Thursday, June 25, 2020

Effects of the characteristic temperament of cats on the emotions and hemodynamic responses of humans

Effects of the characteristic temperament of cats on the emotions and hemodynamic responses of humans. Takumi Nagasawa,Mitsuaki Ohta,Hidehiko Uchiyama. PLoS One, June 25, 2020.

Abstract: Cats positive effects on their owners’ physiological and psychological health, including improved mood and activation of the human prefrontal cortex and inferior frontal gyrus in the brain. However, the association between the health benefits provided by cat ownership and the characteristic behaviors and reactions of cats is unclear. We recruited 29 participants to measure human prefrontal cortex activity, using functional near-infrared spectroscopy, during interactions with a cat. After the experiments, participants subjectively responded to a questionnaire regarding success rates for interactions with the cat, and completed the Self-assessment Manikin—a scale used to measure emotion. Interactions comprised eight types in four categories (touch, play, train, and feed). This study showed that interactions with a cat significantly activated the prefrontal cortex, regardless of interaction type. During training, the integral values of oxygenated hemoglobin in the left inferior frontal gyrus were the highest in all the interaction categories; however, success rates were lower than in the touch and feed interactions. Regarding the Self-assessment Manikin scores, all interaction categories showed a positive correlation between success rate and valence score, especially in the train and play interactions than in the touch and feed interactions. These results indicate that interactions with a cat activate the prefrontal cortex in humans, including the inferior frontal gyrus region. Moreover, cats’ autonomous behaviors and reactions positively influenced the participants. The characteristic temperament of cats may be a key factor influencing the health benefits of owning cats.


Sequential change in Oxy-Hb signal of the PFC

Interactions with a cat activated participants’ PFC, regardless of interaction type. The experiment protocol consisted of interactions typical in cat owners’ homes; therefore, this result suggested that owning a cat enhances the function of the owners’ PFC. Furthermore, PFC controls executive function [12]; therefore, interactions with a cat may improve executive function. This result is consistent with previous studies [10][11]. To our knowledge, this study may be one of the first to explain the mechanism that everyday interaction with cats enhance PFC function.

Integral values of the IFG for the train and play interactions

We focused on the integral values of Oxy-Hb signals in left and right IFG regions. In all interactions, the integral values did not correlate with each success rate individually. However, there was a significant difference among interaction categories. The integral values of the train interaction were larger than those of the other interaction categories. Notably, in the left IFG region, the integral values of the train interaction were significantly larger than those of the other categories. The left IFG controls the mirror neuron system [36] and empathy [37]. This study suggested that performing training interactions with a cat would be an effective way to help develop these brain functions.
There are several possible reasons for significant activation of the IFG during the train interaction. First, participants might have not been accustomed to training a cat; thus, it is possible that unnatural interaction situation promoted Oxy-Hb activation for participants. Training is still not a typical interaction between a cat and its owner in general households. Nevertheless, training using clicker has recently become a standard method to improve cats’ welfare [20] and develop effective relationships between cats and humans [38]. Training a cat should be recognized as a common interaction between cats and their owners.
Second, the characteristic temperament of cats (i.e., not typically displaying obedient behavior) might have been the reason for activation of the IFG. For the train interaction, participants reported significantly lower success rates than for the feed and touch interactions. The cat frequently showed autonomous behaviors and reactions to participants owing to the independent nature of cats. Participants might try to anticipate the cat’s next action and determine how to succeed. This thinking process might have been the reason for the activation of the IFG.
The play interaction also showed a lower success rate than did the feed and touch interactions. Further, the integral values of the IFG during playing with the cat were larger than those during feeding. In the play interaction, it was difficult for participants to attract the cat to play. As with the train interaction, participants might think about the way to succeed in this interaction.
The thinking processes used during the train and play interactions related to fundamental nonverbal communication skills necessary not only for interactions between people and animals but also for interpersonal interactions. Therefore, the train and play interactions with a cat, which induce the activation of the IFG, have potential to treat individuals with ASD, which have impaired function in the IFG region [18]. Previous studies showed that interactions with an animal can improve the social communication skills of children with ASD [39][40]. Although much of the previous research has been performed using therapy dogs [41], a few studies have posited that cats can also be useful for therapy with people with ASD [42][43]. However, the mechanism was still unclear.
It is frequently difficult to speculate on cats’ behaviors, even for their owners. The behaviors and temperament of cats, such as independence, is a unique trait compared to dogs. As cat domestication was shorter than for dogs, and may not even be complete [28], the genes of domestic cats are not distinct from those of wild cats [44]; thus, even household cats frequently display autonomous behaviors like wild animals. The present results suggest that cats’ unique behaviors and reactions are the key factors explaining the mechanism underlying the health benefits that cats can provide to individuals with ASD. However, this study targeted healthy participants, not those with ASD; therefore, further studies are needed to determine whether cats positively effects the treatment of individuals with ASD.

Integral values of the IFG for the feed and touch interactions

During the feed interaction, the integral values were significantly less compared to the other interaction types; however, the success rate was higher than in the train and play interactions. Since feeding is the most fundamental interaction between a human and an animal, the cat relatively obeyed participants during the feed interaction. Participants may have felt it was easy to speculate on the cat’s behavioral reactions during the feed interaction; therefore, the IFG region was not activated.
As with feeding, tactile communication with a cat is a central interaction between a cat and its owner. In this study, the touch interaction showed a higher success rate than either the train or the play interaction; however, the integral values of the IFG were larger than during the feed interaction. This could be the result of tactile stimulation. A previous study showed that the IFG region was activated by touching a cat [13], which is consistent with the findings of this study. Therefore, the current results might show that tactile stimuli, which occur through interaction with a cat, affect IFG activation.


Valence scores from the SAM significantly positively correlated with success rates. The valence dimension in the SAM is the measurement of emotions, such as happiness and satisfaction [32]. In this study, participants felt positive emotion when the cat obeyed them. Moreover, the train and play interactions, which had a significantly lower success rate than the feed and touch interactions, showed a relatively higher correlation coefficient than the feed and touch interactions. Therefore, the present result indicates that the lower the success rate of interaction with a cat, the more likely positive emotions of the participants occurred when the interaction succeeds. As mentioned above, cats and dogs have different temperaments, and cats frequently showed autonomous behavior and reaction for their owners. These characteristic temperaments of cats may be the key factor to enhance human psychological status.
During the play interaction, only the arousal score for the SAM significantly positively correlated with success rates. The arousal dimension in the SAM is the measurement of emotions such as excitement [32]. In the play interaction, the success meant the cat responded to the cat toys using its paws. It is possible that the movement of the cat increased the arousal of the participants. Previous studies claimed that the arousal response is related to enhanced cognitive function [45]. Additionally, exercise, which increases arousal, also improves executive function [46][47]. Therefore, playing with a cat may promotes the development of human cognitive function. Furthermore, 90% of cat owners play with their cats at least once per day [48]; thus, play with cats is a common interaction for their owners. The results of the current study may show the mechanism of an association between owning pets and improved executive functions.


This study had several limitations. First, we used a laboratory cat, not a house cat. This was because of the difficulty of conducting this experiment in cat owners’ homes. Domestic cats are territorial animals [49], and would not behave typically with their owner if an unfamiliar person and apparatus were to be in their territory. Thus, we utilized a laboratory cat. However, the cat had been raised in the laboratory like as a house cat; therefore, the cat had the characteristic temperament of a house cat.
Second, during the experiments, only participants could initiate an interaction, not the cat. Specifically, in the touch interactions, we requested that participants pet the cat. However, cats often display allogrooming (i.e., groom other cats using their tongue) and allorubbing (i.e., rubbing their head and tail toward other cats) behaviors toward humans [50]. If interactions between participants and the cat had been mutual, the results may have varied. In future studies, researchers should design a protocol that allows for free and mutual interactions between cats and participants.
Third, we used Bonferroni’s and Scheffe’s methods for post-hoc analyses; although, we did not use a false discovery rate approach. Therefore, further studies should use false discovery rate to control the proportion of false positives among channels that are significantly detected.

More than smell – COVID-19 is associated with severe impairment of smell, taste, and chemesthesis

More than smell – COVID-19 is associated with severe impairment of smell, taste, and chemesthesis. Valentina Parma et al. Chemical Senses, bjaa041, Jun 20 2020.

Abstract: Recent anecdotal and scientific reports have provided evidence of a link between COVID-19 and chemosensory impairments such as anosmia. However, these reports have downplayed or failed to distinguish potential effects on taste, ignored chemesthesis, and generally lacked quantitative measurements. Here, we report the development, implementation and initial results of a multi-lingual, international questionnaire to assess self-reported quantity and quality of perception in three distinct chemosensory modalities (smell, taste, and chemesthesis) before and during COVID-19. In the first 11 days after questionnaire launch, 4039 participants (2913 women, 1118 men, 8 other, ages 19-79) reported a COVID-19 diagnosis either via laboratory tests or clinical assessment. Importantly, smell, taste and chemesthetic function were each significantly reduced compared to their status before the disease. Difference scores (maximum possible change ±100) revealed a mean reduction of smell (-79.7 ± 28.7, mean ± SD), taste (-69.0 ± 32.6), and chemesthetic (-37.3 ± 36.2) function during COVID-19. Qualitative changes in olfactory ability (parosmia and phantosmia) were relatively rare and correlated with smell loss. Importantly, perceived nasal obstruction did not account for smell loss. Furthermore, chemosensory impairments were similar between participants in the laboratory test and clinical assessment groups. These results show that COVID-19-associated chemosensory impairment is not limited to smell, but also affects taste and chemesthesis. The multimodal impact of COVID-19 and lack of perceived nasal obstruction suggest that SARS-CoV-2 infection may disrupt sensory-neural mechanisms.

Advancing science or advancing careers? Researchers’ opinions on success indicators

Advancing science or advancing careers? Researchers’ opinions on success indicators. NoĆ©mie Aubert Bonn, Wim Pinxten. bioRxiv Jun 23 2020.

Abstract: The way in which we assess researchers has been under the radar in the past few years. Critics argue that current research assessments focus on productivity and that they increase unhealthy pressures on scientists. Yet, the precise ways in which assessments should change is still open for debate. We circulated a survey with Flemish researchers to understand how they work, and how they would rate the relevance of specific indicators used in research assessments. We found that most researchers worked far beyond their expected working schedule. We also found that, although they spent most of their time doing research, respondents wished they could dedicate more time to it and less time to other activities such as administrative duties and meetings. When looking at success indicators, we found that indicators related to openness, transparency, quality, and innovation were perceived as highly important in advancing science, but as relatively overlooked in career advancement. Conversely, indicators which denoted of prestige and competition were generally rated as important to career advancement, but irrelevant or even detrimental in advancing science. Open comments from respondents further revealed that, although indicators which indicate openness, transparency, and quality (e.g., publishing open access, publishing negative findings, sharing data, etc.) should ultimately be valued more in research assessments, the resources and support currently in place were insufficient to allow researchers to endorse such practices. In other words, current research assessments are inadequate and ignore practices which are essential in contributing to the advancement of science. Yet, before we change the way in which researchers are being assessed, supporting infrastructures must be put in place to ensure that researchers are able to commit to the activities that may benefit the advancement of science.

Overall, the present results indicate that fertility appears to be an important cue for perceived physical attractiveness for both hetero- and homosexual men

Fertility as a cue for attractiveness in homo- and heterosexual men. Robin Rinn et al Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 166, 1 November 2020, 110171.

• Sexual Strategy Theory predicts that men prefer highly fertile women.
• Findings confirm: heterosexual men evaluate highly fertile women as most attractive.
• Homosexual men find both highly over lowly fertile women and men more attractive.
• Mating strategies seem to be closely tied to biological sex not to sexual orientation.

Abstract: According to the sexual strategy theory (SST), men pursue short-term mating strategies to enhance their reproductive fitness. To do so, heterosexual men search for women who signal high reproductive value through multiple fertility cues. We hypothesize that, due to an interplay of mating strategies derived from a person's biological sex and the sexual orientation of a person (which develops independently of biological sex), not only heterosexual but also homosexual men should find high fertility more attractive in others. Accordingly, in Study 1 (N = 124), we found that hetero- as well as homosexual men rated the physical attractiveness of a female stimulus person to be greater when she was portrayed to be of high (versus low) fertility. Interestingly, in Study 2 (N = 224), we found that only homosexual-, but not heterosexual men perceived a male stimulus to be less attractive when information was provided that pointed at his low (versus high) fertility and when no information was given. We discuss these findings against the background of evolved adaptive mating motives in humans. Overall, the present results indicate that fertility appears to be an important cue for perceived physical attractiveness for both hetero- and homosexual men.

Keywords: Physical attractivenessSexual orientationBiological sexFertilitySexual strategy theory

From 2016... Is subversive or feminist the increasing consumption of pornographic content by women in contemporary Japan?

From 2016... Alexandra Hambleton: When women watch: the subversive potential of female-friendly pornography in Japan, Porn Studies, 3:4, 427-442,

Abstract: Pornography producers in Japan are finding themselves increasingly struggling to maintain profits as free content becomes ever more easily available online. Within this environment, one niche area is bucking trends and increasing sales – pornography for women. In an industry where a DVD that sells 3000 copies is considered a hit, female-friendly pornography company Silk Labo has been able to not only produce DVDs which sell over 10,000 copies, but also generate publicity about the company and its aims which reaches far beyond neighbourhood DVD rental stores, and contributes to a wider conversation about women, sex, and pleasure in Japan today. This article draws on ethnographic fieldwork, interviews, and critical analysis of Silk Labo films to understand the phenomenon of increasing consumption of pornographic content by women in contemporary Japan, and asks whether the phenomenon is subversive or feminist.

Much as fandom and following pop idols acts as an escape from mundane life for many fans in Japan today (see Galbraith and Karlin 2012), participating in Silk Labo events allows fans of the company’s eromen idols an escape into a fantasy world in which sex is always with an attractive, caring man. The references to popular culture and pornography, and the in-jokes relied upon by Silk Labo are all indicative of its ability to provide an arena for them to engage in fan behaviour.

It is possible to argue that Silk Labo is one example of attempts to control female desires, redirected in such a way as to allow freedom within clearly demarcated heteronormative lines. From a queer studies perspective, Bronski argues that the process of ‘social containment, presenting less threatening forms of social change through commodification’ developed because people both desired and feared new freedoms, viewing them as a threat to the existing social order (2000, 69–70). In the case of host clubs, male sexuality is commodified and Japanese women deploy men as ‘resources’ to create a more woman-friendly lifestyle (Takeyama 2005, 200). As Takeyama argues, this ‘serves as an effective stimulus for women’s greater consumption, while also reinscribing gendered characteristics and hierarchical relations’ (2005, 200). The Silk Labo phenomenon similarly encourages consumption, but it also creates what Gordon (1992, 194) terms ‘the other place’, an arena in which female desire can be manipulated and controlled, and prevented from bleeding into surrounding arenas. However, while Silk Labo’s films may be problematic in many ways, they also offer a chance to move beyond traditional ideas of pornography as a male genre, and create the opportunity for further discussion about what it means to enjoy sex and one’s own sexuality for women in Japan today.

A year after my fieldwork I returned to the Silk Labo set in April 2014 and spent the day watching the cast and crew at work. Makino was still running the show but with a number of younger female crew learning to write, produce, and direct under her tutelage, women who often pour their own sexual fantasies into their productions. Since introducing mobile phone-streaming services earlier in the year, the company had been able to expand its reach, but was also under threat from new management at SOD who believed they could attract more female customers by dumping cheaply produced content onto cute websites under the heading of ‘female-friendly pornography’ and hoping audiences would graduate to purchasing full-length mainstream SOD movies. Having spent many years developing the Silk Labo brand, Makino was frustrated with this approach. However, as Silk Labo’s newest staff rushed to provide the cast with bathrobes after each scene and the crew munched on doughnuts as they revised the script, I realized that, despite constantly facing new challenges, for now at least Silk Labo may be responding to a new generation of women willing to try something different within the pornography industry, and that the quiet boom in female-friendly porn for women might yet spur a quiet revolution.

Preliminary Health and Safety Guidelines for Adult Film Production. Free Speech Coalition

Preliminary Health and Safety Guidelines for Adult Film Production. Free Speech Coalition, Jun 2020.


Citadel EHS (1725 Victory Blvd. Glendale, California 91201) prepared these suggested health
and safety guidelines and protocols for film production on behalf of Free Speech Coalition to
reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission on production sets where filming
activities take place.

This document provides general guidance and suggested procedures but does not contain
mandatory requirements regarding how the plan should be implemented nor how production
must be done.

The guidance provided is a compilation of the latest available information and best practices
from health agencies, governmental agencies, industry, and technical professional opinion as of
the date this document was issued.

The current COVID-19 pandemic event is rapidly evolving. Users should monitor changes in
requirements and best practices over time to be sure the most up-to-date advice is considered.

Although some recommendations contained in this plan may not be applicable in the future, the
overall framework to assess the COVID-19 risk and categories to be considered are likely to
apply well into the future and should be used to evaluate changes as they occur.

Each member of the adult industry will need to evaluate their tolerance for risk when deciding
when and how to return to production safely. Any decision a business makes needs to be based
upon the regulatory rules of their jurisdictions, the needs of their specific business, and the
advice of their lawyer.