Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Highly sensitive person


Disadvantaged social environments are associated with adverse health outcomes. This has been attributed, in part, to chronic stress. Telomere length (TL) has been used as a biomarker of chronic stress: TL is shorter in adults in a variety of contexts, including disadvantaged social standing and depression. We use data from 40, 9-y-old boys participating in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to extend this observation to African American children. We report that exposure to disadvantaged environments is associated with reduced TL by age 9 y. We document significant associations between low income, low maternal education, unstable family structure, and harsh parenting and TL. These effects were moderated by genetic variants in serotonergic and dopaminergic pathways. Consistent with the differential susceptibility hypothesis, subjects with the highest genetic sensitivity scores had the shortest TL when exposed to disadvantaged social environments and the longest TL when exposed to advantaged environments.

Concepts: Family, Scientific method, Sociology, Child, Telomere, Magnetic susceptibility, The Fragile, Highly sensitive person


In humans, the personality dimension ‘sensory processing sensitivity (SPS)’, also referred to as “high sensitivity”, involves deeper processing of sensory information, which can be associated with physiological and behavioral overarousal. However, it has not been studied up to now whether this dimension also exists in other species. SPS can influence how people perceive the environment and how this affects them, thus a similar dimension in animals would be highly relevant with respect to animal welfare. We therefore explored whether SPS translates to dogs, one of the primary model species in personality research. A 32-item questionnaire to assess the “highly sensitive dog score” (HSD-s) was developed based on the “highly sensitive person” (HSP) questionnaire. A large-scale, international online survey was conducted, including the HSD questionnaire, as well as questions on fearfulness, neuroticism, “demographic” (e.g. dog sex, age, weight; age at adoption, etc.) and “human” factors (e.g. owner age, sex, profession, communication style, etc.), and the HSP questionnaire. Data were analyzed using linear mixed effect models with forward stepwise selection to test prediction of HSD-s by the above-mentioned factors, with country of residence and dog breed treated as random effects. A total of 3647 questionnaires were fully completed. HSD-, fearfulness, neuroticism and HSP-scores showed good internal consistencies, and HSD-s only moderately correlated with fearfulness and neuroticism scores, paralleling previous findings in humans. Intra- (N = 447) and inter-rater (N = 120) reliabilities were good. Demographic and human factors, including HSP score, explained only a small amount of the variance of HSD-s. A PCA analysis identified three subtraits of SPS, comparable to human findings. Overall, the measured personality dimension in dogs showed good internal consistency, partial independence from fearfulness and neuroticism, and good intra- and inter-rater reliability, indicating good construct validity of the HSD questionnaire. Human and demographic factors only marginally affected the HSD-s suggesting that, as hypothesized for human SPS, a genetic basis may underlie this dimension within the dog species.

Concepts: Psychology, Psychometrics, Sense, Analysis of variance, Dog, Internal consistency, Dog health, Highly sensitive person


We demonstrate a novel, rapid and label-free assay for the detection of Ag(+) and biothiols with high sensitivity and selectivity by utilization of Ag nanoparticle-decorated graphene quantum dots.

Concepts: Sensitivity and specificity, Selectivity, Statistical ratios, Highly sensitive person


A novel immunochromatographic assay (ICA) was proposed for rapid and multiple assay of β2-agonists, by utilizing ractopamine (RAC) and salbutamol (SAL) as the models. Owing to the introduction of chemiluminescent (CL) approach, the proposed protocol shows much higher sensitivity. In this work, the described ICA was based on a competitive format, and horseradish peroxidase-tagged antibodies were used as highly sensitive CL probes. Quantitative analysis of β2-agonists was achieved by recording the CL signals of the probes captured on the two test zones of the nitrocellulose membrane. Under the optimum conditions, RAC and SAL could be detected within the linear ranges of 0.50-40 and 0.10-50ngmL(-1), with the detection limits of 0.20 and 0.040ngmL(-1) (S/N=3), respectively. The whole process for multianalyte immunoassay of RAC and SAL can be completed within 20min. Furthermore, the test strip was validated with spiked swine urine samples and the results showed that this method was reliable in measuring β2-agonists in swine urine. This CL-based multianalyte test strip shows a series of advantages such as high sensitivity, ideal selectivity, simple manipulation, high assay efficiency and low cost. Thus, it opens up new pathway for rapid screening and field analysis, and shows a promising prospect in food safety.

Concepts: Measurement, Type I and type II errors, ELISA, Assay, Immunoassay, Selectivity, Highly sensitive person, Nitrocellulose


The relationship between attachment, temperamental fear, and pain-related distress was examined in a sample of 130 caregiver-infant dyads to explore the differential susceptibility hypothesis.

Concepts: Pain, Magnetic susceptibility, John Bowlby, Highly sensitive person, Differential susceptibility hypothesis


Nanostructures are known to be exquisitely sensitive to the chemical environment and offer ultra-high sensitivity for gas-sensing. However, the fabrication and operation of devices that use individual nanostructures for sensing is complex, expensive and suffers from poor reliability due to contamination and large variability from sample-to-sample. By contrast, conventional solid-state and conducting-polymer sensors offer excellent reliability but suffer from reduced sensitivity at room-temperature. Here we report a macro graphene foam-like three-dimensional network which combines the best of both worlds. The walls of the foam are comprised of few-layer graphene sheets resulting in high sensitivity; we demonstrate parts-per-million level detection of NH(3) and NO(2) in air at room-temperature. Further, the foam is a mechanically robust and flexible macro-scale network that is easy to contact (without Lithography) and can rival the durability and affordability of traditional sensors. Moreover, Joule-heating expels chemisorbed molecules from the foam’s surface leading to fully-reversible and low-power operation.

Concepts: Graphene, Suffering, Greatest hits, Highly sensitive person


Playing violent video games have been linked to long-term emotional desensitization. We hypothesized that desensitization effects in excessive users of violent video games should lead to decreased brain activations to highly salient emotional pictures in emotional sensitivity brain regions. Twenty-eight male adult subjects showing excessive long-term use of violent video games and age and education matched control participants were examined in two experiments using standardized emotional pictures of positive, negative and neutral valence. No group differences were revealed even at reduced statistical thresholds which speaks against desensitization of emotion sensitive brain regions as a result of excessive use of violent video games.

Concepts: Psychology, Neuroscience, Experiment, Emotion, Game, Highly sensitive person, Video game controversy


Monitoring of human bodily motion requires wearable sensors which can detect position, velocity and acceleration. They should be cheap, lightweight, and mechanically compliant and display reasonable sensitivity at high strains and strain-rates. No reported material has simultaneously demonstrated all the above requirements. Here we describe a simple method to infuse liquid-exfoliated graphene into natural rubber to create conducting composites. These materials are excellent strain-sensors displaying 104-fold increases in resistance and working at strains exceeding 800%. The sensitivity is reasonably high with gauge factors of up to 35 observed. More importantly, these sensors can effectively track dynamic strain, working well at vibration frequencies of at least 160 Hz. At 60 Hz, we could monitor strains of at least 6% at strain rates exceeding 6000 %/s. We have used these composites as bodily motion sensors, effectively monitoring joint and muscle motion as well and breathing and pulse.

Concepts: Monitoring, Material, Velocity, Motion, Synthetic rubber, Natural rubber, Highly sensitive person, Rubber


Users of a personalised recommendation system face a dilemma: recommendations can be improved by learning from data, but only if other users are willing to share their private information. Good personalised predictions are vitally important in precision medicine, but genomic information on which the predictions are based is also particularly sensitive, as it directly identifies the patients and hence cannot easily be anonymised. Differential privacy has emerged as a potentially promising solution: privacy is considered sufficient if presence of individual patients cannot be distinguished. However, differentially private learning with current methods does not improve predictions with feasible data sizes and dimensionalities.

Concepts: Better, Improve, Prediction, Prophecy, Illness, Differential equation, Highly sensitive person, Recommender system


The alignment of sequencing reads against a protein reference database is a major computational bottleneck in metagenomics and data-intensive evolutionary projects. Although recent tools offer improved performance over the gold standard BLASTX, they exhibit only a modest speedup or low sensitivity. We introduce DIAMOND, an open-source algorithm based on double indexing that is 20,000 times faster than BLASTX on short reads and has a similar degree of sensitivity.

Concepts: Bioinformatics, Molecular biology, Gold, Phylogenetic tree, Gold standard, Computational complexity theory, Highly sensitive person, Algorithmic efficiency