Aqua, anybody? Research briefs


Staff Reports



Why don’t Americans have a name for the color “light blue?”

Study finds unique color terms used in Japan, U.S.

COLUMBUS – If a Japanese woman were to compliment a friend on her flattering pale-blue blouse, she’d probably employ a word with no English equivalent.

“Mizu” translates to “water” and has emerged in recent decades as a unique shade in the Japanese lexicon, new research has found.

English speakers have “light blue,” sure. But “mizu” is its own color, not merely a shade of another. It’s similar to how people in the United States use “magenta,” rather than “purplish-red.”

Researchers from Japan and The Ohio State University collaborated on the study, which examines the color lexicon in Japan over time and compares the country’s modern color terminology to words used in the United States. The study appears in the Journal of Vision.

The researchers asked 57 native Japanese speakers to name the colors on cards placed before them. The study participants used 93 unique color terms. No modifiers such as “light” or “dark” were allowed.

Identification of basic long-standing color terms came as no surprise, but the use of “mizu” by almost everyone in the group is new and strong evidence that it should be included among 12 generally accepted basic Japanese color terms, the researchers concluded.

Furthermore, they found differences between color language in the two modern, diverse societies.

Some unique and commonly described color terms in one language are missing in the other. In Japan, “mizu” is one, as is “kon” (dark blue.) In the U.S., native speakers often use the words “teal,” “lavender,” “peach” and “magenta,” none of which has a commonly used Japanese equivalent.

“Like animal species, language is constantly evolving,” said Ohio State’s Delwin Lindsey, a professor of psychology who worked on the study with optometry professor Angela Brown and Japanese colleagues from several institutions.

Humans mostly see color in exactly the same way. But how we describe it varies widely and it tells researchers about more than just whether that pretty blouse is “mizu” or “light blue.”

“In America, we don’t have a single unique word for light blue. The closest thing we have is “sky,” but when we ask, we don’t elicit that very often,” Brown said.

“In Japan, ‘mizu’ is as different from ‘blue’ as ‘green’ is from ‘blue.’”

Lindsey and Brown said the study of color language goes beyond how we describe a blouse, car or crayon.

“We’re interested in how colors are represented through language and how that gets distributed through society. How is it that we all decide that blue is blue? We do so through interaction,” Lindsey said.

Added Brown, “The study of color naming is fundamentally the study of how words come to be associated with things – all things that exist, from teacups to love.”

The color lexicon happens to be easier to study than other aspects of language evolution. Colors are easily described, reproduced and displayed.

And there is vast difference in what colors we use from culture to culture and individual to individual.

“The visual system can discern millions of colors,” Brown said. “But people only describe a limited number of them and that varies depending on their community and the variety of colors that enter into their daily lives.”

There are areas of the world, for instance, where blue and green are lumped together – something color researchers call “grue.”

“People around the world have very different color-naming systems and that raises interesting questions about what we’re born with and what’s strongly contingent upon our culture,” said Lindsey, who teaches at Ohio State’s Mansfield campus.

“In general, the more basic the color terms, the less technologically and economically advanced the culture,” he said.

“But what’s really interesting is there are remarkable similarities in color descriptions amongst people who live thousands of miles apart. And there can be differences between next-door neighbors.”

The study was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Research Institute of Electrical Communication at Japan’s Tohoku University. Ryan Lange, now at the University of Chicago, worked on the study as a graduate student in Ohio State’s College of Optometry.

— Written by Misti Crane

Transition Toolkit for Families

ENGAGE (Engaging the New Generation to Achieve their Goals through Empowerment) announces the release of the ENGAGE Transition Toolkit through Red Treehouse (www.redtreehouse.org). Twenty-two topics covered include Budgeting, Landlord-Tenant, Parental Liability, Guardianship, Healthcare, Transition Checklist, Crisis Planning, Transportation, Education and Estate Planning.

The information contained here comes from experience and research of family members and other interested persons—it is not legal advice. It comes from their desire to help others avoid some of the problems they have encountered as they helped their children move into adulthood.

ENGAGE is an initiative of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The goal of ENGAGE is to establish High-Fidelity Wraparound statewide as a tool to develop and strengthen local Systems of Care. Youth and Young Adults in Transition aged 14 through 17 will need their parents or guardians to help refer them to this program. Young adults who are 18 to 21 (independent or under guardianship) can refer themselves.

ENGAGE Wraparound is specifically centered on youth aged 14 through 21 with mental health concerns who are transitioning to adulthood. This group gathers to help youth develop a plan for their own future. The group and family will work with the youth to help identify unmet needs and help them reach their goals. Employment, education, financial planning, housing, social needs, medical and mental health concerns, management planning and other identified needs can all be part of the plan.

This free toolkit is available to read or download at The Red Treehouse. (https://directory.redtreehouse.org/ResourceDetails.aspx?dg=62b03853-fcbd-4d4a-a974-7c655e38e5fc )

Cancer Center to Partner With 25+ Ohio Hospitals to Fight Endometrial Cancer

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) has partnered with more than 25 hospitals in Ohio to launch a third statewide clinical cancer research initiative, this one aimed at endometrial cancer.

The initiative has received $1 million in funding support from Pelotonia, the grassroots bicycling event that has raised more than $130 million for cancer research. Other statewide research initiatives focus on colon and lung cancer.

“The goal of our statewide initiative program is to take state-of-the art science and translate it into the communities across Ohio to help elevate cancer patient care, prevention and education and reduce healthcare costs,” says Michael Caligiuri, MD, director of the OSUCCC and chief executive officer of The James. “It is through these efforts that we take bigger steps together toward our pursuit of a cancer-free world.”

Endometrial Cancer in Ohio

The new statewide research initiative – known as The Ohio Prevention and Treatment of Endometrial Cancer (OPTEC) – is focused on the prevention and treatment of endometrial (uterine) cancer. The study is expected to recruit up to 700 Ohio women from at least 25 partner hospitals from communities across the state of Ohio. Patients will be screened for Lynch syndrome and other inherited (passed down through families) genetic mutations linked to an increased risk for endometrial, colon, stomach and ovarian cancer. At the same time, patient tumor samples will undergo molecular profiling to identify treatment approaches personalized to the patient’s unique tumor characteristics.

“Endometrial cancer is one of the few cancers with both rising incidence and death rates in the United States. Escalating our efforts to understand this disease and develop new therapies to treat it is critically important,” says David Cohn, MD, co-principal investigator of the research initiative and director of gynecologic oncology at the OSUCCC – James.

More than 61,000 women are diagnosed with endometrial cancer annually across the United States, with more than 17 percent of patients dying of the disease. Up to 5 percent of all women with endometrial cancer have inherited Lynch syndrome. The lifetime risk for endometrial cancer in a woman with Lynch syndrome is 50 percent, which is 10 times higher than a woman without Lynch syndrome. Women with Lynch syndrome have a similar risk for colon cancer as they do endometrial cancer.

The OPTEC study seeks to test endometrial cancer patients in Ohio for Lynch syndrome using a novel genetic sequencing technique developed by scientists at the OSUCCC – James and Nationwide Children’s Research Institute. The OPTEC initiative will also help Lynch syndrome patients – and at-risk family members – understand the importance of genetic testing and cancer-prevention strategies based on their increased risk for Lynch syndrome-associated cancers.

Researchers will also create a patient registry to track endometrial cancer patients from the current study, colon cancer patients (identified through another statewide cancer research initiative of the OSUCCC – James) as well as affected family members to help increase compliance with follow-up care for cancer prevention.

“Our long term goal is to educate both patients and providers about the continued management of Lynch syndrome-associated cancers so that we can reduce the burden of this condition on all women and men who have this increased risk for cancer based on genetics,” adds Cohn.

Upfront Lynch Syndrome Testing and Genomic Analysis for All Patients

Despite professional recommendations from the Society for Gynecologic Oncology and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology for universal Lynch syndrome screening in endometrial cancer patients, newly diagnosed patients with endometrial cancer are often not screened for Lynch syndrome.

Through this new statewide research study, all participants will receive complete, upfront gene sequencing for free to test for Lynch syndrome and other inherited genetic mutations with known links to cancer.

“In the past, genetic testing for Lynch syndrome was a multi-step process associated with higher costs and delayed results. We have developed a one-step tumor sequencing method that allows us test for inherited genetic mutations rather than relying on sequential screening and testing,” explains Paul Goodfellow, PhD, co-principal investigator of the study and geneticist with the OSUCCC – James Molecular Biology and Cancer Genetics Program who worked with Elaine Mardis, PhD, of Nationwide Children’s, to develop this sequencing methodology. “We will confirm all inherited Lynch syndrome mutations that are identified in patient tumors with a follow-up test using the patients’ blood DNA in a clinical genetics laboratory.”

Genomic-Driven Treatments

Genomic profiling through this statewide research initiative will also help identify patients most likely to benefit from new medical therapies, including immunotherapy drugs that target PD-1. The drugs that target PD-1 have emerged in recent years as promising and effective approaches to treating solid tumors from patients with Lynch syndrome.

“More than 20 percent of endometrial cancers have ‘Lynch syndrome-like’ molecular features, and as such, are likely to respond to anti-PD-1 drugs,” says Goodfellow. “For far too long treatment strategies and testing new drugs for endometrial cancer have not considered the differences in the genetic makeup of the tumor. This new study puts us in a position to make rapid progress in understanding and treating endometrial cancer through genomics-driven treatments.”

Statewide Cancer Initiatives

The OPTEC project represents the third statewide Initiative project launched by the OSUCCC-James with funding from Pelotonia. Other Pelotonia-funded statewide cancer research projects include The Ohio Colorectal Cancer Screening and Prevention Initiative, led by Heather Hampel, MS, LGC, and Beating Lung Cancer in Ohio, co-led by Peter Shields, MD, David Carbone, MD, PhD and Mary Ellen Wewers, PhD, MPH.

Learn more about Pelotonia-funded research at the OSUCCC – James at cancer.osu.edu.

About the OSUCCC – James

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute strives to create a cancer-free world by integrating scientific research with excellence in education and patient-centered care, a strategy that leads to better methods of prevention, detection and treatment. Ohio State is one of only 47 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and one of only a few centers funded by the NCI to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials on novel anticancer drugs sponsored by the NCI. As the cancer program’s 308-bed adult patient-care component, The James is one of the top cancer hospitals in the nation as ranked by U.S. News & World Report and has achieved Magnet designation, the highest honor an organization can receive for quality patient care and professional nursing practice. At 21 floors and with more than 1.1 million square feet, The James is a transformational facility that fosters collaboration and integration of cancer research and clinical cancer care. Learn more at cancer.osu.edu.

Forests fight global warming in ways more important than previously understood

Trees’ role extends beyond carbon consumption, study finds

Forests play a complex role in keeping the planet cool, one that goes far beyond the absorption of carbon dioxide, new research has found.

Trees also impact climate by regulating the exchange of water and energy between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere, an important influence that should be considered as policymakers contemplate efforts to conserve forested land, said the authors of an international study that appears in the journal Nature Climate Change.

“Forests play a more important role in cooling the surface in almost all regions of the Earth than was previously thought,” said study co-author Kaiguang Zhao, assistant professor of environment modeling and spatial analysis at The Ohio State University.

“This really affirms the value of forest conservation and protection policies in the fight against climate change,” Zhao said.

Until now, scientists have had an incomplete picture of how, where and when ecosystems influence climate locally. By addressing all three questions simultaneously, the researchers were able to offer new insight into how land-use decisions are shaping local climates.

The researchers created a model that combined locally collected meteorological data with data from satellites and other Earth observation systems.

They discovered important differences between heat exchange at the surface in forested areas compared with those areas where farming and grazing fields dominate the landscape. This allowed them to estimate the surface temperature change when switching from one type of vegetation to another, and to study the different mechanisms driving the change.

They found, unsurprisingly, that forests often contribute to an annual cooling in temperate and tropical regions and to warming in northern high-latitude areas of the world.

What was enlightening was the finding that the cooling in the middle- and lower-latitude areas was nearly as strong as previous estimates using only satellite data. Researchers had thought the actual cooling would be significantly less than those estimates because they take into account only clear-sky days – not those with cloud cover.

Furthermore, the study authors found that mechanisms responsible for regulating the temperature at the surface – particularly the transfer of water and heat from the land to the atmosphere by convection and evapotranspiration – were more important than previously thought.

In fact, they appear to be more significant in many cases than factors related to the sun’s energy.

Previous work looking at forests and climate change has taken into account the role of albedo – the scientific term for sunlight that is reflected off the surface of the Earth — and found mixed messages. For example, dark evergreen forests in sunny areas draw in heat, Zhao said. In some cases, he said, they could increase local warming.

The new study’s lead author, Ryan Bright of the Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomy Research, said that while forests often absorb more solar radiation than grasslands or croplands, they also put more moisture into the air and promote more mixing of the air near the surface than those shorter types of vegetation.

“What we are finding is that these mechanisms are often more important, even in some of the higher-latitude regions, where surface light reflection has been given more weight,” Bright said.

This new research highlights that these mechanisms are more important than previously understood and that they should be considered seriously when policymakers choose how to use land, he and Zhao said.

“In a world facing increasing competition for land resources for food and livestock production, sensible forest protection policies will be especially critical in our efforts to mitigate climate change, particularly local warming,” Bright said.

“Our research could help in the identification of regions where forest protection, re-forestation or policies promoting the creation of new forests should be started or ramped up.”

— Written by Misti Crane

New Technology Helps Mothers Interact With Deaf Children

Imagine if you were unable to communicate with your child. This was just the situation that parents of Logan Lodge found themselves in when their son was born deaf.

Having never interacted with someone who was deaf, the Lodge family turned to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Buckeye Center for Hearing and Development for help to communicate with their son. Researchers lead by Derek Houston, are using a series of cameras and eye-tracking equipment to record exactly where a child’s focus is, what they’re holding and how they react when a new word is said.

Learning more about how children with cochlear implants absorb information will help parents like the Lodges better guide language development. Houston hopes to expand his research and use the same method to discover how other populations of children learn differently, such as those with autism or attention deficit disorder.

First Right to Climate Law Passes in Colorado

Lafayette, Co, Law Builds on Growing Rights-Based Efforts to Stop Climate Change

LAFAYETTE, CO: On March 22nd, the City Council of Lafayette, Colorado, became the first municipality in the state to recognize a right to a healthy climate for people and nature, and to ban the extraction of oil and gas as a violation of that right.

The Ordinance was drafted by the Boulder County Protectors, with assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF).

The Lafayette Ordinance is one of several across the United States to assert the right to climate. The “right to a healthy climate” was recently recognized as a federal constitutional right by Judge Ann Aiken of the United States District Court in Oregon.

In Spokane, Washington, a federal lawsuit has been filed which seeks a finding that the rail transportation of oil and coal violates the right to climate for Spokane residents. In Bowling Green, Ohio, community members recently launched a campaign to qualify a right to climate initiative to the November ballot. CELDF is providing assistance to each community.

Lafayette, CO: Right to Climate Ordinance

The original draft of the Ordinance prohibited local law enforcement from arresting people using nonviolent civil disobedience to enforce the law, in the event of a judicial ruling overturning of the Ordinance. These provisions were included in recognition of recent Colorado Supreme Court rulings which have declared that municipalities lack the legal authority to ban oil and gas extraction.

Prior to passage, the Council removed the civil disobedience provisions over the objections of both the Boulder County Protectors and the primary sponsor of the legislation, Councilwoman Merrily Mazza.

Councilwoman Mazza declared, “In light of Colorado court rulings, this Ordinance is one small step toward building a system of law which recognizes our rights over the rights of oil and gas corporations. The Council had an opportunity, however, to do something even bigger here – remove the authority of government to punish those who understand that the Colorado Supreme Court has acted illegally in tying the hands of municipal governments to ban oil and gas extraction.”

Mazza further explained, “We had a chance to support a new movement of civil disobedience, one which understands that the courts and our state governments are merely doing the bidding of the oil and gas corporations. If we are to protect the climate, we can no longer rely on those institutions to do what is right.”

Although oil and gas extraction in Lafayette is not imminent, the Ordinance may be challenged by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), which has previously filed challenges to overturn local laws seeking to stop oil and gas extraction. As included within its provisions, the Ordinance may be used proactively to protect the right to climate against oil and gas extraction currently planned for neighboring communities.

About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, local economy, and quality of life. Its mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.

Children notice what adults miss, study finds

While adults focus their attention, children see everything

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Although adults can beat children at most cognitive tasks, new research shows that children’s limitations can sometimes be their strength.

In two studies, researchers found that adults were very good at remembering information they were told to focus on, and ignoring the rest. In contrast, 4- to 5-year-olds tended to pay attention to all the information that was presented to them – even when they were told to focus on one particular item. That helped children to notice things that adults didn’t catch because of the grownups’ selective attention.

“We often think of children as deficient in many skills when compared to adults. But sometimes what seems like a deficiency can actually be an advantage,” said Vladimir Sloutsky, co-author of the study and professor of psychology at The Ohio State University.

“That’s what we found in our study. Children are extremely curious and they tend to explore everything, which means their attention is spread out, even when they’re asked to focus. That can sometimes be helpful.”

The results have important implications for understanding how education environments affect children’s learning, he said.

Sloutsky conducted the study with Daniel Plebanek, a graduate student in psychology at Ohio State. Their results were just published in the journal Psychological Science.

The first study involved 35 adults and 34 children who were 4 to 5 years old.

The participants were shown a computer screen with two shapes, with one shape overlaying the other. One of the shapes was red, the other green. The participants were told to pay attention to a shape of a particular color (say, the red shape).

The shapes then disappeared briefly, and another screen with shapes appeared. The participants had to report whether the shapes in the new screen were the same as in the previous screen.

In some cases, the shapes were exactly the same. In other cases, the target shape (the one participants were told to pay attention to) was different. But there were also instances where the non-target shape changed, even though it was not the one participants were told to notice.

Adults performed slightly better than children at noticing when the target shape changed, noticing it 94 percent of the time compared to 86 percent of the time for children.

“But the children were much better than adults at noticing when the non-target shape changed,” Sloutsky said. Children noticed that change 77 percent of the time, compared to 63 percent of the time for adults.

“What we found is that children were paying attention to the shapes that they weren’t required to,” he said. “Adults, on the other hand, tended to focus only on what they were told was needed.”

A second experiment involved the same participants. In this case, participants were shown drawings of artificial creatures with several different features. They might have an “X” on their body, or an “O”; they might have a lightning bolt on the end of their tail or a fluffy ball.

Participants were asked to find one feature, such as the “X” on the body among the “Os.” They weren’t told anything about the other features. Thus, their attention was attracted to “X” and “O”, but not to the other features. Both children and adults found the “X” well, with adults being somewhat more accurate than children.

But when those features appeared on creatures in later screens, there was a big difference in what participants remembered. For features they were asked to attend to (i.e., “X” and “O”), adults and children were identical in remembering these features. But children were substantially more accurate than adults (72 percent versus 59 percent) at remembering features that they were not asked to attend to, such as the creatures’ tails.

“The point is that children don’t focus their attention as well as adults, even if you ask them to,” Sloutsky said. “They end up noticing and remembering more.”

Sloutsky said that adults would do well at noticing and remembering the ignored information in the studies, if they were told to pay attention to everything. But their ability to focus attention has a cost – they miss what they are not focused on.

The ability of adults to focus their attention – and children’s tendency to distribute their attention more widely – both have positives and negatives.

“The ability to focus attention is what allows adults to sit in two-hour meetings and maintain long conversations, while ignoring distractions,” Sloutsky said.

“But young children’s use of distributed attention allows them to learn more in new and unfamiliar settings by taking in a lot of information.”

The fact that children don’t always do as well at focusing attention also shows the importance of designing the right learning environment in classrooms, Sloutsky said.

“Children can’t handle a lot of distractions. They are always taking in information, even if it is not what you’re trying to teach them. We need to make sure that we are aware of that and design our classrooms, textbooks and educational materials to help students succeed.

“Perhaps a boring classroom or a simple black and white worksheet means less distraction and more successful learning,” Sloutsky added.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute for Educational Science.

BROWN, PORTMAN APPLAUD COMMERCE DEPARTMENT ACTION AGAINST UNFAIR KOREAN OIL COUNTRY TUBULAR IMPORTS

Senators Urged Commerce to Take Action, Paved the Way with Leveling the Playing Field Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) today (April 12) applauded Commerce Department action against unfair oil country tubular good (OCTG) imports from Korea. Following Brown and Portman’s urging, Commerce found that Korean steel producers have been unfairly dumping this imports into the U.S. market, leaving Ohio steelworkers and steel companies at a competitive disadvantage. The Senators’ Leveling the Playing Field Act helped pave the way for a positive decision in the case.

American OCTG producers, including U.S. Steel in Lorain; Vallourec Star in Youngstown; Wheatland Tube in Warren; and TMK IPSCO in Brookfield will be affected by this decision.

“It’s simple – if countries don’t play fair, the U.S. stands ready to crack down on unfair trade practices that close up factories and put our workers out of jobs,” said Brown. “I’m pleased our law to boost enforcement tools is continuing to make a difference for Ohio steelworkers, and I will continue to push the Commerce Department to defend U.S. OCTG producers from trade cheaters.”

“When Ohio steelmakers have a level playing field they can compete and win with anyone,” Portman said. “I am pleased that the Leveling the Playing Field Act is continuing to help our steelmakers do just that. I applaud Commerce’s decision which is another step towards ensuring that foreign trade cheats do not cost Ohio jobs.”

The Senators wrote to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross last month asking him to address unfair trade practices by Korean producers of OCTGs to prevent the idling of more steel facilities and protect steelworkers’ jobs by cracking down on unfair competition from Korea. Brown and Portman have been seeking strong enforcement action in this case for years, and the two garnered bipartisan support for the case in May 2014.

The case is another example of the success of the Leveling the Playing Field Act, authored by Brown and cosponsored by Portman, which was signed into law in June 2015. The case has restored strength to antidumping and countervailing duty statues so businesses and workers have the tools they need to petition the Commerce Department and International Trade Commission (ITC) when foreign producers sell goods in the U.S. below market price or receive illegal subsidies.

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Staff Reports