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In primates and carnivores, the main laminae of the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) receive monocular excitatory input in an eye-alternating fashion. There is also evidence that nondominant eye stimulation can reduce responses to dominant eye stimulation and that a subset of LGN cells in the koniocellular (K) layers receives convergent binocular excitatory input from both eyes. What is not known is how the two eye inputs summate in the K layers of LGN. Here, we aimed to answer this question by making extracellular array electrode recordings targeted to K layers in the marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) LGN, as visual stimuli (flashed 200 ms temporal square-wave pulses or drifting gratings) were presented to each eye independently or to both eyes simultaneously. We found that when the flashed stimulus was presented to both eyes, compared to the dominant eye, the peak firing rate of most cells (61%, 14/23) was reduced. The remainder showed response facilitation (17%) or partial summation (22%). A greater degree of facilitation was seen when the total number of spikes across the stimulus time window (200 ms) rather than peak firing rates was measured. A similar pattern of results was seen for contrast-varying gratings and for small numbers of parvocellular (n = 12) and magnocellular (n = 3) cells recorded. Our findings show that binocular summation in the marmoset LGN is weak and predominantly sublinear in nature.
The deep subsurface of other planetary bodies is of special interest for robotic and human exploration. The subsurface provides access to planetary interior processes, thus yielding insights into planetary formation and evolution. On Mars, the subsurface might harbour the most habitable conditions. In the context of human exploration, the subsurface can provide refugia for habitation from extreme surface conditions. We describe the fifth Mine Analogue Research (MINAR 5) programme at 1 km depth in the Boulby Mine, UK in collaboration with Spaceward Bound NASA and the Kalam Centre, India, to test instruments and methods for the robotic and human exploration of deep environments on the Moon and Mars. The geological context in Permian evaporites provides an analogue to evaporitic materials on other planetary bodies such as Mars. A wide range of sample acquisition instruments (NASA drills, Small Planetary Impulse Tool (SPLIT) robotic hammer, universal sampling bags), analytical instruments (Raman spectroscopy, Close-Up Imager, Minion DNA sequencing technology, methane stable isotope analysis, biomolecule and metabolic life detection instruments) and environmental monitoring equipment (passive air particle sampler, particle detectors and environmental monitoring equipment) was deployed in an integrated campaign. Investigations included studying the geochemical signatures of chloride and sulphate evaporitic minerals, testing methods for life detection and planetary protection around human-tended operations, and investigations on the radiation environment of the deep subsurface. The MINAR analogue activity occurs in an active mine, showing how the development of space exploration technology can be used to contribute to addressing immediate Earth-based challenges. During the campaign, in collaboration with European Space Agency (ESA), MINAR was used for astronaut familiarization with future exploration tools and techniques. The campaign was used to develop primary and secondary school and primary to secondary transition curriculum materials on-site during the campaign which was focused on a classroom extra vehicular activity simulation.
Whether monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins differ from each other in a variety of phenotypes is important for genetic twin modeling and for inferences made from twin studies in general. We analyzed whether there were differences in individual, maternal and paternal education between MZ and DZ twins in a large pooled dataset. Information was gathered on individual education for 218,362 adult twins from 27 twin cohorts (53% females; 39% MZ twins), and on maternal and paternal education for 147,315 and 143,056 twins respectively, from 28 twin cohorts (52% females; 38% MZ twins). Together, we had information on individual or parental education from 42 twin cohorts representing 19 countries. The original education classifications were transformed to education years and analyzed using linear regression models. Overall, MZ males had 0.26 (95% CI [0.21, 0.31]) years and MZ females 0.17 (95% CI [0.12, 0.21]) years longer education than DZ twins. The zygosity difference became smaller in more recent birth cohorts for both males and females. Parental education was somewhat longer for fathers of DZ twins in cohorts born in 1990–1999 (0.16 years, 95% CI [0.08, 0.25]) and 2000 or later (0.11 years, 95% CI [0.00, 0.22]), compared with fathers of MZ twins. The results show that the years of both individual and parental education are largely similar in MZ and DZ twins. We suggest that the socio-economic differences between MZ and DZ twins are so small that inferences based upon genetic modeling of twin data are not affected.
We present low-frequency spectral energy distributions of 60 known radio pulsars observed with the Murchison Widefield Array telescope. We searched the GaLactic and Extragalactic All-sky Murchison Widefield Array survey images for 200-MHz continuum radio emission at the position of all pulsars in the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) pulsar catalogue. For the 60 confirmed detections, we have measured flux densities in 20 × 8 MHz bands between 72 and 231 MHz. We compare our results to existing measurements and show that the Murchison Widefield Array flux densities are in good agreement.
Investigations on the relationship between sweet taste perception and body mass index (BMI) have been inconclusive. Here, we report a longitudinal analysis using a genetically informative sample of 1,576 adolescent Australian twins to explore the relationship between BMI and sweet taste. First, we estimated the phenotypic correlations between perception scores for four different sweet compounds (glucose, fructose, neohesperidine dihydrochalcone (NHDC), and aspartame) and BMI. Then, we computed the association between adolescent taste perception and BMI in early adulthood (reported 9 years later). Finally, we used twin modeling and polygenic risk prediction analysis to investigate the genetic overlap between BMI and sweet taste perception. Our findings revealed that BMI in early adulthood was significantly associated with each of the sweet perception scores, with the strongest correlation observed in aspartame with r = 0.09 (p = .007). However, only limited evidence of association was observed between sweet taste perception and BMI that was measured at the same time (in adolescence), with the strongest evidence of association observed for glucose with a correlation coefficient of r = 0.06 (p = .029) and for aspartame with r = 0.06 (p = .035). We found a significant (p < .05) genetic correlation between glucose and NHDC perception and BMI. Our analyses suggest that sweet taste perception in adolescence can be a potential indicator of BMI in early adulthood. This association is further supported by evidence of genetic overlap between the traits, suggesting that some BMI genes may be acting through biological pathways of taste perception.
FFQ are commonly used to examine the association between diet and disease. They are the most practical method for usual dietary data collection as they are relatively inexpensive and easy to administer. In Australia, the Cancer Council of Victoria FFQ (CCVFFQ) version 2 and the online Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation FFQ (CSIROFFQ) are used. The aim of our study was to establish the level of agreement between nutrient intakes captured using the online CSIROFFQ and the paper-based CCVFFQ. The CCVFFQ and the online CSIROFFQ were completed by 136 healthy participants. FFQ responses were analysed to give g per d intake of a range of nutrients. Agreement between twenty-six nutrient intakes common to both FFQ was measured by a variety of methods. Nutrient intake levels that were significantly correlated between the two FFQ were carbohydrates, total fat, Na and MUFA. When assessing ranking of nutrients into quintiles, on average, 56 % of the participants (for all nutrients) were classified into the same or adjacent quintiles in both FFQ, with the highest percentage agreement for sugar. On average, 21 % of participants were grossly misclassified by three or four quintiles, with the highest percentage misclassification for fibre and Fe. Quintile agreement was similar to that reported by other studies, and we concluded that both FFQ are suitable tools for dividing participants’ nutrient intake levels into high- and low-consumption groups. Use of either FFQ was not appropriate for obtaining accurate estimates of absolute nutrient intakes.
A trend toward greater body size in dizygotic (DZ) than in monozygotic (MZ) twins has been suggested by some but not all studies, and this difference may also vary by age. We analyzed zygosity differences in mean values and variances of height and body mass index (BMI) among male and female twins from infancy to old age. Data were derived from an international database of 54 twin cohorts participating in the COllaborative project of Development of Anthropometrical measures in Twins (CODATwins), and included 842,951 height and BMI measurements from twins aged 1 to 102 years. The results showed that DZ twins were consistently taller than MZ twins, with differences of up to 2.0 cm in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.9 cm in adulthood. Similarly, a greater mean BMI of up to 0.3 kg/m2 in childhood and adolescence and up to 0.2 kg/m2 in adulthood was observed in DZ twins, although the pattern was less consistent. DZ twins presented up to 1.7% greater height and 1.9% greater BMI than MZ twins; these percentage differences were largest in middle and late childhood and decreased with age in both sexes. The variance of height was similar in MZ and DZ twins at most ages. In contrast, the variance of BMI was significantly higher in DZ than in MZ twins, particularly in childhood. In conclusion, DZ twins were generally taller and had greater BMI than MZ twins, but the differences decreased with age in both sexes.
IAU Commission 29 - Stellar Spectra has been one of the IAU commissions from the onset, until its dissolution at the most recent IAU General Assembly in Honolulu in 2015. This commission belonged to IAU Division G (“Stars and Stellar Physics”), the latter committed with fostering research in stellar astrophysics. Within the general field of stellar astrophysics, stellar spectroscopy plays a key role, as stellar spectra are a powerful tool providing a view into the detailed physical properties of stars and the physical processes occuring within them.
The traditional approach to headache trigger management is to advise avoidance of all triggers, but we have advocated an alternative approach called ‘Learning to Cope with Triggers’ (LCT), in which the objective is to desensitise headache sufferers to some triggers or to build up tolerance for the triggers, using exposure techniques. A recent publication established the efficacy of this approach to trigger management. Reported here are three cases to illustrate how LCT is used in practice. Two cases were male and one was female, with ages ranging from 32 to 67 years. The headache diagnoses were frequent episodic tension-type headache, migraine without aura, and chronic tension-type headache; all had had headaches since childhood/adolescence. The headache triggers that were the focus of the intervention were heat, tiredness, and stress/anger. Post-treatment, changes in the capacity of the triggers to elicit headaches were reported in all three cases. Reductions in headaches from pre- to post-treatment, and from pre- to 4-month follow-up, were: case 1, 69% and 60% respectively; case 2, 76% and 80% respectively; and case 3, 73% and 61% respectively. Decreases in medication consumption, and enhanced self-efficacy were also recorded.
The perception of sweetness varies among individuals but the sources of this variation are not fully understood. Here, in a sample of 1,901 adolescent and young adults (53.8% female; 243 MZ and 452 DZ twin pairs, 511 unpaired individuals; mean age 16.2 ± 2.8, range 12–26 years), we studied the variation in the perception of sweetness intensity of two monosaccharides and two high-potency sweeteners: glucose, fructose, neohesperidine dihydrochalcone (NHDC), and aspartame. Perceived intensity for all sweeteners decreased with age (2–5% per year) and increased with the history of otitis media (6–9%). Males rated aspartame slightly stronger than females (7%). We found similar heritabilities for sugars (glucose: h2 = 0.31, fructose: h2 = 0.34) and high-potency sweeteners (NHDC: h2 = 0.31, aspartame: h2 = 0.30); all were in the modest range. Multivariate modeling showed that a common genetic factor accounted for >75% of the genetic variance in the four sweeteners, suggesting that individual differences in perceived sweet intensity, which are partly due to genetic factors, may be attributed to a single set of genes. This study provided evidence of the shared genetic pathways between the perception of sugars and high-potency sweeteners.
For over 100 years, the genetics of human anthropometric traits has attracted scientific interest. In particular, height and body mass index (BMI, calculated as kg/m2) have been under intensive genetic research. However, it is still largely unknown whether and how heritability estimates vary between human populations. Opportunities to address this question have increased recently because of the establishment of many new twin cohorts and the increasing accumulation of data in established twin cohorts. We started a new research project to analyze systematically (1) the variation of heritability estimates of height, BMI and their trajectories over the life course between birth cohorts, ethnicities and countries, and (2) to study the effects of birth-related factors, education and smoking on these anthropometric traits and whether these effects vary between twin cohorts. We identified 67 twin projects, including both monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins, using various sources. We asked for individual level data on height and weight including repeated measurements, birth related traits, background variables, education and smoking. By the end of 2014, 48 projects participated. Together, we have 893,458 height and weight measures (52% females) from 434,723 twin individuals, including 201,192 complete twin pairs (40% monozygotic, 40% same-sex dizygotic and 20% opposite-sex dizygotic) representing 22 countries. This project demonstrates that large-scale international twin studies are feasible and can promote the use of existing data for novel research purposes.
Observations show that glaciers around the world are in retreat and losing mass. Internationally coordinated for over a century, glacier monitoring activities provide an unprecedented dataset of glacier observations from ground, air and space. Glacier studies generally select specific parts of these datasets to obtain optimal assessments of the mass-balance data relating to the impact that glaciers exercise on global sea-level fluctuations or on regional runoff. In this study we provide an overview and analysis of the main observational datasets compiled by the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS). The dataset on glacier front variations (∼42 000 since 1600) delivers clear evidence that centennial glacier retreat is a global phenomenon. Intermittent readvance periods at regional and decadal scale are normally restricted to a subsample of glaciers and have not come close to achieving the maximum positions of the Little Ice Age (or Holocene). Glaciological and geodetic observations (∼5200 since 1850) show that the rates of early 21st-century mass loss are without precedent on a global scale, at least for the time period observed and probably also for recorded history, as indicated also in reconstructions from written and illustrated documents. This strong imbalance implies that glaciers in many regions will very likely suffer further ice loss, even if climate remains stable.
As the financial crisis of 2007–2008 has compellingly shown, highly leveraged financial institutions create negative externalities. When a bank is highly leveraged and has little equity to absorb losses, even a small decrease in asset value can lead to distress and potential insolvency. In a deeply interconnected financial system, this can cause the system to freeze, ultimately leading to severe repercussions for the rest of the economy. To minimize social damage, governments may feel compelled to spend large amounts on bailouts and recovery efforts. Even when insolvency is not an immediate problem, following a small decrease in asset values, highly leveraged banks may be compelled to sell substantial amounts of assets in order to reduce their leverage; such sales can put strong pressure on asset markets and prices and, thereby, indirectly on other banks.
Avoidance of such “systemic risk” and the associated social costs is a major objective of financial regulation. Because market participants, acting in their own interests, tend to pay too little attention to systemic concerns, financial regulation and supervision are intended to step in and safeguard the functioning of the financial system. Given the experience of the recent crisis, it is natural to consider a requirement that banks have significantly less leverage—that is, that they use relatively more equity funding so that inevitable variations in asset values do not lead to distress and insolvency.
A pervasive view that underlies most discussions of capital regulation is that “equity is expensive,” and that equity requirements, while offering substantial benefits in preventing crises, also impose costs on the financial system, and possibly on the economy. Bankers have mounted a campaign against increasing equity requirements. Policymakers and regulators are particularly concerned by assertions that increased equity requirements would restrict bank lending and would impede economic growth. Possibly, as a result of such pressure, the proposed Basel III requirements, while moving in the direction of increasing capital, still allow banks to remain very highly leveraged (Blundell-Wignall et al., this volume). We consider this very troubling, because, as we show below, the view that equity is expensive is flawed in the context of capital regulation.
Two broad aims drive weed science research: improved management and improved
understanding of weed biology and ecology. In recent years, agricultural
weed research addressing these two aims has effectively split into separate
subdisciplines despite repeated calls for greater integration. Although some
excellent work is being done, agricultural weed research has developed a
very high level of repetitiveness, a preponderance of purely descriptive
studies, and has failed to clearly articulate novel hypotheses linked to
established bodies of ecological and evolutionary theory. In contrast,
invasive plant research attracts a diverse cadre of nonweed scientists using
invasions to explore broader and more integrated biological questions
grounded in theory. We propose that although studies focused on weed
management remain vitally important, agricultural weed research would
benefit from deeper theoretical justification, a broader vision, and
increased collaboration across diverse disciplines. To initiate change in
this direction, we call for more emphasis on interdisciplinary training for
weed scientists, and for focused workshops and working groups to develop
specific areas of research and promote interactions among weed scientists
and with the wider scientific community.