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

Concept: Test method


A complex relationship exists between the psychosocial environment and the perception and experience of pain, and the mechanisms of the social communication of pain have yet to be elucidated. The present study examined the social communication of pain and demonstrates that “bystander” mice housed and tested in the same room as mice subjected to inflammatory pain or withdrawal from morphine or alcohol develop corresponding hyperalgesia. Olfactory cues mediate the transfer of hyperalgesia to the bystander mice, which can be measured using mechanical, thermal, and chemical tests. Hyperalgesia in bystanders does not co-occur with anxiety or changes in corticosterone and cannot be explained by visually dependent emotional contagion or stress-induced hyperalgesia. These experiments reveal the multifaceted relationship between the social environment and pain behavior and support the use of mice as a model system for investigating these factors. In addition, these experiments highlight the need for proper consideration of how experimental animals are housed and tested.

Concepts: Present, Psychology, Chemistry, Experiment, Addiction, Test method, Model, Theory


In three field studies, we explore the impact of providing employees and teammates with prosocial bonuses, a novel type of bonus spent on others rather than on oneself. In Experiment 1, we show that prosocial bonuses in the form of donations to charity lead to happier and more satisfied employees at an Australian bank. In Experiments 2a and 2b, we show that prosocial bonuses in the form of expenditures on teammates lead to better performance in both sports teams in Canada and pharmaceutical sales teams in Belgium. These results suggest that a minor adjustment to employee bonuses - shifting the focus from the self to others - can produce measurable benefits for employees and organizations.

Concepts: Economics, Experiment, Test method, Team


Bargh et al. (2001) reported two experiments in which people were exposed to words related to achievement (e.g., strive, attain) or to neutral words, and then performed a demanding cognitive task. Performance on the task was enhanced after exposure to the achievement related words. Bargh and colleagues concluded that better performance was due to the achievement words having activated a “high-performance goal”. Because the paper has been cited well over 1100 times, an attempt to replicate its findings would seem warranted. Two direct replication attempts were performed. Results from the first experiment (n = 98) found no effect of priming, and the means were in the opposite direction from those reported by Bargh and colleagues. The second experiment followed up on the observation by Bargh et al. (2001) that high-performance-goal priming was enhanced by a 5-minute delay between priming and test. Adding such a delay, we still found no evidence for high-performance-goal priming (n = 66). These failures to replicate, along with other recent results, suggest that the literature on goal priming requires some skeptical scrutiny.

Concepts: Scientific method, Cognition, Experiment, Hypothesis, Test method, Effects unit, Design of experiments, Replicate


Our recognition of familiar faces is excellent, and generalises across viewing conditions. However, unfamiliar face recognition is much poorer. For this reason, automatic face recognition systems might benefit from incorporating the advantages of familiarity. Here we put this to the test using the face verification system available on a popular smartphone (the Samsung Galaxy). In two experiments we tested the recognition performance of the smartphone when it was encoded with an individual’s ‘face-average’ - a representation derived from theories of human face perception. This technique significantly improved performance for both unconstrained celebrity images (Experiment 1) and for real faces (Experiment 2): users could unlock their phones more reliably when the device stored an average of the user’s face than when they stored a single image. This advantage was consistent across a wide variety of everyday viewing conditions. Furthermore, the benefit did not reduce the rejection of imposter faces. This benefit is brought about solely by consideration of suitable representations for automatic face recognition, and we argue that this is just as important as development of matching algorithms themselves. We propose that this representation could significantly improve recognition rates in everyday settings.

Concepts: Experiment, Test method, Theory, Face perception, Face, Faces, Facial recognition system


The Mallett Unit is a clinical test designed to detect the fixation disparity that is most likely to occur in the presence of a decompensated heterophoria. It measures the associated phoria, which is the “aligning prism” needed to nullify the subjective disparity. The technique has gained widespread acceptance within professions such as optometry, for investigating suspected cases of decompensating heterophoria; it is, however, rarely used by orthoptists and ophthalmologists. The aim of this study was to investigate whether fusional vergence reserves, measured routinely by both orthoptists and ophthalmologists to detect heterophoria decompensation, were correlated with aligning prism (associated phoria) in a normal clinical population.

Concepts: Heart failure, Measurement, Eye, Test method, Eye examination, Decompensation, Heterophoria, Fusional vergence


Lymphatic filariasis (LF)-related disability affects 40 million people globally, making LF the leading cause of physical disability in the world. Despite this, there is limited research into how the impacts of LF-related disability are best measured. This article identifies the tools currently being used to measure LF-related disability and reviews their applicability against the known impacts of LF. The findings from the review show that the generic disability tools currently used by LF programs fail to measure the majority of known impacts of LF-related disability. The findings from the review support the development of an LF-specific disability measurement tool and raise doubt about the suitability of generic disability tools to assess disability related to neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) globally.

Concepts: Measurement, Psychometrics, Test method, Systems of measurement, Filariasis, Neglected diseases, Tropical disease, Tropical diseases


A fiber optic sensor developed for the measurement of tendon forces was designed, numerically modeled, fabricated, and experimentally evaluated. The sensor incorporated fiber Bragg gratings and micro-fabricated stainless steel housings. A fiber Bragg grating is an optical device that is spectrally sensitive to axial strain. Stainless steel housings were designed to convert radial forces applied to the housing into axial forces that could be sensed by the fiber Bragg grating. The metal housings were fabricated by several methods including laser micromachining, swaging, and hydroforming. Designs are presented that allow for simultaneous temperature and force measurements as well as for simultaneous resolution of multi-axis forces.The sensor was experimentally evaluated by hydrostatic loading and in vitro testing. A commercial hydraulic burst tester was used to provide uniform pressures on the sensor in order to establish the linearity, repeatability, and accuracy characteristics of the sensor. The in vitro experiments were performed in excised tendon and in a dynamic gait simulator to simulate biological conditions. In both experimental conditions, the sensor was found to be a sensitive and reliable method for acquiring minimally invasive measurements of soft tissue forces. Our results suggest that this sensor will prove useful in a variety of biomechanical measurements.

Concepts: Diffraction, Optical fiber, Experiment, In vitro, Test method, Bragg's law, Diffraction grating, Fiber Bragg grating


To test for cross-sectional (at age 11) and longitudinal associations between objectively measured free-living physical activity (PA) and academic attainment in adolescents.Method Data from 4755 participants (45% male) with valid measurement of PA (total volume and intensity) by accelerometry at age 11 from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) was examined. Data linkage was performed with nationally administered school assessments in English, Maths and Science at ages 11, 13 and 16.

Concepts: Cohort study, Longitudinal study, Cross-sectional study, Measurement, Sociology, Assessment, Psychometrics, Test method


A foundational issue in the study of unconscious processing concerns whether the stimuli of interest are truly out of awareness. Objective methods employing forced choice are typically championed as the gold standard and widely thought to be conservative. Here, however, as a case study, we demonstrate an underestimation of awareness in a collection of studies on unconscious cognitive control. Specifically, we found that (a) in addition to genuine unawareness, chance performance could be due to a failure to perform the task; (b) visual awareness for low-visibility trials was elevated when mixed with high-visibility trials compared with when presented alone as demonstrated in both objective awareness (forced-choice performance) and subjective awareness (rating based on a perceptual awareness scale); and © the elevation effect was partly due to a shape-specific template enhancement at both the block and intertrial levels. We term the awareness elevation effect priming of awareness: Visual priming fundamentally alters awareness, boosting otherwise invisible objects into consciousness. These results implicate two key requirements for measuring awareness: (a) verify that participants are truly performing the awareness task and (b) use all types of trials in the awareness test as in the main experiment. Priming of awareness is consistent with an expanded model of awareness and top-down attention in which awareness is determined by (a) retinal stimulus strength and (b) both goal-dependent and goal-independent extra-retinal modulation.

Concepts: Measurement, Cognition, Cognitive science, Mind, Consciousness, Test method, Performance, Unconscious mind


A paper-based, multiplexed, microfluidic assay has been developed to visually measure alanine aminotransferase (ALT) in a fingerstick sample, generating rapid, semi-quantitative results. Prior studies indicated a need for improved accuracy; the device was subsequently optimized using an FDA-approved automated platform (Abaxis Piccolo Xpress) as a comparator. Here, we evaluated the performance of the optimized paper test for measurement of ALT in fingerstick blood and serum, as compared to Abaxis and Roche/Hitachi platforms. To evaluate feasibility of remote results interpretation, we also compared reading cell phone camera images of completed tests to reading the device in real time.

Concepts: Measurement, Metrology, Alanine transaminase, Psychometrics, Test method, Java, Mobile phone, Camera phone