Publications by authors named "Abby Chopoorian"

5 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

The Role of the Learner in the Cultural Evolution of Vocalizations.

Front Psychol 2021 13;12:667455. Epub 2021 Aug 13.

Department of Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, United States.

As a uniquely human behavior, language is crucial to our understanding of ourselves and of the world around us. Despite centuries of research into how languages have historically developed and how people learn them, fully understanding the origin and evolution of language remains an ongoing challenge. In parallel, researchers have studied the divergence of birdsong in vocal-learning songbirds to uncover broader patterns of cultural evolution. One approach to studying cultural change over time, adapted from biology, focuses on the transmission of socially learned traits, including language, in a population. By studying how learning and the distribution of cultural traits interact at the population level, we can better understand the processes that underlie cultural evolution. Here, we take a two-fold approach to understanding the cultural evolution of vocalizations, with a focus on the role of the learner in cultural transmission. First, we explore previous research on the evolution of social learning, focusing on recent progress regarding the origin and ongoing cultural evolution of both language and birdsong. We then use a spatially explicit population model to investigate the coevolution of culture and learning preferences, with the assumption that selection acts directly on cultural phenotypes and indirectly on learning preferences. Our results suggest that the spatial distribution of learned behaviors can cause unexpected evolutionary patterns of learning. We find that, intuitively, selection for rare cultural phenotypes can indirectly favor a novelty-biased learning strategy. In contrast, selection for common cultural phenotypes leads to cultural homogeneity; we find that there is no selective pressure on learning strategy without cultural variation. Thus, counterintuitively, selection for common cultural traits does not consistently favor conformity bias, and novelty bias can stably persist in this cultural context. We propose that the evolutionary dynamics of learning preferences and cultural biases can depend on the existing variation of learned behaviors, and that this interaction could be important to understanding the origin and evolution of cultural systems such as language and birdsong. Selection acting on learned behaviors may indirectly impose counterintuitive selective pressures on learning strategies, and understanding the cultural landscape is crucial to understanding how patterns of learning might change over time.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.667455DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8415155PMC
August 2021

A Simple Reverse Transcriptase PCR Melting-Temperature Assay To Rapidly Screen for Widely Circulating SARS-CoV-2 Variants.

J Clin Microbiol 2021 Sep 21;59(10):e0084521. Epub 2021 Jul 21.

Public Health Research Institute, Center for Emerging Pathogens, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey, USA.

The increased transmission of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC), which originated in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7/alpha), South Africa (B1.351/beta), Brazil (P.1/gamma), the United States (B.1.427/429 or epsilon), and India (B.1.617.2/delta), requires a vigorous public health response, including real-time strain surveillance on a global scale. Although genome sequencing is the gold standard for identifying these VOCs, it is time-consuming and expensive. Here, we describe a simple, rapid, and high-throughput reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) melting-temperature () screening assay that identifies the first three major VOCs. RT-PCR primers and four sloppy molecular beacon (SMB) probes were designed to amplify and detect the SARS-CoV-2 N501Y (A23063T) and E484K (G23012A) mutations and their corresponding wild-type sequences. After RT-PCR, the VOCs were identified by a characteristic of each SMB. Assay optimization and testing was performed with RNA from SARS-CoV-2 USA WA1/2020 (wild type [WT]), B.1.1.7, and B.1.351 variant strains. The assay was then validated using clinical samples. The limit of detection for both the WT and variants was 4 and 10 genomic copies/reaction for the 501- and 484-codon assays, respectively. The assay was 100% sensitive and 100% specific for identifying the N501Y and E484K mutations in cultured virus and in clinical samples, as confirmed by Sanger sequencing. We have developed an RT-PCR melt screening test for the major VOCs that can be used to rapidly screen large numbers of patient samples, providing an early warning for the emergence of these variants and a simple way to track their spread.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JCM.00845-21DOI Listing
September 2021

A Simple RT-PCR Melting temperature Assay to Rapidly Screen for Widely Circulating SARS-CoV-2 Variants.

medRxiv 2021 Apr 8. Epub 2021 Apr 8.

Public Health Research Institute; Center for Emerging Pathogens, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.

Background: The increased transmission of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC) which originated in the United Kingdom (B.1.1.7), South Africa (B1.351), Brazil (P.1) and in United States (B.1.427/429) requires a vigorous public health response, including real time strain surveillance on a global scale. Although genome sequencing is the gold standard for identifying these VOCs, it is time consuming and expensive. Here, we describe a simple, rapid and high-throughput reverse-transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) melting temperature (Tm) screening assay that identifies these three major VOCs.

Methods: RT-PCR primers and four sloppy molecular beacon (SMB) probes were designed to amplify and detect the SARS-CoV-2 N501Y (A23063T) and E484K (G23012A) mutations and their corresponding wild type sequences. After RT-PCR, the VOCs were identified by a characteristic Tm of each SMB. Assay optimization and testing was performed with RNA from SARS-CoV-2 USA WA1/2020 (WT), a B.1.17 and a B.1.351 variant strains. The assay was then validated using clinical samples.

Results: The limit of detection (LOD) for both the WT and variants was 4 and 10 genomic copies/reaction for the 501 and 484 codon assays, respectively. The assay was 100% sensitive and 100% specific for identifying the N501Y and E484K mutations in cultured virus and in clinical samples as confirmed by Sanger sequencing.

Conclusion: We have developed an RT-PCR melt screening test for the three major VOCs which can be used to rapidly screen large numbers of patient samples providing an early warning for the emergence of these variants and a simple way to track their spread.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2021.03.05.21252709DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7987051PMC
April 2021

High-sodium diet does not worsen endothelial function in female patients with postural tachycardia syndrome.

Clin Auton Res 2021 Aug 10;31(4):563-571. Epub 2021 Mar 10.

Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt Autonomic Dysfunction Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 560A RRB, 2222 Pierce Ave,, Nashville, TN, 37232, USA.

Purpose: Postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a syndrome characterized by orthostatic symptoms and a heart rate increase of at least 30 beats per minute in the absence of hypotension upon standing, is often accompanied by increased sympathetic activity and low blood volume. A common non-pharmacologic recommendation for patients with POTS is a high-sodium (HS) diet with the goal of bolstering circulating blood volume. The objective of this study is to assess the effects of 6 days of a HS diet on endothelial function in POTS.

Methods: A total of 14 patients with POTS and 13 age-matched healthy controls, all females, were studied following 6 days on a low-sodium (LS) diet (10 mEq/day) and 6 days on a HS diet (300 mEq/day) in a crossover design. We measured endothelial function following reactive hyperemia in the brachial artery using flow-mediated dilation (FMD), leg blood flow (LBF) using strain gauge plethysmography in the calf, and reactive hyperemic index (RHI) in the microcirculation of the hand using pulsatile arterial tonometry.

Results: On the LS diet, FMD% did not differ between patients with POTS and the healthy controls although peak brachial artery diameter was lower for the patient group. RHI was higher for the patient group than for the controls, but there were no differences in post-ischemic LBF increase. On the HS diet, there were no between-group differences in FMD%, LBF increase, or RHI.

Conclusion: In summary, a HS diet for 6 days did not induce endothelial dysfunction. This non-pharmacologic treatment used for patients with POTS does not negatively affect endothelial function when used for a sub-acute duration.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01550315; March 9, 2012.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10286-021-00772-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8295180PMC
August 2021

Impaired Endothelial Function in Patients With Postural Tachycardia Syndrome.

Hypertension 2021 03 25;77(3):1001-1009. Epub 2021 Jan 25.

Vanderbilt Autonomic Dysfunction Center, Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Medicine (A.W., J.C., V.N., E.C.S., E.M.G., S.P., L.E.O., B.K.B., I.B., A.G.), Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate endothelial function in postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), a poorly understood chronic condition characterized by a state of consistent orthostatic tachycardia (delta heart rate ≥30 beats per minute) upon standing without orthostatic hypotension. Nineteen patients with PoTS and 9 healthy controls were studied after 3 days of a fixed, caffeine-free, normal sodium (150 milliequivalents/day) diet. All participants underwent autonomic function testing, including sinus arrhythmia, valsalva maneuver, hyperventilation, cold pressor, handgrip, and a standing test with catecholamine measurements, followed by endothelial function testing. We analyzed 3 measures of endothelial function: percent brachial flow-mediated dilation, digital pulsatile arterial tonometry, and postischemic percent leg blood flow. Flow-mediated dilation was significantly lower in patients with PoTS (6.23±3.54% for PoTS) than in healthy controls (10.6±4.37% for controls versus, =0.014). PoTS and controls had similar digital pulsatile arterial tonometry (1.93±0.40 arbitrary units for controls versus 2.13±0.63 arbitrary units for PoTS). PoTS had similar but suggestive percent leg blood flow to controls (313±158% for PoTS versus 468±236% for controls, =0.098). Patients with PoTS have significantly reduced flow-mediated dilation compared with healthy controls, suggesting that PoTS is characterized by endothelial dysfunction in conduit arteries. Registration: URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT01308099.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.120.16238DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7878337PMC
March 2021
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