Publications by authors named "Martin Brunner"

60 Publications

Age and ability differentiation in children: A review and empirical investigation.

Dev Psychol 2021 Mar 4;57(3):325-346. Epub 2021 Feb 4.

Department of Psychology, University of Trier.

Differentiation hypotheses concern changes in the structural organization of cognitive abilities that depend on the level of general intelligence (ability differentiation) or age (developmental differentiation). Part 1 of this article presents a review of the literature on ability and developmental differentiation effects in children, revealing the need for studies that examine both effects simultaneously in this age group with appropriate statistical methods. Part 2 presents an empirical study in which nonlinear factor analytic models were applied to the standardization sample ( = 2,619 German elementary schoolchildren; 48% female; age: = 8.8 years, = 1.2, range 6-12 years) of the THINK 1-4 intelligence test to investigate ability differentiation, developmental differentiation, and their interaction. The sample was nationally representative regarding age, gender, urbanization, and geographic location of residence but not regarding parents' education and migration background (overrepresentation of children with more educated parents, underrepresentation of children with migration background). The results showed no consistent evidence for the presence of differentiation effects or their interaction. Instead, different patterns were observed for figural, numerical, and verbal reasoning. Implications for the construction of intelligence tests, the assessment of intelligence in children, and for theories of cognitive development are discussed. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/dev0001147DOI Listing
March 2021

Contrasting Classical and Machine Learning Approaches in the Estimation of Value-Added Scores in Large-Scale Educational Data.

Front Psychol 2020 21;11:2190. Epub 2020 Aug 21.

Luxembourg Centre for Educational Testing, University of Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg.

There is no consensus on which statistical model estimates school value-added (VA) most accurately. To date, the two most common statistical models used for the calculation of VA scores are two classical methods: linear regression and multilevel models. These models have the advantage of being relatively transparent and thus understandable for most researchers and practitioners. However, these statistical models are bound to certain assumptions (e.g., linearity) that might limit their prediction accuracy. Machine learning methods, which have yielded spectacular results in numerous fields, may be a valuable alternative to these classical models. Although big data is not new in general, it is relatively new in the realm of social sciences and education. New types of data require new data analytical approaches. Such techniques have already evolved in fields with a long tradition in crunching big data (e.g., gene technology). The objective of the present paper is to competently apply these "imported" techniques to education data, more precisely VA scores, and assess when and how they can extend or replace the classical psychometrics toolbox. The different models include linear and non-linear methods and extend classical models with the most commonly used machine learning methods (i.e., random forest, neural networks, support vector machines, and boosting). We used representative data of 3,026 students in 153 schools who took part in the standardized achievement tests of the Luxembourg School Monitoring Program in grades 1 and 3. Multilevel models outperformed classical linear and polynomial regressions, as well as different machine learning models. However, it could be observed that across all schools, school VA scores from different model types correlated highly. Yet, the percentage of disagreements as compared to multilevel models was not trivial and real-life implications for individual schools may still be dramatic depending on the model type used. Implications of these results and possible ethical concerns regarding the use of machine learning methods for decision-making in education are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02190DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7472739PMC
August 2020

Vibrational coupling to hydration shell - Mechanism to performance enhancement of qualitative analysis in NIR spectroscopy of carbohydrates in aqueous environment.

Spectrochim Acta A Mol Biomol Spectrosc 2020 Aug 16;237:118359. Epub 2020 Apr 16.

Institute of Analytical Chemistry and Radiochemistry, CCB-Center for Chemistry and Biomedicine, Innrain 80/82, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria. Electronic address:

Vibrational coupling between carbohydrates and the hydration shell is unveiled as the underlying mechanism that improves wavenumber-selectively the carbohydrate discrimination performance by near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy. The investigation is based on measurement of six carbohydrates (fructose, glucose, mannose, ribose, xylose and sorbitol) in aqueous solution in different concentration levels (5 mg/L, ~0.03 mmol/dm and 20 mg/L, ~0.1 mmol/dm). The results of multivariate classification are interpreted by quantum mechanical NIR spectra simulations. The simulation unveils that the phenomenon is vibration-selective and thus wavenumber-selective, and leads to an enhancement of the qualitative information contained in the specific spectral regions. The location of these regions and the related performance correspond fully to the appearance and magnitude of the unveiled cooperative vibration effect.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.saa.2020.118359DOI Listing
August 2020

General intelligence and specific cognitive abilities in adolescence: Tests of age differentiation, ability differentiation, and their interaction in two large samples.

Dev Psychol 2020 Feb 30;56(2):364-384. Epub 2019 Dec 30.

Department of Psychology.

Differentiation of intelligence refers to changes in the structure of intelligence that depend on individuals' level of general cognitive ability (ability differentiation hypothesis) or age (developmental differentiation hypothesis). The present article aimed to investigate ability differentiation, developmental differentiation, and their interaction with nonlinear factor analytic models in 2 studies. Study 1 was comprised of a nationally representative sample of 7,127 U.S. students (49.4% female; = 14.51, = 1.42, range = 12.08-17.00) who completed the computerized adaptive version of the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery. Study 2 analyzed the norming sample of the Berlin Intelligence Structure Test with 1,506 German students (44% female; = 14.54, = 1.35, range = 10.00-18.42). Results of Study 1 supported the ability differentiation hypothesis but not the developmental differentiation hypothesis. Rather, the findings pointed to age-dedifferentiation (i.e., higher correlations between different abilities with increasing age). There was evidence for an interaction between age and ability differentiation, with greater ability differentiation found for older adolescents. Study 2 provided little evidence for ability differentiation but largely replicated the findings for age dedifferentiation and the interaction between age and ability differentiation. The present results provide insight into the complex dynamics underlying the development of intelligence structure during adolescence. Implications for the assessment of intelligence are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/dev0000876DOI Listing
February 2020

Investigating core assumptions of the "American Dream": Historical changes in how adolescents' socioeconomic status, IQ, and GPA are related to key life outcomes in adulthood.

Psychol Aging 2019 Dec;34(8):1055-1076

Department of Educational Sciences, University of Potsdam.

The present study examines how historical changes in the U.S. socioeconomic environment in the 20th century may have affected core assumptions of the "American Dream." Specifically, the authors examined whether such changes modulated the extent to which adolescents' intelligence (IQ), their grade point average (GPA), and their parents' socioeconomic status (SES) could predict key life outcomes in adulthood about 20 years later. The data stemmed from two representative U.S. birth cohorts of 15- and 16-year-olds who were born in the early 1960s ( = 3,040) and 1980s ( = 3,524) and who participated in the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth (NLSY). Cohort differences were analyzed with respect to differences in average relations by means of multiple and logistic regression and for specific points in each outcome distribution by means of quantile regressions. In both cohorts, IQ, GPA, and parental SES predicted important educational, occupational, and health-related life-outcomes about 20 years later. Across historical time, the predictive utility of adolescent IQ and parental SES remained stable for the most part. Yet, the combined effects of social-ecological and socioeconomic changes may have increased the predictive utility (that is, the regression weights) of adolescent GPA for educational, occupational, and health outcomes over time for individuals who were born in the 1980s. Theoretical implications concerning adult development, aging, and late life inequality are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/pag0000392DOI Listing
December 2019

FUNDAMANT: an interventional 72-week phase 1 follow-up study of AADvac1, an active immunotherapy against tau protein pathology in Alzheimer's disease.

Alzheimers Res Ther 2018 10 24;10(1):108. Epub 2018 Oct 24.

Axon Neuroscience SE, 4, Arch. Makariou & Kalogreon, Nicolaides Sea View City, 5th floor, office 506, 6016, Larnaca, Cyprus.

Background: Neurofibrillary pathology composed of tau protein is closely correlated with severity and phenotype of cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer's disease and non-Alzheimer's tauopathies. Targeting pathological tau proteins via immunotherapy is a promising strategy for disease-modifying treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Previously, we reported a 24-week phase 1 trial on the active vaccine AADvac1 against pathological tau protein; here, we present the results of a further 72 weeks of follow-up on those patients.

Methods: We did a phase 1, 72-week, open-label study of AADvac1 in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease who had completed the preceding phase 1 study. Patients who were previously treated with six doses of AADvac1 at monthly intervals received two booster doses at 24-week intervals. Patients who were previously treated with only three doses received another three doses at monthly intervals, and subsequently two boosters at 24-week intervals. The primary objective was the assessment of long-term safety of AADvac1 treatment. Secondary objectives included assessment of antibody titres, antibody isotype profile, capacity of the antibodies to bind to AD tau and AADvac1, development of titres of AADvac1-induced antibodies over time, and effect of booster doses; cognitive assessment via 11-item Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale cognitive assessment (ADAS-Cog), Category Fluency Test and Controlled Oral Word Association Test; assessment of brain atrophy via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) volumetry; and assessment of lymphocyte populations via flow cytometry.

Results: The study was conducted between 18 March 2014 and 10 August 2016. Twenty-six patients who completed the previous study were enrolled. Five patients withdrew because of adverse events. One patient was withdrawn owing to noncompliance. The most common adverse events were injection site reactions (reported in 13 [50%] of vaccinated patients). No cases of meningoencephalitis or vasogenic oedema were observed. New micro-haemorrhages were observed only in one ApoE4 homozygote. All responders retained an immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody response against the tau peptide component of AADvac1 over 6 months without administration, with titres regressing to a median 15.8% of titres attained after the initial six-dose vaccination regimen. Booster doses restored previous IgG levels. Hippocampal atrophy rate was lower in patients with high IgG levels; a similar relationship was observed in cognitive assessment.

Conclusions: AADvac1 displayed a benign safety profile. The evolution of IgG titres over vaccination-free periods warrants a more frequent booster dose regimen. The tendency towards slower atrophy in MRI evaluation and less of a decline in cognitive assessment in patients with high titres is encouraging. Further trials are required to expand the safety database and to establish proof of clinical efficacy of AADvac1.

Trial Registration: The studies are registered with the EU Clinical Trials Register and ClinicalTrials.gov : the preceding first-in-human study under EudraCT 2012-003916-29 and NCT01850238 (registered on 9 May 2013) and the follow-up study under EudraCT 2013-004499-36 and NCT02031198 (registered 9 Jan 2014), respectively.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13195-018-0436-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6201586PMC
October 2018

Effects of achievement differences for internal/external frame of reference model investigations: A test of robustness of findings over diverse student samples.

Br J Educ Psychol 2018 Dec 12;88(4):513-528. Epub 2017 Nov 12.

University of Trier, Germany.

Background: Achievement in math and achievement in verbal school subjects are more strongly correlated than the respective academic self-concepts. The internal/external frame of reference model (I/E model; Marsh, 1986, Am. Educ. Res. J., 23, 129) explains this finding by social and dimensional comparison processes. We investigated a key assumption of the model that dimensional comparisons mainly depend on the difference in achievement between subjects. We compared correlations between subject-specific self-concepts of groups of elementary and secondary school students with or without achievement differences in the respective subjects.

Aims: The main goals were (1) to show that effects of dimensional comparisons depend to a large degree on the existence of achievement differences between subjects, (2) to demonstrate the generalizability of findings over different grade levels and self-concept scales, and (3) to test a rarely used correlation comparison approach (CCA) for the investigation of I/E model assumptions.

Samples: We analysed eight German elementary and secondary school student samples (grades 3-8) from three independent studies (Ns 326-878).

Method: Correlations between math and German self-concepts of students with identical grades in the respective subjects were compared with the correlation of self-concepts of students having different grades using Fisher's Z test for independent samples.

Results: In all samples, correlations between math self-concept and German self-concept were higher for students having identical grades than for students having different grades. Differences in median correlations had small effect sizes for elementary school students and moderate effect sizes for secondary school students.

Conclusions: Findings generalized over grades and indicated a developmental aspect in self-concept formation. The CCA complements investigations within I/E-research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjep.12198DOI Listing
December 2018

Profile formation of academic self-concept in elementary school students in grades 1 to 4.

PLoS One 2017 18;12(5):e0177854. Epub 2017 May 18.

Department of Psychology, University of Trier, Trier, Germany.

Academic self-concept (ASC) is comprised of individual perceptions of one's own academic ability. In a cross-sectional quasi-representative sample of 3,779 German elementary school children in grades 1 to 4, we investigated (a) the structure of ASC, (b) ASC profile formation, an aspect of differentiation that is reflected in lower correlations between domain-specific ASCs with increasing grade level, (c) the impact of (internal) dimensional comparisons of one's own ability in different school subjects for profile formation of ASC, and (d) the role played by differences in school grades between subjects for these dimensional comparisons. The nested Marsh/Shavelson model, with general ASC at the apex and math, writing, and reading ASC as specific factors nested under general ASC fitted the data at all grade levels. A first-order factor model with math, writing, reading, and general ASCs as correlated factors provided a good fit, too. ASC profile formation became apparent during the first two to three years of school. Dimensional comparisons across subjects contributed to ASC profile formation. School grades enhanced these comparisons, especially when achievement profiles were uneven. In part, findings depended on the assumed structural model of ASCs. Implications for further research are discussed with special regard to factors influencing and moderating dimensional comparisons.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0177854PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5436832PMC
September 2017

Safety and immunogenicity of the tau vaccine AADvac1 in patients with Alzheimer's disease: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, phase 1 trial.

Lancet Neurol 2017 Feb 10;16(2):123-134. Epub 2016 Dec 10.

AXON Neuroscience SE, Bratislava, Slovakia.

Background: Neurofibrillary pathology composed of tau protein is a main correlate of cognitive impairment in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Immunotherapy targeting pathological tau proteins is therefore a promising strategy for disease-modifying treatment of Alzheimer's disease. We have developed an active vaccine, AADvac1, against pathological tau proteins and assessed it in a phase 1 trial.

Methods: We did a first-in-man, phase 1, 12 week, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of AADvac1 with a 12 week open-label extension in patients aged 50-85 years with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease at four centres in Austria. We randomly assigned patients with a computer-generated sequence in a 4:1 ratio overall to receive AADvac1 or placebo. They received three subcutaneous doses of AADvac1 or placebo from masked vaccine kits at monthly intervals, and then entered the open-label phase, in which all patients were allocated to AADvac1 treatment and received another three doses at monthly intervals. Patients, carers, and all involved with the trial were masked to treatment allocation. The primary endpoint was all-cause treatment-emergent adverse events, with separate analyses for injection site reactions and other adverse events. We include all patients who received at least one dose of AADvac1 in the safety assessment. Patients who had a positive IgG titre against the tau peptide component of AADvac1 at least once during the study were classified as responders. The first-in-man study is registered with EU Clinical Trials Register, number EudraCT 2012-003916-29, and ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01850238; the follow-up study, which is ongoing, is registered with EU Clinical Trials Register, number EudraCT 2013-004499-36, and ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT02031198.

Findings: This study was done between June 9, 2013, and March 26, 2015. 30 patients were randomly assigned in the double-blind phase: 24 patients to the AADvac1 group and six to the placebo group. A total of 30 patients received AADvac1. Two patients withdrew because of serious adverse events. The most common adverse events were injection site reactions after administration (reported in 16 [53%] vaccinated patients [92 individual events]). No cases of meningoencephalitis or vasogenic oedema occurred after administration. One patient with pre-existing microhaemorrhages had newly occurring microhaemorrhages. Of 30 patients given AADvac1, 29 developed an IgG immune response. A geometric mean IgG antibody titre of 1:31415 was achieved. Baseline values of CD3+ CD4+ lymphocytes correlated with achieved antibody titres.

Interpretation: AADvac1 had a favourable safety profile and excellent immunogenicity in this first-in-man study. Further trials are needed to corroborate the safety assessment and to establish proof of clinical efficacy of AADvac1.

Funding: AXON Neuroscience SE.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(16)30331-3DOI Listing
February 2017

Relative Age Effects in Mathematics and Reading: Investigating the Generalizability across Students, Time and Classes.

Front Psychol 2016 17;7:679. Epub 2016 May 17.

Division of Evaluation and Quality Management in Education, Department of Education and Psychology, Free University BerlinBerlin, Germany; Berlin Brandenburg Institute for School Quality ImprovementBerlin, Germany.

A child's age in comparison to the age of her or his classmates (relative age) has been found to be an influential factor on academic achievement, particularly but not exclusively at the beginning of formal schooling. However, few studies have focused on the generalizability of relative age effects. To close this gap, the present study analyzes the generalizability across students with and without immigrant backgrounds, across three student cohorts that entered school under a changing law of school enrollment, and across classes. To this end, we capitalized on representative large-scale data sets from three student cohorts attending public schools in Berlin, the capital of Germany. We analyzed the data using a multilevel framework. Our results for the overall student sample indicate relative age effects for reading and mathematics in favor of the relatively older students in Grade 2 that become somewhat smaller in size in Grade 3. By Grade 8, relative age effects had vanished in reading and had even reversed in favor of the relatively young in mathematics. Furthermore, relative age effects were not found to be systematically different among students with and without immigrant backgrounds, student cohorts, or across classes. Taken together, these results empirically underscore the broad generalizability of the findings as found for the overall student population and replicate the pattern of findings on relative effects as identified by the majority of previous studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00679DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4868843PMC
May 2016

Speaking two languages with different number naming systems: What implications for magnitude judgments in bilinguals at different stages of language acquisition?

Cogn Process 2016 Aug 28;17(3):225-41. Epub 2016 Mar 28.

Luxembourg Center for Educational Testing, LUCET, University of Luxembourg, 11, Porte des Sciences, 4366, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg.

Differences between languages in terms of number naming systems may lead to performance differences in number processing. The current study focused on differences concerning the order of decades and units in two-digit number words (i.e., unit-decade order in German but decade-unit order in French) and how they affect number magnitude judgments. Participants performed basic numerical tasks, namely two-digit number magnitude judgments, and we used the compatibility effect (Nuerk et al. in Cognition 82(1):B25-B33, 2001) as a hallmark of language influence on numbers. In the first part we aimed to understand the influence of language on compatibility effects in adults coming from German or French monolingual and German-French bilingual groups (Experiment 1). The second part examined how this language influence develops at different stages of language acquisition in individuals with increasing bilingual proficiency (Experiment 2). Language systematically influenced magnitude judgments such that: (a) The spoken language(s) modulated magnitude judgments presented as Arabic digits, and (b) bilinguals' progressive language mastery impacted magnitude judgments presented as number words. Taken together, the current results suggest that the order of decades and units in verbal numbers may qualitatively influence magnitude judgments in bilinguals and monolinguals, providing new insights into how number processing can be influenced by language(s).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10339-016-0762-9DOI Listing
August 2016

Developmental Dynamics of General and School-Subject-Specific Components of Academic Self-Concept, Academic Interest, and Academic Anxiety.

Front Psychol 2016 17;7:356. Epub 2016 Mar 17.

Luxembourg Centre for Educational Testing, Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education, University of Luxembourg Luxembourg, Luxembourg.

The present study investigated the developmental dynamics of general and subject-specific (i.e., mathematics, French, and German) components of students' academic self-concept, anxiety, and interest. To this end, the authors integrated three lines of research: (a) hierarchical and multidimensional approaches to the conceptualization of each construct, (b) longitudinal analyses of bottom-up and top-down developmental processes across hierarchical levels, and (c) developmental processes across subjects. The data stemmed from two longitudinal large-scale samples (N = 3498 and N = 3863) of students attending Grades 7 and 9 in Luxembourgish schools. Nested-factor models were applied to represent each construct at each grade level. The analyses demonstrated that several characteristics were shared across constructs. All constructs were multidimensional in nature with respect to the different subjects, showed a hierarchical organization with a general component at the apex of the hierarchy, and had a strong separation between the subject-specific components at both grade levels. Further, all constructs showed moderate differential stabilities at both the general (0.42 < r < 0.55) and subject-specific levels (0.45 < r < 0.73). Further, little evidence was found for top-down or bottom-up developmental processes. Rather, general and subject-specific components in Grade 9 proved to be primarily a function of the corresponding components in Grade 7. Finally, change in several subject-specific components could be explained by negative effects across subjects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00356DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4794478PMC
March 2016

Forearm vasodilator reactivity in healthy male carriers of the 3q22.3 rs9818870 polymorphism.

Microvasc Res 2015 Nov 15;102:33-7. Epub 2015 Aug 15.

Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Medical University of Vienna, Austria. Electronic address:

Background: A genome wide association study has identified a robust risk locus for cardiovascular disease on 3q22.3. However, the mechanisms by which the [C]/[T] polymorphism rs9818870 increases cardiovascular risk are unknown. This forearm blood flow (FBF) study addressed the question if the genetic association with cardiovascular disease in patients is preceded by incipient vasodilator impairment in young, healthy carriers of this new risk locus on chromosome 3.

Materials And Methods: After a pre-screening of 74 subjects 17 male healthy volunteers homozygous/heterozygous for a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) risk allele on 3q22.3 and a control group of 17 healthy volunteers not carrying the allele were included into this case-control study.

Results: Forearm vascular endothelium-dependent and -independent vasodilator responses were in the normal range in both groups, although endothelium-dependent FBF reactivity to acetylcholine was significantly higher in SNP carriers of the risk allele.

Conclusion: The augmented endothelium-dependent vasodilation of the forearm resistance vasculature does not support the presence of endothelial dysfunction in young SNP carriers and indicates that other mechanisms are responsible for the strong association between coronary artery diseases and the rs9818870 polymorphism, located on 3q22.3.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mvr.2015.08.005DOI Listing
November 2015

Assessing the influence of diurnal variations and selective Xa inhibition on whole blood aggregometry.

Scand J Clin Lab Invest 2015 Oct 7;75(6):531-6. Epub 2015 Jul 7.

Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Medical University of Vienna , Vienna , Austria.

A biological rhythm in platelet function is well known. Multiple electrode aggregometry (MEA) is a widely used assay to measure platelet aggregability. Rivaroxaban is a new oral anticoagulant frequently used in an increasing number of indications. In this randomized, crossover trial we investigated whether a biological rhythm exists in MEA measurements and potential effects of rivaroxaban on platelet aggregation. Sixteen healthy volunteers were included in the study and blood samples were obtained at 08:00, 12:00, 16:00 and 20:00 h. Each subject was tested without rivaroxaban intake first and randomly assigned to 3 days of rivaroxaban intake at 08:00 or 3 days of rivaroxaban intake at 20:00 h and vice versa. In MEA measurements, a significant increase in platelet aggregation after addition of ristocetin at 12:00 h compared to other investigated time-points (122 ± 8 AU at 12:00 h vs. 109 ± 9 AU at 08:00 h, 114 ± 10 AU at 16:00 h and 103 ± 8 AU at 20:00 h, p = 0.027) could be detected. There was no biological rhythm detectable using other agonists (ADP, arachidonic acid, thrombin-receptor activating peptide-6). After rivaroxaban intake at 08:00 h an increased ristocetin-induced platelet aggregation was measured in the next morning (126 ± 4 AU (rivaroxaban at 08:00 h) vs. 109 ± 9 AU (no rivaroxaban), 111 ± 6 AU (rivaroxaban at 20:00 h; p = 0.002). No other effects of rivaroxaban on platelet function were found. We detected a biological rhythm in ristocetin-induced platelet aggregation with a peak at 12:00 h (noon). No influence of selective Xa inhibition on platelet aggregation was detected.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/00365513.2015.1057896DOI Listing
October 2015

Student characteristics and behaviors at age 12 predict occupational success 40 years later over and above childhood IQ and parental socioeconomic status.

Dev Psychol 2015 Sep 6;51(9):1329-40. Epub 2015 Jul 6.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Drawing on a 2-wave longitudinal sample spanning 40 years from childhood (age 12) to middle adulthood (age 52), the present study was designed to examine how student characteristics and behaviors in late childhood (assessed in Wave 1 in 1968) predict career success in adulthood (assessed in Wave 2 in 2008). We examined the influence of parental socioeconomic status (SES), childhood intelligence, and student characteristics and behaviors (inattentiveness, school entitlement, responsible student, sense of inferiority, impatience, pessimism, rule breaking and defiance of parental authority, and teacher-rated studiousness) on 2 important real-life outcomes (i.e., occupational success and income). The longitudinal sample consisted of N = 745 persons who participated in 1968 (M = 11.9 years, SD = 0.6; 49.9% female) and 2008 (M = 51.8 years, SD = 0.6; 53.3% female). Regression analyses and path analyses were conducted to evaluate the direct and indirect effects (via education) of the predictors on career success. The results revealed direct and indirect influences of student characteristics (responsible student, rule breaking and defiance of parental authority, and teacher-rated studiousness) across the life span on career success after adjusting for differences in parental SES and IQ at age 12. rd
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/dev0000025DOI Listing
September 2015

The Kind of Student You Were in Elementary School Predicts Mortality.

J Pers 2016 08 3;84(4):547-53. Epub 2015 Jun 3.

Free University and Berlin-Brandenburg Institute for School Quality.

We examined the association of self-reported and teacher-rated student characteristics assessed at the end of primary school with all-cause mortality assessed through age 52. Data stem from a representative sample of students from Luxembourg assessed in 1968 (N = 2,543; M = 11.9 years, SD = 0.6; 49.9% female; N = 166 participants died). Results from logistic regression analyses showed that the self-reported responsible student scale (OR = .81; CI = [.70; .95]) and the teacher rating of studiousness (OR = .80; CI = [.67; .96]) were predictive for all-cause mortality even after controlling for IQ, parental SES, and sex. These findings indicate that both observer-rated and self-reported student behaviors are important life-course predictors for mortality and are perhaps more important than childhood IQ.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12180DOI Listing
August 2016

The relation between language and arithmetic in bilinguals: insights from different stages of language acquisition.

Front Psychol 2015 13;6:265. Epub 2015 Mar 13.

Luxembourg Center for Educational Testing, University of Luxembourg Luxembourg, Luxembourg.

Solving arithmetic problems is a cognitive task that heavily relies on language processing. One might thus wonder whether this language-reliance leads to qualitative differences (e.g., greater difficulties, error types, etc.) in arithmetic for bilingual individuals who frequently have to solve arithmetic problems in more than one language. The present study investigated how proficiency in two languages interacts with arithmetic problem solving throughout language acquisition in adolescents and young adults. Additionally, we examined whether the number word structure that is specific to a given language plays a role in number processing over and above bilingual proficiency. We addressed these issues in a German-French educational bilingual setting, where there is a progressive transition from German to French as teaching language. Importantly, German and French number naming structures differ clearly, as two-digit number names follow a unit-ten order in German, but a ten-unit order in French. We implemented a transversal developmental design in which bilingual pupils from grades 7, 8, 10, 11, and young adults were asked to solve simple and complex additions in both languages. The results confirmed that language proficiency is crucial especially for complex addition computation. Simple additions in contrast can be retrieved equally well in both languages after extended language practice. Additional analyses revealed that over and above language proficiency, language-specific number word structures (e.g., unit-ten vs. ten-unit) also induced significant modulations of bilinguals' arithmetic performances. Taken together, these findings support the view of a strong relation between language and arithmetic in bilinguals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00265DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4357777PMC
March 2015

Influence of proton pump inhibitors and VKORC1 mutations on CYP2C9-mediated dose requirements of vitamin K antagonist therapy: a pilot study.

Br J Haematol 2014 Nov 21;167(4):547-53. Epub 2014 Aug 21.

Division of Angiology, Department of Internal Medicine II, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Interindividual variations in dose requirements of oral vitamin K antagonists (VKA) are attributed to several factors, including genetic variant alleles of vitamin K epoxide reductase complex subunit 1 (VKORC1) and cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9), but also interaction with co-medications. In this context, proton pump inhibitor (PPI)-related alterations of VKA maintenance dose requirements have been published. The present investigation aimed to test for an interaction profile of oral VKA-therapy and PPIs in relation to the CYP2C9 genotype. Median weekly stable VKA dose requirements over 1 year were recorded in 69 patients. Patients were genotyped for CYP2C9*2, CYP2C9*3, VKORC1c.-1639G>A and VKORC1c.174-136C>T and assessed for an association with PPI use and total VKA maintenance dose requirements. PPI users with CYP2C9 genetic variations required significantly lower weekly VKA maintenance doses than those with the wild-type genotype (t-test: P = 0·02). In contrast, in subjects without PPI use, the CYP2C9 genotype had no significant influence on oral VKA dose requirements. Further, the combined CYP2C9/VKORC1 genotype was a significant predictor for VKA dose requirements [linear regression: estimate: -1·47, standard error: 0·58 (P = 0·01)]. In conclusion, in carriers of CYP2C9 gene variations, the interference with the VKA metabolism is modified by PPI co-medication and the VCKORC1 genotype. Preceding knowledge of the genetic profile and the awareness for potentially occurring severe over-anticoagulation problems under PPI co-medication could contribute to a safer and personalized VKA pharmacotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bjh.13082DOI Listing
November 2014

Predicting first-grade mathematics achievement: the contributions of domain-general cognitive abilities, nonverbal number sense, and early number competence.

Front Psychol 2014 4;5:272. Epub 2014 Apr 4.

Cognitive Science and Assessment, Education, Culture, Cognition and Society, University of Luxembourg Luxembourg, Luxembourg.

Early number competence, grounded in number-specific and domain-general cognitive abilities, is theorized to lay the foundation for later math achievement. Few longitudinal studies have tested a comprehensive model for early math development. Using structural equation modeling and mediation analyses, the present work examined the influence of kindergarteners' nonverbal number sense and domain-general abilities (i.e., working memory, fluid intelligence, and receptive vocabulary) and their early number competence (i.e., symbolic number skills) on first grade math achievement (i.e., arithmetic, shape and space skills, and number line estimation) assessed 1 year later. Latent regression models revealed that nonverbal number sense and working memory are central building blocks for developing early number competence in kindergarten and that early number competence is key for first grade math achievement. After controlling for early number competence, fluid intelligence significantly predicted arithmetic and number line estimation while receptive vocabulary significantly predicted shape and space skills. In sum we suggest that early math achievement draws on different constellations of number-specific and domain-general mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00272DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3983481PMC
April 2014

Self-concept in adolescence: a longitudinal study on reciprocal effects of self-perceptions in academic and social domains.

J Adolesc 2013 Dec 11;36(6):1165-75. Epub 2013 Oct 11.

University of Trier, Department of Psychology, Universitätsring 15, 54286 Trier, Germany. Electronic address:

Fostering social and academic self-concepts are central educational goals. During mid-adolescence academic engagement and success seem to be devalued by peers and to be negatively associated with students' social standing. For this age group, is the development of a positive academic self-concept compatible with the development of a positive social self-concept? We investigated relations among academic self-concept, social self-concept, and academic achievement. 1282 students (47.60% female) participated in three-waves of measurement in Grade 5, 6, and 8. Earlier social self-concept of acceptance negatively predicted changes in academic self-concept over time while earlier social self-concept of assertion positively predicted changes in academic self-concept. There were no significant relations between social self-concepts and achievement but positive reciprocal relations between academic self-concept and achievement. Results indicate that fostering adolescents self-concept in social and academic domains are compatible goals. However, some students need support in managing the challenge to coordinate social and academic goals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2013.09.001DOI Listing
December 2013

Disposition and metabolism of safinamide, a novel drug for Parkinson's disease, in healthy male volunteers.

Pharmacology 2013 11;92(3-4):207-16. Epub 2013 Oct 11.

Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Background/aims: Absorption, biotransformation and elimination of safinamide, an enantiomeric α-aminoamide derivative developed as an add-on therapy for Parkinson's disease patients, were studied in healthy volunteers administered a single oral dose of 400 mg (14)C safinamide methanesulphonate, labelled in metabolically stable positions.

Methods: Pharmacokinetics of the parent compound were investigated up to 96 h, of (14)C radioactivity up to 192/200 h post-dose.

Results/conclusions: Maximum concentration was achieved at 1 h (plasma, median Tmax) for parent drug and at 7 and 1.5 h for plasma and whole blood (14)C radioactivity, respectively. Terminal half-lives were about 22 h for unchanged safinamide and 80 h for radioactivity. Safinamide deaminated acid and the N-dealkylated acid were identified as major metabolites in urine and plasma. In urine, the β-glucuronide of the N-dealkylated acid and the monohydroxy safinamide were also characterized. In addition, the glycine conjugate of the N-dealkylated acid and 2-[4-hydroxybenzylamino]propanamide were tentatively identified as minor urinary metabolites.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000354805DOI Listing
June 2014

CYP2C9 genotype and association with bone mineral density: a pilot study.

Gene 2013 Sep 31;526(2):295-8. Epub 2013 May 31.

Division of Angiology, Department of Internal Medicine II, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Background: In recent years reduced bone mineral density (BMD) and osteoporosis have become major public health problems. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the cytochrome P450 2C9 (CYP2C9) gene influence the response to oral anticoagulant drugs, which are positively associated with the risk to develop osteoporosis. The aim of the present investigation was to clarify a potential role of CYP2C9 sequence variations and susceptibility to develop osteoporosis.

Subjects And Methods: Ninety two consecutive angiologic outpatients, mean age: 60.3±14.4, without secondary causes of bone loss were genotyped and classified as patients with normal BMD, osteopenia and osteoporosis according to WHO criteria by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry at the lumbar spine and/or the femoral neck. Potential association between the CYP2C9 genotype and BMD was tested.

Results: 59% of the patients (n=54) presented with reduced BMD and were compared to 38 age-matched persons with normal BMD. The genotype distribution showed 15% heterozygous for CYP2C9*2 p.Arg144Cys, 14% for CYP2C9*3 p.IIe359Leu, 2% for both polymorphisms, and 69% had wildtype genotypes. Patients with CYP2C9 mutations had significantly lower BMD values at the femoral neck and displayed a four-fold higher adjusted risk to suffer from reduced BMD than individuals with wildtype genotypes (p=0.02).

Discussion: Oral anticoagulant treatment is common in angiologic outpatients. The gene variants CYP2C9*2 and CYP2C9*3 have been shown to require lower maintenance doses of oral anticoagulant drugs. An association between oral anticoagulant drugs and the susceptibility to develop osteoporosis in relation to sequence variations in the CYP2C9 gene is suggested to be mediated via the glucocorticoid synthesis pathway.

Conclusion: The CYP2C9*2/CYP2C9*3 variants were significantly associated with femoral BMD in a selected elderly Austrian population. These variants could contribute to the complex risk to develop osteoporosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gene.2013.05.026DOI Listing
September 2013

An exploratory microdialysis study investigating the effect of repeated application of a diclofenac epolamine medicated plaster on prostaglandin concentrations in skeletal muscle after standardized physical exercise.

Br J Clin Pharmacol 2013 Dec;76(6):880-7

Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Aim: Muscle injuries and extensive exercise are associated with cyclo-oxygenase dependent formation of inflammatory prostaglandins. Since the effect of topical administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) on local cyclo-oxygenase is unknown, the present exploratory, open label, non-randomized study set out to measure exercise induced release of prostaglandins before and after epicutaneous administration of diclofenac.

Methods: Microdialysis was used to determine the local interstitial concentration of PGE2 and 8-iso-PGF2α as well as diclofenac concentrations in the vastus lateralis under rest, dynamic exercise and during recovery in 12 healthy subjects at baseline and after a treatment phase applying a total of seven plasters medicated with 180 mg of diclofenac epolamine over 4 days.

Results: At baseline PGE2 concentrations were 1169 ± 780 pg ml(-1) at rest and 1287 ± 459 pg ml(-1) during dynamic exercise and increased to 2005 ± 1126 pg ml(-1) during recovery. After treatment average PGE2 concentrations were 997 ± 588 pg ml(-1) at rest and 1339 ± 892 pg ml(-1) during exercise. In contrast with the baseline phase no increase in PGE2 concentrations was recorded during the recovery period after treatment (PGE2 1134 ± 874 pg ml(-1)). 8-iso-PGF2α was neither affected by exercise nor by treatment with diclofenac. Local and systemic concentrations of diclofenac were highly variable but comparable with previous clinical pharmacokinetic studies.

Conclusions: We can hypothesize an effect of topical diclofenac epolamine plaster on limiting the increase of local concentrations of the pro-inflammatory prostaglandin PGE2 induced in the muscle of healthy human subjects following standardized physical exercise. No effect of diclofenac treatment on 8-iso-PGF2α concentrations was observed, mainly since isoprostane is produced by a free radical-catalyzed lipid peroxidation mechanism independent of cyclo-oxygenases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/bcp.12125DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3845311PMC
December 2013

Forty years on: childhood intelligence predicts health in middle adulthood.

Health Psychol 2014 Mar 3;33(3):292-6. Epub 2012 Dec 3.

Centre for Educational Measurement and Applied Cognitive Science, University of Luxembourg.

Objective: To investigate whether childhood general intelligence, fluid intelligence (Gf), and crystallized intelligence (Gc) predict various health outcomes in middle adulthood.

Method: This prospective longitudinal study followed a nationally representative sample of 717 Luxembourgers. Intelligence and socioeconomic status (SES) were measured at age 12; physical, functional, and subjective health were assessed at age 52.

Results: Childhood general intelligence and fluid intelligence showed substantial positive effects on adult health outcomes, whereas the corresponding effects of crystallized intelligence were considerably smaller.

Conclusion: Childhood intelligence incrementally predicts various dimensions of adult health across 40 years-even in a country in which all citizens are guaranteed access to high-quality health care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0030727DOI Listing
March 2014

Stability and change in intelligence from age 12 to age 52: results from the Luxembourg MAGRIP study.

Dev Psychol 2013 Aug 12;49(8):1529-43. Epub 2012 Nov 12.

University of Luxembourg, Center for Educational Measurement and Applied Cognitive Science (EMACS), Campus Walferdange, L-7220 Walferdange, Luxembourg.

The present longitudinal study tackled 2 key aspects of the development of intelligence across a 40-year time period from age 12 to age 52 concerning (a) stability and change in the structure of intelligence with reference to the age differentiation-dedifferentiation hypothesis (how different cognitive abilities relate to each other across age) and (b) differential stabilities (the rank ordering of persons' intelligence levels across time). To this end, we drew on 2 structural conceptions of intelligence: (a) the extended Gf-Gc model to study broad cognitive abilities and (b) the 3-stratum model to decompose cognitive change into processes that are shared by all broad abilities (attributable to general cognitive ability g) and processes specific to a certain ability (independent of g). Data were obtained for 344 persons (56.4% female). The results showed that people differ more greatly over time with respect to all broad abilities except for fluid reasoning, whereas the rank ordering of persons on all broad abilities remains remarkably stable. These combined results yielded substantial gap-widening effects from age 12 to age 52 years that were mainly accounted for by a substantial increase in g variance in combination with a high differential stability of g. Moreover, the increase in g variance reflects an increase in covariance among different broad abilities, which indicates that the different constructs relate more closely to each other at age 52 compared to age 12 (i.e., age dedifferentiation). Two theoretical explanations of this change in the structure of intelligence are discussed (common cause hypothesis and investment theory).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0030623DOI Listing
August 2013

Genetically engineered cancer models, but not xenografts, faithfully predict anticancer drug exposure in melanoma tumors.

Oncologist 2012 19;17(10):1303-16. Epub 2012 Sep 19.

University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Division of Pharmacotherapy and Experimental Therapeutics, 1013 Genetic Medicine Building, CB 7361, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7361, USA.

Background: Rodent studies are a vital step in the development of novel anticancer therapeutics and are used in pharmacokinetic (PK), toxicology, and efficacy studies. Traditionally, anticancer drug development has relied on xenograft implantation of human cancer cell lines in immunocompromised mice for efficacy screening of a candidate compound. The usefulness of xenograft models for efficacy testing, however, has been questioned, whereas genetically engineered mouse models (GEMMs) and orthotopic syngeneic transplants (OSTs) may offer some advantages for efficacy assessment. A critical factor influencing the predictability of rodent tumor models is drug PKs, but a comprehensive comparison of plasma and tumor PK parameters among xenograft models, OSTs, GEMMs, and human patients has not been performed.

Methods: In this work, we evaluated the plasma and tumor dispositions of an antimelanoma agent, carboplatin, in patients with cutaneous melanoma compared with four different murine melanoma models (one GEMM, one human cell line xenograft, and two OSTs).

Results: Using microdialysis to sample carboplatin tumor disposition, we found that OSTs and xenografts were poor predictors of drug exposure in human tumors, whereas the GEMM model exhibited PK parameters similar to those seen in human tumors.

Conclusions: The tumor PKs of carboplatin in a GEMM of melanoma more closely resembles the tumor disposition in patients with melanoma than transplanted tumor models. GEMMs show promise in becoming an improved prediction model for intratumoral PKs and response in patients with solid tumors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1634/theoncologist.2012-0274DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3481896PMC
June 2013

Lisinopril pharmacokinetics and erythropoietin requirement in haemodialysis patients.

Eur J Clin Invest 2012 Oct 28;42(10):1087-93. Epub 2012 Jul 28.

Division of Nephrology and Dialysis, Department of Medicine III, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Background: There is ongoing controversy whether angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-I) contribute to anaemia by causing hyporesponsiveness to erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESA). However, it is unknown whether or not plasma levels or area under the curve (AUC) of ACE-I are associated with responsiveness to ESA therapy.

Materials And Methods: We examined the association between lisinopril AUC, lisinopril plasma levels and ESA requirements that was assessed using an ESA index [(ESA IU/week/body weight kg)/(haemoglobin g/dL)]. After screening 184 haemodialysis patients, 14 fulfilled the inclusion criteria, mainly long-term use of oral lisinopril in the upper end of dosage range for this population with stable haemoglobin levels and intravenous ESA therapy. Lisinopril plasma levels were measured at eight different time points (predialysis, immediate post-dialysis and hourly for 6h thereafter; AUC1), and the seven post-dialysis lisinopril plasma levels were used for calculation of AUC2.

Results: The mean ESA index of all patients was 27·90±25·84 (IU/week/kg)/(g/dL). Average lisinopril AUC1 was 1212·48±1209·75 [mg*h/L], whereas AUC2 averaged 947·67±977·07 [mg*h/L]. Two patients (14%) had no detectable lisinopril plasma levels, indicating their noncompliance. There was no association between ESA index and AUC or plasma levels of lisinopril at any time point for all 14 or for the 12 compliant patients.

Conclusions: Our study shows that long-term, high-dose lisinopril therapy has no effect on ESA responsiveness. Thus, avoidance or a dose reduction of ACE-I in dialysis patients will not necessarily lead to reduced ESA requirements and costs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2362.2012.02699.xDOI Listing
October 2012

A randomised, two-period, cross-over, open-label study to evaluate the pharmacokinetic profiles of single doses of two different flurbiprofen 8.75-mg lozenges in healthy volunteers.

Pharmacology 2012 20;89(3-4):188-91. Epub 2012 Mar 20.

Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Aims: To compare the bioavailability of a new oromucosal formulation of flurbiprofen 8.75-mg lozenges, developed by Alfa Wassermann S.p.A. (test drug) to that of marketed flurbiprofen 8.75-mg lozenges (Benactiv Gola®, reference drug).

Methods: This was an open, randomised, two-period, crossover, pharmacokinetic (PK) study in which flurbiprofen plasma levels were compared in 12 healthy volunteers after the administration of single doses (8.75 mg × 2) of two different oromucosal lozenges to be sucked and slowly dissolved in the mouth. A wash-out period of at least 7 days separated the two study periods. Blood samples were collected prior to dosing and at predefined intervals for 24 h after dose. Flurbiprofen plasma concentrations were determined by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry. PK parameters maximum plasma concentration (C(max)), time to maximum plasma concentration (T(max)), area under the plasma concentration-time curve from time zero to 24 hours (AUC(0-t)), area under the plasma concentration-time curve from time zero to infinity (AUC(0-)∞) and half-life were calculated and compared by analysis of variance using treatment, period and sequence as sources of variation. Bioequivalence between the two formulations was based on 90% confidence intervals of the ratio of the geometric means of C(max) and AUC falling within the 0.80-1.25 range as defined in bioequivalence guidelines by regulators. Tolerability of the two formulations was assessed by adverse event monitoring, routine laboratory tests, physical examination, electrocardiographic tracing and vital sign measurements.

Results: All enrolled subjects completed the study. Bioequivalence without significant treatment effect was demonstrated between the test drug/reference drug ratios of mean C(max) and AUCs. Moreover, mean T(max) was superimposable. No safety parameter presented a clinically relevant variation after administration of either formulation that were therefore well tolerated.

Conclusion: The new formulation of flurbiprofen 8.75-mg compressed lozenges developed by Alfa Wassermann S.p.A. is bioequivalent to the reference product flurbiprofen 8.75-mg lozenges (Benactiv Gola) in healthy volunteers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000336767DOI Listing
August 2012

A tutorial on hierarchically structured constructs.

J Pers 2012 Aug 29;80(4):796-846. Epub 2012 Jun 29.

University of Luxembourg, EMACS Research Unit, Campus Walferdange, Walferdange 7201, Luxembourg.

Many psychological constructs are conceived to be hierarchically structured and thus to operate at various levels of generality. Alternative confirmatory factor analytic (CFA) models can be used to study various aspects of this proposition: (a) The one-factor model focuses on the top of the hierarchy and contains only a general construct, (b) the first-order factor model focuses on the intermediate level of the hierarchy and contains only specific constructs, and both (c) the higher order factor model and (d) the nested-factor model consider the hierarchy in its entirety and contain both general and specific constructs (e.g., bifactor model). This tutorial considers these CFA models in depth, addressing their psychometric properties, interpretation of general and specific constructs, and implications for model-based score reliabilities. The authors illustrate their arguments with normative data obtained for the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale and conclude with recommendations on which CFA model is most appropriate for which research and diagnostic purposes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2011.00749.xDOI Listing
August 2012

How can we enhance girls' interest in scientific topics?

Br J Educ Psychol 2011 Dec 5;81(Pt 4):606-28. Epub 2011 Feb 5.

Center for Educational Measurement and Applied Cognitive Science, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg.

Background: Girls are considerably less interested in scientific subjects than boys. One reason may be that scientific subjects are considered to be genuinely masculine. Thus, being interested in science may threaten the self-perception of girls as well as the femininity of their self-image.

Aims: If scientific topics that are considered to be stereotypically feminine were chosen, however, this potential threat might be overcome which, in turn, might lead to an increase in girls' interest in science. This hypothesis was empirically tested by means of two studies.

Sample: Participants were 294 (Study 1) and 190 (Study 2) Grade 8 to Grade 9 students.

Method: Gender differences in students' interest in masculine and feminine topics were investigated for a range of scientific concepts (Study 1) as well as for a given scientific concept (Study 2) for four scientific subjects (i.e., biology, physics, information technology, and statistics), respectively.

Results: Both studies indicated that the mean level of girls' scientific interest was higher when scientific concepts were presented in the context of feminine topics and boys' level of scientific interests was higher when scientific concepts were presented in the context of masculine topics.

Conclusion: Girls' interest in science could be substantially increased by presenting scientific concepts in the context of feminine topics. Gender differences as well as individual differences in the level of interest in scientific topics may be taken into account by creating learning environments in which students could select the context in which a certain scientific concept is embedded.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8279.2011.02019.xDOI Listing
December 2011