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  • Using Memes as an Elicitation Tool: The Interview Prompt You Didn’t Know You Needed

    Julien, Karen (Nova Southeastern University, 2022-09-05)
    Building rapport with participants at the outset of an interview is a common goal for researchers. Creating rapport is critical for trustworthiness of interview data and for building a supportive environment for participants. This paper brings the research on emes together with elicitation techniques to present a novel approach to rapport-building in interviews through meme elicitation. Memes provide a focal point for shared attention and their humorous nature offers opportunities for light-hearted segue into deeper emotional discussions. Participants report finding the meme elicitation process an effective icebreaker and a meaningful entry point for discussions. Personal reflections and suggestions for ethically engaging with the process are presented.
  • News media impact on sociopolitical attitudes

    Earle, Megan; Hodson, Gordon (Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2022-03-09)
    In the present project we assessed whether partisan news affects consumers’ views on polarizing issues. In Study 1 nationally representative cross-sectional data (N = 4249) reveals that right-leaning news consumption is associated with more right-leaning attitudes, and left-leaning news consumption is associated with more left-leaning attitudes. Additional three-wave longitudinal data (N = 484) in Study 2 reveals that right-leaning news is positively (and left-leaning news is negatively) associated with right-leaning issue stances three months later, even after controlling for prior issue stances. In a third (supplemental) study (N = 305), random assignment to right-leaning (but not left-leaning) news (vs. control) experi- mentally fostered more right-leaning stances, regardless of participants’ previously held political ideology. These findings suggest that partisan news, and particularly right-leaning news, can polarize consumers in their sociopolitical positions, sharpen political divides, and shape public policy.
  • Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation Increases White Adipose Tissue Mitochondrial Markers in Male and Female Rats in a Depot Specific Manner

    Ryan, Chantal R.; Finch, Michael S.; Dunham, Tyler C.; Murphy, Jensen E.; Roy, Brian D.; MacPherson, Rebecca E. K. (MDPI AG, 2021-07-14)
    White adipose tissue (WAT) is a dynamic endocrine organ that can play a significant role in thermoregulation. WAT has the capacity to adopt structural and functional characteristics of the more metabolically active brown adipose tissue (BAT) and contribute to non-shivering thermogenesis under specific stimuli. Non-shivering thermogenesis was previously thought to be uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1)-dependent however, recent evidence suggests that UCP1-independent mechanisms of thermogenesis exist. Namely, futile creatine cycling has been identified as a contributor to WAT thermogenesis. The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of creatine supplementation to alter mitochondrial markers as well as adipocyte size and multilocularity in inguinal (iWAT), gonadal (gWAT), and BAT. Thirty-two male and female Sprague-Dawley rats were treated with varying doses (0 g/L, 2.5 g/L, 5 g/L, and 10 g/L) of creatine monohydrate for 8 weeks. We demonstrate that mitochondrial markers respond in a sex and depot specific manner. In iWAT, female rats displayed significant increases in COXIV, PDH-E1alpha, and cytochrome C protein content. Male rats exhibited gWAT specific increases in COXIV and PDH-E1alpha protein content. This study supports creatine supplementation as a potential method of UCP1-independant thermogenesis and highlights the importance of taking a sex-specific approach when examining the efficacy of browning therapeutics in future research.
  • Theorizing Community for Sport Management Research and Practice

    Rich, Kyle A.; Spaaij, Ramón; Misener, Laura (Frontiers Media SA, 2021-11-19)
    Community is a context for much research in sport, sport management, and sport policy, yet relatively few authors explicitly articulate the theoretical frameworks with which they interrogate the concept. In this paper, we draw from communitarian theory and politics in order to contribute to a robust discussion and conceptualization of community in and for sport management research and practice. We provide a synthesis of current sport management and related research in order to highlight contemporary theoretical and methodological approaches to studying community. We distinguish between community as a context, as an outcome, as a site for struggle or resistance, as well as a form of regulation or social control. We then advance a critical communitarian agenda and consider the practical implications and considerations for research and practice. This paper synthesizes current research and establishes a foundation upon which sport management scholars and practitioners might critically reflect on community and deliberatively articulate its implications in both future research and practice.
  • Prevalence and Management of Alkyl-Methoxypyrazines in a Changing Climate: Viticultural and Oenological Considerations

    Pickering, Gary J.; Willwerth, Jim; Botezatu, Andreea; Thibodeau, Margaret (MDPI AG, 2021-10-15)
    Alkyl-methoxypyrazines are an important class of odor-active molecules that contribute green, ‘unripe’ characters to wine and are considered undesirable in most wine styles. They are naturally occurring grape metabolites in many cultivars, but can also be derived from some Coccinellidae species when these ‘ladybugs’ are inadvertently introduced into the must during harvesting operations. The projected impacts of climate change are discussed, and we conclude that these include an altered alkyl-methoxypyrazine composition in grapes and wines in many wine regions. Thus, a careful consideration of how to manage them in both the vineyard and winery is important and timely. This review brings together the relevant literatures on viticultural and oenological interventions aimed at mitigating alkyl-methoxypyrazine loads, and makes recommendations on their management with an aim to maintaining wine quality under a changing and challenging climate.
  • Lifestyle decisions and climate mitigation: current action and behavioural intent of youth

    Pickering, Gary J.; Schoen, Kaylee; Botta, Marta (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-07-26)
    Youth carry the burden of a climate crisis not of their making, yet their accumulative lifestyle decisions will help determine the severity of future climate impacts. We surveyed 17–18 year old’s (N=487) to establish their action stages for nine behaviours that vary in efficacy of greenhouse gas emission (GGE) reduction and the explanatory role of climate change (CC) knowledge, sociodemographic and belief factors. Acceptance of CC and its anthropogenic origins was high. However, the behaviours with the greatest potential for GGE savings (have no children/one less child, no car or first/next car will be electric, eat less meat) have the lowest uptake. Descriptive normative beliefs predicted intent to adopt all high-impact actions, while environmental locus of control, CC scepticism, knowledge of the relative efficacy of actions, religiosity and age were predictive of action stage for several mitigation behaviours (multinomial logistic regression). These findings inform policy and communication interventions that seek to mobilise youth in the global climate crisis response
  • Preliminary Evaluation of an Adaptive Robotic Training Program of the Wrist for Persons with Multiple Sclerosis

    Mannella, Kailynn; Albanese, Giulia A.; Ditor, David; Zenzeri, Jacopo; Holmes, Michael W. R. (MDPI AG, 2021-10-04)
    Robotics can be used to describe wrist kinematics and assess sensorimotor impairments, while the implementation of training algorithms can be aimed at improving neuromuscular control. The purpose of this study was to use a robotic device to develop an adaptive and individualized training program of the distal upper extremity for individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). This approach included an online assessment of performance aimed at changing the level of assistance/resistance provided during the task. Participants (N = 7) completed a robotic training program that occurred 3 times weekly for 4 weeks. The training protocol consisted of tracking a target moving along a figure by grasping the end-effector of the robotic device and moving it along the trajectory. Outcome measures were assessed pre- and post-intervention. Improvements in performance were quantified by average tracking (p = 0.028) and figural error (p = 0.028), which was significantly reduced by 26% and 43%, respectively. Isometric wrist strength significantly improved post-intervention (flexion: p = 0.043, radial and ulnar deviation: p = 0.028). The results of this work demonstrate that 4-weeks of adaptive robotic training is a feasible rehabilitative program that has the potential to improve distal upper extremity motor accuracy and muscular strength in a MS population.
  • Isotopic evidence of increasing water abundance and lake hydrological change in Old Crow Flats, Yukon, Canada

    MacDonald, Lauren A; Turner, Kevin W; McDonald, Ian; Kay, Mitchell L; Hall, Roland I; Wolfe, Brent B (IOP Publishing, 2021-11-22)
    Lake-rich northern permafrost landscapes are sensitive to changing climate conditions, but ability to track real-time and potentially multiple hydrological responses (e.g. lake expansion, drawdown, drainage) is challenging due to absence of long-term, sustainable monitoring programs in these remote locations. Old Crow Flats (OCF), Yukon, is a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance where concerns about low water levels and their consequences for wildlife habitat and traditional ways of life prompted multidisciplinary studies during the International Polar Year (2007–2008) and led to the establishment of an aquatic ecosystem monitoring program. Here, we report water isotope data from 14 representative thermokarst lakes in OCF, the foundation of the monitoring program, and time-series of derived metrics including the isotope composition of input waters and evaporation-to-inflow ratios for a 13 year period (2007–2019). Although the lakes spanned multiple hydrological categories (i.e. rainfall-, snowmelt- and evaporation-dominated) based on initial surveys, well-defined trends from application of generalized additive models and meteorological records reveal that lakes have become increasingly influenced by rainfall, and potentially waters from thawing permafrost. These sources of input have led to more positive lake water balances. Given the documented role of rainfall in causing thermokarst lake drainage events in OCF and elsewhere, we anticipate increased vulnerability of lateral water export from OCF. This study demonstrates the value of long-term isotope-based monitoring programs for identifying hydrological consequences of climate change in lake-rich permafrost landscapes.
  • Role of the Myokine Irisin on Bone Homeostasis: Review of the Current Evidence

    Kornel, Amanda; Den Hartogh, Danja J.; Klentrou, Panagiota; Tsiani, Evangelia (MDPI AG, 2021-08-24)
    Bone is a highly dynamic tissue that is constantly adapting to micro-changes to facilitate movement. When the balance between bone building and resorption shifts more towards bone resorption, the result is reduced bone density and mineralization, as seen in osteoporosis or osteopenia. Current treatment strategies aimed to improve bone homeostasis and turnover are lacking in efficacy, resulting in the search for new preventative and nutraceutical treatment options. The myokine irisin, since its discovery in 2012, has been shown to play an important role in many tissues including muscle, adipose, and bone. Evidence indicate that irisin is associated with increased bone formation and decreased bone resorption, leading to reduced risk of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. In addition, low serum irisin levels have been found in individuals with osteoporosis and osteopenia. Irisin targets key signaling proteins, promoting osteoblastogenesis and reducing osteoclastogenesis. The present review summarizes the existing evidence regarding the effects of irisin on bone homeostasis.
  • Development of a dual-factor measure of adolescent mental health: an analysis of cross-sectional data from the 2014 Canadian Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study

    King, Nathan; Davison, Colleen M; Pickett, William (BMJ, 2021-09-30)
    Introduction Studies of adolescent mental health require valid measures that are supported by evidence-based theories. An established theory is the dual-factor model, which argues that mental health status is only fully understood by incorporating information on both subjective well-being and psychopathology. Objectives To develop a novel measure of adolescent mental health based on the dual-factor model and test its construct validity. Design Cross-sectional analysis of national health survey data. Setting and participants Nationally weighted sample of 21 993 grade 6–10 students; average age: 14.0 (SD 1.4) years from the 2014 Canadian Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study. Measures Self-report indicators of subjective well-being (life satisfaction, positive and negative affect), and psychopathology (psychological symptoms and overt risk-taking behaviour) were incorporated into the dual-factor measure. Characteristics of adolescents families, specific mental health indicators and measures of academic and social functioning were used in the assessment of construct validity. Results Proportions of students categorised to the four mental health groups indicated by the dual-factor measure were 67.6% ‘mentally healthy’, 17.5% ‘symptomatic yet content’, 5.5% ‘asymptomatic yet discontent’ and 9.4% ‘mentally unhealthy’. Being mentally healthy was associated with the highest functioning (greater social support and academic functioning) and being mentally unhealthy was associated with the worst. A one-unit increase (ranges=0–10) in peer support (OR 1.19; 95%CI 1.15 to 1.22), family support (OR 1.32; 95%CI 1.28 to 1.36), student support (OR 1.20; 95%CI 1.17 to 1.24) and average school marks (OR 1.18; 95%CI 1.10 to 1.27) increased the odds of being symptomatic yet content versus mentally unhealthy. Mentally healthy youth were the most likely to live with both parents (77% vs ≤65%) and report their family as well-off (62% vs ≤53%). Conclusions We developed a novel, construct valid dual-factor measure of adolescent mental health. This potentially provides a nuanced and comprehensive approach to the assessment of adolescent mental health that is direly needed.
  • Serum MMP‐3 and its association with central arterial stiffness among young adults is moderated by smoking and BMI

    Iannarelli, Nathaniel J.; MacNeil, Adam J.; Dempster, Kylie S.; Wade, Terrance J.; O’Leary, Deborah D. (Wiley, 2021-06-10)
    Central arterial stiffness is an independent predictor of cardiovascular disease. It is characterized by a marked reduction in the elastin-collagen ratio of the arterial wall extracellular matrix (ECM), and is largely the result of degradation of various ECM components. Matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3) may contribute to central arterial stiffness via its involvement in ECM homeostasis and remodeling. This study examined the association between serum MMP-3 concentrations and central arterial stiffness and potential interactions of MMP-3 and traditional cardiovascular risk factors in a population of healthy young adults. A total of 206 participants (n = 109 females) aged 19–25 years were included in the current study. Central arterial stiffness was measured non-invasively as carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV) (m/s). MMP-3 concentrations (ng/ml) were measured using ELISA techniques. Regression analyses were used to examine the association between cfPWV and MMP-3, adjusting for age, sex, smoking status, body mass index (BMI), instantaneous mean arterial pressure (MAP) and heart rate, and serum C-reactive protein. Interactions between MMP-3 with smoking, BMI, sex, and MAP were analyzed in subsequent regression models. MMP-3 was an independent predictor of cfPWV (β = 0.187, p = 0.007), and significant interactions between MMP-3 and regular smoking (β = 0.291, p = 0.022), and MMP-3 and BMI (β = 0.210, p = 0.013) were observed. Higher serum MMP-3 concentrations were associated with a faster cfPWV and thus, greater central arterial stiffness. Interactions between MMP-3 and smoking, and MMP-3 and BMI may, in part, drive the association between MMP-3 and central arterial stiffness.
  • Characterization of Alzheimer's disease‐like neuropathology in Duchenne's muscular dystrophy using the DBA/2J mdx mouse model

    Hayward, Grant C.; Caceres, Daniela; Copeland, Emily N.; Baranowski, Bradley J.; Mohammad, Ahmad; Whitley, Kennedy C.; Fajardo, Val A.; MacPherson, Rebecca E. K. (Wiley, 2021-11-11)
    Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a progressive muscle wasting disorder caused by a mutation in the dystrophin gene. In addition to muscle pathology, some patients with DMD will exhibit cognitive impairments with severity being linked to age and type of genetic mutation. Likewise, some studies have shown that mdx mice display impairments in spatial memory compared with wild-type (WT) controls, while others have not observed any such effect. Most studies have utilized the traditional C57BL/10 (C57) mdx mouse, which exhibits a mild disease phenotype. Recently, the DBA/2J (D2) mdx mouse has emerged as a more severe and perhaps clinically relevant DMD model; however, studies examining cognitive function in these mice are limited. Thus, in this study we examined cognitive function in age-matched C57 and D2 mdx mice along with their respective WT controls. Our findings show that 8- to 12-week-old C57 mdx mice did not display any differences in exploration time when challenged with a novel object recognition test. Conversely, age-matched D2 mdx mice spent less time exploring objects in total as a well as less time exploring the novel object, suggestive of impaired recognition memory. Biochemical analyses of the D2 mdx brain revealed higher soluble amyloid precursor protein b(APPb) and APP in the prefrontal cortex of mdx mice compared with WT, and lower soluble APPa in the hippocampus, suggestive of a shift towards amyloidogenesis and a similar pathogenesis to Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, our study demonstrates the utility of the D2 mdx model in studying cognitive impairment.
  • Ecosystem-Based Adaptation to Protect Avian Species in Coastal Communities in the Greater Niagara Region, Canada

    Gauthier, Samantha; May, Bradley; Vasseur, Liette (MDPI AG, 2021-06-04)
    Coastal communities are increasingly vulnerable to climate change and its effects may push coastal ecosystems to undergo irreversible changes. This is especially true for shorebirds with the loss of biodiversity and resource-rich habitats to rest, refuel, and breed. To protect these species, it is critical to conduct research related to nature-based Solutions (NbS). Through a scoping review of scientific literature, this paper initially identified 85 articles with various ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) strategies that could help conserve shorebird populations and promote ecotourism. Of these 85 articles, 28 articles had EbA strategies that were examined, with some like coral reefs and mangroves eliminated as they were inappropriate for this region. The scoping review identified four major EbA strategies for the Greater Niagara Region with living shorelines and beach nourishment being the most suitable, especially when combined. These strategies were then evaluated against the eight core principles of nature-based solutions protecting shorebird as well as human wellbeing. Living shoreline strategy was the only one that met all eight NbS principles. As the coastline of the region greatly varies in substrate and development, further research will be needed to decide which EbA strategies would be appropriate for each specific area to ensure their efficacy.
  • Sleep problems among sexual minorities: a longitudinal study on the influence of the family of origin and chosen family

    Chum, Antony; Nielsen, Andrew; Teo, Celine (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-12-21)
    Background: There is growing evidence that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adults experience more sleep problems than the general population. As LGB individuals experience a signifcantly greater risk of family rejection and low family support, our study investigates the role of family support as a potential determinant of LGB sleep problems over a prolonged period, and whether friend support (i.e. chosen family) can mitigate the efect of low family support. Given the importance of sleep on mental and physical health, study results may help shed light on persistent health disparities across sexual orientations. Methods: Our sample included 1703 LGB individuals from the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS). Mixed-efect logistic regressions were used to estimate the efect of family and friend support on the development of sleep problems after 24months while controlling for potential confounders. A modifed Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index was used to measure 1) presence of any sleep problems, 2) short sleep duration, and 3) poor sleep quality. Results: Family support at baseline was independently associated with all sleep problems in our study after 24-months: 1 SD increase in family support was associated with a 0.94 times lower risk of sleep problems (95% C.I=0.90-0.98), a 0.88 times lower risk of short sleep duration (95% C.I=0.81-0.95), and a 0.92 times lower risk of sleep quality (95% C.I=0.93-0.98). Support from one’s chosen family (proxied by friend support) did not mitigate the efects of low family support on sleep problems. Conclusions: Our study found a consistent efect of family support across all sleep outcomes along with evidence of a persistent efect after 24months. Our fndings point to the importance of targeting family support in designing interventions aimed at reducing LGB sleep problems.
  • When the Easy Becomes Difficult: Factors Affecting the Acquisition of the English /iː/-/ɪ/ Contrast

    Cebrian, Juli; Gorba, Celia; Gavaldà, Núria (Frontiers Media SA, 2021-06-10)
    The degree of similarity between the sounds of a speaker’s first and second language (L1 and L2) is believed to determine the likelihood of accurate perception and production of the L2 sounds. This paper explores the relationship between cross-linguistic similarity and the perception and production of a subset of English vowels, including the highly productive /iː/-/ɪ/ contrast (as in “beat” vs. “bit”), by a group of Spanish/Catalan native speakers learning English as an L2. The learners’ ability to identify, discriminate and produce the English vowels accurately was contrasted with their cross-linguistic perceived similarity judgements. The results showed that L2 perception and production accuracy was not always predicted from patterns of cross-language similarity, particularly regarding the difficulty distinguishing /iː/ and /ɪ/. Possible explanations may involve the way the L2 /iː/ and /ɪ/ categories interact, the effect of non-native acoustic cue reliance, and the roles of orthography and language instruction.
  • Characterizing SERCA Function in Murine Skeletal Muscles after 35–37 Days of Spaceflight

    Braun, Jessica L.; Geromella, Mia S.; Hamstra, Sophie I.; Messner, Holt N.; Fajardo, Val A. (MDPI AG, 2021-10-29)
    It is well established that microgravity exposure causes significant muscle weakness and atrophy via muscle unloading. On Earth, muscle unloading leads to a disproportionate loss in muscle force and size with the loss in muscle force occurring at a faster rate. Although the exact mechanisms are unknown, a role for Ca2+ dysregulation has been suggested. The sarco(endo)plasmic reticulum Ca2+ ATPase (SERCA) pump actively brings cytosolic Ca2+ into the SR, eliciting muscle relaxation and maintaining low intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i). SERCA dysfunction contributes to elevations in [Ca2+]i, leading to cellular damage, and may contribute to the muscle weakness and atrophy observed with spaceflight. Here, we investigated SERCA function, SERCA regulatory protein content, and reactive oxygen/nitrogen species (RONS) protein adduction in murine skeletal muscle after 35–37 days of spaceflight. In male and female soleus muscles, spaceflight led to drastic impairments in Ca2+ uptake despite significant increases in SERCA1a protein content. We attribute this impairment to an increase in RONS production and elevated total protein tyrosine (T) nitration and cysteine (S) nitrosylation. Contrarily, in the tibialis anterior (TA), we observed an enhancement in Ca2+ uptake, which we attribute to a shift towards a faster muscle fiber type (i.e., increased myosin heavy chain IIb and SERCA1a) without elevated total protein T-nitration and S-nitrosylation. Thus, spaceflight affects SERCA function differently between the soleus and TA.
  • Exploring the Effects of Greek Yogurt Supplementation and Exercise Training on Serum Lithium and Its Relationship With Musculoskeletal Outcomes in Men

    Baranowski, Ryan W.; Skelly, Lauren E.; Josse, Andrea R.; Fajardo, Val A. (Frontiers Media SA, 2021-12-22)
    Dairy products can act as a dietary source of lithium (Li), and a recent study in university-aged males demonstrated that Greek yogurt (GY) supplementation augmented gains in fat free mass, strength and bone formation after 12 weeks of resistance exercise training compared to carbohydrate (CHO) pudding supplementation. Here, we performed secondary analyses to explore whether GY would alter serum Li levels and whether changes in serum Li would associate with changes in body composition, strength, and bone turnover markers. Results show that the GY group maintained serum Li levels after exercise training, whereas the CHO group did not. Maintaining/elevating serum Li levels was also associated with greater gains in strength and reductions in bone resorption. However, controlling for other dietary factors in GY such as protein and calcium weakened these associations. Thus, future studies should assess the causative role, if any, of dietary Li alone on strength and bone resorption in humans.
  • Examination of BDNF Treatment on BACE1 Activity and Acute Exercise on Brain BDNF Signaling

    Baranowski, Bradley J.; Hayward, Grant C.; Marko, Daniel M.; MacPherson, Rebecca E. K. (Frontiers Media SA, 2021-05-04)
    Perturbations in metabolism results in the accumulation of beta-amyloid peptides, which is a pathological feature of Alzheimer’s disease. Beta-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1) is the rate limiting enzyme responsible for beta-amyloid production. Obesogenic diets increase BACE1 while exercise reduces BACE1 activity, although the mechanisms are unknown. Brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) is an exercise inducible neurotrophic factor, however, it is unknown if BDNF is related to the effects of exercise on BACE1. The purpose of this study was to determine the direct effect of BDNF on BACE1 activity and to examine neuronal pathways induced by exercise. C57BL/6J male mice were assigned to either a low (n = 36) or high fat diet (n = 36) for 10 weeks. To determine the direct effect of BDNF on BACE1, a subset of mice (low fat diet = 12 and high fat diet n = 12) were used for an explant experiment where the brain tissue was directly treated with BDNF (100 ng/ml) for 30 min. To examine neuronal pathways activated with exercise, mice remained sedentary (n = 12) or underwent an acute bout of treadmill running at 15 m/min with a 5% incline for 120 min (n = 12). The prefrontal cortex and hippocampus were collected 2-h post-exercise. Direct treatment with BDNF resulted in reductions in BACE1 activity in the prefrontal cortex (p < 0.05), but not the hippocampus. The high fat diet reduced BDNF content in the hippocampus; however, the acute bout of exercise increased BDNF in the prefrontal cortex (p < 0.05). These novel findings demonstrate the region specific differences in exercise induced BDNF in lean and obese mice and show that BDNF can reduce BACE1 activity, independent of other exercise-induced alterations. This work demonstrates a previously unknown link between BDNF and BACE1 regulation.
  • The Transition Online: A Mixed-Methods Study of the Impact of COVID-19 on Students with Disabilities in Higher Education

    Mullins, Laura E; Mitchell, Jennifer (Sciedu Press, 2021-09-05)
    Following the World Health Organization’s announcement of the global pandemic because of the Coronavirus Disease 2019, most Canadian universities transitioned to offering their courses exclusively online. One group affected by this transition was students with disabilities. Previous research has shown that the university experience for students with disabilities differs from those of their non-disabled peers. However, their unique needs are often not taken into consideration. As a result, students can become marginalized and alienated from the online classroom. In partnership with Student Accessibility Services, this research revealed the impact of the transition to online learning because of the pandemic for university students with disabilities. Students registered with Student Accessibility Services completed a survey about the effects of online learning during a pandemic on the students’ lives, education, and instructional and accommodation. It was clear from the results that online education during COVID-19 affected all aspects of the students’ lives, particularly to their mental health. This research provided a much-needed opportunity for students with disabilities to share the factors influencing their educational experience and identified recommendations instructors should consider when developing online courses to increase accessibility and improve engagement.
  • The role of the arousal system in age‐related differences in cortical functional network architecture

    Guardia, Tiago; Geerligs, Linda; Tsvetanov, Kamen A.; Ye, Rong; Campbell, Karen L. (Wiley, 2021-10-29)
    A common finding in the aging literature is that of the brain's decreased within- and increased between-network functional connectivity. However, it remains unclear what is causing this shift in network organization with age. Given the essential role of the ascending arousal system (ARAS) in cortical activation and previous findings of disrupted ARAS functioning with age, it is possible that age differences in ARAS func- tioning contribute to disrupted cortical connectivity. We test this possibility here using resting state fMRI data from over 500 individuals across the lifespan from the Cambridge Center for Aging and Neuroscience (Cam-CAN) population-based cohort. Our results show that ARAS-cortical connectivity declines with age and, consistent with our expectations, significantly mediates some age-related differences in connec- tivity within and between association networks (specifically, within the default mode and between the default mode and salience networks). Additionally, connectivity between the ARAS and association networks predicted cognitive performance across several tasks over and above the effects of age and connectivity within the cortical networks themselves. These findings suggest that age differences in cortical connec- tivity may be driven, at least in part, by altered arousal signals from the brainstem and that ARAS–cortical connectivity relates to cognitive performance with age.

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