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Concept: Better

871

Kawaii (a Japanese word meaning “cute”) things are popular because they produce positive feelings. However, their effect on behavior remains unclear. In this study, three experiments were conducted to examine the effects of viewing cute images on subsequent task performance. In the first experiment, university students performed a fine motor dexterity task before and after viewing images of baby or adult animals. Performance indexed by the number of successful trials increased after viewing cute images (puppies and kittens; M ± SE = 43.9±10.3% improvement) more than after viewing images that were less cute (dogs and cats; 11.9±5.5% improvement). In the second experiment, this finding was replicated by using a non-motor visual search task. Performance improved more after viewing cute images (15.7±2.2% improvement) than after viewing less cute images (1.4±2.1% improvement). Viewing images of pleasant foods was ineffective in improving performance (1.2±2.1%). In the third experiment, participants performed a global-local letter task after viewing images of baby animals, adult animals, and neutral objects. In general, global features were processed faster than local features. However, this global precedence effect was reduced after viewing cute images. Results show that participants performed tasks requiring focused attention more carefully after viewing cute images. This is interpreted as the result of a narrowed attentional focus induced by the cuteness-triggered positive emotion that is associated with approach motivation and the tendency toward systematic processing. For future applications, cute objects may be used as an emotion elicitor to induce careful behavioral tendencies in specific situations, such as driving and office work.

Concepts: Better, Psychology, Improve, Attention, Performance, Behavior, Human behavior, Behaviorism

211

An in-class computer-based system, that included daily online testing, was introduced to two large university classes. We examined subsequent improvements in academic performance and reductions in the achievement gaps between lower- and upper-middle class students in academic performance. Students (N = 901) brought laptop computers to classes and took daily quizzes that provided immediate and personalized feedback. Student performance was compared with the same data for traditional classes taught previously by the same instructors (N = 935). Exam performance was approximately half a letter grade above previous semesters, based on comparisons of identical questions asked from earlier years. Students in the experimental classes performed better in other classes, both in the semester they took the course and in subsequent semester classes. The new system resulted in a 50% reduction in the achievement gap as measured by grades among students of different social classes. These findings suggest that frequent consequential quizzing should be used routinely in large lecture courses to improve performance in class and in other concurrent and subsequent courses.

Concepts: Better, Improve, University, Academia, High school, Social class, Educational assessment and evaluation, University of Cambridge

203

Epidemiological evidence suggests that consumption of flavonoids (usually via fruits and vegetables) is associated with decreased risk of developing depression. One plausible explanation for this association is the well-documented beneficial effects of flavonoids on executive function (EF). Impaired EF is linked to cognitive processes (e.g., rumination) that maintain depression and low mood; therefore, improved EF may reduce depressionogenic cognitive processes and improve mood. Study 1: 21 young adults (18-21 years old) consumed a flavonoid-rich blueberry drink and a matched placebo in a counterbalanced cross-over design. Study 2: 50 children (7-10 years old) were randomly assigned to a flavonoid-rich blueberry drink or a matched placebo. In both studies, participants and researchers were blind to the experimental condition, and mood was assessed using the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule before and 2 h after consumption of the drinks. In both studies, the blueberry intervention increased positive affect (significant drink by session interaction) but had no effect on negative affect. This observed effect of flavonoids on positive affect in two independent samples is of potential practical value in improving public health. If the effect of flavonoids on positive affect is replicated, further investigation will be needed to identify the mechanisms that link flavonoid interventions with improved positive mood.

Concepts: Better, Psychology, Epidemiology, Improve, Effect, Affect, Emotion, Affect theory

198

To characterize effects of alemtuzumab treatment on measures of disability improvement in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) with inadequate response (≥1 relapse) to prior therapy.

Concepts: Better, Improve, Multiple sclerosis

189

Recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEpo) increases haemoglobin mass (Hb(mass)) and maximal oxygen uptake ([Formula: see text] O(2 max)). PURPOSE: This study defined the time course of changes in Hb(mass), [Formula: see text] O(2 max) as well as running time trial performance following 4 weeks of rHuEpo administration to determine whether the laboratory observations would translate into actual improvements in running performance in the field. METHODS: 19 trained men received rHuEpo injections of 50 IU•kg(-1) body mass every two days for 4 weeks. Hb(mass) was determined weekly using the optimized carbon monoxide rebreathing method until 4 weeks after administration. [Formula: see text] O(2 max) and 3,000 m time trial performance were measured pre, post administration and at the end of the study. RESULTS: Relative to baseline, running performance significantly improved by ∼6% after administration (10∶30±1∶07 min:sec vs. 11∶08±1∶15 min:sec, p<0.001) and remained significantly enhanced by ∼3% 4 weeks after administration (10∶46±1∶13 min:sec, p<0.001), while [Formula: see text] O(2 max) was also significantly increased post administration (60.7±5.8 mL•min(-1)•kg(-1) vs. 56.0±6.2 mL•min(-1)•kg(-1), p<0.001) and remained significantly increased 4 weeks after rHuEpo (58.0±5.6 mL•min(-1)•kg(-1), p = 0.021). Hb(mass) was significantly increased at the end of administration compared to baseline (15.2±1.5 g•kg(-1) vs. 12.7±1.2 g•kg(-1), p<0.001). The rate of decrease in Hb(mass) toward baseline values post rHuEpo was similar to that of the increase during administration (-0.53 g•kg(-1)•wk(-1), 95% confidence interval (CI) (-0.68, -0.38) vs. 0.54 g•kg(-1•)wk(-1), CI (0.46, 0.63)) but Hb(mass) was still significantly elevated 4 weeks after administration compared to baseline (13.7±1.1 g•kg(-1), p<0.001). CONCLUSION: Running performance was improved following 4 weeks of rHuEpo and remained elevated 4 weeks after administration compared to baseline. These field performance effects coincided with rHuEpo-induced elevated [Formula: see text] O(2 max) and Hb(mass).

Concepts: Better, Hemoglobin, Oxygen, Erythropoietin, Improve, Carbon monoxide, VO2 max, Knitting

178

Background Combination therapy with the BRAF inhibitor dabrafenib plus the MEK inhibitor trametinib improved survival in patients with advanced melanoma with BRAF V600 mutations. We sought to determine whether adjuvant dabrafenib plus trametinib would improve outcomes in patients with resected, stage III melanoma with BRAF V600 mutations. Methods In this double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 3 trial, we randomly assigned 870 patients with completely resected, stage III melanoma with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations to receive oral dabrafenib at a dose of 150 mg twice daily plus trametinib at a dose of 2 mg once daily (combination therapy, 438 patients) or two matched placebo tablets (432 patients) for 12 months. The primary end point was relapse-free survival. Secondary end points included overall survival, distant metastasis-free survival, freedom from relapse, and safety. Results At a median follow-up of 2.8 years, the estimated 3-year rate of relapse-free survival was 58% in the combination-therapy group and 39% in the placebo group (hazard ratio for relapse or death, 0.47; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.39 to 0.58; P<0.001). The 3-year overall survival rate was 86% in the combination-therapy group and 77% in the placebo group (hazard ratio for death, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.42 to 0.79; P=0.0006), but this level of improvement did not cross the prespecified interim analysis boundary of P=0.000019. Rates of distant metastasis-free survival and freedom from relapse were also higher in the combination-therapy group than in the placebo group. The safety profile of dabrafenib plus trametinib was consistent with that observed with the combination in patients with metastatic melanoma. Conclusions Adjuvant use of combination therapy with dabrafenib plus trametinib resulted in a significantly lower risk of recurrence in patients with stage III melanoma with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations than the adjuvant use of placebo and was not associated with new toxic effects. (Funded by GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis; COMBI-AD ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01682083 ; EudraCT number, 2012-001266-15 .).

Concepts: Better, Clinical trial, Survival analysis, Medical terms, Demography, Melanoma, Placebo, Statistical ratios

171

Guarding behavior is an important activity in sub-social insects, and this behavior is believed to improve the survival of offspring. Sclerodermus harmandi (Hymenoptera: Bethylidae) is one of most powerful epizoic parasitoid wasps, and it parasitizes Monochamus alternatus, a borer of wood and also the primary vector of the pinewood nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus. After laying eggs, S. harmandi exhibits sub-social behavior involving the female tending the clutch of eggs until emergence (guarding behavior). In this study, the benefits of this maternal care with regard to improvements in the survival of offspring were examined. During the developmental stages, only offspring in the egg and larval stages were sensitive to guarding behavior. A positive relationship between the survival of the offspring and the duration of guarding was detected with logistic regression analysis. A female replacement experiment demonstrated that multiparous S. harmandi stepmothers showed guarding behavior and that this behavior improved the survival of the immature offspring, whereas nulliparous stepmothers failed to exhibit the guarding behavior. These results indicate that S. harmandi females display maternal care and that this behavior improves the survival of offspring.

Concepts: Better, Regression analysis, Logistic regression, Improve, Insect, Nematodes, Wasp, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus

169

A novel treatment serum formulated to target multiple pathways in the anti-ageing cascade was tested both in vitro and in clinical settings. In vitro testing was performed to assess the ability to stimulate key proteins and genes fundamental to the anti-ageing cascade. The antioxidant potential of the formulation was studied in a UV-irradiation clinical study. A 12-week, open-label, single-centre study was conducted to determine whether this uniquely formulated topical treatment serum could improve visible signs of facial photodamage. Clinical evaluations showed statistically significant reductions in fine wrinkles and coarse wrinkles and improvements in skin texture, tone and radiance starting at week 4 with continued improvements at weeks 8 and 12. Subject self-assessments confirmed that the beneficial effects of the treatment serum were readily observed by the users. The treatment serum was well tolerated with no treatment-related adverse events reported during the 12-week study. Use of this novel treatment serum produced significant improvements in the visible signs of facial photodamage.

Concepts: Better, Clinical trial, Improve, Statistical significance, Effectiveness, Clinical research, In vitro, Adverse event

168

Automated cell imaging systems facilitate fast and reliable analysis of biological events at the cellular level. In these systems, the first step is usually cell segmentation that greatly affects the success of the subsequent system steps. On the other hand, similar to other image segmentation problems, cell segmentation is an ill-posed problem that typically necessitates the use of domain-specific knowledge to obtain successful segmentations even by human subjects. The approaches that can incorporate this knowledge into their segmentation algorithms have potential to greatly improve segmentation results. In this work, we propose a new approach for the effective segmentation of live cells from phase contrast microscopy. This approach introduces a new set of “smart markers” for a marker-controlled watershed algorithm, for which the identification of its markers is critical. The proposed approach relies on using domain-specific knowledge, in the form of visual characteristics of the cells, to define the markers. We evaluate our approach on a total of 1,954 cells. The experimental results demonstrate that this approach, which uses the proposed definition of smart markers, is quite effective in identifying better markers compared to its counterparts. This will, in turn, be effective in improving the segmentation performance of a marker-controlled watershed algorithm.

Concepts: Better, Microscope, Microscopy, Numerical analysis, Image processing, Phase-contrast imaging, Watershed, Segmentation

167

As a component of the practice-based core competency of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, all residents must receive training to be able to evaluate and improve their patient care practices. To further enhance our overall resident quality improvement (QI) educational experience, and to ensure resident involvement in the many aspects of a quality assurance program, we have established a resident educational leadership role and have appointed a resident as resident QI director.

Concepts: Better, Improve, Quality control, Physician, Management, Quality assurance, Medical school, Teacher