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Regular version of the site
Of all publications in the section: 69
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Article
Jackson J., van Egmond M., Choi V. et al. Plos One. 2019. P. 1-17.

Prejudiced attitudes and political nationalism vary widely around the world, but there has been little research on what predicts this variation. Here we examine the ecological and cultural factors underlying the worldwide distribution of prejudice. We suggest that cultures grow more prejudiced when they tighten cultural norms in response to destabilizing ecological threats. A set of seven archival analyses, surveys, and experiments (∑N = 3,986,402) find that nations, American states, and pre-industrial societies with tighter cultural norms show the most prejudice based on skin color, religion, nationality, and sexuality, and that tightness predicts why prejudice is often highest in areas of the world with histories of ecological threat. People’s support for cultural tightness also mediates the link between perceived ecological threat and intentions to vote for nationalist politicians. Results replicate when controlling for economic development, inequality, conservatism, residential mobility, and shared cultural heritage. These findings offer a cultural evolutionary perspective on prejudice, with implications for immigration, intercultural conflict, and radicalization

Added: Sep 23, 2019
Article
Rykov Y., Koltsova O., Sinyavskaya Y. Plos One. 2020. Vol. 15. No. 4. P. 1-17.

The use of social network sites helps people to make and maintain social ties accumulating social capital, which is increasingly important for individual success. There is a wide variation in the amount and structure of online ties, and to some extent this variation is contingent on specific online user behaviors which are to date under-researched. In this work, we examine an entire city-bounded friendship network (N = 194,601) extracted from VK social network site to explore how specific online user behaviors are related to structural social capital in a network of geographically proximate ties. Social network analysis was used to evaluate individual social capital as a network asset, and multiple regression analysis–to determine and estimate the effects of online user behaviors on social capital. The analysis reveals that the graph is both clustered and highly centralized which suggests the presence of a hierarchical structure: a set of sub-communities united by city-level hubs. Against this background, membership in more online groups is positively associated with user’s brokerage in the location-bounded network. Additionally, the share of local friends, the number of received likes and the duration of SNS use are associated with social capital indicators. This contributes to the literature on the formation of online social capital, examined at the level of a large and geographically localized population.

Added: Jun 2, 2020
Article
Kertesz-Farkas A., Juhász J., Szabó D. et al. Plos One. 2014. Vol. 9. No. 4.

Multispecies bacterial communities such as the microbiota of the gastrointestinal tract can be remarkably stable and resilient even though they consist of cells and species that compete for resources and also produce a large number of antimicrobial agents. Computational modeling suggests that horizontal transfer of resistance genes may greatly contribute to the formation of stable and diverse communities capable of protecting themselves with a battery of antimicrobial agents while preserving a varied metabolic repertoire of the constituent species. In other words horizontal transfer of resistance genes makes a community compatible in terms of exoproducts and capable to maintain a varied and mature metagenome. The same property may allow microbiota to protect a host organism, or if used as a microbial therapy, to purge pathogens and restore a protective environment.

Added: Nov 18, 2015
Article
Hennig-Schmidt H., Lönnqvist J., Walkowitz G. Plos One. 2015. Vol. 10. No. 5. P. e0124622 .
Added: Oct 4, 2018
Article
Bondarenko V., Gelfand M. S. Plos One. 2016. Vol. 11. No. 9. P. 1-16.

A typical eukaryotic gene is comprised of alternating stretches of regions, exons and introns, retained in and spliced out a mature mRNA, respectively. Although the length of introns may vary substantially among organisms, a large fraction of genes contains short introns in many species. Notably, some Ciliates (Paramecium and Nyctotherus) possess only ultra-short introns, around 25 bp long. In Paramecium, ultra-short introns with length divisible by three (3n) are under strong evolutionary pressure and have a high frequency of in-frame stop codons, which, in the case of intron retention, cause premature termination of mRNA translation and consequent degradation of the mis-spliced mRNA by the nonsense-mediated decay mechanism. Here, we analyzed introns in five genera of Ciliates, Paramecium, Tetrahymena, Ichthyophthirius, Oxytricha, and Stylonychia. Introns can be classified into two length classes in Tetrahymena and Ichthyophthirius (with means 48 bp, 69 bp, and 55 bp, 64 bp, respectively), but, surprisingly, comprise three distinct length classes in Oxytricha and Stylonychia (with means 33-35 bp, 47-51 bp, and 78-80 bp). In most ranges of the intron lengths, 3n introns are underrepresented and have a high frequency of in-frame stop codons in all studied species. Introns of Paramecium, Tetrahymena, and Ichthyophthirius are preferentially located at the 5' and 3' ends of genes, whereas introns of Oxytricha and Stylonychia are strongly skewed towards the 5' end. Analysis of evolutionary conservation shows that, in each studied genome, a significant fraction of intron positions is conserved between the orthologs, but intron lengths are not correlated between the species. In summary, our study provides a detailed characterization of introns in several genera of Ciliates and highlights some of their distinctive properties, which, together, indicate that splicing spellchecking is a universal and evolutionarily conserved process in the biogenesis of short introns in various representatives of Ciliates.

Added: Mar 13, 2017
Article
Kosonogov V., De Zorzi L., Honore J. et al. Plos One. 2017. Vol. 12. P. 1-15.

Functional infrared thermal imaging (fITI) is considered a promising method to measure emotional autonomic responses through facial cutaneous thermal variations. However, the facial thermal response to emotions still needs to be investigated within the framework of the dimensional approach to emotions. The main aim of this study was to assess how the facial thermal variations index the emotional arousal and valence dimensions of visual stimuli. Twenty-four participants were presented with three groups of standardized emotional pictures (unpleasant, neutral and pleasant) from the International Affective Picture System. Facial temperature was recorded at the nose tip, an important region of interest for facial thermal variations, and compared to electrodermal responses, a robust index of emotional arousal. Both types of responses were also compared to subjective ratings of pictures. An emotional arousal effect was found on the amplitude and latency of thermal responses and on the amplitude and frequency of electrodermal responses. The participants showed greater thermal and dermal responses to emotional than to neutral pictures with no difference between pleasant and unpleasant ones. Thermal responses correlated and the dermal ones tended to correlate with subjective ratings. Finally, in the emotional conditions compared to the neutral one, the frequency of simultaneous thermal and dermal responses increased while both thermal or dermal isolated responses decreased. Overall, this study brings convergent arguments to consider fITI as a promising method reflecting the arousal dimension of emotional stimulation and, consequently, as a credible alternative to the classical recording of electrodermal activity. The present research provides an original way to unveil autonomic implication in emotional processes and opens new perspectives to measure them in touchless conditions.

Added: Oct 1, 2019
Article
Smirnov I., Thurner S. Plos One. 2017. Vol. 12. No. 8. P. 1-16.

Homophily, the tendency of individuals to associate with others who share similar traits, has been identified as a major driving force in the formation and evolution of social ties. In many cases, it is not clear if homophily is the result of a socialization process, where individuals change their traits according to the dominance of that trait in their local social networks, or if it results from a selection process, in which individuals reshape their social networks so that their traits match those in the new environment. Here we demonstrate the detailed temporal formation of strong homophily in academic achievements of high school and university students. We analyze a unique dataset that contains information about the detailed time evolution of a friendship network of 6,000 students across 42 months. Combining the evolving social network data with the time series of the academic performance (GPA) of individual students, we show that academic homophily is a result of selection: students prefer to gradually reorganize their social networks according to their performance levels, rather than adapting their performance to the level of their local group. We find no signs for a pull effect, where a social environment of good performers motivates bad students to improve their performance. We are able to understand the underlying dynamics of grades and networks with a simple model. The lack of a social pull effect in classical educational settings could have important implications for the understanding of the observed persistence of segregation, inequality and social immobility in societies.

Added: Aug 31, 2017
Article
Babkina T., Menshikov I., Shklover A. et al. Plos One. 2017. Vol. 12. No. 11. P. 1-17.

In this research, the social behavior of the participants in a Prisoner's Dilemma laboratory game is explained on the basis of the quantal response equilibrium concept and the representation of the game in Markov strategies. In previous research, we demonstrated that social interaction during the experiment has a positive influence on cooperation, trust, and gratefulness. This research shows that the quantal response equilibrium concept agrees only with the results of experiments on cooperation in Prisoner’s Dilemma prior to social interaction. However, quantal response equilibrium does not explain of participants’ behavior after social interaction. As an alternative theoretical approach, an examination was conducted of iterated Prisoner's Dilemma game in Markov strategies. We built a totally mixed Nash equilibrium in this game; the equilibrium agrees with the results of the experiments both before and after social interaction.

Added: Jun 4, 2018
Article
Brederoo S., Bos L., Dragoy O. et al. Plos One. 2015. Vol. 10. No. 4.

Verbs and other temporal expressions allow speakers to specify the location of events in time, as well as to move back and forth in time, shifting in a narrative between past, present and future. The referential flexibility of temporal expressions is well understood in linguistics but its neurocognitive bases remain unknown. Here we aimed to obtain a neural signature of time shifting in natural language. We analyzed event-related potentials (ERPs) and oscillatory responses to occurrences of the word ‘now’ and of verbs in Punctual (‘An hour ago the boy stole a candy and now he peeled the fruit’) and Iterative (‘The entire afternoon the boy stole candy and now he peeled the fruit’) contexts. ‘An hour ago’ introduces a time frame that lies entirely in the past, ‘now’ shifts the narrative to the present, and ‘peeled’ shifts it back to the past. These two time shifts in Punctual contexts are expected to leave very similar traces on electrophysiological responses. ‘The entire afternoon’ may encompass past and present: both ‘now’ and ‘peeled’ are consistent with that time frame, therefore no time shift is required. We found no difference in ERPs between Punctual and Iterative contexts either at ‘now’ or at the verb. However, time shifts modulated brain oscillations. ‘Now’ and ‘peeled’ in Punctual contexts resulted in nearly identical signals: an increase in gamma power with a left-anterior distribution. Gamma bursts were absent in Iterative contexts. We propose that gamma oscillations here reflect operations that bind temporal variables to the values allowed by the constraints introduced by temporal expressions in discourse.

Added: Dec 15, 2014
Article
Cugmas M., Ferligoj A., ŽIBERNA A. Plos One. 2018. Vol. 13. No. 5. P. 1-24.

This paper addresses the question of whether one can generate networks with a given global structure (defined by selected blockmodels, i.e., cohesive, core-periphery, hierarchical, and transitivity), considering only different types of triads. Two methods are used to generate networks: (i) the newly proposed method of relocating links; and (ii) the Monte Carlo Multi Chain algorithm implemented in the ergm package in R. Most of the selected blockmodel types can be generated by considering all types of triads. The selection of only a subset of triads can improve the generated networks’ blockmodel structure. Yet, in the case of a hierarchical blockmodel without complete blocks on the diagonal, additional local structures are needed to achieve the desired global structure of generated networks. This shows that blockmodels can emerge based only on local processes that do not take attributes into account.

Added: Nov 2, 2018
Article
Dybo A., Kushniarevich A., Utevska O. et al. Plos One. 2015. Vol. 10. No. 9.

The Slavic branch of the Balto-Slavic sub-family of Indo-European languages underwent rapid divergence as a result of the spatial expansion of its speakers from Central-East Europe, in early medieval times. This expansion-mainly to East Europe and the northern Balkans-resulted in the incorporation of genetic components from numerous autochthonous populations into the Slavic gene pools. Here, we characterize genetic variation in all extant ethnic groups speaking Balto-Slavic languages by analyzing mitochondrial DNA (n = 6,876), Y-chromosomes (n = 6,079) and genome-wide SNP profiles (n = 296), within the context of other European populations. We also reassess the phylogeny of Slavic languages within the Balto-Slavic branch of Indo-European. We find that genetic distances among Balto-Slavic populations, based on autosomal and Y-chromosomal loci, show a high correlation (0.9) both with each other and with geography, but a slightly lower correlation (0.7) with mitochondrial DNA and linguistic affiliation. The data suggest that genetic diversity of the present-day Slavs was predominantly shaped in situ, and we detect two different substrata: 'central-east European' for West and East Slavs, and 'south-east European' for South Slavs. A pattern of distribution of segments identical by descent between groups of East-West and South Slavs suggests shared ancestry or a modest gene flow between those two groups, which might derive from the historic spread of Slavic people.

Added: Nov 14, 2019
Article
Мальков Ю. А., Ponomarenko A. Plos One. 2016. Vol. 11. No. 6. P. 1-14.

Navigability, an ability to find a logarithmically short path between elements using only local information, is one of the most fascinating properties of real-life networks. However, the exact mechanism responsible for the formation of navigation properties remained unknown. We show that navigability can be achieved by using only two ingredients present in the majority of networks: network growth and local homophily, giving a persuasive answer how the navigation appears in real-life networks. A very simple algorithm produces hierarchical self-similar optimally wired navigable small world networks with exponential degree distribution by using only local information. Adding preferential attachment produces a scale-free network which has shorter greedy paths, but worse (power law) scaling of the information extraction locality (algorithmic complexity of a search). Introducing saturation of the preferential attachment leads to truncated scale-free degree distribution that offers a good tradeoff between these parameters and can be useful for practical applications. Several features of the model are observed in real-life networks, in particular in the brain neural networks, supporting the earlier suggestions that they are navigable.

Added: Sep 9, 2016
Article
Thomas G., Poortinga W., Sautkina E. Plos One. 2016. Vol. 11. No. 4. P. 1-16.

Repeated behaviours in stable contexts can become automatic habits. Habits are resistant to information-based techniques to change behaviour, but are contextually cued, so a change in behaviour context (e.g., location) weakens habit strength and can facilitate greater consideration of the behaviour. This idea was demonstrated in previous work, whereby people with strong environmental attitudes have lower car use, but only after recently moving home. We examine the habit discontinuity hypothesis by analysing the Understanding Society dataset with 18,053 individuals representative of the UK population, measuring time since moving home, travel mode to work, and strength of environmental attitudes. Results support previous findings where car use is significantly lower among those with stronger environmental views (but only after recently moving home), and in addition, demonstrate a trend where this effects decays as the time since moving home increases. We discuss results in light of moving into a new home being a potential ‘window of opportunity’ to promote pro-environmental behaviours.

Added: Oct 3, 2018
Article
Oksuzyan A., Demakakos P., Shkolnikova M. A. et al. Plos One. 2017. Vol. 12. No. 9. P. 1-16.

BACKGROUND:

This study compares handgrip strength and its association with mortality across studies conducted in Moscow, Denmark, and England.

MATERIALS:

The data collected by the Study of Stress, Aging, and Health in Russia, the Study of Middle-Aged Danish Twins and the Longitudinal Study of Aging Danish Twins, and the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing was utilized.

RESULTS:

Among the male participants, the age-standardized grip strength was 2 kg and 1 kg lower in Russia than in Denmark and in England, respectively. The age-standardized grip strength among the female participants was 1.9 kg and 1.6 kg lower in Russia than in Denmark and in England, respectively. In Moscow, a one-kilogram increase in grip strength was associated with a 4% (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.96, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.94, 0.99) reduction in mortality among men and a 10% (HR = 0.90, 95%CI: 0.86, 0.94) among women. Meanwhile, a one-kilogram increase in grip strength was associated with a 6% (HR = 0.94, 95%CI: 0.93, 0.95) and an 8% (HR = 0.92, 95%CI: 0.90, 0.94) decrease in mortality among Danish men and women, respectively, and with a 2% (HR = 0.98, 95%CI: 0.97, 0.99) and a 3% (HR = 0.97, 95%CI: 0.95, 0.98) reduction in mortality among the English men and women, respectively.

CONCLUSION:

The study suggests that, although absolute grip strength values appear to vary across the Muscovite, Danish, and English samples, the degree to which grip strength is predictive of mortality is comparable across national populations with diverse socioeconomic and health profiles and life expectancy levels.

Added: Oct 25, 2017
Article
Tomkins S., Collier T., Oralov A. et al. Plos One. 2012. Vol. 7. No. 2.
Added: Jun 21, 2017
Article
Dokuka S., Valeeva D., Yudkevich M. M. Plos One. 2020. Vol. 15. No. 7. P. e0236737.

Behavior diffusion through social networks is a key social process. It may be guided by various factors such as network topology, type of propagated behavior, and the strength of network connections. In this paper, we claim that the type of social interactions is also an important ingredient of behavioral diffusion. We examine the spread of academic achievements of first-year undergraduate students through friendship and study assistance networks, applying stochastic actor-oriented modeling. We show that informal social connections transmit performance while instrumental connections do not. The results highlight the importance of friendship in educational environments and contribute to debates on the behavior spread in social networks.

 

Added: Jul 27, 2020
Article
Thiel S. D., Bitzer S., Nierhaus T. et al. Plos One. 2014. Vol. 2. No. 9. P. e89802.

Perceptual decisions not only depend on the incoming information from sensory systems but constitute a combination of current sensory evidence and internally accumulated information from past encounters. Although recent evidence emphasizes the fundamental role of prior knowledge for perceptual decision making, only few studies have quantified the relevance of such priors on perceptual decisions and examined their interplay with other decision-relevant factors, such as the stimulus properties. In the present study we asked whether hysteresis, describing the stability of a percept despite a change in stimulus property and known to occur at perceptual thresholds, also acts as a form of an implicit prior in tactile spatial decision making, supporting the stability of a decision across successively presented random stimuli (i.e., decision hysteresis). We applied a variant of the classical 2-point discrimination task and found that hysteresis influenced perceptual decision making: Participants were more likely to decide 'same' rather than 'different' on successively presented pin distances. In a direct comparison between the influence of applied pin distances (explicit stimulus property) and hysteresis, we found that on average, stimulus property explained significantly more variance of participants' decisions than hysteresis. However, when focusing on pin distances at threshold, we found a trend for hysteresis to explain more variance. Furthermore, the less variance was explained by the pin distance on a given decision, the more variance was explained by hysteresis, and vice versa. Our findings suggest that hysteresis acts as an implicit prior in tactile spatial decision making that becomes increasingly important when explicit stimulus properties provide decreasing evidence.

Added: Oct 23, 2014
Article
Korostelev Y., Zharov I., Mironov A. A. et al. Plos One. 2016. Vol. 11. No. 9. P. 1-23.

The large and increasing volume of genomic data analyzed by comparative methods provides information about transcription factors and their binding sites that, in turn, enables statistical analysis of correlations between factors and sites, uncovering mechanisms and evolution of specific protein-DNA recognition. Here we present an online tool, Prot-DNA-Korr, designed to identify and analyze crucial protein-DNA pairs of positions in a family of transcription factors. Correlations are identified by analysis of mutual information between columns of protein and DNA alignments. The algorithm reduces the effects of common phylogenetic history and of abundance of closely related proteins and bindingsites. We apply it to five closely related subfamilies of the MerR family of bacterial transcription factors that regulate heavy metal resistance systems. We validate the approach using known 3D structures of MerR-family proteins in complexes with their cognate DNA binding sitesand demonstrate that a significant fraction of correlated positions indeed form specific side-chain-to-base contacts. The joint distribution of amino acids and nucleotides hence may be used to predict changes of specificity for point mutations in transcription factors.

Added: Mar 14, 2018
Article
Grigoriev P., Jasilionis D., Stumbrys D. et al. Plos One. 2017. Vol. 12. No. 7. P. 1-14.

Although excessive alcohol-related mortality in the post-Soviet countries remains the major public health threat, determinants of this phenomenon are still poorly understood. We assess simultaneously individual- and area-level factors associated with an elevated risk of alcohol-related mortality among Lithuanian males aged 30–64.

Added: Oct 25, 2017
Article
Nersisyan S., Shkurnikov M., Turchinovich A. et al. Plos One. 2020. Vol. 15. No. 7. P. e0235987.

Development of novel approaches for regulating the expression of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) is becoming increasingly important within the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic since these enzymes play a crucial role in cell infection. In this work we searched for putative ACE2 and TMPRSS2 expression regulation networks mediated by various miRNA isoforms (isomiR) across different human organs using publicly available paired miRNA/mRNA-sequencing data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project. As a result, we identified several miRNA families targeting ACE2 and TMPRSS2 genes in multiple tissues. In particular, we found that lysine-specific demethylase 5B (JARID1B), encoded by the KDM5B gene, can indirectly affect ACE2 / TMPRSS2 expression by repressing transcription of hsa-let-7e / hsa-mir-125a and hsa-mir-141 / hsa-miR-200 miRNA families which are targeting these genes.

Added: Jul 29, 2020
Article
Hennig-Schmidt H., Goerg S., Walkowitz G. et al. Plos One. 2016. Vol. 11. No. 6. P. 1-16.

The reconcilability of actions and beliefs in inter-country relationships, either in business or politics, is of vital importance as incorrect beliefs on foreigners’ behavior can have serious implications. We study a typical inter-country interaction by means of a controlled laboratory investment game experiment in Germany, Israel and Palestine involving 400 student participants in total. An investor has to take a risky decision in a foreign country that involves transferring money to an investee/allocator. We found a notable constellation of calibrated and un-calibrated beliefs. Within each country, transfer standards exist, which investees correctly anticipate within their country. However, across countries these standards differ. By attributing the standard of their own environment to the other countries investees are remarkably bad in predicting foreign investors’ behavior. The tendency to ignore this potential difference can be a source of misinterpreting motives in cross-country interaction. Foreigners might perceive behavior as unfavorable or favorable differentiation, even though – unknown to them – investors actually treat fellow-country people and foreigners alike.

Added: Oct 4, 2018