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The purpose of this investigation was to expand upon the limited existing research examining the test-retest reliability, cross-sectional validity, and longitudinal validity of a sample of bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) devices as compared to a laboratory four-compartment (4C) model. Seventy-three healthy participants aged 19-50 were assessed by each of 15 BIA devices, with resulting body fat percentage (BFP) estimates compared to a 4C model utilizing air displacement plethysmography, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, and bioimpedance spectroscopy. A subset of 37 participants returned for a second visit 12-16 weeks later and were included in an analysis of longitudinal validity. The sample of devices included 14 consumer-grade and one-research grade model in a variety of configurations: hand-to-hand, foot-to-foot, and bilateral hand-to-foot (octapolar). BIA devices demonstrated high reliability, with precision error ranging from 0.0 to 0.49%. Cross-sectional validity varied, with constant error relative to the 4C model ranging from -3.5±4.1% to 11.7±4.7%, standard error of the estimate values of 3.1% to 7.5%, and Lin’s concordance correlation coefficients of 0.48 to 0.94. For longitudinal validity, constant error ranged from -0.4±2.1% to 1.3±2.7%, with standard error of the estimate values of 1.7% to 2.6% and Lin’s concordance correlation coefficients of 0.37 to 0.78. While performance varied widely across the sample investigated, select models of BIA devices (particularly octapolar and select foot-to-foot devices) may hold potential utility for the tracking of body composition over time, particularly in contexts in which the purchase or use of a research-grade device is infeasible.
Executive function (EF) deficits are often associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), even in the absence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) diagnosis. To date, no approved medication treatments exist for EF deficits associated with ASD.
To assess the efficacy of transcranial photobiomodulation (tPBM) on EF in adults with ASD.
Adults (18-59) with high-functioning (HF)-ASD received twice a week tPBM for 8 weeks in an open-label single group design. ASD and EF deficits were assessed by clinician-rated Clinical Global Impression Scale and patient-rated scales of Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Adult (BRIEF-A).
Eleven participants were enrolled. Ten participants completed the study. Nine participants who completed the study had comorbid ADHD diagnosis. All 10 participants were included in efficacy analyses of EF deficits. Statistically significant improvements in executive function deficits were found in BRIEF-A total score and in subdomains of Inhibition, Emotional Control, Planning and Organization, Organization of Materials, Behavioral Regulation, Metacognitive Index and Global Executive Control. All participants were found to have mild to moderate improvement in their ADHD symptom severity per clinician rated CGIs. Statistically significant improvements in ADHD symptoms were noted in self-rated scales. No adverse events required changes in tPBM protocol.
tPBM is a safe and feasible treatment approach that has the potential to treat core features of ASD. Further research is necessary and warranted.
This work is funded by Alan and Lorraine Bressler Clinical and Research Program for Autism Spectrum Disorder and the MGH Pediatric Psychopharmacology Council Fund.
No single environmental factor is a necessary or sufficient cause of mental disorder; multifactorial and transdiagnostic approaches are needed to understand the impact of the environment on the development of mental disorders across the life course.
Using linked multi-agency administrative data for 71 932 children from the New South Wales Child Developmental Study, using logistic regression, we examined associations between 16 environmental risk factors in early life (prenatal period to <6 years of age) and later diagnoses of mental disorder recorded in health service data (from age 6 to 13 years), both individually and summed as an environmental risk score (ERS).
The ERS was associated with all types of mental disorder diagnoses in a dose–response fashion, such that 2.8% of children with no exposure to any of the environmental factors (ERS = 0), compared to 18.3% of children with an ERS of 8 or more indicating exposure to 8 or more environmental factors (ERS ⩾ 8), had been diagnosed with any type of mental disorder up to age 13–14 years. Thirteen of the 16 environmental factors measured (including prenatal factors, neighbourhood characteristics and more proximal experiences of trauma or neglect) were positively associated with at least one category of mental disorder.
Exposure to cumulative environmental risk factors in early life is associated with an increased likelihood of presenting to health services in childhood for any kind of mental disorder. In many instances, these factors are preventable or capable of mitigation by appropriate public policy settings.
This chapter addresses how stakeholders of scientific research can assess whether research is compliant with the scientific method and then promote useful scientific research to improve products, services, processes, methods, and decision-making. We address stakeholders in sections for universities, scientific journals, governments, regulators and courts, and media and interested individuals.
The invitation for those nominating candidates for the Nobel Prize in economics, the “Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel,” described the award of the prize as being “based solely on scientific merit.” No criteria for judging scientific merit were provided, but nominators were directed to “consider origin and gender” of the nominees. Without clear criteria for the award, to what extent can one be confident that the prize was based on the scientific merit of the findings?
Gerd Gigerenzer, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, commented on reading papers in the Journal of Experimental Psychology from the 1920s and 1930s. He observed that “This was professionally a most depressing experience, but not because these articles were methodologically mediocre. On the contrary, many of them make today’s research pale in comparison with their diversity of methods and statistics” (Gigerenzer, 2000, p. 296).
We believe that the primary role of a scientist is to make discoveries that can help to improve peoples’ lives, whether directly such as through the discovery of a vaccine against a disease or indirectly such as through the invention of a procedure that can improve efficiency or lead to better decisions. In this chapter, we provide practical advice on how to identify important problems, how to choose which important problems to research, how to design a study, how to collect data, and how to analyze them.
We intend that our checklist provides a common understanding among all stakeholders in science of what the scientific method entails. To that end, we describe it in terms that are simple and commonly understood.
The discovery of useful scientific knowledge depends primarily on the scientist. A scientist’s research can be greatly aided by research assistants, advisors, reviewers, journals, and all those fostering a creative environment. Nevertheless, we believe that the primary responsibility for conducting useful scientific research usually falls on individual scientists, sometimes two scientists, but rarely more than two.
The scientific method is largely responsible for improving life expectancies and the quality of life over the past 2000 years. Individual scientists, in their efforts to discover how things work and how to make them better have used the method on their own or in collaboration with others to make the world a better place.
In this chapter, we are concerned with how to inform those who could use your findings. There is little point in doing useful scientific research if potential users of the findings are not aware of them, or if they cannot understand the findings or how to use them.