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Concept: Abstraction


Emotions are evolved systems of intra- and interpersonal processes that are regulatory in nature, dealing mostly with issues of personal or social concern. They regulate social interaction and in extension, the social sphere. In turn, processes in the social sphere regulate emotions of individuals and groups. In other words, intrapersonal processes project in the interpersonal space, and inversely, interpersonal experiences deeply influence intrapersonal processes. Thus, I argue that the concepts of emotion generation and regulation should not be artificially separated. Similarly, interpersonal emotions should not be reduced to interacting systems of intraindividual processes. Instead, we can consider emotions at different social levels, ranging from dyads to large scale e-communities. The interaction between these levels is complex and does not only involve influences from one level to the next. In this sense the levels of emotion/regulation are messy and a challenge for empirical study. In this article, I discuss the concepts of emotions and regulation at different intra- and interpersonal levels. I extend the concept of auto-regulation of emotions (Kappas, 2008, 2011a,b) to social processes. Furthermore, I argue for the necessity of including mediated communication, particularly in cyberspace in contemporary models of emotion/regulation. Lastly, I suggest the use of concepts from systems dynamics and complex systems to tackle the challenge of the “messy layers.”

Concepts: Psychology, Sociology, Systems theory, Regulation, Emotion, Abstraction, Complex system, Concepts


We contrasted the predictive power of three measures of semantic richness-number of features (NFs), contextual dispersion (CD), and a novel measure of number of semantic neighbors (NSN)-for a large set of concrete and abstract concepts on lexical decision and naming tasks. NSN (but not NF) facilitated processing for abstract concepts, while NF (but not NSN) facilitated processing for the most concrete concepts, consistent with claims that linguistic information is more relevant for abstract concepts in early processing. Additionally, converging evidence from two datasets suggests that when NSN and CD are controlled for, the features that most facilitate processing are those associated with a concept’s physical characteristics and real-world contexts. These results suggest that rich linguistic contexts (many semantic neighbors) facilitate early activation of abstract concepts, whereas concrete concepts benefit more from rich physical contexts (many associated objects and locations).

Concepts: Ontology, Semantics, Idea, Concept, Object, Abstraction, Semiotics, Cognitive linguistics


The ability to identify and retain logical relations between stimuli and apply them to novel stimuli is known as relational concept learning. This has been demonstrated in a few animal species after extensive reinforcement training, and it reveals the brain’s ability to deal with abstract properties. Here we describe relational concept learning in newborn ducklings without reinforced training. Newly hatched domesticated mallards that were briefly exposed to a pair of objects that were either the same or different in shape or color later preferred to follow pairs of new objects exhibiting the imprinted relation. Thus, even in a seemingly rigid and very rapid form of learning such as filial imprinting, the brain operates with abstract conceptual reasoning, a faculty often assumed to be reserved to highly intelligent organisms.

Concepts: Cognition, Learning, Logic, Object, Abstraction, Imprinting, Imprint


The ability to abstract a regularity that underlies strings of sounds is a core mechanism of the language faculty but might not be specific to language learning or even to humans. It is unclear whether and to what extent nonhuman animals possess the ability to abstract regularities defining the relation among arbitrary auditory items in a string and to generalize this abstraction to strings of acoustically novel items. In this study we tested these abilities in a songbird (zebra finch) and a parrot species (budgerigar). Subjects were trained in a go/no-go design to discriminate between two sets of sound strings arranged in an XYX or an XXY structure. After this discrimination was acquired, each subject was tested with test strings that were structurally identical to the training strings but consisted of either new combinations of known elements or of novel elements belonging to other element categories. Both species learned to discriminate between the two stimulus sets. However, their responses to the test strings were strikingly different. Zebra finches categorized test stimuli with previously heard elements by the ordinal position that these elements occupied in the training strings, independent of string structure. In contrast, the budgerigars categorized both novel combinations of familiar elements as well as strings consisting of novel element types by their underlying structure. They thus abstracted the relation among items in the XYX and XXY structures, an ability similar to that shown by human infants and indicating a level of abstraction comparable to analogical reasoning.

Concepts: Structure, Linguistics, Logic, Problem solving, Abstraction, Inductive reasoning, Parrot, Finch


Abstract Although the attitudes towards homosexuality have become more liberal, particularly in industrialized Western countries, there is still a great deal of variance in terms of the worldwide levels of homonegativity. Using data from the two most recent waves of the World Values Survey (1999-2004, 2005-2009) this article seeks to explain this variance by means of a multi-level analysis of 79 countries. We include characteristics on the individual level, as age or gender, as well as aggregate variables linked to specificities of the nation-states. In particular, we focus on the religious denomination of a person and her religiosity in order to explain her attitude towards homosexuality. We find clear differences in levels of homonegativity among the followers of the individual religions.

Concepts: Metaphysics, Religion, Morality, Abstraction, Islam, Philosophical terminology, Christianity, Societal attitudes toward homosexuality


Does information play a significant role in the foundations of physics? Information is the abstraction that allows us to refer to the states of systems when we choose to ignore the systems themselves. This is only possible in very particular frameworks, like in classical or quantum theory, or more generally, whenever there exists an information unit such that the state of any system can be reversibly encoded in a sufficient number of such units. In this work, we show how the abstract formalism of quantum theory can be deduced solely from the existence of an information unit with suitable properties, together with two further natural assumptions: the continuity and reversibility of dynamics, and the possibility of characterizing the state of a composite system by local measurements. This constitutes a set of postulates for quantum theory with a simple and direct physical meaning, like the ones of special relativity or thermodynamics, and it articulates a strong connection between physics and information.

Concepts: Mathematics, Energy, Physics, General relativity, Science, Concepts in metaphysics, Metaphysics, Abstraction


Treatment for tobacco use is efficacious and beneficial to health. Although guidelines recommend that all patients who use tobacco are offered treatment as a part of their clinical care, implementing treatment has proven challenging. In the case of surgical patients, this lack of treatment is particularly unfortunate, as the benefits of abstinence from tobacco are immediate in terms of reducing the risk of surgical complications, including cardiovascular, respiratory, and wound related complications. Surgery also presents an opportunity for patients to quit for good and reduce the long term health risk. This review examines the principles of tobacco use treatment, the rationale for tobacco use treatment in the perioperative period, and how treatment can be incorporated into the routine care of surgical patients. The discipline of implementation science helps to frame these efforts by seeking to better understand how changes in clinical practice occur, and it has the potential to guide an evidence based approach to embedding tobacco treatment into the routine clinical care of surgical patients. This review uses the consolidated framework for implementation research, which includes five major domains, as a representative conceptual framework. A basic understanding of factors potentially important to successful implementation can help to guide clinicians who accept the challenge of implementing tobacco use treatment in surgical care.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Clinical trial, Understanding, Hospital, Term, Abstraction, Potential


Girard has recently shown how Winnicott supplies metapsychology with factual foundations. In this article, starting from an analysis of Winnicott’s assertion that metapsychological terms give the appearance of understanding whereas such understanding does not exist, the author upholds, on the one hand, the idea that metapsychological theorization corresponds to a speculative superstructure of psychoanalysis which is simply a set of auxiliary theoretical constructions aimed at describing the phenomena and their relations; and, on the other, that in psychoanalysis there is the proposition of a factual theorization comprised of concepts that are not proposed as being of a speculative nature, a theorization that claims to offer a succinct description of the phenomena and their relations. In a dialogue with Girard, Green, and Assoun, the author proposes that there is reason to distinguish two types of referents for the term metapsychology: one speculative and the other factual. That being so, it is possible to affirm that Winnicott rejected speculative metapsychological theorization, thereby indicating a distinction that can contribute to carrying out the task of integrating knowledge (factual) derived from several theoretical systems of psychoanalysis.

Concepts: Psychology, Truth, Cognition, Knowledge, Logic, Concept, Abstraction, Proposal


Due to the increased life expectancy and continual improvements in cardiological treatment options, diseases of the tricuspid valve, in particular tricuspid valve insufficiency will become increasingly more recognized as an interventional target. While tricuspid stenosis is rare and can be effectively treated with balloon valvuloplasty, no effective transcatheter approach to tricuspid regurgitation (TR) has yet been established. As the tricuspid annulus is a complex and highly dynamic structure that offers little resistance, orthotopic long-term fixation of transcatheter valves with the current techniques is challenging and has not yet been performed in human patients. Alternative treatment concepts include transcatheter caval valve implantation (CAVI) to address the regurgitation of blood into the caval veins, which has resulted in hemodynamic improvement and is currently undergoing further clinical investigation. Other interventional treatment concepts are aimed at tricuspid valve repair, e.g. by annular plication with the Mitralignâ„¢ device or the TriCinchâ„¢ system. In the medium-term it can be assumed that percutaneous systems and therapy options will become available for these indications whereby the functional and prognostic effects of these treatment procedures will be corroborated in the appropriate patient groups by corresponding studies.

Concepts: Heart, Right atrium, Tricuspid valve, Annulus, Abstraction, Tricuspid insufficiency, Regurgitation, Valvular heart disease


Genetically modified (GM) crops have been and continue to be a subject of controversy despite their rapid adoption by farmers where approved. For the last two decades, an important matter of debate has been their impact on pesticide use, particularly for herbicide-tolerant (HT) crops. Some claim that these crops bring about a decrease in herbicide use, while others claim the opposite. In fact, since 1996, most cultivated GMOs have been GMHT crops, which involve the use of an associated herbicide, generally glyphosate. In their very first years of adoption, HT crops often led to some decrease in herbicide use. However, the repetition of glyphosate-tolerant crops and of glyphosate only applications in the same fields without sufficient alternation and herbicide diversity has contributed to the appearance of glyphosate-resistant weeds. These weeds have resulted in a rise in the use of glyphosate and other herbicides. This article explores this situation and the impacts of herbicide-resistant weeds, using an interdisciplinary approach and drawing on recent data. The paper analyzes the spread of GMHT crops worldwide and their consequences on herbicide use in the USA in particular. It then addresses the global development of glyphosate-resistant weeds and their impact, particularly focusing on the USA. Finally, the last section explores how industry, farmers, and weed scientists are coping with the spread of resistant weeds. The concluding comments deal more widely with trends in GM crops.

Concepts: Agriculture, Pesticide, Abstraction, Genetically modified organism, Weed, Herbicide, Glyphosate, Roundup