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December 2006 - Isonymy analysis between 2 populations in northwestern Colombia. INTRODUCTION: Surname frequency (isonymy) is used as a marker of paternal lineage and is used to characterize human population structure. Principles of isonymy were used to determine the genetic structure, migration rates, ancestry relations and origins of populations. This analysis was applied to two historically related local populations which currently are considered to be genetically isolated. OBJECTIVE: The genetic relationships and influence zones of the Aranzazu and Marinilla populations were assessed by means of surname frequency analysis. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Data originated from database with the title "System of Identification of Beneficiaries of the Social Programs" database or Sisben. Population parameters such as a priori kinship (phi(ii)), population homogeneity with B and C estimators, and Cavalli-Sforza's genetic distance were calculated for (a) three towns of Marinilla and its influence zone and (b) Aranzazu. The Rionegro population served as an external, comparison population. RESULTS: The Aranzazu and Marinilla populations showed the higher homogeneity (B value between 0.25 and 0.5) in contrast with Rionegro (B = 0.159), as well as greater a priori kinship values (4), between 0.003 and 0.010). The lowest distances were found between Marinilla and Aranzazu. CONCLUSIONS: Aranzazu is a population with characteristics similar to those of Marinilla and its influence zone. The close similarity of genetic characteristics for these populations is due probably to a founder effect. Furthermore, the genetic similarity predicts that genetic diseases will have the same etiology in both populations and provides optimum conditions for gene mapping studies. b.
August 2006 - The attentional blink effect: influence of negative words in an affective valence categorization task. In this study, we explored the emotional modulation of the Attentional Blink effect. In a Rapid Serial Visual Presentation procedure, a word (Target 1), either positive, negative or neutral, was followed by the word "WATER" (Target 2) in one half of the trials. The task included two conditions. In one of them, participants only had to detect the word "WATER". In double-response trials, participants also categorized Target 1's valence. Results showed that the detection of Target 2 was impaired in the double-response condition, this impairment being greater when negative word appeared as Target 1, as compared to positive and neutral words. However, these effects were independent on the Anxiety-Trait levels of participants. Overall, the pattern of data suggests that cognitive resources are focused on negative stimuli when their negative valence is emotionally salient enough. p.
December 2006 - The contribution of prosody to the perception of foreign accent. The general goal of this study was to expand our understanding of what is meant by 'foreign accent'. More specifically, it deals with the role of prosody (timing and melody), which has rarely been examined. New technologies, including diphone speech synthesis (experiment 1) and speech manipulation (experiment 2), are used to study the relative importance of prosody in what is perceived as a foreign accent. The methodology we propose, based on the prosody transplantation paradigm, can be applied to different languages or language varieties. Here, it is applied to Spanish and Italian. We built up a dozen sentences which are spoken in almost the same way in both languages (e.g. ha visto la casa del presidente americano 'you/(s)he saw the American president's house'). Spanish/Italian monolinguals and bilinguals were recorded. We then studied what is perceived when the segmental specification of an utterance is combined with suprasegmental features belonging to a different language. Under these conditions, results obtained with Spanish and Italian listeners suggest that prosody is important in identifying Spanish-accented Italian and Italian-accented Spanish.