1. How do toddlers learn best from touchscreens?

    May 14, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Frontiers press release:

    Educational apps for kids can be valuable learning tools, but there’s still a lot left to understand about how to best design them, shows a report in Frontiers in Psychology.

    “Our experiments are a reminder that just because touchscreens allow for physical interaction, it doesn’t mean that it’s always beneficial,” says Dr. Colleen Russo-Johnson, lead author of the study and who completed this work as a graduate student at Vanderbilt University.

    Smartphones and tablets have become so pervasive that, even in lower-income households, 90% of American children have used a touchscreen by the age of 2. Eighty percent of educational apps in the iTunes store are designed for children — especially toddlers and preschoolers. But recent research has shown that sometimes all those chimes and animations hinder learning, prompting the question, how well do we understand what it takes to make a truly beneficial learning app?

    “Children interact with touch screens and the embedded media content in vastly different ways and this impacts their ability to learn from the content,” says Russo-Johnson. “Our experiment focused on how children interacted with touchscreen devices — on a more basic level — by stripping away fancy design features that vary from app to app and that are not always beneficial.”

    Using a custom-made, streamlined learning app, Russo-Johnson and her colleagues showed that children as young as 2 could use the app to learn new words such as the fictional names of a variety of newly-introduced toys (designed specifically for the study). Unsurprisingly, slightly older children (age 4 to 5) were able to learn more than the younger ones (age 2 to 3) and they were also able to follow directions better — such as only tapping when instructed to do so.

    The researchers went on to show that the excessive tapping by younger children seemed to go hand-in-hand with lower scores of a trait called self-regulation. As in this study, self-regulation is commonly measured by seeing how long children can keep themselves from eating a cracker that is placed in front of them — after they’ve been told to wait until they hear a signal that it’s ok to eat the cracker.

    To complement this first study (which included 77 children), Russo-Johnson and her colleagues designed a second app to see which interactions — tapping, dragging, or simply watching — were better for learning new words.

    Somewhat surprisingly, across this next group of 170 2- to 4-year olds, no single type of interaction proved to consistently be the best. But there were differences depending on age, gender, and the extent of prior exposure to touchscreens at home. Boys appeared to benefit more from watching, whereas dragging seemed best for girls and children with the most touchscreen experience.

    These results complement the growing body of research on identifying effective interactive features, as well as providing insight into how apps might be tailored to fit the learning needs of different children.

    “I hope that this research will inform academics and app developers alike,” says Russo-Johnson. “Educational app developers should be mindful of utilizing interactivity in meaningful ways that don’t distract from the intended educational benefits, and, when possible, allow for customization so parents and educators can determine the best settings for their children.”


  2. Handheld screen time linked with speech delays in young children

    May 11, 2017 by Ashley

    From the American Academy of Pediatrics press release:

    As the number of smart phones, tablets, electronic games and other handheld screens in U.S. homes continues to grow, some children begin using these devices before beginning to talk. New research being presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting suggests these children may be at higher risk for speech delays.

    Researchers will present the abstract, “Is handheld screen time use associated with language delay in infants?” on Saturday, May 6 at the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco. The study included 894 children between ages 6 months and 2 years participating in TARGet Kids!, a practice-based research network in Toronto between 2011 and 2015.

    By their 18-month check-ups, 20 percent of the children had daily average handheld device use of 28 minutes, according to their parents. Based on a screening tool for language delay, researchers found that the more handheld screen time a child’s parent reported, the more likely the child was to have delays in expressive speech. For each 30-minute increase in handheld screen time, researchers found a 49 percent increased risk of expressive speech delay. There was no apparent link between handheld device screen time and other communications delays, such as social interactions, body language or gestures.

    “Handheld devices are everywhere these days,” said Dr. Catherine Birken, MD, MSc, FRCPC, the study’s principal investigator and a staff pediatrician and scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). “While new pediatric guidelines suggest limiting screen time for babies and toddlers, we believe that the use of smartphones and tablets with young children has become quite common. This is the first study to report an association between handheld screen time and increased risk of expressive language delay.”

    Dr. Birken said the results support a recent policy recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics to discourage any type of screen media in children younger than 18 months. More research is needed, she said, to understand the type and contents of screen activities infants are engaging in to further explore mechanisms behind the apparent link between handheld screen time and speech delay, such as time spent together with parents on handheld devices, and to understand the impact on in-depth and longer-term communication outcomes in early childhood.


  3. Study suggests hands-free technology may still affect driver attention

    April 20, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society press release:

    Drivers commonly perform secondary tasks while behind the wheel to navigate or communicate with others, which has led to a significant increase in the number of injuries and fatalities attributed to distracted driving. Advances in wearable technology, particularly devices such as Google Glass, which feature voice control and head-up display (HUD) functionalities, raise questions about how these devices might impact driver attention when used in vehicles. New human factors/ergonomics research examines how these interface characteristics can have a deleterious effect on safety.

    In their Human Factors article, “Driving While Interacting With Google Glass: Investigating the Combined Effect of Head-Up Display and Hands-Free Input on Driving Safety and Multitask Performance,” authors Kathryn Tippey, Elayaraj Sivaraj, and Thomas Ferris observed the performance of 24 participants in a driving simulator. The participants engaged in four texting-while-driving tasks: baseline (driving only), and driving plus reading and responding to text messages via (a) a smartphone keyboard, (b) a smartphone voice-to text system, and (c) Google Glass’s voice-to-text system using HUD.

    The authors found that driving performance degraded regardless of secondary texting task type, but manual entry led to slower reaction times and significantly more eyes-off-road glances than voice-to-text input using both smartphones and Google Glass. Glass’ HUD function required only a change in eye direction to read and respond to text messages, rather than the more disruptive change in head and body posture associated with smartphones. Participants also reported that Glass was easier to use and interfered less with driving than did the other devices tested.

    Tippey, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Research and Innovation in Systems Safety at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, says, “Our evidence suggests that adding voice input and using an HUD can make secondary tasks like texting while driving less unsafe. However, regardless of entry or display method, it is not safe to perform these types of secondary task while driving in environments where the workload from driving is already heavy.”


  4. Study examines impact of smartphones on sleep

    June 17, 2013 by Ashley

    From the Mayo Clinic press release via ScienceDaily:

    cellphone textingSmartphones and tablets can make for sleep-disrupting bedfellows. One cause is believed to be the bright light-emitting diodes that allow the use of mobile devices in dimly lit rooms; the light exposure can interfere with melatonin, a hormone that helps control the natural sleep-wake cycle. But there may be a way to check your mobile device in bed and still get a good night’s sleep.

    A Mayo Clinic study suggests dimming the smartphone or tablet brightness settings and holding the device at least 14 inches from your face while using it will reduce its potential to interfere with melatonin and impede sleep.

    The research was among Mayo Clinic studies being presented at SLEEP 2013, the Associated Professional Sleep Societies annual meeting in Baltimore.

    “In the old days people would go to bed and read a book. Well, much more commonly people go to bed and they have their tablet on which they read a book or they read a newspaper or they’re looking at material. The problem is it’s a lit device, and how problematic is the light source from the mobile device?” says co-author Lois Krahn, M.D., a psychiatrist and sleep expert at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz.

    “There’s a lot of concern about using mobile devices and that prompted me to wonder, are they always a negative factor for sleep?” Dr. Krahn says. “We found that only at the highest setting was the light over a conservative threshold that might affect melatonin levels. If it’s at the mid setting or at a low setting it’s bright enough to use.”

    In the study, researchers experimented with two tablets and a smartphone in a dark room, using a meter on its most sensitive setting to measure the light the devices emitted at various settings when held various distances from a person’s face. They discovered that when brightness settings were lowered and the devices were held just over a foot from a user’s face, it reduced the risk that the light would be bright enough to suppress melatonin secretion and disrupt sleep.

    Other Mayo research presented at the conference includes the finding that some sleep apnea patients may not need annual follow-up visits. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea being treated with positive airway pressure are less likely to need a yearly check-up.

    The researchers suggest developing a screening tool to assess which of these patients need annual follow-up visits.

    Limiting annual visits to the obstructive sleep apnea patients who truly need them will reduce resource use and improve quality of care and patient satisfaction, says co-author Kannan Ramar, MBBS., M.D., a pulmonary and critical care physician with the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine in Rochester, Minn.


  5. Study examines use of Instagram to share experiences

    April 25, 2013 by Ashley

    From the University of Gothenburg press release via EurekAlert!:

    Computer UserThe photo-sharing application Instagram is used by millions of people around the world daily. In the media, the social media phenomenon is sometimes dismissed as trivial pastime. However, according to a fresh study at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, a lot of effort often goes into a picture before it is shared.

    In study, which was conducted by three researchers from the University of Gothenburg, investigated how visitors at the Gothenburg Museum of Natural History used their cellphones during a visit. Through ethnographic field studies the researchers examined how visitors documented and shared their experiences.

    The study in itself is one of a kind. Since Instagram is a relatively new service, the body of research with in the area is still thin. Furthermore, the combination of Instragram and museums was previously unexplored.

    “There are studies that have looked at how museum visitors use technology developed by the museums themselves, such as for example touchscreens or mobile applications. But we are among the first to investigate how visitors use their own mobile technology in the museum environment,” says Post-Doc Thomas Hillman, one of the three researchers behind the study.

    When the researchers analyzed the data they had collected, they were able to determine that visitors often upload many pictures from the museum during their visit, and that many of these pictures are carefully planned and edited.

    There is a conception that Instagram is used to post mostly of self-portraits and pictures of food, which can be perceived as shallow, but our research shows that there is a lot effort behind many of the pictures,” says PhD Student Beata Jungselius.

    The study also indicates that smart phones have changed the way we share our experiences.

    We used to document places and events by taking pictures with cameras, which we would then print and share with our closest friends. Then cellphone with cameras with introduced, and as these have evolved, along with the breakthrough of Facebook and Instagram, our way of sharing our experiences has changed,” says Associate Professor Alexandra Weilenmann.

     


  6. Swedish study suggests smartphones have increased use of social media and computer games

    June 28, 2012 by Sue

    From the University of Gothenburg press release via Physorg:

    Over 60 per cent of Swedish young people today have a smartphone, and in addition to telephoning and messaging, they use them to communicate via social media and e-mail, and to play games.

    Each year, Nordicom at Gothenburg University carries out a nationally representative survey of media use among the Swedish people. Media Barometer 2011 (Mediebarometern 2011) presents the results of the most recent survey.

    Smartphones have contributed to an already notable increase in the use of computer games, particularly among young people,” says Professor Ulla Carlsson. “Online game-playing has more than doubled during the past year alone. Sixty per cent of 9- to 14-year-olds play one or more computer or video games the average day – action and adventure themes predominate.”

    Smartphones are also used to keep up on the news. As a consequence of more differentiated media use, news listening and watching via traditional media have shown a slight decline in recent years, particularly among young people. That decline appears to have leveled off now. Most owners of smartphones choose to follow the news in web editions of daily newspapers.

    Use of social media is considerably more passive than active

    Nearly 90 per cent of Swedish young people, aged 15 to 24, use one or more social media the average day, which is a considerably greater share than those who watch television (75 %). This pattern is quite different from media behavior in other age groups, where television viewing is much more common.

    Young people also spend much more time on internet than other age groups. Forty-three per cent report spending more than three hours on the web the average day, and 23 per cent spend more than five hours. The most common activity is visiting and communicating in social networks like Facebook (89 %), followed by listening to music (74 %), watching video clips (65 %) and listening to and/or reading blogs (34 %). Most internet use is passive rather than active; few young people post their own videos (4 %) or write their own blogs (9 %). Considerably more, however, take part in social networks like Facebook (68 %).

    Stability as well as change in use of traditional media

    Use of social media is more extensive and is increasing more rapidly than use of traditional media on the web, although we do note a slight upward trend in the latter from year to year. Younger adults, 25 to 44 years, are the most frequent users of internet. Nearly 50 per cent in this group partake of traditional media via the web. Internet also plays a key role in sustaining the audience reach of non-subscribed tabloids; every second tabloid reader reads the paper on the web.

    Otherwise, conventional television viewing continues to dominate, and radio listening continues its downward trend, whereas reading of periodicals and books remains relatively stable.

    Today there are many ways of watching television, in terms of both when we view and how we access the medium, with a range of hardware stretching from conventional television sets to tablet computers and smartphones. Six per cent of the population make use of conventional channels’ archive on-demand function the average day; per week the figure is 21 per cent. The corresponding figures among 15- to 24-year-olds are 10 per cent the average day, and 30 per cent the average week. About 10 per cent of younger boys use their cell phones to watch television or video clips the average day.

    Cineastic pensioners

    Swedes in the eldest age group, 65-79 years, distinguish themselves by a rise in cinema-going. No similar rise is noted in other age groups. Seventeen per cent of the group visit a cinema once or more the average month; in 1999 the figure was 3 per cent.


  7. Study suggests more people staying connected on vacation

    June 11, 2012 by Sue

    From the Michigan State University press release:

    Scanning smartphones, tablets and laptops is as much a part of vacations as slathering on sunscreen, according to a Michigan State University study.

    The results, which will appear in the forthcoming issue of Annals of Tourism Research, show that easy online access and ubiquitous personal devices have made the digital divide disappear, even for folks on holiday.

    “Not that long ago, travelers would need to find a payphone or send postcards to brag about their vacations. Now they just log on and send photos and text,” said Christine Vogt, MSU professor of community agriculture, recreation and resource studies, who co-authored the study with Kelly MacKay of Ryerson University (Canada). “Our results show clearly how the changing nature of IT behavior in everyday life is spilling over into our vacations.”

    The study showed that people using smart phones have tripled. The study also revealed that wireless use was higher on vacation (40 percent) than at home (25 percent). Also telling, were figures that show that people used the Web more to plan vacations (80 percent) than for work (70 percent).

    “Travelers are using their laptops and phones more often, and not just to plan vacations,” Vogt said. “Since Wi-Fi is available at most destinations, tourists are checking local weather forecasts, transportation schedules, restaurant recommendations, fishing reports, safe bicycling routes and much more.”

    Pulling out computers, iPads and smartphones at home and work is addictive. It looks like the habit doesn’t take a vacation, either, she added. Future research will give the tourism industry insight on the best ways to serve vacationers’ online needs.

    “We hope to conduct more research across the various stages of vacations,” Vogt said. “This will help vacation service providers better understand what information travelers are looking for during trip planning and how it differs from the details they’re searching for after arrival.”

    The study was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Vogt’s research is supported in part by MSU AgBioResearch.


  8. Study suggests people are more truthful about sensitive questions when texting

    May 17, 2012 by Sue

    From the University of Michigan press release via EurekAlert!:

    Text messaging is a surprisingly good way to get candid responses to sensitive questions, according to a new study to be presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research.

    “The preliminary results of our study suggest that people are more likely to disclose sensitive information via text messages than in voice interviews,” says Fred Conrad, a cognitive psychologist and Director of the Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR).

    “This is sort of surprising,” says Conrad, “since many people thought that texting would decrease the likelihood of disclosing sensitive information because it creates a persistent, visual record of questions and answers that others might see on your phone and in the cloud.”

    With text, the researchers also found that people were less likely to engage in ‘satisficing’ – a survey industry term referring to the common practice of giving good enough, easy answers, like rounding to multiples of 10 in numerical responses, for example. “We believe people give more precise answers via texting because there’s just not the time pressure in a largely asynchronous mode like text that there is in phone interviews,” says Conrad. “As a result, respondents are able to take longer to arrive at more accurate answers.”

    Conrad conducted the study with Michael Schober, a professor psychology and dean of the graduate faculty at the New School for Social Research. Their research team included cognitive psychologists, psycholinguists, survey methodologists and computer scientists from both universities, as well as collaborators from AT&T Research. Funding for the study came from the National Science Foundation.

    “We’re in the early stages of analyzing our findings,” says Schober. “But so far it seems that texting may reduce some respondents’ tendency to shade the truth or to present themselves in the best possible light in an interview – even when they know it’s a human interviewer they are communicating with via text. What we cannot yet be sure of is who is most likely to be disclosive in text. Is it different for frequent texters, or generational, for example?”

    For the study, the researchers recruited approximately 600 iPhone-users on Craigslist, through Google Ads, and from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, offering them iTunes Store incentives to participate in the study. Their goals were to see whether responses to the same questions differed depending on several variables: whether the questions were asked via text or voice, whether a human or a computer asked the questions, and whether the environment, including the presence of other people and the likelihood of multitasking, affected the answers.

    Among the questions that respondents answered more honestly via text than speech: In a typical week, about how often do you exercise? During the past 30 days, on how many days did you have 5 or more drinks on the same occasion?

    And among the questions that respondents answered more precisely via text, providing fewer rounded numerical responses: During the last month, how many movies did you watch in any medium? How many songs do you currently have on your iPhone?

    According to Schober and Conrad, changes in communication patterns and their impact on the survey industry prompted the study. About one in five U.S. households only use cell phones and no longer have landline phones. These households are typically not surveyed even though cell-only households tend to differ in important ways from households with landline phones. More people are using text messages on mobile phones, with texting now the preferred form of communication among many people in their teens and 20s in the U.S. Texting is extremely common among all age groups in many Asian and European nations.

    Conrad and Schober are also finding that people are more likely to provide thoughtful and honest responses via text messages even when they’re in busy, distracting environments.

    “This is the case even though people are more likely to be multitasking – shopping or walking, for example – when they’re answering questions by text than when they’re being interviewed by voice.”


  9. Study looks at effect of smartphones on real world privacy settings

    May 11, 2012 by Sue

    From the AFTAU press release:

    With endless applications, high-speed wireless Internet access, and free messaging services, smart phones have revolutionized the way we communicate. But at what cost? According to researchers at Tel Aviv University, the smart phone is challenging traditional conceptions of privacy, especially in the public sphere.

    Dr. Tali Hatuka of TAU’s Department of Geography and Dr. Eran Toch of TAU’s Department of Industrial Engineering have teamed to measure the impact of the smart phone phenomenon on privacy, behavioral codes, and the use of public space. Their early results indicate that although spaces such as city squares, parks, or transportation were once seen as public meeting points, smart phone users are more and more caught up in their technology-based communications devices than their immediate surroundings.

    Smart phone users are 70 percent more likely than regular cellphone users to believe that their phones afford them a great deal of privacy, says Dr. Toch, who specializes in privacy and information systems. These users are more willing to reveal private issues in public spaces. They are also less concerned about bothering individuals who share those spaces, he says.

    Inside a private bubble

    Dr. Hatuka says that smart phones create the illusion of “private bubbles” around their users in public spaces. She also believes that the design of public spaces may need to change in response to this technology, not unlike the ways in which some public areas have been designated as “smoking” and “non-smoking.” Dr. Toch also notes that smartphones and personal computing devices are becoming more “context-aware,” adjusting themselves in terms of brightness and volume to the user’s location and activity.

    To examine how smart phones have impacted human interactions in public and private spaces, the researchers designed an in-depth survey. Nearly 150 participants, half smart phone users and half regular phone users, were questioned about how telephone use applied to their homes, public spaces, learning spaces, and transportation spaces.

    While regular phone users continued to adhere to established social protocol in terms of phone use — postponing private conversations for private spaces and considering the appropriateness of cell phone use in public spaces — smart phone users adapted different social behaviors for public spaces. They were 50 percent less likely to be bothered by others using their phones in public spaces, and 20 percent less likely than regular phone users to believe that their private phone conversations were irritating to those around them, the researchers found.

    Feeling lost without a phone

    According to the researchers, smart phone users were also more closely “attached” to their mobile devices. When asked how they felt when they were without their phones, the majority of smart phone owners chose negative descriptors such as “lost,” “tense,” or “not updated.” Regular phone users were far more likely to have positive associations to being without their phones, such as feeling free or quiet.

    The next phase of the study will be a more in-depth analysis of how smart phone users incorporate this technology into their daily lives. It requires users to install an application that the researchers developed called Smart Spaces. The application is designed to track where the participants go over a three-week period and how they use their phones while there. This will give researchers a better idea of how smart phone users interact in both public and private spaces during the course of a typical day.

    Dr. Hatuka and Dr. Toch believe that their complete findings can reveal clues about the future of public space and how it will be designed in order to meet the needs of those it serves. “We are entering a new phase of public and private spaces,” says Dr. Hatuka, suggesting that physical spaces need to be redesigned as arenas which could enhance personal interaction.


  10. Study suggests smartphone training program may help people with memory impairment

    February 8, 2012 by Sue

    From the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care press release via EurekAlert!:

    The treatment for moderate-to-severe memory impairment could one day include a prescription for a smartphone.

    Baycrest has published the strongest evidence yet that a smartphone training program, theory-driven and specifically designed for individuals with memory impairment, can result in “robust” improvements in day-to-day functioning, and boost independence and confidence levels.

    The promising results appear online this week, ahead of print publication, in the international journal Neuropsychological Rehabilitation. Link to journal abstract — http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09602011.2011.652498

    “The goal of our study was to demonstrate the generalizability of our training protocol to a larger number of individuals with moderate-to-severe memory impairment,” said Dr. Eva Svoboda, a clinical neuropsychologist in the Neuropsychology and Cognitive Health Program at Baycrest, and lead author of the study. “Our findings demonstrate that it is possible to harness powerful emerging technologies with brain science in an innovative way to give people with a range of memory deficits some of their independence back.”

    Memory impairment, particularly when it is severe, can impact virtually all aspects of everyday life. Individuals are unable to readily acquire new information making it difficult or impossible to keep appointments and stay on top of changing personal, social and occupational responsibilities.

    Two decades ago, Baycrest pioneered a theory-driven training program that tapped into preserved implicit memory systems in people with amnesia to teach them to use assistive memory devices. Implicit or procedural memory is a type of memory that supports learning but does not require conscious executive control. Common examples of this type of memory include riding a bicycle or brushing one’s teeth which doesn’t require conscious remembering of where the procedure was learned in order to perform it.

    Commercial technologies such as smartphones and other mobile electronic devices have immense potential for individuals with memory impairment as they offer high storage capacity, auditory and vibration alerts, rich multimedia capability and high user acceptability.

    The Baycrest study involved 10 outpatients, 18 to 55 years of age, who had moderate-to-severe memory impairment, the result of non-neurodegenerative conditions including ruptured aneurysm, stroke, tumor, epilepsy, closed-head injury, or anoxia (insufficient oxygen to the brain) after a heart attack.

    Participants completed two phases of training on either a smartphone or another personal digital assistant (PDA) device. Prior to the training, all participants reported difficulty in day-to-day functioning. Some required ongoing supervision and regular assistance from family members due to their forgetting to pay bills, take medications or attend appointments.

    In the first phase, instructors from Baycrest’s Memory Link program taught participants the basic functions of their device, using an errorless fading of cues training method that tapped into their preserved implicit /procedural memory. Each participant received several one-hour training sessions to learn calendaring skills such as inputting appointments and reminders.

    In the second phase, participants took the device home to apply their newly-acquired calendaring skills in real-life situations. This included setting alarm reminders to take medications and attend future appointments, charging the device, and remembering to keep the device with them at all times. They also learned how to use other software functions, such as phone, contacts, and camera.

    As part of the outcome measures, participants were given a schedule of 10 phone calls to complete over a two-week period at different times of the day – to closely approximate real life commitments. Family members who lived with participants kept a behavioural memory log of whether real-life tasks were successfully completed or not by their relative. Participants and family members completed a “memory mistakes” questionnaire which involved rating a list of common memory mistakes on a frequency-of-occurrence scale, ranging from “never” to “all the time”.

    Participants and family also completed two additional questionnaires. One measured confidence in the participant when dealing with various memory-demanding scenarios (e.g. dentist calls to change appointment dates). The other examined the participant’s use of the device to support traveling back in time (e.g. searching activities and events from preceding days, weeks and months), traveling forward in time (e.g. planning ahead, entering future events and appointments), and technical ease of use of the device.

    All 10 individuals showed “robust increases” in day-to-day memory functioning after taking the training, based on results from the functional and questionnaire-based measures. Participants continued to report benefit from smartphone and PDA use in short-term follow-up three to eight months later.

    The Baycrest study team included Eva Svoboda (lead author), Brian Richards, Larry Leach and Valerie Mertens.