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Journal: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences


Deployments of tear gas and pepper spray have rapidly increased worldwide. Large amounts of tear gas have been used in densely populated cities, including Cairo, Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro, Manama (Bahrain), and Hong Kong. In the United States, tear gas was used extensively during recent riots in Ferguson, Missouri. Whereas tear gas deployment systems have rapidly improved-with aerial drone systems tested and requested by law enforcement-epidemiological and mechanistic research have lagged behind and have received little attention. Case studies and recent epidemiological studies revealed that tear gas agents can cause lung, cutaneous, and ocular injuries, with individuals affected by chronic morbidities at high risk for complications. Mechanistic studies identified the ion channels TRPV1 and TRPA1 as targets of capsaicin in pepper spray, and of the tear gas agents chloroacetophenone, CS, and CR. TRPV1 and TRPA1 localize to pain-sensing peripheral sensory neurons and have been linked to acute and chronic pain, cough, asthma, lung injury, dermatitis, itch, and neurodegeneration. In animal models, transient receptor potential inhibitors show promising effects as potential countermeasures against tear gas injuries. On the basis of the available data, a reassessment of the health risks of tear gas exposures in the civilian population is advised, and development of new countermeasures is proposed.

Concepts: Asthma, Demography, Population, Population density, Rio de Janeiro, Sensory neuron, Pepper spray, CS gas


Despite novel medications and other therapeutic strategies, addiction to psychotropic substances remains one of the most serious public health problems worldwide. In this review, beginning with an introduction of deep brain stimulation (DBS), we highlight the importance of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) in the context of the reward circuitry and addictive behavior. We will provide a short historic overview of other neurosurgical approaches to treat addiction and describe the experimental and preclinical data on DBS in addiction. Finally, we call attention to key ethical issues related to using DBS to treat addiction that are important for future research and the design of clinical trials.

Concepts: Medicine, Ventral tegmental area, Deep brain stimulation, Morphine, Dopamine, Mesolimbic pathway, Cocaine, Drug rehabilitation


The negative bias accompanying the terms left and left-handers has long interested researchers. This paper examines a large number of languages of Indo-European and non-Indo-European origin for such biasing. One surprising outcome is that, within the Indo-European language family, the terms for right and left do not go back to one set of antonyms but have their etymological roots in a number of different core semantic concepts. As in the non-Indo-European languages, right is almost always thought of positively, whereas left is negatively connotated. This is interpreted as the outcome of a universal human evaluation process, partly based on the principle of embodiment. The terms for right never have, in any of the examined languages, a negative bias; the words for left, usually never positively biased, were turned into euphemisms in three language groups (Scandinavian, Greek, and Avestan). On one interpretation, this seems to be an act of historical political correctness, corroborating the negative attitude cultures have for left-handers, very likely an outcome of discrimination of minorities.

Concepts: Linguistics, Language, Semantics, Greek language, Historical linguistics, Language family, Indo-European languages, Ancient Greek


Laterality in handgrip strength was assessed by analyzing dynamometric data of the right and left hand in three samples of Lithuanian boys and girls aged 7-20 years. In addition, the influence of general physical training on the laterality of handgrip strength was explored in a sample of conscripts. A negative secular trend in handgrip strength of schoolchildren has been detected since 1965, and with increasing age, right-handedness has become more pronounced. Children that were ambidextrous (by grip strength) showed negative deviations in physical status more often than their right- or left-handed peers. During one year of physical training, the conscripts had a larger increase in grip strength of the left than in the right hand, and a marked shift in handgrip laterality toward left-handed and ambidextrous individuals was observed. The different impact of schooling and physical training on handgrip strength laterality might partly explain variations in the prevalence of handedness in different societies with divergent cultures and lifestyles (e.g., more or less sedentary).

Concepts: Left-wing politics, Left-handedness, Right-wing politics, Political spectrum, French Revolution, Handedness, Grip strength, Right-handedness


Where does the study of the flow of time belong: physics, the cognitive sciences, philosophy, or somewhere else? Physicists and philosophers have set themselves up into two camps: those who believe there is genuine flow or becoming in the world and those who believe there is just a block of events. What had not been considered is whether the subjective feeling of flow of time is the same the world over, whether it could be tampered with by brain injury, or whether it is present at all developmental stages. We lay out the problem, explain terms, and provide synopses of relevant ideas.

Concepts: Time, Scientific method, Psychology, Mathematics, Cognitive science, Mind, Philosophy, Universe


Polyploidy is an important force shaping plant genomes. All flowering plants are descendants of an ancestral polyploid species, and up to 70% of extant vascular plant species are believed to be recent polyploids. Over the past century, a significant body of knowledge has accumulated regarding the prevalence and ecology of polyploid plants. In this review, we summarize our current understanding of the causes and molecular consequences of polyploidization in angiosperms. We also provide a discussion on the relationships between polyploidy and adaptation and suggest areas where further research may provide a better understanding of polyploidy.

Concepts: Species, Plant, Vascular plant, Polyploidy, Fern, Plants, Flowering plant, Pinophyta


Tissue engineering (TE) approaches are being widely investigated for repair of focal defects in articular cartilage. However, the amount and/or type of extracellular matrix (ECM) produced in engineered constructs does not always correlate with the resultant mechanical properties. This could be related to the specifics of ECM distribution throughout the construct. Here, we present data on the amount and distribution of the primary components of native and engineered cartilage (i.e., collagen, proteoglycan (PG), and water) using Fourier transform infrared imaging spectroscopy (FT-IRIS). These data permit visualization of matrix and water at 25 μm resolution throughout the tissues, and subsequent colocalization of these components using image processing methods. Native and engineered cartilage were cryosectioned at 80 μm for evaluation by FT-IRIS in the mid-infrared (MIR) and near-infrared (NIR) regions. PG distribution correlated strongly with water in native and engineered cartilage, supporting the binding of water to PG in both tissues. In addition, NIR-derived matrix peaks correlated significantly with MIR-derived collagen peaks, confirming the interpretation that these absorbances arise primarily from collagen and not PG. The combined use of MIR and NIR permits assessment of ECM and water spatial distribution at the micron level, which may aid in improved development of TE techniques.


Significant technical advances have been made in radiology since the first discovery of X-rays. Diagnostic techniques have become more and more complex, workflows have been digitized, and data production has increased exponentially. However, the radiology report as the main method for communicating examination results has largely remained unchanged. Growing evidence supports that more structured radiology reports offer various benefits over conventional narrative reports. Various efforts have been made to further develop and promote structured reporting. However, regardless of the potential benefits, structured reporting has still not seen widespread implementation into the clinical routine. With recent technical advances, especially new research topics such as big data and machine learning, structured reporting could prove essential for the future of radiology. New interoperable solutions are needed to facilitate the implementation of template-based structured reporting into the clinical routine.


Although the prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) used to be lower in East Asia as compared to Western countries, it has recently been increasing, most likely due to the socioeconomic development in the East. The prevalence of both GERD and functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) ranges between 10% and 25% worldwide and there are distinct subgroups of patients with overlapping of GERD and FGIDs. However, the true prevalence of an overlap between GERD and FGIDs can be determined only when a formal pathophysiological evaluation has been performed. Nocturnal reflux symptoms have a significant impact on patients' sleep quality and quality of life. Although proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can improve both reflux and sleep-related symptoms, the relationship between nocturnal reflux events and sleep disturbance is not fully understood. GERD plays an important role in the pathogenesis of lung fibrosis, and PPIs or fundoplication may decrease the likelihood of pulmonary exacerbation or even improve pulmonary function. Refractory reflux symptoms without esophagitis have become one of the most common presentations of GERD in gastroenterology clinics. There are several new medical therapies, and endoscopic as well as laparoscopic techniques that have been increasingly used in these patients. The selection of options should be tailored and individualized based on the pathophysiology of refractory GERD.


Over the last decades, the treatment of resectable esophageal cancer has evolved into a multidisciplinary process in which all players are essential for treatment to be successful. Medical oncologists and radiation oncologists have been increasingly involved since the implementation of neoadjuvant therapy, which has been shown to improve survival. Although esophagectomy is still considered the cornerstone of curative treatment for locally advanced esophageal cancer, it remains associated with considerable postoperative morbidity, despite promising results of minimally invasive techniques. In this light, both physical status and response to neoadjuvant therapy may be important factors for selecting patients who will benefit from surgery. Furthermore, it is important to optimize the entire perioperative trajectory: from the initial outpatient clinic visit to postoperative discharge. Enhanced recovery after surgery is increasingly recognized for esophagectomy and emphasizes perioperative aspects, such as nutrition, physiotherapy, and pain management. To date, several facets of esophageal cancer treatment remain topics of debate, such as the preferred neoadjuvant treatment, anastomotic technique, extent of lymphadenectomy, organization of postoperative care, and the role of surgery beyond locally advanced disease. Here, we describe the current and future perspectives in the surgical treatment of patients with esophageal cancer in the context of the available literature.