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Childhood is a crucial neurodevelopmental period. We investigated whether childhood reading for pleasure (RfP) was related to young adolescent assessments of cognition, mental health, and brain structure.
We conducted a cross-sectional and longitudinal study in a large-scale US national cohort (10 000 + young adolescents), using the well-established linear mixed model and structural equation methods for twin study, longitudinal and mediation analyses. A 2-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis for potential causal inference was also performed. Important factors including socio-economic status were controlled.
Early-initiated long-standing childhood RfP (early RfP) was highly positively correlated with performance on cognitive tests and significantly negatively correlated with mental health problem scores of young adolescents. These participants with higher early RfP scores exhibited moderately larger total brain cortical areas and volumes, with increased regions including the temporal, frontal, insula, supramarginal; left angular, para-hippocampal; right middle-occipital, anterior-cingulate, orbital areas; and subcortical ventral-diencephalon and thalamus. These brain structures were significantly related to their cognitive and mental health scores, and displayed significant mediation effects. Early RfP was longitudinally associated with higher crystallized cognition and lower attention symptoms at follow-up. Approximately 12 h/week of youth regular RfP was cognitively optimal. We further observed a moderately significant heritability of early RfP, with considerable contribution from environments. MR analysis revealed beneficial causal associations of early RfP with adult cognitive performance and left superior temporal structure.
These findings, for the first time, revealed the important relationships of early RfP with subsequent brain and cognitive development and mental well-being.
Vibration-based methods can be used effectively to characterize the physical properties of biological materials, with an increasing interest focused on the mechanics of individual, living cells. Real-time measurements of cell properties, such as mass and Young's modulus, can yield important insights into many aspects of cell growth and metabolism as well as the interaction of cells with external stimuli (e.g., drugs). Vibrational test structures designed for the study of such cell properties often use fixed configurations and operational modes, with associated limitations in determining multiple characteristics of the cell, simultaneously. Recent development of mechanics-guided techniques for deterministic assembly of three-dimensional (3D) microstructures provides a route to vibrational frameworks that offer tunable configurations, vibration modes, and resonant frequencies. Here we propose a method that exploits such tunable vibrational structures to simultaneously determine the mass and modulus of a single adherent cell, or of other biological materials or small-scale living systems (e.g., organoids), through theoretical modeling and finite element analysis. The idea involves a 3D architecture that supports two different vibrational structures and can be converted from one to the other through application of strain to an elastomeric substrate. Specifically, tailored designs for serpentine ribbons in these systems enable a decoupling of the dependence of the resonant frequencies of the two structures to the cell mass and modulus, with an associated ability to measure these two properties accurately and independently. These same concepts can be scaled to apply to various types of cells, as well as to organoids (3D clusters of cells) and other biological materials with small geometries, across a range of values of mass and modulus. This method could serve as the foundation for microelectromechanical systems capable of monitoring mass and modulus in real time for use in research in biomechanics and dynamic biological processes.
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