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Working memory can help tailor educational development

Psychology researchers at the University of Missouri suggest a first step toward creating educational and work materials to fit a

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Psychology researchers at the University of Missouri suggest a first step toward creating educational and work materials to fit a person’s appropriate developmental level

Imagine a 7-year-old and a college student both take a break from their virtual classes to get a drink of water. When they return, the 7-year-old has difficulty restarting the assignment, while the college student resumes working as if the break never occurred. Nelson Cowan, an expert in working memory at the University of Missouri, believes understanding this developmental age difference can help younger children and their parents to better adjust to a virtual learning environment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“By understanding this developmental difference, then we can work to provide a little more structure for younger children in online settings, such as helping them organize their homework,” said Cowan, a Curators Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences. “At school, teachers can provide more of that structure, but in a virtual environment, parents may also have to take on more of that responsibility. For parents who have younger children that are somewhat resistant to their actions, this might be difficult to do, however it needs to be made clear to children that their parents are assisting their teacher, rather than being the primary educational figure.”

Kendall Holzum can relate. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the 7-year-old girl has been going to school online instead of in person.

“Sometimes it’s hard to remember to go back and do your homework after you get off your Zoom call,” Holzum said. “My parents have to help me a lot to remember to do my assignments. Homework is the hardest to follow directions on because your teacher isn’t there to always help you.”

Cowan, who has been interested in how the human brain works since he was a young child, suggests this insight can be a first step toward helping educators determine how to tailor a child’s individual learning experience to their appropriate developmental level.

“Now, the challenge will be to understand how to adapt educational materials and work materials to be appropriate for each individual’s developmental level in an online setting and perhaps try to teach children to be more proactive in their thinking,” Cowan said. “I’m hoping this is a first step toward that notion and encourages people who do research in the classroom, or now in the virtual classroom, to consider the role of proactive behavior as an overall life skill and how to accommodate various levels of learning to meet that life goal.”

A total of 180 people participated in the study by Cowan and his colleagues. Participants were split among three different age groups — children ages 6-8, ages 10-14 and college students. Each age group was asked to remember a display of colored spots. Then, they were interrupted by a second, unexpected and more urgent task — quickly pressing a button when a signal is heard or seen. Upon completion of the second task, they were asked to return to the first task and decide if a color came from the display. Cowan said more often, the younger children simply forgot to remember the colors they were supposed to recall after working on the second task. He said this study provides a clear example of the limits of working memory in younger children.

“In general, working memory is limited,” Cowan said. “As the amount of things a person is trying to remember at one time increases, less memory is available to help remember a task, or what a person is supposed to be doing. An example of the difference between an adult and a child is when both try to catch a ball while carrying dishes. The child would be more likely to drop the dishes, while the adult remembers to also hold onto the dishes at the same time. Virtual school has created a whole new environment, and this study provides us with a first step in how we must help children adjust as some parts of virtual schooling are very likely to be here for a long time.”

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“Developmental change in the nature of attention allocation in a dual task,” was published in Developmental Psychology. The study was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01 HD-021338).

Working memory can help tailor educational development

Source: https://bioengineer.org/working-memory-can-help-tailor-educational-development/

Bioengineer

Preformed gel particles tested for enhanced oil recovery

A joint paper went out in Journal of Petroleum Science and EngineeringCredit: Kazan Federal University A joint paper went out

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A joint paper went out in Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering.

Petroleum, being a liquid compound, has very good migratory properties, and recovery methods take account of that – using various methods, oilers displace petroleum through cavities and vugs and extract it. However, sometimes oil is “locked” in low-permeability reservoirs, and water displacement used in such cases poses a high risk of reservoir flooding and workplace emergencies.

Many teams work on blocking high-permeability areas in order to make extraction a more controlled and safe process. In particular, there have yet been no efficient agents for reservoirs with high temperatures (up to 140 C) and mineralization (up to 250 grams per liter). Experts from Kazan Federal University, Southwest Petroleum University, Sinopec, and Curtin University joined forces to test novel gel particles in such conditions. The new technique improves on earlier such attempts made by other teams.

Co-author, Senior Research Associate Yuan Chengdong comments, “We’ll continue to test our technique on oil deposits in China, where reservoirs with salinity of over 290 grams per liter are quite common. Previous tryouts showed that an increase in recovery can amount to 100 thousand tons. This proves that the reagents are efficient and are very stable under high temperature and high salinity.”

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https://eng.kpfu.ru/novosti/preformed-gel-particles-tested-for-enhanced-oil-recovery/

Co-author, Senior Research Associate Yuan Chengdong comments, “We’ll continue to test our technique on oil deposits in China, where reservoirs with salinity of over 290 grams per liter are quite common. Previous tryouts showed that an increase in recovery can amount to 100 thousand tons. This proves that the reagents are efficient and are very stable under high temperature and high salinity.”

Source: https://bioengineer.org/preformed-gel-particles-tested-for-enhanced-oil-recovery/

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Convergent mechanism of aging discovered

Fundamental signaling pathway is crucial for longevityCredit: Link/Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, 2021 Several different causes of ageing

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Several different causes of ageing have been discovered, but the question remains whether there are common underlying mechanisms that determine ageing and lifespan. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing and the CECAD Cluster of Excellence in Ageing research at the University Cologne have now come across folate metabolism in their search for such basic mechanisms. Its regulation underlies many known ageing signalling pathways and leads to longevity. This may provide a new possibility to broadly improve human health during ageing.

In recent decades, several cellular signalling pathways have been discovered that regulate the lifespan of an organism and are thus of enormous importance for ageing research. When researchers altered these signalling pathways, this extended the lifespan of diverse organisms. However, the question arises whether these different signalling pathways converge on common metabolic pathways that are causal for longevity.

The search begins in the roundworm

The scientists started their search in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, a well-known model organism for ageing research. “We studied the metabolic products of several, long-lived worm lines. Our analyses revealed that, among other things, we observed clear changes in the metabolites and enzymes of the folate cycle in all worm lines. Since folate metabolism plays a major role in human health, we wanted to further pursue its role in longevity”, explains Andrea Annibal, lead author of the study.

A common mechanism for longevity

Folates are essential vitamins important for the synthesis of amino acids and nucleotides – the building blocks of our proteins and DNA. “We tuned down the activity of specific enzymes of folate metabolism in the worms. Excitingly, the result was an increase in lifespan of up to 30 percent”, says Annibal. “We also saw that in long-lived strains of mice, folate metabolism is similarly tuned down. Thus, the regulation of folate metabolism may underlie not only the various longevity signalling pathways in worms, but also in mammals.”

“We are very excited by these findings because they reveal the regulation of folate metabolism as a common shared mechanism that affects several different pathways of longevity and is conserved in evolution”, adds Adam Antebi, director at the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing. “Thus, the precise manipulation of folate metabolism may provide a new possibility to broadly improve human health during ageing.” In future experiments, the group aims to find out the mechanism by which the folate metabolism affects longevity.

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Original publication

Andrea Annibal, Rebecca George Tharyan, Maribel Fides Schonewolff, Hannah Tam, Christian Latza, Markus Max Karl Auler, Adam Antebi

Regulation of the one carbon folate cycle as a shared metabolic signature of longevity

Nature Communications, June 9th, 2021

https://www.mpg.de/17011181/one-for-all-convergent-mechanism-of-ageing-discovered

The scientists started their search in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, a well-known model organism for ageing research. “We studied the metabolic products of several, long-lived worm lines. Our analyses revealed that, among other things, we observed clear changes in the metabolites and enzymes of the folate cycle in all worm lines. Since folate metabolism plays a major role in human health, we wanted to further pursue its role in longevity”, explains Andrea Annibal, lead author of the study.

Source: https://bioengineer.org/convergent-mechanism-of-aging-discovered/

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Particles with ‘eyes’ allow a closer look at rotational dynamics

Credit: Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo Tokyo, Japan – Colloids–mixtures of particles made from one substance, dispersed

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Tokyo, Japan – Colloids–mixtures of particles made from one substance, dispersed in another substance–crop up in numerous areas of everyday life, including cosmetics, food and dyes, and form important systems within our bodies. Understanding the behavior of colloids therefore has wide-ranging implications, yet investigating the rotation of spherical particles has been challenging. Now, an international team including researchers from The University of Tokyo Institute of Industrial Science has created particles with an off-center core or “eye” that can be tracked using microscopy. Their findings are published in Physical Review X.

Particles suspended in a liquid move from one place to another as a result of Brownian motion, which can be easily detected with a microscope. However, these particles also rotate, which is much more difficult to see if they are spherical.

The researchers overcame this by creating particles made from two different colors of the same material. The core sphere–which they call the eye–is set off-center at the surface of the particle. It provides a point that can be followed under a microscope to determine the orientation changes as the particle rotates.

“The rotation of a colloidal particle tells us about the surrounding hydrodynamics–the motion of the suspending liquid–and the contact forces, such as friction. However, to get the full picture in a dense suspension, all of the particles must be tracked at once,” explains study corresponding author Professor Hajime Tanaka. “As well as providing a point to track over time, the density and refractive index of our particles can be matched so that the necessary 3D images can be acquired.”

By tracking a dense suspension of charged particles forming a colloidal crystal–which has an ordered arrangement of particles–it was found that the rotation of neighboring spheres was coupled and moved in opposite directions, like meshed gears.

In addition, a system with uncharged particles showed that there was a relationship between local crystallinity–the ordering in the immediate surroundings–and the rotational diffusivity, which describes the process of the orientation regaining equilibrium.

The researchers also observed “stick-slip” rotational motion between particles that make contact, where a large neighbor could stop the motion of a particle through friction.

“Our system has provided much-needed insight into hydrodynamic and frictional coupling in very dense colloids,” says other corresponding author Professor Roel Dullens. “We expect our findings to have a significant impact on the design of industrial processes involving colloids, as well as on the understanding of biological processes.”

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The article, “Particle-level visualization of hydrodynamic and frictional couplings in dense suspensions of spherical colloids”, was published in Physical Review X at DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevX.11.021056.

About Institute of Industrial Science (IIS), the University of Tokyo

Institute of Industrial Science (IIS), the University of Tokyo is one of the largest university-attached research institutes in Japan.

More than 120 research laboratories, each headed by a faculty member, comprise IIS, with more than 1,000 members including approximately 300 staff and 700 students actively engaged in education and research. Our activities cover almost all the areas of engineering disciplines. Since its foundation in 1949, IIS has worked to bridge the huge gaps that exist between academic disciplines and realworld applications.

By tracking a dense suspension of charged particles forming a colloidal crystal–which has an ordered arrangement of particles–it was found that the rotation of neighboring spheres was coupled and moved in opposite directions, like meshed gears.

Source: https://bioengineer.org/particles-with-eyes-allow-a-closer-look-at-rotational-dynamics/

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