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Concept: Signal


Photoplethysmography (PPG) devices are widely used for monitoring cardiovascular function. However, these devices require skin contact, which restricts their use to at-rest short-term monitoring. Photoplethysmographic imaging (PPGI) has been recently proposed as a non-contact monitoring alternative by measuring blood pulse signals across a spatial region of interest. Existing systems operate in reflectance mode, many of which are limited to short-distance monitoring and are prone to temporal changes in ambient illumination. This paper is the first study to investigate the feasibility of long-distance non-contact cardiovascular monitoring at the supermeter level using transmittance PPGI. For this purpose, a novel PPGI system was designed at the hardware and software level. Temporally coded illumination (TCI) is proposed for ambient correction, and a signal processing pipeline is proposed for PPGI signal extraction. Experimental results show that the processing steps yielded a substantially more pulsatile PPGI signal than the raw acquired signal, resulting in statistically significant increases in correlation to ground-truth PPG in both short- and long-distance monitoring. The results support the hypothesis that long-distance heart rate monitoring is feasible using transmittance PPGI, allowing for new possibilities of monitoring cardiovascular function in a non-contact manner.

Concepts: Time, Statistics, Blood, Heart, Statistical significance, Pulse, Signal, Image processing


We often perform movements and actions on the basis of internal motivations and without any explicit instructions or cues. One common example of such behaviors is our ability to initiate movements solely on the basis of an internally generated sense of the passage of time. In order to isolate the neuronal signals responsible for such timed behaviors, we devised a task that requires nonhuman primates to move their eyes consistently at regular time intervals in the absence of any external stimulus events and without an immediate expectation of reward. Despite the lack of sensory information, we found that animals were remarkably precise and consistent in timed behaviors, with standard deviations on the order of 100 ms. To examine the potential neural basis of this precision, we recorded from single neurons in the lateral intraparietal area (LIP), which has been implicated in the planning and execution of eye movements. In contrast to previous studies that observed a build-up of activity associated with the passage of time, we found that LIP activity decreased at a constant rate between timed movements. Moreover, the magnitude of activity was predictive of the timing of the impending movement. Interestingly, this relationship depended on eye movement direction: activity was negatively correlated with timing when the upcoming saccade was toward the neuron’s response field and positively correlated when the upcoming saccade was directed away from the response field. This suggests that LIP activity encodes timed movements in a push-pull manner by signaling for both saccade initiation towards one target and prolonged fixation for the other target. Thus timed movements in this task appear to reflect the competition between local populations of task relevant neurons rather than a global timing signal.

Concepts: Nervous system, Neuron, Brain, Action potential, Eye, Saccade, Signal, Intraparietal sulcus


Nodal and BMP signals are important for establishing left-right (LR) asymmetry in vertebrates. In sea urchins, Nodal signaling prevents the formation of the rudiment on the right side. However, the opposing pathway to Nodal signaling during LR axis establishment is not clear. Here, we revealed that BMP signaling is activated in the left coelomic pouch, specifically in the veg2 lineage, but not in the small micromeres. By perturbing BMP activities, we demonstrated that BMP signaling is required for activating the expression of the left-sided genes and the formation of the left-sided structures. On the other hand, Nodal signals on the right side inhibit BMP signaling and control LR asymmetric separation and apoptosis of the small micromeres. Our findings show that BMP signaling is the positive signal for left-sided development in sea urchins, suggesting that the opposing roles of Nodal and BMP signals in establishing LR asymmetry are conserved in deuterostomes.

Concepts: Left-wing politics, Animal, Signal, Right-wing politics, Political spectrum, Sea urchin, Urchin, Sea otter


Offspring survival can often depend on successful communication with parents about their state of need. Theory suggests that offspring will be less likely to honestly signal their need when they experience greater competition from either a greater number of nestmates or less-related nestmates. We found support for this hypothesis with a comparative analysis, examining data from across 60 species of birds. We found that offspring are less honest about their level of need when (i) they face competition from current siblings; (ii) their parents are likely to breed again, and so they are in competition with future siblings; and (iii) parental divorce or death means that they are likely to be less related to future siblings. More generally, these patterns highlight the sensitivity of communication systems to conflict between signaler and receiver while also suggesting that when there is little conflict, natural selection favors the honest.

Concepts: Family, Natural selection, Parent, Signal, Sibling, Offspring, Parental investment, Divorce


In order to survive, animals must quickly and accurately locate prey, predators, and conspecifics using the signals they generate. The signal source location can be estimated using multiple detectors and the inverse relationship between the received signal intensity (RSI) and the distance, but difficulty of the source localization increases if there is an additional dependence on the orientation of a signal source. In such cases, the signal source could be approximated as an ideal dipole for simplification. Based on a theoretical model, the RSI can be directly predicted from a known dipole location; but estimating a dipole location from RSIs has no direct analytical solution. Here, we propose an efficient solution to the dipole localization problem by using a lookup table (LUT) to store RSIs predicted by our theoretically derived dipole model at many possible dipole positions and orientations. For a given set of RSIs measured at multiple detectors, our algorithm found a dipole location having the closest matching normalized RSIs from the LUT, and further refined the location at higher resolution. Studying the natural behavior of weakly electric fish (WEF) requires efficiently computing their location and the temporal pattern of their electric signals over extended periods. Our dipole localization method was successfully applied to track single or multiple freely swimming WEF in shallow water in real-time, as each fish could be closely approximated by an ideal current dipole in two dimensions. Our optimized search algorithm found the animal’s positions, orientations, and tail-bending angles quickly and accurately under various conditions, without the need for calibrating individual-specific parameters. Our dipole localization method is directly applicable to studying the role of active sensing during spatial navigation, or social interactions between multiple WEF. Furthermore, our method could be extended to other application areas involving dipole source localization.

Concepts: Scientific method, Predation, Dimension, Signal, The Signal, Source, Electric eel, Electric fish


Current multiplexed diagnostics for Zika, dengue, and chikungunya viruses are situated outside the intersection of affordability, high performance, and suitability for use at the point-of-care in resource-limited settings. Consequently, insufficient diagnostic capabilities are a key limitation facing current Zika outbreak management strategies. Here we demonstrate highly sensitive and specific detection of Zika, chikungunya, and dengue viruses by coupling reverse-transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) with our recently developed quenching of unincorporated amplification signal reporters (QUASR) technique. We conduct reactions in a simple, inexpensive and portable “LAMP box” supplemented with a consumer class smartphone. The entire assembly can be powered by a 5 V USB source such as a USB power bank or solar panel. Our smartphone employs a novel algorithm utilizing chromaticity to analyze fluorescence signals, which improves the discrimination of positive/negative signals by 5-fold when compared to detection with traditional RGB intensity sensors or the naked eye. The ability to detect ZIKV directly from crude human sample matrices (blood, urine, and saliva) demonstrates our device’s utility for widespread clinical deployment. Together, these advances enable our system to host the key components necessary to expand the use of nucleic acid amplification-based detection assays towards point-of-care settings where they are needed most.

Concepts: Diagnosis, Nucleic acid, English-language films, Signal, The Key, Chikungunya, Demonstration, Universal Serial Bus


Although macrophages can be polarized to distinct phenotypes in vitro with individual ligands, in vivo they encounter multiple signals that control their varied functions in homeostasis, immunity, and disease. Here, we identify roles of Rev-erb nuclear receptors in regulating responses of mouse macrophages to complex tissue damage signals and wound repair. Rather than reinforcing a specific program of macrophage polarization, Rev-erbs repress subsets of genes that are activated by TLR ligands, IL4, TGFβ, and damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPS). Unexpectedly, a complex damage signal promotes co-localization of NF-κB, Smad3, and Nrf2 at Rev-erb-sensitive enhancers and drives expression of genes characteristic of multiple polarization states in the same cells. Rev-erb-sensitive enhancers thereby integrate multiple damage-activated signaling pathways to promote a wound repair phenotype.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Cell nucleus, Gene expression, Evolution, Organism, Signal, Polarization


Courtship displays may serve as signals of the quality of motor performance, but little is known about the underlying biomechanics that determines both their signal content and costs. Peacocks (Pavo cristatus) perform a complex, multimodal “train-rattling” display in which they court females by vibrating the iridescent feathers in their elaborate train ornament. Here we study how feather biomechanics influences the performance of this display using a combination of field recordings and laboratory experiments. Using high-speed video, we find that train-rattling peacocks stridulate their tail feathers against the train at 25.6 Hz, on average, generating a broadband, pulsating mechanical sound at that frequency. Laboratory measurements demonstrate that arrays of peacock tail and train feathers have a broad resonant peak in their vibrational spectra at the range of frequencies used for train-rattling during the display, and the motion of feathers is just as expected for feathers shaking near resonance. This indicates that peacocks are able to drive feather vibrations energetically efficiently over a relatively broad range of frequencies, enabling them to modulate the feather vibration frequency of their displays. Using our field data, we show that peacocks with longer trains use slightly higher vibration frequencies on average, even though longer train feathers are heavier and have lower resonant frequencies. Based on these results, we propose hypotheses for future studies of the function and energetics of this display that ask why its dynamic elements might attract and maintain female attention. Finally, we demonstrate how the mechanical structure of the train feathers affects the peacock’s visual display by allowing the colorful iridescent eyespots-which strongly influence female mate choice-to remain nearly stationary against a dynamic iridescent background.

Concepts: Signal, Wave, Frequency, Sound, Resonance, Vibration, Feather, Mechanical resonance


Intraspecific communication in frogs plays an important role in the recognition of conspecifics in general and of potential rivals or mates in particular and therefore with relevant consequences for pre-zygotic reproductive isolation. We investigate intraspecific communication in Hylodes japi, an endemic Brazilian torrent frog with territorial males and an elaborate courtship behavior. We describe its repertoire of acoustic signals as well as one of the most complex repertoires of visual displays known in anurans, including five new visual displays. Previously unknown in frogs, we also describe a bimodal inter-sexual communication system where the female stimulates the male to emit a courtship call. As another novelty for frogs, we show that in addition to choosing which limb to signal with, males choose which of their two vocal sacs will be used for visual signaling. We explain how and why this is accomplished. Control of inflation also provides additional evidence that vocal sac movement and color must be important for visual communication, even while producing sound. Through the current knowledge on visual signaling in Neotropical torrent frogs (i.e. hylodids), we discuss and highlight the behavioral diversity in the family Hylodidae. Our findings indicate that communication in species of Hylodes is undoubtedly more sophisticated than we expected and that visual communication in anurans is more widespread than previously thought. This is especially true in tropical regions, most likely due to the higher number of species and phylogenetic groups and/or to ecological factors, such as higher microhabitat diversity.

Concepts: Male, Reproduction, Biodiversity, Signal, Amphibian, Frog, Frogs


There is a general lack of understanding about how communities of bacteria respond to exogenous toxins such as antibiotics. Most of our understanding of community-level stress responses comes from the study of stationary biofilm communities. Although several community behaviors and production of specific biomolecules affecting biofilm development and associated behavior have been described forPseudomonas aeruginosaand other bacteria, we have little appreciation for the production and dispersal of secreted metabolites within the 2D and 3D spaces they occupy as they colonize, spread, and grow on surfaces. Here we specifically studied the phenotypic responses and spatial variability of alkyl quinolones, including thePseudomonasquinolone signal (PQS) and members of the alkyl hydroxyquinoline (AQNO) subclass, inP. aeruginosaplate-assay swarming communities. We found that PQS production was not a universal signaling response to antibiotics as tobramycin elicited an alkyl quinolone response while carbenicillin did not. We also found that PQS and AQNO profiles in response to tobramycin were markedly distinct and influenced these swarms on different spatial scales. The distribution of alkyl quinolones varied by several orders of magnitude within the same swarm. At some tobramycin exposures,P. aeruginosaswarms produced alkyl quinolones in the range of 150 µM PQS and 400 µM AQNO that accumulated as aggregates. Our collective findings show that the distribution of alkyl quinolones can vary by several orders of magnitude within the same swarming community.  More notably, our results suggest that multiple intercellular signals acting on different spatial scales can be triggered by one common cue.

Concepts: Bacteria, Antibiotic resistance, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Signal, Antibiotic, Behavior, Quinolone, Swarm