577 research outputs found

    Task-dependent calibration of auditory spatial perception through environmental visual observation

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    Visual information is paramount to space perception. Vision influences auditory space estimation. Many studies show that simultaneous visual and auditory cues improve precision of the final multisensory estimate. However, the amount or the temporal extent of visual information, that is sufficient to influence auditory perception, is still unknown. It is therefore interesting to know if vision can improve auditory precision through a short-term environmental observation preceding the audio task and whether this influence is task-specific or environment-specific or both. To test these issues we investigate possible improvements of acoustic precision with sighted blindfolded participants in two audio tasks (minimum audible angle and space bisection) and two acoustically different environments (normal room and anechoic room). With respect to a baseline of auditory precision, we found an improvement of precision in the space bisection task but not in the minimum audible angle after the observation of a normal room. No improvement was found when performing the same task in an anechoic chamber. In addition, no difference was found between a condition of short environment observation and a condition of full vision during the whole experimental session. Our results suggest that even short-term environmental observation can calibrate auditory spatial performance. They also suggest that echoes can be the cue that underpins visual calibration. Echoes may mediate the transfer of information from the visual to the auditory system

    Assessment of spatial reasoning in blind individuals using a haptic version of the Kohs Block Design Test

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    Abstract Past research investigating the spatial abilities of visually impaired people, provided conflicting results. There is thus an urgent need to develop standardized tests for the evaluation of spatial cognition when vision is absent or disrupted. To this aim, we developed a haptic version of the Kohs Block Design Test and investigated the spatial non-verbal reasoning of early blind, late blind and sighted individuals. Participants reproduced 3D printed haptic configurations by assembling blocks with different textures, within a time limit. Results showed that early blind individuals reproduced fewer haptic designs than the other two groups correctly. Instead, the assembling time of the correct responses was similar among all groups. Moreover, blindness duration (in years) did not seem to affect the correctness of the performance: no significant correlation between the two variables was observed for early and late blind participants. Since only early blind individuals display difficulties in mentally representing the haptic configurations and manipulating multiple spatial information, we conclude that early visual deprivation may affect spatial reasoning capabilities. The present study adds new insights on the role of visual experience in the development of spatial skills and represents a first step in the adaptation of standardized tests for the assessment of spatial cognitive abilities in visually impaired people

    One-class support vector machines identify the language and default mode regions as common patterns of structural alterations in young children with autism spectrum disorders

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    The identification of reliable brain endophenotypes of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has been hampered to date by the heterogeneity in the neuroanatomical abnormalities detected in this condition. To handle the complexity of neuroimaging data and to convert brain images in informative biomarkers of pathology, multivariate analysis techniques based on Support Vector Machines (SVM) have been widely used in several disease conditions. They are usually trained to distinguish patients from healthy control subjects by making a binary classification. Here, we propose the use of the One-Class Classification (OCC) or Data Description method that, in contrast to two-class classification, is based on a description of one class of objects only. This approach, by defining a multivariate normative rule on one class of subjects, allows recognizing examples from a different category as outliers. We applied the OCC to 314 regional features extracted from brain structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans of young children with ASD (21 males and 20 females) and control subjects (20 males and 20 females), matched on age [range: 22-72 months of age; mean = 49 months] and non-verbal intelligence quotient (NVIQ) [range: 31-123; mean = 73]. We demonstrated that a common pattern of features characterize the ASD population. The OCC SVM trained on the group of ASD subjects showed the following performances in the ASD vs. controls separation: the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) was 0.74 for the male and 0.68 for the female population, respectively. Notably, the ASD vs. controls discrimination results were maximized when evaluated on the subsamples of subjects with NVIQ = 70, leading to AUC = 0.81 for the male and AUC = 0.72 for the female populations, respectively. Language regions and regions from the default mode network-posterior cingulate cortex, pars opercularis and pars triangularis of the inferior frontal gyrus, and transverse temporal gyrus-contributed most to distinguishing individuals with ASD from controls, arguing for the crucial role of these areas in the ASD pathophysiology. The observed brain patterns associate preschoolers with ASD independently of their age, gender and NVIQ and therefore they are expected to constitute part of the ASD brain endophenotype

    Anticipatory action planning in blind and sighted individuals

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    Several studies on visually guided reach-to-grasp movements have documented that how objects are grasped differs depending on the actions one intends to perform subsequently. However, no previous study has examined whether this differential grasping may also occur without visual input. In this study, we used motion capture technology to investigate the influence of visual feedback and prior visual experience on the modulation of kinematics by intention in sighted (in both full-vision and no-vision conditions), early-blind and late-blind participants. Results provide evidence of modulation of kinematics by intention to a similar degree under both full-vision and no-vision conditions. Moreover, they demonstrate that prior visual experience has little impact on the tailoring of grasping movements to intention. This suggests that sequential action planning does not depend on visual input, and may instead be ascribed to the function of multisensory-motor cortical network that operates and develops not only in light, but also in darkness

    The effect of active breaks on cognitive performance and classroom behaviour: the I-move study

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    Background: Active Breaks (ABs) intervention involves short bouts of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) conducted during or between curricular lessons by the appropriately trained teachers. The aim of the Imola Active Breaks Study (IMOVE study) was to evaluate the effect of an ABs intervention on cognitive function and classroom behaviour in primary school children. Methods: The study was quasi-experimental, and it involved two groups attending a primary school in Imola (Bologna, Italy). The Active Breaks group (ABsG) performed the I-MOVE protocol consisting in 10 minutes of ABs divided in warm up, tone-up with high intensity interval training and cool-down. This is repeated three times a day for one year and half. The control group (CG) continued with regular lessons. The baseline assessment was conducted in October 2019 and the follow-up in May 2021. Cognitive performance was assessed using working memory test and classroom behaviour was monitored using an ‘‘ad hoc questionnaire’’. Results: Working memory performance increased significantly more in the ABsG (change: 1.30 1.17) than in CG (0.96 1.20), p < 0.05. Almost the entire sample of the children wanted to continue with this intervention in the next following year. Children reported improvements in their school-life quality, including feeling better in class (75.40%) and in school (82.50%) when using ABs. Improvements were also reported in children time-on-task behaviours: 52.90% said they work easily in class, 52.90% that they could listen more clearly, 58.80% reported they can stay seated easily, and 59.60% that they learned better and were more focused after ABs. Conclusions: In conclusion the program has proven to be very effective on the children’s cognitive improvement and classroom behaviour. Since the ABs intervention demonstrates these positive effects, its implementation in schools can have a beneficial, sustainable and long-term impact on childhood health. Key messages: ABs intervention represents a cost-effective strategy to be implemented in the school settings regardless of the age and sex differences, to make the school a more dynamic environment. Despite the pandemic difficulties, the ABs intervention proved to be sustainable, and to have a positive effect on classroom behaviour by improving children’s concentration and attention in class

    The Determinants of Health-Related Quality of Life in a Sample of Primary School Children: A Cross-Sectional Analysis

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    Background: Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in childhood is a multidimensional construct with many sub dimensions of subjective experience, including physical activity (PA), psychological well-being, social interaction, and school performance, that represents a fundamental health outcome to assess a child’s physical and psycho-social functioning. Our study aims to explore the potential predictors of children’s health-related quality of life, using a convenience sample from the Imola Active Break Study (I-MOVE), considering demographic, anthropometric measures, PA level measured by Actigraph accelerometers, parent-reported/self-reported HRQoL, and body image. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis was conducted among 151 primary school children in Italy. HRQoL was assessed using the Italian version 4.0 of the Paediatric Quality of Life (PedsQL) questionnaire. Results: Children who spent more time partaking in moderate PA were associated with a higher total PedsQL score (p < 0.03). Mother’s body mass index (BMI) was the only variable statistically significant associated with the physical health domain of PedsQL. Parent’s proxy-report perception concerning children’s psychosocial health was statistically relevant. The children’s gender, age, and BMI had no association with any of the HRQoL outcomes. Discussion: Parent proxy-report psychosocial health and mother’s BMI should be considered as predictors of HRQoL for the psychosocial and physical domain. PA should be implemented in order to improve the HRQoL of primary school children

    How Can Scientific Literature Support Decision-Making in the Renovation of Historic Buildings?:An Evidence-Based Approach for Improving the Performance of Walls

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    Buildings of heritage significance due to their historical, architectural, or cultural value, here called historic buildings, constitute a large proportion of the building stock in many countries around the world. Improving the performance of such buildings is necessary to lower the carbon emissions of the stock, which generates around 40% of the overall emissions worldwide. In historic buildings, it is estimated that heat loss through external walls contributes significantly to the overall energy consumption, and is associated with poor thermal comfort and indoor air quality. Measures to improve the performance of walls of historic buildings require a balance between energy performance, indoor environmental quality, heritage significance, and technical compatibility. Appropriate wall measures are available, but the correct selection and implementation require an integrated process throughout assessment (planning), design, construction, and use. Despite the available knowledge, decision-makers often have limited access to robust information on tested retrofit measures, hindering the implementation of deep renovation. This paper provides an evidence-based approach on the steps required during assessment, design, and construction, and after retrofitting through a literature review. Moreover, it provides a review of possible measures for wall retrofit within the deep renovation of historic buildings, including their advantages and disadvantages and the required considerations based on context

    The impact of COVID-19 on physical activity behaviour in Italian primary school children: a comparison before and during pandemic considering gender differences

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    Background: The World Health Organization stated an average of 60 min of Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) that children should accumulate every day. Nevertheless physical inactivity is growing and, due to restrictions imposed during pandemic, PA levels of children might be more negatively affected. The study aimed to analyse the impact of COVID-19 on the PA of an Italian sample of primary school children by comparing it before and during COVID-19 considering gender differences. Methods: A pre-post analysis (October 2019–January 2021) was conducted using a randomized sample (N = 77) from the I-MOVE study settled in an Italian primary school. Both objective (Actigraph accelerometers) and selfreported (PAQ-c questionnaires) assessments of PA were performed. Changes were compared using T-Student and Chi-Square test. Gender differences were calculated using Anova. Results: Weekly and daily minutes time spent in MVPA significantly decreased respectively by − 30.59 ± 120.87 and − 15.32 ± 16.21 from before to during pandemic while the weekly time spent in sedentary behaviour increased (+ 1196.01 ± 381.49). PAQ-c scores followed the same negative trend (− 0.87 ± 0.72). Boys seem to have suffered more than girls from the imposed restrictions. Conclusion: These findings outline the need for strategies to promote PA and reduce sedentary behaviours in children to prevent COVID-19 restriction long-term effects
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