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Concept: 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


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


Social relationships and interactions contribute to daily emotional well-being. The emotional benefits that come from engaging with others are known to arise from real events, but do they also come from the imagination during daydreaming activity? Using experience sampling methodology with 101 participants, we obtained 371 reports of naturally occurring daydreams with social and non-social content and self-reported feelings before and after daydreaming. Social, but not non-social, daydreams were associated with increased happiness, love and connection and this effect was not solely attributable to the emotional content of the daydreams. These effects were only present when participants were lacking in these feelings before daydreaming and when the daydream involved imagining others with whom the daydreamer had a high quality relationship. Findings are consistent with the idea that social daydreams may function to regulate emotion: imagining close others may serve the current emotional needs of daydreamers by increasing positive feelings towards themselves and others.

Concepts: Abstraction, Imagination, Daydream


This article investigates how neuroscience in general, and neuroscience of creativity in particular, can be used in teaching “applied creativity” and the usefulness of this approach to creativity training. The article is based on empirical data and our experiences from the Applied NeuroCreativity (ANC) program, taught at business schools in Denmark and Canada. In line with previous studies of successful creativity training programs the ANC participants are first introduced to cognitive concepts of creativity, before applying these concepts to a relevant real world creative problem. The novelty in the ANC program is that the conceptualization of creativity is built on neuroscience, and a crucial aspect of the course is giving the students a thorough understanding of the neuroscience of creativity. Previous studies have reported that the conceptualization of creativity used in such training is of major importance for the success of the training, and we believe that the neuroscience of creativity offers a novel conceptualization for creativity training. Here we present pre/post-training tests showing that ANC students gained more fluency in divergent thinking (a traditional measure of trait creativity) than those in highly similar courses without the neuroscience component, suggesting that principles from neuroscience can contribute effectively to creativity training and produce measurable results on creativity tests. The evidence presented indicates that the inclusion of neuroscience principles in a creativity course can in 8 weeks increase divergent thinking skills with an individual relative average of 28.5%.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Education, Cognition, Idea, Thought, Problem solving, Abstraction


BackgroundInformed consent in research is partly achieved through the use of information sheets. There is a perception however that these information sheets are long and complex. The recommended reading level for patient information is grade 6, or 11-12 years old.AimsTo investigate whether the readability of participant information sheets has changed over time, whether particular study characteristics are related to poorer readability and whether readability and other study characteristics are related to successful study recruitment.MethodWe obtained 522 information sheets from the UK National Institute for Health Research Clinical Research Network: Mental Health portfolio database and study principal investigators. Readability was assessed with the Flesch reading index and the Grade level test.ResultsInformation sheets increased in length over the study period. The mean grade level across all information sheets was 9.8, or 15-16 years old. A high level of patient involvement was associated with more recruitment success and studies involving pharmaceutical or device interventions were the least successful. The complexity of information sheets had little bearing on successful recruitment.ConclusionsInformation sheets are far more complex than the recommended reading level of grade 6 for patient information. The disparity may be exacerbated by an increasing focus on legal content. Researchers would benefit from clear guidance from ethics committees on writing succinctly and accessibly and how to balance the competing legal issues with the ability of participants to understand what a study entails.

Concepts: Medicine, Perception, Sense, Writing, Cultural studies, Abstraction, Readability, Health research


The idea that underlying, generative mechanisms give rise to causal regularities has become a guiding principle across many social and natural science disciplines. A specific form of this enquiry, realist evaluation is gaining momentum in the evaluation of complex social interventions. It focuses on ‘what works, how, in which conditions and for whom’ using context, mechanism and outcome configurations as opposed to asking whether an intervention ‘works’. Realist evaluation can be difficult to codify and requires considerable researcher reflection and creativity. As such there is often confusion when operationalising the method in practice. This article aims to clarify and further develop the concept of mechanism in realist evaluation and in doing so aid the learning of those operationalising the methodology.

Concepts: Scientific method, Cognition, Science, Idea, Concepts in metaphysics, Nature, Abstraction, Natural science


Prior research has established that while the use of concrete, familiar examples can provide many important benefits for learning, it is also associated with some serious disadvantages, particularly in learners' ability to recognize and transfer their knowledge to new analogous situations. However, it is not immediately clear whether this pattern would hold in real world educational contexts, in which the role of such examples in student engagement and ease of processing might be of enough importance to overshadow any potential negative impact. We conducted two experiments in which curriculum-relevant material was presented in natural classroom environments, first with college undergraduates and then with middle-school students. All students in each study received the same relevant content, but the degree of contextualization in these materials was varied between students. In both studies, we found that greater contextualization was associated with poorer transfer performance. We interpret these results as reflecting a greater degree of embeddedness for the knowledge acquired from richer, more concrete materials, such that the underlying principles are represented in a less abstract and generalizable form.

Concepts: Education, Educational psychology, Linguistics, Learning, Metaphysics, Abstraction, Student, Concrete


Psychologists have long hypothesized that daydreaming (i.e., engaging in stimulus-independent, task-unrelated thoughts and images) may facilitate creativity, but evidence for this hypothesis has been mixed. We propose that, to fully understand the relationship between daydreaming and creativity, it is essential to distinguish between different creative processes as well as between alternative styles of daydreaming. A prominent distinction in creativity research is that between analytic problem solving, which involves incremental and largely conscious processes, and insight, which is characterized by the spontaneity with which an idea springs to mind. In this aspect, insight resembles daydreaming. Indeed, recent evidence has linked daydreaming to creative performance. But like creativity, daydreaming is a multifaceted concept. Daydreams vary in style and content, a fact that is receiving little attention in contemporary research. Not all kinds of daydreaming are likely to have the same effects on creativity. We discuss different factors prevalent in people’s daydreaming, such as mood, attentional focus, and intentionality, and consider how these factors may be related to creative processes. We further discuss implications for ways to enhance creativity through deliberate daydreaming practice.

Concepts: Psychology, Philosophy of mind, Mind, Idea, Problem solving, Abstraction, Creativity, Imagination


Are musicians better able to understand speech in noise than non-musicians? Recent findings have produced contradictory results. Here we addressed this question by asking musicians and non-musicians to understand target sentences masked by other sentences presented from different spatial locations, the classical ‘cocktail party problem’ in speech science. We found that musicians obtained a substantial benefit in this situation, with thresholds ~6 dB better than non-musicians. Large individual differences in performance were noted particularly for the non-musically trained group. Furthermore, in different conditions we manipulated the spatial location and intelligibility of the masking sentences, thus changing the amount of ‘informational masking’ (IM) while keeping the amount of ‘energetic masking’ (EM) relatively constant. When the maskers were unintelligible and spatially separated from the target (low in IM), musicians and non-musicians performed comparably. These results suggest that the characteristics of speech maskers and the amount of IM can influence the magnitude of the differences found between musicians and non-musicians in multiple-talker “cocktail party” environments. Furthermore, considering the task in terms of the EM-IM distinction provides a conceptual framework for future behavioral and neuroscientific studies which explore the underlying sensory and cognitive mechanisms contributing to enhanced “speech-in-noise” perception by musicians.

Concepts: Psychology, Cognition, Perception, Concept, Abstraction, Music, Party, Cocktail party


This paper presents Integrated Information Theory (IIT) of consciousness 3.0, which incorporates several advances over previous formulations. IIT starts from phenomenological axioms: information says that each experience is specific - it is what it is by how it differs from alternative experiences; integration says that it is unified - irreducible to non-interdependent components; exclusion says that it has unique borders and a particular spatio-temporal grain. These axioms are formalized into postulates that prescribe how physical mechanisms, such as neurons or logic gates, must be configured to generate experience (phenomenology). The postulates are used to define intrinsic information as “differences that make a difference” within a system, and integrated information as information specified by a whole that cannot be reduced to that specified by its parts. By applying the postulates both at the level of individual mechanisms and at the level of systems of mechanisms, IIT arrives at an identity: an experience is a maximally irreducible conceptual structure (MICS, a constellation of concepts in qualia space), and the set of elements that generates it constitutes a complex. According to IIT, a MICS specifies the quality of an experience and integrated information ΦMax its quantity. From the theory follow several results, including: a system of mechanisms may condense into a major complex and non-overlapping minor complexes; the concepts that specify the quality of an experience are always about the complex itself and relate only indirectly to the external environment; anatomical connectivity influences complexes and associated MICS; a complex can generate a MICS even if its elements are inactive; simple systems can be minimally conscious; complicated systems can be unconscious; there can be true “zombies” - unconscious feed-forward systems that are functionally equivalent to conscious complexes.

Concepts: Mathematics, Philosophy of mind, Consciousness, Logic, Concept, Abstraction, Unconscious mind, Phenomenology