Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 22

Search results for: Luigi Ricciardiello

22 Detection of JC Virus DNA and T-Ag Expression in a Subpopulation of Tunisian Colorectal Carcinomas

Authors: Wafa Toumi, Alessandro Ripalti, Luigi Ricciardiello, Dalila Gargouri, Jamel Kharrat, Abderraouf Cherif, Ahmed Bouhafa, Slim Jarboui, Mohamed Zili, Ridha Khelifa


Background & aims: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common malignancies throughout the world. Several risk factors, both genetic and environmental, including viral infections, have been linked to colorectal carcinogenesis. A few studies report the detection of human polyomavirus JC (JCV) DNA and transformation antigen (T-Ag) in a fraction of the colorectal tumors studied and suggest an association of this virus with CRC. In order to investigate whether such an association of JCV with CRC will hold in a different epidemiological setting, we looked for the presence of JCV DNA and T-Ag expression in a group of Tunisian CRC patients. Methods: Fresh colorectal mucosa biopsies were obtained from 17 healthy volunteers and from both colorectal tumors and adjacent normal tissues of 47 CRC patients. DNA was extracted from fresh biopsies or from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue sections using the Invitrogen Purelink Genomic DNA mini Kit. A simple PCR and a nested PCR were used to amplify a region of the T-Ag gene. The obtained PCR products revealed a 154 bp and a 98 bp bands, respectively. Specificity was confirmed by sequencing of the PCR products. T-Ag expression was determined by immunohistochemical staining using a mouse monoclonal antibody (clone PAb416) directed against SV40 T-Ag that cross reacts with JCV T-Ag. Results: JCV DNA was found in 12 (25%) and 22 (46%) of the CRC tumors by simple PCR and by nested PCR, respectively. All paired adjacent normal mucosa biopsies were negative for viral DNA. Sequencing of the DNA amplicons obtained confirmed the authenticity of T-Ag sequences. Immunohistochemical staining showed nuclear T-Ag expression in all 22 JCV DNA- positive samples and in 3 additional tumor samples which appeared DNA-negative by PCR. Conclusions: These results suggest an association of JCV with a subpopulation of Tunisian colorectal tumors.

Keywords: colorectal cancer, immunohistochemistry, Polyomavirus JC, PCR

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21 Artificial Intelligence-Generated Previews of Hyaluronic Acid-Based Treatments

Authors: Ciro Cursio, Giulia Cursio, Pio Luigi Cursio, Luigi Cursio


Communication between practitioner and patient is of the utmost importance in aesthetic medicine: as of today, images of previous treatments are the most common tool used by doctors to describe and anticipate future results for their patients. However, using photos of other people often reduces the engagement of the prospective patient and is further limited by the number and quality of pictures available to the practitioner. Pre-existing work solves this issue in two ways: 3D scanning of the area with manual editing of the 3D model by the doctor or automatic prediction of the treatment by warping the image with hand-written parameters. The first approach requires the manual intervention of the doctor, while the second approach always generates results that aren’t always realistic. Thus, in one case, there is significant manual work required by the doctor, and in the other case, the prediction looks artificial. We propose an AI-based algorithm that autonomously generates a realistic prediction of treatment results. For the purpose of this study, we focus on hyaluronic acid treatments in the facial area. Our approach takes into account the individual characteristics of each face, and furthermore, the prediction system allows the patient to decide which area of the face she wants to modify. We show that the predictions generated by our system are realistic: first, the quality of the generated images is on par with real images; second, the prediction matches the actual results obtained after the treatment is completed. In conclusion, the proposed approach provides a valid tool for doctors to show patients what they will look like before deciding on the treatment.

Keywords: prediction, hyaluronic acid, treatment, artificial intelligence

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20 Lumped Parameter Models for Numerical Simulation of The Dynamic Response of Hoisting Appliances

Authors: Candida Petrogalli, Giovanni Incerti, Luigi Solazzi


This paper describes three lumped parameters models for the study of the dynamic behaviour of a boom crane. The models proposed here allow evaluating the fluctuations of the load arising from the rope and structure elasticity and from the type of the motion command imposed by the winch. A calculation software was developed in order to determine the actual acceleration of the lifted mass and the dynamic overload during the lifting phase. Some application examples are presented, with the aim of showing the correlation between the magnitude of the stress and the type of the employed motion command.

Keywords: crane, dynamic model, overloading condition, vibration

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19 State of the Art on the Recommendation Techniques of Mobile Learning Activities

Authors: Nassim Dennouni, Yvan Peter, Luigi Lancieri, Zohra Slama


The objective of this article is to make a bibliographic study on the recommendation of mobile learning activities that are used as part of the field trip scenarios. Indeed, the recommendation systems are widely used in the context of mobility because they can be used to provide learning activities. These systems should take into account the history of visits and teacher pedagogy to provide adaptive learning according to the instantaneous position of the learner. To achieve this objective, we review the existing literature on field trip scenarios to recommend mobile learning activities.

Keywords: mobile learning, field trip, mobile learning activities, collaborative filtering, recommendation system, point of interest, ACO algorithm

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18 Simulating the Hot Hand Phenomenon in Basketball with Bayesian Hidden Markov Models

Authors: Gabriel Calvo, Carmen Armero, Luigi Spezia


A basketball player is said to have a hot hand if his/her performance is better than expected in different periods of time. A way to deal with this phenomenon is to make use of latent variables, which can indicate whether the player is ‘on fire’ or not. This work aims to model the hot hand phenomenon through a Bayesian hidden Markov model (HMM) with two states (cold and hot) and two different probability of success depending on the corresponding hidden state. This task is illustrated through a comprehensive simulation study. The simulated data sets emulate the field goal attempts in an NBA season from different profile players. This model can be a powerful tool to assess the ‘streakiness’ of each player, and it provides information about the general performance of the players during the match. Finally, the Bayesian HMM allows computing the posterior probability of any type of streak.

Keywords: Bernoulli trials, field goals, latent variables, posterior distribution

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17 Phenomenology of Contemporary Cities: Abandoned Sites as Waiting Places, Bucharest, a Case Study

Authors: Luigi Pintacuda


What characterize the phenomenology of Bucharest is that all operations of modernization have never been completed, creating a city made up of fragments. Understood this fragmented nature, the traces and fractures, the acceptance of their scars must represent the basis for the design of development for Bucharest. From this insight comes a new analysis of this city: a city of two million inhabitants that does not need a project on an urban scale (as all other major projects for the city have failed), but, starting from the study of all these interstitial spaces of public property, it must find its own strategy, a strategy on a large-scale that reflects on the sites on an architectural one. It is a city composed by fragments, not waste, but places for the project: ‘waiting spaces’ for a possible continuation of the process of genesis of a city which is often incomplete.

Keywords: public spaces, traces fractures, urban design, urban development

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16 Neutral Heavy Scalar Searches via Standard Model Gauge Boson Decays at the Large Hadron Electron Collider with Multivariate Techniques

Authors: Luigi Delle Rose, Oliver Fischer, Ahmed Hammad


In this article, we study the prospects of the proposed Large Hadron electron Collider (LHeC) in the search for heavy neutral scalar particles. We consider a minimal model with one additional complex scalar singlet that interacts with the Standard Model (SM) via mixing with the Higgs doublet, giving rise to an SM-like Higgs boson and a heavy scalar particle. Both scalar particles are produced via vector boson fusion and can be tested via their decays into pairs of SM particles, analogously to the SM Higgs boson. Using multivariate techniques, we show that the LHeC is sensitive to heavy scalars with masses between 200 and 800 GeV down to scalar mixing of order 0.01.

Keywords: beyond the standard model, large hadron electron collider, multivariate analysis, scalar singlet

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15 Forecasting of the Mobility of Rainfall-Induced Slow-Moving Landslides Using a Two-Block Model

Authors: Antonello Troncone, Luigi Pugliese, Andrea Parise, Enrico Conte


The present study deals with the landslides periodically reactivated by groundwater level fluctuations owing to rainfall. The main type of movement which generally characterizes these landslides consists in sliding with quite small-displacement rates. Another peculiar characteristic of these landslides is that soil deformations are essentially concentrated within a thin shear band located below the body of the landslide, which, consequently, undergoes an approximately rigid sliding. In this context, a simple method is proposed in the present study to forecast the movements of this type of landslides owing to rainfall. To this purpose, the landslide body is schematized by means of a two-block model. Some analytical solutions are derived to relate rainfall measurements with groundwater level oscillations and these latter, in turn, to landslide mobility. The proposed method is attractive for engineering applications since it requires few parameters as input data, many of which can be obtained from conventional geotechnical tests. To demonstrate the predictive capability of the proposed method, the application to a well-documented landslide periodically reactivated by rainfall is shown.

Keywords: rainfall, water level fluctuations, landslide mobility, two-block model

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14 The Role of Spiritual Experience, Gerotranscendence and Social Engagement on Successful Aging among Incarcerated Filipino Elderly: A Structural Equation Model

Authors: Les Paul Valdez, Rowena Manzarate, Joseph Carl Lunizo, Mary Thereze Mabaquiao, Mary Deo Luigi Mabunay


Background: Across the literature, varying definitions of successful aging can be found. As a result, several determinants have been associated with successful aging. However, there is a paucity of literature exploring the relationship between successful aging and factors such as spiritual experience, gerotranscendence, and social engagement. Objective: Thus, this study purports to ascertain the relationship between and among spiritual experience, gerotranscendence, social engagement and successful aging. Methods: The Daily Spiritual Experience Scale (DSES), Social Engagement Scale (SES), Gerotranscendence Scale Revised (GS-R) and Expectations Regarding Aging (ERA) were fielded to 349 incarcerated elderly to measure spiritual experience, social engagement, gerotranscendence and successful aging respectively. Data was analyzed using Structural Equation Modelling through AMOS 21. The hypothesized model was evaluated using the goodness of fit and parsimony indices. Results: Social engagement (β= .179, p=.128) and spiritual experience (β= .375, p=.262) contribute to successful aging through the mediating effect of gerotranscendence (β= .973, p=.718). Conclusion: Today more than ever, healthcare providers in penal institutions are challenged to ensure that incarcerated elderly are socially and spiritually engaged; and have high levels of gerotranscendence.

Keywords: elderly, Filipino, gerotranscendence, social engagement, spiritual experience, successful aging

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13 Cement-Based Composites with Carbon Nanofillers for Smart Structural Health Monitoring Sensors

Authors: Antonella D'Alessandro, Filippo Ubertini, Annibale Luigi Materazzi


The progress of nanotechnology resulted in the development of new instruments in the field of civil engineering. In particular, the introduction of carbon nanofillers into construction materials can enhance their mechanical and electrical properties. In construction, concrete is among the most used materials. Due to the characteristics of its components and its structure, concrete is suitable for modification, at the nanometer level too. Moreover, to guarantee structural safety, it is desirable to achieve a widespread monitoring of structures. The ideal thing would be to realize structures able to identify their behavior modifications, states of incipient damage or conditions of possible risk for people. This paper presents a research work about novel cementitious composites with conductive carbon nanoinclusions able of monitoring their state of deformation, with particular attention to concrete. The self-sensing ability is achieved through the correlation between the variation of stress or strain and that of electrical resistance. Carbon nanofillers appear particularly suitable for such applications. Nanomodified concretes with different carbon nanofillers has been tested. The samples have been subjected to cyclic and dynamic loads. The experimental campaign shows the potentialities of this new type of sensors made of nanomodified concrete for diffuse Structural Health Monitoring.

Keywords: carbon nanofillers, cementitious nanocomposites, smart sensors, structural health monitoring.

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12 The Use of Synthetic Soil for The Vegetables Cultivation in Conditions of Limited Water Consumption

Authors: Italo Luigi de Paoli


The use of synthetic soil for the vegetables cultivation in conditions of limited water consumption The separate collection of urban organic waste and green waste for the countries of the European Union averages 100 kg / inhabitant x year with an annual growth of about 10%. The production of quality compost averages 38% - 40% of the production of organic waste material. Most of the compost produced is used as an organic soil improver in those nutrient-poor soils in order to improve its quality. This study seeks to enhance the production of quality compost by creating a synthetic soil, where the percentages of compost on average oscillate between 50% and 60% in which, with appropriate precautions, different species of horticultural can be grown in conditions of high environmental safety without the use of pesticides and with a consumption of water used for irrigation limited to the actual evaporation of the plants. The project started in 2018 and is still ongoing, confirms its validity through a series of different horticultural productions, especially if this technology is applied where the availability of land suitable for the cultivation of vegetables is limited and where the use of water for irrigation represents a cultural criticality. Furthermore, the creation of "open field" crops, together with their automation, represents a further possibility in the concrete development of such technologies, giving the final product organoleptic characteristics equal if not superior to what the market offers today for human nutrition.

Keywords: water scarcity, compost, vegetable foods, syntetic soil

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11 Finite Element Modelling of a 3D Woven Composite for Automotive Applications

Authors: Ahmad R. Zamani, Luigi Sanguigno, Angelo R. Maligno


A 3D woven composite, designed for automotive applications, is studied using Abaqus Finite Element (FE) software suite. Python scripts were developed to build FE models of the woven composite in Complete Abaqus Environment (CAE). They can read TexGen or WiseTex files and automatically generate consistent meshes of the fabric and the matrix. A user menu is provided to help define parameters for the FE models, such as type and size of the elements in fabric and matrix as well as the type of matrix-fabric interaction. Node-to-node constraints were imposed to guarantee periodicity of the deformed shapes at the boundaries of the representative volume element of the composite. Tensile loads in three axes and biaxial loads in x-y directions have been applied at different Fibre Volume Fractions (FVFs). A simple damage model was implemented via an Abaqus user material (UMAT) subroutine. Existing tools for homogenization were also used, including voxel mesh generation from TexGen as well as Abaqus Micromechanics plugin. Linear relations between homogenised elastic properties and the FVFs are given. The FE models of composite exhibited balanced behaviour with respect to warp and weft directions in terms of both stiffness and strength.

Keywords: 3D woven composite (3DWC), meso-scale finite element model, homogenisation of elastic material properties, Abaqus Python scripting

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10 From Electroencephalogram to Epileptic Seizures Detection by Using Artificial Neural Networks

Authors: Gaetano Zazzaro, Angelo Martone, Roberto V. Montaquila, Luigi Pavone


Seizure is the main factor that affects the quality of life of epileptic patients. The diagnosis of epilepsy, and hence the identification of epileptogenic zone, is commonly made by using continuous Electroencephalogram (EEG) signal monitoring. Seizure identification on EEG signals is made manually by epileptologists and this process is usually very long and error prone. The aim of this paper is to describe an automated method able to detect seizures in EEG signals, using knowledge discovery in database process and data mining methods and algorithms, which can support physicians during the seizure detection process. Our detection method is based on Artificial Neural Network classifier, trained by applying the multilayer perceptron algorithm, and by using a software application, called Training Builder that has been developed for the massive extraction of features from EEG signals. This tool is able to cover all the data preparation steps ranging from signal processing to data analysis techniques, including the sliding window paradigm, the dimensionality reduction algorithms, information theory, and feature selection measures. The final model shows excellent performances, reaching an accuracy of over 99% during tests on data of a single patient retrieved from a publicly available EEG dataset.

Keywords: artificial neural network, data mining, electroencephalogram, epilepsy, feature extraction, seizure detection, signal processing

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9 Weighted-Distance Sliding Windows and Cooccurrence Graphs for Supporting Entity-Relationship Discovery in Unstructured Text

Authors: Paolo Fantozzi, Luigi Laura, Umberto Nanni


The problem of Entity relation discovery in structured data, a well covered topic in literature, consists in searching within unstructured sources (typically, text) in order to find connections among entities. These can be a whole dictionary, or a specific collection of named items. In many cases machine learning and/or text mining techniques are used for this goal. These approaches might be unfeasible in computationally challenging problems, such as processing massive data streams. A faster approach consists in collecting the cooccurrences of any two words (entities) in order to create a graph of relations - a cooccurrence graph. Indeed each cooccurrence highlights some grade of semantic correlation between the words because it is more common to have related words close each other than having them in the opposite sides of the text. Some authors have used sliding windows for such problem: they count all the occurrences within a sliding windows running over the whole text. In this paper we generalise such technique, coming up to a Weighted-Distance Sliding Window, where each occurrence of two named items within the window is accounted with a weight depending on the distance between items: a closer distance implies a stronger evidence of a relationship. We develop an experiment in order to support this intuition, by applying this technique to a data set consisting in the text of the Bible, split into verses.

Keywords: cooccurrence graph, entity relation graph, unstructured text, weighted distance

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8 Electrospun Membrane doped with Gold Nanorods for Surface-Enhanced Raman Sepctroscopy

Authors: Ziwei Wang, Andrea Lucotti, Luigi Brambilla, Matteo Tommasini, Chiara Bertarelli


Surface-enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) is a highly sensitive detection that provides abundant information on low concentration analytes from various researching areas. Based on localized surface plasmon resonance, metal nanostructures including gold, silver and copper have been investigated as SERS substrate during recent decades. There has been increasing more attention of exploring good performance, homogenous, repeatable SERS substrates. Here, we show that electrospinning, which is an inexpensive technique to fabricate large-scale, self-standing and repeatable membranes, can be effectively used for producing SERS substrates. Nanoparticles and nanorods are added to the feed electrospinning solution to collect functionalized polymer fibrous mats. We report stable electrospun membranes as SERS substrate using gold nanorods (AuNRs) and poly(vinyl alcohol). Particularly, a post-processing crosslinking step using glutaraldehyde under acetone environment was carried out to the electrospun membrane. It allows for using the membrane in any liquid environment, including water, which is of interest both for sensing of contaminant in wastewater, as well as for biosensing. This crosslinked AuNRs/PVA membrane has demonstrated excellent performance as SERS substrate for low concentration 10-6 M Rhodamine 6G (Rh6G) aqueous solution. This post-processing for fabricating SERS substrate is the first time reported and proved through Raman imaging of excellent stability and outstanding performance. Finally, SERS tests have been applied to several analytes, and the application of AuNRs/PVA membrane is broadened by removing the detected analyte by rinsing. Therefore, this crosslinked AuNRs/PVA membrane is re-usable.

Keywords: SERS spectroscopy, electrospinning, crosslinking, composite materials

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7 Current Harvesting Methods for Jatropha curcas L.

Authors: Luigi Pari, Alessandro Suardi, Enrico Santangelo


In the last decade Jatropha curcas L. (an oleaginous crop native to Central America and part of South America) has raised particular interest owing to of its properties and uses. Its capsules may contain up to 40% in oil and can be used as feedstock for biodiesel production. The harvesting phase is made difficult by the physiological traits of the specie, because fruits are in bunches and do not ripen simultaneously. Three harvesting methodologies are currently diffused and differ for the level of mechanization applied: manual picking, semi-mechanical harvesting, and mechanical harvesting. The manual picking is the most common in the developing countries but it is also the most time consuming and inefficient. Mechanical harvesting carried out with modified grape harvesters has the higher productivity, but it is very costly as initial investment and requires appropriate schemes of cultivation. The semi-mechanical harvesting method is achieved with shaker tools employed to facilitate the fruit detachment. This system resulted much cheaper than the fully mechanized one and quite flexible for small and medium scale applications, but it still requires adjustments for improving the productive performance. CRA-ING, within the European project Jatromed ( has carried out preliminary studies on the applicability of such approach, adapting an olive shaker to harvest Jatropha fruits. The work is a survey of the harvesting methods currently available for Jatropha, show the pros and cons of each system, and highlighting the criteria to be considered for choosing one respect another. The harvesting of Jatropha curcas L. remains a big constrains for the spread of the species as energy crop. The approach pursued by CRA-ING can be considered a good compromise between the fully mechanized harvesters and the exclusive manual intervention. It is an attempt to promote a sustainable mechanization suited to the social context of developing countries by encouraging the concrete involvement of local populations.

Keywords: jatropha curcas, energy crop, harvesting, central america, south america

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6 LCA and LCC for the Evaluation of Sustainability of Rapeseed, Giant Reed, and Poplar Cultivation

Authors: Alessandro Suardi, Rodolfo Picchio, Domenico Coaloa, Maria Bonaventura Forleo, Nadia Palmieri, Luigi Pari


The reconversion process of the Italian sugar supply chain to bio-energy supply chains, as a result of the 2006 Sugar CMO reform, have involved research to define the best logistics, the most adapted energy crops for the Italian territory and their sustainability. Rapeseed (Brassica napus L.), Giant reed (Arundo donax L.) and Poplar (Poplar ssp.) are energy crops considered strategic for the development of Italian energy supply-chains. This study analyzed the environmental and the economic impacts on the farm level of these three energy crops. The environmental assessment included six farming units, two per crop, which were extracted from a sample of 251 rapeseed farm units (2751 ha), 7 giant reed farm units (7.8 ha), and 91 poplar farm units (440 ha) using a statistical multivariate analysis. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) research method has been used to evaluate and compare the sustainability of the agricultural phases of the crops studied. The impact analyses have been performed at mid-point and end-point levels. The results of the analysis shown that the fertilization, is the major source of environmental impact of the agricultural phase due to the production of the fertilizers and the soil emissions of GHG following the treatment. The perennial energy crops studied (Arundo donax L., Poplar ssp.) were environmentally more sustainable if compared with the annual crop (Brassica napus L.) for all the impact categories at mid-point and end-point levels analyzed. The most relevant impact category influenced by the agricultural process result the fossil depletion, mainly due to the fossil fuels consumed during the mineral fertilizers production (urea). Human health was the most affected damage category at the end point level. Poplar result the energy crop with the best environmental performance for the Italian territory, in the distribution areas most suitable for its cultivation.

Keywords: LCA, energy crops, rapeseed, giant reed, poplar

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5 MIMO Radar-Based System for Structural Health Monitoring and Geophysical Applications

Authors: Davide D’Aria, Paolo Falcone, Luigi Maggi, Aldo Cero, Giovanni Amoroso


The paper presents a methodology for real-time structural health monitoring and geophysical applications. The key elements of the system are a high performance MIMO RADAR sensor, an optical camera and a dedicated set of software algorithms encompassing interferometry, tomography and photogrammetry. The MIMO Radar sensor proposed in this work, provides an extremely high sensitivity to displacements making the system able to react to tiny deformations (up to tens of microns) with a time scale which spans from milliseconds to hours. The MIMO feature of the system makes the system capable of providing a set of two-dimensional images of the observed scene, each mapped on the azimuth-range directions with noticeably resolution in both the dimensions and with an outstanding repetition rate. The back-scattered energy, which is distributed in the 3D space, is projected on a 2D plane, where each pixel has as coordinates the Line-Of-Sight distance and the cross-range azimuthal angle. At the same time, the high performing processing unit allows to sense the observed scene with remarkable refresh periods (up to milliseconds), thus opening the way for combined static and dynamic structural health monitoring. Thanks to the smart TX/RX antenna array layout, the MIMO data can be processed through a tomographic approach to reconstruct the three-dimensional map of the observed scene. This 3D point cloud is then accurately mapped on a 2D digital optical image through photogrammetric techniques, allowing for easy and straightforward interpretations of the measurements. Once the three-dimensional image is reconstructed, a 'repeat-pass' interferometric approach is exploited to provide the user of the system with high frequency three-dimensional motion/vibration estimation of each point of the reconstructed image. At this stage, the methodology leverages consolidated atmospheric correction algorithms to provide reliable displacement and vibration measurements.

Keywords: interferometry, MIMO RADAR, SAR, tomography

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4 Affective Robots: Evaluation of Automatic Emotion Recognition Approaches on a Humanoid Robot towards Emotionally Intelligent Machines

Authors: Silvia Santano Guillén, Luigi Lo Iacono, Christian Meder


One of the main aims of current social robotic research is to improve the robots’ abilities to interact with humans. In order to achieve an interaction similar to that among humans, robots should be able to communicate in an intuitive and natural way and appropriately interpret human affects during social interactions. Similarly to how humans are able to recognize emotions in other humans, machines are capable of extracting information from the various ways humans convey emotions—including facial expression, speech, gesture or text—and using this information for improved human computer interaction. This can be described as Affective Computing, an interdisciplinary field that expands into otherwise unrelated fields like psychology and cognitive science and involves the research and development of systems that can recognize and interpret human affects. To leverage these emotional capabilities by embedding them in humanoid robots is the foundation of the concept Affective Robots, which has the objective of making robots capable of sensing the user’s current mood and personality traits and adapt their behavior in the most appropriate manner based on that. In this paper, the emotion recognition capabilities of the humanoid robot Pepper are experimentally explored, based on the facial expressions for the so-called basic emotions, as well as how it performs in contrast to other state-of-the-art approaches with both expression databases compiled in academic environments and real subjects showing posed expressions as well as spontaneous emotional reactions. The experiments’ results show that the detection accuracy amongst the evaluated approaches differs substantially. The introduced experiments offer a general structure and approach for conducting such experimental evaluations. The paper further suggests that the most meaningful results are obtained by conducting experiments with real subjects expressing the emotions as spontaneous reactions.

Keywords: affective computing, emotion recognition, humanoid robot, human-robot-interaction (HRI), social robots

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3 Chemical Composition of Volatiles Emitted from Ziziphus jujuba Miller Collected during Different Growth Stages

Authors: Rose Vanessa Bandeira Reidel, Bernardo Melai, Pier Luigi Cioni, Luisa Pistelli


Ziziphus jujuba Miller is a common species of the Ziziphus genus (Rhamnaceae family) native to the tropics and subtropics known for its edible fruits, fresh consumed or used in healthy food, as flavoring and sweetener. Many phytochemicals and biological activities are described for this species. In this work, the aroma profiles emitted in vivo by whole fresh organs (leaf, bud flower, flower, green and red fruits) were analyzed separately by mean of solid phase micro-extraction (SPME) coupled with gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The emitted volatiles from different plant parts were analysed using Supelco SPME device coated with polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS, 100µm). Fresh plant material was introduced separately into a glass conical flask and allowed to equilibrate for 20 min. After the equilibration time, the fibre was exposed to the headspace for 15 min at room temperature, the fibre was re-inserted into the needle and transferred to the injector of the CG and CG-MS system, where the fibre was desorbed. All the data were submitted to multivariate statistical analysis, evidencing many differences amongst the selected plant parts and their developmental stages. A total of 144 compounds were identified corresponding to 94.6-99.4% of the whole aroma profile of jujube samples. Sesquiterpene hydrocarbons were the main chemical class of compounds in leaves also present in similar percentage in flowers and bud flowers where (E, E)-α-farnesene was the main constituent in all cited plant parts. This behavior can be due to a protection mechanism against pathogens and herbivores as well as resistance to abiotic factors. The aroma of green fruits was characterized by high amount of perillene while the red fruits release a volatile blend mainly constituted by different monoterpenes. The terpenoid emission of flesh fruits has important function in the interaction with animals including attraction of seed dispersers and it is related to a good quality of fruits. This study provides for the first time the chemical composition of the volatile emission from different Ziziphus jujuba organs. The SPME analyses of the collected samples showed different patterns of emission and can contribute to understand their ecological interactions and fruit production management.

Keywords: Rhamnaceae, aroma profile, jujube organs, HS-SPME, GC-MS

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2 The Impact of Sensory Overload on Students on the Autism Spectrum in Italian Inclusive Classrooms: Teachers' Perspectives and Training Needs

Authors: Paola Molteni, Luigi d’Alonzo


Background: Sensory issues are now considered one of the key aspects in defining and diagnosing autism, changing the perspectives on behavioural analysis and intervention in mainstream educational services. However, Italian teachers’ training is yet not specific on the topic of autism and its sensory-related effects and this research investigates the teacher’s capability in understanding the student’s needs and his/her challenging behaviours considering sensory perceptions. Objectives: The research aims to analyse mainstream schools teachers’ awareness on students’ sensory perceptions and how this affects classroom inclusion and learning process. The research questions are: i) Are teachers able to identify student’s sensory issues?; ii) Are trained teachers more able to identify sensory problems then untrained ones?; iii) What is the impact of sensory issues on inclusion in mainstream classrooms?; iv) What should teachers know about autistic sensory dimensions? Methods: This research was designed as a pilot study that involves a multi-methods approach, including action and collaborative research methodology. The designed research allows the researcher to catch the complexity of a province school district (from kindergarten to high school) through a deep detailed analysis of selected aspects. The researcher explored the questions described above through 133 questionnaires and 6 focus groups. The qualitative and quantitative data collected during the research were analysed using the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Results: Mainstream schools teachers are not able to confidently recognise sensory issues of children included in the classroom. The research underlines: how professionals with no specific training on autism are not able to recognise sensory problems in students on the spectrum; how hearing and sight issues have higher impact on classroom inclusion and student’s learning process; how a lack of understanding is often followed by misinterpretations of the impact of sensory issues and challenging behaviours. Conclusions: As this research has shown, promoting and enhancing the importance of understanding sensory issues related to autism is fundamental to enable mainstream schools teachers to define educational and life-long plans able to properly answer the student’s needs and support his/her real inclusion in the classroom. This study is a good example of how the educational research can meet and help the daily practice in working with people on the autism spectrum and support the training design for mainstream school teachers: the emerging need of designed preparation on sensory issues is fundamental to be considered when planning school district in-service training programmes, specifically declined for inclusive services.

Keywords: autism spectrum condition, scholastic inclusion, sensory overload, teacher's training

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1 Mirna Expression Profile is Different in Human Amniotic Mesenchymal Stem Cells Isolated from Obese Respect to Normal Weight Women

Authors: Carmela Nardelli, Laura Iaffaldano, Valentina Capobianco, Antonietta Tafuto, Maddalena Ferrigno, Angela Capone, Giuseppe Maria Maruotti, Maddalena Raia, Rosa Di Noto, Luigi Del Vecchio, Pasquale Martinelli, Lucio Pastore, Lucia Sacchetti


Maternal obesity and nutrient excess in utero increase the risk of future metabolic diseases in the adult life. The mechanisms underlying this process are probably based on genetic, epigenetic alterations and changes in foetal nutrient supply. In mammals, the placenta is the main interface between foetus and mother, it regulates intrauterine development, modulates adaptive responses to sub optimal in uterus conditions and it is also an important source of human amniotic mesenchymal stem cells (hA-MSCs). We previously highlighted a specific microRNA (miRNA) profiling in amnion from obese (Ob) pregnant women, here we compared the miRNA expression profile of hA-MSCs isolated from (Ob) and control (Co) women, aimed to search for any alterations in metabolic pathways that could predispose the new-born to the obese phenotype. Methods: We isolated, at delivery, hA-MSCs from amnion of 16 Ob- and 7 Co-women with pre-pregnancy body mass index (mean/SEM) 40.3/1.8 and 22.4/1.0 kg/m2, respectively. hA-MSCs were phenotyped by flow cytometry. Globally, 384 miRNAs were evaluated by the TaqMan Array Human MicroRNA Panel v 1.0 (Applied Biosystems). By the TargetScan program we selected the target genes of the miRNAs differently expressed in Ob- vs Co-hA-MSCs; further, by KEGG database, we selected the statistical significant biological pathways. Results: The immunophenotype characterization confirmed the mesenchymal origin of the isolated hA-MSCs. A large percentage of the tested miRNAs, about 61.4% (232/378), was expressed in hA-MSCs, whereas 38.6% (146/378) was not. Most of the expressed miRNAs (89.2%, 207/232) did not differ between Ob- and Co-hA-MSCs and were not further investigated. Conversely, 4.8% of miRNAs (11/232) was higher and 6.0% (14/232) was lower in Ob- vs Co-hA-MSCs. Interestingly, 7/232 miRNAs were obesity-specific, being expressed only in hA-MSCs isolated from obese women. Bioinformatics showed that these miRNAs significantly regulated (P<0.001) genes belonging to several metabolic pathways, i.e. MAPK signalling, actin cytoskeleton, focal adhesion, axon guidance, insulin signaling, etc. Conclusions: Our preliminary data highlight an altered miRNA profile in Ob- vs Co-hA-MSCs and suggest that an epigenetic miRNA-based mechanism of gene regulation could affect pathways involved in placental growth and function, thereby potentially increasing the newborn’s risk of metabolic diseases in the adult life.

Keywords: hA-MSCs, obesity, miRNA, biosystem

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