1. An algorithm that knows when you’ll get bored with your favorite mobile game

    March 28, 2017 by Ashley

    From the FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology press release:

    The video game industry has been shaken up by the emergence of smartphone games, aimed at users who are constantly connected to the Internet and change games very frequently.

    África Periáñez -Head of Game Data Science at the video game company Silicon Studio, in Tokyo- and her team have developed a mathematical model that predicts when a user will leave a specific mobile game. The results of their work were presented at the International Conference on Data Science and Advanced Analytics, held last October in Montreal (Canada).

    As Periáñez said, the algorithm they developed uses the so-called ‘ensemble’ method, “a model that is based on many learning algorithms instead of a single one, thereby improving the prediction accuracy by examining many more correlations and alternative models.”

    “Every time we run the model, we are actually using 1,000 distinct submodels,” she adds, “each of which focuses on different variables and has different initial conditions.”

    The team also used a survival analysis algorithm within each submodel. These models “are used in medical research, for example, to predict when a patient will experience an event of interest, and in biology, to know how particular cells are going to behave in the body,” she explains.

    Combination of mathematical models

    The Silicon Studio researchers have now, for the first time, combined the power of survival algorithms and ‘ensemble’ models in the field of video games. “This,” says Periáñez, “has enabled us to achieve a high level of prediction accuracy, as the algorithm automatically adapts to the data of the game we want to analyse.”

    Applied to videogames, the model (called a survival ensemble) can predict what day and at what stage of the game a user will stop playing, and why they will do so.

    “Already from their first days playing the game, we know with a good degree of certainty what level a user will reach and how many days it will take them. The main and most pressing priority is to try to extend the player’s ‘life’ and get them to buy as much as possible. Also important is to understand users’ needs and design a more entertaining and stimulating game,” says the researcher.

    The industry has undergone a paradigm shift since the appearance of games for smartphones. According to África Periáñez, “companies store a lot of information on users: their actions, connections, purchases, etc. And they are beginning to realise that they need to move towards a data-based development model, which allows them to know who their players are and what they like, and also to predict their reactions.”

    “Bigger companies are already taking steps in this direction, albeit slowly,” she explains, “but small and medium studios do not have as many resources. This is why we are offering our platform as a service, so that they can use it as a prediction tool.” The product was called 4Front as a code name and will be marketed under the trade name Yokozuna Data, inspired by the highest achievable rank in sumo wrestling.

    Automatic adaptation to different games and data

    The Silicon Studio platform adapts automatically to different games and data. “We are already working with Japanese and European firms, and have tested the product with several of our company’s games, such as Age of Ishtaria and GrandSphere,” notes Periáñez.

    According to the researcher, the system can predict who will leave the game very accurately. “Focusing on the players that spend the most money, known as ‘whales,’ we have managed to reduce churn by 5% using personalised push notifications. This alone has led to an increase of about 15% in sales,” she points out, concluding that “our goal is to become leaders in the international market and to democratise data science in the field of video games, an area where we are pioneers.”


  2. How to fit in when you stand out: Don’t try so hard

    March 24, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Brigham Young University press release:

    When in Rome you do as the Romans do, right? Not necessarily. When it comes to fitting in with foreign cultures, “just be yourself” might be the more appropriate mantra, according to Brigham Young University professor Stephen Moody.

    Looking at language specifically, Moody’s research shows that you don’t have to speak like a native to be accepted by natives; in fact, trying too hard to fit in might just set you back. Instead, he found, you can actually use your status as a foreigner to advance yourself socially or professionally.

    “A lot of language teaching focuses on doing things according to local conventions,” said Moody, a professor of Asian and Near Eastern Languages. “Our research kind of challenges the idea that this is always necessary by noticing that there are times when a visiting foreigner is not expected to follow conventions and, in such situations, following conventions too closely can actually be seen as unusual.”

    For the research, published in Applied Linguistics, Moody tracked American students interning at Japanese firms, analyzing how they used formalities of Japanese language to assimilate — or not — into their workplace culture.

    Honorifics, elements of Japanese used to convey politeness and formality, help construct identity, establish roles and define social relationships. By analyzing this specific aspect of the language, Moody was able to identify what does and doesn’t work when it comes to fitting in.

    The biggest takeaway? Regardless of how well you speak, there are still circumstances where you will be seen as a foreigner. Don’t resent it; accept it and use it.

    “It’s not always about whether or not you’re using the language correctly, but if you’re comfortable being who you are,” Moody said. “If you try to fit into the local convention so much that you step away from who you are, you’re not going to fit in as well, even if you’re using the language ‘correctly.'”

    One group of interns, he said, was so determined to “become Japanese” that they overused honorifics to the point of unnatural politeness.

    “It would be like someone coming in and saying, ‘Um, excuse me, I’m sorry, could I perhaps impinge on your time for a brief moment?'” Moody said. “If you’re talking like that all the time it’s a little too much.”

    Another group of interns was all business; they used honorifics appropriately and could maneuver through the professional world effectively, but they were stiff and formal and continually seen as outsiders on a social level.

    In contrast, one intern intentionally used the language incorrectly — but with positive results. “He went in and just played up the fact that he’s a foreigner,” Moody said.

    According to Moody, this intern used exaggerated honorifics to play the role of goofy foreigner. His ironic and playful humor allowed everyone to laugh and connect on a more personal level, and his boss told Moody, “He’s one of us; he fits right in.”

    Different situations will call for different approaches to assimilating into a foreign culture, but Moody hopes that this research will provide insight into understanding the context-specific challenges of being in a foreign workplace.

    At BYU, which recently ranked 30th for global university employability, approximately 65 percent of students speak a second language. And, said Moody, “The role that language plays in facilitating relationships in the workplace is becoming more important. As more cultures combine in the workplace, employees are going to have to relate across cultures and build relationships.”


  3. Shared reading can help with chronic pain

    March 23, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Liverpool press release:

    A study conducted by researchers from the University of Liverpool, The Reader and the Royal Liverpool University Hospitals Trust, and funded by the British Academy,
    has found that shared reading (SR) can be a useful therapy for chronic pain sufferers.

    The study, led by Dr Josie Billington from the University’s Centre for Research into Reading into Reading, Literature and Society (CRILS) and recently published in the BMJ Journal for Medical Humanities, compared Shared Reading (SR) — a literature-based intervention developed by national charity The Reader — to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as an intervention for chronic pain sufferers.

    Chronic pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage. It is pain which persists for more than six months.

    Usually pain is picked up by specialised cells in your body, and impulses are sent through the nervous system to the brain. What happens in people with chronic pain, however, is that other nerves are recruited into this ‘pain’ pathway which start to fire off messages to the brain when there is no physical stimulus or damage. But the body can ‘unjoin’ again. Nerve blockers (drugs) are one way; Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is another — by getting the brain to send new messages back to the body

    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

    CBT is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It’s most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems.

    The current evidence base in respect of chronic pain supports the use of standard psychological interventions, CBT in particular. CBT’s benefits, while useful are shown by recent research to be both limited and short-term.

    Shared Reading is used in a range of environments that have similarities with chronic pain, in that the conditions involved can often be chronic and unsolvable, as in the case of dementia, prisons (people locked in, life halted and future inevitably affected by baggage of past), and severe mental illness (with recurring episodes).

    The model is based on small groups (2-12 people) coming together weekly to read literature — short stories, novels and poetry — together aloud. The reading material ranges across genres and period, and is chosen for its intrinsic interest, not pre-selected with a particular ‘condition’ in mind.

    Validating experiences

    Regular pauses are taken to encourage participants to reflect on what is being read, on the thoughts or memories the book or poem has stirred, or on how the reading matter relates to their own lives.

    Group members participate voluntarily, usually in relation to what is happening in the text itself, and what may be happening within themselves as individuals (personal feelings and thoughts, memories and experiences), responding to the shared presence of the text within social group discussion.

    CBT allowed participants to exchange personal histories of living with chronic pain in ways which validated their experience. However, in CBT, participants focused exclusively on their pain with ‘no thematic deviation’.

    In SR, by contrast, the literature was a trigger to recall and expression of diverse life experiences — of work, childhood, family members, relationships — related to the entire life-span, not merely the time-period affected by pain, or the time-period pre-pain as contrasted with life in the present. This in itself has a potentially therapeutic effect in helping to recover a whole person, not just an ill one.

    Valuable

    As part of the study participants with severe chronic pain symptoms were recruited by the pain clinic at Broadgreen NHS Hospital Trust having given informed consent. A 5-week CBT group and a 22-week SR group for chronic pain patients ran in parallel, with CBT group-members joining the SR group after the completion of CBT.

    The study found that CBT showed evidence of participants ‘managing’ emotions by means of systematic techniques, where Shared Reading (SR) turned passive experience of suffering emotion into articulate contemplation of painful concerns.

    Dr Josie Billington, Deputy Researcher, Centre for Research into Reading, said: “Our study indicated that shared reading could potentially be an alternative to CBT in bringing into conscious awareness areas of emotional pain otherwise passively suffered by chronic pain patients.

    “The encouragement of greater confrontation and tolerance of emotional difficulty that Sharing Reading provides makes it valuable as a longer-term follow-up or adjunct to CBT’s concentration on short-term management of emotion.”


  4. Married people have lower levels of stress hormone

    February 15, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Carnegie Mellon University media release:

    couple on dateStudies have suggested that married people are healthier than those who are single, divorced, or widowed. A new Carnegie Mellon University study provides the first biological evidence to explain how marriage impacts health.

    Published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, the researchers found that married individuals had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who never married or were previously married. These findings support the belief that unmarried people face more psychological stress than married individuals. Prolonged stress is associated with increased levels of cortisol which can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate inflammation, which in turn promotes the development and progression of many diseases.

    “It’s is exciting to discover a physiological pathway that may explain how relationships influence health and disease,” said Brian Chin, a Ph.D. student in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Department of Psychology.

    Over three non-consecutive days, the researchers collected saliva samples from 572 healthy adults aged 21-55. Multiple samples were taken during each 24-hour period and tested for cortisol.

    The results showed that the married participants had lower cortisol levels than the never married or previously married people across the three day period. The researchers also compared each person’s daily cortisol rhythm — typically, cortisol levels peak when a person wakes up and decline during the day. Those who were married showed a faster decline, a pattern that has been associated with less heart disease, and longer survival among cancer patients.

    These data provide important insight into the way in which our intimate social relationships can get under the skin to influence our health,” said laboratory director and co-author Sheldon Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty University Professor of Psychology.


  5. Living near major traffic linked to higher risk of dementia

    January 13, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Public Health Ontario media release:

    night trafficPeople who live close to high-traffic roadways face a higher risk of developing dementia than those who live further away, new research from Public Health Ontario (PHO) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) has found.

    Led by PHO and ICES scientists, the study found that people who lived within 50 metres of high-traffic roads had a seven per cent higher likelihood of developing dementia compared to those who lived more than 300 meters away from busy roads.

    Published in The Lancet, the researchers examined records of more than 6.5 million Ontario residents aged 20-85 to investigate the correlation between living close to major roads and dementia, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

    Scientists identified 243,611 cases of dementia, 31,577 cases of Parkinson’s disease, and 9,247 cases of multiple sclerosis in Ontario between 2001 and 2012. In addition, they mapped individuals’ proximity to major roadways using the postal code of their residence. The findings indicate that living close to major roads increased the risk of developing dementia, but not Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, two other major neurological disorders.

    “Little is known in current research about how to reduce the risk of dementia. Our findings show the closer you live to roads with heavy day-to-day traffic, the greater the risk of developing dementia. With our widespread exposure to traffic and the greater tendency for people to live in cities these days, this has serious public health implications,” says Dr. Hong Chen, environmental and occupational health scientist at PHO and an adjunct scientist at ICES. Dr. Chen is lead author on the paper titled Living Near Major Roads and the Incidence of Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis: A Population-based Cohort Study.

    Our study is the first in Canada to suggest that pollutants from heavy, day-to-day traffic are linked to dementia. We know from previous research that air pollutants can get into the blood stream and lead to inflammation, which is linked with cardiovascular disease and possibly other conditions such as diabetes. This study suggests air pollutants that can get into the brain via the blood stream can lead to neurological problems,” says Dr. Ray Copes, chief of environmental and occupational health at PHO and an author on the paper.

    As urban centres become more densely populated and more congested with vehicles on major roads, Dr. Copes suggests the findings of this paper could be used to help inform municipal land use decisions as well as building design to take into account air pollution factors and the impact on residents.

    This research was conducted in collaboration with scientists from the University of Toronto, Carleton University, Dalhousie University, Oregon State University, and Health Canada. The study was funded by Health Canada.

    Key findings:

    • Using data held at ICES, the researchers examined records of more than 6.5 million Ontario residents, aged 20-85, and mapped them according to residential postal codes five years before the study started.
    • Between 2001 and 2012, 243,611 cases of dementia, 31,577 cases of Parkinson’s disease, and 9,247 cases of multiple sclerosis were identified in Ontario.
    • People who lived within 50 metres of high-traffic roads had a seven per cent higher likelihood of dementia than those who lived more 300 meters away from busy roads.
    • The increase in the risk of developing dementia went down to four per cent if people lived 50-100 metres from major traffic, and to two per cent if they lived within 101-200 metres. At over 200 metres, there was no elevated risk of dementia.
    • There was no correlation between major traffic proximity and Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.

     


  6. Mediterranean diet may have lasting effects on brain health

    by Ashley

    From the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) media release:

    healthy, vital seniorA new study shows that older people who followed a Mediterranean diet retained more brain volume over a three-year period than those who did not follow the diet as closely.

    The study is published in the January 4, 2017, online issue of Neurlogy®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. But contrary to earlier studies, eating more fish and less meat was not related to changes in the brain.

    The Mediterranean diet includes large amounts of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, beans and cereal grains such as wheat and rice, moderate amounts of fish, dairy and wine, and limited red meat and poultry.

    As we age, the brain shrinks and we lose brain cells which can affect learning and memory,” said study author Michelle Luciano, PhD, of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. “This study adds to the body of evidence that suggests the Mediterranean diet has a positive impact on brain health.”

    Researchers gathered information on the eating habits of 967 Scottish people around age 70 who did not have dementia. Of those people, 562 had an MRI brain scan around age 73 to measure overall brain volume, gray matter volume and thickness of the cortex, which is the outer layer of the brain. From that group, 401 people then returned for a second MRI at age 76. These measurements were compared to how closely participants followed the Mediterranean diet.

    The participants varied in how closely their dietary habits followed the Mediterranean diet principles. People who didn’t follow as closely to the Mediterranean diet were more likely to have a higher loss of total brain volume over the three years than people who followed the diet more closely. The difference in diet explained 0.5 percent of the variation in total brain volume, an effect that was half the size of that due to normal aging.

    The results were the same when researchers adjusted for other factors that could affect brain volume, such as age, education and having diabetes or high blood pressure [hypertension].

    There was no relationship between grey matter volume or cortical thickness and the Mediterranean diet.

    The researchers also found that fish and meat consumption were not related to brain changes, which is contrary to earlier studies.

    It’s possible that other components of the Mediterranean diet are responsible for this relationship, or that it’s due to all of the components in combination,” Luciano said.

    Luciano noted that earlier studies looked at brain measurements at one point in time, whereas the current study followed people over time.

    “In our study, eating habits were measured before brain volume was, which suggests that the diet may be able to provide long-term protection to the brain,” said Luciano. “Still, larger studies are needed to confirm these results.”

     


  7. Animal study shows harmful effects of secondhand smoke even before pregnancy

    January 9, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Duke University Medical Center media release:

    Exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke — even before conception — appears to have a lingering impact that can later impair the brain development of a fetus, researchers at Duke Health report.

    Using rats in experiments carefully designed to mimic the second-hand smoke exposures that humans encounter, the researchers found that the chemical components of tobacco smoke affect fetal brain development throughout pregnancy.

    The smoke exposure damages regions of the brain involved in learning, memory and emotional responses. Although the impact was most severe with exposures occurring in late gestation, adverse effects on the fetuses’ neuro-development occurred even when the mothers were only exposed prior to conception.

    “This finding has important implications for public health, because it reinforces the need to avoid secondhand smoke exposure not only during pregnancy, but also in the period prior to conception, or generally for women of childbearing age,” said Theodore A. Slotkin, Ph.D., professor in Duke’s Department Pharmacology & Cancer Biology.

    Slotkin and colleagues, publishing in the January issue of the journal Toxicological Sciences, simulated secondhand smoke exposure by capturing and extracting the chemical compounds of tobacco smoke and administering the solution through implanted pumps in the laboratory animals.

    That process eliminated the stress of breathing smoke, which in itself can potentially impact fetal brain development — a factor that had confounded earlier studies on the effects of tobacco smoke.

    Groups of female rats received the tobacco smoke extract during one of three periods: prior to mating, early gestation or late gestation. The researchers then studied the offspring starting in early adolescence and into adulthood, focusing on brain regions that are known to be adversely affected by nicotine and tobacco smoke.

    The researchers found that exposure to tobacco smoke extract in all three of the study periods resulted in the offspring having impaired function of the cholinergic brain circuits that govern learning and memory, and of the serotonin circuits that affect mood and emotional behavior.

    It is not known how the smoke exposure damages fetal brain development prior to pregnancy. The researchers said more study is needed, but potential causes include the lingering effects of some of the smoke components, which can remain in the body for several days after exposure. They also suggested that the chemicals might change the mother rat’s metabolism or hormonal status, or they could be causing an epigenetic alteration in the egg, which affects the activity of genes that control brain function.

    “Our study clearly shows there is no stage in which tobacco smoke is innocuous to the developing fetus,” Slotkin said. “We warn women about smoking during pregnancy, and most people are aware that secondhand smoke exposure is also harmful to the fetus, but our study is the first to show that exposure prior to conception is potentially damaging, as well. The public health implications should be obvious.”

    A prior study from the same team found a substantial portion of the tobacco smoke effect resulted from the nicotine in the smoke. That finding suggests that e-cigarettes could also represent a significant hazard for women of childbearing age.


  8. As neighborhood status falls, cardiovascular disease risk among black residents spikes

    January 5, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Drexel University media release:

    The lower a neighborhood’s socioeconomic status is, the more likely its black residents are to develop heart disease and stroke, according to a new Drexel University-led public health study.

    While many neighborhood-level public health studies focus on physical aspects of a neighborhood — such as the availability of affordable, healthy foods or the walkability of the location — this study examined how a neighborhood’s social and economic makeup was linked to the development of cardiovascular disease.

    “This is an important contribution because it is the largest study among blacks to look at the link between neighborhood socioeconomic status and adverse neighborhood conditions such as violence and disorder in relation to cardiovascular disease,” said Sharrelle Barber, ScD, a research fellow at Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health, who led the study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

    Barber and her team — which included Dornsife School of Public Health Dean Ana Diez-Roux, MD, PhD — looked at heart disease and stroke incidence from 2000 to 2011 among black men and women who participated in a National Institutes of Health project called the Jackson (Mississippi) Heart Study. This information was linked to data on neighborhood poverty, unemployment and other socioeconomic indicators from the 2000 U.S. Census, along with other data on violence and disorder.

    Barber and her team found that every step down on an established disadvantage scale resulted in a 25 percent increase in risk of cardiovascular disease.

    When they measured violence and disorder levels in neighborhoods, there was a similar increase in risk of cardiovascular disease for each negative step on the scale.

    “For decades, centuries, even, researchers have linked adverse neighborhood economic and social conditions to health,” Barber said. “For example, in ‘The Philadelphia Negro,’ a groundbreaking study conducted by W.E.B. DuBois, mortality rates among Blacks in Philadelphia at the turn of the 20th century were higher in the poorest wards of the city.”

    When it comes to examining chronic disease risk, Barber feels it is “critical” to delve deeper and identify true root causes so that policies and strategies can be as effective as possible.

    Among the issues that clearly need addressing are violence and disorder.

    “These are symptoms of the broader issues of racial and economic inequality that is rampant in urban areas across the United States,” Barber said. “These issues arise from decades of persistent, concentrated poverty and disinvestment in communities of color, including limited opportunities for good jobs, proper education and other resources necessary for the full wellbeing of individuals and communities.”

    “One way of addressing this issue is to invest in economic and social policies at the neighborhood level — such as creating jobs and educational opportunities — in tandem with evidence-based efforts to reduce violence,” Barber concluded.


  9. A social reboot for illegal downloaders

    January 3, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Inderscience media release:

    computer frustrationUnauthorized downloading of digital goods, including copyright music, videos, computer games, and images has become an increasing problem for content providers and those who hold the copyright on such goods and expect remuneration for distribution.

    A new research study in the International Journal of Business Environment suggests that content providers must take a pragmatic view based on social consensus to persuade illicit downloaders that their behaviour is economically and ethically unacceptable behaviour among their peer group or other social group to which they belong.

    Eva Hofmann of the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, UK and Elfriede Penz of the Institute for International Marketing Management, at Vienna University of Economics and Business, in Austria, explain that unauthorised sharing of digital content, often referred to as “piracy,” is well-entrenched in popular culture. However, they have discerned a difference in the way those downloading pirated content and the legal downloaders decide on how to obtain the content they desire from the internet.

    Inherent in the problem for copyright holders is that digital goods can be duplicated endlessly without loss of fidelity, this benefit of the digital realm makes piracy easy but also points to the value of such goods as being less than traditional, physical items in the realm of content, such as CDs and DVDs. This makes the moral decision less onerous for illegal downloaders than were they to steal a CD or DVD from a high street shop.

    Interestingly, some earlier studies have suggested that online piracy does not detrimentally affects sales of physical goods and that many so-called pirates actually spend more on entertainment overall. Nevertheless, the sale of CDs and related goods are in decline and the industry blames piracy largely for declining numbers of units shifted. Conversely, consumers often cite the high price of digital goods as justification for engaging in unauthorised downloading.

    “In the era of digitisation, exchanging goods for material and immaterial compensation or for a feeling of sheer altruism remains an important human behaviour,” the team says, “But rather than tightening enforcement to protect their assets content providers would benefit more by initiating communication with the illegal downloaders and profiting from global online networking rather than fighting it.”


  10. Shooting, gang violence exposure leads to PTSD

    December 13, 2016 by Ashley

    From the Northwestern University media release:

    memory vanishingThe violence that women in disadvantaged neighborhoods experience and witness can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and full diagnoses, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study that examined a disadvantaged Chicago neighborhood.

    Also noteworthy, women with PTSD diagnosis or sub-threshold PTSD had significantly more severe depression symptoms than women in the study who didn’t report experiencing trauma. Every woman who was recruited had symptoms of depression.

    “There are many women who are affected by shooting and gang violence in these neighborhoods,” said first author Sunghyun Hong, a research assistant at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “These women are often overlooked. With this study, we were able to shine a light on this high prevalence of trauma exposure and PTSD diagnosis among the underserved population.”

    This is one of very few studies to explicitly examine the impact that living in a disadvantaged neighborhood has on PTSD symptoms. The study was published Dec. 7 in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities (pdf of study available for free download at this link).

    The traumatic experiences reported in the study were often violent or sexual in nature. One woman disclosed having witnessed the fatal shooting of her son, and another woman reported watching her father be murdered in her home.

    The neighborhood from which women in the study were recruited ranked 7th for property crime, 26th for quality of life crime and 35th for violent crime among 77 Chicago neighborhoods.

    Thirty-six percent of women in the study had PTSD or sub-threshold PTSD (substantial trauma symptoms that might not have met the full PTSD diagnostic criteria). Those with PTSD had more severe depression symptoms than other women in the study who did not exhibit signs of PTSD, said principal investigator and senior author Inger Burnett-Zeigler, clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Feinberg.

    “Even if you don’t meet the full criteria for PTSD, you can have enough symptoms to impact your well-being,” Burnett-Zeigler said. “There is a substantial proportion of people who fall below the PTSD diagnosis line who might be getting lost in the cracks. It’s important for mental health providers to develop a greater awareness around this because untreated PTSD symptoms affect mental health, quality of life and functioning.”

    A significant percentage of women in a general population who experienced trauma (20 percent) develop PTSD she said.

    “But the prevalence of PTSD symptoms is particularly acute in impoverished neighborhoods,” Burnett-Zeigler said. “In the study’s sample, 71 percent of the women who experienced trauma had PTSD symptoms.”

    “This wasn’t a sample we recruited based on having traumatic experiences, and yet so many women we recruited had experienced something traumatic,” Burnett-Zeigler said. “That is really significant in terms of how prevalent of an issue this is in that vulnerable population.