Commenced in January 2007
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Edition: International
Paper Count: 12

Search results for: Margherita Malanchini

12 EEG Correlates of Trait and Mathematical Anxiety during Lexical and Numerical Error-Recognition Tasks

Authors: Alexander N. Savostyanov, Tatiana A. Dolgorukova, Elena A. Esipenko, Mikhail S. Zaleshin, Margherita Malanchini, Anna V. Budakova, Alexander E. Saprygin, Tatiana A. Golovko, Yulia V. Kovas

Abstract:

EEG correlates of mathematical and trait anxiety level were studied in 52 healthy Russian-speakers during execution of error-recognition tasks with lexical, arithmetic and algebraic conditions. Event-related spectral perturbations were used as a measure of brain activity. The ERSP plots revealed alpha/beta desynchronizations within a 500-3000 ms interval after task onset and slow-wave synchronization within an interval of 150-350 ms. Amplitudes of these intervals reflected the accuracy of error recognition, and were differently associated with the three conditions. The correlates of anxiety were found in theta (4-8 Hz) and beta2 (16-20 Hz) frequency bands. In theta band the effects of mathematical anxiety were stronger expressed in lexical, than in arithmetic and algebraic condition. The mathematical anxiety effects in theta band were associated with differences between anterior and posterior cortical areas, whereas the effects of trait anxiety were associated with inter-hemispherical differences. In beta1 and beta2 bands effects of trait and mathematical anxiety were directed oppositely. The trait anxiety was associated with increase of amplitude of desynchronization, whereas the mathematical anxiety was associated with decrease of this amplitude. The effect of mathematical anxiety in beta2 band was insignificant for lexical condition but was the strongest in algebraic condition. EEG correlates of anxiety in theta band could be interpreted as indexes of task emotionality, whereas the reaction in beta2 band is related to tension of intellectual resources.

Keywords: EEG, brain activity, lexical and numerical error-recognition tasks, mathematical and trait anxiety

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11 The Impact of Trait and Mathematical Anxiety on Oscillatory Brain Activity during Lexical and Numerical Error-Recognition Tasks

Authors: Alexander N. Savostyanov, Tatyana A. Dolgorukova, Elena A. Esipenko, Mikhail S. Zaleshin, Margherita Malanchini, Anna V. Budakova, Alexander E. Saprygin, Yulia V. Kovas

Abstract:

The present study compared spectral-power indexes and cortical topography of brain activity in a sample characterized by different levels of trait and mathematical anxiety. 52 healthy Russian-speakers (age 17-32; 30 males) participated in the study. Participants solved an error recognition task under 3 conditions: A lexical condition (simple sentences in Russian), and two numerical conditions (simple arithmetic and complicated algebraic problems). Trait and mathematical anxiety were measured using self-repot questionnaires. EEG activity was recorded simultaneously during task execution. Event-related spectral perturbations (ERSP) were used to analyze spectral-power changes in brain activity. Additionally, sLORETA was applied in order to localize the sources of brain activity. When exploring EEG activity recorded after tasks onset during lexical conditions, sLORETA revealed increased activation in frontal and left temporal cortical areas, mainly in the alpha/beta frequency ranges. When examining the EEG activity recorded after task onset during arithmetic and algebraic conditions, additional activation in delta/theta band in the right parietal cortex was observed. The ERSP plots reveled alpha/beta desynchronizations within a 500-3000 ms interval after task onset and slow-wave synchronization within an interval of 150-350 ms. Amplitudes of these intervals reflected the accuracy of error recognition, and were differently associated with the three (lexical, arithmetic and algebraic) conditions. The level of trait anxiety was positively correlated with the amplitude of alpha/beta desynchronization. The level of mathematical anxiety was negatively correlated with the amplitude of theta synchronization and of alpha/beta desynchronization. Overall, trait anxiety was related with an increase in brain activation during task execution, whereas mathematical anxiety was associated with increased inhibitory-related activity. We gratefully acknowledge the support from the №11.G34.31.0043 grant from the Government of the Russian Federation.

Keywords: anxiety, EEG, lexical and numerical error-recognition tasks, alpha/beta desynchronization

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10 Accumulation of PM10 and Associated Metals Due to Opencast Coal Mining Activities and Their Impact on Human Health

Authors: Arundhuti Devi, Gitumani Devi, Krishna G. Bhattacharyya

Abstract:

The goal of this study was to assess the characteristics of the airborne dust created by opencast coal mining and its relation to population hospitalization risk for skin and lung diseases in Margherita Coalfield, Assam, India. Air samples were collected for 24 h in three 8-h periods. For the collection of particulate matter (PM10) and total suspended particulate matter (SPM) samples, respiratory dust samplers with glass microfiber filter papers were used. PM10 was analyzed for Cu, Cd, Cr, Mn, Zn, Ni, Fe and Pb with Flame Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (FAAS). SPM and PM10 concentrations were respectively found to be as high as 1,035 and 265.85 μg/m³ in work zone air. The concentration of metals associated with PM10 showed values higher than the permissible limits. It was observed that the average concentrations of the metals Fe, Pb, Ni, Zn, and Cu were very high during the winter month of December, those of Cd and Cr were high during the month of May and Mn was high during February. The morphology of the particles studied with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) gave significant results. Due to opencast coal mining, the air in the work zone, as well as the general ambient air, was found to be highly polluted with respect to dust. More than 8000 patient records maintained by the hospital authority were collected from three hospitals in the area. The highest percentage of people suffering from lung diseases are found in Margherita Civil Hospital (~26.77%) whereas most people suffering from skin diseases reported for treatment in the ESIC hospital (47.47%). Both PM10 and SPM were alarmingly high, and the results were in conformity with the high incidence of lung and other respiratory diseases in the study area.

Keywords: heavy metals, open cast coal mining, PM10, respiratory diseases

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9 Perceived Restorativeness Scale– 6: A Short Version of the Perceived Restorativeness Scale for Mixed (or Mobile) Devices

Authors: Sara Gallo, Margherita Pasini, Margherita Brondino, Daniela Raccanello, Roberto Burro, Elisa Menardo

Abstract:

Most of the studies on the ability of environments to recover people’s cognitive resources have been conducted in laboratory using simulated environments (e.g., photographs, videos, or virtual reality), based on the implicit assumption that exposure to simulated environments has the same effects of exposure to real environments. However, the technical characteristics of simulated environments, such as the dynamic or static characteristics of the stimulus, critically affect their perception. Measuring perceived restorativeness in situ rather than in laboratory could increase the validity of the obtained measurements. Personal mobile devices could be useful because they allow accessing immediately online surveys when people are directly exposed to an environment. At the same time, it becomes important to develop short and reliable measuring instruments that allow a quick assessment of the restorative qualities of the environments. One of the frequently used self-report measures to assess perceived restorativeness is the “Perceived Restorativeness Scale” (PRS) based on Attention Restoration Theory. A lot of different versions have been proposed and used according to different research purposes and needs, without studying their validity. This longitudinal study reported some preliminary validation analyses on a short version of original scale, the PRS-6, developed to be quick and mobile-friendly. It is composed of 6 items assessing fascination and being-away. 102 Italian university students participated to the study, 84% female with age ranging from 18 to 47 (M = 20.7; SD = 2.9). Data were obtained through a survey online that asked them to report their perceived restorativeness of the environment they were in (and the kind of environment) and their positive emotion (Positive and Negative Affective Schedule, PANAS) once a day for seven days. Cronbach alpha and item-total correlations were used to assess reliability and internal consistency. Confirmatory Factor Analyses (CFA) models were run to study the factorial structure (construct validity). Correlation analyses between PRS and PANAS scores were used to check discriminant validity. In the end, multigroup CFA models were used to study measurement invariance (configural, metric, scalar, strict) between different mobile devices and between day of assessment. On the whole, the PRS-6 showed good psychometric proprieties, similar to those of the original scale, and invariance across devices and days. These results suggested that the PRS-6 could be a valid alternative to assess perceived restorativeness when researchers need a brief and immediate evaluation of the recovery quality of an environment.

Keywords: restorativeness, validation, short scale development, psychometrics proprieties

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8 Comparing Perceived Restorativeness in Natural and Urban Environment: A Meta-Analysis

Authors: Elisa Menardo, Margherita Pasini, Margherita Brondino

Abstract:

A growing body of empirical research from different areas of inquiry suggests that brief contact with natural environment restore mental resources. The Attention Restoration Theory (ART) is the widespread used and empirical founded theory developed to explain why exposure to nature helps people to recovery cognitive resources. It assumes that contact with nature allows people to free (and then recovery) voluntary attention resources and thus allows them to recover from a cognitive fatigue situation. However, it was suggested that some people could have more cognitive benefit after exposure to urban environment. The objective of this study is to report the results of a meta-analysis on studies (peer-reviewed articles) comparing the restorativeness (the quality to be restorative) perceived in natural environments than those perceived in urban environments. This meta-analysis intended to estimate how much nature environments (forests, parks, boulevards) are perceived to be more restorativeness than urban ones (i.e., the magnitude of the perceived restorativeness’ difference). Moreover, given the methodological difference between study, it studied the potential role of moderator variables as participants (student or other), instrument used (Perceived Restorativeness Scale or other), and procedure (in laboratory or in situ). PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, Scopus, SpringerLINK, Web of Science online database were used to identify all peer-review articles on restorativeness published to date (k = 167). Reference sections of obtained papers were examined for additional studies. Only 22 independent studies (with a total of 1371 participants) met inclusion criteria (direct exposure to environment, comparison between one outdoor environment with natural element and one without natural element, and restorativeness measured by self-report scale) and were included in meta-analysis. To estimate the average effect size, a random effect model (Restricted Maximum-likelihood estimator) was used because the studies included in the meta-analysis were conducted independently and using different methods in different populations, so no common effect-size was expected. The presence of publication bias was checked using trim and fill approach. Univariate moderator analysis (mixed effect model) were run to determine whether the variable coded moderated the perceived restorativeness difference. Results show that natural environments are perceived to be more restorativeness than urban environments, confirming from an empirical point of view what is now considered a knowledge gained in environmental psychology. The relevant information emerging from this study is the magnitude of the estimated average effect size, which is particularly high (d = 1.99) compared to those that are commonly observed in psychology. Significant heterogeneity between study was found (Q(19) = 503.16, p < 0.001;) and studies’ variability was very high (I2[C.I.] = 96.97% [94.61 - 98.62]). Subsequent univariate moderator analyses were not significant. Methodological difference (participants, instrument, and procedure) did not explain variability between study. Other methodological difference (e.g., research design, environment’s characteristics, light’s condition) could explain this variability between study. In the mine while, studies’ variability could be not due to methodological difference but to individual difference (age, gender, education level) and characteristics (connection to nature, environmental attitude). Furthers moderator analysis are working in progress.

Keywords: meta-analysis, natural environments, perceived restorativeness, urban environments

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7 Melaninic Discrimination among Primary School Children

Authors: Margherita Cardellini

Abstract:

To our knowledge, dark skinned children are often victims of discrimination from adults and society, but few studies specifically focus on skin color discrimination on children coming from the same children. Even today, the 'color blind children' ideology is widespread among adults, teachers, and educators and maybe also among scholars, which seem really careful about study expressions of racism in childhood. This social and cultural belief let people think that all the children, because of their age and their brief experience in the world, are disinterested in skin color. Sometimes adults think that children are even incapable of perceiving skin colors and that it could be dangerous to talk about melaninic differences with them because they finally could notice this difference, producing prejudices and racism. Psychology and neurology research projects are showing for many years that even the newborns are already capable of perceiving skin color and ethnic differences by the age of 3 months. Starting from this theoretical framework we conducted a research project to understand if and how primary school children talk about skin colors, picking up any stereotypes or prejudices. Choosing to use the focus group as a methodology to stimulate the group dimension and interaction, several stories about skin color discrimination's episodes within their classroom or school have emerged. Using the photo elicitation technique we chose to stimulate talk about the research object, which is the skin color, asking the children what was ‘the first two things that come into your mind’ when they look the photographs presented during the focus group, which represented dark and light skinned women and men. So, this paper will present some of these stories about episodes of discrimination with an escalation grade of proximity related to the discriminatory act. It will be presented a story of discrimination happened within the school, in an after-school daycare, in the classroom and even episode of discrimination that children tell during the focus groups in the presence of the discriminated child. If it is true that the Declaration of the Right of the Child state that every child should be discrimination free, it’s also true that every adult should protect children from every form of discrimination. How, as adults, can we defend children against discrimination if we cannot admit that even children are potential discrimination’s actors? Without awareness, we risk to devalue these episodes, implicitly confident that the only way to fight against discrimination is to keep her quiet. The right not to be discriminated goes through the right to talk about its own experiences of discrimination and the right to perceive the unfairness of the constant depreciation about skin color or any element of physical diversity. Intercultural education could act as spokesperson for this mission in the belief that difference and plurality could really become elements of potential enrichment for humanity, starting from children.

Keywords: colorism, experiences of discrimination, primary school children, skin color discrimination

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6 The Role Played by Awareness and Complexity through the Use of a Logistic Regression Analysis

Authors: Yari Vecchio, Margherita Masi, Jorgelina Di Pasquale

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Adoption of Precision Agriculture (PA) is involved in a multidimensional and complex scenario. The process of adopting innovations is complex and social inherently, influenced by other producers, change agents, social norms and organizational pressure. Complexity depends on factors that interact and influence the decision to adopt. Farm and operator characteristics, as well as organizational, informational and agro-ecological context directly affect adoption. This influence has been studied to measure drivers and to clarify 'bottlenecks' of the adoption of agricultural innovation. Making decision process involves a multistage procedure, in which individual passes from first hearing about the technology to final adoption. Awareness is the initial stage and represents the moment in which an individual learns about the existence of the technology. 'Static' concept of adoption has been overcome. Awareness is a precondition to adoption. This condition leads to not encountering some erroneous evaluations, arose from having carried out analysis on a population that is only in part aware of technologies. In support of this, the present study puts forward an empirical analysis among Italian farmers, considering awareness as a prerequisite for adoption. The purpose of the present work is to analyze both factors that affect the probability to adopt and determinants that drive an aware individual to not adopt. Data were collected through a questionnaire submitted in November 2017. A preliminary descriptive analysis has shown that high levels of adoption have been found among younger farmers, better educated, with high intensity of information, with large farm size and high labor-intensive, and whose perception of the complexity of adoption process is lower. The use of a logit model permits to appreciate the weight played by the intensity of labor and complexity perceived by the potential adopter in PA adoption process. All these findings suggest important policy implications: measures dedicated to promoting innovation will need to be more specific for each phase of this adoption process. Specifically, they should increase awareness of PA tools and foster dissemination of information to reduce the degree of perceived complexity of the adoption process. These implications are particularly important in Europe where is pre-announced the reform of Common Agricultural Policy, oriented to innovation. In this context, these implications suggest to the measures supporting innovation to consider the relationship between various organizational and structural dimensions of European agriculture and innovation approaches.

Keywords: adoption, awareness, complexity, precision agriculture

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5 Designing Form, Meanings, and Relationships for Future Industrial Products. Case Study Observation of PAD

Authors: Elisabetta Cianfanelli, Margherita Tufarelli, Paolo Pupparo

Abstract:

The dialectical mediation between desires and objects or between mass production and consumption continues to evolve over time. This relationship is influenced both by variable geometries of contexts that are distant from the mere design of product form and by aspects rooted in the very definition of industrial design. In particular, the overcoming of macro-areas of innovation in the technological, social, cultural, formal, and morphological spheres, supported by recent theories in critical and speculative design, seems to be moving further and further away from the design of the formal dimension of advanced products. The articulated fabric of theories and practices that feed the definition of “hyperobjects”, and no longer objects describes a common tension in all areas of design and production of industrial products. The latter are increasingly detached from the design of the form and meaning of the same in mass productions, thus losing the quality of products capable of social transformation. For years we have been living in a transformative moment as regards the design process in the definition of the industrial product. We are faced with a dichotomy in which there is, on the one hand, a reactionary aversion to the new techniques of industrial production and, on the other hand, a sterile adoption of the techniques of mass production that we can now consider traditional. This ambiguity becomes even more evident when we talk about industrial products, and we realize that we are moving further and further away from the concepts of "form" as a synthesis of a design thought aimed at the aesthetic-emotional component as well as the functional one. The design of forms and their contents, as statutes of social acts, allows us to investigate the tension on mass production that crosses seasons, trends, technicalities, and sterile determinisms. The design culture has always determined the formal qualities of objects as a sum of aesthetic characteristics functional and structural relationships that define a product as a coherent unit. The contribution proposes a reflection and a series of practical experiences of research on the form of advanced products. This form is understood as a kaleidoscope of relationships through the search for an identity, the desire for democratization, and between these two, the exploration of the aesthetic factor. The study of form also corresponds to the study of production processes, technological innovations, the definition of standards, distribution, advertising, the vicissitudes of taste and lifestyles. Specifically, we will investigate how the genesis of new forms for new meanings introduces a change in the relative innovative production techniques. It becomes, therefore, fundamental to investigate, through the reflections and the case studies exposed inside the contribution, also the new techniques of production and elaboration of the forms of the products, as new immanent and determining element inside the planning process.

Keywords: industrial design, product advanced design, mass productions, new meanings

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4 Paradigms of Sustainability: Roles and Impact of Communication in the Fashion System

Authors: Elena Pucci, Margherita Tufarelli, Leonardo Giliberti

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As central for human and social development of the future, sustainability is becoming a recurring theme also in the fashion industry, where the need to explore new possible directions aimed at achieving sustainability goals and their communication is rising. Scholars have been devoted to the overall environmental impact of the textile and fashion industry, which, emerging as one of the world’s most polluting, today concretely assumes the need to take the path of sustainability in both products and production processes. Every day we witness the impact of our consumption, showing that the sustainability concept is as vast as complex: with a sometimes ambiguous definition, sustainability can concern projects, products, companies, sales, packagings, supply chains in relation to the actors proximity as well as traceability, raw materials procurement, and disposal. However, in its primary meaning, sustainability is the ability to maintain specific values and resources for future generations. The contribution aims to address sustainability in the fashion system as a layered problem that requires substantial changes at different levels: in the fashion product (materials, production processes, timing, distribution, and disposal), in the functioning of the system (life cycle, impact, needs, communication) and last but not least in the practice of fashion design which should conceive durable, low obsolescence and possibly demountable products. Moreover, consumers play a central role for the growing awareness, together with an increasingly strong sensitivity towards the environment and sustainable clothing. Since it is also a market demand, undertaking significant efforts to achieve total transparency and sustainability in all production and distribution processes is becoming fundamental for the fashion system. Sustainability is not to be understood as purely environmental but as the pursuit of collective well-being in relation to conscious production, human rights, and social dignity with the aim to achieve intelligent, resource, and environmentally friendly production and consumption patterns. Assuming sustainability as a layered problem makes the role of communication crucial to convey scientific or production specific content so that people can obtain and interpret information to make related decisions. Hence, if it is true that “what designers make becomes the future we inhabit'', design is facing great and challenging responsibility. The fashion industry needs a system of rules able to assess the sustainability of products, which is transparent and easily interpreted by consumers, identifying and enhancing virtuous practices. There are still complex and fragmented value chains that make it extremely difficult for brands and manufacturers to know the history of their products, to identify exactly where the risks lie, and to respond to the growing demand from consumers and civil society for responsible and sustainable production practices in the fashion industry.

Keywords: fashion design, fashion system, sustainability, communication, complexity

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3 Time-Domain Nuclear Magnetic Resonance as a Potential Analytical Tool to Assess Thermisation in Ewe's Milk

Authors: Alessandra Pardu, Elena Curti, Marco Caredda, Alessio Dedola, Margherita Addis, Massimo Pes, Antonio Pirisi, Tonina Roggio, Sergio Uzzau, Roberto Anedda

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Some of the artisanal cheeses products of European Countries certificated as PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) are made from raw milk. To recognise potential frauds (e.g. pasteurisation or thermisation of milk aimed at raw milk cheese production), the alkaline phosphatase (ALP) assay is currently applied only for pasteurisation, although it is known to have notable limitations for the validation of ALP enzymatic state in nonbovine milk. It is known that frauds considerably impact on customers and certificating institutions, sometimes resulting in a damage of the product image and potential economic losses for cheesemaking producers. Robust, validated, and univocal analytical methods are therefore needed to allow Food Control and Security Organisms, to recognise a potential fraud. In an attempt to develop a new reliable method to overcome this issue, Time-Domain Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (TD-NMR) spectroscopy has been applied in the described work. Daily fresh milk was analysed raw (680.00 µL in each 10-mm NMR glass tube) at least in triplicate. Thermally treated samples were also produced, by putting each NMR tube of fresh raw milk in water pre-heated at temperatures from 68°C up to 72°C and for up to 3 min, with continuous agitation, and quench-cooled to 25°C in a water and ice solution. Raw and thermally treated samples were analysed in terms of 1H T2 transverse relaxation times with a CPMG sequence (Recycle Delay: 6 s, interpulse spacing: 0.05 ms, 8000 data points) and quasi-continuous distributions of T2 relaxation times were obtained by CONTIN analysis. In line with previous data collected by high field NMR techniques, a decrease in the spin-spin relaxation constant T2 of the predominant 1H population was detected in heat-treated milk as compared to raw milk. The decrease of T2 parameter is consistent with changes in chemical exchange and diffusive phenomena, likely associated to changes in milk protein (i.e. whey proteins and casein) arrangement promoted by heat treatment. Furthermore, experimental data suggest that molecular alterations are strictly dependent on the specific heat treatment conditions (temperature/time). Such molecular variations in milk, which are likely transferred to cheese during cheesemaking, highlight the possibility to extend the TD-NMR technique directly on cheese to develop a method for assessing a fraud related to the use of a milk thermal treatment in PDO raw milk cheese. Results suggest that TDNMR assays might pave a new way to the detailed characterisation of heat treatments of milk.

Keywords: cheese fraud, milk, pasteurisation, TD-NMR

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2 A Stepped Care mHealth-Based Approach for Obesity with Type 2 Diabetes in Clinical Health Psychology

Authors: Gianluca Castelnuovo, Giada Pietrabissa, Gian Mauro Manzoni, Margherita Novelli, Emanuele Maria Giusti, Roberto Cattivelli, Enrico Molinari

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Diabesity could be defined as a new global epidemic of obesity and being overweight with many complications and chronic conditions. Such conditions include not only type 2 diabetes, but also cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, dyslipidemia, hypercholesterolemia, cancer, and various psychosocial and psychopathological disorders. The financial direct and indirect burden (considering also the clinical resources involved and the loss of productivity) is a real challenge in many Western health-care systems. Recently the Lancet journal defined diabetes as a 21st-century challenge. In order to promote patient compliance in diabesity treatment reducing costs, evidence-based interventions to improve weight-loss, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce related comorbidities combine different treatment approaches: dietetic, nutritional, physical, behavioral, psychological, and, in some situations, pharmacological and surgical. Moreover, new technologies can provide useful solutions in this multidisciplinary approach, above all in maintaining long-term compliance and adherence in order to ensure clinical efficacy. Psychological therapies with diet and exercise plans could better help patients in achieving weight loss outcomes, both inside hospitals and clinical centers and during out-patient follow-up sessions. In the management of chronic diseases clinical psychology play a key role due to the need of working on psychological conditions of patients, their families and their caregivers. mHealth approach could overcome limitations linked with the traditional, restricted and highly expensive in-patient treatment of many chronic pathologies: one of the best up-to-date application is the management of obesity with type 2 diabetes, where mHealth solutions can provide remote opportunities for enhancing weight reduction and reducing complications from clinical, organizational and economic perspectives. A stepped care mHealth-based approach is an interesting perspective in chronic care management of obesity with type 2 diabetes. One promising future direction could be treating obesity, considered as a chronic multifactorial disease, using a stepped-care approach: -mhealth or traditional based lifestyle psychoeducational and nutritional approach. -health professionals-driven multidisciplinary protocols tailored for each patient. -inpatient approach with the inclusion of drug therapies and other multidisciplinary treatments. -bariatric surgery with psychological and medical follow-up In the chronic care management of globesity mhealth solutions cannot substitute traditional approaches, but they can supplement some steps in clinical psychology and medicine both for obesity prevention and for weight loss management.

Keywords: clinical health psychology, mhealth, obesity, type 2 diabetes, stepped care, chronic care management

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1 Provotyping Futures Through Design

Authors: Elisabetta Cianfanelli, Maria Claudia Coppola, Margherita Tufarelli

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Design practices throughout history return a critical understanding of society since they always conveyed values and meanings aimed at (re)framing reality by acting in everyday life: here, design gains cultural and normative character, since its artifacts, services, and environments hold the power to intercept, influence and inspire thoughts, behaviors, and relationships. In this sense, design can be persuasive, engaging in the production of worlds and, as such, acting in the space between poietics and politics so that chasing preferable futures and their aesthetic strategies becomes a matter full of political responsibility. This resonates with contemporary landscapes of radical interdependencies challenging designers to focus on complex socio-technical systems and to better support values such as equality and justice for both humans and nonhumans. In fact, it is in times of crisis and structural uncertainty that designers turn into visionaries at the service of society, envisioning scenarios and dwelling in the territories of imagination to conceive new fictions and frictions to be added to the thickness of the real. Here, design’s main tasks are to develop options, to increase the variety of choices, to cultivate its role as scout, jester, agent provocateur for the public, so that design for transformation emerges, making an explicit commitment to society, furthering structural change in a proactive and synergic manner. However, the exploration of possible futures is both a trap and a trampoline because, although it embodies a radical research tool, it raises various challenges when the design process goes further in the translation of such vision into an artefact - whether tangible or intangible -, through which it should deliver that bit of future into everyday experience. Today designers are making up new tools and practices to tackle current wicked challenges, combining their approaches with other disciplinary domains: futuring through design, thus, rises from research strands like speculative design, design fiction, and critical design, where the blending of design approaches and futures thinking brings an action-oriented and product-based approach to strategic insights. The contribution positions at the intersection of those approaches, aiming at discussing design’s tools of inquiry through which it is possible to grasp the agency of imagined futures into present time. Since futures are not remote, they actively participate in creating path-dependent decisions, crystallized into designed artifacts par excellence, prototypes, and their conceptual other, provotypes: with both being unfinished and multifaceted, the first ones are effective in reiterating solutions to problems already framed, while the second ones prove to be useful when the goal is to explore and break boundaries, bringing closer preferable futures. By focusing on some provotypes throughout history which challenged markets and, above all, social and cultural structures, the contribution’s final aim is understanding the knowledge produced by provotypes, understood as design spaces where designs’s humanistic side might help developing a deeper sensibility about uncertainty and, most of all, the unfinished feature of societal artifacts, whose experimentation would leave marks and traces to build up f(r)ictions as vital sparks of plurality and collective life.

Keywords: speculative design, provotypes, design knowledge, political theory

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