• Continuous Magnitude Production of Loudness

      Schlittenlacher, Josef; email: josef.schlittenlacher@manchester.ac.uk; Ellermeier, Wolfgang (Frontiers Media S.A., 2021-05-11)
      Continuous magnitude estimation and continuous cross-modality matching with line length can efficiently track the momentary loudness of time-varying sounds in behavioural experiments. These methods are known to be prone to systematic biases but may be checked for consistency using their counterpart, magnitude production. Thus, in Experiment 1, we performed such an evaluation for time-varying sounds. Twenty participants produced continuous cross-modality matches to assess the momentary loudness of fourteen songs by continuously adjusting the length of a line. In Experiment 2, the resulting temporal line length profile for each excerpt was played back like a video together with the given song and participants were asked to continuously adjust the volume to match the momentary line length. The recorded temporal line length profile, however, was manipulated for segments with durations between 7 to 12 s by eight factors between 0.5 and 2, corresponding to expected differences in adjusted level of −10, −6, −3, −1, 1, 3, 6, and 10 dB according to Stevens’s power law for loudness. The average adjustments 5 s after the onset of the change were −3.3, −2.4, −1.0, −0.2, 0.2, 1.4, 2.4, and 4.4 dB. Smaller adjustments than predicted by the power law are in line with magnitude-production results by Stevens and co-workers due to “regression effects.” Continuous cross-modality matches of line length turned out to be consistent with current loudness models, and by passing the consistency check with cross-modal productions, demonstrate that the method is suited to track the momentary loudness of time-varying sounds.
    • Editorial: Cooperation and Coordination in the Family

      Savage, James L.; email: james.savage@cantab.net; Hinde, Camilla A.; Johnstone, Rufus A. (Frontiers Media S.A., 2020-12-07)
    • Editorial: New Drug Targets for Proteotoxicity in Cardiometabolic Diseases

      Ren, Jun; email: jren@uw.edu; Wang, Xin; email: xin.wang@manchester.ac.uk; Zhang, Yingmei; email: zhangym197951@126.com (Frontiers Media S.A., 2021-09-16)
    • Effects of Radiation sterilization Dose on the Molecular Weight and Gelling Properties of Commercial Alginate Samples

      Mollah, M. Z. I.; email: zahirul1973@yahoo.com; Rahaman, M S.; Faruque, M R I.; Khandaker, M U.; Osman, Hamid; Alamri, Sultan; Al-Assaf, Saphwan (Frontiers Media S.A., 2021-12-20)
      To estimate the molecular weight (Mw) and gelling properties, a total of 26 alginate samples consisting of control (n = 13) and 15 kGy γ-irradiated (n = 13) samples were characterized through viscometric and gel permeation chromatography (GPC-MALLS) methods. Based on the observations, a remarkable decrease in the intrinsic viscosity of all samples of alginates was evident due to the effects of radiation, with a linear relationship between viscosity and concentration in 0.01 M NaCl solution. The correlation among the Mw, percentage mass recovery, radii of gyration (Rz/Rg), and percentage reduction of Mw assessed by GPC was significant. The Mw decreased dramatically (from 3.1 × 105 to 0.49 × 105 mole/g in sample no. 12) by the effect of radiation with momentous relation to the % reduction of the molecular weight. The highest molecular weight reduction (84%), which is the most sensitive to γ-radiation, and the average reduction rate was ≥50%. The mass recovery was 100% obtained from samples no. 1,3,4,5,7,12, and 13, while the rest of the samples’ recovery rate was significantly higher. The reduction rate of mass molecular weight (Mw) is higher than the average molecular weight (Mv), but they showed a sensitivity towards radiation, consequently their performance are different from each other. The stability test was performed as a critical behaviour in the control, recurrently same as in the irradiated samples. Thus, the sterilization dose of 15 kGy for the Mw distribution, and subsequently for the characterization, was significantly effective.
    • Effects of Ramadan and Non-ramadan Intermittent Fasting on Gut Microbiome

      Mousavi, Seyedeh Neda; Rayyani, Elham; Heshmati, Javad; Tavasolian, Ronia; Rahimlou, Mehran; email: rahimlum@gmail.com (Frontiers Media S.A., 2022-03-22)
      Background: In recent years, intermittent fasting (IF) has gained popularity in the health and wellness in the world. There are numerous types of IF, all of which involve fasting periods that last longer than an overnight fast and involve limited meal time-windows, with or without calorie restriction. The objective of this review is to summarize the current evidence for the effects of Ramadan and non-Ramadan IF on gut microbiome. Methods: We explored PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Google Scholar according to the PRISMA criteria (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis). Animal and human studies were screened and reviewed separately by two researchers. Results: Twenty-eight studies were selected after screening. Some of the studies were performed on animal models and some on humans. The results of these studies indicate a significant shift in the gut microbiota, especially an increase in the abundance of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria following fasting diets. The results of some studies also showed an increase in the bacterial diversity, decrease inflammation and increased production of some metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in individuals or samples under fasting diets. Moreover, Ramadan fasting, as a kind of IF, improves health parameters through positive effects on some bacterial strains such as Akkermansia muciniphila and Bacteroide. However, some studies have reported adverse effects of fasting diets on the structure of the microbiome. Conclusion: In general, most studies have seen favorable results following adherence from the fasting diets on the intestinal microbiome. However, because more studies have been done on animal models, more human studies are needed to prove the results.
    • Equivalence, Justice, Injustice – Health and Social Care Decision Making in Relation to Prison Populations

      Shepherd, Andrew; email: andrew.shepherd-2@manchester.ac.uk; Hewson, Tom; Hard, Jake; Green, Russell; Shaw, Jennifer (Frontiers Media S.A., 2021-07-14)
      Prisons represent sites of singular healthcare need–characterized by high levels of distress and disorder. In many jurisdictions, practitioners are ethically charged with delivering healthcare that is “equivalent” to that available in the wider community. This claim has been much debated–yet the emergence of a global coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the arguments in a particularly stark manner. In the following conceptual analysis, we explore the emergent discourse of the coronavirus and consider its particular significance for prison healthcare decision making and the concept of equivalence. For example, both the coronavirus pandemic and practice of prison incarceration induce a sense of varied temporality: The discourse of prison is replete in this area–such as the concept of “hard time.” Alongside this, the discourse in relation to coronavirus has highlighted two competing modes of temporal understanding: The political–where the pandemic is conceptualized as has having a discrete “beginning and end”, and the scientific–where the “new normal” reflects the incorporation of the “novel” coronavirus into the wider ecology. The impact of these disparate understandings on the prison population is complex: “Locking down” prisoners–to safeguard the vulnerable against infection–is relatively simple, yet it has traumatic repercussions with respect to liberty and psychosocial health. Easing lockdown, by contrast, is a difficult endeavor and risks collision between the temporalities of prison–where “hard time” is accentuated by separation from the “real world”–the political and the scientific. Whither then the concept of equivalence in relation to a field that is definitively non-equivalent? How can practitioners and policy makers maintain a just ethical stance in relation to the allocation of resources when it comes to a politically marginalized yet manifestly vulnerable population? We argue that further debate and consideration are required in this field–and propose a framework for such discussion.
    • Extrinsic and Existential Mortality Risk in Reproductive Decision-Making: Examining the Effects of COVID-19 Experience and Climate Change Beliefs

      Gordon, David S.; email: david.gordon@chester.ac.uk (Frontiers Media S.A., 2021-06-11)
      While the COVID-19 pandemic has presented an immediate risk to human life around the world, climate change poses an arguably greater—although less immediate—threat to our species’ survival. Within the framework of life-history theory (LHT), this pre-registered study investigated whether extrinsic risk (i.e., external factors that pose a risk to an individual’s life, e.g., COVID-19) and existential risk (i.e., risks with outcomes that threaten the existence of humans as a species, e.g., climate change) had similar or different relationships with reproductive decision-making. A UK representative sample of 325 participants between 18 and 35 years of age was asked to indicate their ideal number of children, ideal age to start having children, and whether their desire for a child had recently changed. Participants were asked about their experiences of COVID-19 and given a series of scales with which to assess their beliefs about climate change. In support of LHT, the study found evidence that knowing people who had been hospitalized with or died of COVID-19 was associated with a greater ideal number of children. Conversely, there was no clear evidence of a relationship between climate change beliefs and reproductive decision-making. The repercussions for understanding how we interpret and respond to different forms of mortality risk are discussed.
    • Iron Is Filtered by the Kidney and Is Reabsorbed by the Proximal Tubule

      Wareing, Mark; Smith, Craig P.; email: craig.smith@manchester.ac.uk (Frontiers Media S.A., 2021-09-30)
      The aim of this study was to determine the iron (Fe) concentration profile within the lumen of the S2 renal proximal convoluted tubule (PCT) and to resolve whether this nephron segment transported Fe. To do this, we performed in vivo renal micropuncture on Wistar rats, collected PCT tubular fluid from superficial nephrons, and measured Fe concentration. The Fe concentration profile along the S2 PCT suggested significant Fe reabsorption. Proximal tubules were also microperfused in vivo with physiological solutions containing Fe and Zn, Cu, Mn, or Cd. PCTs perfused with 12μmol.l−1 55FeCl3 reabsorbed 105.2±12.7 fmol.mm−1.min−1 Fe, 435±52pmol.mm-1.min−1 Na, and 2.7±0.2nl.mm−1.min−1 water (mean ± SEM; n=19). Addition of ascorbate (1mmol.l−1) to the perfusate did not significantly alter Fe, Na, or water reabsorption. Supplementing the control perfusate with 60μmol.l−1 FeSO4 significantly decreased 55Fe uptake. Recalculating for the altered molar activity following addition of unlabeled Fe revealed a three-fold increase in Fe flux. Addition to the perfusate 12μmol.l−1 CuSO4, MnSO4, CdSO4, or ZnSO4 did not affect Fe, Na, or water flux. In conclusion, (1) in vivo, S2 PCTs of rat reabsorb Fe and (2) Fe is reabsorbed along the PCT via a pathway that is insensitive to Cu, Mn, Cd, or Zn. Together, these data demonstrate for the first time the hitherto speculated process of renal Fe filtration and subsequent tubular Fe reabsorption in a living mammal.
    • Learning Actions From Natural Language Instructions Using an ON-World Embodied Cognitive Architecture

      Giorgi, Ioanna; email: ioanna.giorgi@manchester.ac.uk; Cangelosi, Angelo; Masala, Giovanni L. (Frontiers Media S.A., 2021-05-13)
      Endowing robots with the ability to view the world the way humans do, to understand natural language and to learn novel semantic meanings when they are deployed in the physical world, is a compelling problem. Another significant aspect is linking language to action, in particular, utterances involving abstract words, in artificial agents. In this work, we propose a novel methodology, using a brain-inspired architecture, to model an appropriate mapping of language with the percept and internal motor representation in humanoid robots. This research presents the first robotic instantiation of a complex architecture based on the Baddeley's Working Memory (WM) model. Our proposed method grants a scalable knowledge representation of verbal and non-verbal signals in the cognitive architecture, which supports incremental open-ended learning. Human spoken utterances about the workspace and the task are combined with the internal knowledge map of the robot to achieve task accomplishment goals. We train the robot to understand instructions involving higher-order (abstract) linguistic concepts of developmental complexity, which cannot be directly hooked in the physical world and are not pre-defined in the robot's static self-representation. Our proposed interactive learning method grants flexible run-time acquisition of novel linguistic forms and real-world information, without training the cognitive model anew. Hence, the robot can adapt to new workspaces that include novel objects and task outcomes. We assess the potential of the proposed methodology in verification experiments with a humanoid robot. The obtained results suggest robust capabilities of the model to link language bi-directionally with the physical environment and solve a variety of manipulation tasks, starting with limited knowledge and gradually learning from the run-time interaction with the tutor, past the pre-trained stage.
    • Like Father Like Son: Cultural and Genetic Contributions to Song Inheritance in an Estrildid Finch

      Lewis, Rebecca N.; email: rebecca.lewis-3@manchester.ac.uk; Soma, Masayo; de Kort, Selvino R.; Gilman, R. Tucker (Frontiers Media S.A., 2021-06-04)
      Social learning of vocalizations is integral to song inheritance in oscine passerines. However, other factors, such as genetic inheritance and the developmental environment, can also influence song phenotype. The relative contributions of these factors can have a strong influence on song evolution and may affect important evolutionary processes such as speciation. However, relative contributions are well-described only for a few species and are likely to vary with taxonomy. Using archived song data, we examined patterns of song inheritance in a domestic population of Java sparrows (Lonchura oryzivora), some of which had been cross-fostered. Six-hundred and seventy-six songs from 73 birds were segmented and classified into notes and note subtypes (N = 22,972), for which a range of acoustic features were measured. Overall, we found strong evidence for cultural inheritance of song structure and of the acoustic characteristics of notes; sons’ song syntax and note composition were similar to that of their social fathers and were not influenced by genetic relatedness. For vocal consistency of note subtypes, a measure of vocal performance, there was no apparent evidence of social or genetic inheritance, but both age and developmental environment influenced consistency. These findings suggest that high learning fidelity of song material, i.e., song structure and note characteristics, could allow novel variants to be preserved and accumulate over generations, with implications for evolution and conservation. However, differences in vocal performance do not show strong links to cultural inheritance, instead potentially serving as condition dependent signals.
    • Mechanisms and Therapeutic Prospects of Diabetic Cardiomyopathy Through the Inflammatory Response

      Kaur, Namrita; Guan, Yingshu; Raja, Rida; Ruiz-Velasco, Andrea; Liu, Wei; email: wei.liu@manchester.ac.uk (Frontiers Media S.A., 2021-06-21)
      The incidence of heart failure (HF) continues to increase rapidly in patients with diabetes. It is marked by myocardial remodeling, including fibrosis, hypertrophy, and cell death, leading to diastolic dysfunction with or without systolic dysfunction. Diabetic cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a distinct myocardial disease in the absence of coronary artery disease. DCM is partially induced by chronic systemic inflammation, underpinned by a hostile environment due to hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, hyperinsulinemia, and insulin resistance. The detrimental role of leukocytes, cytokines, and chemokines is evident in the diabetic heart, yet the precise role of inflammation as a cause or consequence of DCM remains incompletely understood. Here, we provide a concise review of the inflammatory signaling mechanisms contributing to the clinical complications of diabetes-associated HF. Overall, the impact of inflammation on the onset and development of DCM suggests the potential benefits of targeting inflammatory cascades to prevent DCM. This review is tailored to outline the known effects of the current anti-diabetic drugs, anti-inflammatory therapies, and natural compounds on inflammation, which mitigate HF progression in diabetic populations.
    • Morphology and Mechanical Properties of Plantar Fascia in Flexible Flatfoot: A Noninvasive In Vivo Study

      Qian, Zhihui; Jiang, Zhende; Wu, Jianan; Chang, Fei; Liu, Jing; email: jingliu@jlu.edu.cn; Ren, Lei; email: lei.ren@manchester.ac.uk; Ren, Luquan (Frontiers Media S.A., 2021-09-15)
      Plantar fascia plays an important role in human foot biomechanics; however, the morphology and mechanical properties of plantar fascia in patients with flexible flatfoot are unknown. In this study, 15 flexible flatfeet were studied, each plantar fascia was divided into 12 positions, and the morphologies and mechanical properties in the 12 positions were measured in vivo with B-mode ultrasound and shear wave elastography (SWE). Peak pressures under the first to fifth metatarsal heads (MH) were measured with FreeStep. Statistical analysis included 95% confidence interval, intragroup correlation coefficient (ICC1,1), one-way analysis of variance (one-way ANOVA), and least significant difference. The results showed that thickness and Young’s modulus of plantar fascia were the largest at the proximal fascia (PF) and decreased gradually from the proximal end to the distal end. Among the five distal branches (DB) of the fascia, the thickness and Young’s modulus of the second and third DB were larger. The peak pressures were also higher under the second and third MH. This study found a gradient distribution in that the thickness and Young’s modulus gradient decreased from the proximal end to the distal end of plantar fascia in the longitudinal arch of flexible flatfeet. In the transverse arch, the thickness and Young’s modulus under the second and third DB were larger than those under the other three DB in flexible flatfoot, and the peak pressures under the second and third MH were also larger than those under the other three MH in patients with flexible flatfoot. These findings deepen our understanding of the changes of biomechanical properties and may be meaningful for the study of pathological mechanisms and therapy for flexible flatfoot.
    • Optimising Large Animal Models of Sustained Atrial Fibrillation: Relevance of the Critical Mass Hypothesis

      Denham, Nathan C.; email: Nathan.denham@manchester.ac.uk; Pearman, Charles M.; Madders, George W. P.; Smith, Charlotte E. R.; Trafford, Andrew W.; Dibb, Katharine M. (Frontiers Media S.A., 2021-06-15)
      Background: Large animal models play an important role in our understanding of the pathophysiology of atrial fibrillation (AF). Our aim was to determine whether prospectively collected baseline variables could predict the development of sustained AF in sheep, thereby reducing the number of animals required in future studies. Our hypothesis was that the relationship between atrial dimensions, refractory periods and conduction velocity (otherwise known as the critical mass hypothesis) could be used for the first time to predict the development of sustained AF. Methods: Healthy adult Welsh mountain sheep underwent a baseline electrophysiology study followed by implantation of a neurostimulator connected via an endocardial pacing lead to the right atrial appendage. The device was programmed to deliver intermittent 50 Hz bursts of 30 s duration over an 8-week period whilst sheep were monitored for AF. Results: Eighteen sheep completed the protocol, of which 28% developed sustained AF. Logistic regression analysis showed only fibrillation number (calculated using the critical mass hypothesis as the left atrial diameter divided by the product of atrial conduction velocity and effective refractory period) was associated with an increased likelihood of developing sustained AF (Ln Odds Ratio 26.1 [95% confidence intervals 0.2–52.0] p = 0.048). A receiver-operator characteristic curve showed this could be used to predict which sheep developed sustained AF (C-statistic 0.82 [95% confidence intervals 0.59–1.04] p = 0.04). Conclusion: The critical mass hypothesis can be used to predict sustained AF in a tachypaced ovine model. These findings can be used to optimise the design of future studies involving large animals.
    • Plant-Morphing Strategies and Plant-Inspired Soft Actuators Fabricated by Biomimetic Four-Dimensional Printing: A Review

      Ren, Luquan; Li, Bingqian; Wang, Kunyang; Zhou, Xueli; Song, Zhengyi; Ren, Lei; email: lei.ren@manchester.ac.uk; Liu, Qingping; email: liuqp@jlu.edu.cn (Frontiers Media S.A., 2021-05-04)
      For prey, seeding, and protection, plants exhibit ingenious adaptive motions that respond autonomously to environmental stimuli by varying cellular organization, anisotropic orientation of cellulose fibers, mechanical instability design, etc. Notably, plants do not leverage muscle and nerves to produce and regulate their motions. In contrast, they harvest energy from the ambient environment and compute through embodied intelligence. These characteristics make them ideal candidates for application in self-morphing devices. Four-dimensional (4D) printing is a bottom-up additive manufacturing method that builds objects with the ability to change shape/properties in a predetermined manner. A versatile motion design catalog is required to predict the morphing processes and final states of the printed parts. This review summarizes the morphing and actuation mechanisms of plants and concludes with the recent development of 4D-printed smart materials inspired by the locomotion and structures of plant systems. We provide analyses of the challenges and our visions of biomimetic 4D printing, hoping to boost its application in soft robotics, smart medical devices, smart parts in aerospace, etc.