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

Concept: Threshold


Objective The purpose of this study was to examine the heart rate reserve (HRR) at first and second ventilatory thresholds (VT’s) in postmenopausal women and compare it with optimal intensity range recommended by the ACSM (40-84%HRR). An additional aim was to evaluate whether a higher aerobic power level corresponded to a higher HRR at VT’s. Methods Fifty-eight postmenopausal women participated in this study (aged 48-69). A graded 25Wmin(-2) cycle ergometer (Monark E839) exercise protocol was performed in order to assess aerobic power. The heart rate and gas-exchange variables were measured continuously using a portable gas analyzer system (Cosmed K4b). The first (VT(1)) and the second (VT(2)) VT’s were determined by the time course curves of ventilation and O(2) and CO(2) ventilatory equivalents. A K-means clustering analysis was used in order to identify VO(2max) groups (cut-off of 30.5mlkg(-1)min(-1)) and differences were evaluated by an independent sample t-test. Bland-Altman plots were performed to illustrate the agreement between methods. Results The women’s HRR values at VT(1) were similar to 40%HRR in both VO(2max) groups. At VT(2) both VO(2max) groups exhibited negative differences (P<0.01) for the predicted 84%HRR intensity (-14.46% in the lower VO(2max) group and -16.32% in the higher VO(2max) group). Conclusions An upper limit of 84% overestimates the %HRR value for the second ventilatory threshold, suggesting that the cardiorespiratory target zone for this population should be lower and narrower (40-70%HRR).

Concepts: Pulse, Student's t-test, Heart rate, The Higher, Thresholds, Threshold, Limit superior and limit inferior, K-means clustering


BACKGROUND: Child neglect is a pernicious child protection issue with adverse consequences that extend to adulthood. Simultaneously, though it remains prevalent, childhood dental caries is a preventable disease. Public health nurses play a pivotal role in assessing oral health in children as part of general health surveillance. However, little is known about how they assess dental neglect or what their thresholds are for initiating targeted support or instigating child protection measures. Understanding these factors is important to allow improvements to be made in care pathways. METHODS: We investigated public health nurses' assessment of oral health in preschool children in relation to dental neglect and any associations they make with child neglect more broadly. A qualitative study was conducted in Scotland during 2011/12. Sixteen public health nurses were recruited purposively from one health region. Individual, semi-structured interviews were undertaken and data were analyzed inductively using a framework approach. Categories were subsequently mapped to the research questions. RESULTS: Public health nurses assess oral health through proxy measures, opportunistic observation and through discussion with parents. Dental neglect is rarely an isolated issue that leads on its own to child protection referral. It tends to be other presenting issues that initiate a response. Threshold levels for targeted support were based on two broad indicators: social issues and concerns about child (and parental) dental health. Thresholds for child protection intervention were untreated dental caries or significant dental pain. Barriers to intervention are that dental neglect may be ‘unseen’ and ‘unspoken’. The study revealed a communication gap in the care pathway for children where a significant dental problem is identified. CONCLUSIONS: Public health nurses take their child protection role seriously, but rarely make a link between dental caries and child neglect. Clear guidance on oral health assessment is required for public health nurses. Establishing formal communication pathways between child dental care providers and public health nurses may help close gaps in care pathways. However, further research is required into how these communication mechanisms can be improved.

Concepts: Health care, Public health, Epidemiology, Assessment, Dental caries, Dentistry, Toothache, Threshold


Global motion perception is a function of higher, or extrastriate, visual system circuitry. These circuits can be engaged in visually driven navigation, a behavior at which mice are adept. However, the properties of global motion perception in mice are unclear. Therefore, we developed a touchscreen-based, two-alternative forced choice (2AFC) task to explore global motion detection in mice using random dot kinematograms (RDK). Performance data was used to compute coherence thresholds for global motion perception. The touchscreen-based task allowed for parallel training and testing with multiple chambers and minimal experimenter intervention with mice performing hundreds of trials per session. Parameters of the random dot kinematograms, including dot size, lifetime, and speed, were tested. Mice learned to discriminate kinematograms whose median motion direction differed by 90 degrees in 7-24days after a 10-14day pre-training period. The average coherence threshold (measured at 70% correct) in mice for this task was 22±5%, with a dot diameter of 3.88mm and speed of 58.2mm/s. Our results confirm the ability of mice to perform global motion discriminations, and the touchscreen assay provides a flexible, automated, and relatively high throughput method with which to probe complex visual function in mice.

Concepts: Psychology, Visual perception, Visual system, Performance, Motion perception, Motion, Thresholds, Threshold


Graph theory (GT) is a powerful framework for quantifying topological features of neuroimaging-derived functional and structural networks. However, false positive (FP) connections arise frequently and influence the inferred topology of networks. Thresholding is often used to overcome this problem, but an appropriate threshold often relies on a priori assumptions, which will alter inferred network topologies. Four common network metrics (global efficiency, mean clustering coefficient, mean betweenness and smallworldness) were tested using a model tractography dataset. It was found that all four network metrics were significantly affected even by just one FP. Results also show that thresholding effectively dampens the impact of FPs, but also adds significant bias to network metrics. In a larger number (n=248) of tractography datasets, statistics were computed across random group permutations for a range of thresholds, revealing that statistics for network metrics varied significantly more than for non-network metrics (i.e., number of streamlines and number of edges). Varying degrees of network atrophy were introduced artificially to half the datasets, to test sensitivity to genuine group differences. For some network metrics, this atrophy was detected as significant (p<0.05, determined using permutation testing) only across a limited range of thresholds. We propose a multi-threshold permutation correction (MTPC) method, based on the cluster-enhanced permutation correction approach, to identify sustained significant effects across clusters of thresholds. This approach minimises requirements to determine a single threshold a priori. We demonstrate improved sensitivity of MTPC-corrected metrics to genuine group effects compared to an existing approach and demonstrate the use of MTPC on a previously published network analysis of tractography data derived from a clinical population. In conclusion, we show that there are large biases and instability induced by thresholding, making statistical comparisons of network metrics difficult. However, by testing for effects across multiple thresholds using MTPC, true group differences can be robustly identified.

Concepts: Statistics, Mathematics, Type I and type II errors, Sensitivity and specificity, Topology, Graph theory, Threshold, Network topology


The impact of altitude training on haematological parameters and the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) was evaluated in international-level elite athletes. One group of swimmers lived high and trained high (LHTH, n = 10) for three to four weeks at 2130 m or higher whereas a control group (n = 10) completed a three-week training camp at sea-level. Haematological parameters were determined weekly three times before and four times after the training camps. ABP thresholds for haemoglobin concentration ([Hb]), reticulocyte percentage (RET%), OFF score and the abnormal blood profile score (ABPS) were calculated using the Bayesian model. After altitude training, six swimmers exceeded the 99% ABP thresholds: two swimmers exceeded the OFF score thresholds at day +7; one swimmer exceeded the OFF score threshold at day +28; one swimmer exceeded the threshold for RET% at day +14; and one swimmer surpassed the ABPS threshold at day +14. In the control group, no values exceeded the individual ABP reference range. In conclusion, LHTH induces haematological changes in Olympic-level elite athletes which can exceed the individually generated references in the ABP. Training at altitude should be considered a confounding factor for ABP interpretation for up to four weeks after altitude exposure but does not consistently cause abnormal values in the ABP. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Concepts: Controlling for a variable, Scientific control, Anemia, Training, Confounding, John Wiley & Sons, Thresholds, Threshold


Osteoarthritis (OA)-associated pain is a leading cause of disability. Central Sensitization (CS), as a result of OA, is recognized as an important facet of human patients' chronic pain and has been measured in people using quantitative sensory threshold (QST) testing. The spontaneous canine OA model has been suggested as a good translational model, but CS has not been explored in this model. In this study QST was performed on dogs with and without spontaneous hip or stifle OA to determine if OA is associated with CS in this model. Mechanical (von Frey and blunt pressure) and thermal (hot and cold) sensory thresholds obtained in dogs with chronic OAassociated pain (n= 31) were compared to normal dogs (n=23). Dogs were phenotyped, joint pain scored, and testing was performed at the OA-affected joint, cranial tibial muscle and dorsal metatarsal region. QST summary data were evaluated using mixed effect models to understand the influence of OA status and covariates, and OA and control dogs compared.The presence of OA was strongly associated with hyperalgesia across all QST modalities at the index joint, cranial tibial muscle and metatarsal site. Mechanical QST were significantly moderately negatively correlated with total joint pain scores. The spontaneous canine OA model is associated with somatosensory sensitivity, likely indicative of central sensitization. These data further validate the canine spontaneous OA model as an appropriate model of the human OA pain condition.

Concepts: Knee, Pain, Sensory system, Sense, Chronic pain, Thresholds, Threshold, Sensitization


The Dutch animal welfare law includes so-called principle-based standards. This means that the objective is described in abstract terms, enabling farmers to comply with the law in their own way. Principle-based standards are, however, difficult for the inspection agency to enforce because strict limits are missing. This pilot project aimed at developing indicators (measurements) to assess the climate in pig houses, thus enabling the enforcement of principle-based standards. In total, 64 farms with weaners and 32 farms with growing-finishing pigs were visited. On each farm, a set of climate-related measurements was collected in six pens. For each of these measurements, a threshold value was set, and exceeding this threshold indicated a welfare risk. Farm inspections were carried out during winter and spring, thus excluding situations with heat stress. Assessment of the variation and correlation between measurements reduced the dataset from 39 to 12 measurements. Using a principal components analysis helped to select five major measurements as warning signals. The number of exceeded thresholds per pen and per farm was calculated for both the large (12) and small (five) sets of measurements. CO₂ and NH₃ concentrations were related to the outside temperature. On colder days, there was less ventilation, and thus CO₂ and NH₃ concentrations increased. Air quality, reflected in the CO₂ and NH₃ concentrations, was associated with respiratory problems. Eye scores were positively correlated with both pig and pen fouling, and pig and pen fouling were closely related. We selected five signal indicators: CO₂, NH₃, and tail and eye score for weaners and finishers, and added ear score for weaners and pig fouling for growing-finishing pigs. The results indicate that pig farms can be ranked based on five signal indicators related to reduced animal welfare caused by climatic conditions. This approach could be adopted to other principle-based standards for pigs as well as for other species.

Concepts: Climate, Principal component analysis, Correlation and dependence, Singular value decomposition, Pig, Farm, Thresholds, Threshold


Sensitivity of tissues can be measured by algometry. Decreased pressure pain thresholds over the cranio-cervical area are supposed to reflect signs of sensitization of the trigemino-cervical nucleus caudalis. A systematic review was conducted to assess the current scientific literature describing pressure pain threshold (PPT) values over the cranio-cervical region in patients with migraine, tension-type headache (TTH), and cervicogenic headache (CeH). A literature search was executed in three databases. The search strategy included the following keywords: migraine, TTH, CeH, PPT and algometry. A total of 624 papers was identified of which relevant papers were subsequently assessed for methodological quality. Twenty-two selected papers were assessed by two independent reviewers and the majority of studies scored low risk of bias on the selected items. Mean PPT values of several sites measured in the cranio-cervical region in patients with migraine, chronic TTH and CeH scored lower values compared to controls. The trapezius muscle (midpoint between vertebrae C7 and acromion) was the most frequently targeted site and showed significantly lower PPT values in adults with migraine (pooled standardized mean difference kPa: 1.26 [95%CI -1.71, -0.81]) and chronic TTH (pooled standardized mean difference kPa: -2.00 [95%CI -2.93, -1.08]). Most studies found no association between PPT values and headache characteristics such as frequency, duration or intensity. Further standardization of PPT measurement in the cranio-cervical region is recommended.

Concepts: Migraine, Assessment, Standardization, Headaches, Thresholds, Threshold, Threshold of pain, Clavicle


BACKGROUND: Imaging of the human microcirculation in real-time has the potential to detect injuries and illnesses that disturb the microcirculation at earlier stages and may improve the efficacy of resuscitation. Despite advanced imaging techniques to monitor the microcirculation, there are currently no tools for the near real-time analysis of the videos produced by these imaging systems. An automated system tool that can extract microvasculature information and monitor changes in tissue perfusion quantitatively might be invaluable as a diagnostic and therapeutic endpoint for resuscitation. METHODS: The experimental algorithm automatically extracts microvascular network and quantitatively measures changes in the microcirculation. There are two main parts in the algorithm: video processing and vessel segmentation. Microcirculatory videos are first stabilized in a video processing step to remove motion artifacts. In the vessel segmentation process, the microvascular network is extracted using multiple level thresholding and pixel verification techniques. Threshold levels are selected using histogram information of a set of training video recordings. Pixel-by-pixel differences are calculated throughout the frames to identify active blood vessels and capillaries with flow. RESULTS: Sublingual microcirculatory videos are recorded from anesthetized swine at baseline and during hemorrhage using a hand-held Side-stream Dark Field (SDF) imaging device to track changes in the microvasculature during hemorrhage. Automatically segmented vessels in the recordings are analyzed visually and the functional capillary density (FCD) values calculated by the algorithm are compared for both health baseline and hemorrhagic conditions. These results were compared to independently made FCD measurements using a well-known semi-automated method. Results of the fully automated algorithm demonstrated a significant decrease of FCD values. Similar, but more variable FCD values were calculated using a commercially available software program requiring manual editing. CONCLUSIONS: An entirely automated system for analyzing microcirculation videos to reduce human interaction and computation time is developed. The algorithm successfully stabilizes video recordings, segments blood vessels, identifies vessels without flow and calculates FCD in a fully automated process. The automated process provides an equal or better separation between healthy and hemorrhagic FCD values compared to currently available semi-automatic techniques. The proposed method shows promise for the quantitative measurement of changes occurring in microcirculation during injury.

Concepts: Blood, Blood vessel, Capillary, Automation, Programmable logic controller, Process control, Controller, Threshold


Indecisiveness and doubt are cognitive phenotypes of compulsive disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder. Little is known regarding the cognitive mechanisms that drive these behaviours across a compulsivity spectrum. Here, we used a sequential information gathering task to study indecisiveness in subjects with high and low obsessive-compulsive scores. These subjects were selected from a large population-representative database, and matched for intellectual and psychiatric factors. We show that high compulsive subjects sampled more information and performed better when sampling was cost-free. When sampling was costly, both groups adapted flexibly to reduce their information gathering. Computational modelling revealed that increased information gathering behaviour could be explained by higher decision thresholds that, in turn, were driven by a delayed emergence of impatience or urgency. Our findings show that indecisiveness generalises to a compulsivity spectrum beyond frank clinical disorder, and this behaviour can be explained within a decision-theoretic framework as arising from an augmented decision threshold associated with an attenuated urgency signal.

Concepts: Psychology, Natural selection, Mental disorder, Behavior, Behaviorism, Obsessive–compulsive disorder, Thresholds, Threshold