Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca
Recent publications
Social media have become an integral part of our lives, expanding our interlinking capabilities to new levels. There is plenty to be said about their positive effects. On the other hand, however, some serious negative implications of social media have been repeatedly highlighted in recent years, pointing at various threats to society and its more vulnerable members, such as teenagers, in particular, ranging from much-discussed problems such as digital addiction and polarization to manipulative influences of algorithms and further to more teenager-specific issues (e.g., body stereotyping). The impact of social media—both at an individual and societal level—is characterized by the complex interplay between the users' interactions and the intelligent components of the platform. Thus, users' understanding of social media mechanisms plays a determinant role. We thus propose a theoretical framework based on an adaptive “Social Media Virtual Companion” for educating and supporting an entire community, teenage students, to interact in social media environments in order to achieve desirable conditions, defined in terms of a community-specific and participatory designed measure of Collective Well-Being (CWB). This Companion combines automatic processing with expert intervention and guidance. The virtual Companion will be powered by a Recommender System (CWB-RS) that will optimize a CWB metric instead of engagement or platform profit, which currently largely drives recommender systems thereby disregarding any societal collateral effect. CWB-RS will optimize CWB both in the short term by balancing the level of social media threats the users are exposed to, and in the long term by adopting an Intelligent Tutor System role and enabling adaptive and personalized sequencing of playful learning activities. We put an emphasis on experts and educators in the educationally managed social media community of the Companion. They play five key roles: (a) use the Companion in classroom-based educational activities; (b) guide the definition of the CWB; (c) provide a hierarchical structure of learning strategies, objectives and activities that will support and contain the adaptive sequencing algorithms of the CWB-RS based on hierarchical reinforcement learning; (d) act as moderators of direct conflicts between the members of the community; and, finally, (e) monitor and address ethical and educational issues that are beyond the intelligent agent's competence and control. This framework offers a possible approach to understanding how to design social media systems and embedded educational interventions that favor a more healthy and positive society. Preliminary results on the performance of the Companion's components and studies of the educational and psychological underlying principles are presented.
The Hermean average perihelion rate ω˙2PN, calculated to the second post-Newtonian (2PN) order with the Gauss perturbing equations and the osculating Keplerian orbital elements, ranges from −18 to −4 microarcseconds per century μascty−1, depending on the true anomaly at epoch f0. It is the sum of four contributions: one of them is the direct consequence of the 2PN acceleration entering the equations of motion, while the other three are indirect effects of the 1PN component of the Sun’s gravitational field. An evaluation of the merely formal uncertainty of the experimental Mercury’s perihelion rate ω˙exp recently published by the present author, based on 51 years of radiotechnical data processed with the EPM2017 planetary ephemerides by the astronomers E.V. Pitjeva and N.P. Pitjev, is σω˙exp≃8μascty−1, corresponding to a relative accuracy of 2×10−7 for the combination 2+2γ−β/3 of the PPN parameters β and γ scaling the well known 1PN perihelion precession. In fact, the realistic uncertainty may be up to ≃10–50 times larger, despite reprocessing the now available raw data of the former MESSENGER mission with a recently improved solar corona model should ameliorate our knowledge of the Hermean orbit. The BepiColombo spacecraft, currently en route to Mercury, might reach a ≃10−7 accuracy level in constraining β and γ in an extended mission, despite ≃10−6 seems more likely according to most of the simulations currently available in the literature. Thus, it might be that in the not-too-distant future, it will be necessary to include the 2PN acceleration in the Solar System’s dynamics as well.
Considering heritage as a common good and as a space for cultural sharing is one of the primary objectives to protect cultural heritage and transmit it to future generations. It is a commitment to the richness of local identities and communities and represents an emerging contemporary challenge and a factor of sustainable development. In this perspective, heritage education contributes to increasing knowledge, creativity and active citizenship behaviors in a dynamic connection with tangible, intangible and digital heritage. In addition to opening up opportunities for community interpretation of heritage and cultural ‘landscapes’, the need for cross-cutting and lifelong learning implies participation intended as the exercise of rights and as a common responsibility in a cultural welfare framework. The choice of approaches oriented towards recomposing taxonomies and experiential practices characterized by forms of mediation aimed at the objectives of democracy and extended accessibility, new paradigms for dialogue between cultures and the direct involvement of heritage communities is a strategic one. As a field of interaction, this educational project operates in a plurality of territorial and institutional contexts contributing to the development of collaborations, networks and governance plans able to support integrated programs on various issues, roles and resources. This paper therefore intends to focus on the definition of conceptual areas useful to identify fundamental characteristics and requirements of heritage education, in line with the guidelines of the National Plan, in terms of recognizability, qualification and sustainability.
Many exoplanets have been detected by the radial velocity method, according to which the motion of a binary system around its center of mass can produce a periodical variation of the Doppler effect of the light emitted by the host star. These variations are influenced by both Newtonian and non-Newtonian perturbations to the dominant inverse-square acceleration; accordingly, exoplanetary systems lend themselves to testing theories of gravity alternative to general relativity. In this paper, we consider the impact of the Standard Model Extension (a model that can be used to test all possible Lorentz violations) on the perturbation of radial velocity and suggest that suitable exoplanets’ configurations and improvements in detection techniques may contribute to obtaining new constraints on the model parameters.
Extrasolar circumbinary planets are so called because they orbit two stars instead of just one; to date, an increasing number of such planets have been discovered with a variety of techniques. If the orbital frequency of the hosting stellar pair is much higher than the planetary one, the tight stellar binary can be considered as a matter ring current generating its own post-Newtonian stationary gravitomagnetic field through its orbital angular momentum. It affects the orbital motion of a relatively distant planet with Lense-Thirring-type precessional effects which, under certain circumstances, may amount to a significant fraction of the static, gravitoelectric ones, analogous to the well known Einstein perihelion precession of Mercury, depending only on the masses of the system’s bodies. Instead, when the gravitomagnetic field is due solely to the spin of each of the central star(s), the Lense-Thirring shifts are several orders of magnitude smaller than the gravitoelectric ones. In view of the growing interest in the scientific community about the detection of general relativistic effects in exoplanets, the perspectives of finding new scenarios for testing such a further manifestation of general relativity might be deemed worth of further investigations.
Microglia, the innate immune cells of the central nervous system (CNS), execute their sentinel, housekeeping and defense functions through a panoply of genes, receptors and released cytokines, chemokines and neurotrophic factors. Moreover, microglia functions are closely linked to the constant communication with other cell types, among them neurons. Depending on the signaling pathway and type of stimuli involved, the outcome of microglia operation can be neuroprotective or neurodegenerative. Accordingly, microglia are increasingly becoming considered cellular targets for therapeutic intervention. Among signals controlling microglia activity, the endocannabinoid (EC) system has been shown to exert a neuroprotective role in many neurological diseases. Like neurons, microglia express functional EC receptors and can produce and degrade ECs. Interestingly, boosting EC signaling leads to an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective microglia phenotype. Nonetheless, little evidence is available on the microglia-mediated therapeutic effects of EC compounds. This review focuses on the EC signals acting on the CNS microglia in physiological and pathological conditions, namely on the CB1R, CB2R and TRPV1-mediated regulation of microglia properties. It also provides new evidence, which strengthens the understanding of mechanisms underlying the control of microglia functions by ECs. Given the broad expression of the EC system in glial and neuronal cells, the resulting picture is the need for in vivo studies in transgenic mouse models to dissect the contribution of EC microglia signaling in the neuroprotective effects of EC-derived compounds.
Until the middle of the 20th century, embryogenesis patterns were considered as based on a rigid, unidirectional ontogenetic development, whose nuclear programming yields an irreversibility feature for cellular determination. Further empirical pieces of evidence have provided new insights about a certain reversibility to cellular determination, finding new biomolecular mechanisms (nuclear reprogramming, dedifferentiation, transdifferentiation) which have clearly shown that such a reversibility exists, warranting a certain cellular plasticity inside cell cycle; moreover, they seem mainly ruled by epigenetic factors. In this framework, evolution can be viewed as a systemic transformation of the spatiotemporal epigenetic organization, and the maintenance of the stable final adult stage includes a possibility of dedifferentiation at the particular points of ontogenetic development leading to the achievement of the final stage though the alternate sets of epigenetic trajectories. This paper is aimed to briefly outline historically the main aspects which have led to define the mechanisms of cellular plasticity, highlighting the chief empirical facts supporting it and the related still unresolved problematic issues.
For many classes of astronomical and astrophysical binary systems, long observational records of their radial velocity V, which is their directly observable quantity, are available. For exoplanets close to their parent stars, they cover several full orbital revolutions, while for wide binaries such as, e.g., the Proxima/α Centauri AB system, only relatively short orbital arcs are sampled by existing radial velocity measurements. Here, the changes ΔV induced on a binary’s radial velocity by some long-range modified models of gravity are analytically calculated. In particular, extra-potentials proportional to r−N,N=2,3 and r2 are considered; the Cosmological Constant Λ belongs to the latter group. Both the net shift per orbit and the instantaneous one are explicitly calculated for each model. The Cosmological Constant induces a shift in the radial velocity of the Proxima/α Centauri AB binary as little as ΔV≲10−7ms−1, while the present-day accuracy in measuring its radial velocity is σV≃30ms−1. The calculational scheme presented here is quite general, and can be straightforwardly extended to any other modified gravity.
Suicide gene therapy is a relatively novel form of cancer therapy in which a gene coding for enzymes or protein toxins is delivered through targeting systems such as vesicles, nanoparticles, peptide or lipidic co-adjuvants. The use of toxin genes is particularly interesting since their catalytic activity can induce cell death, damaging in most cases the translation machinery (ribosomes or protein factors involved in protein synthesis) of quiescent or proliferating cells. Thus, toxin gene delivery appears to be a promising tool in fighting cancer. In this review we will give an overview, describing some of the bacterial and plant enzymes studied so far for their delivery and controlled expression in tumor models.
Introduction: The spread of the COVID-19 Pandemic led the Italian government to impose restrictive measures. Schools were closed and the organization of Distance Learning (DL) made adolescents face the psychological impact of the pandemic and the loss of their social life. Objective: This research aimed to evaluate the psychological impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic and DL on students, attending two high schools in the Lodi area (Lombardy, Italy). Method: A questionnaire, composed of PSYCHO-COVID 19 and EMOTION THERMOMETER applied to DL, was administered anonymously through the Google Drive School platform, from May 5th to June 5th 2020. Results: Analysis of the protocols revealed stress reactions in 35% of students (12% High, 7% Moderate, 16% Mild). Principal Components Analysis also revealed the presence of a "distress entity" characterized by anxiety, depressive and somatic symptoms (comparable to those of post-traumatic stress syndrome), with a greater impact on females. The analysis of data on DL showed that online teaching was experienced negatively, in an almost linear correlation, by those subjects who had expressed distress. Conclusions: The results suggest that the pandemic had a traumatic impact on adolescents, especially on girls; psychological distress negatively influenced individual experiences with DL. Appropriate psychotherapeutic interventions are needed to prevent the chronicization of stress reactions and to facilitate the adaptation of adolescents to possible rapid changes in educational management.
During the last century, Grotta Romanelli (Southern Italy) has been a reference site for the European Late Pleistocene stratigraphy, due to its geomorphological setting and archaeological and palaeontological content. The beginning of the sedimentation inside the cave was attributed to the Last Interglacial (MISs 5e) and the oldest unearthed evidence of human occupation, including remains of hearths, was therefore referred to the Middle Palaeolithic. Recent surveys and excavations produced new U/Th dates, palaeoenvironmental interpretation and a litho-, morpho- and chrono-stratigraphical reassessment, placing the oldest human frequentation of the cave between MIS 9 and MIS 7, therefore embracing Glacial and Interglacial cycles. These new data provide evidence that the sea reached the cave during the Middle Pleistocene and human occupation occurred long before MISs 5e and persisted beyond the Pleistocene- Holocene boundary.
Introduction Obesity is a major health problem with an increasing risk of mortality, associated with comorbidities and high rates of dropout. Research demonstrated that pathological eating behaviors could help to phenotype obese patients thus tailoring clinical interventions. Therefore, our aim was to develop (study 1), validate (study 2), and test in a clinical setting (study 3) the Eating Behaviors Assessment for Obesity (EBA-O). Method Study 1 included the exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and McDonald’s ω in a general population sample (N = 471). Study 2 foresaw the confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and convergent validity in 169 participants with obesity. Study 3 tested the capability of the EBA-O to characterize eating behaviors in a clinical sample of 74 patients with obesity. Results Study 1. EFA identified five factors (i.e., food addiction, night eating, binge eating, sweet eating, and prandial hyperphagia), explaining 68.3% of the variance. The final EBA-O consisted of 18 items. McDonald’s ω ranged between 0.80 (hyperphagia) and 0.92 (binge eating), indicating very good reliability. Study 2. A second-order five-factor model, through CFA, showed adequate fit: relative chi-square (χ²/df) = 1.95, CFI = 0.93, TLI = 0.92, RMSEA = 0.075, and SRMR = 0.06, thus suggesting the appropriateness of the EBA-O model. Significant correlations with psychopathological questionnaires demonstrated the convergent validity. Study 3. Significant associations between EBA-O factors and emotional-related eating behaviors emerged. Conclusion The EBA-O demonstrated to be a reliable and easy-to-use clinical tool to identify pathological eating behaviors in obesity, particularly useful for non-experts in eating disorders. Level of evidence Level V, descriptive research.
This work is devoted to the analysis of the background seismic noise acquired at the volcanoes (Campi Flegrei caldera, Ischia island, and Vesuvius) belonging to the Neapolitan volcanic district (Italy), and at the Colima volcano (Mexico). Continuous seismic acquisition is a complex mixture of volcanic transients and persistent volcanic and/or hydrothermal tremor, anthropogenic/ambient noise, oceanic loading, and meteo-marine contributions. The analysis of the background noise in a stationary volcanic phase could facilitate the identification of relevant waveforms often masked by microseisms and ambient noise. To address this issue, our approach proposes a machine learning (ML) modeling to recognize the “fingerprint” of a specific volcano by analyzing the background seismic noise from the continuous seismic acquisition. Specifically, two ML models, namely multi-layer perceptrons and convolutional neural network were trained to recognize one volcano from another based on the acquisition noise. Experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of the two models in recognizing the noisy background signal, with promising performance in terms of accuracy, precision, recall, and F1 score. These results suggest that persistent volcanic signals share the same source information, as well as transient events, revealing a common generation mechanism but in different regimes. Moreover, assessing the dynamic state of a volcano through its background noise and promptly identifying any anomalies, which may indicate a change in its dynamics, can be a practical tool for real-time monitoring.
Adolescence is characterized by pubertal physical changes, cognitive development, and modified social expectations. Adolescent athletes often enter a more challenging stage of athletic development associated with increased specialization, and become vulnerable to feelings of burnout. It is therefore important to consider intrapersonal psychological factors that can improve sport participation experiences and prevent burnout. Accordingly, the aim of the current study was to examine the interplay between self-perceptions and emotion-related (i.e., psychobiosocial) experiences (e.g., feeling confident, focused, determined, physically charged, and skillful) in predicting burnout symptoms in adolescents. A sample of 12–14-year-olds (n = 338, 176 girls and 162 boys; Mage = 13.42, SD = 1.12) and 15–17-year-olds (n = 302, 142 girls and 160 boys; Mage = 15.78, SD = 1.17), participating in individual or team sports, were involved in a cross-sectional study to assess positive and negative self-perceptions, functional and dysfunctional psychobiosocial experiences, and burnout symptoms (i.e., emotional and physical exhaustion, reduced sense of accomplishment, sport devaluation). Path analysis results suggest that higher scores on global physical self-perception, self-esteem, and sport competence were associated with lower burnout symptoms, while higher scores on social physique anxiety were associated with higher scores on sport devaluation. Moreover, self-esteem and sport competence were shown to have significant indirect effects on burnout dimensions via functional psychobiosocial experiences. Differences by gender (p < .001) and by age category (p < .001) in the variable scores were also found. Compared to girls, boys reported higher scores on competence, functional psychobiosocial experiences, global physical self-perception, self-esteem, emotional and physical exhaustion, and lower scores on social physique anxiety. Compared to 12–14-year-olds, 15–17-year-olds reported lower scores on global physical self-perception and self-esteem, and higher scores on social physique anxiety, reduced sense of accomplishment, and sport devaluation. This study adds to the literature on burnout by considering the role of intrapersonal factors (i.e., global physical self-perception, self-esteem, sport competence, and social anxiety) in predicting burnout symptoms in adolescent athletes, and the mediating effects of psychobiosocial experiences. From an applied perspective, sport coaches should implement strategies to foster positive self-perceptions, promote pleasant psychobiosocial experiences, and prevent burnout.
The latest years have witnessed a growing interest towards the relationship between neuropsychiatric disease in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and severe alterations in gut microbiota composition. In parallel, an increasing literature has focused the attention towards the association between derangement of the endocannabinoids machinery and some mechanisms and symptoms identified in ASD pathophysiology, such as alteration of neural development, immune system dysfunction, defective social interaction and stereotypic behavior. In this narrative review, we put together the vast ground of endocannabinoids and their partnership with gut microbiota, pursuing the hypothesis that the crosstalk between these two complex homeostatic systems (bioactive lipid mediators, receptors, biosynthetic and hydrolytic enzymes and the entire bacterial gut ecosystem, signaling molecules, metabolites and short chain fatty acids) may disclose new ideas and functional connections for the development of synergic treatments combining “gut-therapy,” nutritional intervention and pharmacological approaches. The two separate domains of the literature have been examined looking for all the plausible (and so far known) overlapping points, describing the mutual changes induced by acting either on the endocannabinoid system or on gut bacteria population and their relevance for the understanding of ASD pathophysiology. Both human pathology and symptoms relief in ASD subjects, as well as multiple ASD-like animal models, have been taken into consideration in order to provide evidence of the relevance of the endocannabinoids-microbiota crosstalk in this major neurodevelopmental disorder.
We prove the existence of a solution to a quasilinear system of degenerate equations, when the datum has an intermediate degree of summability. The main assumption asks the off-diagonal coefficients to have a crossed ‘party-flags’ support.
The radio direction finding (RDF) system is a multi-channel radio receiver prototype capable of working in the SELF–VLF band (0 Hz < f ≤ 30 kHz). The detection system, located in Rome (Italy), coupled with a system of directional antennas and software allows measuring the angle of origin of a given electromagnetic emission. The authors compared the electromagnetic emissions detected by the RDF system with the epicenter of earthquakes in Italy and on a global scale. The analysis of the study of the data, referring to the origin of the radio signals, both from Italian geographical areas and from others located at an enormous distance (on a global scale), showed that emissions always precede the mainshocks, whether they occur near at the monitoring station (a few kilometers), whether they are 20,000 km away. The method, started in 2017, is experimental and is a valid tool for the study of potential candidates for seismic precursors of electromagnetic nature of an earthquake. Hence, the higher the proximity to the epicenter, the better the quality of the signal. This is the first trial launched on a European scale.
Institution pages aggregate content on ResearchGate related to an institution. The members listed on this page have self-identified as being affiliated with this institution. Publications listed on this page were identified by our algorithms as relating to this institution. This page was not created or approved by the institution. If you represent an institution and have questions about these pages or wish to report inaccurate content, you can contact us here.