Commenced in January 2007
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Edition: International
Paper Count: 40

Search results for: Gary. B. Wills

10 Characterization of the Music Admission Requirements and Evaluation of the Relationship among Motivation and Performance Achievement

Authors: Antonio M. Oliveira, Patricia Oliveira-Silva, Jose Matias Alves, Gary McPherson


The music teaching is oriented towards offering formal music training. Due to its specificities, this vocational program starts at a very young age. Although provided by the State, the offer is limited to 6 schools throughout the country, which means that the vacancies for prospective students are very limited every year. It is therefore crucial that these vacancies be taken by especially motivated children grown within households that offer the ideal setting for success. Some of the instruments used to evaluate musical performance are highly sensitive to specific previous training, what represents a severe validity problem for testing children who have had restricted opportunities for formal training. Moreover, these practices may be unfair because, for instance, they may not reflect the candidates’ music aptitudes. Based on what constitutes a prerequisite for making an excellent music student, researchers in this field have long argued that motivation, task commitment, and parents’ support are as important as ability. Thus, the aim of this study is: (1) to prepare an inventory of admission requirements in Australia, Portugal and Ireland; (2) to examine whether the candidates to music conservatories and parents’ level of motivation, assessed at three evaluation points (i.e., admission, at the end of the first year, and at the end of the second year), correlates positively with the candidates’ progress in learning a musical instrument (i.e., whether motivation at the admission may predict student musicianship); (3) an adaptation of an existing instrument to assess the motivation (i.e., to adapt the items to the music setting, focusing on the motivation for playing a musical instrument). The inclusion criteria are: only children registered in the administrative services to be evaluated for entrance to the conservatory will be accepted for this study. The expected number of participants is fifty (5-6 years old) in all the three frequency schemes: integrated, articulated and supplementary. Revisiting musical admission procedures is of particular importance and relevance to musical education because this debate may bring guidance and assistance about the needed improvement to make the process of admission fairer and more transparent.

Keywords: student’s motivation, music learning, music admission requirements, parent’s motivation

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9 Mesozooplankton in the Straits of Florida: Patterns in Biomass and Distribution

Authors: Sharein El-Tourky, Sharon Smith, Gary Hitchcock


Effective fisheries management is necessarily dependent on the accuracy of fisheries models, which can be limited if they omit critical elements. One critical element in the formulation of these models is the trophic interactions at the larval stage of fish development. At this stage, fish mortality rates are at their peak and survival is often determined by resource limitation. Thus it is crucial to identify and quantify essential prey resources and determine how they vary in abundance and availability. The main resources larval fish consume are mesozooplankton. In the Straits of Florida, little is known about temporal and spatial variability of the mesozooplankton community despite its importance as a spawning ground for fish such as the Blue Marlin. To investigate mesozooplankton distribution patterns in the Straits of Florida, a transect of 16 stations from Miami to the Bahamas was sampled once a month in 2003 and 2004 at four depths. We found marked temporal and spatial variability in mesozooplankton biomass, diversity, and depth distribution. Mesozooplankton biomass peaked on the western boundary of the SOF and decreased gradually across the straits to a minimum at eastern stations. Midcurrent stations appeared to be a region of enhanced year-round variability, but limited seasonality. Examination of dominant zooplankton groups revealed groups could be parsed into 6 clusters based on abundance. Of these zooplankton groups, copepods were the most abundant zooplankton group, with the 20 most abundant species making up 86% of the copepod community. Copepod diversity was lowest at midcurrent stations and highest in the Eastern SOF. Interestingly, one copepods species, previously identified to compose up to 90% of larval blue marlin and sailfish diets in the SOF, had a mean abundance of less than 7%. However, the unique spatial and vertical distribution patterns of this copepod coincide with peak larval fish spawning periods and larval distribution, suggesting an important relationship requiring further investigation.

Keywords: mesozooplankton biodiversity, larval fish diet, food web, Straits of Florida, vertical distribution, spatiotemporal variability, cross-current comparisons, Gulf Stream

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8 Caffeic Acid Methyl and Ethyl Esters Exhibit Beneficial Effect on Glucose and Lipid Metabolism in Cultured Murine Insulin-Sensitive Cells

Authors: Hoda M. Eid, Abir Nachar, Farah Thong, Gary Sweeney, Pierre S. Haddad


Caffeic acid methyl ester (CAME) and caffeic ethyl esters (CAEE) were previously reported to potently stimulate glucose uptake in cultured C2C12 skeletal muscle cells via insulin-independent mechanisms involving the activation of adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK). In the present study, we investigated the effect of the two compounds on the translocation of glucose transporter GLUT4 in L6 skeletal muscle cells. The cells were treated with the optimum non-toxic concentration (50 µM) of either CAME or CAEE for 18 h. Levels of GLUT4myc at the cell surface were measured by O-phenylenediamine dihydrochloride (OPD) assay. The effects of CAME and CAEE on GLUT1 and GLUT4 protein content were also measured by western immunoblot. Our results show that CAME and CAEE significantly increased glucose uptake, GLUT4 translocation and GLUT4 protein content. Furthermore, the effect of the two CA esters on two insulin-sensitive cell lines: H4IIE rat hepatoma and 3T3-L1 adipocytes were investigated. CAME and CAEE reduced the enzymatic activity of the key hepatic gluconeogenic enzyme glucose-6-phosphatase in a concentration-dependent manner. In addition, they exerted a concentration-dependent antiadipogenic effect on 3T3-L1 cells. Mitotic clonal expansion (MCE), a prerequisite for adipocytes differentiation was also concentration-dependently inhibited. The two compounds abrogated lipid droplet accumulation, blocked MCE and maintained cells in fibroblast-like state when applied at the maximum non-toxic concentration (100 µM). In addition, the expression of the early key adipogenic transcription factors CCAAT enhancer-binding protein beta (C/EBP-β) and the master regulator of adipogenesis peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-γ) were inhibited. We, therefore, conclude that CAME and CAEE exert pleiotropic benefits in several insulin-sensitive cell lines through insulin-independent mechanisms involving AMPK, hence they may treat obesity, diabetes and other metabolic diseases.

Keywords: insulin resistance, AMPK, type 2 diabetes mellitus, GLUT4, AKT

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7 The Silent Tuberculosis: A Case Study to Highlight Awareness of a Global Health Disease and Difficulties in Diagnosis

Authors: Susan Scott, Dina Hanna, Bassel Zebian, Gary Ruiz, Sreena Das


Although the number of cases of TB in England has fallen over the last 4 years, it remains an important public health burden with 1 in 20 cases dying annually. The vast majority of cases present in non-UK born individuals with social risk factors. We present a case of non-pulmonary TB presenting in a healthy child born in the UK to professional parents. We present a case of a healthy 10 year old boy who developed acute back pain during school PE. Over the next 5 months, he was seen by various health and allied professionals with worsening back pain and kyphosis. He became increasing unsteady and for the 10 days prior to admission to our hospital, he developed fevers. He was admitted to his local hospital for tonsillitis where he suffered two falls on account of his leg weakness. A spinal X-ray revealed a pathological fracture and gibbus formation. He was transferred to our unit for further management. On arrival, the patient had lower motor neurone signs of his left leg. He underwent spinal fixture, laminectomy and decompression. Microbiology samples taken intra-operatively confirmed Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. He had a positive Mantoux and T-spot and treatment were commenced. There was no evidence of immune compromise. The patient was born in the UK, had a BCG scar and his only travel history had been two years prior to presentation when he travelled to the Phillipines for a short holiday. The patient continues to have issues around neuropathic pain, mobility, pill burden and mild liver side effects from treatment. Discussion: There is a paucity of case reports on spinal TB in paediatrics and diagnosis is often difficult due to the non-specific symptomatology. Although prognosis on treatment is good, a delayed diagnosis can have devastating consequences. This case highlights the continued need for higher index of suspicion and diagnosis in a world with changing patterns of migration and increase global travel. Surgical intervention is limited to the most serious cases to minimise further neurological damage and improve prognosis. There remains the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to deal with challenges of treatment and rehabilitation.

Keywords: Tuberculosis, public health burden, non-pulmonary TB, diagnostic challenge

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6 Digital Advance Care Planning and Directives: Early Observations of Adoption Statistics and Responses from an All-Digital Consumer-Driven Approach

Authors: Robert L. Fine, Zhiyong Yang, Christy Spivey, Bonnie Boardman, Maureen Courtney


Importance: Barriers to traditional advance care planning (ACP) and advance directive (AD) creation have limited the promise of ACP/AD for individuals and families, the healthcare team, and society. Reengineering ACP by using a web-based, consumer-driven process has recently been suggested. We report early experience with such a process. Objective: Begin to analyze the potential of the creation and use of ACP/ADs as generated by a consumer-friendly, digital process by 1) assessing the likelihood that consumers would create ACP/ADs without structured intervention by medical or legal professionals, and 2) analyzing the responses to determine if the plans can help doctors better understand a person’s goals, preferences, and priorities for their medical treatments and the naming of healthcare agents. Design: The authors chose 900 users of, a digital ACP/AD tool, solely based on their state of residence in order to achieve proportional representation of all 50 states by population size and then reviewed their responses, summarizing these through descriptive statistics including treatment preferences, demographics, and revision of preferences. Setting: General United States population. Participants: The 900 participants had an average age of 50.8 years (SD = 16.6); 84.3% of the men and 91% of the women were in self-reported good health when signing their ADs. Main measures: Preferences regarding the use of life-sustaining treatments, where to spend final days, consulting a supportive and palliative care team, attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), autopsy, and organ and tissue donation. Results: Nearly 85% of respondents prefer cessation of life-sustaining treatments during their final days whenever those may be, 76% prefer to spend their final days at home or in a hospice facility, and 94% wanted their future doctors to consult a supportive and palliative care team. 70% would accept attempted CPR in certain limited circumstances. Most respondents would want an autopsy under certain conditions, and 62% would like to donate their organs. Conclusions and relevance: Analysis of early experience with an all-digital web-based ACP/AD platform demonstrates that individuals from a wide range of ages and conditions can engage in an interrogatory process about values, goals, preferences, and priorities for their medical treatments by developing advance directives and easily make changes to the AD created. Online creation, storage, and retrieval of advance directives has the potential to remove barriers to ACP/AD and, thus, to further improve patient-centered end-of-life care.

Keywords: End of Life Care, Goals, Advance Care Plan, Advance Decisions, Advance Directives, Consumer; Digital, Living Wills, Prefences, Universal Advance Directive, Statements

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5 The Clash of the Clans in the British Divorce

Authors: Samuel Gary Beckton


Ever since the Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014, there has been a threat of a second referendum. However, if there was another referendum and the majority favoured independence, it is highly likely to be by a small majority. In this paper, it will look into the hypothetical situation of what could have happened if Scotland had voted in favour of independence in 2014. If this occurred, there would be many Unionists within Scotland, including devoted supporters of the Better Together campaign. There was a possibility of some Scottish Unionists not willing to accept the result of the Referendum unchallenged and use their right of self-determination through the UN Charter for their region to remain within the United Kingdom. The Shetland and Orkney Islands contemplated of opting out of an independent Scotland in 2013. This caught the attention of some politicians and the media, via confirming the possibility of some form of partition in Scotland and could have gained extra attention if partition quickly became a matter of ‘need’ instead of ‘want’. Whilst some Unionists may have used petitions and formed pressure groups to voice their claims, others may have used more hard-line tactics to achieve their political objectives, including possible protest marches and acts of civil unrest. This could have possibly spread sectarian violence between Scottish Unionists and Nationalists. Glasgow has a serious issue of this kind of sectarianism, which has escalated in recent years. This is due to the number communities that have been established from Irish Immigrants, which maintain links with Northern Irish loyalists and republicans. Some Scottish Unionists not only have sympathy towards Northern Irish loyalists but actively participate with the paramilitary groups and gave support. Scottish loyalists could use these contacts to create their own paramilitary group(s), with aid from remaining UK (RUK) benefactors. Therefore, this could have resulted in the RUK facing a serious security dilemma, with political and ethical consequences to consider. The RUK would have the moral obligation to protect Scottish Unionists from persecution and recognise their right of self-determination, whilst ensuring the security and well-being of British citizens within and outside of Scotland. This work takes into consideration the lessons learned from the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. As an era of ‘Troubles’ could occur in Scotland, extending into England and Northern Ireland. This is due to proximity, the high number of political, communal and family links in Scotland to the RUK, and the delicate peace process within Northern Ireland which shares a similar issue. This paper will use British and Scottish Government documents prior to the Scottish referendum to argue why partition might happen and use cartography of maps of a potential partition plan for Scotland. Reports from the UK National Statistics, National Rail, and Ministry of Defence shall also be utilised, and use of journal articles that were covering the referendum.

Keywords: Identity, Nationalism, Scotland, unionism

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4 Development of Structural Deterioration Models for Flexible Pavement Using Traffic Speed Deflectometer Data

Authors: Gary Chai, Sittampalam Manoharan, Sanaul Chowdhury, Andrew Golding


The primary objective of this paper is to present a simplified approach to develop the structural deterioration model using traffic speed deflectometer data for flexible pavements. Maintaining assets to meet functional performance is not economical or sustainable in the long terms, and it would end up needing much more investments for road agencies and extra costs for road users. Performance models have to be included for structural and functional predicting capabilities, in order to assess the needs, and the time frame of those needs. As such structural modelling plays a vital role in the prediction of pavement performance. A structural condition is important for the prediction of remaining life and overall health of a road network and also major influence on the valuation of road pavement. Therefore, the structural deterioration model is a critical input into pavement management system for predicting pavement rehabilitation needs accurately. The Traffic Speed Deflectometer (TSD) is a vehicle-mounted Doppler laser system that is capable of continuously measuring the structural bearing capacity of a pavement whilst moving at traffic speeds. The device’s high accuracy, high speed, and continuous deflection profiles are useful for network-level applications such as predicting road rehabilitations needs and remaining structural service life. The methodology adopted in this model by utilizing time series TSD maximum deflection (D0) data in conjunction with rutting, rutting progression, pavement age, subgrade strength and equivalent standard axle (ESA) data. Then, regression analyses were undertaken to establish a correlation equation of structural deterioration as a function of rutting, pavement age, seal age and equivalent standard axle (ESA). This study developed a simple structural deterioration model which will enable to incorporate available TSD structural data in pavement management system for developing network-level pavement investment strategies. Therefore, the available funding can be used effectively to minimize the whole –of- life cost of the road asset and also improve pavement performance. This study will contribute to narrowing the knowledge gap in structural data usage in network level investment analysis and provide a simple methodology to use structural data effectively in investment decision-making process for road agencies to manage aging road assets.

Keywords: adjusted structural number (SNP), maximum deflection (D0), equant standard axle (ESA), traffic speed deflectometer (TSD)

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3 The Toxic Effects of Kynurenine Metabolites on SH-SY5Y Neuroblastoma Cells

Authors: Susan Hall, Gary D. Grant, Catherine McDermott, Devinder Arora


Introduction /Aim: The kynurenine pathway is thought to play an important role in the pathophysiology of numerous neurodegenerative diseases including depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Numerous neuroactive compounds, including the neurotoxic 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid, 3-hydroxykynurenine and quinolinic acid and the neuroprotective kynurenic acid and picolinic acid, are produced through the metabolism of kynurenine and are thought to be the causative agents responsible for neurodegeneration. The toxicity of 3-hydroxykynurenine, 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid and quinolinic acid has been widely evaluated and demonstrated in primary cell cultures but to date only 3-hydroxykynurenine and 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid have been shown to cause toxicity in immortal tumour cells. The aim of this study was to evaluate the toxicity of kynurenine metabolites, both individually and in combination, on SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells after 24 and 72 h exposure in order to explore a cost-effective model to study their neurotoxic effects and potential protective agents. Methods: SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells were exposed to various concentrations of the neuroactive kynurenine metabolites, both individually and in combination, for 24 and 72 h, and viability was subsequently evaluated using the Resazurin (Alamar blue) proliferation assay. Furthermore, the effects of these compounds, alone and in combination, on specific death pathways including apoptosis, necrosis and free radical production was evaluated using various assays. Results: Consistent with literature, toxicity was shown with short-term 24-hour treatments at 1000 μM concentrations for both 3-hydroxykynurenine and 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid. Combinations of kynurenine metabolites showed modest toxicity towards SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells in a concentration-dependent manner. Specific cell death pathways, including apoptosis, necrosis and free radical production were shown to be increased after both 24 and 72 h exposure of SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells to 3-hydroxykynurenine and 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid and various combinations of neurotoxic kynurenine metabolites. Conclusion: It is well documented that neurotoxic kynurenine metabolites show toxicity towards primary human neurons in the nanomolar to low micromolar concentration range. Results show that the concentrations required to show significant cell death are in the range of 1000 µM for 3-hydroxykynurenine and 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid and toxicity of quinolinic acid towards SH-SY5Y was unable to be shown. This differs significantly from toxicities observed in primary human neurons. Combinations of the neurotoxic metabolites were shown to have modest toxicity towards these cells with increased toxicity and activation of cell death pathways observed after 72 h exposure. This study suggests that the 24 h model is unsuitable for use in neurotoxicity studies, however, the 72 h model better represents the observations of the studies using primary human neurons and may provide some benefit in providing a cost-effective model to assess possible protective agents against kynurenine metabolite toxicities.

Keywords: neurotoxicity, kynurenine metabolites, quinolinic acid, SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma

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2 Is Liking for Sampled Energy-Dense Foods Mediated by Taste Phenotypes?

Authors: Gary J. Pickering, Sarah Lucas, Catherine E. Klodnicki, Nicole J. Gaudette


Two taste pheno types that are of interest in the study of habitual diet-related risk factors and disease are 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) responsiveness and thermal tasting. Individuals differ considerable in how intensely they experience the bitterness of PROP, which is partially explained by three major single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with the TAS2R38 gene. Importantly, this variable responsiveness is a useful proxy for general taste responsiveness, and links to diet-related disease risk, including body mass index, in some studies. Thermal tasting - a newly discovered taste phenotype independent of PROP responsiveness - refers to the capacity of many individuals to perceive phantom tastes in response to lingual thermal stimulation, and is linked with TRPM5 channels. Thermal tasters (TTs) also experience oral sensations more intensely than thermal non-tasters (TnTs), and this was shown to associate with differences in self-reported food preferences in a previous survey from our lab. Here we report on two related studies, where we sought to determine whether PROP responsiveness and thermal tasting would associate with perceptual differences in the oral sensations elicited by sampled energy-dense foods, and whether in turn this would influence liking. We hypothesized that hyper-tasters (thermal tasters and individuals who experience PROP intensely) would (a) rate sweet and high-fat foods more intensely than hypo-tasters, and (b) would differ from hypo-tasters in liking scores. (Liking has been proposed recently as a more accurate measure of actual food consumption). In Study 1, a range of energy-dense foods and beverages, including table cream and chocolate, was assessed by 25 TTs and 19 TnTs. Ratings of oral sensation intensity and overall liking were obtained using gVAS and gDOL scales, respectively. TTs and TnTs did not differ significantly in intensity ratings for most stimuli (ANOVA). In a 2nd study, 44 female participants sampled 22 foods and beverages, assessing them for intensity of oral sensations (gVAS) and overall liking (9-point hedonic scale). TTs (n=23) rated their overall liking of creaminess and milk products lower than did TnTs (n=21), and liked milk chocolate less. PROP responsiveness was negatively correlated with liking of food and beverages belonging to the sweet or sensory food grouping. No other differences in intensity or liking scores between hyper- and hypo-tasters were found. Taken overall, our results are somewhat unexpected, lending only modest support to the hypothesis that these taste phenotypes associate with energy-dense food liking and consumption through differences in the oral sensations they elicit. Reasons for this lack of concordance with expectations and some prior literature are discussed, and suggestions for future research are advanced.

Keywords: sensory evaluation, taste phenotypes, PROP, thermal tasting, diet-related health risk

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1 Interactive Virtual Patient Simulation Enhances Pharmacology Education and Clinical Practice

Authors: Gary D. Grant, Shailendra Anoopkumar-Dukie, Lyndsee Baumann-Birkbeck, Sohil A. Khan


Technology-enhanced education tools are being rapidly integrated into health programs globally. These tools provide an interactive platform for students and can be used to deliver topics in various modes including games and simulations. Simulations are of particular interest to healthcare education, where they are employed to enhance clinical knowledge and help to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Simulations will often assess competencies for practical tasks, yet limited research examines the effects of simulation on student perceptions of their learning. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of an interactive virtual patient simulation for pharmacology education and clinical practice on student knowledge, skills and confidence. Ethics approval for the study was obtained from Griffith University Research Ethics Committee (PHM/11/14/HREC). The simulation was intended to replicate the pharmacy environment and patient interaction. The content was designed to enhance knowledge of proton-pump inhibitor pharmacology, role in therapeutics and safe supply to patients. The tool was deployed into a third-year clinical pharmacology and therapeutics course. A number of core practice areas were examined including the competency domains of questioning, counselling, referral and product provision. Baseline measures of student self-reported knowledge, skills and confidence were taken prior to the simulation using a specifically designed questionnaire. A more extensive questionnaire was deployed following the virtual patient simulation, which also included measures of student engagement with the activity. A quiz assessing student factual and conceptual knowledge of proton-pump inhibitor pharmacology and related counselling information was also included in both questionnaires. Sixty-one students (response rate >95%) from two cohorts (2014 and 2015) participated in the study. Chi-square analyses were performed and data analysed using Fishers exact test. Results demonstrate that student knowledge, skills and confidence within the competency domains of questioning, counselling, referral and product provision, show improvement following the implementation of the virtual patient simulation. Statistically significant (p<0.05) improvement occurred in ten of the possible twelve self-reported measurement areas. Greatest magnitude of improvement occurred in the area of counselling (student confidence p<0.0001). Student confidence in all domains (questioning, counselling, referral and product provision) showed a marked increase. Student performance in the quiz also improved, demonstrating a 10% improvement overall for pharmacology knowledge and clinical practice following the simulation. Overall, 85% of students reported the simulation to be engaging and 93% of students felt the virtual patient simulation enhanced learning. The data suggests that the interactive virtual patient simulation developed for clinical pharmacology and therapeutics education enhanced students knowledge, skill and confidence, with respect to the competency domains of questioning, counselling, referral and product provision. These self-reported measures appear to translate to learning outcomes, as demonstrated by the improved student performance in the quiz assessment item. Future research of education using virtual simulation should seek to incorporate modern quantitative measures of student learning and engagement, such as eye tracking.

Keywords: Education, pharmacology, Simulation, Virtual learning, Clinical simulation

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