Tag Archives: Science Daily

New York University study: Machine learning helps spot counterfeit consumer products

13 Aug

OECD reported in Global trade in fake goods worth nearly half a trillion dollars a year – OECD & EUIPO:

18/04/2016 – Imports of counterfeit and pirated goods are worth nearly half a trillion dollars a year, or around 2.5% of global imports, with US, Italian and French brands the hardest hit and many of the proceeds going to organised crime, according to a new report by the OECD and the EU’s Intellectual Property Office.
“Trade in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Mapping the Economic Impact” puts the value of imported fake goods worldwide at USD 461 billion in 2013, compared with total imports in world trade of USD 17.9 trillion. Up to 5% of goods imported into the European Union are fakes. Most originate in middle income or emerging countries, with China the top producer.
The report analyses nearly half a million customs seizures around the world over 2011-13 to produce the most rigorous estimate to date of the scale of counterfeit trade. It points to a larger volume than a 2008 OECD study which estimated fake goods accounted for up to 1.9% of global imports, though the 2008 study used more limited data and methodology.
“The findings of this new report contradict the image that counterfeiters only hurt big companies and luxury goods manufacturers. They take advantage of our trust in trademarks and brand names to undermine economies and endanger lives,” said OECD Deputy Secretary-General Doug Frantz, launching the report with EUIPO Executive Director António Campinos as part of OECD Integrity Week.
Fake products crop up in everything from handbags and perfumes to machine parts and chemicals. Footwear is the most-copied item though trademarks are infringed even on strawberries and bananas. Counterfeiting also produces knockoffs that endanger lives – auto parts that fail, pharmaceuticals that make people sick, toys that harm children, baby formula that provides no nourishment and medical instruments that deliver false readings.\
The report covers all physical counterfeit goods, which infringe trademarks, design rights or patents, and tangible pirated products, which breach copyright. It does not cover online piracy, which is a further drain on the formal economy… http://www.oecd.org/industry/global-trade-in-fake-goods-worth-nearly-half-a-trillion-dollars-a-year.htm

See, Remade In China: Where The World’s Fake Goods Come From [Infographic] https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2016/04/19/remade-in-china-where-the-worlds-fake-goods-come-from-infographic/#5a56fb5f1b87

SAS described machine learning in Machine Learning: What it is & why it matters:

Machine learning is a method of data analysis that automates analytical model building. Using algorithms that iteratively learn from data, machine learning allows computers to find hidden insights without being explicitly programmed where to look.
The iterative aspect of machine learning is important because as models are exposed to new data, they are able to independently adapt. They learn from previous computations to produce reliable, repeatable decisions and results. It’s a science that’s not new – but one that’s gaining fresh momentum.
Because of new computing technologies, machine learning today is not like machine learning of the past. While many machine learning algorithms have been around for a long time, the ability to automatically apply complex mathematical calculations to big data – over and over, faster and faster – is a recent development. Here are a few widely publicized examples of machine learning applications that you may be familiar with:
• The heavily hyped, self-driving Google car? The essence of machine learning.
• Online recommendation offers like those from Amazon and Netflix? Machine learning applications for everyday life.
• Knowing what customers are saying about you on Twitter? Machine learning combined with linguistic rule creation.
• Fraud detection? One of the more obvious, important uses in our world today.
Why the increased interest in machine learning?
Resurging interest in machine learning is due to the same factors that have made data mining and Bayesian analysis more popular than ever. Things like growing volumes and varieties of available data, computational processing that is cheaper and more powerful, and affordable data storage.
All of these things mean it’s possible to quickly and automatically produce models that can analyze bigger, more complex data and deliver faster, more accurate results – even on a very large scale. The result? High-value predictions that can guide better decisions and smart actions in real time without human intervention…. https://www.sas.com/en_id/insights/analytics/machine-learning.html

See, What is Machine Learning? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_uwKZIAeM0

Science Daily reported in Machine learning helps spot counterfeit consumer products:

A team of researchers has developed a new mechanism that uses machine-learning algorithms to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit versions of the same product.
The work, led by New York University Professor Lakshminarayanan Subramanian, will be presented on Mon., Aug. 14 at the annual KDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining in Halifax, Nova Scotia….
The system described in the presentation is commercialized by Entrupy Inc., an NYU startup founded by Ashlesh Sharma, a doctoral graduate from the Courant Institute, Vidyuth Srinivasan, and Subramanian.
Counterfeit goods represent a massive worldwide problem with nearly every high-valued physical object or product directly affected by this issue, the researchers note. Some reports indicate counterfeit trafficking represents 7 percent of the world’s trade today.
While other counterfeit-detection methods exist, these are invasive and run the risk of damaging the products under examination.
The Entrupy method, by contrast, provides a non-intrusive solution to easily distinguish authentic versions of the product produced by the original manufacturer and fake versions of the product produced by counterfeiters….
“The classification accuracy is more than 98 percent, and we show how our system works with a cellphone to verify the authenticity of everyday objects,” notes Subramanian.
A demo of the technology may be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsdsY8-gljg (courtesy of Entrupy Inc.)
To date, Entrupy, which recently received $2.6 million in funding from a team of investors, has authenticated $14 million worth of goods.

Citation:

Machine learning helps spot counterfeit consumer products
Date: August 11, 2017
Source: New York University
Summary:
A team of researchers has developed a new mechanism that uses machine-learning algorithms to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit versions of the same product.

Here is the NYU press release:

News Release
Researchers Use Machine Learning to Spot Counterfeit Consumer Products
________________________________________
Aug 11, 2017
Engineering, Science and Technology Research Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences Faculty
New York City
A team of researchers has developed a new mechanism that uses machine-learning algorithms to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit versions of the same product.

A team of researchers has developed a new mechanism that uses machine-learning algorithms to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit versions of the same product. Image courtesy of Entrupy, Inc.
A team of researchers has developed a new mechanism that uses machine-learning algorithms to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit versions of the same product.

The work, led by New York University Professor Lakshminarayanan Subramanian, will be presented on Mon., Aug. 14 at the annual KDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“The underlying principle of our system stems from the idea that microscopic characteristics in a genuine product or a class of products—corresponding to the same larger product line—exhibit inherent similarities that can be used to distinguish these products from their corresponding counterfeit versions,” explains Subramanian, a professor at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.
The system described in the presentation is commercialized by Entrupy Inc., an NYU startup founded by Ashlesh Sharma, a doctoral graduate from the Courant Institute, Vidyuth Srinivasan, and Subramanian.
Counterfeit goods represent a massive worldwide problem with nearly every high-valued physical object or product directly affected by this issue, the researchers note. Some reports indicate counterfeit trafficking represents 7 percent of the world’s trade today.
While other counterfeit-detection methods exist, these are invasive and run the risk of damaging the products under examination.
The Entrupy method, by contrast, provides a non-intrusive solution to easily distinguish authentic versions of the product produced by the original manufacturer and fake versions of the product produced by counterfeiters.
It does so by deploying a dataset of three million images across various objects and materials such as fabrics, leather, pills, electronics, toys and shoes.
“The classification accuracy is more than 98 percent, and we show how our system works with a cellphone to verify the authenticity of everyday objects,” notes Subramanian.
A demo of the technology may be viewed here (courtesy of Entrupy Inc.).
To date, Entrupy, which recently received $2.6 million in funding from a team of investors, has authenticated $14 million worth of goods.
For a copy of the paper, “The Fake vs Real Goods Problem: Microscopy and Machine Learning to the Rescue,” please contact James Devitt, NYU’s Office of Public Affairs, at 212.998.6808 or james.devitt@nyu.edu.

Press Contact
James Devitt
James Devitt
(212) 998-6808

Employment opportunities in machine learning are expected to increase.

UDACITY described machine learning employment opportunities in :5 Skills You Need to Become a Machine Learning Engineer:

To begin, there are two very important things that you should understand if you’re considering a career as a Machine Learning engineer. First, it’s not a “pure” academic role. You don’t necessarily have to have a research or academic background. Second, it’s not enough to have either software engineering or data science experience. You ideally need both.
Data Analyst vs. Machine Learning Engineer
It’s also critical to understand the differences between a Data Analyst and a Machine Learning engineer. In simplest form, the key distinction has to do with the end goal. As a Data Analyst, you’re analyzing data in order to tell a story, and to produce actionable insights. The emphasis is on dissemination—charts, models, visualizations. The analysis is performed and presented by human beings, to other human beings who may then go on to make business decisions based on what’s been presented. This is especially important to note—the “audience” for your output is human. As a Machine Learning engineer, on the other hand, your final “output” is working software (not the analyses or visualizations that you may have to create along the way), and your “audience” for this output often consists of other software components that run autonomously with minimal human supervision. The intelligence is still meant to be actionable, but in the Machine Learning model, the decisions are being made by machines and they affect how a product or service behaves. This is why the software engineering skill set is so important to a career in Machine Learning.
Understanding The Ecosystem
Before getting into specific skills, there is one more concept to address. Being a Machine Learning engineer necessitates understanding the entire ecosystem that you’re designing for.
Let’s say you’re working for a grocery chain, and the company wants to start issuing targeted coupons based on things like the past purchase history of customers, with a goal of generating coupons that shoppers will actually use. In a Data Analysis model, you could collect the purchase data, do the analysis to figure out trends, and then propose strategies. The Machine Learning approach would be to write an automated coupon generation system. But what does it take to write that system, and have it work? You have to understand the whole ecosystem—inventory, catalog, pricing, purchase orders, bill generation, Point of Sale software, CRM software, etc.
Ultimately, the process is less about understanding Machine Learning algorithms—or when and how to apply them—and more about understanding the systemic interrelationships, and writing working software that will successfully integrate and interface. Remember, Machine Learning output is actually working software! http://blog.udacity.com/2016/04/5-skills-you-need-to-become-a-machine-learning-engineer.html

Education guidance counselors should be informed about opportunities in machine learning.

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University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine study: Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18

6 Aug

Often children who evidence signs of a substance abuse problem come from homes where there is a substance abuse problem. That problem may be generational. eMedicineHealth lists some of the causes of substance abuse:

Substance Abuse Causes
Use and abuse of substances such as cigarettes, alcohol, and illegal drugs may begin in childhood or the teen years. Certain risk factors may increase someone’s likelihood to abuse substances.
Factors within a family that influence a child’s early development have been shown to be related to increased risk of drug abuse.
o Chaotic home environment
o Ineffective parenting
o Lack of nurturing and parental attachment
Factors related to a child’s socialization outside the family may also increase risk of drug abuse.
o Inappropriately aggressive or shy behavior in the classroom
o Poor social coping skills
o Poor school performance
o Association with a deviant peer group
o Perception of approval of drug use behavior
http://www.emedicinehealth.com/substance_abuse/article_em.htm
Substance abuse is often a manifestation of other problems that child has either at home or poor social relations including low self-esteem. Dr. Alan Leshner summarizes the reasons children use drugs in why do Sally and Johnny use drugs? http://archives.drugabuse.gov/Published_Articles/Sally.html

Science Daily reported in: Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18:

A study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth, found that young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence.
The study led by UW Medicine researchers interviewed 521 students recruited from four Seattle public middle schools. Researchers used data from annual assessments when students were ages 12-15 and then again when they were 18. The results were published in the journal Addiction.
“The findings suggest that if we can prevent or reduce chronic depression during early adolescence, we may reduce the prevalence of cannabis use disorder,” said lead author Isaac Rhew, research assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
What researchers called “a 1 standard deviation increase” in cumulative depression during early adolescence was associated with a 50 percent higher likelihood of cannabis-use disorder.
According to researchers, during the past decade cannabis has surpassed tobacco with respect to prevalence of use among adolescents. Cannabis and alcohol are the two most commonly used substances among youth in the United States. They pointed to one national study showing increases in prevalence of cannabis use disorder and alcohol use disorder in the United States, especially among young adults.
Longitudinal studies looking at the link between depression and later use of alcohol and cannabis, however, have been mixed. Some show a link. Others don’t. But most studies have assessed adolescent depression at a single point in time — not cumulatively, said the researchers. Further, there have been differences in how substance use has been measured ranging from the initiation of any use to heavier problematic forms of use.
The study oversampled for students with depressive and/or conduct problems. The researchers were surprised to see that the prevalence of cannabis and alcohol use disorder in this study was notably higher than national estimates with 21 percent meeting criteria for cannabis use disorder and 20 percent meeting criteria for alcohol use disorder at age 18.
What effect the easing of marijuana laws in Washington state had on the youth is unclear. Researchers said it would be informative to conduct a similar study in a state with more strict marijuana laws to understand whether the relationship between depression and cannabis misuse would still hold in areas where marijuana may be less accessible…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170717151031.htm

Citation:

Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18
Seattle-focused study suggests earlier intervention with depressed youths could reduce rate of cannabis-use disorder
Date: July 17, 2017
Source: University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine
Summary:
Young people with chronic or severe forms of depression were at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence, found a study looking at the cumulative effects of depression in youth.
Journal Reference:
1. Isaac C. Rhew, Charles B. Fleming, Ann Vander Stoep, Semret Nicodimos, Cheng Zheng, Elizabeth McCauley. Examination of cumulative effects of early adolescent depression on cannabis and alcohol use disorder in late adolescence in a community-based cohort. Addiction, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/add.13907

Here is the press release from the University of Washington:

07.17.2017
Depression among young teens linked to cannabis use at 18
Seattle-focused study suggests earlier intervention with depressed youths could reduce rate of cannabis-use disorder
By Bobbi Nodell | HSNewsBeat | Updated 10:30 AM, 07.17.2017
Posted in: Research
Young people with chronic or severe depression are at elevated risk for developing a problem with cannabis in later adolescence, new research indicates.

The study, led by UW Medicine investigators, interviewed 521 students recruited from four Seattle public middle schools. Researchers used data from annual assessments when students were ages 12 to 15 and then again when they were 18. The results were published in the journal Addiction.
“The findings suggest that if we can prevent or reduce chronic depression during early adolescence, we may reduce the prevalence of cannabis use disorder,” said lead author Isaac Rhew, research assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
What researchers called “a 1 standard deviation increase” in cumulative depression during early adolescence was associated with a 50 percent higher likelihood of cannabis-use disorder in the study.
During the past decade, cannabis use among adolescents has surpassed that of tobacco. Cannabis and alcohol are the two most commonly used substances among youth in the United States. They cited one national study showing increases in the prevalence of cannabis-use disorder and alcohol-use disorder in the United States, especially among young adults.
Longitudinal studies of depression and later use of alcohol and cannabis, however, have been mixed. Some show a link, others don’t. Most such studies have assessed adolescent depression at a single point in time – not cumulatively, the researchers noted. Further, previous research has measured substance use differently, ranging from initiation of any use to heavier, problematic use.
The study oversampled for students with depressive and/or conduct problems. The researchers were surprised by data indicating that the prevalence of cannabis- and alcohol-use disorder in this study was notably higher than national estimates, with 21 percent meeting criteria for cannabis-use disorder and 20 percent meeting criteria for alcohol-use disorder at age 18.
What effect the easing of marijuana laws in Washington state had on the youth is unclear. Researchers said it would be informative to conduct a similar study in a state with stricter marijuana laws to understand whether the relationship between depression and later cannabis misuse is similar.
The substance-abuse assessments of 18-year-olds occurred between 2007 and 2010. Washington state legalized medical cannabis in 1998 and its medical cannabis market expanded greatly after 2009, when the U.S. justice department issued a ruling known as the “Ogden Memo.” And in 2003, the city of Seattle made cannabis offenses the lowest enforcement priority for police and the city attorney.
The study was supported by funding from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as well as funding from the University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute. Other authors include UW Medicine researchers Charles Fleming (psychiatry and the Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors), Ann Vander Stoep (psychiatry and epidemiology), Elizabeth McCauley (psychiatry, pediatrics, psychology), and Semret Nicodimos (psychiatry and the Mental Health Assessment, Research & Training Center). Author Cheng Zheng is with the Ziber School of Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Tagged with: addiction, psychiatry, marijuana

http://hsnewsbeat.uw.edu/story/depression-among-young-teens-linked-cannabis-use-18

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has a series of questions parents should ask http://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com/content/default.aspx?pud=a8bcb6ee-523a-4909-9d76-928d956f3f91

If you suspect that your child has a substance abuse problem, you will have to seek help of some type. You will need a plan of action. The Partnership for a Drug Free America lists 7 Steps to Take and each step is explained at the site. http://www.drugfree.org/intervene

If your child has a substance abuse problem, both you and your child will need help. “One day at a time” is a famous recovery affirmation which you and your child will live the meaning. The road to recovery may be long or short, it will have twists and turns with one step forward and two steps back. In order to reach the goal of recovery, both parent and child must persevere.

Related:

University of Washington study: Heroin use among young suburban and rural non-traditional users on the
https://drwilda.com/2013/10/13/university-of-washington-study-heroin-use-among-young-suburban-and-rural-non-traditional-users-on-the-increase/

Resources

Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base
http://www.crchealth.com/troubled-teenagers/teenage-substance-abuse/adolescent-substance-abuse/signs-drug-use/

Warning Signs of Teen Drug Abuse
http://parentingteens.about.com/cs/drugsofabuse/a/driug_abuse20.htm?r=et

Is Your Teen Using?
http://www.drugfree.org/intervene

Al-Anon and Alateen
http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/

WEBMD: Parenting and Teen Substance Abuse
http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/tc/teen-substance-abuse-choosing-a-treatment-program-topic-overview

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a very good booklet for families What is Substance Abuse Treatment?
http://store.samhsa.gov/home

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has a web site for teens and parents that teaches about drug abuse NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse
http://teens.drugabuse.gov/

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
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Brown University study: Computer models provide new understanding of sickle cell disease

30 Jul

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute describes sickle cell disease:

The term sickle cell disease (SCD) describes a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. People with SCD have abnormal hemoglobin, called hemoglobin S or sickle hemoglobin, in their red blood cells.
Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body.
“Inherited” means that the disease is passed by genes from parents to their children. SCD is not contagious. A person cannot catch it, like a cold or infection, from someone else.
People who have SCD inherit two abnormal hemoglobin genes, one from each parent. In all forms of SCD, at least one of the two abnormal genes causes a person’s body to make hemoglobin S. When a person has two hemoglobin S genes, Hemoglobin SS, the disease is called sickle cell anemia. This is the most common and often most severe kind of SCD.
Hemoglobin SC disease and hemoglobin Sβ thalassemia (thal-uh-SEE-me-uh) are two other common forms of SCD…. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sca/

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide data about sickle cell disease:

In the United States
The exact number of people living with SCD in the U.S. is unknown. Working with partners, the CDC supports projects to learn about the number of people living with SCD to better understand how the disease impacts their health.
It is estimated that:
• SCD affects approximately 100,000 Americans.
• SCD occurs among about 1 out of every 365 Black or African-American births.
• SCD occurs among about 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic-American births.
• About 1 in 13 Black or African-American babies is born with sickle cell trait (SCT).
Comprehensive Care
• People with SCD have less access to comprehensive team care than people with genetic disorders such as hemophilia and cystic fibrosis. [Read article]
Mortality
• Sickle cell-related death among Black or African-American children younger than 4 years of age fell by 42% from 1999 through 2002. This drop coincided with the introduction in 2000 of a vaccine that protects against invasive pneumococcal disease.
[Read summary]
• Relative to the rate for the period 1983 through 1986, the SCD mortality rate for the period 1999 through 2002 decreased by:
o 68% at age 0 through 3 years;
o 39% at age 4 through 9 years; and
o 24% at age 10 through 14 years.
[Read summary]
• Mortality Among Children with Sickle Cell Disease Identified by Newborn Screening During 1990-1994 — California, Illinois, and New York:
o Among the children with Hb SS disease, 1% died as a result of SCD-related causes during the first 3 years of life.
o In California and Illinois, by the end of 1995, the cumulative mortality rate was 1.5 per 100 Black or African-American children with SCD. The equivalent cumulative mortality rate for all Black or African-American infants born during this period in California and Illinois was 2.0 per 100 Black or African-American newborns.
[Read article]
Economic Costs
• During 2005, medical expenditures for children with SCD averaged $11,702 for children with Medicaid coverage and $14,772 for children with employer-sponsored insurance. About 40% of both groups had at least one hospital stay.
[Read summary]
• SCD is a major public health concern. From 1989 through 1993, an average of 75,000 hospitalizations due to SCD occurred in the United States, costing approximately $475 million.
[Read summary]
https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/sicklecell/data.html

See, American Society of Hematology http://www.hematology.org/Patients/Anemia/Sickle-Cell.aspx
Science Daily reported in Computer models provide new understanding of sickle cell disease:

Computer models developed by Brown University mathematicians show new details of what happens inside a red blood cell affected by sickle cell disease. The researchers said they hope their models, described in an article in the Biophysical Journal, will help in assessing drug strategies to combat the genetic blood disorder, which affects millions of people worldwide.
Sickle cell disease affects hemoglobin, molecules within red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen. In normal red blood cells, hemoglobin is dispersed evenly throughout the cell. In sickle red blood cells, mutated hemoglobin can polymerize when deprived of oxygen, assembling themselves into long polymer fibers that push against the membranes of the cells, forcing them out of shape. The stiff, ill-shaped cells can become lodged in small capillaries throughout the body, leading to painful episodes known as sickle cell crisis….
The model uses detailed biomechanical data on how sickle hemoglobin molecules behave and bind with each other to simulate the assembly of a polymer fiber. Prior to this work, the problem had been that as the fiber grows, so does the amount of data the model must crunch. Modeling an entire polymer fiber at cellular scale using the details of each molecule was simply too computationally expensive….
The researchers’ solution was to apply what they call a mesoscopic adaptive resolution scheme or MARS. The MARS model calculates the detailed dynamics of each individual hemoglobin molecule only at the each end of polymer fibers, where new molecules are being recruited into the fiber. Once four layers of a fiber have been established, the model automatically dials back the resolution at which it represents that section. The model retains the important information about how the fiber behaves mechanically, but glosses over the fine details of each constituent molecule….
Using the new MARS simulations, the researchers were able to show how different configurations of growing polymer fibers are able to produce cells with different shapes. Though the disease gets its name because it causes many red blood cells take on a sickle-like shape, there are actually a variety of abnormal cell shapes present. This new modeling approach showed new details about how different fiber structures inside the cell produce different cell shapes….
There are only two drugs on the market that has been approved by the FDA for treating sickle cell, Karniadakis says. One of them, called hydroxyurea, is thought to work by boosting the amount of fetal hemoglobin — the kind of hemoglobin that babies are born with — in a patient’s blood. Fetal hemoglobin is resistant to polymerization and, when present in sufficient quantity, is thought to disrupt the polymerization of sickle cell hemoglobin.
Using these new models, Karniadakis and his colleagues can now run simulations that include fetal hemoglobin. Those simulations could help to confirm that fetal hemoglobin does indeed disrupt polymerization, as well as help to establish how much fetal hemoglobin is necessary. That could help in establishing better dosage guidelines or in developing new and more effective drugs, the researchers say. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170728153954.htm

Citation:

Computer models provide new understanding of sickle cell disease
Date: July 28, 2017
Source: Brown University
Summary:
Simulations developed by mathematicians provide new details of how sickle cell disease manifests inside red blood cells, which could help in developing new treatments.

Journal Reference:
1. Lu Lu, He Li, Xin Bian, Xuejin Li, George Em Karniadakis. Mesoscopic Adaptive Resolution Scheme toward Understanding of Interactions between Sickle Cell Fibers. Biophysical Journal, 2017; 113 (1): 48 DOI: 10.1016/j.bpj.2017.05.050

Here is the Brown press release:

Computer models provide new understanding of sickle cell disease
July 28, 2017 Media contact: Kevin Stacey 401-863-3766
Simulations developed by Brown University mathematicians provide new details of how sickle cell disease manifests inside red blood cells, which could help in developing new treatments.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Computer models developed by Brown University mathematicians show new details of what happens inside a red blood cell affected by sickle cell disease. The researchers said they hope their models, described in an article in the Biophysical Journal, will help in assessing drug strategies to combat the genetic blood disorder, which affects millions of people worldwide.
Sickle cell disease affects hemoglobin, molecules within red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen. In normal red blood cells, hemoglobin is dispersed evenly throughout the cell. In sickle red blood cells, mutated hemoglobin can polymerize when deprived of oxygen, assembling themselves into long polymer fibers that push against the membranes of the cells, forcing them out of shape. The stiff, ill-shaped cells can become lodged in small capillaries throughout the body, leading to painful episodes known as sickle cell crisis.
“The goal of our work is to model both how these sickle hemoglobin fibers form as well as the mechanical properties of those fibers,” said Lu Lu, a Ph.D. student in Brown Division of Applied Mathematics and the study’s lead author. “There had been separate models for each of these things individually developed by us, but this brings those together into one comprehensive model.”
The model uses detailed biomechanical data on how sickle hemoglobin molecules behave and bind with each other to simulate the assembly of a polymer fiber. Prior to this work, the problem had been that as the fiber grows, so does the amount of data the model must crunch. Modeling an entire polymer fiber at cellular scale using the details of each molecule was simply too computationally expensive.
“Even the world’s fastest supercomputers wouldn’t be able to handle it,” said George Karniadakis, professor of applied math at Brown and the paper’s senior author. “There’s just too much happening and no way to capture it all computationally. That’s what we were able to overcome with this work.”
As the simulated fiber grows, the model dials back the resolution, representing established parts of the fiber with courser grain, which makes simulating the fibers computationally tractable.
The researchers’ solution was to apply what they call a mesoscopic adaptive resolution scheme or MARS. The MARS model calculates the detailed dynamics of each individual hemoglobin molecule only at the each end of polymer fibers, where new molecules are being recruited into the fiber. Once four layers of a fiber have been established, the model automatically dials back the resolution at which it represents that section. The model retains the important information about how the fiber behaves mechanically, but glosses over the fine details of each constituent molecule.
“By eliminating the fine details where we don’t need them, we develop a model that can simulate this whole process and its effects on a red blood cell,” Karniadakis said.
Using the new MARS simulations, the researchers were able to show how different configurations of growing polymer fibers are able to produce cells with different shapes. Though the disease gets its name because it causes many red blood cells take on a sickle-like shape, there are actually a variety of abnormal cell shapes present. This new modeling approach showed new details about how different fiber structures inside the cell produce different cell shapes.
“We are able to produce a polymerization profile for each of the cell types associated with the disease,” Karniadakis said. “Now the goal is to use these models to look for ways of preventing the disease onset.”
The researchers used their models to create “polymerization profiles” for different cell shapes associated with sickle cell disease. The model above shows a cell with multiple fibers forming.
There are only two drugs on the market that has been approved by the FDA for treating sickle cell, Karniadakis says. One of them, called hydroxyurea, is thought to work by boosting the amount of fetal hemoglobin — the kind of hemoglobin that babies are born with — in a patient’s blood. Fetal hemoglobin is resistant to polymerization and, when present in sufficient quantity, is thought to disrupt the polymerization of sickle cell hemoglobin.
Using these new models, Karniadakis and his colleagues can now run simulations that include fetal hemoglobin. Those simulations could help to confirm that fetal hemoglobin does indeed disrupt polymerization, as well as help to establish how much fetal hemoglobin is necessary. That could help in establishing better dosage guidelines or in developing new and more effective drugs, the researchers say.
“The models give us a way to do preliminary testing on new approaches to stopping this disease,” Karniadakis said. “Now that we can simulate the entire polymerization process, we think the models will be much more useful.”
Lu and Karniadakis’ co-authors on the paper were He Li, Xin Bian and Xuejin Li, all from Brown’s Division of Applied Mathematics. The work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (U01HL114476). Computer time and other resources were provided under grants from the Department of Energy (DE-AC02-06CH11357, DE-AC05-00OR22725).
Note to Editors:
Editors: Brown University has a fiber link television studio available for domestic and international live and taped interviews, and maintains an ISDN line for radio interviews. For more information, call (401) 863-2476.

The Brown study is a breakthrough because it may lead to advanced and individual specific treatment for sickle cell disease.

WebMD described current treatment for sickle cell disease:

Treatment involves getting routine tests to monitor health, managing pain events (crises), and treating related health problems as they arise.
Treatment for severe cases of sickle cell disease may include medicines. For more information, see Medications.
Treatment for children
When parents learn that their baby has sickle cell disease, it’s the beginning of a lifelong education process. Knowing as much as you can about the disease can help you control symptoms as they arise and know what to do in emergency situations. Treatment includes:
• Routine childhood immunizations. Immunizations in adulthood are important too.
• Daily antibiotics from 2 months to 5 years of age to prevent life-threatening infections. This practice stops at age 5 because older children don’t have as many severe infections.
• The medicine hydroxyurea.
• Multivitamin supplements with iron during infancy.
• Folic acid supplements daily.
• Protein supplements if there is a lag in weight gain.
Starting at age 2 years, your child should get screened every now and then with a transcranial ultrasound. This test measures blood flow in the arteries of the head and neck. If test results show a high chance for stroke, your child may get blood transfusions to lower the risk.3 http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/tc/sickle-cell-disease-treatment-overview#1

As with any chronic disease, early diagnosis and treatment by qualified medical personnel is essential. See, Children’s Hospital Directory https://www.childrenshospitals.org/Directories/Hospital-Directory

Resources:

Sickle cell anemia patient ‘cured’ by gene therapy, doctors say
http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/03/health/sickle-cell-anemia/index.html

What Is Sickle Cell Disease?
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sca/

Sickle Cell Anemia
http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/sickle-cell-anemia/overview.html

Sickle Cell Anemia Treatment & Management
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/205926-treatment

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McGill University study: Detecting long-term concussion in athletes

15 Jul

Kids Health has some great information about concussions at their site:

What Is a Concussion and What Causes It?
The brain is made of soft tissue and is cushioned by spinal fluid. It is encased in the hard, protective skull. When a person gets a head injury, the brain can move around inside the skull and even bang against it. This can lead to bruising of the brain, tearing of blood vessels, and injury to the nerves. When this happens, a person can get a concussion — a temporary loss of normal brain function.
Most people with concussions recover just fine with appropriate treatment. But it’s important to take proper steps if you suspect a concussion because it can be serious.
Concussions and other brain injuries are fairly common. About every 21 seconds, someone in the United States has a serious brain injury. One of the most common reasons people get concussions is through a sports injury. High-contact sports such as football, boxing, and hockey pose a higher risk of head injury, even with the use of protective headgear.
People can also get concussions from falls, car accidents, bike and blading mishaps, and physical violence, such as fighting. Guys are more likely to get concussions than girls. However, in certain sports, like soccer, girls have a higher potential for concussion.
http://kidshealth.org/teen/safety/first_aid/concussions.html#a_What_Is_a_Concussion_and_What_Causes_It_

Dr. Rivara published a study of how serious concussions can be.

Lindsey Tanner of AP reported about concussions in the article, Even mild concussions can cause lingering symptoms:

Children with even relatively mild concussions can have persistent attention and memory problems a year after their injuries, according to a study that helps identify which kids may be most at risk for lingering symptoms.
In most kids with these injuries, symptoms resolve within a few months but the study results suggest that problems may linger for up to about 20 percent, said study author Keith Owen Yeates, a neuropsychologist at Ohio State University’s Center for Biobehaviorial Health.
Problems like forgetfulness were more likely to linger than fatigue, dizziness and other physical complaints, the study found.
Forgetfulness, difficulty paying attention, headaches and fatigue were more common in study children who lost consciousness or who had other mild head trauma that caused brain abnormalities on imaging tests, compared with kids who didn’t get knocked out or who had normal imaging test results.
The study looked at symptoms up to a year after injury so it doesn’t answer whether any kids had longer-lasting or permanent problems.
“What parents want to know is if my kid is going to do OK. Most do OK, but we have to get better at predicting which kids are going to have problems,” Yeates said.
Those who do may need temporary accommodations, including extra time taking school tests, or wearing sunglasses if bright light gives them headaches, he said.
Most children studied had concussions from playing sports or from falls. About 20 percent had less common mild brain trauma from traffic accidents and other causes.
Concussions involve a blow to the head that jostles the brain against the skull, although imaging scans typically show no abnormalities. Other mild brain trauma can cause tissue damage visible on these scans.
The study included 186 children aged 8 to 15 with mild concussions and other mild brain injuries treated at two hospitals, in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. The reports are based on parents’ reports of symptoms up to 12 months after the injuries.
The brain injuries studied were considered mild because they involved no more than half an hour of unconsciousness; 60 percent of kids with concussions or other brain trauma — 74 children — had no loss of consciousness.
Overall, 20 percent — 15 children — who lost consciousness had lingering forgetfulness or other non-physical problems a year after their injury; while 20 percent who had abnormal brain scans — six kids — had lingering headaches or other physical problems three months after being injured.
http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/Even-mild-concussions-can-cause-lingering-symptoms-3383079.php#ixzz1oMUeQVuu

McGill University researched a methodology for detecting long-term concussion,

Science Daily reported in Detecting long-term concussion in athletes:

Lawyers representing both sides in concussion lawsuits against sports leagues may eventually have a new tool at their disposal: a diagnostic signature that uses artificial intelligence to detect brain trauma years after it has occurred.
While the short-term effects of head trauma can be devastating, the long-term effects can be equally hard for patients. The symptoms may linger years after the concussion happened. The problem is it is often hard to say whether their symptoms are being caused by a concussion or other factors like another neurological condition or the normal aging process.
The only way to prove the presence of brain damage caused by concussion years after it occurred was through post-mortem examination. A means of diagnosing concussion in living patients, however, remained elusive.
A research team from Université de Montreal, The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro), and the Ludmer Center for NeuroInformatics recruited former university athletes between the ages of 51 and 75 who played contact sports such as ice hockey and American football. From that group, the researchers formed a cohort of 15 athletes who reported being concussed in their athletic careers, and a control group of 15 athletes who had not been concussed.
The researchers performed a battery of tests on both groups, including neuropsychological testing, genotyping, structural neuroimaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and diffusion weighted imaging. They then pooled the data and fed it to computers that use artificial intelligence software to “learn” the differences between the brain of a healthy athlete versus the brain of a previously concussed athlete. They found that white matter connections between several brain regions of concussed individuals showed abnormal connectivity that might reflect both degeneration and the brain’s method of compensating for damage. Using the data, the computers were able to detect concussion with up to 90-per-cent accuracy….
Dr. Sebastien Tremblay, the paper’s first author, says they need to validate the signature on a larger sample size, using various magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners, before it becomes an effective means to diagnose concussion. When perfected, the signature could also aid treatment of concussion by providing doctors with an accurate picture of what is causing their patients’ symptoms…..https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170712145611.htm

Citation:

Detecting long-term concussion in athletes
Researchers develop method that could one day be used in brain trauma lawsuits
Date: July 12, 2017
Source: McGill University
Summary:
representing both sides in concussion lawsuits against sports leagues may eventually have a new tool at their disposal: a diagnostic signature that uses artificial intelligence to detect brain trauma years after it has occurred.

Journal Reference:
1. Sébastien Tremblay, Yasser Iturria-Medina, José María Mateos-Pérez, Alan C. Evans, Louis De Beaumont. Defining a multimodal signature of remote sports concussions. European Journal of Neuroscience, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/ejn.13583

Here is the press release from McGill University:

Detecting long-term concussion in athletes
News
Researchers develop method that could one day be used in brain trauma lawsuits
Published: 12Jul2017
Lawyers representing both sides in concussion lawsuits against sports leagues may eventually have a new tool at their disposal: a diagnostic signature that uses artificial intelligence to detect brain trauma years after it has occurred.
While the short-term effects of head trauma can be devastating, the long-term effects can be equally hard for patients. The symptoms may linger years after the concussion happened. The problem is it is often hard to say whether their symptoms are being caused by a concussion or other factors like another neurological condition or the normal aging process.
The only way to prove the presence of brain damage caused by concussion years after it occurred was through post-mortem examination. A means of diagnosing concussion in living patients, however, remained elusive.
A research team from Université de Montreal, The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro), and the Ludmer Center for NeuroInformatics recruited former university athletes between the ages of 51 and 75 who played contact sports such as ice hockey and American football. From that group, the researchers formed a cohort of 15 athletes who reported being concussed in their athletic careers, and a control group of 15 athletes who had not been concussed.
The researchers performed a battery of tests on both groups, including neuropsychological testing, genotyping, structural neuroimaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and diffusion weighted imaging. They then pooled the data and fed it to computers that use artificial intelligence software to “learn” the differences between the brain of a healthy athlete versus the brain of a previously concussed athlete. They found that white matter connections between several brain regions of concussed individuals showed abnormal connectivity that might reflect both degeneration and the brain’s method of compensating for damage. Using the data, the computers were able to detect concussion with up to 90-per-cent accuracy.
The study’s results were published in the European Journal of Neuroscience on May 16, 2017. Their work, once more thoroughly tested and refined, could have implications for current and future concussion lawsuits. The National Football League, for example, faced a decade-long lawsuit by former players who claimed it did not do enough to protect them from concussion. The lawsuit was complicated by the fact there was no objective way to determine if the neurological symptoms they experienced were caused by the concussions they received as players. The National Hockey League is currently facing a similar lawsuit by former players.
Dr. Sebastien Tremblay, the paper’s first author, says they need to validate the signature on a larger sample size, using various magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners, before it becomes an effective means to diagnose concussion. When perfected, the signature could also aid treatment of concussion by providing doctors with an accurate picture of what is causing their patients’ symptoms.
The need for such tools is greater than ever. According to the federal government, reported concussions have increased 40 per cent between 2004 and 2014 among young football, soccer and hockey players.
“With 1.6 to 3.8 million concussions per year in the US alone, the prevalence of this injury is alarming,” says Tremblay, a postdoctoral researcher at The Neuro. “It is unacceptable that no objective tools or techniques yet exist to diagnose them, not to mention the sheer lack of scientifically valid treatment options. With our work, we hope to provide help to the vast population of former athletes who experience neurological issues after retiring from contact sport.”
“Future studies, including systematic comparisons with patient groups presenting with other age-related neurological conditions, together with identifying new biomarkers of concussion, would help refine the developed, computer-assisted model of the remote effects of concussion on the aging brain,” says Dr. Louis de Beaumont, a researcher at Université de Montreal and the paper’s senior author.
This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
Université de Montréal
Deeply rooted in Montreal and dedicated to its international mission, Université de Montréal ranks among the top 1% of the world’s best universities and is considered the top comprehensive university in the Francophonie. Founded in 1878, UdeM today has 15 faculties and schools, and together with its two affiliated schools, HEC Montréal and Polytechnique Montréal, constitutes the largest centre of higher education and research in Quebec and one of the most important in North America. It has 2,800 professors and researchers and more than 66,000 students. For more information, please visit http://www.umontreal.ca/en
The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital
The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro – is a world-leading destination for brain research and advanced patient care. Since its founding in 1934 by renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Wilder Penfield, The Neuro has grown to be the largest specialized neuroscience research and clinical centre in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. The seamless integration of research, patient care, and training of the world’s top minds make The Neuro uniquely positioned to have a significant impact on the understanding and treatment of nervous system disorders. In 2016, The Neuro became the first institute in the world to fully embrace the Open Science philosophy, creating the Tanenbaum Open Science Institute. The Montreal Neurological Institute is a McGill University research and teaching institute. The Montreal Neurological Hospital is part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. For more information, please visit http://www.theneuro.ca
Contact Information
Contact:
Shawn Hayward
Organization:
Communications Officer, Montreal Neurological Institute
Email:
shawn.hayward@mcgill.ca
Office Phone:
514 893 3376
Secondary Contact Information
Contact:
Jeff Heinrich
Organization:
International Press Attaché, Université de Montreal
Secondary Email:
jeff.heinrich@umontreal.ca
Office Phone:
514 343 7593

WebMD has a good description of what a concussion is and the signs of concussion

A concussion is a brain injury that is caused by a sudden blow to the head or to the body. The blow shakes the brain inside the skull, which temporarily prevents the brain from working normally….
Symptoms of a concussion include:
· Passing out.
· Not being able to remember what happened after the injury.
· Acting confused, asking the same question over and over, slurring words, or not being able to concentrate.
· Feeling lightheaded, seeing “stars,” having blurry vision, or experiencing ringing in the ears.
· Not being able to stand or walk; or having coordination and balance problems.
· Feeling nauseous or throwing up.
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if a small child has a concussion. If your child has had a head injury, call your doctor for advice on what to do.
Occasionally a person who has a more serious concussion develops new symptoms over time and feels worse than he or she did before the injury. This is called post-concussive syndrome. If you have symptoms of post-concussive syndrome, call your doctor. Symptoms of post-concussive syndrome include:
· Changes in your ability to think, concentrate, or remember.
· Headaches or blurry vision.
· Changes in your sleep patterns, such as not being able to sleep or sleeping all the time.
· Changes in your personality such as becoming angry or anxious for no clear reason.
· Lack of interest in your usual activities.
· Changes in your sex drive.
· Dizziness, lightheadedness, or unsteadiness that makes standing or walking difficult.

Parents must be alert to what is happening with the children when they participate in athletic events and activities.

Resources:

Concussions http://kidshealth.org/teen/safety/first_aid/concussions.html#a_What_Is_a_Concussion_and_What_Causes_It_
Concussion
http://www.emedicinehealth.com/concussion/article_em.htm

Concussion – Overview
http://www.webmd.com/brain/tc/traumatic-brain-injury-concussion-overview

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University of California Riverside study: Drinking alcohol while pregnant could have transgenerational effects

9 Jul

Moi wrote in Common household chemicals link to drop in child IQ:

The goal of this society should be to raise healthy and happy children who will grow into concerned and involved adults who care about their fellow citizens and environment. Science Daily reported in Prenatal exposure to common household chemicals linked with substantial drop in child IQ:

Children exposed during pregnancy to elevated levels of two common chemicals found in the home–di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP)–had an IQ score, on average, more than six points lower than children exposed at lower levels, according to researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The study is the first to report a link between prenatal exposure to phthalates and IQ in school-age children. Results appear online in the journal PLOS ONE.
DnBP and DiBP are found in a wide variety of consumer products, from dryer sheets to vinyl fabrics to personal care products like lipstick, hairspray, and nail polish, even some soaps. Since 2009, several phthalates have been banned from children’s toys and other childcare articles in the United States. However, no steps have been taken to protect the developing fetus by alerting pregnant women to potential exposures. In the U.S., phthalates are rarely listed as ingredients on products in which they are used.
Researchers followed 328 New York City women and their children from low-income communities. They assessed the women’s exposure to four phthalates–DnBP, DiBP, di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate, and diethyl phthalate–in the third trimester of pregnancy by measuring levels of the chemicals’ metabolites in urine. Children were given IQ tests at age 7.
Children of mothers exposed during pregnancy to the highest 25 percent of concentrations of DnBP and DiBP had IQs 6.6 and 7.6 points lower, respectively, than children of mothers exposed to the lowest 25 percent of concentrations after controlling for factors like maternal IQ, maternal education, and quality of the home environment that are known to influence child IQ scores. The association was also seen for specific aspects of IQ, such as perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed. The researchers found no associations between the other two phthalates and child IQ.
The range of phthalate metabolite exposures measured in the mothers was not unusual: it was within what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention observed in a national sample.
“Pregnant women across the United States are exposed to phthalates almost daily, many at levels similar to those that we found were associated with substantial reductions in the IQ of children,” says lead author Pam Factor-Litvak, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School.
“The magnitude of these IQ differences is troubling,” says senior author Robin Whyatt, DrPH, Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and deputy director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School. “A six- or seven-point decline in IQ may have substantial consequences for academic achievement and occupational potential.”
PSYBLOG lists common household items in 8 Household Items Newly Found to Lower Children’s IQ Significantly:
Avoiding phthalates
While it is impossible to avoid phthalates completely, they are found in these common products, amongst others:
• Hairspray.
• Plastic containers used for microwaving food.
• Lipstick.
• Air fresheners.
• Dryer sheets.
• Nail polish.
• Some soaps.
• Recycled plastics labelled 3,6 or 7.
http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/12/8-household-items-newly-found-to-lower-childrens-iq-significantly.php:

A Virginia Tech study involving mice confirmed this study. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170617073635.htm A University of California Riverside study examined the premise that the effects of alcohol use during pregnancy can affect later generations.

Science Daily reported in in Drinking alcohol while pregnant could have transgenerational effects:

Soon-to-be mothers have heard the warning — don’t drink while pregnant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued numerous statements about the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, as it can lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in newborns.
Despite this, many women drink during pregnancy, a choice that scientists have known for years could hurt these mothers’ children. Today, there is a new reason why an expectant mother should put down that glass of wine — drinking alcohol during pregnancy will not only affect her unborn child, but may also impact brain development and lead to adverse outcomes in her future grand- and even great-grandchildren….
“Traditionally, prenatal ethanol exposure (PrEE) from maternal consumption of alcohol, was thought to solely impact directly exposed offspring, the embryo or fetus in the womb. However, we now have evidence that the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure could persist transgenerationally and negatively impact the next-generations of offspring who were never exposed to alcohol,” Huffman said.
Previous work from the Huffman Laboratory at UCR has shown that PrEE impacts the anatomy of the neocortex, the part of the brain responsible for complex behavior and cognition in humans, and that PrEE can lead to abnormal motor behavior and increased anxiety in the exposed offspring. Huffman and a group of UCR students have extended this research by providing strong evidence that in utero ethanol exposure generates neurobiological and behavioral effects in subsequent generations of mice that had no ethanol exposure….. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170707095338.htm

Citation:

Drinking alcohol while pregnant could have transgenerational effects
Prenatal ethanol exposure causes abnormalities in the brain, behavior that may be passed on for many generations
Date: July 7, 2017
Source: University of California – Riverside
Summary:
Soon-to-be mothers have heard the warning – don’t drink while pregnant. Experts have issued numerous statements about the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, as it can lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Now a new study finds that prenatal ethanol exposure (from maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy) causes abnormalities in the brain and behavior that may be passed on for many generations.

Journal Reference:
1. Charles W. Abbott, David J. Rohac, Riley T. Bottom, Sahil Patadia, Kelly J. Huffman. Prenatal Ethanol Exposure and Neocortical Development: A Transgenerational Model of FASD. Cerebral Cortex, 2017; 1 DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhx168

Here is the press release from the University of California Riverside:

Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant Could Have Transgenerational Effects
New study by UCR psychology professor finds that prenatal ethanol exposure (from maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy) causes abnormalities in the brain and behavior that may be passed on for many generations
By Mojgan Sherkat on July 6, 2017
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – Soon-to-be mothers have heard the warning – don’t drink while pregnant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued numerous statements about the dangers of alcohol consumption during pregnancy, as it can lead to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) in newborns.
Despite this, many women drink during pregnancy, a choice that scientists have known for years could hurt these mothers’ children. Today, there is a new reason why an expectant mother should put down that glass of wine – drinking alcohol during pregnancy will not only affect her unborn child, but may also impact brain development and lead to adverse outcomes in her future grand- and even great-grandchildren.
The new study by Kelly Huffman, psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, titled “Prenatal Ethanol Exposure and Neocortical Development: A Transgenerational Model of FASD,” was published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.
“Traditionally, prenatal ethanol exposure (PrEE) from maternal consumption of alcohol, was thought to solely impact directly exposed offspring, the embryo or fetus in the womb. However, we now have evidence that the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure could persist transgenerationally and negatively impact the next-generations of offspring who were never exposed to alcohol,” Huffman said.
Previous work from the Huffman Laboratory at UCR has shown that PrEE impacts the anatomy of the neocortex, the part of the brain responsible for complex behavior and cognition in humans, and that PrEE can lead to abnormal motor behavior and increased anxiety in the exposed offspring. Huffman and a group of UCR students have extended this research by providing strong evidence that in utero ethanol exposure generates neurobiological and behavioral effects in subsequent generations of mice that had no ethanol exposure.
To determine whether the abnormalities in brain and behavior from prenatal ethanol exposure would pass transgenerationally, Huffman generated a mouse model of FASD and tested many aspects of brain and behavioral development across three generations. As expected, the first generation, the directly exposed offspring, showed atypical gene expression, abnormal development of the neural network within the neocortex and behavioral deficits. However, the main discovery of the research lies in the subsequent, non-exposed generations of mice. These animals had neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems similar to the those of the first, directly exposed generation.
“We found that body weight and brain size were significantly reduced in all generations of PrEE animals when compared to controls; all generations of PrEE mice showed increased anxiety-like, depressive-like behaviors and sensory-motor deficits. By demonstrating the strong transgenerational effects of prenatal ethanol exposure in a mouse model of FASD, we suggest that FASD may be a heritable condition in humans,” Huffman said.
The multi-level analyses in this study suggest that alcohol consumption while pregnant leads to a cascade of nervous system changes that ultimately impact behavior, via mechanisms that can produce transgenerational effects. By gaining an understanding of the neurodevelopmental and behavioral effects of prenatal ethanol exposure that persist across generations, scientists and researchers can begin to create novel therapies and methods of prevention.
Media Contact
Mojgan Sherkat
Tel: (951) 827-5893
E-mail: mojgan.sherkat@ucr.edu
Twitter: mojgansherkat
Additional Contacts
Kelly Huffman
E-mail: kellyhn@ucr.edu

See, Helping to protect children from the harmful effects of chemicals http://www.who.int/ipcs/highlights/children_chemicals/en/

Children will have the most success in school, if they are ready to learn. Ready to learn includes proper nutrition for a healthy body and the optimum situation for children is a healthy family. Many of societies’ problems would be lessened if the goal was a healthy child in a healthy family.

Our goal as a society should be a healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood. ©

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Kobe University study: Japanese children learn to write through rhythm

6 Jul

Moi wrote about the importance of handwriting in The importance of the skill of handwriting in the school curriculum:

Gwendolyn Bounds reported in the WSJ article, How Handwriting Trains the Brain:

Recent research illustrates how writing by hand engages the brain in learning. During one study at Indiana University published this year, researchers invited children to man a “spaceship,” actually an MRI machine using a specialized scan called “functional” MRI that spots neural activity in the brain. The kids were shown letters before and after receiving different letter-learning instruction. In children who had practiced printing by hand, the neural activity was far more enhanced and ”adult-like” than in those who had simply looked at letters.
“It seems there is something really important about manually manipulating and drawing out two-dimensional things we see all the time,” says Karin Harman James, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Indiana University who led the study….
Other research highlights the hand’s unique relationship with the brain when it comes to composing thoughts and ideas. Virginia Berninger, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington, says handwriting differs from typing because it requires executing sequential strokes to form a letter, whereas keyboarding involves selecting a whole letter by touching a key. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704631504575531932754922518.html

https://drwilda.com/2012/01/24/the-importance-of-the-skill-of-handwriting-in-the-school-curriculum/

See, The Importance of Cursive Writing
http://www.enterpriseefficiency.com/author.asp?section_id=1077&doc_id=236382 and The Case for Cursive

Robert Lee Hotz reported in the Wall Street Journal article, Can Handwriting Make You Smarter?

Laptops and organizer apps make pen and paper seem antique, but handwriting appears to focus classroom attention and boost learning in a way that typing notes on a keyboard does not, new studies suggest.
Students who took handwritten notes generally outperformed students who typed their notes via computer, researchers at Princeton University and the University of California at Los Angeles found. Compared with those who type their notes, people who write them out in longhand appear to learn better, retain information longer, and more readily grasp new ideas, according to experiments by other researchers who also compared note-taking techniques….
Generally, people who take class notes on a laptop do take more notes and can more easily keep up with the pace of a lecture than people scribbling with a pen or pencil, researchers have found. College students typically type lecture notes at a rate of about 33 words a minute. People trying to write it down manage about 22 words a minute.
In the short run, it pays off. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis in 2012 found that laptop note-takers tested immediately after a class could recall more of a lecture and performed slightly better than their pen-pushing classmates when tested on facts presented in class. They reported their experiments with 80 students in the Journal of Educational Psychology….
http://www.wsj.com/articles/can-handwriting-make-you-smarter-1459784659

A Kobe University study examines the role of rhythm and learning to write.

Science Daily reported in Japanese children learn to write through rhythm:

How do we learn to write? Associate Professor NONAKA Tetsushi (Kobe University Graduate School of Human Development and Environment) looked at the development of writing skills in Japanese first-grade students learning the hiragana script. By quantifying their pen movements, he revealed the process of learning distinct temporal patterns of movement in such a way to differentiate a set of subtle features of each symbol. These aspects of handwriting development have been largely neglected in research carried out in Latin alphabet communities. The findings were published on June 13 in Developmental Psychobiology.
Previous research based on the Latin alphabet explains the acquisition of writing skills during childhood as a combination of two processes: the acquisition of visual representations and the development of fine motor skills to produce the desired trajectory of the pen. This study looked at the development of movement dynamics of handwriting in 1st graders at the Kobe University Elementary School who learned to write hiragana, a phonetic script used for Japanese. He examined how their movements were influenced by the social norms of the classroom environment in which those 1st graders participated over the first three months of the primary school….
This demonstrates that the process of handwriting development as explained by Latin alphabet-based research — acquiring fine motor skills in hands, plus storing the shapes in the head — cannot fully explain the handwriting skill development process for hiragana script. At least in this particular language community, learning the temporal pattern of movement corresponding to a letter seems highly important, based on which the invariant features of a letter — the traces of the specific temporal pattern of movement — can be discriminated as such. The study also suggests that the process of learning to write by differentiating physical movements may be linked to a phenomenon specific to Chinese character-based cultures known as “air writing,” when people unconsciously move their fingers while trying to recall a certain character. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170630105033.htm

Citation:

Japanese children learn to write through rhythm
Date: June 30,
Source: Kobe University
Summary:
How do we learn to write? A Japanese study looked at the development of writing skills in Japanese first-grade students, and revealed aspects of handwriting development that have been largely neglected in research carried out in Latin alphabet communities.
Journal Reference:
1. Tetsushi Nonaka. Cultural entrainment of motor skill development: Learning to write hiragana in Japanese primary school. Developmental Psychobiology, 2017; DOI: 10.1002/dev.21536

Here is the press release from Kobe University:

Japanese children learn to write through rhythm

June 29, 2017
Graduate School of Human Development and Environment

News

How do we learn to write? Associate Professor NONAKA Tetsushi (Kobe University Graduate School of Human Development and Environment) looked at the development of writing skills in Japanese first-grade students learning the hiragana script. By quantifying their pen movements, he revealed the process of learning distinct temporal patterns of movement in such a way to differentiate a set of subtle features of each symbol. These aspects of handwriting development have been largely neglected in research carried out in Latin alphabet communities. The findings were published on June 13 in Developmental Psychobiology.
Previous research based on the Latin alphabet explains the acquisition of writing skills during childhood as a combination of two processes: the acquisition of visual representations and the development of fine motor skills to produce the desired trajectory of the pen. This study looked at the development of movement dynamics of handwriting in 1st graders at the Kobe University Elementary School who learned to write hiragana, a phonetic script used for Japanese. He examined how their movements were influenced by the social norms of the classroom environment in which those 1st graders participated over the first three months of the primary school.

During the study, the children were repeatedly encouraged to pay attention to the specific requirements for writing each character, including stroke endings, stroke order and rhythm of movement. While he observed individual variation in handwriting development among six students studying in the same classroom, two common trends were quantitatively demonstrated. Firstly, the pen movements became clearly differentiated for each type of stroke ending (stop, sweep or jump). Secondly, a consistent temporal structure of movement gradually emerged for each stroke.
This demonstrates that the process of handwriting development as explained by Latin alphabet-based research – acquiring fine motor skills in hands, plus storing the shapes in the head – cannot fully explain the handwriting skill development process for hiragana script. At least in this particular language community, learning the temporal pattern of movement corresponding to a letter seems highly important, based on which the invariant features of a letter—the traces of the specific temporal pattern of movement—can be discriminated as such. The study also suggests that the process of learning to write by differentiating physical movements may be linked to a phenomenon specific to Chinese character-based cultures known as “air writing”, when people unconsciously move their fingers while trying to recall a certain character.

Journal information
Title
Cultural entrainment of motor skill development: Learning to write hiragana in Japanese primary school
doi:10.1002/dev.21536

Author
Tetsushi Nonaka

Journal
Developmental Psychobiology
Related Information

Graduate School of Human Development and Environment [Figures Omitted]

It is interesting that in Silicon Valley where many of the tech elite live, many of the top managers send their children to an “old school” school. See, The private school in Silicon Valley where tech honchos send their kids so they DON’T use computers http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2052977/The-Silicon-Valley-school-tech-honchos-send-kids-DONT-use-computers.html#ixzz2PjQ8sOfD

Matt Richtell reported in the New York Times article, A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute:

Three-quarters of the students here have parents with a strong high-tech connection. Mr. Eagle, like other parents, sees no contradiction. Technology, he says, has its time and place: “If I worked at Miramax and made good, artsy, rated R movies, I wouldn’t want my kids to see them until they were 17.”
While other schools in the region brag about their wired classrooms, the Waldorf school embraces a simple, retro look — blackboards with colorful chalk, bookshelves with encyclopedias, wooden desks filled with workbooks and No. 2 pencils. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/technology/at-waldorf-school-in-silicon-valley-technology-can-wait.html?pagewanted=all

There is quite a lot that researchers need to explore about how technology affects the mind and body connection as well as how technology affects interpersonal relationships.

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Rice University study: Factors that lead to greater college success

30 May

Moi has written quite a bit about motivation in education. In Research papers: Student Motivation: An Overlooked Piece of School Reform:

Moi often says education is a partnership between the student, the teacher(s) and parent(s). All parties in the partnership must share the load. The student has to arrive at school ready to learn. The parent has to set boundaries, encourage, and provide support. Teachers must be knowledgeable in their subject area and proficient in transmitting that knowledge to students. All must participate and fulfill their role in the education process. https://drwilda.com/tag/student-achievement/

Science Daily reported in Factors that lead to greater college success:

Educational attainment is a national priority because it creates both economic and personal gains: higher incomes, better individual and family health and deeper civic engagement. U.S. college enrollments are increasing, suggesting greater educational attainment; however, national college completion rates are lagging behind other developed nations. Recent research suggests that U.S. college students could succeed if they are encouraged to develop a sense of belonging, a growth mindset and salient personal goals and values, according to a new national report co-authored by a Rice University psychology professor….https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/05/170530115102.htm

Citation:

Factors that lead to greater college success
Date: May 30, 2017
Source: Rice University
Summary:
Researchers identify three competencies most frequently showed evidence of supporting students’ college persistence and success, as measured by grades, retention and graduation: A sense of belonging, a growth mindset and personal goals and values.

Here is the press release from Rice University:

Study identifies factors that lead to greater college success
Amy McCaig
– May 30, 2017Posted in: Current News
Educational attainment is a national priority because it creates both economic and personal gains: higher incomes, better individual and family health and deeper civic engagement. U.S. college enrollments are increasing, suggesting greater educational attainment; however, national college completion rates are lagging behind other developed nations. Recent research suggests that U.S. college students could succeed if they are encouraged to develop a sense of belonging, a growth mindset and salient personal goals and values, according to a new national report co-authored by a Rice University psychology professor.
Across these studies, three competencies most frequently showed evidence of supporting students’ college persistence and success, as measured by grades, retention and graduation:
• A sense of belonging, meaning that college students (particularly underrepresented minorities and first-generation college students) feel that they belong in college, fit in well and are socially integrated. Approximately 85 percent of the studies measuring students’ sense of belonging demonstrated a positive impact of belonging on students’ college GPAs.
• A growth mindset, referring to college students’ beliefs that their own intelligence is not a fixed entity, but rather a malleable quality that college can help improve. Seventy-five percent of the studies measuring students’ growth mindset showed this characteristic had a positive impact on students’ college GPAs.
• Personal goals and values that college students perceive to be directly linked to the achievement of a future, desired end. Approximately 83 percent of the studies measuring personal goals showed this characteristic as having a positive impact on students’ final course grades.
Oswald noted that this recent research reported some remarkable findings based on low-cost, brief writing exercises for improving these intra- and interpersonal competencies. One required students to write about the relevance of course topics to their own life or to the life of a family member or close friend. Another intervention aimed to lessen psychological perceptions of threat on campus by framing social adversity as common and transient, and used subtle attitude-change strategies to lead participants to self-generate the framing in their writing.
With these interventions, GPAs have been shown impressively to improve not only in the class where the intervention was given, but many semesters beyond, Oswald said. Furthermore, the interventions show the largest benefits accrue in student groups that are at greatest risk for academic failure. Oswald thus noted that these interventions have promise but deserve further intensive research to assure these interventions can impact student success in the future, in other college settings.
Oswald said measures of intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies should be held to rigorous development procedures and statistical standards, just like the SAT, ACT, MCAT, LSAT and other standardized tests of cognitive competencies.
“Many current assessments of these competencies fall short in providing solid statistical evidence supporting their reliability and validity,” Oswald said. “It is important to investigate these measures carefully, for example, because students can differ in how they interpret the meaning of rating scales, or sometimes they feel pressured to present themselves in the best light.”
He and his co-authors recommend further research in partnership with higher education institutions to build on the report’s findings and to find reliable ways to track these intra- and interpersonal characteristics that can lead to increased college completion.
The report was funded by the National Science Foundation and is available online at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/24697/supporting-students-college-success-the-role-of-assessment-of-intrapersonal. The study was sponsored by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
– See more at: http://news.rice.edu/2017/05/30/study-identifies-factors-that-lead-to-greater-college-success/#sthash.T0hY0O6N.dpuf

Moi wrote about “success cultures in HARD QUESTION: Do Black folk REALLY want to succeed in America?

All moi can say is really. One has a Constitutional right to be a MORON. One must ask what are these parents thinking and where do they want their children to go in THIS society and not some mythical Africa which most will never see and which probably does not exist. Remember, their children must live in THIS society, at THIS time and in THIS place.

Moi wrote in Black people MUST develop a culture of success: Michigan State revokes a football scholarship because of raunchy rap video:

The question must be asked, who is responsible for MY or YOUR life choices? Let’s get real, certain Asian cultures kick the collective butts of the rest of Americans. Why? It’s not rocket science. These cultures embrace success traits of hard work, respect for education, strong families, and a reverence for success and successful people. Contrast the culture of success with the norms of hip-hop and rap oppositional culture.
See, Hip-hop’s Dangerous Values
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1107107/posts and Hip-Hop and rap represent destructive life choices: How low can this genre sink? https://drwilda.com/2013/05/01/hip-hop-and-rap-represent-destructive-life-choices-how-low-can-this-genre-sink/
One person does not speak for a group, but members of a group can often provide useful insight about the group.

Here is Arthur Hu’s take on INTRODUCTION TO BASIC ASIAN VALUES:

One of the most central features of a culture are its values. Values are the standards by which one may judge the difference between good and bad, and the right and wrong things to do. Though some values are universally shared among all cultures, it is the contrast and differences in values of different cultures that can account for the interactions and perceptions that occur between different cultures.
Traditional values are a common thread among individuals in a culture. Stereotyping comes about because of common behavior patterns that are based on common values, and distortion and misperception can come about as a result of misunderstandings of those values. Stereotyping can also be dangerous because people are individuals with their own values which may vary a great deal from the traditional ideal. Values can vary quite a bit depending upon one’s generation, class, education, origin, among other factors. For example, there is considerable difference in what might be called “traditional” and “modern” American values.
Although each distinct Asian culture actually has its own set of values, they all share a common core, which is probably best documented in the Japanese and Chinese traditions, and by philosophers such as Confucius, whose writings had considerable influence throughout Asia. In the Asian American experience, these values interact with what might be called simply “western” or “Caucasian” values, but if one contrasts the values of America with those of Europe, it can be seen that these are really “Modern American” values that provide the best contrasts.
Asian values are very much inter-related. They all support the view of the individual as being a part of a much larger group or family, and place great importance on the well-being of the group, even at the expense of the individual. American values, on the other hand emphasize the importance of the well-being of the individual, and stresses independence and individual initiative. Although it may seem that values such as education, family, and hard work are shared between cultures, these values manifest themselves quite differently in the two cultures.
Some Asian values are so important that some of the cultures, especially the Japanese have given them names of their own, and are used commonly. Here is a list of some of the most outstanding values:
Ie (japanese) – The family as a basic unit of social organization, and as a pattern for the structure of society as a whole.
Education – The whole process of child rearing and education as a means of perpetuating society, and of attaining position within society.
Enyo (japanese) – The conscious use of silence, reserve in manner.
Han (chinese) Conformity, and the suppression of individual attriputes such as talen, anger, or wealth which might disrupt group harmony. (Chinese)
Amae (japanese) – To depend and presume upon the benevolence of others. A deep bonding in human relationships between one who is responsible for another, and one who must depend on another.
Giri (japanese) – Indebtedness, obligation and duty to others, reciprocity.
Gaman (japanese) – Endurance, sticking it out at all costs. Self-sacrifice for the sake of others.
Tui Lien (chinese) – Loss face, shame. The final standard as to how well one lives up to these values.
Family and Education
Probaly the most notable aspect of the modern “Asian Model Minority”¬stereotype is that of the academic overachiever. A number of asian students have done conspicuously well in terms of test scores, gifted student programs, admissions to prestigious schools, academic awards, and in classical music. Though obviously not all Asians fit this pattern, this trend can be attributed primarily to the basic notion of the family, and the central role that education plays in the family.
Great importance is placed on child rearing, and education is a funda¬mental aspect of this. Asian parents are more likely to spend much more time with their children, and drive them harder, sometimes even at the expense of their personal time and ambitions of the parents themselves. Though Americans might consider Asian parents to be dominating, parents in turn are expected to give children all the support they can.
While it would no be unusual for an American parent to hire a babysitter to watch the kids while they go out, or expect their children to put them¬selves through college lest the parents sacrifice their own stand of living, this is much less likely in an Asian family. Living in an extended family is not unusual, and filial piety, respect for parents is a very important principle.
Unlike the youth orientation in American culture, age and position are most highly respected. The Asian family has within it a heirarchy which is a mirror of the structure of society as whole. For example, the parent child relationship is carried further on to ruler and ruled, employer and employee. Education is the most valued way of achieving position, an success in education is viewed as an act of filial piety. In imperial times, examinations were the only way to achieve position in China. Even in America, education is seen as a key to social mobility, and economic opportunity. Education for their children was a major reason why many immigrants came to America from Asia. http://www.asianweek.com/2012/04/28/introduction-to-basic-asian-values/

There is no such thing as a “model minority” and getting rid of this myth will allow educators to focus on the needs of the individual student. Still, the choice of many parents to allow their children to make choices which may impact their success should have folk asking the question of what values are being transmitted and absorbed by Black children.

Resources:

Culture of Success
http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/culture-success

How Do Asian Students Get to the Top of the Class? http://www.greatschools.org/parenting/teaching-values/481-parenting-students-to-the-top.gs

Related:

Is there a model minority?
https://drwilda.com/2012/06/23/is-there-a-model-minority/

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