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Concept: Asymmetry


The aim of this longitudinal study was to assess whether correction of unilateral posterior crossbite in the primary dentition results in improvement of facial symmetry and increase of palatal surface area and palatal volume. A group of 60 Caucasian children in the primary dentition, aged 5.3 ± 0.7 years, were collected at baseline. The group consisted of 30 children with a unilateral posterior crossbite with midline deviation of at least 2 mm (CB) and 30 without malocclusion (NCB). The CB group was treated using an acrylic plate expander. The children’s faces and dental casts were scanned using a three-dimensional laser scanning device. Non-parametric tests were used for data analysis to assess differences over the 30 months period of follow-up. The CB children had statistically significantly greater facial asymmetry in the lower part of the face (P < 0.05) and a significantly smaller palatal volume (P < 0.05) than the NCB children at baseline. There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups at 6, 12, 18, and 30 months follow-ups. Treatment of unilateral posterior crossbite in the primary dentition period resulted in an improvement of facial symmetry in the lower part of the face (P < 0.05) and increase of the palatal surface area and palatal volume (P < 0.001). At 30 months, relapse was observed in eight children (26.7 per cent). Treatment of unilateral posterior crossbite in the primary dentition improves facial symmetry and increases the palatal surface area and the palatal volume, though it creates normal conditions for normal occlusal development and skeletal growth.

Concepts: Statistical significance, Sociology, Group theory, Area, Asymmetry, Facial symmetry


Bilateral animals, including humans and most metazoans, are not perfectly symmetrical. Some internal structures are distributed asymmetrically to the right or left side. A conserved Nodal and BMP signaling system directs molecular pathways that impart the sidedness to those asymmetric structures. In the sea urchin embryo, one such asymmetrical structure, oddly enough, is the entire adult, which grows out of left sided structures produced in the larva. In a paper just published in PLOS Biology, BMP signaling is shown to be necessary early in larval development to initiate the asymmetric specification of one of those left-sided structures, called the left coelomic pouch. This study reports that BMP signaling activates a group of transcription factors asymmetrically in the left coelomic pouch only, which launch the pathway that eventually leads to the formation of the adult that emerges from the larva at metamorphosis.

Concepts: Insect, Developmental biology, Larva, Animal, Mesoderm, Symmetry, Metamorphosis, Asymmetry


The idea that symmetry in facial traits is associated with attractiveness because it reliably indicates good physiological health, particularly to potential sexual partners, has generated an extensive literature on the evolution of human mate choice. However, large-scale tests of this hypothesis using direct or longitudinal assessments of physiological health are lacking. Here, we investigate relationships between facial fluctuating asymmetry (FA) and detailed individual health histories in a sample (n = 4732) derived from a large longitudinal study (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children) in South West England. Facial FA was assessed using geometric morphometric analysis of facial landmark configurations derived from three-dimensional facial scans taken at 15 years of age. Facial FA was not associated with longitudinal measures of childhood health. However, there was a very small negative association between facial FA and IQ that remained significant after correcting for a positive allometric relationship between FA and face size. Overall, this study does not support the idea that facial symmetry acts as a reliable cue to physiological health. Consequently, if preferences for facial symmetry do represent an evolved adaptation, then they probably function not to provide marginal fitness benefits by choosing between relatively healthy individuals on the basis of small differences in FA, but rather evolved to motivate avoidance of markers of substantial developmental disturbance and significant pathology.

Concepts: Cohort study, Longitudinal study, Epidemiology, Biology, Sociology, Physical attractiveness, Asymmetry, Facial symmetry


Restricting our scope to the dynamical motion of the leaflets, we present a computational model for a symmetric, tri-leaflet, bioprosthetic heart valve (BHV) at the end of five complete cardiac pressure cycles, reaching the steady state of deformation during both closing and opening phases. To this end, we utilized a highly anisotropic material model for the large deformation behavior of the tissue material, for which an experimental validation was provided. The important findings are: (1) material anisotropy has significant effect on the valve opening/closing; (2) the asymmetric deformations, especially in the fully closed configuration, justify the use of cyclic symmetry; (3) adopting the fully-open position as an initial/reference configuration has the advantage of completely bypassing any complications arising from the need to assume the size and shape of the contact area in the coaptation regions of the leaflets that is necessary when the alternative, commonly-used, approach of selecting the fully-closed position is used as a reference; and (4) with proper treatments for both material anisotropy and tissue-to-tissue contact, the overall BHV model provide realistic results in conformity with the ex vivo/in vitro experiments.

Concepts: Thermodynamics, Symmetry, Geometry, Young's modulus, Attractor, Artificial heart valve, Asymmetry, Point groups in three dimensions


Morphological symmetry is a correlate of fitness-related traits or even a direct target of mate choice in a variety of taxa. In these taxa, when females discriminate among potential mates, increased selection on males should reduce fluctuating asymmetry (FA). Hybrid populations of the swordtails Xiphophorus birchmanni and Xiphophorus malinche vary from panmictic (unstructured) to highly structured, in which reproductive isolation is maintained among hybrids and parental species. We predicted that FA in flanking vertical bars used in sexual signalling should be lower in structured populations, where non-random mating patterns are observed. FA in vertical bars was markedly lower in structured populations than in parental and unstructured hybrid populations. There was no difference in FA between parentals and hybrids, suggesting that hybridisation does not directly affect FA. Rather, variation in FA likely results from contrasting mating patterns in unstructured and structured populations.

Concepts: Natural selection, Reproduction, Gender, Sex, Asymmetry, Green swordtail, Xiphophorus, Southern platyfish


This study aimed to determine whether: i) tethe-red-swimming can be used to identify the asymmetry during front crawl swimming style; ii) swimmers that perform unilateral breathing present greater asymmetry in comparison to others that use bilateral breathing; iii) swimmers of best performance present smaller asymmetry than their counterparts; iv) repeated front crawl swimming movements influence body asymmetry. 18 swimmers were assessed for propulsive force parameters (peak force, mean force, impulse and rate of force development) during a maximal front crawl tethered-swimming test lasting 2 min. A factorial analysis showed that propulsive forces decreased at the beginning, intermediate and end of the test (p<0.05), but the asymmetries were not changed at different instants of the test. When breathing preference (uni- or bilateral) was analyzed, asymmetry remained unchanged in all force parameters (p>0.05). When performance was considered (below or above mean group time), a larger asymmetry was found in the sub-group of lower performance in comparison to those of best performance (p<0.05). Therefore, the asymmetries of the propulsive forces can be detected using tethered-swimming. The propulsive forces decreased during the test but asymmetries did not change under testing conditions. Although breathing preference did not influence asymmetry, swimmers with best performance were less asymmetric than their counterparts.

Concepts: Time, Statistics, Force, Performance, Classical mechanics, Swimming, Asymmetry, Front crawl


Unilateral cleft lip is a profoundly asymmetrical condition affecting all hard and soft tissue layers from the nose to the upper lip. Although the asymmetry is minimized through cleft lip repair, a degree of asymmetry inevitably persists. Studies investigating asymmetry in patients with cleft lip have used facial measurements, and static 2D and 3D photography. The nose/lip/mouth area, however, is rarely static in our day to day social interactions.

Concepts: Matter, Sociology, Tissues, Cleft lip and palate, Facial features, Asymmetry, Facial symmetry, Philtrum


Human impact on the environment is of widespread concern. The majority of anthropogenic impacts are centred on coastal ecosystems, so surveying them is an important step in the protection of the marine environment. We have tested Oblada melanura (L. 1758) otoliths' fluctuating asymmetry as a bioindicator in a Mediterranean coastal zone. The French Riviera is characterised by a summer population increase leading in particular to more yachting, and seasonal climatic changes with reduced, more concentrated waterway flows and storm events causing soil erosion. The present three-year study compares nine sites, situated in three zones, and characterised by three types of chemical pollutant states (low; waterway mouth; recreational harbour). For O. melanura juveniles, we have not shown any significant difference in the otoliths' fluctuating symmetry between zones or types of sites. We hypothesize that high stress levels are needed to induce significant fluctuating asymmetry variation.

Concepts: Environment, Ecology, Natural environment, Climate, Ecosystem, Climate change, French Riviera, Asymmetry


Jamaican athletes are prominent in sprint running but the reasons for their success are not clear. Here we consider the possibility that symmetry, particularly symmetry of the legs, in Jamaican children is linked to high sprinting speed in adults. Our study population was a cohort of 288 rural children, mean age 8.2 (±1 SD = 1.7) years in 1996. Symmetry was measured in 1996 and 2006 from the fluctuating asymmetry (FA) of three lower-body traits and we constructed a lower body composite FA trait (Comp lb-FA). In 2010 we measured sprinting speed (for 90 m and 180 m races) in participants recruited from our original cohort. There were 163 untrained adults in our sample. We found: (i) high Comp lb and knee symmetry in 1996 and 2006 were linked to fast sprinting times in our 2010 runners and (ii) our sample of sprinters appears to have self-selected for greater symmetry. We conclude that high knee symmetry in childhood is linked to an ability to sprint fast in adult Jamaicans as well as a readiness to sprint.

Concepts: 1920, Running, 1913, 1916, Asymmetry, Sprint, 1926, Usain Bolt


In a study of degree of lower body symmetry in 73 elite Jamaican track and field athletes we show that both their knees and ankles (but not their feet) are-on average-significantly more symmetrical than those of 116 similarly aged controls from the rural Jamaican countryside. Within the elite athletes, events ranged from the 100 to the 800 m, and knee and ankle asymmetry was lower for those running the 100 m dashes than those running the longer events with turns. Nevertheless, across all events those with more symmetrical knees and ankles (but not feet) had better results compared to international standards. Regression models considering lower body symmetry combined with gender, age and weight explain 27 to 28% of the variation in performance among athletes, with symmetry related to about 5% of this variation. Within 100 m sprinters, the results suggest that those with more symmetrical knees and ankles ran faster. Altogether, our work confirms earlier findings that knee and probably ankle symmetry are positively associated with sprinting performance, while extending these findings to elite athletes.

Concepts: Foot, Symmetry, Joints, Running, Asymmetry, The Ambidextrous Universe, Usain Bolt, 60 metres