild boar (Sus scrofa) carcasses as an attraction for scavengers and a potential source for soil contamination with the African swine fever virus.

Frontiers in veterinary science, 11:1305643.

The wild boar (Sus scrofa) is a social animal species native to Eurasia. During the last decade, the wild boar population in Estonia has been severely affected by the African swine fever virus (ASFV), which has also affected domestic pig farming. The potential transmission routes of ASFV remain unclear and are currently under intensive investigation. This pilot study aimed to clarify the frequency and characteristics of contacts between living wild boars and the carcasses of their conspecifics, which could play a role in the transmission of ASFV. Wild animals' contact and scavenging behavior on wild boar carcasses were studied using trail cameras in an experimental setting on Hiiumaa, Western Estonia. Four legally hunted carcasses were used in the present study. This study aimed to determine whether intraspecies scavenging occurs in wild boars. The persistence of ASFV DNA in soil contaminated with infected wild boar carcasses was investigated separately. Among the 17 identified wildlife species that visited wild boar carcasses, the common raven (Corvus corax) was the most frequent one (37.26%), followed by raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides; 4.25%), carcass conspecific/wild boars (3.16%), and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes; 2.14%). Regarding the direct contact with the carcass, the same species ranking was detected: common raven (74.95%), raccoon dogs (9.94%), wild boars (4.21%), and red foxes (4.21%). No clear signs of cannibalism were noted among the wild boars, although brief physical contact with the carcasses was evident. The persistence of ASFV DNA in soil contaminated by infected wild boar carcasses was investigated separately. This study revealed that ASFV DNA from infected carcasses could be detected in forest soil for prolonged periods, even after removing the carcasses. Hence, the carcasses of infected wild boars may play an important role in spreading the African swine fever virus in wild boar populations; thus, prompt removal and disinfection of the soil could be considered necessary to limit the spread of the infection.

RevDate: 2024-03-27

Shatkovska OV, Ghazali M, Mytiai IS, et al (2024)

Patterns of integrated growth of body parts in Rook (Corvus frugilegus) ontogeny.

Journal of morphology, 285(4):e21690.

The early period of ontogeny is key to understanding the patterns of body plan formation in birds. Most studies of avian development have focused on the development of individual avian characters, leaving their developmental integration understudied. We explored the dynamics and integration of relative percentage increments in body mass, lengths of head, skeletal elements of wing and leg, and primary flight feathers in the embryonic and postnatal development of the Rook (Corvus frugilegus). The relative percentage increments were calculated according to Brody's equation. Groups of similar growing traits (modules) were determined using hierarchical cluster analysis, and the degree of correlation between modules was estimated by PLS analysis. The embryonic and postnatal periods demonstrate significant consistency both in the dynamics of changes in relative percentage increments of studied traits as well as in the clustering of individual modules. The modules mainly include the body mass and head length, as well as the elements that form the fore- and hind limbs. Differences were revealed in the combination of modules into clusters in embryonic and postnatal periods. Hind limb elements clustered together with wing elements in the embryonic period but with body mass and the head in the postnatal period. The strongest modularity was noted for the leg in embryogenesis, and for the wing in postnatal development. The forelimb and especially the primary feathers had more distinctive growth patterns. We suggest the changes in the degree of integration between locomotor modules in ontogenesis are connected with the earlier functioning of the legs in the postnatal period and with the preparation of the wings for functioning after a chick leaves the nest.

RevDate: 2024-03-21

Gutema BT, Tariku EZ, Melketsedik ZA, et al (2024)

Assessing the influence of COVID-19 lockdown measures on cognition and behavior in school age children in Arba Minch Health and Demographic Surveillance site, Southern Ethiopia: A cross-sectional study.

PLOS global public health, 4(3):e0002978 pii:PGPH-D-23-01776.

Ethiopian schools were closed for nearly 40 weeks as a measure to control the COVID-19 pandemic. The objective of the study was to evaluate the role of COVID-19 pandemic's restrictive measures on cognition and behavioral difficulties of schoolchildren in Arba Minch Health and Demographic Surveillance Site. Two cross-sectional surveys were conducted in November 2019 (pre-COVID-19-lockdown) and November 2020 (post-COVID-19 lockdown). Data were collected both at the school and homes of the children. Cognitive development of the children was assessed using digit span, Raven's coloured progressive matrices (RCPM) and Visual search using cancellation task. Behavioral difficulties score of the children was assessed using Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to compare between the cognition outcomes and behavioral difficulties score pre- and post-COVID-19-lockdown. In a sub-group of children who provided data in both surveys, the difference in cognitive and behavioral outcomes was tested using a mixed effect model. Compared to the pre-COVID-19-lockdown, schoolchildren post-COVID-19-lockdown scored lower in the standardized performance index for the visual search task, which measures attention (0.27 SD, 95% confidence intervals (95%CI): -0.40, -0.13). However, they scored higher by 0.26 SD (95%CI: 0.13, 0.40) and 0.36 SD (95%CI: 0.22, 0.49) in digit span and RCPM, respectively, measuring working memory and non-verbal intelligence. There was no significant difference in total difficulties score between pre- and post-COVID-19-lockdown (0.01 SD, 95%CI: -0.12, 0.15). The subgroup analysis showed a significant increase in digit span among children post-COVID-19-lockdown while the other domains did not show a significant change. Factors contributing to the improvement of children's cognitive domains while away from the school environment should be explored and utilized to enhance child development. This study was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT04137354 on October 14, 2019.

RevDate: 2024-03-11

Scognamiglio C, Sorge A, Borrelli G, et al (2024)

Exploring the connection between childhood trauma, dissociation, and borderline personality disorder in forensic psychiatry: a comprehensive case study.

Frontiers in psychology, 15:1332914.

This case study examines the complex relationship between childhood trauma, dissociation, and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) within the context of forensic psychiatry. It focuses on a young murder defendant named "Paul," who has experienced various traumatic events, including childhood maltreatment and domestic violence. These experiences have led to dissociative states marked by high emotional intensity, particularly of an aggressive nature, and impaired impulse control, resulting in violent behavior during dissociative episodes. The study employs advanced assessment tools like Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM), the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III (MCMI-III), and the Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI) to gain a comprehensive understanding of Paul's psychopathological condition, risk factors, and rehabilitation needs. The LS/CMI assessment highlights a high risk of recidivism, mainly influenced by family relationships, educational challenges, interpersonal connections, and aggressive tendencies. To address the multifaceted needs of individuals like Paul, the study emphasizes the importance of using transdiagnostic models for trauma and dissociation. This approach informs tailored treatment programs that include processing past traumatic experiences, improving self-identity, nurturing healthy relational patterns, and enhancing emotional regulation. Although this study is based on a single case, it serves as a model for integrating assessment tools and theoretical-clinical models in the field of forensic psychiatry. Understanding the intricate dynamics of childhood trauma, dissociation, and BPD is crucial for making informed decisions, conducting risk assessments, and developing rehabilitation programs within the justice system. Future research should expand the scope of cases and further validate assessment tools to advance our understanding of this complex relationship.

RevDate: 2024-03-01
CmpDate: 2024-03-01

Simonit F, Da Broi U, Giudici F, et al (2024)

Autopsy findings in fire deaths in relation to manner of death: Analysis of autopsy records in Friuli, Italy (1993-2020).

Legal medicine (Tokyo, Japan), 67:102372.

The determination of the cause and manner of death can be particularly difficult in burned and charred bodies and autopsy remains a key element in the investigation. In this study, 39 autopsy records of fire deaths were reviewed in relation to the manner of death (25 accidents, 8 suicides, 3 homicides and 3 instances in which the manner of death remained undetermined). The analysis focused on the study of the burns, the degree to which the bodies were consumed by fire and the evidence of signs of vital exposure to fire and of non-fire-related injuries. Total surface body area (TBSA) was found to be significantly higher (p = 0.02) in suicides than in accidents. Moreover, the degree of destruction according to the Crow-Glassman Scale and the presence of a pugilistic posture tended to be higher in suicides compared to accidental deaths, whereas such parameters were found to be variable in homicides. With regard to the anatomical distribution of burns, in contrast with the literature, the feet were affected by burning in all suicides, with a significantly higher prevalence than in accidents (p < 0.01). Traumatic non-fire related injuries were noted in all homicides (with no signs of vital exposure to fire), 1 complicated suicide, 1 undetermined death and 13 accidents. We found that very few studies have focused on the analysis of burn distribution and extension according to manner of death and that there is currently no standardised anatomical model with which to study these variables for forensic purposes.

RevDate: 2024-02-29

Burban E, Tenaillon MI, S Glémin (2024)

RIDGE, a tool tailored to detect gene flow barriers across species pairs.

Molecular ecology resources [Epub ahead of print].

Characterizing the processes underlying reproductive isolation between diverging lineages is central to understanding speciation. Here, we present RIDGE-Reproductive Isolation Detection using Genomic polymorphisms-a tool tailored for quantifying gene flow barrier proportion and identifying the relevant genomic regions. RIDGE relies on an Approximate Bayesian Computation with a model-averaging approach to accommodate diverse scenarios of lineage divergence. It captures heterogeneity in effective migration rate along the genome while accounting for variation in linked selection and recombination. The barrier detection test relies on numerous summary statistics to compute a Bayes factor, offering a robust statistical framework that facilitates cross-species comparisons. Simulations revealed RIDGE's efficiency in capturing signals of ongoing migration. Model averaging proved particularly valuable in scenarios of high model uncertainty where no migration or migration homogeneity can be wrongly assumed, typically for recent divergence times <0.1 2Ne generations. Applying RIDGE to four published crow data sets, we first validated our tool by identifying a well-known large genomic region associated with mate choice patterns. Second, while we identified a significant overlap of outlier loci using RIDGE and traditional genomic scans, our results suggest that a substantial portion of previously identified outliers are likely false positives. Outlier detection relies on allele differentiation, relative measures of divergence and the count of shared polymorphisms and fixed differences. Our analyses also highlight the value of incorporating multiple summary statistics including our newly developed outlier ones that can be useful in challenging detection conditions.

RevDate: 2024-02-24

Penhale SH, Arif Y, Schantell M, et al (2024)

Healthy aging alters the oscillatory dynamics and fronto-parietal connectivity serving fluid intelligence.

Human brain mapping, 45(3):e26591.

Fluid intelligence (Gf) involves logical reasoning and novel problem-solving abilities. Often, abstract reasoning tasks like Raven's progressive matrices are used to assess Gf. Prior work has shown an age-related decline in fluid intelligence capabilities, and although many studies have sought to identify the underlying mechanisms, our understanding of the critical brain regions and dynamics remains largely incomplete. In this study, we utilized magnetoencephalography (MEG) to investigate 78 individuals, ages 20-65 years, as they completed an abstract reasoning task. MEG data was co-registered with structural MRI data, transformed into the time-frequency domain, and the resulting neural oscillations were imaged using a beamformer. We found worsening behavioral performance with age, including prolonged reaction times and reduced accuracy. MEG analyses indicated robust oscillations in the theta, alpha/beta, and gamma range during the task. Whole brain correlation analyses with age revealed relationships in the theta and alpha/beta frequency bands, such that theta oscillations became stronger with increasing age in a right prefrontal region and alpha/beta oscillations became stronger with increasing age in parietal and right motor cortices. Follow-up connectivity analyses revealed increasing parieto-frontal connectivity with increasing age in the alpha/beta frequency range. Importantly, our findings are consistent with the parieto-frontal integration theory of intelligence (P-FIT). These results further suggest that as people age, there may be alterations in neural responses that are spectrally specific, such that older people exhibit stronger alpha/beta oscillations across the parieto-frontal network during abstract reasoning tasks.

RevDate: 2024-02-24

Zhang Z, Bi J, Zhao X, et al (2024)

Comparison of Reproductive Strategies between Two Sympatric Copsychus Passerines.

Animals : an open access journal from MDPI, 14(4): pii:ani14040554.

Reproduction plays a crucial role in determining the development, fate, and dynamics of bird populations. However, reproductive strategies vary among species and populations. In this study, we investigated the reproductive strategies of the Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis) and White-rumped Shama (C. malabarica), which are closely related passerines that reproduce in sympatric areas. We found that although these two species were both cavity nesting, their nest-site selection differed; the Shama preferred nesting close to trees and forests, whereas the Magpie Robin nested close to human residential areas. Furthermore, their egg incubation patterns differed; the Shama increased daily incubation frequency with incubation time, but the Magpie Robin maintained its daily incubation time regardless of changes in incubation frequency. However, the nestling heating patterns of these two species were similar, indicating a critical demand for regulating hatchling body temperature during this crucial stage. The feeding frequencies of male parents were strongly correlated with those of females in both species, suggesting equal contribution and good synchronization between the sexes. Nestling feeding frequency was also correlated with nest cleaning frequency, implying coordination between feeding and defecation by parents and offspring, respectively. This research explored the divergence and convergence of reproductive strategies between these two sympatric species, providing valuable insights into the niche differentiation theory.

RevDate: 2024-02-22
CmpDate: 2024-02-22

Khadem A, Nadery M, Noori S, et al (2024)

The relationship between food habits and physical activity and the IQ of primary school children.

Journal of health, population, and nutrition, 43(1):29.

BACKGROUND: Children's intelligence quotient (IQ) is influenced by various environmental and genetic variables. The current study aimed to determine how children's dietary choices and physical activity levels correlated with their IQ.

METHODS: A total of 190 students (111 girls and 79 boys) between the ages of 8 and 10 were chosen randomly for this cross-sectional research. For all children, questionnaires were utilized to gather information on their anthropometry, socio-economic position, food habits, and 24-h memory. Children's physical activity questionnaire (CPAQ) was also used to gauge their level of physical activity. Raven's color progressive intelligence test was also used to gauge children's IQ. All the questions may be filled out online with the assistance of parents. SPSS software was used to gather and evaluate the generated data.

RESULTS: Of 190 respondents, 79 (41.6%) are males, and 111 (58.4%) are girls. The results of the study showed that, a positive correlation between children's IQ and physical activity (P = 0.017, r = 0.17), if this relationship was not seen by gender. In addition, a positive correlation was observed between the IQ and food habits scores in all children (P = 0.001, r = 0.24), as well as by gender, that is, male (P = 0.04, r = 0.23) and female (P = 0.006, r = 0.26), which indicates that children with better food habits were associated with higher IQ.

CONCLUSION: It was shown that elementary school children's IQ, food habits, and degree of physical activity are all positively correlated.

RevDate: 2024-02-21

Mustafa FE, Ahmed I, Basit A, et al (2024)

An adaptive metaheuristic optimization approach for Tennessee Eastman process for an industrial fault tolerant control system.

PloS one, 19(2):e0296471 pii:PONE-D-23-26715.

The Tennessee Eastman Process (TEP) is widely recognized as a standard reference for assessing the effectiveness of fault detection and false alarm tracking methods in intricate industrial operations. This paper presents a novel methodology that employs the Adaptive Crow Search Algorithm (ACSA) to improve fault identification capabilities and mitigate the occurrence of false alarms in the TEP. The ACSA is an optimization approach that draws inspiration from the observed behavior of crows in their natural environment. This algorithm possesses the capability to adapt its search behavior in response to the changing dynamics of the optimization process. The primary objective of our research is to devise a monitoring strategy that is adaptable in nature, with the aim of efficiently identifying faults within the TEP while simultaneously minimizing the occurrence of false alarms. The ACSA is applied in order to enhance the optimization of monitoring variables, alarm thresholds, and decision criteria selection and configuration. When compared to traditional static approaches, the ACSA-based monitoring strategy is better at finding faults and reducing false alarms because it adapts well to changes in process dynamics and disturbances. In order to assess the efficacy of our suggested methodology, we have conducted comprehensive simulations on the TEP dataset. The findings suggest that the monitoring strategy based on ACSA demonstrates superior fault identification rates while concurrently mitigating the frequency of false alarms. In addition, the flexibility of ACSA allows it to efficiently manage process variations, disturbances, and uncertainties, thereby enhancing its robustness and reliability in practical scenarios. To validate the effectiveness of our proposed approach, extensive simulations were conducted on the TEP dataset. The results indicate that the ACSA-based monitoring strategy achieves higher fault detection rates while simultaneously reducing the occurrence of false alarms. Moreover, the adaptability of ACSA enables it to effectively handle process variations, disturbances, and uncertainties, making it robust and reliable for real-world applications. The contributions of this research extend beyond the TEP, as the adaptive monitoring strategy utilizing ACSA can be applied to other complex industrial processes. The findings of this study provide valuable insights into the development of advanced fault detection and false alarm monitoring techniques, offering significant benefits in terms of process safety, reliability, and operational efficiency.

RevDate: 2024-02-20

Betz A, Bischoff R, G Petschenka (2024)

Late-instar monarch caterpillars sabotage milkweed to acquire toxins, not to disarm plant defence.

Proceedings. Biological sciences, 291(2017):20232721.

Sabotaging milkweed by monarch caterpillars (Danaus plexippus) is a famous textbook example of disarming plant defence. By severing leaf veins, monarchs are thought to prevent the flow of toxic latex to their feeding site. Here, we show that sabotaging by monarch caterpillars is not only an avoidance strategy. While young caterpillars appear to avoid latex, late-instar caterpillars actively ingest exuding latex, presumably to increase sequestration of cardenolides used for defence against predators. Comparisons with caterpillars of the related but non-sequestering common crow butterfly (Euploea core) revealed three lines of evidence supporting our hypothesis. First, monarch caterpillars sabotage inconsistently and therefore the behaviour is not obligatory to feed on milkweed, whereas sabotaging precedes each feeding event in Euploea caterpillars. Second, monarch caterpillars shift their behaviour from latex avoidance in younger to eager drinking in later stages, whereas Euploea caterpillars consistently avoid latex and spit it out during sabotaging. Third, monarchs reared on detached leaves without latex sequestered more cardenolides when caterpillars imbibed latex offered with a pipette. Thus, we conclude that monarch caterpillars have transformed the ancestral 'sabotage to avoid' strategy into a 'sabotage to consume' strategy, implying a novel behavioural adaptation to increase sequestration of cardenolides for defence.

RevDate: 2024-02-20

Jariwala N, Ozols M, Eckersley A, et al (2024)

Prediction, screening and characterization of novel bioactive tetra-peptide matrikines for skin rejuvenation.

The British journal of dermatology pii:7610994 [Epub ahead of print].

BACKGROUND: Extracellular matrices play a critical role in tissue structure and function and aberrant remodelling of these matrices is a hallmark of many age-related diseases. In skin, loss of dermal collagens and disorganisation elastic fibre components are key features of photo-ageing. Although application of some small matrix-derived peptides to aged skin has been shown to beneficially affect in vitro cell behaviour and, in vivo, molecular architecture and clinical appearance, the discovery of new peptides has lacked a guiding hypothesis.

OBJECTIVES: As endogenous matrix-derived peptides can act as cell-signalling molecules (matrikines), we hypothesised that protease cleavage site prediction could identify novel putative matrikines with beneficial activities for skin composition and structure.

METHODS: Here, we present an in silico (peptide cleavage prediction) to in vitro (proteomic and transcriptomic activity testing in cultured human dermal fibroblasts) to in vivo (short term patch test and longer term split-face clinical study) discovery pipeline, which enables the identification and characterisation of peptides with differential activities.

RESULTS: Using this pipeline we show that cultured fibroblasts are responsive to all applied peptides but their associated bioactivity is sequence-dependent. Based on bioactivity, toxicity and protein source we further characterised a combination of two novel peptides, GPKG and LSVD, that act in vitro to enhance the transcription of matrix organisation and cell proliferation genes and in vivo, in a short-term patch test, to promote processes associated with epithelial and dermal maintenance and remodelling. Prolonged use of a formulation containing these peptides in a split-face clinical study led to significantly improved measures of crow's feet and firmness in a mixed-ethnicity population.

CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that this approach to peptide discovery and testing can identify new synthetic matrikines, providing insights into biological mechanisms of tissue homeostasis and repair and new pathways to clinical intervention.

RevDate: 2024-02-18

Le Covec M, Bovet D, Watanabe S, et al (2024)

Spontaneous tempo production in cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) and jungle crows (Corvus macrorhyncos).

Behavioural processes pii:S0376-6357(24)00022-6 [Epub ahead of print].

Musical and rhythmical abilities are poorly documented in non-human animals. Most of the existing studies focused on synchronisation performances to external rhythms. In humans, studies demonstrated that rhythmical processing (e. g. rhythm discrimination or synchronisation to external rhythm) is dependent of an individual measure: the individual tempo. It is assessed by asking participants to produce an endogenous isochronous rhythm (known as spontaneous motor tempo) without any specific instructions nor temporal cue. In non-human animal literature, studies describing spontaneous and endogenous production of motor tempo without any temporal clue are rare. This exploratory study aims to describe and compare the spontaneous motor tempo of cockatiels and jungle crows. Data were collected on spontaneous beak drumming behaviours of birds housed in laboratory. Inter beak strokes intervals were calculated from sound tracks of videos. The analyses revealed that inter beak strokes intervals are non-randomly distributed intervals and are isochronous. Recorded spontaneous motor tempos are significantly different among some cockatiels. Since we could only conduct statistical analysis with one corvid, we cannot conclude about this species. Our results suggest that cockatiels and jungle crows have individual tempos, thus encouraging further investigations.

RevDate: 2024-02-16

Brennan Kearns P, van den Dries MA, Julvez J, et al (2024)

Association of exposure to mixture of chemicals during pregnancy with cognitive abilities and fine motor function of children.

Environment international, 185:108490 pii:S0160-4120(24)00076-X [Epub ahead of print].

Chemical exposures often occur in mixtures and exposures during pregnancy may lead to adverse effects on the fetal brain, potentially reducing lower cognitive abilities and fine motor function of the child. We investigated the association of motheŕs exposure to a mixture of chemicals during pregnancy (i.e., organochlorine compounds, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, phenols, phthalates, organophosphate pesticides) with cognitive abilties and fine motor function in their children. We studied 1097 mother-child pairs from five European cohorts participating in the Human Early Life Exposome study (HELIX). Measurement of 26 biomarkers of exposure to chemicals was performed on urine or blood samples of pregnant women (mean age 31 years). Cognitive abilities and fine motor function were assessed in their children (mean age 8 years) with a battery of computerized tests administered in person (Raveńs Coloured Progressive Matrices, Attention Network Test, N-back Test, Trail Making Test, Finger Tapping Test). We estimated the joint effect of prenatal exposure to chemicals on cognitive abilities and fine motor function using the quantile-based g-computation method, adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics. A quartile increase in all the chemicals in the overall mixture was associated with worse fine motor function, specifically lower scores in the Finger Tapping Test [-8.5 points, 95 % confidence interval (CI) -13.6 to -3.4; -14.5 points, 95 % CI -22.4 to -6.6, and -18.0 points, 95 % CI -28.6 to -7.4) for the second, third and fourth quartile of the overal mixture, respectively, when compared to the first quartile]. Organochlorine compounds, phthalates, and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances contributed most to this association. We did not find a relationship with cognitive abilities. We conclude that exposure to chemical mixtures during pregnancy may influence neurodevelopment, impacting fine motor function of the offspring.

RevDate: 2024-02-16

Itahara A, F Kano (2024)

Gaze tracking of large-billed crows (Corvus macrorhynchos) in a motion capture system.

The Journal of experimental biology pii:343083 [Epub ahead of print].

Previous studies often inferred the focus of a bird's attention from its head movements because it provides important clues about their perception and cognition. However, it remains challenging to do so accurately, as the details of how they orient their visual field toward the visual targets remain largely unclear. We thus examined visual field configurations (Study 1) and the visual field use (Study 2) of large-billed crows (Corvus macrorhynchos). Study 1 employed an established ophthalmoscopic reflex technique to identify the visual field configuration, including the binocular width and optic axes, as well as the degree of eye movement. Study 2 used a newly established motion capture system to track the head movements of freely moving crows and examined how they oriented their reconstructed visual fields toward attention-getting objects. When visual targets were moving, the crows frequently used their binocular visual fields, particularly around the projection of the beak-tip. When the visual targets stopped moving, crows frequently used non-binocular visual fields, particularly around the regions where their optic axes were found in Study 1. On such occasions, the crows slightly preferred the right eye. Overall, the visual field use of crows is clearly predictable. Thus, while the untracked eye movements could introduce some level of uncertainty (typically within 15 degrees), we demonstrated the feasibility of inferring a crow's attentional focus by 3D tracking of their heads. Our system represents a promising initial step towards establishing gaze tracking methods for studying corvid behavior and cognition.

RevDate: 2024-02-15

Owings CG, McKee-Zech HS, Orebaugh JA, et al (2024)

The utility of blow fly (Diptera: Calliphoridae) evidence from burned human remains.

Forensic science international, 356:111962 pii:S0379-0738(24)00043-4 [Epub ahead of print].

Burning of human remains is a common method to conceal or destroy evidence associated with homicides and illegal activities. However, data regarding blow fly colonization of burned remains are scarce, with all previously published empirical studies focusing only on non-human animals. It is critically important to obtain basic data on blow fly colonization patterns of burned human remains as such evidence may represent the only feasible method for PMI estimation in cases of burning. In this study, we thermally altered six human donors to a Crow-Glassman Scale Level 3 (CGS-3) and placed them at the Anthropology Research Facility at the University of Tennessee in Summer 2021, Spring 2022, and Summer 2022. Six unburned human donors were used as controls. Observations for insect activity began within 24 h of placement and continued twice weekly through decomposition. Age estimations were performed with immature blow flies to estimate the time of colonization (TOC), and accuracy was assessed against the time of placement for each donor. All burned donors examined in this study were colonized by blow flies. No significant difference in species composition was determined between treatments, though TOC estimations from burned donors were slightly (but significantly) less accurate than TOC estimations from unburned donors (80% vs. 83% accuracy; χ[2] = 0.041, df = 1, P = 0.840). These results indicate that blow flies can successfully colonize human remains burned to CGS-3 and that accurate TOC estimations can still be generated from larval specimens. Though several limitations to this study exist (e.g., inconsistent donor BMI, lack of donor temperature data), our results underscore the utility of entomological evidence in cases of burned human remains.

RevDate: 2024-02-09

Sun C, Hassin Y, Boonman A, et al (2024)

Species and habitat specific changes in bird activity in an urban environment during Covid 19 lockdown.

eLife, 12: pii:88064.

Covid-19 lockdowns provided ecologists with a rare opportunity to examine how animals behave when humans are absent. Indeed many studies reported various effects of lockdowns on animal activity, especially in urban areas and other human-dominated habitats. We explored how Covid-19 lockdowns in Israel have influenced bird activity in an urban environment by using continuous acoustic recordings to monitor three common bird species that differ in their level of adaptation to the urban ecosystem: (1) the hooded crow, an urban exploiter, which depends heavily on anthropogenic resources; (2) the rose-ringed parakeet, an invasive alien species that has adapted to exploit human resources; and (3) the graceful prinia, an urban adapter, which is relatively shy of humans and can be found in urban habitats with shrubs and prairies. Acoustic recordings provided continuous monitoring of bird activity without an effect of the observer on the animal. We performed dense sampling of a 1.3 square km area in northern Tel-Aviv by placing 17 recorders for more than a month in different micro-habitats within this region including roads, residential areas and urban parks. We monitored both lockdown and no-lockdown periods. We portray a complex dynamic system where the activity of specific bird species depended on many environmental parameters and decreases or increases in a habitat-dependent manner during lockdown. Specifically, urban exploiter species decreased their activity in most urban habitats during lockdown, while human adapter species increased their activity during lockdown especially in parks where humans were absent. Our results also demonstrate the value of different habitats within urban environments for animal activity, specifically highlighting the importance of urban parks. These species- and habitat-specific changes in activity might explain the contradicting results reported by others who have not performed a habitat specific analysis.

RevDate: 2024-02-07
CmpDate: 2024-02-07

Bracken A, Hauss J, Grinshpun S, et al (2024)

A profile of spatial abilities in people with Down syndrome.

Journal of intellectual disability research : JIDR, 68(3):223-236.

BACKGROUND: Spatial abilities are fundamental cognitive abilities, have direct applications in daily life, serve as a cognitive foundation for many other complex skills and are used in many specialty jobs. The current study aimed to systematically and comprehensively evaluate the spatial abilities of individuals with Down syndrome (DS) relative to mental ability-matched typically developing (TD) children based on Newcombe and Shipley's double-dimension theoretical framework for classifying spatial abilities.

METHODS: Forty adolescents and young adults with DS and 40 TD children completed a nonverbal intelligence test (Raven's), two measures of static-extrinsic skills (water-level task and cart task), two measures of static-intrinsic skills (figure ground and form completion), two measures of dynamic-extrinsic skills (three mountains task and dog task) and two measures of dynamic-intrinsic spatial skills (mental rotation task and block design task).

RESULTS: Participants with DS showed reduced performance on two dynamic-intrinsic tasks and one static-extrinsic task (i.e. cart task) relative to TD children. Performances were similar in two dynamic-extrinsic tasks and two static-intrinsic tasks. Analyses of composite accuracy for each spatial category further confirmed deficits in dynamic-intrinsic and static-extrinsic categories for people with DS relative to TD children.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results showed an uneven profile of spatial abilities in people with DS relative to ability-matched TD children with particular weaknesses in comprehending and manipulating dynamic-intrinsic and static-extrinsic spatial relations. Furthermore, our research has important clinical implications for more targeted interventions to improve spatial abilities in people with DS.

RevDate: 2024-02-07
CmpDate: 2024-02-07

Murry VM, Nyanamba JM, Hanebutt R, et al (2023)

Critical examination of resilience and resistance in African American families: Adaptive capacities to navigate toxic oppressive upstream waters.

Development and psychopathology, 35(5):2113-2131.

African American families navigate not only everyday stressors and adversities but also unique sociocultural stressors (e.g., "toxic upstream waters" like oppression). These adverse conditions are consequences of the historical vestiges of slavery and Jim Crow laws, often manifested as inequities in wealth, housing, wages, employment, access to healthcare, and quality education. Despite these challenges, African American families have developed resilience using strength-based adaptive coping strategies, to some extent, to filter these waters. To advance the field of resilience research, we focused on the following questions: (1) what constitutes positive responses to adversity?; (2) how is resilience defined conceptually and measured operationally?; (3) how has the field of resilience evolved?; (4) who defines what, when, and how responses are manifestations of resilience, instead of, for example, resistance? How can resistance, which at times leads to positive adaptations, be incorporated into the study of resilience?; and (5) are there case examples that demonstrate ways to address structural oppression and the pernicious effects of racism through system-level interventions, thereby changing environmental situations that sustain toxic waters requiring acts of resilience to survive and thrive? We end by exploring how a re-conceptualization of resilience requires a paradigm shift and new methodological approaches to understand ways in which preventive interventions move beyond focusing on families' capacity to navigate oppression and target systems and structures that maintain these toxic waters.

RevDate: 2024-02-02

Clancey E, MacPherson A, Cheek RG, et al (2024)

Unraveling Adaptive Evolutionary Divergence at Microgeographic Scales.

The American naturalist, 203(2):E35-E49.

AbstractStriking examples of local adaptation at fine geographic scales are increasingly being documented in natural populations. However, the relative contributions made by natural selection, phenotype-dependent dispersal (when individuals disperse with respect to a habitat preference), and mate preference in generating and maintaining microgeographic adaptation and divergence are not well studied. Here, we develop quantitative genetics models and individual-based simulations (IBSs) to uncover the evolutionary forces that possibly drive microgeographic divergence. We also perform Bayesian estimation of the parameters in our IBS using empirical data on habitat-specific variation in bill morphology in the island scrub-jay (Aphelocoma insularis) to apply our models to a natural system. We find that natural selection and phenotype-dependent dispersal can generate the patterns of divergence we observe in the island scrub-jay. However, mate preference for a mate with similar bill morphology, even though observed in the species, does not play a significant role in driving divergence. Our modeling approach provides insights into phenotypic evolution occurring over small spatial scales relative to dispersal ranges, suggesting that adaptive divergence at microgeographic scales may be common across a wider range of taxa than previously thought. Our quantitative genetic models help to inform future theoretical and empirical work to determine how selection, habitat preference, and mate preference contribute to local adaptation and microgeographic divergence.

RevDate: 2024-02-01

Rushovich T, Nethery RC, White A, et al (2024)

1965 US Voting Rights Act Impact on Black and Black Versus White Infant Death Rates in Jim Crow States, 1959-1980 and 2017-2021.

American journal of public health [Epub ahead of print].

Objectives. To investigate the impact of the US Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 on Black and Black versus White infant deaths in Jim Crow states. Methods. Using data from 1959 to 1980 and 2017 to 2021, we applied difference-in-differences methods to quantify differential pre-post VRA changes in infant deaths in VRA-exposed versus unexposed counties, controlling for population size and social, economic, and health system characteristics. VRA-exposed counties, identified by Section 4, were subject to government interventions to remove existing racist voter suppression policies. Results. Black infant deaths in VRA-exposed counties decreased by an average of 11.4 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.7, 21.0) additional deaths beyond the decrease experienced by unexposed counties between the pre-VRA period (1959-1965) and the post-VRA period (1966-1970). This translates to 6703 (95% CI = 999.6, 12 348) or 17.5% (95% CI = 3.1%, 28.1%) fewer deaths than would have been experienced in the absence of the VRA. The equivalent differential changes were not significant among the White or total population. Conclusions. Passage of the VRA led to pronounced reductions in Black infant deaths in Southern counties subject to government intervention because these counties had particularly egregious voter suppression practices. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print February 1, 2024:e1-e9. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2023.307518).

RevDate: 2024-01-26

Ziegler S, Srivastava S, Parmar D, et al (2024)

A step closer towards achieving universal health coverage: the role of gender in enrolment in health insurance in India.

BMC health services research, 24(1):141.

BACKGROUND: There is limited understanding of how universal health coverage (UHC) schemes such as publicly-funded health insurance (PFHI) benefit women as compared to men. Many of these schemes are gender-neutral in design but given the existing gender inequalities in many societies, their benefits may not be similar for women and men. We contribute to the evidence by conducting a gender analysis of the enrolment of individuals and households in India's national PFHI scheme, Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY).

METHODS: We used data from a cross-sectional household survey on RSBY eligible families across eight Indian states and studied different outcome variables at both the individual and household levels to compare enrolment among women and men. We applied multivariate logistic regressions and controlled for several demographic and socio-economic characteristics.

RESULTS: At the individual level, the analysis revealed no substantial differences in enrolment between men and women. Only in one state were women more likely to be enrolled in RSBY than men (AOR: 2.66, 95% CI: 1.32-5.38), and this pattern was linked to their status in the household. At the household level, analyses revealed that female-headed households had a higher likelihood to be enrolled (AOR: 1.36, 95% CI: 1.14-1.62), but not necessarily to have all household members enrolled.

CONCLUSION: Findings are surprising in light of India's well-documented gender bias, permeating different aspects of society, and are most likely an indication of success in designing a policy that did not favour participation by men above women, by mandating spouse enrolment and securing enrolment of up to five family members. Higher enrolment rates among female-headed households are also an indication of women's preferences for investments in health, in the context of a conducive policy environment. Further analyses are needed to examine if once enrolled, women also make use of the scheme benefits to the same extent as men do. India is called upon to capitalise on the achievements of RSBY and apply them to newer schemes such as PM-JAY.

RevDate: 2024-01-20

Williams ME, Corn EA, Martinez Ransanz S, et al (2024)

Neurodevelopmental assessments used to measure preschoolers' cognitive development in Latin America: a systematic review.

Journal of pediatric psychology pii:7582081 [Epub ahead of print].

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to systematically review the standardized neurodevelopmental assessments used to study preschool-aged children's cognitive development in Spanish-speaking Latin America.

METHODS: The authors systematically searched PubMed, PsycINFO, and ERIC databases for peer-reviewed articles from Spanish-speaking Latin American countries. Articles were included if they measured cognitive development among children aged 2-6 years using at least one standardized assessment tool; 97 articles were included and reviewed in accordance with PRISMA guidelines to assess their use of these tools.

RESULTS: Ninety-seven studies across 13 countries used a total of 41 assessments to measure cognitive development; most widely used were the Wechsler intelligence scales (n = 46/97), particularly the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence and Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (n = 23 and 29, respectively). Other common assessments included the McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities (n = 9), Raven's Progressive Matrices (n = 9), Child Neuropsychological Assessment (n = 8), and Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (n = 7). In regions where normative data for a given assessment were unpublished, authors commonly used norms from the United States, Mexico, or Spain or did not report standard scores in their analyses.

CONCLUSIONS: The wide range of tools used in these studies presents a challenge for generalizing results when measuring the neurodevelopment of Latin American preschool-aged children. The low availability of normative data for specific regions reveals concerns if some tools are culturally and linguistically appropriate even when Spanish is a common language, particularly in low-resource settings. Future work to forge greater consistency in the use of validated measures, clarity in reporting research methods, and publication of regional normative data would benefit the field.

RevDate: 2024-01-19

Fathima A, G Jeevanandan (2023)

Interrelationship Between Intelligence Quotient and Space Maintainers Among Children: A Cross-Sectional Comparative Study.

Cureus, 15(12):e50752.

Introduction Intelligence quotient (IQ) is an indicator to measure a child's cognitive ability to learn or understand and to deal with new situations with their logical and analytical skills. Children with better IQ exhibit increased cooperation when undergoing dental treatments, leading to a positive attitude toward dental care. The primary aim of the study was to assess the interrelationship between the IQ of children, space maintainer therapy, and the behavior of children aged 6-10 years. Materials and methods A total of 104 children were divided into two groups: group 1 included children undergoing space maintainer therapy and group 2 included children who did not undergo space maintainer therapy. Their IQ scores were assessed using Raven's Coloured Progressive Matrices and behavior and the Frankl behavior rating scale. The data were analyzed by SPSS Version 23 (IBM Corp., Armonk, NY). Independent t-tests were used to evaluate the differences between IQ and children with space maintainers, and Mann-Whitney U tests were used to assess the differences between behavior and space maintainers. Results The mean age of the participants was approximately 8.28 years. The mean IQ score of the group of children undergoing the space maintainer therapy was 90.69 ± 7.65 and that of the control group was 105.59±10.71. Based on the Frankl behavior rating scale, the mean score in the space maintainer group was 35.44 and that of the control group was 69.56. There was a significant association between IQ, behavior, and the presence of space maintainers. Conclusion The group of children undergoing space maintainer therapy demonstrated comparatively lesser IQ, and the majority of children exhibited negative behavior. Also, children wearing space maintainers had undergone one or multiple extractions, which is traumatic for children and may lead to them likely exhibiting a negative behavior than children in the control group. Hence, it may be concluded that intelligence, behavior, and space maintainers are all significantly associated with each other.

RevDate: 2024-01-17

Wang X, Kostrzewa C, Reiner A, et al (2024)

Adaptation of a mutual exclusivity framework to identify driver mutations within oncogenic pathways.

American journal of human genetics pii:S0002-9297(23)00441-X [Epub ahead of print].

Distinguishing genomic alterations in cancer-associated genes that have functional impact on tumor growth and disease progression from the ones that are passengers and confer no fitness advantage have important clinical implications. Evidence-based methods for nominating drivers are limited by existing knowledge on the oncogenic effects and therapeutic benefits of specific variants from clinical trials or experimental settings. As clinical sequencing becomes a mainstay of patient care, applying computational methods to mine the rapidly growing clinical genomic data holds promise in uncovering functional candidates beyond the existing knowledge base and expanding the patient population that could potentially benefit from genetically targeted therapies. We propose a statistical and computational method (MAGPIE) that builds on a likelihood approach leveraging the mutual exclusivity pattern within an oncogenic pathway for identifying probabilistically both the specific genes within a pathway and the individual mutations within such genes that are truly the drivers. Alterations in a cancer-associated gene are assumed to be a mixture of driver and passenger mutations with the passenger rates modeled in relationship to tumor mutational burden. We use simulations to study the operating characteristics of the method and assess false-positive and false-negative rates in driver nomination. When applied to a large study of primary melanomas, the method accurately identifies the known driver genes within the RTK-RAS pathway and nominates several rare variants as prime candidates for functional validation. A comprehensive evaluation of MAGPIE against existing tools has also been conducted leveraging the Cancer Genome Atlas data.

RevDate: 2024-01-16

Bugnyar T (2024)

Why are ravens smart? Exploring the social intelligence hypothesis.

Journal of ornithology, 165(1):15-26.

Ravens and other corvids are renowned for their 'intelligence'. For long, this reputation has been based primarily on anecdotes but in the last decades experimental evidence for impressive cognitive skills has accumulated within and across species. While we begin to understand the building blocks of corvid cognition, the question remains why these birds have evolved such skills. Focusing on Northern Ravens Corvus corax, I here try to tackle this question by relating current hypotheses on brain evolution to recent empirical data on challenges faced in the birds' daily life. Results show that foraging ravens meet several assumptions for applying social intelligence: (1) they meet repeatedly at foraging sites, albeit individuals have different site preferences and vary in grouping dynamics; (1) foraging groups are structured by dominance rank hierarchies and social bonds; (3) individual ravens memorize former group members and their relationship valence over years, deduce third-party relationships and use their social knowledge in daily life by supporting others in conflicts and intervening in others' affiliations. Hence, ravens' socio-cognitive skills may be strongly shaped by the 'complex' social environment experienced as non-breeders.

RevDate: 2024-01-15

Gupta S, Prithviraj M, Gangwar A, et al (2023)

Impact of Sleep Duration, Quality, and Chronotype on Learning and Academic Performance: A Cross-Sectional Study Among First Year Medical Students of a Tertiary Care Institute.

Cureus, 15(12):e50413.

Introduction The link between sleep and cognitive processes, such as memory and learning, continues to be one of the most intriguing and perplexing theories. Undergraduate medical students in their first year are particularly vulnerable to sleep disturbances. Academic achievement and learning have been linked to sleep patterns, which include not only the quantity and quality of sleep but also the timing of sleep in relation to the natural sleep onsets, or chronotypes. There have been conflicting reports on the outcomes of sleep and relatively fewer researches focused on the impact of chronotypes on learning and academic achievement among medical students. The current study thus sought to determine the chronotypes of medical students, evaluate the quantity and quality of sleep, and determine the impact of these factors on learning and academic performance. Methods The study was conducted in the Department of Physiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Gorakhpur, India. Sleep health was assessed in 167 first-year medical students using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), morningness-eveningness questionnaire (MEQ), and sleep log books. Learning and memory assessment was performed using Raven's progressive matrices test. Grade point average (GPA) was used to assess their academic performance. The relationship of sleep scores with GPA and RPM scores were obtained by linear regression analysis. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and unpaired t-test were used to investigate other comparisons among categories of chronotypes and those of mean GPA. A p-value of <0.05 was considered as significant. Results The mean GPA and RPM scores obtained in the groups with PSQI ≥ 5 (2.67 ± 1.1, 49.51 ± 6.24, respectively) and PSQI < 5 (3.15 ± 0.59, 54.73 ± 4.01, respectively) and those in the group with ESS ≥ 10 (2.72 ± 1.17, 50.97 ± 5.92, respectively) and ESS < 10 (3.15 ± 0.6, 54.18 ± 3.91, respectively) varied with statistically significant differences (p < 0.05). Statistically significant R-squared values for the relationship of PSQI and ESS scores with RPM and GPA scores were obtained. No correlation between academic grades and chronotype was found. Poor GPA scores were found to be associated with reduced mean sleep duration for one week before the exams. Conclusion Learning and academic performance are negatively impacted by poor sleep quality and daytime sleep dysfunction. No definite evidence for the association of sleep chronotypes with the learning and memory could be attained. Higher test performance is more closely linked to the average sleep length over a duration of time preceding the exams.

RevDate: 2024-01-09

Ramos HHA, Amaral V, de Oliveira Afonso LP, et al (2024)

Advanced Injection of Botulinum Toxin in the Nasal Muscles: A Novel Dynamic Change in Facial Expression.

Aesthetic plastic surgery [Epub ahead of print].

BACKGROUND: Among the nasal muscles, the levator labii superior alaeque nasi (LLSAN) acts as a transitional muscle that conjugates with other nasal and perinasal muscles. Thus, when treating the nasal region with Botulinum toxin (BTX), it is important to understand local nasal muscular dynamics and how they can influence the muscular dynamics of the entire face.

METHODS: This is a retrospective analysis of cases treated by an injection pattern encompassing the face, including nasal muscles. Photographs were taken at rest and during motion (frontal and oblique views), before and after treatment.

RESULTS: A total of 227 patients have been treated in the last 18 months with the following results: eyebrow tail lifting, softness of crow's feet, improvement of the drooping of the tip of the nose, and shortening of the lip philtrum when smiling. We present cases illustrating the use of this approach.

CONCLUSIONS: Treating the facial muscles globally (including the frontal, corrugators, procerus, orbicularis oculi, platysma, DAO, and nasal muscles) can improve the smile and facial expressions. This is believed to occur because the elevated portion of the upper lip muscle becomes stronger as the nasal part of the LLSAN is paralyzed.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE IV: This journal requires that authors assign a level of evidence to each article. For a full description of these Evidence-Based Medicine ratings, please refer to the Table of Contents or the online Instructions to Authors www.springer.com/00266 .

RevDate: 2024-01-08

Krieger N, Testa C, Chen JT, et al (2023)

Epigenetic aging & embodying injustice: US My Body My Story and Multi-Ethnic Atherosclerosis Study.

medRxiv : the preprint server for health sciences.

IMPORTANCE: Epigenetic accelerated aging is associated with exposure to social and economic adversity and may increase risk of premature morbidity and mortality. However, no studies have included measures of structural racism and few have compared estimates within or across the 1[st] and 2[nd] generation of epigenetic clocks (the latter additionally trained on phenotypic data).

OBJECTIVE: To determine if accelerated epigenetic aging is associated with exposures to diverse measures of racialized, economic, and environmental injustice measured at different levels and time periods.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional My Body My Story Study (MBMS; US, 2008-2010) and Exam 5 Multi-Ethnic Atherosclerosis Study (MESA; US, 2010-2012). MBMS DNA extraction: 2021; linkage of structural measures to MBMS and MESA: 2022.

SETTING: MBMS recruited a random sample of US-born Black non-Hispanic (BNH) and white non-Hispanic (WNH) participants from 4 community health centers in Boston, MA. The MESA Exam 5 epigenetic component included 975 randomly selected US-born BNH, WNH, and Hispanic participants from four field sites: Baltimore, MD; Forsyth County, NC; New York City, NY; St. Paul, MN.

PARTICIPANTS: US-born persons (MBMS: 224 BNH, 69 WNH; MESA: 229 BNH, 555 WNH, 191 Hispanic).

MAIN OUTCOME AND MEASURES: 10 epigenetic clocks (six 1[st] generation; four 2[nd] generation), computed using DNA methylation data (DNAm) from blood spots (MBMS; N = 293) and purified monocytes (MESA; N = 975).

RESULTS: Among Black non-Hispanic MBMS participants, epigenetic age acceleration was associated with being born in a Jim Crow state by 0.14 standard deviations (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.00, 0.27) and with birth state conservatism (0.06, 95% CI 0.00, 0.05), pooling across all clocks, as was low parental education for both Black non-Hispanic and white non-Hispanic MBMS participants (respectively: 0.24, 95% CI 0.08, 0.39, and 0.27, 95% CI 0.03, 0.51. Adult impoverishment was positively associated with the pooled 2[nd] generation clocks among the MESA participants (Black non-Hispanic: 0.06, 95% CI 0.01, 0.12; white non-Hispanic: 0.05, 95% CI 0.01, 0.08; Hispanic: 0.07, 95% CI 0.01, 0.14).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Epigenetic accelerated aging may be one of the biological mechanisms linking exposure to racialized and economic injustice to well-documented inequities in premature morbidity and mortality.

RevDate: 2024-01-06

Zhang L, Feng J, Liu C, et al (2024)

Improved estimation of general cognitive ability and its neural correlates with a large battery of cognitive tasks.

Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991) pii:7511993 [Epub ahead of print].

Elucidating the neural mechanisms of general cognitive ability (GCA) is an important mission of cognitive neuroscience. Recent large-sample cohort studies measured GCA through multiple cognitive tasks and explored its neural basis, but they did not investigate how task number, factor models, and neural data type affect the estimation of GCA and its neural correlates. To address these issues, we tested 1,605 Chinese young adults with 19 cognitive tasks and Raven's Advanced Progressive Matrices (RAPM) and collected resting state and n-back task fMRI data from a subsample of 683 individuals. Results showed that GCA could be reliably estimated by multiple tasks. Increasing task number enhances both reliability and validity of GCA estimates and reliably strengthens their correlations with brain data. The Spearman model and hierarchical bifactor model yield similar GCA estimates. The bifactor model has better model fit and stronger correlation with RAPM but explains less variance and shows weaker correlations with brain data than does the Spearman model. Notably, the n-back task-based functional connectivity patterns outperform resting-state fMRI in predicting GCA. These results suggest that GCA derived from a multitude of cognitive tasks serves as a valid measure of general intelligence and that its neural correlates could be better characterized by task fMRI than resting-state fMRI data.

RevDate: 2024-01-03

Atiyeh B, Ghanem OA, Oneisi A, et al (2023)

Long-Term Improvement of Crow's Feet Wrinkles in Combination With Cervicofacial and Temporal Lifting: Review of the Literature.

Annals of plastic surgery pii:00000637-990000000-00355 [Epub ahead of print].

BACKGROUND: The lateral orbital crow's feet area is one for which rejuvenation is most frequently requested by patients. Moreover, lateral canthal wrinkles are a common source of dissatisfaction after rhytidoplasty. Botulinum toxin injection has emerged as a most popular, easy, and effective solution; nevertheless, repeated injections are required periodically for long-term effect. Other nonsurgical options have also been described to have some demonstrable advantages. Orbicularis oculi surgical manipulations have been described as well.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: A systematic PubMed literature search was conducted to identify clinical cohort studies including more than 10 patients describing surgical approaches for improvement of crows' feet wrinkles in combination with face and/or temporal lifts. The search was complemented by Embase, Medline, and Cochrane searches in addition to screening of reference lists of selected studies and simple term searches about surgical treatment of crow's feet.

RESULTS: Fourteen studies satisfied the inclusion criteria and were included in this review describing various muscle excision techniques including vertical strip excision, lateral partial resection, wedge resection, muscle resection in "C" pattern, and enlarged myectomy of about one-third of the whole orbital extension in addition to muscle manipulation modalities, including muscle splaying, muscle division, muscle division and splaying, muscle undermining with partial denervation, and muscle suspension. Interposition of fascia between orbicularis muscle and overlying skin was also reported.

CONCLUSION: View the few studies retrieved and the wide spectrum of reported techniques, it is not possible to determine from this review the most effective modality. Nevertheless, it seems that subcutaneous undermining of the lateral canthal area combined with splaying and traction of the orbicularis oculi muscle and fixation to the temporalis fascia with or without muscle division would yield the best long-term results. This review indicates also that surgical correction of crow's feet during rhytidectomy or temporal lift could be a positive complement to improve aesthetic outcome. Unfortunately, if not underreported, it is definitely neglected. We believe that this review may be an eye-opener for surgeons.

RevDate: 2024-01-02

Wagener L, A Nieder (2024)

Conscious Experience of Stimulus Presence and Absence Is Actively Encoded by Neurons in the Crow Brain.

Journal of cognitive neuroscience pii:118879 [Epub ahead of print].

The emergence of consciousness from brain activity constitutes one of the great riddles in biology. It is commonly assumed that only the conscious perception of the presence of a stimulus elicits neuronal activation to signify a "neural correlate of consciousness," whereas the subjective experience of the absence of a stimulus is associated with a neuronal resting state. Here, we demonstrate that the two subjective states "stimulus present" and "stimulus absent" are represented by two specialized neuron populations in crows, corvid birds. We recorded single-neuron activity from the nidopallium caudolaterale of crows trained to report the presence or absence of images presented near the visual threshold. Because of the task design, neuronal activity tracking the conscious "present" versus "absent" percept was dissociated from that involved in planning a motor response. Distinct neuron populations signaled the subjective percepts of "present" and "absent" by increases in activation. The response selectivity of these two neuron populations was similar in strength and time course. This suggests a balanced code for subjective "presence" versus "absence" experiences, which might be beneficial when both conscious states need to be maintained active in the service of goal-directed behavior.

RevDate: 2024-01-02

Rodriguez JM, B Bae (2024)

Political Ideology Direction of Policy Agendas and Maternal Mortality Outcomes in the U.S., 1915-2007.

Maternal and child health journal [Epub ahead of print].

OBJECTIVES: The causes for persistently high and increasing maternal mortality rates in the United States have been elusive.

METHODS: We use the shift in the ideological direction of the Republican and the Democratic parties in the 1960s, to test the hypothesis that fluctuations in overall and race-specific maternal mortality rates (MMR) follow the power shifts between the parties before and after the Political Realignment (PR) of the 1960s.

RESULTS: Using time-series data analysis methods, we find that, net of trend, overall and race-specific MMRs were higher under Democratic administrations than Republican ones before the PR (1915-1965)-i.e., when the Democratic Party was a protector of the Jim Crow system. This pattern, however, changed after the PR (1966-2007), with Republican administrations underperforming Democratic ones-i.e., during the period when the Republican Party shifted toward a more economically and socially conservative agenda. The pre-post PR partisan shifts in MMRs were larger for Black (9.5%, [Formula: see text]) relative to White mothers (7.4%, [Formula: see text]) during the study period.

CONCLUSIONS FOR PRACTICE: These findings imply that parties and the ideological direction of their agendas substantively affect the social determinants of maternal health and produce politized health outcomes.

RevDate: 2023-12-30

Xu J (2023)

Comment on "neurotoxicity of 4-nonylphenol in adult zebrafish: Evaluation of behaviour, oxidative stress parameters and histopathology of brain"by Jay K. Desai. et al. [Environmental Pollution 334 (2023): 122206].

In a recent study by Jay K. Desai et al., (Environmental pollution, 2023) the authors extensively documented the effects of long-term exposure to 4-nonylphenol neurotoxicity in zebrafish, including oxidative stress markers, behavioral changes, and neuropathology results. The results indicate that, although Neurotoxicity of 4-nonylphenol did not cause evident changes in zebrafish brain tissue pathology, it significantly induced oxidative stress reactions in the zebrafish brain and altered their exploratory behaviors in response to light and dark stimuli.However, upon reviewing the results of this study, we have identified several questionable outcomes and errors in image usage, leading to some concerns.

RevDate: 2024-01-02
CmpDate: 2024-01-02

Dayan S, Ogilvie P, Boyd C, et al (2024)

Self-perception of natural outcome, appearance, and emotional well-being after OnabotulinumtoxinA treatment for upper facial lines: Post hoc analysis across age and gender.

Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 23(1):107-116.

BACKGROUND: OnabotulinumtoxinA (onabotA) is indicated for upper facial lines (UFL). Fear of unnatural-looking outcomes is a frequently reported treatment barrier.

AIMS: Examine patient-reported outcomes (PROs) after onabotA treatment for UFL.

METHODS: A post hoc analysis was conducted on two 12-month pivotal studies of onabotA for forehead and glabellar lines (20 U each), with/without treatment of crow's feet lines (±24 U). This analysis used PROs from the Facial Line Satisfaction Questionnaire: Items 4 (natural look), 5 (treatment effect), 11 (met expectations), and Impact Domain (appearance and psychological impact). The analysis included 458 neurotoxin-naive adults achieving a ≥2-grade improvement in forehead line (FHL) severity on the Facial Wrinkle Scale at Day 30 (primary endpoint). [Corrections made on 28 December 2023, after first online publication: 'UFL' in the previous sentence has been corrected to 'forehead line (FHL)' in this version.] Data were further stratified into millennials and men.

RESULTS: At Day 30, 90.5% of all participants, 94.6% of millennials, and 85.7% of men were satisfied with receiving a natural look. Millennials had higher odds of being satisfied with natural outcomes at Day 30. This measure remained > 80% for all groups throughout the 12 months. Additionally, ≥80% were satisfied with the treatment effect, and >90% reported results met expectations. At Day 30, ≥50% reported positive impacts on self-perceived appearance and psychological well-being, but millennials had higher, and men had lower odds of reporting these improvements.

CONCLUSIONS: Participants achieving a ≥2-grade improvement in FHL severity after onabotA reported high satisfaction with natural outcomes and the treatment effect, with improved self-perceived appearance and psychological well-being. [Corrections made on 28 December 2023, after first online publication: 'UFL' in the previous sentence has been corrected to 'FHL' in this version.] These results may help aesthetic providers and patients address fears regarding unnatural results with onabotA.

RevDate: 2023-12-27

Watkins SH, Testa C, Simpkin AJ, et al (2023)

An epigenome-wide analysis of DNA methylation, racialized and economic inequities, and air pollution.

bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology.

IMPORTANCE: DNA methylation (DNAm) provides a plausible mechanism by which adverse exposures become embodied and contribute to health inequities, due to its role in genome regulation and responsiveness to social and biophysical exposures tied to societal context. However, scant epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS) have included structural and lifecourse measures of exposure, especially in relation to structural discrimination.

OBJECTIVE: Our study tests the hypothesis that DNAm is a mechanism by which racial discrimination, economic adversity, and air pollution become biologically embodied.

DESIGN: A series of cross-sectional EWAS, conducted in My Body My Story (MBMS, biological specimens collected 2008-2010, DNAm assayed in 2021); and the Multi Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA; biological specimens collected 2010-2012, DNAm assayed in 2012-2013); using new georeferenced social exposure data for both studies (generated in 2022).

SETTING: MBMS was recruited from four community health centers in Boston; MESA was recruited from four field sites in: Baltimore, MD; Forsyth County, NC; New York City, NY; and St. Paul, MN.

PARTICIPANTS: Two population-based samples of US-born Black non-Hispanic (Black NH), white non-Hispanic (white NH), and Hispanic individuals (MBMS; n=224 Black NH and 69 white NH) and (MESA; n=229 Black NH, n=555 white NH and n=191 Hispanic).

EXPOSURES: Eight social exposures encompassing racial discrimination, economic adversity, and air pollution.

MAIN OUTCOME: Genome-wide changes in DNAm, as measured using the Illumina EPIC BeadChip (MBMS; using frozen blood spots) and Illumina 450k BeadChip (MESA; using purified monocytes). Our hypothesis was formulated after data collection.

RESULTS: We observed the strongest associations with traffic-related air pollution (measured via black carbon and nitrogen oxides exposure), with evidence from both studies suggesting that air pollution exposure may induce epigenetic changes related to inflammatory processes. We also found suggestive associations of DNAm variation with measures of structural racial discrimination (e.g., for Black NH participants, born in a Jim Crow state; adult exposure to racialized economic residential segregation) situated in genes with plausible links to effects on health.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Overall, this work suggests that DNAm is a biological mechanism through which structural racism and air pollution become embodied and may lead to health inequities.

RevDate: 2023-12-20

Lipton LR, Prock L, Camarata S, et al (2023)

Developmental Delay and Behavior Challenges in an Internationally Adopted Child.

Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics : JDBP pii:00004703-990000000-00139 [Epub ahead of print].

Jay is a 6-year-old boy who was referred to a multidisciplinary developmental clinic for evaluation because of speech/language delays and challenging behaviors. He attends kindergarten with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) supporting developmental challenges with speech/language, motor, and academic skills.Jay was reportedly born full-term after an uneventful pregnancy and lived with his biological family for several months before transitioning to institutional care. Shortly before his first birthday, he transitioned to the first of 3 foster homes. It is suspected that Jay experienced malnourishment, neglect, lack of appropriate supervision, and inappropriate levels of responsibility (e.g., providing care to an infant when he was a toddler) as well as limited language input while in foster care. Ages at which he attained developmental milestones are unknown, but he has displayed delays across all developmental domains, including speech/language development in his primary language, which is not English.Jay's adoptive parents report that he is learning English vocabulary well but has been noted to have occasional word-finding difficulties and errors in verb conjugation, pronoun use, and syntax in English. Behavioral concerns include impulsivity, hyperactivity, and aggression exacerbated by new or loud environments and transitions. Socially, he seems to be typically engaged with peers but lacks understanding of personal space/boundaries. His adoptive parents have also noted that he is very sensitive to the emotions of others around him, more irritable in the morning, fascinated by "scary" things, and seems to fear abandonment. During the initial months in his adoptive home, he had frequent night awakenings, fear of the dark, and aggression at bedtime, but all these concerns have improved with time.Neuropsychological testing was completed as part of the multidisciplinary developmental evaluation, and Jay demonstrated low-average cognitive abilities, delayed preacademic skills in all language-based areas, and receptive and expressive language delays. He was socially engaged during the evaluation. Ultimately, he was diagnosed with mixed receptive-expressive language disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, combined presentation, and unspecified trauma/stress-related disorder.Given what is known about Jay's early history, what factors would you consider in addressing his parents' concerns regarding his speech/language development and behavior challenges?

RevDate: 2023-12-18

Raymond S, CC St Clair (2023)

Urban Magpies Frequently Feed on Coyote Scats and May Spread an Emerging Zoonotic Tapeworm.

EcoHealth [Epub ahead of print].

Allocoprophagy, in which animals feed on the feces of other individuals or species, has been little studied in vertebrates, despite its relevance to parasite transmission. These relationships may be especially important in cities, where animal density, disease incidence, and spatial overlap of humans and wildlife increase. Our goal was to document the incidence and predictors of coprophagy by black-billed magpies (Pica hudsonia) at coyote (Canis latrans) scats in Edmonton, Canada. We detected scats by following coyote trails and recorded whether coprophagy had occurred. We used multiple logistic regression to determine the top contextual and environmental predictors of coprophagy. Of 668 coyote scats, 37.3% had apparently been fed on. Coprophagy was more likely in winter and when scats were not fresh and did not contain vegetation or garbage. Environmental predictors of coprophagy included proximity to other coyote scats and playgrounds, distance from water and maintained trails, abundant natural land cover, and proximity to encampments of people experiencing homelessness. Our results reveal that magpies frequently access coyote scat and often do so near human-use areas. In Edmonton, where > 50% of coyotes are infected with a zoonotic tapeworm, coprophagy likely causes magpies to transport parasites with implications for zoonotic disease risk.

RevDate: 2023-12-18

Lohrasbi S, Moradi AR, M Sadeghi (2023)

Exploring Emotion Recognition Patterns Among Iranian People Using CANTAB as an Approved Neuro-Psychological Assessment.

Basic and clinical neuroscience, 14(2):289-295.

INTRODUCTION: Emotion recognition is the main component of social cognition and has various patterns in different cultures and nationalities. The present study aimed to investigate emotion recognition patterns among Iranians using the Cambridge neuro-psychological test automated battery (CANTAB) as a valid neuropsychological test.

METHODS: In this descriptive-analytical study, 117 males and females (Mean±SD of age 32.1±6.4) were initially assessed by computerized intelligence and progressive matrices of RAVEN-2. Furthermore, the excitement recognition subtest taken from the Cambridge neuro-psychological test automated battery (CANTAB) was performed. The correct response of participants to each of the six basic emotions as well as the recognition time was used for analysis.

RESULTS: The maximum correct response rate was 75.83% related to happy emotion. The correct responses for sadness, surprise, disgust, anger, and fear were 70%, 68.48%, 47.84%, 42.54%, and 38.26%, respectively. Moreover, the shortest recognition time was related to disgust at 322 ms, while sadness with a mean response time of 1800 ms and fear response time at 1529 ms indicated the longest recognition time. In addition, participants recognized happiness with a mean response time of 1264 ms better than other emotions; however, post-hoc t-test analyses showed that only the correct responses for sadness and surprised emotions did not differ significantly, (t(112)=-0.59, P=0.55, d=0.05). These results suggested that different emotions have various correct responses. However, sadness and surprise did not differ.

CONCLUSION: The findings of this study could be beneficial for evaluating cognitive elements, as well as cognitive abilities and inabilities among the Iranian population. Moreover, the findings could be used for investigating social cognition in this population.

HIGHLIGHTS: Emotion recognition patterns among Iranians were investigated using a valid neuropsychological test.Iranians showed higher accuracy in recognizing happiness and lower accuracy in recognizing fear.Disgust was recognized with the shortest response time, while sadness and fear had the longest recognition time.The findings highlight cultural differences in emotion recognition and can aid in evaluating cognitive abilities and social cognition in the Iranian population.The study emphasizes the importance of considering cultural factors in assessing and understanding emotion recognition.

PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY: Understanding how people recognize emotions is crucial for effective communication and building social connections. However, the ability to recognize emotions can vary across cultures. This study aimed to investigate how Iranians recognize emotions using a reliable test. The researchers assessed 117 Iranian adults, both males and females, using a computer-based test. Participants were asked to identify six basic emotions (happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, fear, and surprise) displayed on a screen. The researchers measured the participants' accuracy in identifying each emotion and the time it took them to recognize it. The findings revealed that Iranians were most accurate in recognizing happiness and least accurate in recognizing fear. They were better at identifying positive emotions like happiness and surprise compared to negative emotions like disgust and anger. Participants took the least time to recognize disgust and the longest time to recognize sadness and fear. These results show that Iranians have specific patterns in recognizing emotions, which can be influenced by cultural factors. Understanding these patterns is important for assessing cognitive abilities and social cognition in the Iranian population. Moreover, these findings have broader implications. They highlight the need to consider cultural differences in emotion recognition, as it can impact communication and social interactions. The study's outcomes can be valuable for various applications. For instance, they can aid in developing tests to assess emotion recognition difficulties in individuals with conditions such as autism or schizophrenia. Furthermore, these findings can be useful for professionals, such as employees in customer service or mental health providers, who need to accurately interpret others' emotions. By shedding light on cultural variations in emotion recognition, this research contributes to our understanding of human emotions and their role in interpersonal relationships.

RevDate: 2023-12-12

Forbes SL, Kjorlien Y, CJ Watson (2023)

The taphonomic impact of scavenger guilds in peri-urban and rural regions of central and southern Alberta. Part I - Identification of forensically relevant vertebrate scavengers.

Journal of forensic sciences [Epub ahead of print].

As a body decomposes in an outdoor environment, numerous taphonomic agents can act on the process of human decomposition. It is important to understand the impact of these agents as they can vary the rate of soft and hard tissue loss which may alter postmortem interval estimations. One taphonomic factor which has not been extensively investigated in many regions of the world, including Canada, are vertebrate scavengers. The current study aimed to identify scavenger guilds in the peri-urban and rural regions of two major cities in Alberta (Calgary and Edmonton) where human remains are frequently located. Vertebrate scavenger activity was recorded continuously using cellular and noncellular trail cameras. Images were analyzed to determine how the scavenging profiles (i.e., scavenger species, arrival time, and feeding behavior) impacted the loss of soft and hard tissue. We identified a range of mammalian and avian scavengers and found that coyote and black-billed magpie were the predominant scavengers recorded at the Edmonton peri-urban and rural sites, and the Calgary peri-urban sites. In contrast, when a site was within bear territory such as the Calgary rural sites, black and grizzly bears were the predominant scavengers. At all sites, the large mammalian scavengers were responsible for most soft tissue loss and subsequent hard tissue dispersal. None of the scavengers demonstrated a clear preference for open versus closed sites. This taphonomic information is important to consider when searching for human remains at these locations or in other North American regions with comparable scavenger guilds.

RevDate: 2023-12-11

Trapote E, Moreno-González V, Canestrari D, et al (2023)

Fitness benefits of alternated chick provisioning in cooperatively breeding carrion crows.

The Journal of animal ecology [Epub ahead of print].

In most bird species, parents raise offspring cooperatively. In some cases, this cooperation extends to helpers-at-the-nest who assist the breeders with a range of tasks. While cooperative food provisioning might merely arise incidentally, as a result of the efforts of carers that act independently from each other, recent studies suggest that birds may coordinate by taking turns in visiting the nest. However, evidence that such coordination emerges because individuals actively respond to each other's behaviour is controversial, and the potential benefits of carers' alternation remain unknown. We addressed this knowledge gap by analysing a multiyear dataset for cooperatively breeding carrion crows Corvus corone, comprising 8693 nest visits across 50 groups. Our results reveal that turn-taking does occur in this species and that all group members, regardless of their sex and social role (breeder/helper), tend to alternate at the nest with other carers rather than to make repeat visits. Importantly, we found that the body mass of nestlings increased significantly with the degree of carers' alternation, possibly because well-coordinated groups provided food at more regular intervals. Using earlier monitoring data, the observed increase in body mass is predicted to substantially boost postfledging survival rates. Our analyses demonstrate that alternation in nestling provisioning has measurable fitness benefits in this study system. This raises the possibility that cooperatively breeding carrion crows, as well as other bird species with similarly coordinated brood provisioning, exhibit specialized behavioural strategies that enable effective alternation.

RevDate: 2023-12-07

Jo H, McCune KB, Jablonski PG, et al (2023)

Long-term memory of experienced jays facilitates problem-solving by naïve group members in the wild.

Scientific reports, 13(1):21593.

Long-term memory affects animal fitness, especially in social species. In these species, the memory of group members facilitates the acquisition of novel foraging skills through social learning when naïve individuals observe and imitate the successful foraging behavior. Long-term memory and social learning also provide the framework for cultural behavior, a trait found in humans but very few other animal species. In birds, little is known about the duration of long-term memories for complex foraging skills, or the impact of long-term memory on group members. We tested whether wild jays remembered a complex foraging task more than 3 years after their initial experience and quantified the effect of this memory on naïve jay behavior. Experienced jays remembered how to solve the task and their behavior had significant positive effects on interactions by naïve group members at the task. This suggests that natural selection may favor long-term memory of solutions to foraging problems to facilitate the persistence of foraging skills that are specifically useful in the local environment in social birds with long lifespans and overlapping generations.

RevDate: 2023-12-07

Gonthier C, Harma K, Z Gavornikova-Baligand (2023)

Development of reasoning performance in Raven's matrices is grounded in the development of effective strategy use.

Journal of experimental psychology. General pii:2024-33542-001 [Epub ahead of print].

Performance in reasoning tasks such as Raven's matrices experiences a dramatic increase over cognitive development, but the mechanisms responsible for this increase are unknown. Many cognitive processes are involved in a matrix task and could potentially change with age; strategy use appears to be a good candidate, as it typically improves over development and has a large impact on reasoning performance in adults. The present study tested the role of effective strategy use in Raven's standard progressive matrices in groups of 6-, 8-, 10-, 12-, 14-, 16-, and 18-year-olds (total N = 474). Strategy use was assessed with behavioral measures of gaze patterns in Raven's matrices. We also measured working memory capacity (WMC), a good predictor of strategy use in adults, using a battery of complex spans. The results showed that the effective strategy of constructive matching substantially increased with age, along with performance. Strategy use mediated over half the effect of age on reasoning performance. Older participants were also better at adapting strategy use to difficulty of the problems. Effective strategy use was beneficial to the same extent for participants of all ages. Age-related improvements in strategy use occurred in tandem with improvements in WMC, but did not appear to be primarily driven by them. Overall, our results indicate that strategy use is a critical underpinning of reasoning performance in children as well as in adults, and that theories of cognitive development of reasoning have to consider the central role of strategy use. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

RevDate: 2023-12-06

Miller R, Davies JR, Schiestl M, et al (2023)

Social influences on delayed gratification in New Caledonian crows and Eurasian jays.

PloS one, 18(12):e0289197 pii:PONE-D-23-21809.

Self-control underlies goal-directed behaviour in humans and other animals. Delayed gratification - a measure of self-control - requires the ability to tolerate delays and/or invest more effort to obtain a reward of higher value over one of lower value, such as food or mates. Social context, in particular, the presence of competitors, may influence delayed gratification. We adapted the 'rotating-tray' paradigm, where subjects need to forgo an immediate, lower-quality (i.e. less preferred) reward for a delayed, higher-quality (i.e. more preferred) one, to test social influences on delayed gratification in two corvid species: New Caledonian crows and Eurasian jays. We compared choices for immediate vs. delayed rewards while alone, in the presence of a competitive conspecific and in the presence of a non-competitive conspecific. We predicted that, given the increased risk of losing a reward with a competitor present, both species would similarly, flexibly alter their choices in the presence of a conspecific compared to when alone. We found that species differed: jays were more likely to select the immediate, less preferred reward than the crows. We also found that jays were more likely to select the immediate, less preferred reward when a competitor or non-competitor was present than when alone, or when a competitor was present compared to a non-competitor, while the crows selected the delayed, highly preferred reward irrespective of social presence. We discuss our findings in relation to species differences in socio-ecological factors related to adult sociality and food-caching (storing). New Caledonian crows are more socially tolerant and moderate cachers, while Eurasian jays are highly territorial and intense cachers that may have evolved under the social context of cache pilfering and cache protection strategies. Therefore, flexibility (or inflexibility) in delay of gratification under different social contexts may relate to the species' social tolerance and related risk of competition.

RevDate: 2023-12-05

Seyyed Hashemi SF, Tehrani-Doost M, R Khosrowabadi (2023)

The Brain Networks Basis for Deductive and Inductive Reasoning: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study.

Basic and clinical neuroscience, 14(4):529-542.

INTRODUCTION: Frontoparietal (FPN) and cingulo-opercular network (CON) control cognitive functions needed in deductive and inductive reasoning via different functional frameworks. The FPN is a fast intuitive system while the CON is slow and analytical. The default-interventionist model presents a serial view of the interaction between intuitive and analytic cognitive systems. This study aims to examine the activity pattern of the FPN and CON from the perspective of the default-interventionist model via reasoning.

METHODS: We employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate cingulo-opercular and frontoparietal network activities in 24 healthy university students during Raven and Wason reasoning tasks. Due to the different operation times of the CON and FPN, the reaction time was assessed as a behavioral factor.

RESULTS: During Raven's advanced progressive matrices (RAPM) test, both the CON and FPN were activated. Also, with the increase in the difficulty level of the Raven test, a linear increase in response time was observed. In contrast, during the Wason's selection task (WST) test, only the activity of FPN was observed.

CONCLUSION: The results of the study support the hypothesis that the default-interventionist model of dual-process theory provides an accurate explanation of the cognitive mechanisms involved in reasoning. Thus, the response method (intuitive/analytical) determines which cognitive skills and brain regions are involved in responding.

HIGHLIGHTS: The cingulo-opercular and fronto-parietal networks (FPNs) control cognitive functions and processes.The frontoparietal network is a fast intuitive system that utilizes short-time attention which is compatible with type 1 processing. In contrast, the cingulo-opercular network (CON) is an analytical time-consuming system that utilizes attention and working memory for a longer time, compatible with type 2 processing.The default-interventionist model of a dual-process theory states that our behaviors are controlled by type 1 processing unless we are confronted with novel and complex problems in which we have no prior experiences.

PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY: The present study examined the activity of two task-based brain networks through performing diffrent type of reasoning tasks. Fronto-parietal and Cingulo-opercular are the two task-based brain networks that are responsible for cognitive control. These two brain networks direct the way to use cognitive skills and executive functions which are necessary to perform cognitive tasks especially higher-order ones as reasoning tasks. Since the two types of inductive and deductive reasoning tasks requier two different bottom-up and top-down cognitive control respectively, different cognitive skills would be needed which affect the activity of fronto-parietal and cingulo-opercular brain networks. Our results showed that through inductive reasoning task which examined by RAVEN, both of the fronto-parietal and cingulo-opercular brain networks were activated but deductive reasoning task which examined by Wason Selection Card test, just the fronto-parietal brain network was activated. It seems that in the case of deductive reasoninf task, there is a higher probability of errors which lead to giving less correct responses. Based on our results, subjects paid not enough attention to details, so had failure to update informations that leaded to responding with errors. Inactivity of cingulo-opercular network through dedeuctive reasoning task clearly showed that the bottom-up cognitive control did not happen successfully. As a result of that, information processing did not proceed properly.

RevDate: 2023-12-04

Srivastava P, Jaarsveld S, K Sangani (2023)

Verbal-analytical rather than visuo-spatial Raven's puzzle solving favors Raven's-like puzzle generation.

Frontiers in psychology, 14:1205056.

Raven's advanced progressive matrices (APM) comprise two types of representational codes, namely visuo-spatial and verbal-analytical, that are used to solve APM puzzles. Studies using analytical, behavioral, and imaging methods have supported the multidimensional perspectives of APM puzzles. The visuo-spatial code is expected to recruit operations more responsive to the visual perception tasks. In contrast, the verbal-analytical code is expected to use operations more responsive to the logical reasoning task and may entail different cognitive strategies. Acknowledging different representational codes used in APM puzzle-solving is critical for a better understanding of APM's performance and their relationship with other tasks, especially creative reasoning. We used the eye-tracking method to investigate the role of two representational codes, visuo-spatial and verbal-analytical, in strategies involved in solving APM puzzles and in generating an APM-like puzzle by using a creative-reasoning task (CRT). Participants took longer time to complete the verbal-analytical than visuo-spatial puzzles. In addition, visuo-analytical than visual-spatial puzzles showed higher progressive and regressive saccade counts, suggesting the use of more response elimination than constructive matching strategies employed while solving verbal-analytical than visuo-spatial puzzles. We observed higher CRT scores when it followed verbal-analytical (Mdn = 84) than visuo-spatial (Mdn = 73) APM puzzles, suggesting puzzle-solving specific strategies affect puzzle-creating task performance. The advantage of verbal-analytical over visuo-spatial puzzle-solving has been discussed in light of shared cognitive processing between APM puzzle-solving and APM-like puzzle-creating task performance.

RevDate: 2023-11-29

Felin Fochesatto C, Cristi-Montero C, Ribeiro Bandeira PF, et al (2023)

A network analysis involving mental difficulties, cognition, physical fitness, 24-hour movement components, fatness, and sociodemographic factors in children.

Journal of exercise science and fitness, 21(4):416-423.

BACKGROUND: Evidence supports the beneficial linear influence of diverse lifestyle behaviors on brain health since childhood; however, multiple behaviors -and not only one-simultaneously affect such outcomes. Therefore, the aim was to explore the multivariate relationship through a network analysis among mental difficulty and cognitive function with physical fitness (PF), 24-h movement components, fatness, and sociodemographic factors in children.

METHODS: Cross-sectional study involved 226 children (52.2 % boys) aged between six and 11 years. Mental difficulties were evaluated through the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and cognitive function by the Raven's Colored Progressive Matrices Test. The body mass index and PF were assessed according to the procedures suggested by the Proesp-Br, while moderate-to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) using accelerometry. The socioeconomic level, sleep, and screen time were evaluated by questionnaires. A network analysis was carried out to evaluate the associations among variables and establish centrality measures.

RESULTS: Age and PF moderated the negative relationship between cognitive function and MVPA. Furthermore, the direct and inverse relationship between cognitive function and mental difficulties appears to be affected by the 24-h movement components. Finally, age, PF, and screen time are the nodes with higher values of expected influence, indicating more sensitivity to interventions for decreasing mental difficulty and improving cognitive function.

CONCLUSION: Mental health and cognitive function were moderated by the multivariate interaction among age, PF, and the three 24-h movement components. Nonetheless, centrality measures from the network analysis suggest that PF, MVPA, and screen time are crucial nodes in order to implement future interventions.

RevDate: 2023-11-28

Rolando A, Basso C, Brunelli N, et al (2023)

The foraging ecology of yellow-billed and red- billed choughs changed between two climatically different years.

Scientific reports, 13(1):20908.

Climate change is affecting the alpine ecosystem at an unprecedented rate, with marked changes in spring phenology and the elevation distribution of birds. Changes in the European Alps are happening rapidly, and it is possible behaviours stand to change from one year to the next. The year 2022 was characterised by climatic extremes: Italy experienced its hottest year ever, and it was the driest since 1800. Here, we assessed whether the foraging ecology of two coexisting upland bird species, the yellow-billed and the red-billed chough, changed from 2021 to 2022. We assessed foraging stay times, flock size, propensity to mixed flocking, foraging home ranges and altitudinal distribution. Stay times of both species when foraging in monospecific flocks significantly shortened in 2022, especially in the case of the red-billed chough. The two corvids are known to influence each other when foraging together. In 2021, as expected, the stay times of the red-billed chough decreased when in the presence of the congener, but this did not occur in 2022. Instead, the yellow-billed chough increased its altitudinal foraging distribution in 2022. The results are in line with the hypothesis that large climate variations may disrupt the foraging ecology of mountain birds. However, as it is not possible to draw solid conclusions from just two years of observations, further field research will have to be planned in the future.

RevDate: 2023-11-25

Parameshwaran D, TC Thiagarajan (2023)

High Variability Periods in the EEG Distinguish Cognitive Brain States.

Brain sciences, 13(11): pii:brainsci13111528.

OBJECTIVE: To describe a novel measure of EEG signal variability that distinguishes cognitive brain states.

METHOD: We describe a novel characterization of amplitude variability in the EEG signal termed "High Variability Periods" or "HVPs", defined as segments when the standard deviation of a moving window is continuously higher than the quartile cutoff. We characterize the parameter space of the metric in terms of window size, overlap, and threshold to suggest ideal parameter choice and compare its performance as a discriminator of brain state to alternate single channel measures of variability such as entropy, complexity, harmonic regression fit, and spectral measures.

RESULTS: We show that the average HVP duration provides a substantially distinct view of the signal relative to alternate metrics of variability and, when used in combination with these metrics, significantly enhances the ability to predict whether an individual has their eyes open or closed and is performing a working memory and Raven's pattern completion task. In addition, HVPs disappear under anesthesia and do not reappear in early periods of recovery.

CONCLUSIONS: HVP metrics enhance the discrimination of various brain states and are fast to estimate.

SIGNIFICANCE: HVP metrics can provide an additional view of signal variability that has potential clinical application in the rapid discrimination of brain states.

RevDate: 2023-11-21

Harrington KJ, Folkertsma R, Auersperg AMI, et al (2023)

Innovative problem solving by wild falcons.

Current biology : CB pii:S0960-9822(23)01462-8 [Epub ahead of print].

Innovation (i.e., a new solution to a familiar problem, or applying an existing behavior to a novel problem[1][,][2]) plays a fundamental role in species' ecology and evolution. It can be a useful measure for cross-group comparisons of behavioral and cognitive flexibility and a proxy for general intelligence.[3][,][4][,][5] Among birds, experimental studies of innovation (and cognition more generally) are largely from captive corvids and parrots,[6][,][7][,][8][,][9][,][10][,][11][,][12] though we lack serious models for avian technical intelligence outside these taxa. Striated caracaras (Phalcoboenus australis) are Falconiformes, sister clade to parrots and passerines,[13][,][14][,][15] and those endemic to the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) show curiosity and neophilia similar to notoriously neophilic kea parrots[16][,][17] and face similar socio-ecological pressures to corvids and parrots.[18][,][19] We tested wild striated caracaras as a new avian model for technical cognition and innovation using a field-applicable 8-task comparative paradigm (adapted from Rössler et al.[20] and Auersperg et al.[21]). The setup allowed us to assess behavior, rate, and flexibility of problem solving over repeated exposure in a natural setting. Like other generalist species with low neophobia,[21][,][22] we predicted caracaras to demonstrate a haptic approach to solving tasks, flexibly switching to new, unsolved problems and improving their performance over time. Striated caracaras performed comparably to tool-using parrots,[20] nearly reaching ceiling levels of innovation in few trials, repeatedly and flexibly solving tasks, and rapidly learning. We attribute our findings to the birds' ecology, including geographic restriction, resource unpredictability, and opportunistic generalism,[23][,][24][,][25] and encourage future work investigating their cognitive abilities in the wild.

RevDate: 2023-11-15

Otieno B, Elson L, Matharu AK, et al (2023)

Neurocognitive and mental health outcomes in children with tungiasis: a cross-sectional study in rural Kenya and Uganda.

Infectious diseases of poverty, 12(1):100.

BACKGROUND: Tungiasis, a neglected tropical parasitosis, disproportionately affects children. Few empirical studies have reported neurocognitive and mental health outcomes of children with ectoparasitic skin diseases like tungiasis. Pathophysiology of tungiasis suggests it could detrimentally affect cognition and behaviour. This study pioneered the investigation of neurocognitive and mental health outcomes in children with tungiasis.

METHODS: This was a multi-site cross-sectional study including 454 quasi-randomly sampled school-children aged 8-14 from 48 randomly selected schools in two counties in Kenya and a district in Uganda. The participants were stratified into infected and uninfected based on the presence of tungiasis. The infected were further classified into mild and severe infection groups based on the intensity of the infection. Adapted, validated, and standardized measures of cognition and mental health such as Raven Matrices and Child Behaviour Checklist were used to collect data. Statistical tests including a multilevel, generalized mixed-effects linear models with family link set to identity were used to compare the scores of uninfected and infected children and to identify other potential risk factors for neurocognitive and behavioural outcomes.

RESULTS: When adjusted for covariates, mild infection was associated with lower scores in literacy [adjusted β(aβ) = - 8.9; 95% confidence interval (CI) - 17.2, - 0.6], language (aβ = - 1.7; 95% CI - 3.2, - 0.3), cognitive flexibility (aβ = - 6.1; 95% CI - 10.4, - 1.7) and working memory (aβ = - 0.3; 95% CI - 0.6, - 0.1). Severe infection was associated with lower scores in literacy (aβ = - 11.0; 95% CI - 19.3, - 2.8), response inhibition, (aβ = - 2.2; 95% CI - 4.2, - 0.2), fine motor control (aβ = - 0.7; 95% CI - 1.1, - 0.4) and numeracy (aβ = - 3; 95% CI - 5.5, - 0.4).

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides first evidence that tungiasis is associated with poor neurocognitive functioning in children. Since tungiasis is a chronic disease with frequent reinfections, such negative effects may potentially impair their development and life achievements.

RevDate: 2023-11-12

Gutema BT, Levecke B, Sorrie MB, et al (2023)

Effectiveness of Intermittent Iron and High-Dose Vitamin A Supplementation on Cognitive Development of Schoolchildren in Southern Ethiopia: A Randomized Placebo Controlled Trial.

The American journal of clinical nutrition pii:S0002-9165(23)66242-2 [Epub ahead of print].

BACKGROUND: Iron is an essential mineral whose deficiency results in cognitive alteration, impaired emotional behaviors, and altered myelination and neurotransmission. In animal models it has been shown that vitamin A (VA) could affect cognition.

OBJECTIVES: The study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of intermittent iron and VA supplementation on cognitive development of schoolchildren, and to assess the interaction between these supplementations.

METHODS: Considering a 2x2 factorial design, 504 children were randomly assigned to one of the four arms: placebo VA and placebo iron supplement; high-dose vitamin VA and placebo iron supplement; iron supplement and placebo VA; and iron and high-dose vitamin VA supplements. Cognitive development was assessed using Raven's Coloured Progressive Matrices, digit span, Tower of London, and visual search tasks.

RESULTS: The mean (± standard deviation (SD)) age of the enrolled children was 9.6 (±1.6) years. One-fifth of the children had iron deficiency or anemia, while 2.9%, 3.9% and 12.1% of children had low iron stores, iron deficiency anemia or VA deficiency, respectively. Intermittent iron supplementation did not result in any significant improvement of children's cognitive development and had a negative effect on the performance index of the visual search task compared to placebo (-0.17 SD, 95% confidence interval: -0.32, -0.02). Effects were evident among children with stunting, thinness, or children coming from under-simulating home environments. High-dose VA supplementation resulted in a significant improvement of digit span z-score with a mean difference of 0.30 SD (95% confidence interval: 0.14, 0.46) compared to placebo VA. VA had a more beneficial impact for girls, children infected with helminths and those from food secure households.

CONCLUSION: In a population where the prevalence of iron deficiency is low, intermittent iron supplementation did not have any or negative effect on the child's cognitive development outcomes. Whereas VA supplementation improved the child's working memory.

RevDate: 2023-11-10

Keene S, Allen S, McCormick AKHG, et al (2023)

Developing and Implementing a Culturally Consonant Treatment Fidelity Support Plan with the Apsáalooke Nation.

International journal of environmental research and public health, 20(21): pii:ijerph20216989.

Treatment fidelity remains underreported in health intervention research, particularly among Indigenous communities. One explanation for this gap is the lack of culturally consonant strategies listed in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Behavior Change Consortium (BCC) treatment fidelity framework, the gold standard for understanding and measuring fidelity. This paper focuses on the development and implementation of a culturally consonant treatment fidelity support plan across two of the five BCC fidelity areas, provider training and treatment delivery, within a chronic illness self-management program for the Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation. Our team selected and adapted strategies from, and added strategies to, the BCC framework, that centered on relational accountability and the Apsáalooke culture. To be culturally consonant, we approached treatment fidelity as supporting Aakbaabaaniilea (Apsáalooke program facilitators) rather than monitoring them. This resulted in the development of a fifth treatment fidelity area: building and fostering relationships. We propose that fidelity to relational accountability is the foundation of successful programs in Indigenous communities. This suggests an important shift from tracking what was conducted in an intervention to prioritizing how things were conducted. We encourage others to view the BCC framework as a starting point in developing fidelity strategies that are consonant with local cultures.

RevDate: 2023-11-10
CmpDate: 2023-11-10

Taffs L, Kerridge I, W Lipworth (2023)

The silent world of assisted reproduction: A qualitative account of communication between doctors and patients undergoing in vitro fertilisation in Australia.

Health expectations : an international journal of public participation in health care and health policy, 26(6):2340-2348.

CONTEXT: In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is now a common assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure globally, with 8 million children alive today having been conceived utilising IVF. For many patients, IVF is a difficult experience with many discontinuing treatment because of emotional, relationship and financial stress, or intolerable physical side effects of hormone treatments.

DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: A qualitative study, in which 31 professionals and 25 patients from the ART sector in Australia were interviewed. The interviews were analysed using codebook thematic analysis.

RESULTS: Our data indicates there are 'silences' within the therapeutic relationship of IVF, which may limit the capacity for patients to prepare emotionally, financially, or medically for the procedure, and may contribute to psychological distress and dissatisfaction with care. These 'silences' include what the patient 'is not told' by their clinician or 'does not hear' and what the patient feels they 'cannot say'.

DISCUSSION: Drawing upon the work of Jay Katz, Charis Thompson, and Miles Little on 'silences' and performance in clinical practice, we argue that although IVF is a complex and multifaceted procedure that is often conducted in a commercial setting, the clinical and therapeutic relationship between doctor and patient remains pivotal to the experiences of patients. The 'silences' within this relationship may impact negatively on decision-making, and on the delivery and experience of care.

CONCLUSIONS: Careful attention to the realities of IVF treatment in the clinic room (and awareness of the performances that hide them) should allow for more present and compassionate care. Such care may leave patients more satisfied with their experience and their choices, regardless of treatment outcomes.

This article draws on interviews with patients who had undergone or were currently undergoing IVF, as well as a range of representatives from the ART community (including reproductive medicine specialists, general practitioners, fertility nurses, counsellors, administrators in ART businesses and embryologists).

RevDate: 2023-11-06

Apostel A, Panichello M, Buschman TJ, et al (2023)

Corvids optimize working memory by categorizing continuous stimuli.

Communications biology, 6(1):1122.

Working memory (WM) is a crucial element of the higher cognition of primates and corvid songbirds. Despite its importance, WM has a severely limited capacity and is vulnerable to noise. In primates, attractor dynamics mitigate the effect of noise by discretizing continuous information. Yet, it remains unclear whether similar dynamics are seen in avian brains. Here, we show jackdaws (Corvus monedula) have similar behavioral biases as humans; memories are less precise and more biased as memory demands increase. Model-based analysis reveal discrete attractors are evenly spread across the stimulus space. Altogether, our comparative approach suggests attractor dynamics in primates and corvids mitigate the effect of noise by systematically drifting towards specific attractors. By demonstrating this effect in an evolutionary distant species, our results strengthen attractor dynamics as general, adaptive biological principle to efficiently use WM.

RevDate: 2023-11-01
CmpDate: 2023-11-01

Pendergraft LT, Marzluff JM, Cross DJ, et al (2023)

American crows that excel at tool use activate neural circuits distinct from less talented individuals.

Nature communications, 14(1):6539.

Tools enable animals to exploit and command new resources. However, the neural circuits underpinning tool use and how neural activity varies with an animal's tool proficiency, are only known for humans and some other primates. We use 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography to image the brain activity of naïve vs trained American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) when presented with a task requiring the use of stone tools. As in humans, talent affects the neural circuits activated by crows as they prepare to execute the task. Naïve and less proficient crows use neural circuits associated with sensory- and higher-order processing centers (the mesopallium and nidopallium), while highly proficient individuals increase activity in circuits associated with motor learning and tactile control (hippocampus, tegmentum, nucleus basorostralis, and cerebellum). Greater proficiency is found primarily in adult female crows and may reflect their need to use more cognitively complex strategies, like tool use, to obtain food.

RevDate: 2023-10-30

Kirschhock ME, A Nieder (2023)

Association neurons in the crow telencephalon link visual signs to numerical values.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 120(45):e2313923120.

Many animals can associate signs with numerical values and use these signs in a goal-directed way during task performance. However, the neuronal basis of this semantic association has only rarely been investigated, and so far only in primates. How mechanisms of number associations are implemented in the distinctly evolved brains of other animal taxa such as birds is currently unknown. Here, we explored this semantic number-sign mapping by recording single-neuron activity in the crows' nidopallium caudolaterale (NCL), a brain structure critically involved in avian numerical cognition. Crows were trained to associate visual shapes with varying numbers of items in a number production task. The responses of many NCL neurons during stimulus presentation reflected the numerical values associated with visual shapes in a behaviorally relevant way. Consistent with the crow's better behavioral performance with signs, neuronal representations of numerical values extracted from shapes were more selective compared to those from dot arrays. The existence of number association neurons in crows points to a phylogenetic preadaptation of the brains of cognitively advanced vertebrates to link visual shapes with numerical meaning.

RevDate: 2023-10-27

Mirzaghavami M, Sadraei J, Pirestani M, et al (2023)

The Role of Some Free-Ranging Animals in the Transmission of Multi-Host Species of Cryptosporidium Spp.

Iranian journal of parasitology, 18(3):313-323.

BACKGROUND: We aimed to characterize Cryptosporidium spp. in rats, cats, pigeons, and crows.

METHODS: Fifty-five animal origin Cryptosporidium spp. genome were identified, genotyped and confirmed by nested PCR and of RFLP-PCR analysis as well as sequenced based on 18s rRNA and gp60 genes in Tehran (2012-2019). Finally, the phylogenetic analysis was performed by MEGA software (version 7).

RESULTS: By the molecular method, Cryptosporidium spp. were detected in 24 (15.2%), 15 (15%), 2 (2%) and 13 (13%) cases of wild rats, cat, pigeon, and crow, respectively. Among the identified species by the RFLP pattern, most isolates were identified as C. parvum (24/157) 17.8% in rats, (15/100) 15% in cats, (13/100) 13%in crew and (2/100) 2% in pigeons; and the rest of the cases were C. muris and C. felis. The results of sequencing did not prove the existence of C. parvum, C. felis, C. muris, and rat genotype. Subtyping of C. parvum was indicated that the dominant subtype family belongs to the IId family and the subtype A20G1 was the most common subtype detected in all hosts while A19G1 was detected in one isolate of cat and pigeon.

CONCLUSION: Free-ranging animals are infected by species/subtype of Cryptosporidium, which can infect humans. This shows by itself the hygienic importance of the free-ranging animals in urban ecosystems. In the transmission of human cryptosporidiosis, the multi-host Cryptosporidium species such as C. parvum, C. felis, and C. muris can be transferred potentially from these animals to humans.

RevDate: 2023-10-26

Kirschhock ME, A Nieder (2023)

Numerical Representation for Action in Crows Obeys the Weber-Fechner Law.

Psychological science [Epub ahead of print].

The psychophysical laws governing the judgment of perceived numbers of objects or events, called the number sense, have been studied in detail. However, the behavioral principles of equally important numerical representations for action are largely unexplored in both humans and animals. We trained two male carrion crows (Corvus corone) to judge numerical values of instruction stimuli from one to five and to flexibly perform a matching number of pecks. Our quantitative analysis of the crows' number production performance shows the same behavioral regularities that have previously been demonstrated for the judgment of sensory numerosity, such as the numerical distance effect, the numerical magnitude effect, and the logarithmical compression of the number line. The presence of these psychophysical phenomena in crows producing number of pecks suggests a unified sensorimotor number representation system underlying the judgment of the number of external stimuli and internally generated actions.

RevDate: 2023-10-20

Bahafid E, Bradtmöller I, Thies AM, et al (2023)

The Arabidopsis SHORTROOT network coordinates shoot apical meristem development with auxin dependent lateral organ initiation.

eLife, 12: pii:83334 [Epub ahead of print].

Plants produce new organs post-embryonically throughout their entire life cycle. This is due to stem cells present in the shoot and root apical meristems, the SAM and RAM, respectively. In the SAM, stem cells are located in the central zone where they divide slowly. Stem cell daughters are displaced laterally and enter the peripheral zone, where their mitotic activity increases and lateral organ primordia are formed. How the spatial arrangement of these different domains is initiated and controlled during SAM growth and development, and how sites of lateral organ primordia are determined in the peripheral zone is not yet completely understood. We found that the SHORTROOT (SHR) transcription factor together with its target transcription factors SCARECROW (SCR), SCARECROW-LIKE23 (SCL23) and JACKDAW (JKD), promotes formation of lateral organs and controls shoot meristem size. SHR, SCR, SCL23 and JKD are expressed in distinct, but partially overlapping patterns in the SAM. They can physically interact and activate expression of key cell cycle regulators such as CYCLIND6;1 (CYCD6;1) to promote the formation of new cell layers. In the peripheral zone, auxin accumulates at sites of lateral organ primordia initiation and activates SHR expression via the auxin response factor MONOPTEROS (MP) and auxin response elements in the SHR promoter. In the central zone, the SHR-target SCL23 physically interacts with the key stem cell regulator WUSCHEL (WUS) to promote stem cell fate. Both SCL23 and WUS expression are subject to negative feedback regulation from stem cells through the CLAVATA signaling pathway. Together, our findings illustrate how SHR-dependent transcription factor complexes act in different domains of the shoot meristem to mediate cell division and auxin dependent organ initiation in the peripheral zone, and coordinate this activity with stem cell maintenance in the central zone of the SAM.

RevDate: 2023-10-19

Prinja S, Bahuguna P, Singh MP, et al (2023)

Refining the provider payment system of India's government-funded health insurance programme: an econometric analysis.

BMJ open, 13(10):e076155 pii:bmjopen-2023-076155.

OBJECTIVES: Reimbursement rates in national health insurance schemes are frequently weighted to account for differences in the costs of service provision. To determine weights for a differential case-based payment system under India's publicly financed national health insurance scheme, the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY), by exploring and quantifying the influence of supply-side factors on the costs of inpatient admissions and surgical procedures.

DESIGN: Exploratory analysis using regression-based cost function on data from a multisite health facility costing study-the Cost of Health Services in India (CHSI) Study.

SETTING: The CHSI Study sample included 11 public sector tertiary care hospitals, 27 public sector district hospitals providing secondary care and 16 private hospitals, from 11 Indian states.

PARTICIPANTS: 521 sites from 57 healthcare facilities in 11 states of India.

INTERVENTIONS: Medical and surgical packages of PM-JAY.

The cost per bed-day and cost per surgical procedure were regressed against a range of factors to be considered as weights including hospital location, presence of a teaching function and ownership. In addition, capacity utilisation, number of beds, specialist mix, state gross domestic product, State Health Index ranking and volume of patients across the sample were included as variables in the models. Given the skewed data, cost variables were log-transformed for some models.

RESULTS: The estimated mean costs per inpatient bed-day and per procedure were 2307 and 10 686 Indian rupees, respectively. Teaching status, annual hospitalisation, bed size, location of hospital and average length of hospitalisation significantly determine the inpatient bed-day cost, while location of hospital and teaching status determine the procedure costs. Cost per bed-day of teaching hospitals was 38-143.4% higher than in non-teaching hospitals. Similarly, cost per bed-day was 1.3-89.7% higher in tier 1 cities, and 19.5-77.3% higher in tier 2 cities relative to tier 3 cities, respectively. Finally, cost per surgical procedure was higher by 10.6-144.6% in teaching hospitals than non-teaching hospitals; 12.9-171.7% higher in tier 1 cities; and 33.4-140.9% higher in tier 2 cities compared with tier 3 cities, respectively.

CONCLUSION: Our study findings support and validate the recently introduced differential provider payment system under the PM-JAY. While our results are indicative of heterogeneity in hospital costs, other considerations of how these weights will affect coverage, quality, cost containment, as well as create incentives and disincentives for provider and consumer behaviour, and integrate with existing price mark-ups for other factors, should be considered to determine the future revisions in the differential pricing scheme.

RevDate: 2023-10-17

Blackburn G, Ashton BJ, Thornton A, et al (2023)

Cognition mediates response to anthropogenic noise in wild Western Australian magpies (Gmynorhina tibicen dorsalis).

Global change biology [Epub ahead of print].

Anthropogenic noise is a pollutant of growing concern, with wide-ranging effects on taxa across ecosystems. Until recently, studies investigating the effects of anthropogenic noise on animals focused primarily on population-level consequences, rather than individual-level impacts. Individual variation in response to anthropogenic noise may result from extrinsic or intrinsic factors. One such intrinsic factor, cognitive performance, varies between individuals and is hypothesised to aid behavioural response to novel stressors. Here, we combine cognitive testing, behavioural focals and playback experiments to investigate how anthropogenic noise affects the behaviour and anti-predator response of Western Australian magpies (Gymnorhina tibicen dorsalis), and to determine whether this response is linked to cognitive performance. We found a significant population-level effect of anthropogenic noise on the foraging effort, foraging efficiency, vigilance, vocalisation rate and anti-predator response of magpies, with birds decreasing their foraging, vocalisation behaviours and anti-predator response, and increasing vigilance when loud anthropogenic noise was present. We also found that individuals varied in their response to playbacks depending on their cognitive performance, with individuals that performed better in an associative learning task maintaining their anti-predator response when an alarm call was played in anthropogenic noise. Our results add to the growing body of literature documenting the adverse effects of anthropogenic noise on wildlife and provide the first evidence for an association between individual cognitive performance and behavioural responses to anthropogenic noise.

RevDate: 2023-10-12

Toyoshima M, Nakaoji K, Hamada K, et al (2023)

Analysis of skin aging patterns using a facial imaging system in patients with atopic dermatitis.

European journal of dermatology : EJD, 33(4):383-393.

BACKGROUND: There are few studies on skin aging in patients with atopic dermatitis (AD).

OBJECTIVES: To clarify the characteristics of facial skin aging in AD patients.

MATERIALS & METHODS: Using facial images obtained by a digital imaging system (VISIA evolution), we compared the severity scores for 10 aging signs in 53 women in the AD group and 29 women in the healthy control group, all 35-49 years old.

RESULTS: The severity scores for fine lines on the forehead, periorbital wrinkles, nasolabial folds, and texture of the mouth contour were significantly higher in the AD group than in the controls. However, in order to exclude a direct effect of dermatitis at the time of measurement, cases with signs of AD at the evaluation site were excluded from the AD group (defined as the AD [non-lesion] group), revealing no statistical significance between the AD (non-lesion) group and the healthy control group for any of the 10 facial signs. Age subset analysis showed that for individuals in their late 40s, the AD (non-lesion) group exhibited significantly higher scores for crow's feet wrinkle and nasolabial fold compared to the healthy control group. Furthermore, these two scores correlated with one other, suggesting that they may be induced by the same factors.

CONCLUSION: The results of this study show that skin aging associated with AD is prominent in areas prone to transient wrinkling by frequent blinking and speaking or facial expressions. Understanding of the need for appropriate AD treatment from a cosmetic perspective may increase patient adherence.

RevDate: 2023-10-09

Graham BA, Szabo I, Cicero C, et al (2023)

Habitat and climate influence hybridization among three genetically distinct Canada jay (Perisoreus canadensis) morphotypes in an avian hybrid zone complex.

Heredity [Epub ahead of print].

Examining the frequency and distribution of hybrids across contact zones provide insights into the factors mediating hybridization. In this study, we examined the effect of habitat and climate on hybridization patterns for three phenotypically, genetically, and ecologically distinct groups of the Canada jay (Perisoreus canadensis) in a secondary contact zone in western North America. Additionally, we tested whether the frequency of hybridization involving the three groups (referred to as Boreal, Pacific and Rocky Mountain morphotypes) is similar across the hybrid zones or whether some pairs have hybridized more frequently than others. We reanalyzed microsatellite, mtDNA and plumage data, and new microsatellite and plumage data for 526 individuals to identify putative genetic and phenotypic hybrids. The genetically and phenotypically distinct groups are associated with different habitats and occupy distinct climate niches across the contact zone. Most putative genetic hybrids (86%) had Rocky Mountain ancestry. Hybrids were observed most commonly in intermediate climate niches and in habitats where Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) overlaps broadly with boreal and subalpine tree species. Our finding that hybrids occupy intermediate climate niches relative to parental morphotypes matches patterns for other plant and animal species found in this region. This study demonstrates how habitat and climate influence hybridization patterns in areas of secondary contact and adds to the growing body of research on tri-species hybrid zones.

RevDate: 2023-10-05

Abou El Ela AA, El-Sehiemy RA, Shaheen AM, et al (2023)

Reliability constrained dynamic generation expansion planning using honey badger algorithm.

Scientific reports, 13(1):16765.

Generation expansion planning (GEP) is a complex, highly constrained, non-linear, discrete and dynamic optimization task aimed at determining the optimum generation technology mix of the best expansion alternative for long-term planning horizon. This paper presents a new framework to study the GEP in a multi-stage horizon with reliability constrained. GEP problem is presented to minimize the capital investment costs, salvage value cost, operation and maintenance, and outage cost under several constraints over planning horizon. Added to that, the spinning reserve, fuel mix ratio and reliability in terms of Loss of Load Probability are maintained. Moreover, to decrease the GEP problem search space and reduce the computational time, some modifications are proposed such as the Virtual mapping procedure, penalty factor approach, and the modified of intelligent initial population generation. For solving the proposed reliability constrained GEP problem, a novel honey badger algorithm (HBA) is developed. It is a meta-heuristic search algorithm inspired from the intelligent foraging behavior of honey badger to reach its prey. In HBA, the dynamic search behavior of honey badger with digging and honey finding approaches is formulated into exploration and exploitation phases. Added to that, several modern meta-heuristic optimization algorithms are employed which are crow search algorithm, aquila optimizer, bald eagle search and particle swarm optimization. These algorithms are applied, in a comparative manner, for three test case studies for 6-year, 12-year, and 24-year of short- and long-term planning horizon having five types of candidate units. The obtained results by all these proposed algorithms are compared and validated the effectiveness and superiority of the HBA over the other applied algorithms.

RevDate: 2023-10-04
CmpDate: 2023-10-04

Jahn JL, Zubizarreta D, Chen JT, et al (2023)

Legislating Inequity: Structural Racism In Groups Of State Laws And Associations With Premature Mortality Rates.

Health affairs (Project Hope), 42(10):1325-1333.

Most evaluations of health equity policy have focused on the effects of individual laws. However, multiple laws' combined effects better reflect the crosscutting nature of structurally racist legal regimes. To measure the combined effects of multiple laws, we used latent class analysis, a method for detecting unobserved "subgroups" in a population, to identify clusters of US states based on thirteen structural racism-related legal domains in 2013. We identified three classes of states: one with predominantly harmful laws ([Formula: see text]), another with predominantly protective laws ([Formula: see text]), and a third with a mix of both ([Formula: see text]). Premature mortality rates overall-defined as deaths before age seventy-five per 100,000 population-were highest in states with predominantly harmful laws, which included eighteen states with past Jim Crow laws. This study offers a new method for measuring structural racism on the basis of how groups of laws are associated with premature mortality rates.

RevDate: 2023-10-03

van Hasselt SJ, Coscia M, Allocca G, et al (2023)

Seasonal variation in sleep time: jackdaws sleep when it is dark, but do they really need it?.

Journal of comparative physiology. B, Biochemical, systemic, and environmental physiology [Epub ahead of print].

Sleep is an important behavioural and physiological state that is ubiquitous throughout the animal kingdom. Birds are an interesting group to study sleep since they share similar sleep features with mammals. Interestingly, sleep time in birds has been shown to vary greatly amongst seasons. To understand the mechanisms behind these variations in sleep time, we did an electro-encephalogram (EEG) study in eight European jackdaws (Coloeus monedula) in winter and summer under outdoor seminatural conditions. To assess whether the amount and pattern of sleep is determined by the outdoor seasonal state of the animals or directly determined by the indoor light-dark cycle, we individually housed them indoors where we manipulated the light-dark (LD) cycles to mimic long winter nights (8:16 LD) and short summer nights (16:8 LD) within both seasons. Jackdaws showed under seminatural outdoor conditions 5 h less sleep in summer compared to winter. During the indoor conditions, the birds rapidly adjusted their sleep time to the new LD cycle. Although they swiftly increased or decreased their sleep time, sleep intensity did not vary. The results indicate that the strong seasonal differences in sleep time are largely and directly driven by the available dark time, rather than an endogenous annual clock. Importantly, these findings confirm that sleep in birds is not a rigid phenomenon but highly sensitive to environmental factors.

RevDate: 2023-10-03

Wang X, Kostrzewa C, Reiner A, et al (2023)

Adaptation of a Mutual Exclusivity Framework to Identify Driver Mutations within Biological Pathways.

bioRxiv : the preprint server for biology pii:2023.09.19.558469.

Distinguishing genomic alterations in cancer genes that have functional impact on tumor growth and disease progression from the ones that are passengers and confer no fitness advantage has important clinical implications. Evidence-based methods for nominating drivers are limited by existing knowledge on the oncogenic effects and therapeutic benefits of specific variants from clinical trials or experimental settings. As clinical sequencing becomes a mainstay of patient care, applying computational methods to mine the rapidly growing clinical genomic data holds promise in uncovering novel functional candidates beyond the existing knowledge-base and expanding the patient population that could potentially benefit from genetically targeted therapies. We propose a statistical and computational method (MAGPIE) that builds on a likelihood approach leveraging the mutual exclusivity pattern within an oncogenic pathway for identifying probabilistically both the specific genes within a pathway and the individual mutations within such genes that are truly the drivers. Alterations in a cancer gene are assumed to be a mixture of driver and passenger mutations with the passenger rates modeled in relationship to tumor mutational burden. A limited memory BFGS algorithm is used to facilitate large scale optimization. We use simulations to study the operating characteristics of the method and assess false positive and false negative rates in driver nomination. When applied to a large study of primary melanomas the method accurately identified the known driver genes within the RTK-RAS pathway and nominated a number of rare variants with previously unknown biological and clinical relevance as prime candidates for functional validation.

RevDate: 2023-09-30

Ręk P, RD Magrath (2023)

The quality of avian vocal duets can be assessed independently of the spatial separation of signallers.

Scientific reports, 13(1):16438.

Interactions among groups are often mediated through signals, including coordinated calls such as duets, and the degree of temporal coordination within a group can affect signal efficacy. However, in addition to intrinsic duet quality, the spatial arrangement of callers also affects the timing of calls. So, can listeners discriminate temporal effects caused by intrinsic duet quality compared to spatial arrangement? Such discrimination would allow assessment of quality of duets produced by a pair, as distinct from transient extrinsic spatial effects. To address this issue, we studied experimentally the influence of intrinsic duet quality and spatial arrangement on the efficacy of Australian magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) vocal duets. Breeding pairs duet at varying distances from each other and to multiple neighbours. Coordinated duets are more effective territorial signals than uncoordinated duets, but it remains unclear whether listeners can discriminate the effects of quality and spatial arrangement. Our playback experiment showed that any deviation from perfect regularity of partners' notes reduced duet efficacy, but that lack of coordination due to spatial separation (slower tempo and offset of notes) had a lower effect on efficacy than effects due to intrinsic quality (irregularity). Our results therefore provide experimental evidence that the temporal organisation of group vocalisations could signal coalition quality independently of spatial effects.

RevDate: 2023-09-27

Fan Y, Yang H, Wang Y, et al (2023)

A Variable Step Crow Search Algorithm and Its Application in Function Problems.

Biomimetics (Basel, Switzerland), 8(5): pii:biomimetics8050395.

Optimization algorithms are popular to solve different problems in many fields, and are inspired by natural principles, animal living habits, plant pollinations, chemistry principles, and physic principles. Optimization algorithm performances will directly impact on solving accuracy. The Crow Search Algorithm (CSA) is a simple and efficient algorithm inspired by the natural behaviors of crows. However, the flight length of CSA is a fixed value, which makes the algorithm fall into the local optimum, severely limiting the algorithm solving ability. To solve this problem, this paper proposes a Variable Step Crow Search Algorithm (VSCSA). The proposed algorithm uses the cosine function to enhance CSA searching abilities, which greatly improves both the solution quality of the population and the convergence speed. In the update phase, the VSCSA increases population diversities and enhances the global searching ability of the basic CSA. The experiment used 14 test functions,2017 CEC functions, and engineering application problems to compare VSCSA with different algorithms. The experiment results showed that VSCSA performs better in fitness values, iteration curves, box plots, searching paths, and the Wilcoxon test results, which indicates that VSCSA has strong competitiveness and sufficient superiority. The VSCSA has outstanding performances in various test functions and the searching accuracy has been greatly improved.

RevDate: 2023-09-14

Becker D, Meisenberg G, Dutton E, et al (2023)

International differences in the speed of cognitive development: A systematic examination of the existence of the Simber Effect.

Acta psychologica, 240:104015 pii:S0001-6918(23)00191-9 [Epub ahead of print].

The Simber Effect refers to the phenomenon whereby, in Arabic countries, young children have an IQ that is little different from that of Western children but that these differences increase throughout childhood culminating in a difference of around 20 points by adulthood. The true nature of this phenomenon is revealed by an examination of 125 samples from all around the globe measured with Raven's Progressive Matrices. We show that in many cases different speeds of cognitive development increase the IQ score differences between countries mostly between 4 and 9 years of age, and that these increases can in part be explained by poor environmental conditions. However, the patterns are not completely clear, either in terms of regularity or strengths. Methodological problems, in particular the cross-sectional designs of the included samples, as well as the significance of the Simber Effect for country comparisons in intelligence are discussed.

RevDate: 2023-08-28

Mohanty SK, Upadhyay AK, Maiti S, et al (2023)

Public health insurance coverage in India before and after PM-JAY: repeated cross-sectional analysis of nationally representative survey data.

BMJ global health, 8(8):.

INTRODUCTION: The provision of non-contributory public health insurance (NPHI) to marginalised populations is a critical step along the path to universal health coverage. We aimed to assess the extent to which Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY)-potentially, the world's largest NPHI programme-has succeeded in raising health insurance coverage of the poorest two-fifths of the population of India.

METHODS: We used nationally representative data from the National Family Health Survey on 633 699 and 601 509 households in 2015-2016 (pre-PM-JAY) and 2019-2021 (mostly, post PM-JAY), respectively. We stratified by urban/rural and estimated NPHI coverage nationally, and by state, district and socioeconomic categories. We decomposed coverage variance between states, districts, and households and measured socioeconomic inequality in coverage. For Uttar Pradesh, we tested whether coverage increased most in districts where PM-JAY had been implemented before the second survey and whether coverage increased most for targeted poorer households in these districts.

RESULTS: We estimated that NPHI coverage increased by 11.7 percentage points (pp) (95% CI 11.0% to 12.4%) and 8.0 pp (95% CI 7.3% to 8.7%) in rural and urban India, respectively. In rural areas, coverage increased most for targeted households and pro-rich inequality decreased. Geographical inequalities in coverage narrowed. Coverage did not increase more in states that implemented PM-JAY. In Uttar Pradesh, the coverage increase was larger by 3.4 pp (95% CI 0.9% to 6.0%) and 4.2 pp (95% CI 1.2% to 7.1%) in rural and urban areas, respectively, in districts exposed to PM-JAY and the increase was 3.5 pp (95% CI 0.9% to 6.1%) larger for targeted households in these districts.

CONCLUSION: The introduction of PM-JAY coincided with increased public health insurance coverage and decreased inequality in coverage. But the gains cannot all be plausibly attributed to PM-JAY, and they are insufficient to reach the goal of universal coverage of the poor.

RevDate: 2023-08-28

Hutton HE, Aggarwal S, Gillani A, et al (2023)

A Digital Counselor-Delivered Intervention for Substance Use Among People With HIV: Development and Usability Study.

JMIR formative research, 7:e40260 pii:v7i1e40260.

BACKGROUND: Substance use disorders are prevalent and undertreated among people with HIV. Computer-delivered interventions (CDIs) show promise in expanding reach, delivering evidence-based care, and offering anonymity. Use in HIV clinic settings may overcome access barriers. Incorporating digital counselors may increase CDI engagement, and thereby improve health outcomes.

OBJECTIVE: We aim to develop and pilot a digital counselor-delivered brief intervention for people with HIV who use drugs, called "C-Raven," which is theory grounded and uses evidence-based practices for behavior change.

METHODS: Intervention mapping was used to develop the CDI including a review of the behavior change research in substance use, HIV, and digital counselors. We conducted in-depth interviews applying the situated-information, motivation, and behavior skills model and culturally adapting the content for local use with people with HIV. With a user interaction designer, we created various digital counselors and CDI interfaces. Finally, a mixed methods approach using in-depth interviews and quantitative assessments was used to assess the usability, acceptability, and cultural relevance of the intervention content and the digital counselor.

RESULTS: Participants found CDI easy to use, useful, relevant, and motivating. A consistent suggestion was to provide more information about the negative impacts of drug use and the interaction of drug use with HIV. Participants also reported that they learned new information about drug use and its health effects. The CDI was delivered by a "Raven," digital counselor, programmed to interact in a motivational interviewing style. The Raven was perceived to be nonjudgmental, understanding, and emotionally responsive. The appearance and images in the intervention were perceived as relevant and acceptable. Participants noted that they could be more truthful with a digital counselor, however, it was not unanimously endorsed as a replacement for a human counselor. The C-Raven Satisfaction Scale showed that all participants rated their satisfaction at either a 4 (n=2) or a 5 (n=8) on a 5-point Likert scale and all endorsed using the C-Raven program again.

CONCLUSIONS: CDIs show promise in extending access to care and improving health outcomes but their development necessarily requires integration from multiple disciplines including behavioral medicine and computer science. We developed a cross-platform compatible CDI led by a digital counselor that interacts in a motivational interviewing style and (1) uses evidence-based behavioral change methods, (2) is culturally adapted to people with HIV who use drugs, (3) has an engaging and interactive user interface, and (4) presents personalized content based on participants' ongoing responses to a series of menu-driven conversations. To advance the continued development of this and other CDIs, we recommend expanded testing, standardized measures to evaluate user experience, integration with clinician-delivered substance use treatment, and if effective, implementation into HIV clinical care.

RevDate: 2023-08-24

Zhu ZQ, Zi SM, Gao LF, et al (2023)

A diagnosis model of parental care: How parents optimize their provisioning strategy in brood reduction?.

Current zoology, 69(4):385-392.

Altricial birds often display biased preferences in providing parental care for their dependent offspring, especially during food shortages. During this process, such inflexible rules may result in provisioning errors. To demonstrate how parents optimize their provisioning strategies, we proposed a "diagnosis model" of parental care to posit that parents will undergo a diagnosis procedure to test whether selecting against some particular offspring based on phenotype is an optimal strategy. We tested this model in an asynchronous hatching bird, the Azure-winged Magpie Cyanopica cyanus, based on 10 years of data about demography and parental provisioning behaviors. Given their higher daily survival rates, core offspring (those hatched on the first day) merits an investment priority compared with their marginal brood mates (those hatched on later days). However, a marginal offspring also merited a priority if it displayed greater weight gain than the expected value at the early post-hatching days. Parents could detect such a marginal offspring via a diagnosis strategy, in which they provisioned the brood at the diagnosis stage by delivering food to every nestling that begged, then biased food toward high-value nestlings at the subsequent decision stage by making a negative response to the begging of low-value nestlings. In this provisioning strategy, the growth performance of a nestling became a more reliable indicator of its investment value than its hatching order or competitive ability. Our findings provide evidence for this "diagnosis model of parental care" wherein parents use a diagnosis method to optimize their provisioning strategy in brood reduction.

RevDate: 2023-08-22
CmpDate: 2023-08-22

Lu C, Gudowska A, J Rutkowska (2023)

What do zebra finches learn besides singing? Systematic mapping of the literature and presentation of an efficient associative learning test.

Animal cognition, 26(5):1489-1503.

The process of learning in birds has been extensively studied, with a focus on species such as pigeons, parrots, chickens, and crows. In recent years, the zebra finch has emerged as a model species in avian cognition, particularly in song learning. However, other cognitive domains such as spatial memory and associative learning could also be critical to fitness and survival, particularly during the intensive juvenile period. In this systematic review, we provide an overview of cognitive studies on zebra finches, with a focus on domains other than song learning. Our findings indicate that spatial, associative, and social learning are the most frequently studied domains, while motoric learning and inhibitory control have been examined less frequently over 30 years of research. All of the 60 studies included in this review were conducted on captive birds, limiting the generalizability of the findings to wild populations. Moreover, only two of the studies were conducted on juveniles, highlighting the need for more research on this critical period of learning. To address this research gap, we propose a high-throughput method for testing associative learning performance in a large number of both juvenile and adult zebra finches. Our results demonstrate that learning can occur in both age groups, thus encouraging researchers to also perform cognitive tests on juveniles. We also note the heterogeneity of methodologies, protocols, and subject exclusion criteria applied by different researchers, which makes it difficult to compare results across studies. Therefore, we call for better communication among researchers to develop standardised methodologies for studying each cognitive domain at different life stages and also in their natural conditions.

RevDate: 2023-08-21

Holzinger A, Saranti A, Angerschmid A, et al (2023)

Toward human-level concept learning: Pattern benchmarking for AI algorithms.

Patterns (New York, N.Y.), 4(8):100788.

Artificial intelligence (AI) today is very successful at standard pattern-recognition tasks due to the availability of large amounts of data and advances in statistical data-driven machine learning. However, there is still a large gap between AI pattern recognition and human-level concept learning. Humans can learn amazingly well even under uncertainty from just a few examples and are capable of generalizing these concepts to solve new conceptual problems. The growing interest in explainable machine intelligence requires experimental environments and diagnostic/benchmark datasets to analyze existing approaches and drive progress in pattern analysis and machine intelligence. In this paper, we provide an overview of current AI solutions for benchmarking concept learning, reasoning, and generalization; discuss the state-of-the-art of existing diagnostic/benchmark datasets (such as CLEVR, CLEVRER, CLOSURE, CURI, Bongard-LOGO, V-PROM, RAVEN, Kandinsky Patterns, CLEVR-Humans, CLEVRER-Humans, and their extension containing human language); and provide an outlook of some future research directions in this exciting research domain.

RevDate: 2023-08-21

Matsuda K, Shinohara M, Ii Y, et al (2023)

Magnetic resonance imaging and neuropsychological findings for predicting of cognitive deterioration in memory clinic patients.

Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 15:1155122.

OBJECTIVE: The severity of cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been assessed using hypertensive arteriopathy SVD and cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA)-SVD scores. In addition, we reported the modified CAA-SVD score including cortical microinfarcts and posterior dominant white matter hyperintensity. Each SVD score has been associated with cognitive function, but the longitudinal changes remain unclear. Therefore, this study prospectively examined the prognostic value of each SVD score, imaging findings of cerebral SVD, and neuropsychological assessment.

METHODS: This study included 29 patients diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia at memory clinic in our hospital, who underwent clinical dementia rating (CDR) and brain MRI (3D-fluid attenuated inversion recovery, 3D-double inversion recovery, and susceptibility-weighted imaging) at baseline and 1 year later. Each SVD score and neuropsychological tests including the Mini-Mental State Examination, Japanese Raven's Colored Progressive Matrices, Trail Making Test -A/-B, and the Rivermead Behavioral Memory Test were evaluated at baseline and 1 year later.

RESULTS: Twenty patients had unchanged CDR (group A), while nine patients had worsened CDR (group B) after 1 year. At baseline, there was no significant difference in each SVD score; after 1 year, group B had significantly increased CAA-SVD and modified CAA-SVD scores. Group B also showed a significantly higher number of lobar microbleeds than group A at baseline. Furthermore, group B had significantly longer Japanese Raven's Colored Progressive Matrices and Trail Making test-A times at baseline. After 1 year, group B had significantly lower Mini-Mental State Examination, Japanese Raven's Colored Progressive Matrices, and Rivermead Behavioral Memory Test scores and significantly fewer word fluency (letters).

CONCLUSION: Patients with worsened CDR 1 year after had a higher number of lobar microbleeds and prolonged psychomotor speed at baseline. These findings may become predictors of cognitive deterioration in patients who visit memory clinics.

RevDate: 2023-08-18

Hahner L, A Nieder (2023)

Costs and benefits of voluntary attention in crows.

Royal Society open science, 10(8):230517.

Behavioural signatures of voluntary, endogenous selective attention have been found in both mammals and birds, but the relationship between performance benefits at attended and costs at unattended locations remains unclear. We trained two carrion crows (Corvus corone) on a Posner-like spatial cueing task with dissociated cue and target locations, using both highly predictive and neutral central cues to compare reaction time (RT) and detection accuracy for validly, invalidly and neutrally cued targets. We found robust RT effects of predictive cueing at varying stimulus-onset asynchronies (SOA) that resulted from both advantages at cued locations and costs at un-cued locations. Both crows showed cueing effects around 15-25 ms with an early onset at 100 ms SOA, comparable to macaques. Our results provide a direct assessment of costs and benefits of voluntary attention in a bird species. They show that crows are able to guide spatial attention using associative cues, and that the processing advantage at attended locations impairs performance at unattended locations.

RevDate: 2023-08-11

Zhu G, Zheng M, Lyu S, et al (2023)

Report of a magpie preying on a post-fledgling Daurian redstart.

Ecology and evolution, 13(8):e10412.

A magpie (Pica pica) preying on a fledgling of Daurian redstart (Phoenicurus auroreus) was incidentally recorded with a video shot by mobile phone on 26 May 2021, providing direct evidence for magpie predation. It also shows that predation is an important factor that affects the survival of fledglings, indicating that survival of fledglings should be considered in evaluating breeding success of birds. The fledgling was about 13-day-old posthatching, and it was on its first day of leaving the nest when the incident occurred. It was preyed upon by a magpie 10 m away from the nest by two attempts under strong defensive behaviour from the female.

RevDate: 2023-08-10

Xu M, Yu X, Fan B, et al (2023)

Influence of Mode of Delivery on Children's Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Childhood Intelligence.

Psychiatry investigation pii:pi.2022.0310 [Epub ahead of print].

OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether differences exist in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and intelligence between children born by cesarean delivery and those born by vaginal delivery.

METHODS: This retrospective study included singleton children that were born between January 2013 and December 2014. The Chinese version of the Conners' Parent Rating Scale-Revised (CPRS-48) was required on the probability of psychological and behavioral problems. The China-Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (C-WIRS) was used for evaluation of crystallized intelligence and Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices for evaluation of fluid intelligence.

RESULTS: A total of 10,568 valid questionnaires were obtained. CPRS-48 ADHD index and detection rate were higher in cesarean delivery group than those in vaginal delivery group. Cesarean delivery groups had a lower performance intelligence quotient score according to C-WISC.

CONCLUSION: Children born by cesarean delivery were more likely to have a risk of ADHD and a lower performance intelligence quotient compared with those born by vaginal delivery.


RJR Experience and Expertise


Robbins holds BS, MS, and PhD degrees in the life sciences. He served as a tenured faculty member in the Zoology and Biological Science departments at Michigan State University. He is currently exploring the intersection between genomics, microbial ecology, and biodiversity — an area that promises to transform our understanding of the biosphere.


Robbins has extensive experience in college-level education: At MSU he taught introductory biology, genetics, and population genetics. At JHU, he was an instructor for a special course on biological database design. At FHCRC, he team-taught a graduate-level course on the history of genetics. At Bellevue College he taught medical informatics.


Robbins has been involved in science administration at both the federal and the institutional levels. At NSF he was a program officer for database activities in the life sciences, at DOE he was a program officer for information infrastructure in the human genome project. At the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, he served as a vice president for fifteen years.


Robbins has been involved with information technology since writing his first Fortran program as a college student. At NSF he was the first program officer for database activities in the life sciences. At JHU he held an appointment in the CS department and served as director of the informatics core for the Genome Data Base. At the FHCRC he was VP for Information Technology.


While still at Michigan State, Robbins started his first publishing venture, founding a small company that addressed the short-run publishing needs of instructors in very large undergraduate classes. For more than 20 years, Robbins has been operating The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project, a web site dedicated to the digital publishing of critical works in science, especially classical genetics.


Robbins is well-known for his speaking abilities and is often called upon to provide keynote or plenary addresses at international meetings. For example, in July, 2012, he gave a well-received keynote address at the Global Biodiversity Informatics Congress, sponsored by GBIF and held in Copenhagen. The slides from that talk can be seen HERE.


Robbins is a skilled meeting facilitator. He prefers a participatory approach, with part of the meeting involving dynamic breakout groups, created by the participants in real time: (1) individuals propose breakout groups; (2) everyone signs up for one (or more) groups; (3) the groups with the most interested parties then meet, with reports from each group presented and discussed in a subsequent plenary session.


Robbins has been engaged with photography and design since the 1960s, when he worked for a professional photography laboratory. He now prefers digital photography and tools for their precision and reproducibility. He designed his first web site more than 20 years ago and he personally designed and implemented this web site. He engages in graphic design as a hobby.

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This is a must read book for anyone with an interest in invasion biology. The full title of the book lays out the author's premise — The New Wild: Why Invasive Species Will Be Nature's Salvation. Not only is species movement not bad for ecosystems, it is the way that ecosystems respond to perturbation — it is the way ecosystems heal. Even if you are one of those who is absolutely convinced that invasive species are actually "a blight, pollution, an epidemic, or a cancer on nature", you should read this book to clarify your own thinking. True scientific understanding never comes from just interacting with those with whom you already agree. R. Robbins

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Collection of publications by R J Robbins

Reprints and preprints of publications, slide presentations, instructional materials, and data compilations written or prepared by Robert Robbins. Most papers deal with computational biology, genome informatics, using information technology to support biomedical research, and related matters.

Research Gate page for R J Robbins

ResearchGate is a social networking site for scientists and researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators. According to a study by Nature and an article in Times Higher Education , it is the largest academic social network in terms of active users.

Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

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Curriculum Vitae for R J Robbins

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RJR Picks from Around the Web (updated 11 MAY 2018 )