• Psychophysiological and emotional antecedents of climbing performance

      Giles, David; University of Derby (University of Derby, 2017-09-12)
      Recreational sport climbing is characterised by self-selected route choices, which place participants under both physiological and psychological stress. This thesis is comprised of four studies, each conducted with experienced climbers, exploring subjective psychological, objective psychophysiological and behavioural responses to anxiety-inducing stressors. Studies One and Two explored the means of protecting a climber in the event of a fall and the relative difficulty of a route. Significant and meaningful differences in self-reported anxiety and climbing performance were found in both studies. However, notably, psychophysiological measures of anticipatory heart rate and cortisol did not result in meaningful differences. Results suggested that situations, atypical of participants’ normal recreation sessions, with an increased likelihood of a climber falling or being unable to complete the route, were likely to be evaluated as threatening, elicit a negative emotional response and disrupt performance. However, the quantitative methods employed in Studies One and Two did not provide an explanation of the processes underlying participant’s anxious response and disrupted performance. Consequently, Study Three qualitatively explored individual experiences of climbers, with a focus on psychological factors that influence performance. The defining characteristics of lead climbing were discussed, as were the potential for taking falls, and/or the anticipation of falling. Further, interviewees described the choices they make, in order to increase or decrease the physical, psychological and technical challenges present. Critically, the choices made by a climber appear to potentiate or limit opportunities to perform optimally. Climber’s decisions were mediated by a number of antecedents, including a climber’s background in the sport, climbing partners and training status. Data suggests that while decisions made by the climbers allow them to engage with the sport on their own terms and exert a level of control over the challenges of their climbing sessions, it is often at the expense of performance. Interestingly, while interviewees were aware of techniques to reduce anxiety and improve performance, few regularly used these in training. Study Four examined the effectiveness of clip drops and repeat practice to reduce anxiety. Results indicated that neither technique resulted in reduced anxiety or improved performance when compared to the control group. While there were small differences in the success rate of participants in the intervention groups, they were less anxious and interpreted their level of self-confidence as more positive, compared to control, it was not possible to differentiate between the two interventions. However, when the combined means were considered there were significant and meaningful differences observed in the post-intervention red-point ascent compared to the initial on-sight. This thesis highlights the difficulty that arises in attempting to quantitatively examine anxiety. While there might not be (a) anxiety in climbers or (b) quantifiable differences between climbers of different abilities, it may be that what is possibly ‘noise’ in data arises due to weaknesses in the markers themselves. The findings of Study Three provide evidence of the true nature of anxiety for climbers, which was not evident from the quantitative markers; as well as the lengths climbers will go to, to avoid anxiety. Climbers’ responses to anxiety were individualised, consequently, generalised interventions may have a limited effect on reducing anxiety to a level which supports performance improvements. It may be that an individualised approach to anxiety reduction and avoidance behaviours has a more significant impact on performance improvement than any of the latest training programmes, equipment or nutritional strategies.
    • Automaticity and the development of categorisation in preschool children: Understanding the importance of play

      Owen, Kay; University of Derby (2017-05)
      Categorisation is the process by which items, behaviours and events are compartmentalised according to their defining attributes or properties. This may be based on simple perceptual similarities or on more complex conceptual webs. Whatever their selection criteria, categories expedite inferential capabilities, facilitating behavioural predictions and subsequently enabling response. Categorisation waives conscious effort whilst preserving that which is salient and as such, provides a highly efficient means of delineating and organising information within semantic memory. An ability to categorise is therefore fundamental to an individual’s capacity to understand the world and a necessary precursor to academic achievement. This thesis comprises a series of studies that were devised in order to investigate categorisational development in children. Study 1 involved the development of a theoretically and practically valid testing mechanism. A sample of 159 children, aged 30-50 months, participated in a series of investigations aimed at establishing the impact of test format and presentation dimensionality on categorisation performance. As a result of this, a new test battery was devised which enabled more fine grain differentiation than had been possible with the tests used by previous researchers. The battery measured four different aspects of preschool children’s categorisational abilities -categorising according to shape; according to colour; when presented with drawings of items, and when presented with the same items in the form of toys. Results found that children’s ability to categorise differed significantly according to their sex, socio-economic background and the dimensionality of the item. Study 2 utilised the same battery with 190 participants from demographically diverse cohorts. Significant differences were found between high and low socio-economic groups and between boys and girls. A Mixed- Factorial ANOVA, with a post-hoc Bonferroni demonstrated a main effect of sex; a main effect of cohort and an interaction between sex and cohort. A Kruskal-Wallis Test also showed age to be significant, confirming the findings of previous researchers concerning a developmental trajectory. However, it also found that relatively sophisticated conceptual webs emerge earlier than had previously been thought. Whilst the results from Study 2 had demonstrated relative homogeneity amongst socio-economic groups, it was noted that participants from the most disadvantaged neighbourhood performed better than those from the other low socio-economic cohort. As the two Nurseries employed different approaches, with one offering a formal curriculum and the other emphasising child-led play, it was decided that the final study would focus on categorical development in these two cohorts. The final study therefore investigated conceptual development during 96 participants’ first twelve weeks of nursery education. Forty-eight participants were drawn from a Community Nursery with a strong emphasis on child-led play and 48 were drawn from a Nursery attached to a Primary School, where the emphasis was on more formalised learning. Children’s categorisational abilities were measured during their first week in Nursery using the test battery devised for Study 1. They were then re-tested using a matched battery twelve weeks later. Change scores were calculated and analysed using a series of one-way ANOVAs. As anticipated, all participants made gains but the children who had participated in play made significantly greater gains in three out of the four measures. It is thus asserted that play is a key conducer in cognitive development and a causal executant in establishing rudimentary automaticity and, as such, should be the polestar of preschool education. This is particularly important for boys from low socio-economic backgrounds who face contiguous disadvantage. Therefore, this research demonstrates that memory-based research with young children should be conducted with toys and objects, rather than images, and that the link between social and educational stratification has its roots in early childhood and is best addressed through the provision of high-quality play opportunities.
    • Stability of protein-based drugs: Herceptin a case study

      Shropshire, Ian Michael; University of Derby (2016)
      There is a lack of stability data for in-use parenteral drugs. Manufacturers state a shelf-life of 24 hours for infusions based on microbiological contamination. The lack of data is of particular significance with protein-based drugs where action is determined by their complex structure. A range of techniques are required to assess stability, including biological assessment to support other data. There has been an increase in published data but often the few studies that address in-use stability are incomplete as they do not employ biological assessment to assess potency. Trastuzumab is an antibody-based drug used to treat cancers where the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 (HER2) is over expressed or over abundant on the cell surface. Trastuzumab infusions have been assigned by the manufacturer to be stable for 24 hours at temperatures not exceeding 30 oC. If stability is shown beyond this point it would enable extended storage and administration. To this end, methods were selected and developed with biological assessment central to the approach to assess clinically relevant infusion concentrations (0.5 mg/mL and 6.0 mg/mL) and a sub-clinical infusion concentration (0.1 mg/mL). This may enhance instability and provide opportunity to study degradation. A Cell Counting Kit CCK8 (Sigma Aldrich) was ultimately adopted as a basis for a colorimetric assay to assess cell viability. Attenuated Total Reflectance Infra-Red Spectroscopy and Size Exclusion Chromatography methods were developed to evaluate secondary structure and aggregation respectively. These methods were applied to a shelf-life study (43 days) as a collaboration with Quality Control North West (NHS) and Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology NHS Foundation Trust, Clatterbridge Hospital. There was no evidence of degradation and no loss efficacy for clinically relevant infusions (0.5 mg/mL and 6.0 mg/mL) over 43 days, whilst the sub-clinical infusions (0.1 mg/mL) developed particles after 7 days of storage between 2 oC and 8 oC. Furthermore, evidence of stability at day 119 gave increased confidence for the data from earlier time points. This work assisted in the shelf-life being recommended to be extended to 28 days for Trastuzumab stored in polyolefin IV bags at concentrations between 0.5 mg/mL and 6.0 mg/mL with 0.9% saline between 2 oC and 8 oC. However, infusions with concentrations below 0.5 mg/mL were not recommended for storage.
    • The impact of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) on quality of life: exploration, measurement and intervention.

      Williams, Sophie; University of Derby (2016)
      Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrine disorders amongst women, estimated to affect one out of 10 women. Symptoms include infertility, obesity, alopecia, acne, hirsutism and menstrual irregularities. Women with the syndrome are also more likely to experience co-morbid physical and psychological conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, endometrial cancer and also depression and anxiety. PCOS has also been found to have a negative impact on quality of life. This thesis aimed to further understanding, and improve quality of life of women with PCOS in the UK. To achieve this, the thesis aimed to investigate and identify how women with PCOS in the UK perceive and define their quality of life and to further understanding of the day-to-day experience of living with PCOS. Moreover, in order to measure quality of life, it aimed to develop and validate a UK disease-specific quality of life measure for women with PCOS. It also aimed to identify, develop and test a pilot intervention to increase quality of life in women with PCOS. To achieve these aims a mixed-methods approach was taken employing a variety of data generation and collection methods including: photovoice, online Skype™ interviews; LimeSurvey and Qualtrics. The findings of this thesis emphasise that PCOS has a negative impact on quality of life; encompassing psychological, social, environmental, and physical domains of quality of life. Women with PCOS who experienced the symptoms of infertility, hirsutism, weight, alopecia, skin discolouration, skin tags and mood swings had significantly lower scores of overall quality of life than those women who did not experience the symptoms. In addition, those women with PCOS who had a diagnosis of anxiety and/or depression had reduced quality of life. The dissemination of these findings will enable health care professionals to better understand the experience of living with PCOS and its impact on quality of life. Moreover, this thesis identifies many areas for future research which will enable a better understanding of the impact of PCOS on quality of life. Finally, this thesis makes recommendations for clinical practice which include improvement of support from health care professionals for women with PCOS in order to help them better manage their symptoms, and therefore improve their overall quality of life.
    • The Development of the Numeracy Apprehension Scale for Children Aged 4-7 Years: Qualitative Exploration of Associated Factors and Quantitative Testing

      Petronzi, Dominic; Staples, Paul; Sheffield, David; Hunt, Thomas E.; Fitton-Wilde, Sandra; University of Derby (2018-02-02)
      Previous psychological literature has shown mathematics anxiety in older populations to have an association with many factors, including an adverse effect on task performance. However, the origins of mathematics anxiety have, until recently, received limited attention. It is now accepted that this anxiety is rooted within the early educational years, but research has not explored the associated factors in the first formal years of schooling. Based on previous focus groups with children aged 4-7 years, ‘numeracy apprehension’ is suggested in this body of work, as the foundation phase of negative emotions and experiences, in which mathematics anxiety can develop. Building on this research, the first piece of research utilized 2 interviews and 5 focus groups to obtain insight from parents (n=7), teachers (n=9) and mathematics experts (n=2), to explore how children experience numeracy and their observations of children’s attitudes and responses. Thematic and content analysis uncovered a range of factors that characterised children’s numeracy experiences. These included: stigma and peer comparisons; the difficulty of numeracy and persistent failure; a low sense of ability; feelings of inadequacy; peer evaluation; transference of teacher anxieties; the right or wrong nature of numeracy; parental influences; dependence on peers; avoidance and children being aware of a hierarchy based on numeracy performance. Key themes reflected the focus group findings of children aged 4-7 years. This contributed to an item pool for study 2, to produce a first iteration of the Numeracy Apprehension Scale (NAS) that described day-to-day numeracy lesson situations. This 44-item measure was implemented with 307 children aged 4-7 years, across 4 schools in the U.K. Exploratory factor analysis led to a 26-item iteration of the NAS, with a 2-factor structure of Prospective Numeracy Task Apprehension and On-line Number Apprehension, which related to, for example, observation and evaluation anxiety, worry and teacher anxiety. The results suggested that mathematics anxiety may stem from the initial development of numeracy apprehension and is based on consistent negative experiences throughout an educational career. The 26-item iteration of the NAS was further validated in study 3 with 163 children aged 4-7 years, across 2 schools in the U.K. The construct validity of the scale was tested by comparing scale scores against numeracy performance on a numeracy task to determine whether a relationship between scale and numeracy task scores was evident. Exploratory factor analysis was again conducted and resulted in the current 19-item iteration of the NAS that related to a single factor of On-line Number Apprehension. This related to the experience of an entire numeracy lesson, from first walking in to completing a task and was associated with, for example, explaining an answer to the teacher, making mistakes and getting work wrong. A significant negative correlation was observed between the NAS and numeracy performance scores, suggesting that apprehensive children demonstrate a performance deficit early in education and that the NAS has the potential to be a reliable assessment of children’s numeracy apprehension. This empirical reinforces that the early years of education are the origins of mathematics anxiety, in the form of numeracy apprehension.
    • The electrophysiological correlates of maths anxety: Exploring the role of gamma activity

      Batashvili, Michael; University of Derby (2016-03)
      This thesis set out to investigate the electrophysiological correlates of maths anxiety (MA). Research has shown that those with high MA (HMA) tend to have poorer accuracy and increased reaction time on maths based tasks and that high maths anxious individuals avoid situations where they might have to use maths. This can impact on their future by restricting their degree or job prospects. Previous research has identified the behavioural cognitive and psychological effects of MA and recently studies have begun to examine the associated underlying mechanisms in the brain. Chapter one outlines the background MA behavioural and measurement research before evaluating the neurophysiological methods used in cognitive neuroscience and the use of electroencephalography (EEG) in chapter two. Chapter three continues by outlining previous research concerning the neurophysiological processing of maths and number before evaluating relevant neurophysiological research concerning MA. Four experimental studies are conducted, exploring the neurophysiological underpinnings of MA research using EEG. Each of these recruits 30 participants and measures of electro-cortical (Event Related Potentials (ERPs), Global Field Power, Frequency etc.) and questionnaire measures are implemented. The first study aimed to identify whether the behavioural effects of MA (poorer accuracy and increased reaction time) are consistent with ERP differences (component amplitude and latency differences) in the brain and to understand why these effects are experienced. This revealed no significant comparisons between ERP components and behavioural responses involving low and high maths anxious individuals, but this may have been due to the lack of an anxious response by using a verification task, rather than requiring calculation. Study two introduces the measurement of gamma activity as a neurophysiological measure of anxiety and threat processing and brings three core areas of anxiety research together: Previous studies outline high anxiety in connection with gamma modulation, also showing gamma band activity is associated with the amygdala and finally, that the amygdala is responsible for the processing of threat perception and anxiety. This research has not been brought together when studying MA. Results produced similar ERP findings to the previous study but the introduction of gamma activity into the research provided the first differences between high and low MA (LMA) groups, showing significantly greater gamma activity levels in HMA individuals. However, this study only used numerically-based tasks, thus the third study implemented a non-numerical condition to act as a control. Study three replicates the findings showing a reduced level of gamma activity in high MA individuals for the non-numerical based task, however, this was also reduced for the simple maths task. It was theorised that it is more likely to be the initial threat perception that represents the anxious response and gamma activity increases. To test this and remove any working memory demands, the fourth study implements the presentation of single digit observation (using single digit numbers and letters). Even though there was no demand on working memory, high maths anxious participants displayed similar levels of gamma activity as low maths anxious individuals during letter observation. However, they had significantly greater levels during the observation of number. Findings suggest that HMA individuals may not only struggle with the processing of maths stimuli, but may have a threat-related response to the simple observation of numerical stimuli. This implies that HMA individuals consistently apply an avoidance technique due to a threat response associated with increased levels of gamma activity. The findings of the each study are finally discussed in terms of their contribution to the neurophysiological underpinnings of MA, the first exploration of this using gamma activity, future research and the extent that number anxiety may act as a precursor or sine qua non to MA.
    • Limitations and trainability of the respiratory system during exercise with thoracic loads

      Faghy, Mark; University of Derby (2016-02-01)
      Thoracic loads (i.e., a heavy backpack) commonly used in occupational and recreational settings significantly challenge human physiological systems and increase the work of breathing, which may promote respiratory muscle fatigue and negatively impacts whole body performance during physical tasks. Accordingly this thesis: (Chapter number: II) designed a laboratory based protocol that closely reflects occupational demands and (III) assessed the effect that load carriage (LC) has upon physiological and respiratory muscle function. Consequently the thesis addressed (IV) acute, (V) chronic and (VI) functional inspiratory muscle loading strategies to assess the limitations and trainability of the respiratory muscles to load carriage performance. The novel laboratory protocol, performed wearing a 25 kg backpack load, combined submaximal load carriage (LC; 60 min treadmill march at 6.5 km·h-1) and self-paced time trial exercise (LCTT; 2.4 km) to better reflect the physiological demands of occupational performance (between trials mean difference -0.34 ± 0.89 min, coefficient of variation 10.5%). Following LC, maximal inspiratory muscle pressure (PImax) and maximal expiratory muscle pressure (P¬Emax) were reduced by 11% and 13% respectively (P<0.05), and further by 5% and 6%, respectively (P< 0.05), after LCTT. Acute inspiratory loading (2 × 30 forced inspiratory efforts 40% PImax) following an active warm-up (10 min lactate turnpoint) failed to improve LCTT despite a transient increase in PImax of ~7% (P<0.05). Chronic inspiratory loading (6 wk, 50% PImax, 30 breaths twice daily) increased PImax (31%, p<0.05) reduced HR and perceptual responses post-LC, and improved LCTT (8%, P< 0.05) with no change in a placebo control. Combining IMT with functional core muscle exercises improved PImax and LCTT by 7% and 4% respectively (P< 0.05), which was greater than traditional IMT alone. Acute, chronic and functional inspiratory muscle loading strategies did not protect against respiratory muscle or locomotor muscle fatigue during LC and LCTT.
    • Doing it the best way that we can :

      Phillips, Elly; University of Derby (2012)