Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Causality


Arguments that abortion causes women emotional harm are used to regulate abortion, particularly later procedures, in the United States. However, existing research is inconclusive. We examined women’s emotions and reports of whether the abortion decision was the right one for them over the three years after having an induced abortion.

Concepts: Longitudinal study, Causality, United States, Poverty in the United States, Metaphysics, Emotion, Roe v. Wade, Ideology


The articular release of the metacarpophalangeal joint produces a typical cracking sound, resulting in what is commonly referred to as the cracking of knuckles. Despite over sixty years of research, the source of the knuckle cracking sound continues to be debated due to inconclusive experimental evidence as a result of limitations in the temporal resolution of non-invasive physiological imaging techniques. To support the available experimental data and shed light onto the source of the cracking sound, we have developed a mathematical model of the events leading to the generation of the sound. The model resolves the dynamics of a collapsing cavitation bubble in the synovial fluid inside a metacarpophalangeal joint during an articular release. The acoustic signature from the resulting bubble dynamics is shown to be consistent in both magnitude and dominant frequency with experimental measurements in the literature and with our own experiments, thus lending support for cavitation bubble collapse as the source of the cracking sound. Finally, the model also shows that only a partial collapse of the bubble is needed to replicate the experimentally observed acoustic spectra, thus allowing for bubbles to persist following the generation of sound as has been reported in recent experiments.

Concepts: Causality, Science, Experiment, Joints, Sound, Sonar, Replicate, Cavitation


 To test whether the number of reports of enjoyment of life over a four year period is quantitatively associated with all cause mortality, and with death from cardiovascular disease and from other causes.

Concepts: Longitudinal study, Research methods, Epidemiology, Disease, Causality, Death, Life, Sociology


Eye gaze is a window onto cognitive processing in tasks such as spatial memory, linguistic processing, and decision making. We present evidence that information derived from eye gaze can be used to change the course of individuals' decisions, even when they are reasoning about high-level, moral issues. Previous studies have shown that when an experimenter actively controls what an individual sees the experimenter can affect simple decisions with alternatives of almost equal valence. Here we show that if an experimenter passively knows when individuals move their eyes the experimenter can change complex moral decisions. This causal effect is achieved by simply adjusting the timing of the decisions. We monitored participants' eye movements during a two-alternative forced-choice task with moral questions. One option was randomly predetermined as a target. At the moment participants had fixated the target option for a set amount of time we terminated their deliberation and prompted them to choose between the two alternatives. Although participants were unaware of this gaze-contingent manipulation, their choices were systematically biased toward the target option. We conclude that even abstract moral cognition is partly constituted by interactions with the immediate environment and is likely supported by gaze-dependent decision processes. By tracking the interplay between individuals, their sensorimotor systems, and the environment, we can influence the outcome of a decision without directly manipulating the content of the information available to them.

Concepts: Psychology, Brain, Decision making, Critical thinking, Causality, Cognitive psychology, Cognition, Morality


This paper describes a method of generating three-dimensional (3D) cell-laden microstructures by applying the principle of origami folding technique and cell traction force (CTF). We harness the CTF as a biological driving force to fold the microstructures. Cells stretch and adhere across multiple microplates. Upon detaching the microplates from a substrate, CTF causes the plates to lift and fold according to a prescribed pattern. This self-folding technique using cells is highly biocompatible and does not involve special material requirements for the microplates and hinges to induce folding. We successfully produced various 3D cell-laden microstructures by just changing the geometry of the patterned 2D plates. We also achieved mass-production of the 3D cell-laden microstructures without causing damage to the cells. We believe that our methods will be useful for biotechnology applications that require analysis of cells in 3D configurations and for self-assembly of cell-based micro-medical devices.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Causality, Enzyme, Organism, Cell biology, Biotechnology, Cell wall


BACKGROUND: Screen entertainment for young children has been associated with several aspects of psychosocial adjustment. Most research is from North America and focuses on television. Few longitudinal studies have compared the effects of TV and electronic games, or have investigated gender differences. PURPOSE: To explore how time watching TV and playing electronic games at age 5 years each predicts change in psychosocial adjustment in a representative sample of 7 year-olds from the UK. METHODS: Typical daily hours viewing television and playing electronic games at age 5 years were reported by mothers of 11 014 children from the UK Millennium Cohort Study. Conduct problems, emotional symptoms, peer relationship problems, hyperactivity/inattention and prosocial behaviour were reported by mothers using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Change in adjustment from age 5 years to 7 years was regressed on screen exposures; adjusting for family characteristics and functioning, and child characteristics. RESULTS: Watching TV for 3 h or more at 5 years predicted a 0.13 point increase (95% CI 0.03 to 0.24) in conduct problems by 7 years, compared with watching for under an hour, but playing electronic games was not associated with conduct problems. No associations were found between either type of screen time and emotional symptoms, hyperactivity/inattention, peer relationship problems or prosocial behaviour. There was no evidence of gender differences in the effect of screen time. CONCLUSIONS: TV but not electronic games predicted a small increase in conduct problems. Screen time did not predict other aspects of psychosocial adjustment. Further work is required to establish causal mechanisms.

Concepts: Vacuum tube, Cohort study, Longitudinal study, Research methods, Causality, United Kingdom, Radio, Television


Obesity is associated with vitamin D deficiency, and both are areas of active public health concern. We explored the causality and direction of the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] using genetic markers as instrumental variables (IVs) in bi-directional Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis.

Concepts: Vitamin D, Public health, Genetics, Causality, Nutrition, Body mass index, Vitamins


Previous research suggests a link between the quality of teacher-student relationships and the students' behavioral outcomes; however, the observational nature of past studies makes it difficult to attribute a causal role to the quality of these relationships. In the current study, therefore, we used a propensity score analysis approach to evaluate whether students who were matched on their propensity to experience a given level of relationship quality but differed on their actual relationship quality diverged on their concurrent and subsequent problem and prosocial behavior. Student/self, teacher, and parent- (only waves 1-3) reported data from 8 waves of the Zurich Project on the Social Development of Children and Youths (z-proso), a longitudinal study of Swiss youth among a culturally diverse sample of 7- to 15-year-olds were utilized. The initial sample included 1483 (49.4 % female) students for whom information relevant for this study was available. The sample represented families from around 80 different countries, from across all the continents; with approximately 42 % of the female primary caregivers having been born in Switzerland. Following successful matching, we found that students who reported better relationships with their teachers and whose teachers reported better relationships with them evidenced fewer problem behaviors concurrently and up to 4 years later. There was also evidence for an analogous effect in predicting prosocial behavior. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to prevention and intervention practices.

Concepts: Psychology, Longitudinal study, Causality, Sociology, Switzerland, Behavior, Human behavior, Propensity score


There has been widespread concern that neonicotinoid pesticides may be adversely impacting wild and managed bees for some years, but recently attention has shifted to examining broader effects they may be having on biodiversity. For example in the Netherlands, declines in insectivorous birds are positively associated with levels of neonicotinoid pollution in surface water. In England, the total abundance of widespread butterfly species declined by 58% on farmed land between 2000 and 2009 despite both a doubling in conservation spending in the UK, and predictions that climate change should benefit most species. Here we build models of the UK population indices from 1985 to 2012 for 17 widespread butterfly species that commonly occur at farmland sites. Of the factors we tested, three correlated significantly with butterfly populations. Summer temperature and the index for a species the previous year are both positively associated with butterfly indices. By contrast, the number of hectares of farmland where neonicotinoid pesticides are used is negatively associated with butterfly indices. Indices for 15 of the 17 species show negative associations with neonicotinoid usage. The declines in butterflies have largely occurred in England, where neonicotinoid usage is at its highest. In Scotland, where neonicotinoid usage is comparatively low, butterfly numbers are stable. Further research is needed urgently to show whether there is a causal link between neonicotinoid usage and the decline of widespread butterflies or whether it simply represents a proxy for other environmental factors associated with intensive agriculture.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Conservation biology, Agriculture, Causality, Insect, Index, Insecticide, Butterfly


On 9 June 2008, the UK’s largest mass stranding event (MSE) of short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) occurred in Falmouth Bay, Cornwall. At least 26 dolphins died, and a similar number was refloated/herded back to sea. On necropsy, all dolphins were in good nutritive status with empty stomachs and no evidence of known infectious disease or acute physical injury. Auditory tissues were grossly normal (26/26) but had microscopic haemorrhages (5/5) and mild otitis media (1/5) in the freshest cases. Five lactating adult dolphins, one immature male, and one immature female tested were free of harmful algal toxins and had low chemical pollutant levels. Pathological evidence of mud/seawater inhalation (11/26), local tide cycle, and the relative lack of renal myoglobinuria (26/26) suggested MSE onset on a rising tide between 06∶30 and 08∶21 hrs (9 June). Potential causes excluded or considered highly unlikely included infectious disease, gas/fat embolism, boat strike, by-catch, predator attack, foraging unusually close to shore, chemical or algal toxin exposure, abnormal weather/climatic conditions, and high-intensity acoustic inputs from seismic airgun arrays or natural sources (e.g., earthquakes). International naval exercises did occur in close proximity to the MSE with the most intense part of the exercises (including mid-frequency sonars) occurring four days before the MSE and resuming with helicopter exercises on the morning of the MSE. The MSE may therefore have been a “two-stage process” where a group of normally pelagic dolphins entered Falmouth Bay and, after 3-4 days in/around the Bay, a second acoustic/disturbance event occurred causing them to strand en masse. This spatial and temporal association with the MSE, previous associations between naval activities and cetacean MSEs, and an absence of other identifiable factors known to cause cetacean MSEs, indicates naval activity to be the most probable cause of the Falmouth Bay MSE.

Concepts: Disease, Infectious disease, Causality, Pathology, Infection, Toxin, Dolphin, Porpoise