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Journal: Heliyon


Stuffed animal sleepover programs have been conducted by libraries worldwide. This study sought to (1) determine whether the stuffed animal sleepover program increased children’s reading and (2) examine the duration of the effect. Forty-two children who attended preschool participated in the study. The results indicated that the number of children who read picture books to stuffed animals increased following the program, but the program’s effect decreased within three days. One month later, the children were reminded of the stuffed animal sleepover program. The number of children who read picture books to stuffed animals increased again after the reminder. The results suggest that (1) stuffed animal sleepover programs can positively affect children’s reading of picture books, (2) the duration of the program’s effect can be short, and (3) reminding children of the program can be an effective strategy to revive and sustain their interest in picture books. These results are discussed in terms of the psychological characteristics of childhood.

Concepts: Effect, Program, Jimi Hendrix, Stuffed toy


U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated while riding in an open motorcade by a sniper in Dallas, Texas on 22 November 1963. A civilian bystander, Mr. Abraham Zapruder, filmed the motorcade with a 8-mm home movie camera as it drove through Dealey Plaza, inadvertently recording an ≈8 second sequence of events that included a fatal gunshot wound to the President in the head. The accompanying backward motion of the President’s head after impact appeared to support later “conspiracy theories” because it was claimed that this was proof of a shot from the front (in addition to one from behind). In this paper, simple one-dimensional dynamical models are uniquely applied to study in detail the fatal shot and the motion of the President’s head observed in the film. Using known parameters from the crime scene, explicit force calculations are carried out for determining the projectile’s retardation during tissue passage along with the resulting transfer of momentum and kinetic energy (KE). The computed instantaneous KE transfer within the soft tissue is found to be consistent with the formation of a temporary cavity associated with the observed explosion of the head, and subsequent quantitative examination of this phenomenon reveals two delayed forces at play in the backward motion of the President following impact. It is therefore found that the observed motions of President Kennedy in the film are physically consistent with a high-speed projectile impact from the rear of the motorcade, these resulting from an instantaneous forward impulse force, followed by delayed rearward recoil and neuromuscular forces.


A walnut supplement for a Western-style diet in men was shown to improve sperm motility, vitality, and morphology. To gain further insights into factors underlying this improvement, we administered a parallel walnut-enriched diet to mice [including those with a defect in sperm motility due to deletion of Plasma Membrane Ca(2+)-ATPase 4 (Pmca4(-/-) )] to determine if there is a similar improvement that is accompanied by reduced sperm membrane peroxidative damage. Although sperm vitality and acrosome reaction rate were unaffected, the diet led to a significant improvement in motility (P < 0.05) and morphology (P < 0.04) in wild-type sperm and in morphology (P < 0.01) in Pmca4(-/-) , confirming the diet's efficacy, which appeared to be more modest in mice than in humans. In both strains of mice, the diet resulted in a significant decrease in sperm lipid peroxidation (oxidative stress) levels, but did not rescue the significantly increased apoptotic levels seen in the testis and epididymis of Pmca4 nulls. Our findings support the effectiveness of walnuts on sperm quality, associated with reduced peroxidative damage; and suggest that oxidative stress is involved in the mechanism(s) underlying male reproductive defects in Pmca4(-/-) .

Concepts: Human, Reproduction, Antioxidant, Sperm, Andrology, Testicle, Reproductive system, Semen


The migration of Pacific salmon is an important part of functioning freshwater ecosystems, but as populations have decreased and ecological conditions have changed, so have migration patterns. Understanding how the environment, and human impacts, change salmon migration behavior requires observing migration at small temporal and spatial scales across large geographic areas. Studying these detailed fish movements is particularly important for one threatened population of Chinook salmon in the Snake River of Idaho whose juvenile behavior may be rapidly evolving in response to dams and anthropogenic impacts. However, exploring movement data sets of large numbers of salmon can present challenges due to the difficulty of visualizing the multivariate, time-series datasets. Previous research indicates that sonification, representing data using sound, has the potential to enhance exploration of multivariate, time-series datasets. We developed sonifications of individual fish movements using a large dataset of salmon otolith microchemistry from Snake River Fall Chinook salmon. Otoliths, a balance and hearing organ in fish, provide a detailed chemical record of fish movements recorded in the tree-like rings they deposit each day the fish is alive. This data represents a scalable, multivariate dataset of salmon movement ideal for sonification. We tested independent listener responses to validate the effectiveness of the sonification tool and mapping methods. The sonifications were presented in a survey to untrained listeners to identify salmon movements with increasingly more fish, with and without visualizations. Our results showed that untrained listeners were most sensitive to transitions mapped to pitch and timbre. Accuracy results were non-intuitive; in aggregate, respondents clearly identified important transitions, but individual accuracy was low. This aggregate effect has potential implications for the use of sonification in the context of crowd-sourced data exploration. The addition of more fish, and visuals, to the sonification increased response time in identifying transitions.

Concepts: Data set, Salmon, Chinook salmon, Oncorhynchus, Salmonidae, Kamchatka Peninsula, Atlantic salmon, Columbia River


Almost all living species regularly explore environments that they experience as pleasant, aversive, arousing or frightening. We postulate that such exploratory behavior and emotional experience both are regulated based on the interdependent perception of one’s body and stimuli that collectively define a spatial context such as a cliff. Here we examined this by testing if the interaction of the sensory input on one’s gait and the sensory input on the spatial context is modulating both the emotional experience of the environment and its exploration through head motion. To this end, we asked healthy humans to explore a life-sized Virtual Reality simulation of a forest glade by physically walking around in this environment on two narrow rectangular platforms connected by a plank. The platforms and the plank were presented such that they were either placed on ground or on the top of two high bridge piers. Hence, the forest glade was presented either as a “ground” or as a “height” context. Within these two spatial contexts the virtual plank was projected either on the rigid physical floor or onto a bouncy physical plank. Accordingly, the gait of our participants while they crossed the virtual plank was either “smooth” or “bouncy.” We found that in the height context bouncy gait compared to smooth gait increased the orientation of the head below the horizon and intensified the experience of the environment as negative. Whereas, within the ground context bouncy gait increased the orientation of the head towards and above the horizon and made that the environment was experienced as positive. Our findings suggest that the brain of healthy humans is using the interaction of the sensory input on their gait and the sensory input on the spatial context to regulate both the emotional experience of the environment and its exploration through head motion.

Concepts: Psychology, Human, Environment, Ecology, Natural environment, Sense, Virtual reality, Environmental science


Sweetpotato peptide (SPP) was prepared by enzyme digestion of sweetpotato protein from starch wastewater. Animal experiments assessed the effect of SPP on body weight, abdominal adipose tissue mass, serum lipids and adipocytokines. Body and liver weight and epididymal and mesenteric fat of mice fed a high-fat diet containing 0.5% or 5% SPP for 28 days were significantly lower than control mice. Triglyceride and cholesterol in VLDL and LDL and leptin levels were significantly lower in the serum of SPP-administered mice compared to control mice. Biomarker arrays showed that adiponectin, melanocyte-stimulating-hormone-alpha and neuromedin U were more than 1.5 times higher, while TNF-alpha was about 1.5 times lower in the livers of SPP-administered mice compared to control mice. These results suggest SPP mitigated leptin resistance in mice administered a high-fat diet, and maintained anorexigenic peptide levels. SPP administration may suppress lipogenesis by increasing adiponectin levels and decreasing TNF-alpha levels in adipocytes.

Concepts: Protein, Metabolism, Nutrition, Obesity, Liver, Fat, Adipose tissue, Leptin


In cancer patients with symptomatic venous thromboembolism (VTE) (deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) and/or pulmonary embolism (PE)), clinical factors that influence the benefit-risk balance of anticoagulation need to be identified so treatment intensity and duration can be optimally adjusted for the individual patient.

Concepts: Stroke, Pulmonary embolism, Hematology, Vein, Low molecular weight heparin, Anticoagulant, Deep vein thrombosis, Deep vein


The HIV-1 spread in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has not been previously characterised using the phylogenetic approach. The aim of the current study was to investigate the genetic diversity and domestic transmission of HIV-1 in the MENA.

Concepts: AIDS, Virus, North Africa, Middle East, Islam, Egypt, Jordan, Libya


Anaerobic digestion is a common method for reducing the amount of sludge solids in used waters and enabling biogas production. The wet oxidation process (WOX) improves anaerobic digestion by converting carbon into methane through oxidation of organic compounds. WOX produces effluents rich in ammonia, which must be removed to maintain the activity of methanogens. Ammonia removal from WOX could be biologically operated by aerobic granules. To this end, granulation experiments were conducted in 2 bioreactors containing an activated sludge (AS). For the first time, the dynamics of the microbial community structure and the expression levels of 7 enzymes of the nitrogen metabolism in such active microbial communities were followed in regard to time by metagenomics and metatranscriptomics. It was shown that bacterial communities adapt to the wet oxidation effluent by increasing the expression level of the nitrogen metabolism, suggesting that these biological activities could be a less costly alternative for the elimination of ammonia, resulting in a reduction of the use of chemicals and energy consumption in sewage plants. This study reached a strong sequencing depth (from 4.4 to 7.6 Gb) and enlightened a yet unknown diversity of the microorganisms involved in the nitrogen pathway. Moreover, this approach revealed the abundance and expression levels of specialised enzymes involved in nitrification, denitrification, ammonification, dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA) and nitrogen fixation processes in AS.

Concepts: Bacteria, Metabolism, Microbiology, Redox, Nitrogen, Sewage treatment, Denitrification, Nitrogen cycle


Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is an emerging tick-borne zoonotic disease caused by the CCHF virus (CCHFV). In this study, an experimental approach combining RT-PCR and proteomics was used for the identification and characterization of CCHFV in 106 ticks from 7 species that were collected from small ruminants in Greece. The methodological approach included an initial screening for CCHFV by RT-PCR followed by proteomics analysis of positive and control negative tick samples. This novel approach allowed the identification of CCHFV-positive ticks and provided additional information to corroborate the RT-PCR findings using a different approach. Two ticks, Dermacentor marginatus and Haemaphysalis parva collected from a goat and a sheep, respectively were positive for CCHFV. The sequences for CCHFV RNA segments S and L were characterized by RT-PCR and proteomics analysis of tick samples, respectively. These results showed the possibility of combining analyses at the RNA and protein levels using RT-PCR and proteomics for the characterization of CCHFV in ticks. The results supported that the CCHFV identified in ticks are genetic variants of the AP92 strain. Although the AP92-like strains probably do not represent a high risk of CCHF to the population, the circulation of genetically diverse CCHFV strains could potentially result in the appearance of novel viral genotypes with increased pathogenicity and fitness.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, Virus, Viral hemorrhagic fever