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

Concept: Task


Hand coordination can allow humans to have dexterous control with many degrees of freedom to perform various tasks in daily living. An important contributing factor to this important ability is the complex biomechanical architecture of the human hand. However, drawing a clear functional link between biomechanical architecture and hand coordination is challenging. It is not understood which biomechanical characteristics are responsible for hand coordination and what specific effect each biomechanical characteristic has. To explore this link, we first inspected the characteristics of hand coordination during daily tasks through a statistical analysis of the kinematic data, which were collected from thirty right-handed subjects during a multitude of grasping tasks. Then, the functional link between biomechanical architecture and hand coordination was drawn by establishing the clear corresponding causality between the tendinous connective characteristics of the human hand and the coordinated characteristics during daily grasping activities. The explicit functional link indicates that the biomechanical characteristic of tendinous connective architecture between muscles and articulations is the proper design by the Creator to perform a multitude of daily tasks in a comfortable way. The clear link between the structure and the function of the human hand also suggests that the design of a multifunctional robotic hand should be able to better imitate such basic architecture.

Concepts: Statistics, Motor control, Task, Hand, Characteristic, Hand strength, Fine motor skill


A brain-to-brain interface (BTBI) enabled a real-time transfer of behaviorally meaningful sensorimotor information between the brains of two rats. In this BTBI, an “encoder” rat performed sensorimotor tasks that required it to select from two choices of tactile or visual stimuli. While the encoder rat performed the task, samples of its cortical activity were transmitted to matching cortical areas of a “decoder” rat using intracortical microstimulation (ICMS). The decoder rat learned to make similar behavioral selections, guided solely by the information provided by the encoder rat’s brain. These results demonstrated that a complex system was formed by coupling the animals' brains, suggesting that BTBIs can enable dyads or networks of animal’s brains to exchange, process, and store information and, hence, serve as the basis for studies of novel types of social interaction and for biological computing devices.

Concepts: Brain, Cerebral cortex, Emergence, Visual perception, The Animals, Activity, Behavior, Task


The present study examined the relationship between personality and individual differences in multi-tasking ability. Participants enrolled at the University of Utah completed measures of multi-tasking activity, perceived multi-tasking ability, impulsivity, and sensation seeking. In addition, they performed the Operation Span in order to assess their executive control and actual multi-tasking ability. The findings indicate that the persons who are most capable of multi-tasking effectively are not the persons who are most likely to engage in multiple tasks simultaneously. To the contrary, multi-tasking activity as measured by the Media Multitasking Inventory and self-reported cell phone usage while driving were negatively correlated with actual multi-tasking ability. Multi-tasking was positively correlated with participants' perceived ability to multi-task ability which was found to be significantly inflated. Participants with a strong approach orientation and a weak avoidance orientation - high levels of impulsivity and sensation seeking - reported greater multi-tasking behavior. Finally, the findings suggest that people often engage in multi-tasking because they are less able to block out distractions and focus on a singular task. Participants with less executive control - low scorers on the Operation Span task and persons high in impulsivity - tended to report higher levels of multi-tasking activity.

Concepts: Psychology, Activity, Multitasking, Media multitasking, Task, Multiplication, Executive functions


Alcohol is known to facilitate memory if given after learning information in the laboratory; we aimed to investigate whether this effect can be found when alcohol is consumed in a naturalistic setting. Eighty-eight social drinkers were randomly allocated to either an alcohol self-dosing or a sober condition. The study assessed both retrograde facilitation and alcohol induced memory impairment using two independent tasks. In the retrograde task, participants learnt information in their own homes, and then consumed alcohol ad libitum. Participants then undertook an anterograde memory task of alcohol impairment when intoxicated. Both memory tasks were completed again the following day. Mean amount of alcohol consumed was 82.59 grams over the evening. For the retrograde task, as predicted, both conditions exhibited similar performance on the memory task immediately following learning (before intoxication) yet performance was better when tested the morning after encoding in the alcohol condition only. The anterograde task did not reveal significant differences in memory performance post-drinking. Units of alcohol drunk were positively correlated with the amount of retrograde facilitation the following morning. These findings demonstrate the retrograde facilitation effect in a naturalistic setting, and found it to be related to the self-administered grams of alcohol.

Concepts: Alcoholism, Following, English-language films, Learning, Facilitation, Task, Intoxication, Alcohol intoxication


A high-quality gold standard is vital for supervised, machine learning-based, clinical natural language processing (NLP) systems. In clinical NLP projects, expert annotators traditionally create the gold standard. However, traditional annotation is expensive and time-consuming. To reduce the cost of annotation, general NLP projects have turned to crowdsourcing based on Web 2.0 technology, which involves submitting smaller subtasks to a coordinated marketplace of workers on the Internet. Many studies have been conducted in the area of crowdsourcing, but only a few have focused on tasks in the general NLP field and only a handful in the biomedical domain, usually based upon very small pilot sample sizes. In addition, the quality of the crowdsourced biomedical NLP corpora were never exceptional when compared to traditionally-developed gold standards. The previously reported results on medical named entity annotation task showed a 0.68 F-measure based agreement between crowdsourced and traditionally-developed corpora.

Concepts: Costs, Linguistics, Gold, Cost, Task, Gold standard, Web 2.0, Natural language processing


Objectives To revise an existing three-talk model for learning how to achieve shared decision making, and to consult with relevant stakeholders to update and obtain wider engagement.Design Multistage consultation process.Setting Key informant group, communities of interest, and survey of clinical specialties.Participants 19 key informants, 153 member responses from multiple communities of interest, and 316 responses to an online survey from medically qualified clinicians from six specialties.Results After extended consultation over three iterations, we revised the three-talk model by making changes to one talk category, adding the need to elicit patient goals, providing a clear set of tasks for each talk category, and adding suggested scripts to illustrate each step. A new three-talk model of shared decision making is proposed, based on “team talk,” “option talk,” and “decision talk,” to depict a process of collaboration and deliberation. Team talk places emphasis on the need to provide support to patients when they are made aware of choices, and to elicit their goals as a means of guiding decision making processes. Option talk refers to the task of comparing alternatives, using risk communication principles. Decision talk refers to the task of arriving at decisions that reflect the informed preferences of patients, guided by the experience and expertise of health professionals.Conclusions The revised three-talk model of shared decision making depicts conversational steps, initiated by providing support when introducing options, followed by strategies to compare and discuss trade-offs, before deliberation based on informed preferences.

Concepts: Decision making, Risk, Decision theory, Decision making software, Choice, Task, Revise, Informant


Other-regarding preferences are considered to be the foundation of human cooperation. However, the evolutionary origin of this behavior in humans remains poorly understood. So far, comparative studies in primates have led to mixed conclusions probably due to methodological differences relating to both task complexity and the types of control conditions used. Moreover, no clear link between phylogenetic relatedness and prosociality has been found, suggesting that other convergent selection pressures may play a role in the evolution of such behaviors. Here, using one of the cognitively less demanding tasks, we show for the first time, that dogs can behave pro-socially by donating food to a conspecific partner, but only if the partner is familiar. This highlights the importance of considering the social relationships between individuals when testing animals for other-regarding behaviors. Moreover, by including a social control condition, we show that the dogs' prosocial response was not due to a simple social facilitation effect. The current findings support recent proposals that other convergent selection pressures, such as dependence on cooperative activities, rather than genetic relatedness to humans, may shape a species' propensity for other-regarding behaviors.

Concepts: Human, Natural selection, Evolution, Species, Sociology, Behavior, Motivation, Task


Research has shown that acute exercise reduces urges for chocolate in normal weight people. This study aimed to examine the effects of an acute exercise bout on urges to consume sugary snacks, affect as well as ‘psychological and physiological responses’ to stress and a ‘sugary snack cue’, in overweight individuals. Following 3 days of chocolate-abstinence, 47 overweight, sugary snack consumers were assessed, in 2 randomly ordered conditions, in a within-subject design: 15-min brisk walk or passive control. Following each, participants completed 2 tasks: Stroop color-word interference task, and handling sugary snacks. Urges for sugary snacks, affective activation and valence were assessed. ANOVAs revealed significant condition x time interaction effects for: urges to consume sugary snacks, affective valence and activation. Obtained data show that exercise reduces urges for sugary snacks and attenuates urges in response to the stress situation and the cue in overweight people.

Concepts: Physiology, Obesity, Crossover study, Affect, Repeated measures design, Emotion, Task, Affective neuroscience


The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of exposure to dim light at night (dLAN) when sleeping on functional brain activation during a working-memory tasks. We conducted the brain functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) analysis on 20 healthy male subjects. All participants slept in a polysomnography laboratory without light exposure on the first and second nights and under a dim-light condition of either 5 or 10 lux on the third night. The fMRI scanning was conducted during n-back tasks after second and third nights. Statistical parametric maps revealed less activation in the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) after exposure to 10-lux light. The brain activity in the right and left IFG areas decreased more during the 2-back task than during the 1- or 0-back task in the 10-lux group. The exposure to 5-lux light had no significant effect on brain activities. The exposure to dLAN might influence the brain function which is related to the cognition.

Concepts: Brain, Sleep, Neuroscience, Magnetic resonance imaging, Electroencephalography, Polysomnography, Activity, Task


Persistence, above and beyond IQ, is associated with long-term academic outcomes. To look at the effect of adult models on infants' persistence, we conducted an experiment in which 15-month-olds were assigned to one of three conditions: an Effort condition in which they saw an adult try repeatedly, using various methods, to achieve each of two different goals; a No Effort condition in which the adult achieved the goals effortlessly; or a Baseline condition. Infants were then given a difficult, novel task. Across an initial study and two preregistered experiments (N = 262), infants in the Effort condition made more attempts to achieve the goal than did infants in the other conditions. Pedagogical cues modulated the effect. The results suggest that adult models causally affect infants' persistence and that infants can generalize the value of persistence to novel tasks.

Concepts: Causality, Stanford prison experiment, Affect, Experiment, Task, American football, Adult, Goal