Scientists find clever way to help you de-clutter your home


Staff Reports



Photos help people keep the memory, but not the possession

COLUMBUS – If your attic is full of stuff you no longer use but can’t bear to give away, a new study may offer you a simple solution.

Researchers found that people were more willing to give away unneeded goods that still had sentimental value if they were encouraged to take a photo of these items first, or find another way to preserve the memories.

Such a strategy could help parents part with old baby clothes they no longer need or help a former athlete give up a favorite basketball or hockey stick.

“What people really don’t want to give up is the memories associated with the item,” said Rebecca Reczek, co-author of the study and associate professor of marketing at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.

“We found that people are more willing to give up these possessions if we offer them a way to keep the memory and the identity associated with that memory.”

Reczek conducted the study with Karen Winterich, associate professor of marketing at Pennsylvania State University, and Julie Irwin, professor of business at the University of Texas at Austin.

The results were just published online in the Journal of Marketing.

“The project got started when I realized I was keeping an old pair of basketball shorts just because they reminded me of beating a major rival basketball team in junior high,” Winterich said.

“I didn’t want the shorts – I wanted the memory of winning that game and that’s what I thought of when I saw the shorts. A picture can easily mark that memory for me and I can donate it so someone else can use it, which is even better.”

Inspired by this story, the researchers conducted a field study involving 797 students at Penn State who lived in six residence halls on campus. At the end of a fall semester, the researchers advertised a donation drive before the students left for the holidays. But there was a catch: There were actually two different advertising campaigns that varied by residence halls.

In the memory preservation campaign, signs in the residence hall bathrooms stated, “Don’t Pack up Your Sentimental Clutter…Just Keep a Photo of It, Then Donate.” In the control campaign, fliers told students, “Don’t Pack Up Your Sentimental Clutter, Just Collect the Items, Then Donate.” Similar numbers of students were exposed to both campaigns.

After finals week, research associates who were unaware of what the study was about emptied donation bins in each residence hall, counting the items donated.

The researchers found 613 items were donated in the halls that hosted the “memory preservation” campaign, versus only 533 in the control campaign.

Reczek said the results show it may be relatively easy to break our old habits of clinging to some of our possessions with sentimental value.

“It is not terribly surprising that we can keep the same memories alive just by taking a photo of these possessions, but it is not a natural behavior. It is something we have to train ourselves to do,” she said.

In other related experiments, the researchers found that it wasn’t just the memories associated with these possessions that were keeping people from donating – it was the identities linked to those memories.

For example, older parents may still feel connected to their identity as new mothers and fathers and not want to part with their infant clothes.

In one study, some people who were donating goods at a local thrift shop in State College, Pennsylvania, were given instant photos of the items they were donating, while others were not. They were then asked about whether they would feel a sense of identity loss from giving away the item.

Results showed that those who received the photos reported less identity loss than those who did not.

“These memories connected to possessions are a carrier for identity. It is this reluctance to give up a piece of our identity that is driving our reluctance to donate,” Reczek said.

This memory preservation strategy won’t work for items that don’t have sentimental value, she said. It also won’t work for items you want to sell instead of donate. She also suspects there may be a limit to what some people are willing to give away.

“It may not work for something that has a lot of sentimental value, like a wedding dress,” Reczek said.

The bottom line is that everyone benefits by using this memory preservation strategy to de-clutter a home, Winterich said.

“We hope that it will not only make it easier for people to clear out clutter, but it will also help spur the donation process, benefiting nonprofits and the recipients that they serve,” she said.

Why the ‘peculiar’ stands out in our memory

Ohio State professor speaks on the neuroscience of remembering

COLUMBUS – Memories that stick with us for a lifetime are those that fit in with a lot of other things we remember – but have a slightly weird twist.

It’s this notion of ‘peculiarity’ that can help us understand what makes lasting memories, according to Per Sederberg, a professor of psychology at The Ohio State University.

“You have to build a memory on the scaffolding of what you already know, but then you have to violate the expectations somewhat. It has to be a little bit weird,” Sederberg said.

Sederberg talked about the neuroscience of memory as an invited speaker at the prestigious Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in France on June 19. He spoke at the session “What are memories made of? Stirring emotions and last impressions” along with several advertising professionals and artists.

Sederberg has spent his career studying memory. In one of his most notable studies, he had college students wear a smartphone around their neck with an app that took random photos for a month. Later, the participants relived memories related to those photos in an fMRI scanner so that Sederberg and his colleagues could see where and how the brain stored the time and place of those memories.

From his own research and that of others, Sederberg has ideas on which memories stick with us and which ones fade over time.

The way to create a long-lasting memory is to form an association with other memories, he said.

“If we want to be able to retrieve a memory later, you want to build a rich web. It should connect to other memories in multiple ways, so there are many ways for our mind to get back to it.”

A memory of a lifetime is like a big city, with many roads that lead there. We forget memories that are desert towns, with only one road in. “You want to have a lot of different ways to get to any individual memory,” Sederberg said.

The difficulty is how to best navigate the push and pull between novelty and familiarity. Novelty tells us what is important to remember. On the other hand, familiarity tells us what we can ignore, but helps us retrieve information later, Sederberg said.

Too much novelty, and you have no way to place it in your cognitive map, but too much familiarity and the information is similarly lost.

What that means is that context and prediction play critical roles in shaping our perception and memory. The most memorable experiences are those that arise in a familiar and stable context, yet violate some aspect of what we predict would occur in that context, he said.

“Those peculiar experiences are the things that stand out, that make a more lasting memory.”

Sederberg’s co-presenters, all based in London, are Dominique Bonnafoux, a senior strategist at FITCH; Mike Reed, founder and creative director of Reed Words; and Jason Bruges, a multidisciplinary artist and designer.

LACK OF SLEEP FUELS HARMFUL INFLAMMATORY RESPONSE TO MARITAL STRESS

COLUMBUS – A lack of sleep doesn’t just leave you cranky and spoiling for a fight. Researchers at The Ohio State University Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research say it also puts you at risk for stress-related inflammation.

This type of inflammation is associated with higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and other diseases.

“We know sleep problems are also linked with inflammation and many of the same chronic illnesses. So we were interested to see how sleep related to inflammation among married couples, and whether one partner’s sleep affected the other’s inflammation,” said Stephanie Wilson, lead researcher on the study.

Results of the study were published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

The research team recruited 43 couples who completed two study visits. Each time, the couples provided blood samples and said how many hours they had slept the previous two nights. Then researchers had the couples try to resolve a topic that sparks conflict in their marriage. Blood samples were taken again following the discussion.

“We found that people who slept less in the past few nights didn’t wake up with higher inflammation, but they had a greater inflammatory response to the conflict. So that tells us less sleep increased vulnerability to a stressor,” Wilson said.

If both partners got less than seven hours of sleep the previous two nights, the couple was more likely to argue or become hostile. For every hour of sleep lost, the researchers noted that levels of two known inflammatory markers rose 6 percent. Couples who used unhealthy tactics in their disagreement had an even greater inflammatory response—about a 10 percent increase with each hour of less sleep.

“Any increase isn’t good, but a protracted increase that isn’t being addressed is where it can become a problem,” Wilson said. “What’s concerning is both a lack of sleep and marital conflict are common in daily life. About half of our study couples had slept less than the recommended seven hours in recent nights.”

That’s higher than the current national average. The CDC reports 35 percent of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep per night.

“Part of the issue in a marriage is that sleep patterns often track together. If one person is restless, or has chronic problems, that can impact the other’s sleep. If these problems persist over time, you can get this nasty reverberation within the couple,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, senior author and director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.

Researchers were encouraged to see that there was a protective effect if one of the partners was well-rested, or discussed conflict in a healthy way. They tended to neutralize the disagreement that might be stirred by the sleep-deprived partner.

“We would tell people that it’s important to find good ways to process the relationship and resolve conflict — and get some sleep,” Kiecolt-Glaser said.

OHIO STATE STUDIES IF HIGH-TECH VEST CAN HELP MANAGE HEART FAILURE AT HOME

COLUMBUS – Doctors at The Ohio State University Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital are testing a high-tech vest which measures fluid inside the lungs from outside a person’s clothing. It could be a new way to prevent repeated trips to the hospital for the nearly six million Americans living with heart failure.

The SensiVest, created by Sensible Medical, uses radar technology that was first used by the military and rescue teams to see through walls and rubble in collapsed buildings.

“Now the technology has been miniaturized and put into a form that allows the radar to go through the chest wall and get an accurate measurement of water inside the lungs,” said Dr. William Abraham, director of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “With heart failure, the heart isn’t strong enough to keep up with the body’s needs and fluid stays in the lungs. Too much fluid makes it hard to breathe.”

Until now, cardiologists haven’t had a non-invasive way to proactively monitor for fluid changes. The standard has been to rely on patients weighing themselves daily and reporting symptoms such as swelling or shortness of breath. By then, it could be serious enough to require treatment in the hospital.

“We’ve learned these methods don’t catch the disease progression early enough, and that’s why hospitalization and re-hospitalization rates for heart failure have changed very little in the last 20 to 30 years,” Abraham said.

So doctors are testing the vest in a national, randomized clinical trial to see if it effectively monitors and manages lung fluid, reduces hospitalizations and improves quality of life. Abraham leads the trial that includes approximately 40 sites across the country.

All patients enrolled in the trial receive the highest standard of care for heart failure. Those randomized to the treatment group will also use the lung fluid monitor at home to take daily readings. The vest is worn over clothing and a reading takes approximately 90 seconds. The data is uploaded to a secure server where the patient’s cardiologist or nurse can review it.

“We can use that data to see when the lungs are trending towards being too wet and make adjustments to the medication on an outpatient basis or over the phone,” said Dr. Rami Kahwash, director of the Heart and Vascular Research Organization and site leader for the trial at Ohio State. “The goal is to keep the patient within a normal range, feeling well and out of the hospital.”

A previous, small observational study compared hospitalizations before and after using the vest. That study showed an 87 percent reduction in heart failure hospitalizations with vest lung fluid monitoring.

Kenny McIntyre, 59, of Columbus, has been hospitalized twice in the three months since he was diagnosed with heart failure. He recently joined the trial and says the vest is easy to use.

“I’m the type that, unless something hurts me, I don’t want to go to a doctor,” McIntyre said. “I just put the vest on, lay back, hit a button, and let it take my measurements. Every now and then they alter my medications.”

Patients in the trial will be followed for up to nine months.

First-Line Immunotherapy Treatment Can Improve Survival for Subset of Lung Cancer Patients

Results of phase III global clinical trial show that 75 percent of stage IV lung cancer patients with both complex tumor mutations and PDL-1 positive status respond to nivolumab

COLUMBUS – Findings from a phase III clinical trial for advanced lung cancer patients could help oncologists better predict which patients are likely to receive the most benefit from immunotherapy as a first-line treatment based on the unique molecular characteristics of their tumor, according to a new study reported by a global team led by David Carbone, MD, PhD, of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

In this study, researchers compared the effectiveness of the immunotherapy drug nivolumab (pronounced “nye VOL ue mab,” marketed at Opdivo), with standard-of-care chemotherapy in 541 patients with previously untreated or recurrent non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that expressed PDL-1 antibodies.

Nivolumab is part of a class of immunotherapy drugs known as PD-1 blocking antibodies. These drugs work by targeting the PDL-1 receptor — a known immunotherapy biomarker for lung and other cancers — to boost immune responses to the cancer.

Patients were randomized to receive either immunotherapy or standard-of-care chemotherapy. About 60 percent of patients treated on the trial ultimately crossed over to the immunotherapy treatment arm due to disease progression.

Results from this new study showed that nivolumab did not result in longer progression-free survival compared with chemotherapy in the overall population. The response rate for patients receiving nivolumab was 26.1 percent, with a 12.1 month median duration of response before disease progression. The response rate for patients treated on the chemotherapy arm was 33.5 percent, but median duration of response was just 5.7 months before disease progression.

“The good news is that we discovered that a subset of patients who had both high tumor mutation burden and high PDL-1 positive status did experience a significant benefit from immunotherapy,” says Carbone.

Patients with both high tumor mutation burden and high PDL-1 positive status had a 75 percent response rate compared with a 16 percent response rate to immunotherapy among patients with low mutation burden and low PDL-1. These same two groups had 25 percent and 23 percent response rates, respectively, when treated with chemotherapy, showing that these markers were selective for immunotherapy.

Understanding a patient’s overall tumor burden through genomic testing, says Carbone, could help identify patients most likely to benefit from immunotherapy before therapy ever begins.

“This study is an important step toward understanding the impact of tumor mutation burden and PDL-1 in immunotherapy response. This data shows we should evaluate these two factors independently to most accurately define who will benefit from immunotherapy,” says Carbone.

The findings were reported in the June 22, 2017, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

This Bristol-Myers Squibb-funded clinical trial involved more than 29 cancer centers in five countries. Coauthors include Martin Reck, MD, PhD, Luis Paz-Ares, MD, Benjamin Creelan, MD, Leora Horn, MD, Martin Steins, MD, PhD, Enriqueta Felip, MD, Michel M. van den Heuvel, MD, Tudor-Eliade Ciuleanu, MD, Firas Badin, MD, Neal Ready, MD, T. Jeroen Hiltermann, MD, Suresh Nair, MD, Rosalyn Juergens, MD, PhD, Solange Peters, MD, PhD, Elisa Minenza, MD, John Wrangle, MD, Delvys Rodriguez Abreu, MD, Hossein Borghaei, DO, George Blumenschein, Jr., MD, Liza Villaruz, MD, Libor Havel, MD, Jana Krejci, MD, Jesus Corral Jaime, MD, Han Chang, PhD, William Geeze, PhD, Prabhu Bhagavatheeswaran, PhD, Allen Chen, MD, and Mark Socinski.

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 48 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. With 21 floors and 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.

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Staff Reports

Information for these stories was provided by Ohio State.

Information for these stories was provided by Ohio State.