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As of March 2020, governments throughout the world implemented business closures, work from home policies, and school closures due to exponential increase of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, leaving only essential workers being able to work on site. For most of the children and adolescent school closures during the first lockdown had significant physical and psychosocial consequences. Here, we describe a comprehensive Return to School program based on a behavior safety protocol combined with the use of saliva-based reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) pooled screening technique to keep schools opened.
The program had 2 phases: before school (safety and preparation protocols) and once at school (disease control program: saliva-based RT-PCR pooled screening protocol and contact tracing). Pooling: Aliquots of saliva from 24 individuals were pooled and 1 RT-PCR test was performed. If positive, the initial 24-pool was then retested (12 pools of 2). Individual RT-PCR tests from saliva samples from positive pools of 2 were performed to get an individual diagnosis.
From August 31 until December 20, 2020 (16-wk period) a total of 3 pools, and subsequent 3 individual diagnosis of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) disease were reported (2 teachers and 1 staff).
Until COVID-19 vaccine can be administered broadly to all-age children, saliva-based RT-PCR pooling testing is the missing piece we were searching for to keep schools opened.
Although the Latin-based orthographies of most Western languages employ vowels with accent marks (e.g., é vs. e), extant models of letter and word recognition are agnostic as to whether these accented letters and their non-accented counterparts are represented by common or separate abstract units. Recent research in French with a masked priming alphabetic decision task was interpreted as favoring the idea that accented and non-accented vowels are represented by separate abstract orthographic units (orthographic account: é↛e and e↛é; Chetail & Boursain, 2019). However, a more parsimonious explanation is that salient (accented) vowels are less perceptually similar to non-salient (non-accented) vowels than vice versa (perceptual account: e→é, but é↛e; Perea et al., 2021a; Tversky, 1977). To adjudicate between the two accounts, we conducted a masked priming alphabetic decision experiment in Catalan, a language with a complex orthography-to-phonology mapping for non-accented vowels (e.g., e→/e/, /ə/, /ε/). Results showed faster responses in the identity than in the visually similar condition for accented targets (é–É < e–É), but not for non-accented targets (e–E = é–E). Neither of the above accounts can fully capture this pattern. We propose an explanation based on the rapid activation of both orthographic and phonological codes.
Prior research has shown that word identification times to DENTIST are faster when briefly preceded by a visually similar prime (dentjst; i↔j) than when preceded by a visually dissimilar prime (dentgst). However, these effects of visual similarity do not occur in the Arabic alphabet when the critical letter differs in the diacritical signs: for the target the visually similar one-letter replaced prime (compare and is no more effective than the visually dissimilar one-letter replaced prime Here we examined whether this dissociative pattern is due to the special role of diacritics during word processing. We conducted a masked priming lexical decision experiment in Spanish using target words containing one of two consonants that only differed in the presence/absence of a diacritical sign: n and ñ. The prime-target conditions were identity, visually similar, and visually dissimilar. Results showed an advantage of the visually similar over the visually dissimilar condition for muñeca-type words (muneca-MUÑECA < museca-MUÑECA), but not for moneda-type words (moñeda-MONEDA = moseda-MONEDA). Thus, diacritical signs are salient elements that play a special role during the first moments of processing, thus constraining the interplay between the “feature” and “letter” levels in models of visual word recognition.
Is the specific consonant–vowel (CV) letter combination of a word a basic source of information for lexical access in the early stages of processing? We designed two masked priming lexical decision experiments to respond to this question by directly examining the role of CV skeletal structure in written-word recognition. To that aim, each target word was preceded by a one-letter different nonword prime that kept the same CV skeletal structure or not. We also included an identity prime as a control. Results showed faster word identification times in the CV congruent condition than in the CV incongruent condition when a consonant was replaced from the target (paesaje–PAISAJE < parsaje–PAISAJE), but not when it was a vowel (alusno–ALUMNO = alueno–ALUMNO). This dissociation poses problems for those accounts based on an early activation of the CV skeletal structure during lexical processing. Instead, this pattern of data favors the view that it is the word's consonant skeleton rather than the CV skeletal structure that is the key element in the early phases of word processing. We discuss the theoretical and methodological implications of these findings.
Objectives: The reduction in cognitive decline depends on timely diagnosis. The aim of this systematic review was to analyze the current available information and communication technologies-based instruments for cognitive decline early screening and detection in terms of usability, validity, and reliability.
Methods: Electronic searches identified 1,785 articles of which thirty-four met the inclusion criteria and were grouped according to their main purpose into test batteries, measures of isolated tasks, behavioral measures, and diagnostic tools.
Results: Thirty one instruments were analyzed. Fifty-two percent were personal computer based, 26 percent tablet, 13 percent laptop, and 1 was mobile phone based. The most common input method was touchscreen (48 percent). The instruments were validated with a total of 4,307 participants: 2,146 were healthy older adults (M = 73.59; SD = 5.12), 1,104 had dementia (M = 74.65; SD = 3.98) and 1,057 mild cognitive impairment (M = 74.84; SD = 4.46). Only 6 percent were administered at home, 19 percent reported outcomes about usability, and 22 percent about understandability. The methodological quality of the studies was good, the weakest methodological area being usability. Most of the instruments obtained acceptable values of specificity and sensitivity.
Conclusions: It is necessary to create home delivered instruments and to include usability studies in their design. Involvement of people with cognitive decline in all phases of the development process is of great importance to obtain valuable and user-friendly products. It would be advisable for researchers to make an effort to provide cutoff points for their instruments.
A number of experiments have shown that, in skilled adult readers, a small increase in interletter spacing speeds up the process of visual word recognition relative to the default settings (i.e., judge faster than judge). The goal of the present experiment was to examine whether this effect can be generalized to a more ecological scenario: text reading. Each participant read two stories (367 words each) taken from a standardized reading test. The stories were presented with the standard interletter spacing or with a small increase in interletter spacing (+1.2 points to default) in a within-subject design. An eyetracker was used to register the participants’ eye movements. Comprehension scores were also examined. Results showed that, on average, fixation durations were shorter while reading the text with extra spacing than while reading the text with the default settings (237 vs. 245 ms, respectively; η2 =. 41, p = .01). However, the number of fixations (while nonsignificant) was slightly higher in the text with extra spacing than in the text with the default spacing, and cancelled out the effect of interletter spacing in total reading times (F < 1). Comprehension scores were similar in the two spacing conditions (F < 1). Thus, at least for skilled adult readers, interletter spacing does not seem to play a consistently facilitative role during text reading.
The study of the effects of typographical factors on lexical access has been rather neglected in the literature on visual-word recognition. Indeed, current computational models of visual-word recognition employ an unrefined letter feature level in their coding schemes. In a letter recognition experiment, Pelli, Burns, Farell, and Moore-Page (2006), letters in Bookman boldface produced more efficiency (i.e., a higher ratio of thresholds of an ideal observer versus a human observer) than the letters in Bookman regular under visual noise. Here we examined whether the effect of bold emphasis can be generalized to a common visual-word recognition task (lexical decision: “is the item a word?”) under standard viewing conditions. Each stimulus was presented either with or without bold emphasis (e.g., actor vs. actor). To help determine the locus of the effect of bold emphasis, word-frequency (low vs. high) was also manipulated. Results revealed that responses to words in boldface were faster than the responses to the words without emphasis –this advantage was restricted to low-frequency words. Thus, typographical features play a non-negligible role during visual-word recognition and, hence, the letter feature level of current models of visual-word recognition should be amended.
We qualify Frost's proposals regarding letter-position coding in visual word recognition and the universal model of reading. First, we show that perceptual uncertainty regarding letter position is not tied to European languages – instead it is a general property of the cognitive system. Second, we argue that a universal model of reading should incorporate a developmental view of the reading process.
Reichle et al. argue that the mechanism that determines where to fixate the eyes is controlled mostly by low-level processes. Therefore, unlike other competing models (e.g., the SWIFT model), the E-Z Reader model cannot account for “global” regressions as a result of linguistic difficulties. We argue that the model needs to be extended to account for regressive saccades.