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Sci, Volume 6, Issue 2 (June 2024) – 19 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Although they are prevalent conditions, anxiety disorders are often untreated due to the associated stigmas and side effects caused by medication. Extended reality (XR) technologies show promise as digital health alternatives for anxiety therapies. For their effective implementation and optimal outcomes—as envisioned by the use of AI-generated technology—the perspectives of both patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs) need to be considered. However, the literature is lacking in this aspect, a fact which motivated this systematic review. We found XR’s effectiveness comparable to traditional therapies, with users appreciating XR’s practicality and minimal side effects. XR therapies could be considered as non-pharmacologic alternatives or supplements to traditional therapies, though further research is needed, especially focusing on both patients and HCPs. View this paper
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30 pages, 1341 KiB  
Review
Anti-Aging Potential of Bioactive Phytoconstituents Found in Edible Medicinal Plants: A Review
by Emeka Joshua Iweala, Oluwapelumi Eniola Adurosakin, Ugochukwu Innocent, Conrad A. Omonhinmin, Omoremime Elizabeth Dania and Eziuche Amadike Ugbogu
Sci 2024, 6(2), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020036 - 13 Jun 2024
Viewed by 1965
Abstract
Aging is a complex biological and physiological change that leads to a loss of function in all living organisms. Although the mechanism behind the aging process is still largely unknown, scientific studies have shown that oxidative stress and age-related low autophagy, which are [...] Read more.
Aging is a complex biological and physiological change that leads to a loss of function in all living organisms. Although the mechanism behind the aging process is still largely unknown, scientific studies have shown that oxidative stress and age-related low autophagy, which are associated with various chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases, promote aging. Interestingly, many medicinal plants and their biologically active compounds have the ability to extend lifespan as they can inhibit oxidative stress and promote autophagy. This review evaluates and provides up-to-date information on the anti-aging potential of bioactive compounds in edible medicinal plants. In this study, seventeen (17) biologically active compounds from edible medicinal plants with anti-aging effects were reviewed. In vivo and in vitro studies showed that these biologically active compounds exhibit anti-aging effects via various mechanisms such as the activation of autophagy, increases in antioxidant enzymes, reductions in reactive oxygen species, the inhibition of inflammatory markers, and the downregulation of senescence genes. This study suggests that edible medicinal plants containing these bioactive compounds may promote health and extend lifespan. However, the exact mechanisms, effective doses, clinical trials, and chronic and genotoxic effects of bioactive compounds as anti-aging agents should be further investigated. Full article
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13 pages, 1175 KiB  
Communication
Genetic Relationships of Cultivated Flax and Its Wild Progenitor as Revealed by 454 Pyrosequencing, Sanger Resequencing and Microsatellite Data
by Yong-Bi Fu
Sci 2024, 6(2), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020035 - 3 Jun 2024
Viewed by 192
Abstract
Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.), as the earliest oil and fiber crop, is a model plant for genetic inferences of plant domestication processes involving multiple domestication events. However, a puzzle has emerged from several genetic studies, as dehiscent cultivated flax is genetically more [...] Read more.
Flax (Linum usitatissimum L.), as the earliest oil and fiber crop, is a model plant for genetic inferences of plant domestication processes involving multiple domestication events. However, a puzzle has emerged from several genetic studies, as dehiscent cultivated flax is genetically more related to its progenitor pale flax (L. bienne Mill.), and winter cultivated flax is well mixed with oil or fiber cultivated flax, while capsular dehiscence and winter hardiness are the major characteristics of pale flax. For this, a comparative analysis was conducted with 16 Linum samples representing pale flax and four domestication groups of cultivated flax (oil, fiber, winter, and dehiscent) using 454 pyrosequencing, Sanger resequencing and microsatellite data. It was found that the genomic sampling of genetic variants from the three applied methods yielded similar genetic information on pale flax and four groups of cultivated flax. The revealed genetic relationships did not show significant departures from the previous findings, but instead supported an early, independent domestication of a primitive flax lineage for oil use, followed by a subsequent flax domestication process with multiple domestication events for capsular dehiscence, oil, fiber and winter hardiness. Domestication on capsular dehiscence occurred earlier than domestication on winter hardiness. Domestication on winter hardiness was more complicated than domestication on capsular dehiscence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Biology Research and Life Sciences)
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23 pages, 2841 KiB  
Review
Cassia alata and Its Phytochemicals: A Promising Natural Strategy in Wound Recovery
by Jing-Wen Keng, Sue-Kei Lee, Sze-Huey Sang, Kai-Bin Liew, Swee-Sen Teo, Wan Mastura Shaik Mohamed Mossadeq, Sek-Chuen Chow, Gabriel Akyirem Akowuah, Siew-Keah Lee, Chun-Wai Mai and Yik-Ling Chew
Sci 2024, 6(2), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020034 - 3 Jun 2024
Viewed by 336
Abstract
Cassia alata, a traditional herb with a global presence, is renowned for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, making it a go-to remedy for skin ailments. While it has demonstrated wound healing capabilities in both in vitro and in vivo studies, the [...] Read more.
Cassia alata, a traditional herb with a global presence, is renowned for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, making it a go-to remedy for skin ailments. While it has demonstrated wound healing capabilities in both in vitro and in vivo studies, the precise mechanisms remain elusive. This review aims to highlight its key phytochemicals, their effects, and the mechanism of action. The compounds that have been reviewed and discussed include kaempferol, apigenin, quercetin, rhein, and rutin. These polyphenols play important roles in normal and impaired wound healing processes, encompassing hemostasis, inflammation, proliferation, and tissue remodeling. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers in Integrative Medicine)
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23 pages, 14386 KiB  
Article
A Molecular Dynamics Perspective on the Impacts of Random Rough Surface, Film Thickness, and Substrate Temperature on the Adsorbed Film’s Liquid–Vapor Phase Transition Regime
by Rasoul Fallahzadeh, Fabio Bozzoli, Luca Cattani, Luca Pagliarini, Niloofar Naeimabadi and Muhammad Waheed Azam
Sci 2024, 6(2), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020033 - 3 Jun 2024
Viewed by 228
Abstract
While recent studies have proven an unexpected liquid–vapor phase transition of adsorbed liquid films, a comprehensive description of the mechanisms of different types of phase change regimes over realistic representations of random rough surfaces is absent in the literature. The current comprehensive study [...] Read more.
While recent studies have proven an unexpected liquid–vapor phase transition of adsorbed liquid films, a comprehensive description of the mechanisms of different types of phase change regimes over realistic representations of random rough surfaces is absent in the literature. The current comprehensive study investigates the effects of a gold random rough surface, liquid film thickness, and substrate temperature on the liquid–vapor phase change regime of an adsorbed sodium liquid film, considering the evaporator section of a wicked heat pipe (WHP) using a molecular dynamics (MD) simulation. At first, to generate a realistic random rough surface, a new and promising method is proposed that is entirely based on MD simulations. Then, to simulate the evaporator section of a WHP, a unique configuration for eliminating the vapor domain is developed. The simulation results reveal that three distinct regimes, namely, normal evaporation, cluster boiling, and film boiling, could be identified, which are presented on two-dimensional diagrams with the substrate temperature and liquid film thickness as coordinates for the ideally smooth and random rough surfaces. The results also manifest that even though using the random rough surface could lead to different phase transition regimes, the type of regime depends mainly on the substrate temperature and liquid film thickness. Furthermore, this study displays two different modes for normal evaporation. Also, it is shown that the impacts of the liquid film thickness and substrate temperature on the mode of normal evaporation are much more significant than the surface roughness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers—Multidisciplinary Sciences 2023)
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13 pages, 1768 KiB  
Article
Adapted Physical Activity Programs for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Neurotypical Children: Differences between Online and Face-to-Face Training
by Marta Zanghì, Federico Roggio, Alessandro Castorina, Piero Pavone and Giuseppe Musumeci
Sci 2024, 6(2), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020032 - 3 Jun 2024
Viewed by 374
Abstract
During the COVID-19 pandemic, physical activity was significantly decreased in all age groups. The purpose of this study is to investigate children’s motor skills by administering an adapted physical activity program for the development of coordination skills. The sample consisted of 28 children [...] Read more.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, physical activity was significantly decreased in all age groups. The purpose of this study is to investigate children’s motor skills by administering an adapted physical activity program for the development of coordination skills. The sample consisted of 28 children aged 8 to 12 years, 20 neurotypical children and 8 with ASD-HF. Data collection employed various methods, including a personal information form, a leisure time exercise questionnaire, a semi-structured interview, and the Harre Dexterity Circuit for assessing physical activity improvements. The results of the two-way analysis of variance (two-way ANOVA) Tukey HSD test showed the differences between the specific groups, ASD-P vs. ASD-O (p < 0.001), ASD-O vs. AB-O (p < 0.001), ASD-O vs. AB-P (p < 0.001), ASD-O vs. AB-P (p = 0.136), ASD-P vs. AB-P (p < 0.0010, and AB-P vs. AB-O (p = 0.003). As result, both groups showed strong interest in practicing physical activity, and no statistical difference was found in doing so at home or in attendance, showing that physical activity practice is a tool for parent–child bonding and mutual enjoyment, emphasizing that the mixed approach yielded positive results in all participants. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers—Multidisciplinary Sciences 2023)
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17 pages, 1657 KiB  
Article
The General Theory of Scientific Variability for Technological Evolution
by Mario Coccia
Sci 2024, 6(2), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020031 - 3 Jun 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 266
Abstract
The proposed general theory of scientific variability for technological evolution explains one of the drivers of technological change for economic progress in human society. Variability is the predisposition of the elements in systems to assume different values over time and space. In biology, [...] Read more.
The proposed general theory of scientific variability for technological evolution explains one of the drivers of technological change for economic progress in human society. Variability is the predisposition of the elements in systems to assume different values over time and space. In biology, the variability is basic to explaining differences and development in organisms. In economics of technical change, the effects of variability within research fields on evolutionary dynamics of related technologies are unknown. In a broad analogy with the principles of biology, suggested theoretical framework here can clarify a basic driver of technological evolution: the variability within research fields can explain the dynamics of scientific development and technological evolution. The study sees whether statistical evidence supports the hypothesis that the rate of growth of scientific and technological fields can be explained by the level of variability within scientific fields. The validation is based on emerging research fields in quantum technologies: quantum imaging, quantum meteorology, quantum sensing, and quantum optics. Statistical evidence seems in general to support the hypothesis stated that the rate of growth can be explained by the level of scientific variability within research fields, measured with the relative entropy (indicating the dispersion of scientific topics in a research field underlying a specific technology). Nonparametric correlation with Spearman’s rho shows a positive coefficient of 0.80 between entropy measures and rates of growth between scientific and technological fields. The linear model of the relation between rate of growth and scientific variability reveals a coefficient of regression equal to 1.63 (R2 = 0.60). The findings here suggest a general law that variability within research fields positively drives scientific development and technological evolution. In particular, a higher variability within research fields can support a high rate of growth in scientific development and technological evolution. The proposed general theory of scientific variability is especially relevant in turbulent environments of technology-based competition to clarify a basic determinant of technological development to design strategies of technological forecasting and management of promising innovations. Full article
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14 pages, 5749 KiB  
Article
Non-Flammable Epoxy Composition Based on Epoxy Resin DER-331 and 4-(β-Carboxyethenyl)phenoxy-phenoxycyclotriphosphazenes with Increased Adhesion to Metals
by Anastasia Konstantinova, Pavel Yudaev, Aleksey Shapagin, Darya Panfilova, Aleksandr Palamarchuk and Evgeniy Chistyakov
Sci 2024, 6(2), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020030 - 23 May 2024
Viewed by 544
Abstract
Functional cyclophosphazenes have proven to be effective modifiers of polymer materials, significantly improving their performance properties, such as adhesive characteristics, mechanical strength, thermal stability, fire resistance, etc. In this study, 4-(β-carboxyethenyl)phenoxy-phenoxycyclotriphosphazenes (CPPP) were obtained by the condensation of 4-formylphenoxy-phenoxycyclotriphosphazene with malonic acid. Its [...] Read more.
Functional cyclophosphazenes have proven to be effective modifiers of polymer materials, significantly improving their performance properties, such as adhesive characteristics, mechanical strength, thermal stability, fire resistance, etc. In this study, 4-(β-carboxyethenyl)phenoxy-phenoxycyclotriphosphazenes (CPPP) were obtained by the condensation of 4-formylphenoxy-phenoxycyclotriphosphazene with malonic acid. Its structure was studied using 31P, 1H, and 13C NMR spectroscopy and MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry, and the thermal properties were determined by DSC and TGA methods. Molecular modeling using the MM2 method showed that CPPPs are nanosized with diameters of spheres described around the molecules in the range of 1.34–1.93 nm, which allows them to be classified as nanosized structures. The epoxy resin DER-331 was cured with CPPP, and the conversion of epoxy groups was assessed using IR spectroscopy. Using optical interferometry, it was shown that CPPPs are well compatible with epoxy resin in the temperature range from 80 to 130 °C. It was established that the cured epoxy composition was fire resistant, as it successfully passed the UL-94 vertical combustion test due to the formation of porous coke during the combustion process and also had high heat resistance and thermal stability (decomposition onset temperature about 300 °C, glass transition temperature 230 °C). The composition has low water absorption, high resistance to fresh and salt water, fire resistance, and adhesive strength to steel and aluminum (11 ± 0.2 MPa), which makes it promising for use as an adhesive composition for gluing parts in the shipbuilding and automotive industries, the aviation industry, and radio electronics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Chemistry Science)
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11 pages, 2722 KiB  
Article
ThermoBounce: Visualizing Chemical Kinetics via a Gravitational Potential Analogy
by Nelson Max and Edward Max
Sci 2024, 6(2), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020029 - 9 May 2024
Viewed by 522
Abstract
ThermoBounce is an interactive online visualization designed to help students understand how enthalpy, entropy, and temperature contribute to the reaction rate and equilibrium of a unimolecular chemical change between reactant and product states, for example, molecular isomerizations or phase transitions. At the start [...] Read more.
ThermoBounce is an interactive online visualization designed to help students understand how enthalpy, entropy, and temperature contribute to the reaction rate and equilibrium of a unimolecular chemical change between reactant and product states, for example, molecular isomerizations or phase transitions. At the start of the animation, reactant molecules are represented by spheres bouncing around in a reactant room, with an average kinetic energy proportional to the temperature. This room is connected to an adjacent product room by a window. When the user triggers the animation, spheres may convert to the product state by passing through the window into the product room, changing color as they do so. The difference between the floor heights of the reactant and product rooms represents the enthalpy change of the reaction, and the floor areas of the two rooms represent the entropies of the reactant and product states. The height of the bottom of the window above the floor of the reactant room represents the enthalpy of activation, and the width of the window represents the entropy of activation. Users can change the geometry of the rooms and window to adjust all these quantities and can modify the temperature before or during the reaction. They can then observe the resulting changes in the reaction rate and in the accumulation of product molecules, as shown on a reaction progress graph. The visualization and instructions for interacting with it are freely available on the Internet. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Chemistry Science)
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56 pages, 3957 KiB  
Review
Power and Efficiency in Living Systems
by Douglas S. Glazier
Sci 2024, 6(2), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020028 - 6 May 2024
Viewed by 837
Abstract
Energy transformation powers change in the universe. In physical systems, maximal power (rate of energy input or output) may occur only at submaximal efficiency (output/input), or conversely, maximal efficiency may occur only at submaximal power. My review of power and efficiency in living [...] Read more.
Energy transformation powers change in the universe. In physical systems, maximal power (rate of energy input or output) may occur only at submaximal efficiency (output/input), or conversely, maximal efficiency may occur only at submaximal power. My review of power and efficiency in living systems at various levels of biological organization reveals that (1) trade-offs (negative correlations) between power and efficiency, as expected in physical systems, chiefly occur for resource-supply systems; (2) synergy (positive correlations) between power and efficiency chiefly occurs for resource use systems, which may result from (a) increasing energy allocation to production versus maintenance as production rate increases and (b) natural selection eliminating organisms that exceed a maximal power limit because of deleterious speed-related effects; (3) productive power indicates species-wide ‘fitness’, whereas efficiency of resource acquisition for production indicates local ‘adaptiveness’, as viewed along a body size spectrum and within clades of related species; (4) covariation of the power and efficiency of living systems occurs across space and time at many scales; (5) the energetic power/efficiency of living systems relates to the rates and efficiencies/effectiveness of nutrient/water uptake/use, the functional performance of various activities, and information acquisition/processing; and (6) a power/efficiency approach has many useful theoretical and practical applications deserving more study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Biology Research and Life Sciences)
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19 pages, 5407 KiB  
Article
Decision Making in Service Shops Supported by Mining Enterprise Resource Planning Data
by Shaun West, Daryl Powell, Fabian Ille and Stefan Behringer
Sci 2024, 6(2), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020027 - 5 May 2024
Viewed by 758
Abstract
This research examines the application of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems in service shops, focusing on the specific challenges unique to these environments compared to those in the manufacturing sector. Service shops, distinguished by their smaller scale and variable demands, often need different [...] Read more.
This research examines the application of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems in service shops, focusing on the specific challenges unique to these environments compared to those in the manufacturing sector. Service shops, distinguished by their smaller scale and variable demands, often need different functionalities in ERP systems compared to manufacturing facilities. Our analysis is based on detailed billing records and monthly cash flow data to deliver critical insights into businesses’ performance for service shop managers. This study analyses ERP data from 27 service shops over 35 months. It is based on detailed billing records and monthly cash flow data to deliver critical insights into businesses’ performance for service shop managers that support managerial decision making. Our findings emphasise the importance of incorporating additional contextual information to augment the effectiveness of ERP systems in service contexts. Our analysis shows that simple, standardised data mining methods can significantly enhance operational management decision making when supported with visuals to support understanding and interpretation of the data. Moreover, this study suggests potential directions for future research aimed at improving business analytics and intelligence practices to optimise the use of ERP systems in service industries. This research contributes to the academic discourse by providing empirical evidence on utilising ERP data in service shops and offers practical recommendations for ongoing operational improvements. Full article
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14 pages, 1803 KiB  
Essay
Can Citizens Do Science? Science in Common and Social Responsibility
by Ainara Aberasturi Rodríguez, Ignacio Fierro Bandera and Jose Navarro-Pedreño
Sci 2024, 6(2), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020026 - 1 May 2024
Viewed by 873
Abstract
Citizen science is an effective tool that unites ordinary citizens and scientists for a common cause. In particular, this tool enables ordinary citizens to participate in research and increases the likelihood of generating new knowledge. It is seen as the democratization of science. [...] Read more.
Citizen science is an effective tool that unites ordinary citizens and scientists for a common cause. In particular, this tool enables ordinary citizens to participate in research and increases the likelihood of generating new knowledge. It is seen as the democratization of science. It is mainly applied in developed countries, and citizens usually help obtain environmental data with emerging technologies. However, training citizens to obtain good-quality data is one of the most significant challenges. It is also important to involve citizens in other phases, such as data analysis, discussion, and knowledge generation. Citizen science can be a tool for integrating different groups in science to promote social inclusion, including environmental, agricultural, earth, and life sciences. Thus, citizen science can contribute to education, sustainability, and climate change mitigation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers—Multidisciplinary Sciences 2023)
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13 pages, 1260 KiB  
Article
Evaluation of an App-Supported Intensive Interdisciplinary Treatment for Young People with Chronic Pain: A Mixed-Methods Study
by Dunja Genent, Sabrina Schenk, Almut Hartenstein-Pinter, Boris Zernikow and Julia Wager
Sci 2024, 6(2), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020025 - 1 May 2024
Viewed by 676
Abstract
Chronic pain in the vulnerable phase of emerging adulthood is associated with severe life impairments. The current healthcare system has no suitable treatments for young people. A new multimodal inpatient and app-supported treatment for young people with chronic pain counteracts this. The study [...] Read more.
Chronic pain in the vulnerable phase of emerging adulthood is associated with severe life impairments. The current healthcare system has no suitable treatments for young people. A new multimodal inpatient and app-supported treatment for young people with chronic pain counteracts this. The study examines the effectiveness of this new treatment. Our mixed-methods design combined qualitative and quantitative evaluations. The sample comprised N = 44 patients (18–25 years) who took part in the new treatment. The quantitative data showed a reduced degree of pain severity, pain-related and emotional impairments, and an improved quality of life. The qualitative data showed that several components of the new treatment were particularly important to the young adults: individuality and taking the patient seriously, group therapy with peers, individual therapies (psychological, medical), life counselling, and sports. Results support the individual and objective success of a new inpatient pain treatment applied during emerging adulthood. Full article
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16 pages, 6768 KiB  
Article
Enhancing Surgical Tool Performance with Alumina-Based Coatings: An Engineering Analysis
by Cristiano Fragassa, Giovanni Pappalettera, Vincenzo Moramarco, Ana Pavlovic and Marco Arru
Sci 2024, 6(2), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020024 - 19 Apr 2024
Viewed by 732
Abstract
The present study investigates the utilization of ceramic coatings and insulation elements in the context of Cold Atmospheric Pressure Plasma (CAPP) surgery tools, highlighting how precise engineering modifications can influence surgical precision. The adoption of cold plasma in surgery can be reinforced by [...] Read more.
The present study investigates the utilization of ceramic coatings and insulation elements in the context of Cold Atmospheric Pressure Plasma (CAPP) surgery tools, highlighting how precise engineering modifications can influence surgical precision. The adoption of cold plasma in surgery can be reinforced by material advancements withstanding several specific challenges, including electrical and thermal protection. We explore the potential of alumina (Al2O3), renowned for its high dielectric strength and resistance, as a promising material solution for insulating electrodes. We evaluated the thermal performance of surgical tools concerning different insulation thicknesses. Our findings suggest that Al2O3–based coatings, with their superior characteristics, significantly enhance the usability of cold plasma technology, thus fostering its application in minimally invasive surgery. We examine the implications of these findings for the design of next-generation surgical instruments and propose avenues for future research. This work contributes to the field of biomedical engineering by showcasing the pivotal role of material science in advancing surgical technologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Thermal Engineering and Sciences)
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11 pages, 268 KiB  
Article
Giftedness and Twice-Exceptionality in Children Suspected of ADHD or Specific Learning Disorders: A Retrospective Study
by Sara Romano, Dario Esposito, Miriam Aricò, Elena Arigliani, Gioia Cavalli, Miriam Vigliante, Roberta Penge, Carla Sogos, Francesco Pisani and Maria Romani
Sci 2024, 6(2), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020023 - 10 Apr 2024
Viewed by 1554
Abstract
The expression “twice-exceptionality” has been used to describe conditions in which giftedness and specific disorders coexist. Our study offers a retrospective analysis of clinical reports of gifted children evaluated for suspected specific learning disorders (SLD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The initial sample included [...] Read more.
The expression “twice-exceptionality” has been used to describe conditions in which giftedness and specific disorders coexist. Our study offers a retrospective analysis of clinical reports of gifted children evaluated for suspected specific learning disorders (SLD) or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The initial sample included 456 school-aged children referred to our clinic for suspected SLD and/or ADHD over a two-year interval. The inclusion criteria were: a General Ability Index score above 120 in the cognitive assessment; age 6–18 years; and not satisfying diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder. Forty children were selected for the study. We grouped patients according to the final diagnosis: neurodevelopmental disorder (SLD and/or ADHD) (n = 15), psychopathological disorder (n = 8), mixed neurodevelopmental and psychopathological (n = 13), no emerging disorder (n = 4). The study included 36 (90%) males. Mean age was 9.3 years (SD 1.62). Mean Full-Scale Intelligence Quotient was 121.7 (SD 7.77), mean General Ability Index was 130.2 (SD 6.79). Furthermore, the cognitive assessment of the different groups highlighted a non-homogeneous profile in all groups, with lower scores on working memory and processing speed indexes. Our results support the hypothesis that difficulties in gifted children’s adaptation to scholastic and social settings could be misinterpreted as a manifestation of a clear disease. Full article
21 pages, 1152 KiB  
Article
Capacity Allocation in Cancer Centers Considering Demand Uncertainty
by Maryam Keshtzari and Bryan A. Norman
Sci 2024, 6(2), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020022 - 7 Apr 2024
Viewed by 1009
Abstract
This paper introduces a model to aid decision-makers in answering many of the important questions regarding how best to operate a cancer center. This study aims to allocate the available cancer center capacity to different cancer types to minimize the deviation in patient [...] Read more.
This paper introduces a model to aid decision-makers in answering many of the important questions regarding how best to operate a cancer center. This study aims to allocate the available cancer center capacity to different cancer types to minimize the deviation in patient demand satisfied from desired supply targets across multiple cancer types. A stochastic chance-constrained model is proposed to consider uncertainties in new and returning patient demand. The proposed model determines the optimal specialization mix for oncologists based on the distribution of demand by cancer type, preventing potential mismatches. Additionally, it aims to balance workloads among oncologists and individual clinics and indirectly reduce support service costs by limiting their clinic days. Numerical results are presented using historical data collected from our collaborating cancer center to demonstrate the usefulness of the model. The results confirm that the ability to satisfy patient demand increases as oncologists become more flexible. In addition, the results show that even having a small number of highly flexible oncologists is sufficient to achieve strong patient demand satisfaction. Moreover, restricting the allowable workload difference among oncologists achieves an acceptable trade-off between workload balance and satisfying patient demand. Full article
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12 pages, 921 KiB  
Article
Performance Analysis of Deep Learning Model-Compression Techniques for Audio Classification on Edge Devices
by Afsana Mou and Mariofanna Milanova
Sci 2024, 6(2), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020021 - 2 Apr 2024
Viewed by 1283
Abstract
Audio classification using deep learning models, which is essential for applications like voice assistants and music analysis, faces challenges when deployed on edge devices due to their limited computational resources and memory. Achieving a balance between performance, efficiency, and accuracy is a significant [...] Read more.
Audio classification using deep learning models, which is essential for applications like voice assistants and music analysis, faces challenges when deployed on edge devices due to their limited computational resources and memory. Achieving a balance between performance, efficiency, and accuracy is a significant obstacle to optimizing these models for such constrained environments. In this investigation, we evaluate diverse deep learning architectures, including Convolutional Neural Networks (CNN) and Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM), for audio classification tasks on the ESC 50, UrbanSound8k, and Audio Set datasets. Our empirical findings indicate that Mel spectrograms outperform raw audio data, attributing this enhancement to their synergistic alignment with advanced image classification algorithms and their congruence with human auditory perception. To address the constraints of model size, we apply model-compression techniques, notably magnitude pruning, Taylor pruning, and 8-bit quantization. The research demonstrates that a hybrid pruned model achieves a commendable accuracy rate of 89 percent, which, although marginally lower than the 92 percent accuracy of the uncompressed CNN, strikingly illustrates an equilibrium between efficiency and performance. Subsequently, we deploy the optimized model on the Raspberry Pi 4 and NVIDIA Jetson Nano platforms for audio classification tasks. These findings highlight the significant potential of model-compression strategies in enabling effective deep learning applications on resource-limited devices, with minimal compromise on accuracy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers—Multidisciplinary Sciences 2023)
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18 pages, 3736 KiB  
Article
Colorimetric Determination of Salivary Cortisol Levels in Artificial Saliva for the Development of a Portable Colorimetric Sensor (Salitrack)
by Tashfia Ahmed, Michael B. Powner, Meha Qassem and Panayiotis A. Kyriacou
Sci 2024, 6(2), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020020 - 2 Apr 2024
Viewed by 1329
Abstract
Mental illnesses, such as clinical depression, have taken an unprecedented toll on society and the economy on a global scale. The relationship between stress management and mental health decline is of utmost significance, especially as most avenues of mental health management remain inaccessible [...] Read more.
Mental illnesses, such as clinical depression, have taken an unprecedented toll on society and the economy on a global scale. The relationship between stress management and mental health decline is of utmost significance, especially as most avenues of mental health management remain inaccessible for the majority of the general public, i.e., interview-based, and face-to-face interventions or costly drug-based therapies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, regulates the stress response in the human body and, through persistent activation, can lead to chronic stress and mental health deterioration. Thereby, the measurement and evaluation of cortisol within saliva could harness potential developments in management and diagnostic tools to monitor physiological and psychological stress in simple point-of-care applications. The current study aims to determine the concentration of salivary cortisol in spiked artificial saliva samples using blue tetrazolium (BT) dye as a colorimetric indicator. The proposed method showcases the use of the BT dye as an effective method for the rapid measurement of salivary cortisol, with accuracy comparable to the gold-standard method for salivary cortisol analysis, enzyme-linked immunoassays (ELISAs). Finally, a prototype colorimetric sensor has been developed for point-of-care applications of stress monitoring via salivary cortisol measurement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers—Multidisciplinary Sciences 2023)
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24 pages, 992 KiB  
Systematic Review
Extended Reality Therapies for Anxiety Disorders: A Systematic Review of Patients’ and Healthcare Professionals’ Perspectives
by Pranavsingh Dhunnoo, Lisa-Christin Wetzlmair and Veronica O’Carroll
Sci 2024, 6(2), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020019 - 1 Apr 2024
Viewed by 1334
Abstract
(1) Background: Anxiety disorders are among the most common psychiatric conditions and have a rising prevalence. Patients with anxiety disorders can, however, be deterred from seeking treatment due to associated stigmas and medication side effects. Evidence indicates that promising digital health solutions to [...] Read more.
(1) Background: Anxiety disorders are among the most common psychiatric conditions and have a rising prevalence. Patients with anxiety disorders can, however, be deterred from seeking treatment due to associated stigmas and medication side effects. Evidence indicates that promising digital health solutions to address those concerns reside in the growing field of extended reality (XR). The limited literature synthesis from the perspectives of patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs) regarding the experiences and effectiveness of XR-based anxiety disorder therapies motivated the undertaking of this systematic review. (2) Methods: A systematic search of the literature was conducted according to the PRISMA 2020 guidelines on the following databases: CINAHL, APA PsycNet and PubMed. The search was completed on 23 January 2024 with no restriction on the time of publication. Studies were screened based on a predetermined selection criteria relevant to the research aims. (3) Results: Five studies fulfilled the inclusion requirements. The majority investigated the use of XR tools for individual therapy and indicated that they can be as effective for patients as traditional methods and can aid in HCPs’ therapeutic tasks. (4) Conclusions: XR-based anxiety disorder therapies are generally perceived as immersive and with minimal side effects by patients, while HCPs mostly consider XR tools as practical and assistive. However, refinements with the XR setup could further improve the experience. Such modalities represent potent drug-free alternatives or supplements to traditional therapy and could be considered for remote, individual care. The findings’ generalisability requires further research into more conditions within the anxiety disorder group, as well as larger sample sizes. Full article
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Article
Mood Profile Clusters among Greek Exercise Participants and Inactive Adults
by Peter C. Terry, Renée L. Parsons-Smith, Symeon P. Vlachopoulos and Andrew M. Lane
Sci 2024, 6(2), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/sci6020018 - 26 Mar 2024
Viewed by 1212
Abstract
Mood profile clusters have previously been identified in several cultural contexts. In the present study, six mood profile clusters referred to as the iceberg, inverse Everest, inverse iceberg, shark fin, submerged, and surface profiles, were investigated in a Greek population. The names of [...] Read more.
Mood profile clusters have previously been identified in several cultural contexts. In the present study, six mood profile clusters referred to as the iceberg, inverse Everest, inverse iceberg, shark fin, submerged, and surface profiles, were investigated in a Greek population. The names of the mood profiles reflect how they appear after raw scores for Tension, Depression, Anger, Vigor, Fatigue, and Confusion (in that order), are converted to T-scores and depicted graphically. A Greek translation of the Brunel Mood Scale (BRUMS-Greek) was completed by 1786 adults, comprising 1417 exercise participants and 369 physically inactive adults (male = 578, female = 1208) aged 18–64 years (M = 34.73 ± 11.81 years). Although the male–female ratio emphasized females, sample sizes of over 500 suggest some degree of representativeness. Seeded k-means cluster analysis clearly identified the six hypothesized mood profiles. Men were over-represented for the iceberg profile. For age, the 18–25 years group were under-represented for the iceberg profile, whereas the 46–55 and 56+ years groups were over-represented. The 56+ years group were under-represented for the inverse Everest, and the 18–25 years group were over-represented for the shark fin profile. For body mass index (BMI), participants in the obese weight category were over-represented for the inverse iceberg and shark fin profiles and under-represented for the submerged profile. Active participants were over-represented for the iceberg and submerged profiles, and under-represented for the inverse Everest, inverse iceberg, and surface profiles. Findings supported the cross-cultural equivalence of the mood profile clusters and confirmed the link between physical inactivity, obesity, and negative mood profiles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers—Multidisciplinary Sciences 2023)
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