We analyzed one decade of data collected by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), including the mathematics and reading performance of nearly 1.5 million 15 year olds in 75 countries. Across nations, boys scored higher than girls in mathematics, but lower than girls in reading. The sex difference in reading was three times as large as in mathematics. There was considerable variation in the extent of the sex differences between nations. There are countries without a sex difference in mathematics performance, and in some countries girls scored higher than boys. Boys scored lower in reading in all nations in all four PISA assessments (2000, 2003, 2006, 2009). Contrary to several previous studies, we found no evidence that the sex differences were related to nations’ gender equality indicators. Further, paradoxically, sex differences in mathematics were consistently and strongly inversely correlated with sex differences in reading: Countries with a smaller sex difference in mathematics had a larger sex difference in reading and vice versa. We demonstrate that this was not merely a between-nation, but also a within-nation effect. This effect is related to relative changes in these sex differences across the performance continuum: We did not find a sex difference in mathematics among the lowest performing students, but this is where the sex difference in reading was largest. In contrast, the sex difference in mathematics was largest among the higher performing students, and this is where the sex difference in reading was smallest. The implication is that if policy makers decide that changes in these sex differences are desired, different approaches will be needed to achieve this for reading and mathematics. Interventions that focus on high-achieving girls in mathematics and on low achieving boys in reading are likely to yield the strongest educational benefits.
There is a rapidly expanding literature on the application of complex networks in economics that focused mostly on stock markets. In this paper, we discuss an application of complex networks to study international business cycles.
We construct complex networks based on GDP data from two data sets on G7 and OECD economies. Besides the well-known correlation-based networks, we also use a specific tool for presenting causality in economics, the Granger causality. We consider different filtering methods to derive the stationary component of the GDP series for each of the countries in the samples. The networks were found to be sensitive to the detrending method. While the correlation networks provide information on comovement between the national economies, the Granger causality networks can better predict fluctuations in countries’ GDP. By using them, we can obtain directed networks allows us to determine the relative influence of different countries on the global economy network. The US appears as the key player for both the G7 and OECD samples.
The use of complex networks is valuable for understanding the business cycle comovements at an international level.
The spontaneous emergence of pattern formation is ubiquitous in nature, often arising as a collective phenomenon from interactions among a large number of individual constituents or sub-systems. Understanding, and controlling, collective behavior is dependent on determining the low-level dynamical principles from which spatial and temporal patterns emerge; a key question is whether different group-level patterns result from all components of a system responding to the same external factor, individual components changing behavior but in a distributed self-organized way, or whether multiple collective states co-exist for the same individual behaviors. Using schooling fish (golden shiners, in groups of 30 to 300 fish) as a model system, we demonstrate that collective motion can be effectively mapped onto a set of order parameters describing the macroscopic group structure, revealing the existence of at least three dynamically-stable collective states; swarm, milling and polarized groups. Swarms are characterized by slow individual motion and a relatively dense, disordered structure. Increasing swim speed is associated with a transition to one of two locally-ordered states, milling or highly-mobile polarized groups. The stability of the discrete collective behaviors exhibited by a group depends on the number of group members. Transitions between states are influenced by both external (boundary-driven) and internal (changing motion of group members) factors. Whereas transitions between locally-disordered and locally-ordered group states are speed dependent, analysis of local and global properties of groups suggests that, congruent with theory, milling and polarized states co-exist in a bistable regime with transitions largely driven by perturbations. Our study allows us to relate theoretical and empirical understanding of animal group behavior and emphasizes dynamic changes in the structure of such groups.
The patterns exhibited by moving animal groups like flocks of birds and schools of fish are typical of self-organizing systems in which global structural and dynamical properties arise from local interactions between individuals. Despite their apparent complexity, such systems can often be described, and understood, in terms of these emergent properties, rather than the detailed low-level description needed for depicting the individual dynamics. Here we show that schooling fish (in groups of 30 to 300 golden shiners) can be described in terms of the degree of alignment and degree of rotation among group members. We demonstrate that shiner schools exhibit three distinct behaviors: a swarm state with low speeds and little order; a strongly aligned state where the fish move with higher speeds; and a milling state, where each fish moves around the center of the group. Simulations have previously predicted this type of behavior, and we relate our findings to a well-known model of collective motion to help highlight similarities and differences between models and animal groups. Our results give insight into the regulation of group structure among animals, and also inform us generally about how global structures arise naturally from interactions among components of dynamical systems.
Treated biosolids have been applied to 750-ha of a Pinus radiata forest plantation on Rabbit Island near Nelson City in New Zealand since 1996. A long-term research trial was established in 1997 to investigate the effects of the biosolids applications on the receiving environment and tree growth. An analysis of the likely economic impact of biosolids application shows that biosolids application has been beneficial. Stem volume of the high treatment (biosolids applied at 600 kg N ha-1 every three years) was 36% greater than the control treatment (no biosolids applied), and stem volume of the standard treatment (300 kg N ha-1) was 27% greater than the control treatment at age 18 years of age. Biosolids treatments have effectively transformed a low productivity forest site to a medium productivity site. Although this increased productivity has been accompanied by some negative influences on wood quality attributes with reduced wood stiffness, wood density, and larger branches, an economic analysis shows that the increased stem volume and greater average log diameter in the biosolids treatments outweighs these negative effects. The high and standard biosolids treatments are predicted to increase the net stumpage value of logs by 24% and 14% respectively at harvesting, providing a large positive impact on the forest owner’s economic return.
Various movement parameters of grasping movements, like velocity or type of the grasp, have been successfully decoded from neural activity. However, the question of movement event detection from brain activity, that is, decoding the time at which an event occurred (e.g. movement onset), has been addressed less often. Yet, this may be a topic of key importance, as a brain-machine interface (BMI) that controls a grasping prosthesis could be realized by detecting the time of grasp, together with an optional decoding of which type of grasp to apply. We, therefore, studied the detection of time of grasps from human ECoG recordings during a sequence of natural and continuous reach-to-grasp movements. Using signals recorded from the motor cortex, a detector based on regularized linear discriminant analysis was able to retrieve the time-point of grasp with high reliability and only few false detections. Best performance was achieved using a combination of signal components from time and frequency domains. Sensitivity, measured by the amount of correct detections, and specificity, represented by the amount of false detections, depended strongly on the imposed restrictions on temporal precision of detection and on the delay between event detection and the time the event occurred. Including neural data from after the event into the decoding analysis, slightly increased accuracy, however, reasonable performance could also be obtained when grasping events were detected 125 ms in advance. In summary, our results provide a good basis for using detection of grasping movements from ECoG to control a grasping prosthesis.
Recovery after stroke correlates with non-active (stunned) brain regions, which may persist for years. The current study aimed to evaluate whether increasing the level of dissolved oxygen by Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) could activate neuroplasticity in patients with chronic neurologic deficiencies due to stroke.
Methods and Findings
A prospective, randomized, controlled trial including 74 patients (15 were excluded). All participants suffered a stroke 6–36 months prior to inclusion and had at least one motor dysfunction. After inclusion, patients were randomly assigned to "treated" or "cross" groups. Brain activity was assessed by SPECT imaging; neurologic functions were evaluated by NIHSS, ADL, and life quality. Patients in the treated group were evaluated twice: at baseline and after 40 HBOT sessions. Patients in the cross group were evaluated three times: at baseline, after a 2-month control period of no treatment, and after subsequent 2-months of 40 HBOT sessions. HBOT protocol: Two months of 40 sessions (5 days/week), 90 minutes each, 100% oxygen at 2 ATA. We found that the neurological functions and life quality of all patients in both groups were significantly improved following the HBOT sessions while no improvement was found during the control period of the patients in the cross group. Results of SPECT imaging were well correlated with clinical improvement. Elevated brain activity was detected mostly in regions of live cells (as confirmed by CT) with low activity (based on SPECT) – regions of noticeable discrepancy between anatomy and physiology.
The results indicate that HBOT can lead to significant neurological improvements in post stroke patients even at chronic late stages. The observed clinical improvements imply that neuroplasticity can still be activated long after damage onset in regions where there is a brain SPECT/CT (anatomy/physiology) mismatch.
Most economic theories are based on the premise that individuals maximize their own self-interest and correctly incorporate the structure of their environment into all decisions, thanks to human intelligence. The influence of this paradigm goes far beyond academia–it underlies current macroeconomic and monetary policies, and is also an integral part of existing financial regulations. However, there is mounting empirical and experimental evidence, including the recent financial crisis, suggesting that humans do not always behave rationally, but often make seemingly random and suboptimal decisions.
Methods and Findings
Here we propose to reconcile these contradictory perspectives by developing a simple binary-choice model that takes evolutionary consequences of decisions into account as well as the role of intelligence, which we define as any ability of an individual to increase its genetic success. If no intelligence is present, our model produces results consistent with prior literature and shows that risks that are independent across individuals in a generation generally lead to risk-neutral behaviors, but that risks that are correlated across a generation can lead to behaviors such as risk aversion, loss aversion, probability matching, and randomization. When intelligence is present the nature of risk also matters, and we show that even when risks are independent, either risk-neutral behavior or probability matching will occur depending upon the cost of intelligence in terms of reproductive success. In the case of correlated risks, we derive an implicit formula that shows how intelligence can emerge via selection, why it may be bounded, and how such bounds typically imply the coexistence of multiple levels and types of intelligence as a reflection of varying environmental conditions.
Rational economic behavior in which individuals maximize their own self interest is only one of many possible types of behavior that arise from natural selection. The key to understanding which types of behavior are more likely to survive is how behavior affects reproductive success in a given population’s environment. From this perspective, intelligence is naturally defined as behavior that increases the probability of reproductive success, and bounds on rationality are determined by physiological and environmental constraints.
We demonstrate that a live epithelial cell monolayer can act as a planar waveguide. Our infrared reflectivity measurements show that highly differentiated simple epithelial cells, which maintain tight intercellular connectivity, support efficient waveguiding of the infrared light in the spectral region of 1.4–2.5 µm and 3.5–4 µm. The wavelength and the magnitude of the waveguide mode resonances disclose quantitative dynamic information on cell height and cell-cell connectivity. To demonstrate this we show two experiments. In the first one we trace in real-time the kinetics of the disruption of cell-cell contacts induced by calcium depletion. In the second one we show that cell treatment with the PI3-kinase inhibitor LY294002 results in a progressive decrease in cell height without affecting intercellular connectivity. Our data suggest that infrared waveguide spectroscopy can be used as a novel bio-sensing approach for studying the morphology of epithelial cell sheets in real-time, label-free manner and with high spatial-temporal resolution.
Understanding correlations in complex systems is crucial in the face of turbulence, such as the ongoing financial crisis. However, in complex systems, such as financial systems, correlations are not constant but instead vary in time. Here we address the question of quantifying state-dependent correlations in stock markets. Reliable estimates of correlations are absolutely necessary to protect a portfolio. We analyze 72 years of daily closing prices of the 30 stocks forming the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA). We find the striking result that the average correlation among these stocks scales linearly with market stress reflected by normalized DJIA index returns on various time scales. Consequently, the diversification effect which should protect a portfolio melts away in times of market losses, just when it would most urgently be needed. Our empirical analysis is consistent with the interesting possibility that one could anticipate diversification breakdowns, guiding the design of protected portfolios.
A Kuhnian approach to research assessment requires us to consider that the important scientific breakthroughs that drive scientific progress are infrequent and that the progress of science does not depend on normal research. Consequently, indicators of research performance based on the total number of papers do not accurately measure scientific progress. Similarly, those universities with the best reputations in terms of scientific progress differ widely from other universities in terms of the scale of investments made in research and in the higher concentrations of outstanding scientists present, but less so in terms of the total number of papers or citations. This study argues that indicators for the 1% high-citation tail of the citation distribution reveal the contribution of universities to the progress of science and provide quantifiable justification for the large investments in research made by elite research universities. In this tail, which follows a power low, the number of the less frequent and highly cited important breakthroughs can be predicted from the frequencies of papers in the upper part of the tail. This study quantifies the false impression of excellence produced by multinational papers, and by other types of papers that do not contribute to the progress of science. Many of these papers are concentrated in and dominate lists of highly cited papers, especially in lower-ranked universities. The h-index obscures the differences between higher- and lower-ranked universities because the proportion of h-core papers in the 1% high-citation tail is not proportional to the value of the h-index.
Paenibacillus dendritiformis is a Gram-positive, soil-dwelling, spore-forming social microorganism. An intriguing collective faculty of this strain is manifested by its ability to switch between different morphotypes, such as the branching (T) and the chiral (C) morphotypes. Here we report the 6.3-Mb draft genome sequence of the P. dendritiformis C454 chiral morphotype.
Economic impact assessment of invasive species requires integration of information on pest entry, establishment and spread, valuation of assets at risk and market consequences at large spatial scales. Here we develop such a framework and demonstrate its application to the pinewood nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, which threatens the European forestry industry. The effect of spatial resolution on the assessment result is analysed.
Direct economic impacts resulting from wood loss are computed using partial budgeting at regional scale, while impacts on social welfare are computed by a partial equilibrium analysis of the round wood market at EU scale. Substantial impacts in terms of infested stock are expected in Portugal, Spain, Southern France, and North West Italy but not elsewhere in EU in the near future. The cumulative value of lost forestry stock over a period of 22 years (2008–2030), assuming no regulatory control measures, is estimated at €22 billion. The greatest yearly loss of stock is expected to occur in the period 2014–2019, with a peak of three billion euros in 2016, but stabilizing afterwards at 300–800 million euros/year. The reduction in social welfare follows the loss of stock with considerable delay because the yearly harvest from the forest is only 1.8%. The reduction in social welfare for the downstream round wood market is estimated at €218 million in 2030, whereby consumers incur a welfare loss of €357 million, while producers experience a €139 million increase, due to higher wood prices. The societal impact is expected to extend to well beyond the time horizon of the analysis, and long after the invasion has stopped.
Pinewood nematode has large economic consequences for the conifer forestry industry in the EU. A change in spatial resolution affected the calculated directed losses by 24%, but did not critically affect conclusions.
The growing recognition that brain pathologies do not affect neurons only but rather are, to a large extent, pathologies of glial cells as well as of the vasculature opens to new perspectives in our understanding of genetic disorders of the CNS. To validate the role of the neuron-glial-vascular unit in the etiology of genome instability disorders, we report about cell death and morphological aspects of neuroglia networks and the associated vasculature in a mouse model of Ataxia Telangiectasia (A-T), a human genetic disorder that induces severe motor impairment. We found that A-T-mutated protein deficiency was consistent with aberrant astrocytic morphology and alterations of the vasculature, often accompanied by reactive gliosis. Interestingly similar findings could also be reported in the case of other genetic disorders. These observations bolster the notion that astrocyte-specific pathologies, hampered vascularization and astrocyte-endothelium interactions in the CNS could play a crucial role in the etiology of genome instability brain disorders and could underlie neurodegeneration.
astrocyte; reactive gliosis; Ataxia Telangiectasia; DNA damage response
Collective cell migration plays a major role in embryonic morphogenesis, tissue remodeling, wound repair and cancer invasion. Despite many decades of extensive investigations, only few analytical tools have been developed to enhance the biological understanding of this important phenomenon. Here we present a novel quantitative approach to analyze long term kinetics of bright field time-lapse wound healing. Fully-automated spatiotemporal measures and visualization of cells' motility and implicit morphology were proven to be sound, repetitive and highly informative compared to single-cell tracking analysis. We study cellular collective migration induced by tyrosine kinase-growth factor signaling (Met-Hepatocyte Growth Factor/Scatter Factor (HGF/SF)). Our quantitative approach is applied to demonstrate that collective migration of the adenocarcinoma cell lines is characterized by simple morpho-kinetics. HGF/SF induces complex morpho-kinetic coordinated collective migration: cells at the front move faster and are more spread than those further away from the wound edge. As the wound heals, distant cells gradually accelerate and enhance spread and elongation –resembling the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), and then the cells become more spread and maintain higher velocity than cells located closer to the wound. Finally, upon wound closure, front cells halt, shrink and round up (resembling mesenchymal to epithelial transition (MET) phenotype) while distant cells undergo the same process gradually. Met inhibition experiments further validate that Met signaling dramatically alters the morpho-kinetic dynamics of the healing wound. Machine-learning classification was applied to demonstrate the generalization of our findings, revealing even subtle changes in motility patterns induced by Met-inhibition. It is concluded that activation of Met-signaling induces an elaborated model in which cells lead a coordinated increased motility along with gradual differentiation-based collective cell motility dynamics. Our quantitative phenotypes may guide future investigation on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of tyrosine kinase-induced coordinate cell motility and morphogenesis in metastasis.
Insulin resistance (IR) is one of the most widespread health problems in modern times. The gold standard for quantification of IR is the hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic glucose clamp technique. During the test, a regulated glucose infusion is delivered intravenously to maintain a constant blood glucose concentration. Current control algorithms for regulating this glucose infusion are based on feedback control. These models require frequent sampling of blood, and can only partly capture the complexity associated with regulation of glucose. Here we present an improved clamp control algorithm which is motivated by the stochastic nature of glucose kinetics, while using the minimal need in blood samples required for evaluation of IR. A glucose pump control algorithm, based on artificial neural networks model was developed. The system was trained with a data base collected from 62 rat model experiments, using a back-propagation Levenberg-Marquardt optimization. Genetic algorithm was used to optimize network topology and learning features. The predictive value of the proposed algorithm during the temporal period of interest was significantly improved relative to a feedback control applied at an equivalent low sampling interval. Robustness to noise analysis demonstrates the applicability of the algorithm in realistic situations.
Previous research into working memory has focused on activations in different brain areas accompanying either different presentation modalities (verbal vs. non-verbal) or concreteness (abstract vs. concrete) of non-science concepts. Less research has been conducted investigating how scientific concepts are learned and further processed in working memory. To bridge this gap, the present study investigated human brain dynamics associated with encoding of physics concepts, taking both presentation modality and concreteness into account. Results of this study revealed greater theta and low-beta synchronization in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) during encoding of concrete pictures as compared to the encoding of both high and low imageable words. In visual brain areas, greater theta activity accompanying stimulus onsets was observed for words as compared to pictures while stronger alpha suppression was observed in responses to pictures as compared to words. In general, the EEG oscillation patterns for encoding words of different levels of abstractness were comparable but differed significantly from encoding of pictures. These results provide insights into the effects of modality of presentation on human encoding of scientific concepts and thus might help in developing new ways to better teach scientific concepts in class.
This study explores the changes in electroencephalographic (EEG) activity associated with the performance of solving an optics maze problem. College students (N = 37) were instructed to construct three solutions to the optical maze in a Web-based learning environment, which required some knowledge of physics. The subjects put forth their best effort to minimize the number of convexes and mirrors needed to guide the image of an object from the entrance to the exit of the maze. This study examines EEG changes in different frequency bands accompanying varying demands on the cognitive process of providing solutions. Results showed that the mean power of θ, α1, α2, and β1 significantly increased as the number of convexes and mirrors used by the students decreased from solution 1 to 3. Moreover, the mean power of θ and α1 significantly increased when the participants constructed their personal optimal solution (the least total number of mirrors and lens used by students) compared to their non-personal optimal solution. In conclusion, the spectral power of frontal, frontal midline and posterior theta, posterior alpha, and temporal beta increased predominantly as the task demands and task performance increased.
The adoption and abandonment of first names through time is a fascinating phenomenon that may shed light on social dynamics and the forces that determine cultural taste in general. Here we show that baby name dynamics is governed almost solely by deterministic forces, even though the emerging abundance statistics resembles the one obtained from a pure drift model. Exogenous events are shown to affect the name dynamics very rarely, and most of the year-to-year fluctuations around the deterministic trend may be attributed solely to demographic noise. We suggest that the rise and fall of a name reflect an “infection” process with delay and memory. The symmetry between adoption and abandonment speed emerges from our model without further assumptions.
A main question for the study of collective motion in living organisms is the origin of orientational polar order, i.e., how organisms align and what are the benefits of such collective behaviour. In the case of micro-organisms swimming at a low Reynolds number, steric repulsion and long-range hydrodynamic interactions are not sufficient to explain a homogeneous polar order state in which the direction of motion is aligned. An external symmetry-breaking guiding field such as a mechanism of taxis appears necessary to understand this phonemonon. We have investigated the onset of polar order in the velocity field induced by phototaxis in a suspension of a motile micro-organism, the algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, for density values above the limit provided by the hydrodynamic approximation of a force dipole model. We show that polar order originates from a combination of both the external guiding field intensity and the population density. In particular, we show evidence for a linear dependence of a phototactic guiding field on cell density to determine the polar order for dense suspensions and demonstrate the existence of a density threshold for the origin of polar order. This threshold represents the density value below which cells undergoing phototaxis are not able to maintain a homogeneous polar order state and marks the transition to ordered collective motion. Such a transition is driven by a noise dominated phototactic reorientation where the noise is modelled as a normal distribution with a variance that is inversely proportional to the guiding field strength. Finally, we discuss the role of density in dense suspensions of phototactic micro-swimmers.
Cellulose degrading enzymes have important functions in the biotechnology industry, including the production of biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass. Anaerobes including Clostridium species organize cellulases and other glycosyl hydrolases into large complexes known as cellulosomes. In contrast, aerobic actinobacteria utilize systems comprised of independently acting enzymes, often with carbohydrate binding domains. Numerous actinobacterial genomes have become available through the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea (GEBA) project. We identified putative cellulose-degrading enzymes belonging to families GH5, GH6, GH8, GH9, GH12, GH48, and GH51 in the genomes of eleven members of the actinobacteria. The eleven organisms were tested in several assays for cellulose degradation, and eight of the organisms showed evidence of cellulase activity. The three with the highest cellulase activity were Actinosynnema mirum, Cellulomonas flavigena, and Xylanimonas cellulosilytica. Cellobiose is known to induce cellulolytic enzymes in the model organism Thermobifida fusca, but only Nocardiopsis dassonvillei showed higher cellulolytic activity in the presence of cellobiose. In T. fusca, cellulases and a putative cellobiose ABC transporter are regulated by the transcriptional regulator CelR. Nine organisms appear to use the CelR site or a closely related binding site to regulate an ABC transporter. In some, CelR also regulates cellulases, while cellulases are controlled by different regulatory sites in three organisms. Mining of genome data for cellulose degradative enzymes followed by experimental verification successfully identified several actinobacteria species which were not previously known to degrade cellulose as cellulolytic organisms.
The spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) are a genetically heterogeneous group of cerebellar degenerative disorders, characterized by progressive gait unsteadiness, hand incoordination, and dysarthria. The mutational mechanism in SCA1, a dominantly inherited form of SCA, consists of an expanded trinucleotide CAG repeat. In SCA1, there is loss of Purkinje cells, neuronal loss in dentate nucleus, olives, and pontine nuclei. In the present study, we sought to apply intrinsic functional connectivity analysis combined with diffusion tensor imaging to define the state of cerebellar connectivity in SCA1. Our results on the intrinsic functional connectivity in lateral cerebellum and thalamus showed progressive organizational changes in SCA1 noted as a progressive increase in the absolute value of the correlation coefficients. In the lateral cerebellum, the anatomical organization of functional clusters seen as parasagittal bands in controls is lost, changing to a patchy appearance in SCA1. Lastly, only fractional anisotropy in the superior peduncle and changes in functional organization in thalamus showed a linear dependence to duration and severity of disease. The present pilot work represents an initial effort describing connectivity biomarkers of disease progression in SCA1. The functional changes detected with intrinsic functional analysis and diffusion tensor imaging suggest that disease progression can be analyzed as a disconnection syndrome.
Networks; MRI; Biomarkers; Ataxia
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is among the world’s largest investors in biomedical research, with a mandate to: “…lengthen life, and reduce the burdens of illness and disability.” Its funding decisions have been criticized as insufficiently focused on disease burden. We hypothesize that modern portfolio theory can create a closer link between basic research and outcome, and offer insight into basic-science related improvements in public health. We propose portfolio theory as a systematic framework for making biomedical funding allocation decisions–one that is directly tied to the risk/reward trade-off of burden-of-disease outcomes.
Methods and Findings
Using data from 1965 to 2007, we provide estimates of the NIH “efficient frontier”, the set of funding allocations across 7 groups of disease-oriented NIH institutes that yield the greatest expected return on investment for a given level of risk, where return on investment is measured by subsequent impact on U.S. years of life lost (YLL). The results suggest that NIH may be actively managing its research risk, given that the volatility of its current allocation is 17% less than that of an equal-allocation portfolio with similar expected returns. The estimated efficient frontier suggests that further improvements in expected return (89% to 119% vs. current) or reduction in risk (22% to 35% vs. current) are available holding risk or expected return, respectively, constant, and that 28% to 89% greater decrease in average years-of-life-lost per unit risk may be achievable. However, these results also reflect the imprecision of YLL as a measure of disease burden, the noisy statistical link between basic research and YLL, and other known limitations of portfolio theory itself.
Our analysis is intended to serve as a proof-of-concept and starting point for applying quantitative methods to allocating biomedical research funding that are objective, systematic, transparent, repeatable, and expressly designed to reduce the burden of disease. By approaching funding decisions in a more analytical fashion, it may be possible to improve their ultimate outcomes while reducing unintended consequences.
In human crowds as well as in many animal societies, local interactions among individuals often give rise to self-organized collective organizations that offer functional benefits to the group. For instance, flows of pedestrians moving in opposite directions spontaneously segregate into lanes of uniform walking directions. This phenomenon is often referred to as a smart collective pattern, as it increases the traffic efficiency with no need of external control. However, the functional benefits of this emergent organization have never been experimentally measured, and the underlying behavioral mechanisms are poorly understood. In this work, we have studied this phenomenon under controlled laboratory conditions. We found that the traffic segregation exhibits structural instabilities characterized by the alternation of organized and disorganized states, where the lifetime of well-organized clusters of pedestrians follow a stretched exponential relaxation process. Further analysis show that the inter-pedestrian variability of comfortable walking speeds is a key variable at the origin of the observed traffic perturbations. We show that the collective benefit of the emerging pattern is maximized when all pedestrians walk at the average speed of the group. In practice, however, local interactions between slow- and fast-walking pedestrians trigger global breakdowns of organization, which reduce the collective and the individual payoff provided by the traffic segregation. This work is a step ahead toward the understanding of traffic self-organization in crowds, which turns out to be modulated by complex behavioral mechanisms that do not always maximize the group's benefits. The quantitative understanding of crowd behaviors opens the way for designing bottom-up management strategies bound to promote the emergence of efficient collective behaviors in crowds.
A crowd of pedestrians is a complex system that exhibits a rich variety of self-organized collective behaviours. For instance, when two flows of people are walking in opposite directions in a crowded street, pedestrians spontaneously share the available space by forming lanes of uniform walking directions. This “pedestrian highway” is a typical example of self-organized functional pattern, as it increases the traffic efficiency with no need of external control. In this work, we have conducted a series of laboratory experiments to determine the behavioral mechanisms underlying this pattern. In contrast to previous theoretical predictions, we found that the traffic organization actually alternates in time between well-organized and disorganized states. Our results demonstrate that this unstable dynamics is due to interactions between people walking faster and slower than the average speed of the crowd. While the traffic efficiency is maximized when everybody walks at the same speed, crowd heterogeneity reduces the collective benefits provided by the traffic segregation. This work is a step ahead in understanding the mechanisms of crowd self-organization, and opens the way for the elaboration of management strategies bound to promote smart collective behaviors.
In the current era of strong worldwide market couplings the global financial village became highly prone to systemic collapses, events that can rapidly sweep throughout the entire village.
We present a new methodology to assess and quantify inter-market relations. The approach is based on the correlations between the market index, the index volatility, the market Index Cohesive Force and the meta-correlations (correlations between the intra-correlations.) We investigated the relations between six important world markets—U.S., U.K., Germany, Japan, China and India—from January 2000 until December 2010. We found that while the developed “western” markets (U.S., U.K., Germany) are highly correlated, the interdependencies between these markets and the developing “eastern” markets (India and China) are volatile and with noticeable maxima at times of global world events. The Japanese market switches “identity”—it switches between periods of high meta-correlations with the “western” markets and periods when it behaves more similarly to the “eastern” markets.
The methodological framework presented here provides a way to quantify the evolvement of interdependencies in the global market, evaluate a world financial network and quantify changes in the world inter market relations. Such changes can be used as precursors to the agitation of the global financial village. Hence, the new approach can help to develop a sensitive “financial seismograph” to detect early signs of global financial crises so they can be treated before they develop into worldwide events.
Defining the structural and functional connectivity of the human brain (the human “connectome”) is a basic challenge in neuroscience. Recently, techniques for noninvasively characterizing structural connectivity networks in the adult brain have been developed using diffusion and high-resolution anatomic MRI. The purpose of this study was to establish a framework for assessing structural connectivity in the newborn brain at any stage of development and to show how network properties can be derived in a clinical cohort of six-month old infants sustaining perinatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Two different anatomically unconstrained parcellation schemes were proposed and the resulting network metrics were correlated with neurological outcome at 6 months. Elimination and correction of unreliable data, automated parcellation of the cortical surface, and assembling the large-scale baby connectome allowed an unbiased study of the network properties of the newborn brain using graph theoretic analysis. In the application to infants with HIE, a trend to declining brain network integration and segregation was observed with increasing neuromotor deficit scores.