863 results for Doctoral, 2011

  • Wavelets, ICA and statistical parametric mapping : with application to agitation-sedation modelling, detecting change points & to neuroinformatics

    Kang, In (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    University of Canterbury Library

    The wavelet methods developed, advocated and used in this thesis are primarily based on the discrete wavelet transform (DWT), wavelet thresholding and density estimation via wavelet smoothing. First a suite of wavelet techniques are advocated, based on the DWT, and applied successfully to assess whether an ICU patient's simulated" agitation-sedation (A-S) status reflects their true dynamic A-S profile. The use of quantitative modelling to enhance understanding of the A-S system and the provision of an A-S simulation platform are key tools in this area of patient critical care. Secondly novel wavelet density metrics are developed, a wavelet time coverage index (WTCI) and a wavelet probability band (WPB), based on Bayesian density estimation. This led to the development of two numeric metrics, the average normalized wavelet density and the relative average normalized wavelet density; both shown to be in close agreement to our DWT and earlier metrics."The DWT and WPB approaches also yield excellent visual assessment tools and are generalisable to any study involving bivariate time series of a large number of units (patients, households etc) and of significant length. P Wavelet thresholding and independent component analysis (ICA) are tested as denoising methods, and applied to brain image data, as part of the neuro-informatics study of Turner et al. (2003). ICA methods are then implemented for denoising all the cerebral function data, at a voxel by voxel basis. This is performed as a preprocessing step to the creation of statistical parametric maps (SPMs), used to model brain function with respect to personality as non-linear models. The results derived from our novel SPM-ICA approach support the theory of a biological basis for personality and report more de/activation clusters in the brain, as related to specific personality traits than Turner et al. (2003). Our work gives credence to a growing body of thought for the need of non-linear modelling in psychometric research (Cloninger, 2008). Our work also has the potential to increase momentum for patient specific drugs for depressives. Lastly we develop a DWT based methodology for change point analysis that uses modified, maximal overlap DWT (MODWT) coefficients to link to a novel shifting DWT (SDWT) methodology - a combination of the DWT and MODWT for the change point detection problem, which is shown to provide an accurate and computationally efficient change point location method. SWDT can be generalized to find multiple change points, by way of a binary segmentation procedure and iteration.

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  • The Application of Geographic Information Systems Cellular Automata Based Models to Land Use Change Modelling of Lagos, Nigeria

    Okwuashi, Onuwa Honey Stephen (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    The urban expansion of Lagos continues unabated and calls for urgent concern. This thesis explored the use of both the conventional and unconventional techniques for modelling land use change. Two conventional methods (ordinary least squares and geographically weighted regression) were based on geographic information systems, while four unconventional methods (logistic regression, artificial neural networks, and two proposed types of support vector machine) were based on cellular automata. These techniques were evaluated using three land use epochs: 1963-1978, 1978-1984, and 1984-2000. The conventional methods make quite strong statistical assumptions, some of which are shown not to be met by the land use data at hand. Despite this, these methods do exhibit substantial agreement between observed and the predicted maps. The non cellular automata and cellular automata modelling were then implemented with the logistic regression, artificial neural network, support vector machine, and fuzzy support vector machine models, with model parameters set by k-fold cross-validation. The cellular automata predicted maps were more accurate than those of the non cellular automata. The cellular automata modelling results from the proposed support vector machine and fuzzy support vector machine were compared with those from the geographic information systems based geographically weighted regression, logistic regression, and artificial neural network. The results from the geographic information systems based geographically weighted regression were the best, followed by those from the support vector machine and fuzzy support vector machine, followed by the artificial neural network, and logistic regression. This research demonstrated that the proposed support vector machine and fuzzy support vector machine based cellular automata models are promising tools for land use change modelling.

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  • Relational Practice in Meeting Discourse in New Zealand and Japan: A Cross-Cultural Study

    Murata, Kazuyo (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This thesis explores Relational Practice in meetings in New Zealand and Japan, focussing in particular on small talk and humour which can be considered exemplary relational strategies. It examines these two areas of Relational Practice, firstly in terms of their manifestations in New Zealand and Japanese meetings, and secondly in terms of the ways they are perceived in the context of business meetings. This research takes a qualitative approach to the data analysis and employs a neo-Politeness approach to the analysis, a modified version of standard Politeness Theory. The concepts of Relational Practice and community of practice also proved to be of fundamental value in the analysis. Two kinds of data were collected: firstly meeting data from 16 authentic business meetings recorded in business organisations in New Zealand and Japan (nine from a New Zealand company and seven from a Japanese company). Secondly, perception data was collected in Japan using extended focus group interviews with Japanese business people (a total of six groups from three business organisations). The research involves a contrastive study using interactional sociolinguistic analytic techniques to examine manifestations of small talk and humour in meeting data collected in different contexts. The first phase of the study is cross-cultural, comparing meetings in New Zealand and Japan, and adopting a combined etic-emic approach. The second phase of the study analyses and compares the use of small talk and humour in different types of meetings, i.e. formal meetings (known as kaigi in Japanese) and informal meetings (known as uchiawase/miitingu in Japanese) in New Zealand and Japan. A further aim is to explore how Japanese business people perceive New Zealand meeting behaviours in relation to small talk and humour and to consider what might influence people‘s perceptions of these aspects of relational talk. The analysis of the authentic meeting data indicates that the important role of Relational Practice at work is recognised in both New Zealand and Japanese meetings, although the data also highlights potentially important differences in manifestation according to the community of practice and the type of meetings. The data demonstrates that Relational Practice is constructed among meeting members discursively and dynamically across the communities of practice and the kinds of meetings. The analysis of the perception data indicates that while Japanese business people do not have identical evaluations of the manifestation of any particular discourse strategy, their perceptions are mostly similar if they work in the same workplace. The data also demonstrates that the participants‘ international business experience influences their perceptions. Furthermore the analysis indicates that manifestations of small talk and humour in New Zealand meetings are not necessarily evaluated by the Japanese business people in the same or similar way as by New Zealand people. Through both the analysis of the meeting and perception data, this study indicates that people‘s linguistic behaviours and perceptions regarding Relational Practice are influenced not only by underlying expectations of their community of practice but also by those of the wider society in which the community of practice is positioned.

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  • Corporate Decision-Making for Arts Sponsorship

    Daellenbach, Kate (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Sponsorship is a crucial revenue stream for many non-profit arts organisations. At the same time businesses appear to be viewing sponsorship and philanthropy as an ever more strategic activity, yet little is known about the actual decision-making processes these companies undergo in considering arts sponsorships. Examination of sponsorship and philanthropy literature revealed that an opportunity existed to study these processes in more depth, and the research question was posed: How do companies make decisions when considering arts sponsorship? Literature from Organisational Buying Behaviour and Decision-making provided lenses by which these processes could be viewed, and a subsequent framework was developed to inform the research. Multiple cases of positive arts sponsorship decisions from within New Zealand were examined. Responses from 24 in-depth interviews resulted in the identification of ten cases for which information was gathered from multiple informants on both sides of the relationship. In addition, ten interviews were categorised as “experts” on the topic of arts sponsorship more generally, and used as a secondary source of data. Within and between case analyses was combined with comparison of expert responses to yield initial results. Taking a theory-building approach, iteration between results, literature and theory served to develop the final findings. This study revealed a number of key themes which characterise these decisions. Firstly, the expectations and perceptions of society, concerning sponsorship, influence stakeholders, companies and individual managers, and subsequently influence these decisions. Secondly, a co-existence of both commercial and philanthropic goals was found within decisions, suggesting that such decisions are not always categorized into one particular area. Thirdly, a key influential role was identified in these decisions as that of an advocate, being a manager who sees the benefit of the sponsorship and essentially makes it happen within the organisation. Fourthly, it was found that these decisions rely on and are influenced in part by individual intuition, based on personal and professional experience, and serving to pave the way for a type of informed happenstance, necessary for the decisions to progress. While three decision paths were noted in this study, a general decision process was proposed which would vary based on many of the characteristics above. Overall, this study has contributed to sponsorship and philanthropy literature in revealing arts sponsorship decisions to be complex, with managers influenced by expectations and perceptions of society, commercial and philanthropic goals, individual and company frames, and intuitive and economic justifications. In conclusion, propositions and suggestions for future research are proposed, along with implications for managers in both arts organisations and sponsoring businesses.

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  • Managing Risks of Violence in Decriminalised Street-Based Sex Work: a Feminist (Sex Worker Rights) Perspective

    Armstrong, Lynzi (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    It is widely understood that street-based sex workers are vulnerable to experiencing violence in their work. The Prostitution Reform Act (PRA) was passed in New Zealand in 2003, decriminalising sex work with the intention of supporting the health, safety, and human rights of sex workers. This thesis explores strategies to manage risks of violence amongst women working on the streets in New Zealand, considering how the law change has impacted on the management of these risks, and whether further change is required to better support the safety of street-based sex workers. Drawing from the perspectives of women working on the streets, this thesis challenges portrayals of street-based sex workers as passive recipients of violence. The experiences and perceptions of these women highlight the diverse violence related risks they managed from a range of potential perpetrators, including passersby, individuals approaching as clients, other sex workers, and minders. The shift to decriminalisation has not eliminated violence. However, the findings suggest that the law change has provided a framework that better supports existing risk management strategies. For instance, in removing the possibility of arrest for soliciting, the PRA has provided an environment in which these women have sufficient time to screen potential clients on the street. Moreover, the perceptions of these women suggest that the law change has to some extent improved the relationship between police and street-based sex workers. Nevertheless, whilst decriminalisation has created an environment more conducive to sex worker safety, it is clear that challenges remain in addressing violence against sex workers. Since the sex industry does not operate in social and political isolation, moral discourses continue to stigmatise and threaten the wellbeing of street-based sex workers. The overall conclusion of this thesis is that whilst decriminalisation was an important first step, moving forward to proactively challenge violence against street-based sex workers requires a paradigm shift away from discourses that support violence, to a more positive acceptance of street-based sex work in New Zealand society.

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  • LA-ICP-MS Trace Element Analysis of Planktonic Foraminifera and Application to Marine Isotope Stage 31 in the Southwest Pacific Ocean

    Bolton, Annette (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Trace element/Ca ratios were measured by LA-ICP-MS in Gs. ruber and N. incompta from a wide range of core top and plankton tow samples in the Southwest Pacific Ocean, with particular focus on linking measured Mg/Ca ratios to observed (near-) surface ocean temperatures. Mean Mg/Ca ratios measured in the ultimate chamber F of Gs. ruber are significantly lower compared to chambers F-2 and F-1, which show no statistical difference. These observations led to the development of three new Mg/Ca – ocean temperature calibrations that can be used to reconstruct SST from LA-ICP-MS trace element analysis of Gs. ruber over a temperature range of 14.7-28.8°C. In contrast to the LA-ICP-MS study of Gs. ruber, the planktonic species N. incompta shows no systematic difference in Mg/Ca between the final four visible chambers at one core top site, nor between the F-3 and F chambers at any sites. In addition, there was no correlation between Mg/Ca ratios and ocean temperature in either reticulate or crystalline forms. This may reflect migration of this species within the water column that is not uni-directional, that this species does not dwell at the same depths at each core top site, or point towards further unidentified controls on Mg incorporation into N. incompta that require further study. The chamber specific calibrations developed for Gs. ruber in this study, and a calibration developed using the same techniques for G. bulloides [Marr et al., 2011] were applied down core to Mg/Ca ratios measured from ODP Site 1123. The SST derived from Mg/Ca ratios reveal that during the MIS-31 interglacial, SSTs were approximately 4-5°C warmer than today and 8-9°C warmer than those from MIS-29 and 30. A comparison of SSTs measured from Gs. ruber and G. bulloides, suggests that they are responding to local insolation changes. G. bulloides records colder temperatures than Gs. ruber, which reflects differences in their relative depth in the water column. Paired Mg/Ca and δ 18O data reveal significant changes in ice volume over the sampling period. Increases in SSTs recorded by the planktonic foraminifera lead the seawater stable isotope record by 10 kyr suggesting a significant influence from changes in Northern Hemisphere ice sheet volume during MIS-31. In some intervals, the SST leads the benthic stable isotope record by 8 kyr and shows deviations in benthic δ18O from synchronous planktic samples. In G. bulloides and Gs. ruber, Mn and Mg were the only trace elements to show systematic glacial-interglacial changes from MIS-34 to MIS-29. This correlation could imply that Mn/Ca ratios in the foraminifera are recording changes in ocean chemistry related to changing water mass circulation at ODP Site 1123 as past ocean temperatures changed. Size-normalised weights (SNW) of G. bulloides tests show systematic variations from MIS- 34 to MIS-29. For much of the record, SNW is anti-correlated with SST in a manner similar to the modern relationship between SNW and SST in the Southwest Pacific Ocean. However, immediately prior to the MIS-31 Southern Hemisphere insolation maxima, SNW increase with SST suggesting a fundamental change in surface ocean carbonate chemistry occurred that is unique to this time.

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  • Earnings Quality, Family Influence and Corporate Governance: Empirical Evidence from Malaysia

    Wan Ismail, Wan Adibah Binti (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This study investigates whether family ownership and control, and corporate governance are associated with earnings quality, and whether family influence in firms weakens the association between corporate governance and earnings quality. This study uses a panel sample of 527 publicly traded firms over the period 2003-2008 from the Malaysia Stock Exchange (Bursa Malaysia). Identifying family firms as firms in which family members hold a significant portion of shares and possess control over the board of directors, this study finds that family firms have significantly higher earnings quality. The results remain unchanged, even after using alternative measures of earnings quality and family influence. This study also finds that the earnings quality of firms in Malaysia is positively associated with the size and independence of the audit committee and negatively associated with the size of the board of directors. However, these relationships exist only for nonfamily firms. These results on the corporate governance variables suggest that the effectiveness of corporate governance could be mediated by family influence. Using multivariate regressions that include interaction variables for corporate governance and family firms, the study finds that the relationship between corporate governance and earnings quality is mediated by family ownership and control. The result is consistent with the argument that the monitoring role of corporate governance reduces when there is substantial control by family owners in a firm. Overall, this study concludes that family ownership and control drives higher quality earnings for firms regardless of their corporate governance structure.

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  • Exploring Anti-Democratic Practices in University Policy-Steerage, Management and Governance in Malawi: A Critical Theory Approach

    Shawa, Lester Brian (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This thesis draws on Critical Theory as advanced by Critical Theorists in the tradition of the Frankfurt School to explore the nature of anti-democratic practices within policy-steerage, management and governance of university education in Malawi. The thesis critiques instrumental use of reason and neopatrimonial aspects that permeate policy-steerage, management and governance of the university sector in Malawi, and suggests ways of emancipation or social change. Two philosophical ideas inform analysis of this emancipatory project: dialectical reasoning as advanced by the first generation Critical Theorists such as Horkheimer, Adorno and Marcuse and communicative rationality, which is complemented by the theory of the lifeworld as advanced by the second generation Critical Theorist, Habermas. Dialectical reasoning entails understanding things as they are now and what they might be in future, as such, it is a useful idea for emancipation in that it fosters constant questioning (reflexivity) on the part of actors to make things better. Communicative rationality entails that actors seek to reach common understanding and coordinate actions by reasoned arguments, consensus and cooperation rather than instrumental reasoning and is useful for attaining social change (Habermas, 1984, 1987). Data sources comprise global policy debates, policy documents and interviews with selected government policymakers, Malawian civil society, university administrators and leaders of university staff and student unions. The thesis reveals that at international policy-steerage level, university policy-making in Malawi is chiefly orchestrated by the World Bank using its economic power and the global-neoliberal logic. In this logic, Malawi follows the dictates of the powerful World Bank. Thus, the argument presented is that the World Bank’s university policy-steerage in Malawi follows instrumental rationality and is anti-democratic. Instrumental reasoning refers to the deliberate use of the power of reason for social control or manipulation. At university level, the thesis reveals a rivalry relationship among stakeholders which leads to constrained collegial governance. The thesis shows that the neopatrimonial attitude of presidentialism or the big-man syndrome, which permeates the management and governance of universities in Malawi, perpetuates instrumental use of reason and renders the system anti-democratic. At Malawi Government university policy-steerage level, the thesis shows problems associated with the usage of power by state presidents who are also chancellors of public universities. At this level, policy-steerage is interventionist and characterised by both neopatrimonial aspects of the big-man syndrome and patron-client relationships that lead to instrumental use of reason. Based on this Critical Theory analysis, a theory of university management and governance for Malawian universities is presented aimed at achieving emancipation. To achieve social change there is a need to challenge instrumental ways of reasoning and neopatrimonial aspects by employing dialectical reasoning and communicative rationality.

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  • Assessment of Earnings Conservatism in Malaysian Financial Reporting

    Khairul Anuar Kamarudin (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This study examines four influences on earnings conservatism of financial reporting in Malaysia. The study employs a sample of 3,126 firm-year observations of Malaysian listed companies over the period 2003 to 2008 and measures conservatism by the asymmetric timeliness of earnings measure due to Basu (1997). First, the study assesses the degree of earnings conservatism in reporting during the period following the institutional reforms which started after the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The results suggest that conservatism has increased with the reforms which contrasts with the findings of Ball et al. (2003) who find no evidence of earnings conservatism in Malaysia. Second, this study investigates the effect of the adoption of IFRS on the level of earnings conservatism. The results show no systematic difference in the level of earnings conservatism for the short period of one to two years before and after the adoption, suggesting that conservatism may not be specific to any particular set of accounting standards. Third, this study examines the effect of ownership structure on earnings conservatism. Reporting by family firms and widely-held firms exhibits earnings conservatism, but this is not the case for state-controlled firms. The analysis also shows no significant difference between the levels of earnings conservatism for family firms and widely-held firms. Additional tests show that family firms that are strategically controlled by a family, that is, where a member of the controlling family acts as CEO and chairman of the corporate board, report significantly higher earnings conservatism than other family firms. Finally, the study examines the link between corporate governance and earnings conservatism. Employing a comprehensive set of corporate governance variables, this study does not find any evidence to link corporate governance and earnings conservatism. This result is contrary to the evidence from developed markets, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, where firms with good governance are more timely in recognising bad news. This raises the possibility that the different ownership structures in Malaysia make corporate governance reforms less important. However, this suggestion is subject to environmental and cultural issues that have not been addressed in this study.

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  • Behavioural Pharmacology of Novel Kappa Opioid Compounds

    Morani, Aashish Sultan (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Rationale: Kappa opioid receptor (KOPr) activation by traditional agonists has been shown to produce anti-addiction behaviours. However, adverse effects such as sedation, aversion and depression have limited their clinical development. Recently, salvinorin A (Sal A), an active component of the plant Salvia divinorum was shown to be a potent and selective KOPr agonist. Sal A has a short duration of effect and quick onset of action. It also produces similar behavioural pharmacology to traditional KOPr agonists. However, little is known about the anti-addiction profile of Sal A. If Sal A and its structural analogues produce anti-addiction properties with fewer adverse effects compared to traditional KOPr agonists, they have potential to be developed into antiaddiction pharmacotherapies. Therefore, Sal A and its structural analogues (DS1, MOM Sal B, EOM Sal B, herkinorin) and Mu opioid receptor (MOPr) antagonist/partial KOPr agonist, nalmefene were tested for their behavioural anti-addiction and adverse effect profiles in rats. Methods: To test the anti-addiction profile, a within session cocaine prime induced reinstatement paradigm was used. The selectivity of KOPr agonists in attenuating cocaine seeking behaviours was tested using sucrose reinforcement (anhedonia) and cocaine induced hyperactivity in self-administering rats (sedation during reinstatement test). Furthermore, behavioural adverse effects were screened using spontaneous open field activity (motor suppression), conditioned taste aversion (aversion) and forced swim test (depression) in rats. To further quantify the anti-addiction behaviours, the effect of KOPr agonists which attenuated drug seeking selectively without producing motor suppression by themselves were tested for cocaine produced motor function (hyperactivity and behavioural sensitization) in rats. The effect of serotonin transporter blockade on KOPr agonist induced depressive behaviour was also tested. The effects of KOPr activation on in vitro serotonin transporter function were also determined. Results: Sal A, DS1 and nalmefene attenuated cocaine prime induced drug-seeking, in a selective manner, via KOPr activation. MOM Sal B, a more potent and long acting Sal A analogue attenuated cocaine seeking in a non-selective manner. Sal A, DS1 and nalmefene did not induce aversion, however nalmefene suppressed motor function, which was not seen with Sal A and DS1. Furthermore, Sal A and DS1 suppressed cocaine behavioural sensitization. All three compounds (Sal A, DS1, nalmefene) produced depression. The depressive effects produced by Sal A and DS1 were diminished by blocking the serotonin transporter. Live-cell serotonin transporter assays showed potential differences between traditional (U50488H) and novel (Sal A, DS1) KOPr agonists in their ability to modulate serotonin transporter function. Conclusion: Out of six KOPr compounds tested, Sal A, DS1, MOM Sal B and nalmefene produced anti-addiction behaviours. However, MOM Sal B exposure also suppressed natural reward seeking behaviour. Sal A and DS1 had a better adverse effect profile than nalmefene. Thus, the order of efficacy for the compounds tested were DS1 ≥ Sal A > nalmefene > MOM Sal B. However depression was noted with all three compounds tested (Sal A, DS1, nalmefene) and our study provides evidence to suggest the involvement of the serotonin system in Sal A and DS1 induced depression. Moreover, a difference in modulation of serotonin transporter function by novel and traditional KOPr agonists was observed.

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  • An Investigation of Intercultural Teaching and Learning in Tertiary EFL Classrooms in Vietnam

    Ho, Si Thang Kiet (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Intercultural competence has become an important goal of foreign language education in response to the need for learners to function effectively in an increasingly multicultural world. Language and culture are seen as interwoven and inseparable components and therefore learning a foreign language inevitably means learning about other ways of being and behaving. Many foreign language programmes around the world, particularly in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, have adopted an intercultural pedagogy which seeks to integrate into the language teaching experience opportunities for developing intercultural competence for language learners. This study investigates intercultural teaching and learning in tertiary EFL classrooms in Vietnam, a context in which intercultural approaches to language teaching and learning have not been widely considered. The study consisted of three phases. The first phase involved a curriculum review in which I critically evaluated the extent to which culture and culture learning are represented in the curriculum frameworks for tertiary EFL programmes and in the national education policy on foreign language education in Vietnam. The findings showed that the importance of culture and culture learning is not emphasised, and the designation of culture to separate culture courses establishes a separate status, construct and treatment of culture and culture learning in the EFL programmes. In the second phase of the study, I analysed the perceptions of fourteen Vietnamese EFL teachers and two hundred Vietnamese EFL students on culture in language teaching and learning, and their classroom practices. The findings indicated that the teachers' beliefs about culture teaching revealed a predictable priority for teaching language rather than culture. Their culture teaching practices were greatly influenced by their perceptions and beliefs regarding culture in language teaching. The students also treated culture as a subordinate priority in language learning. Overall, they found culture learning beneficial for their language learning and supported the teachability of language and culture in EFL classes. Both the teachers and students identified a number of constraints that restricted their opportunities and motivation to engage in teaching and learning culture. The third phase of the study involved an empirical study investigating the effect of adopting an intercultural stance in English speaking lessons on the development of the learners' intercultural competence. Over a nine-week teaching period, eighteen English speaking lessons (90 minutes / lesson / week) for two equivalent, intact classes (seventy-one students) were observed. For one class, the lessons were adapted to reflect the principles of intercultural language learning. For the other, no changes were made. The results showed that the intercultural competence of learners in the intercultural class increased by significantly more than that of learners in the standard class. In particular, the students in the intercultural class were able to better articulate ethnorelative awareness and attitudes towards their home culture and the target culture. The findings also showed that the reflective journal was an effective tool to assess learners' process of acquiring intercultural competence, particularly affective capacities that are not easy to evaluate by other means. Overall, the study provided evidence for the feasibility of intercultural teaching and learning in tertiary EFL classrooms in the Vietnamese context. It also showed that intercultural teaching and learning cultivated learners' affective capacities which are often overlooked in the EFL classroom. It is hoped that the study can inform the work of curriculum designers, education policy-makers as well as EFL teachers and students for the implementation of intercultural language teaching and learning in Vietnam and elsewhere.

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  • Acting and Learning with Goal and Task Decomposition

    Wojnar, Maciej (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Two central problems of creating artificial intelligent agents that can operate in the human world are learning the necessary knowledge to achieve routine tasks, and using that knowledge effectively in a complex and unpredictable domain. The thesis argues that an important part of this domain knowledge should be represented in the form of decomposition rules that decompose tasks into subgoals. The thesis presents HOPPER, an implemented planning system that uses decomposition rules and a least-commitment decomposition strategy that strikes a balance between reactive and deliberative planning. Like reactive planners, HOPPER is able to robustly handle and recover from unexpected events with minimal disruption to its plan. Like deliberative planners, it is also able to plan ahead to take advantage of opportunities to interleave and shorten its sub-plans. The thesis also presents TADPOLE, an implemented learning system that learns both the structure and preconditions of new decomposition rules from a small number of lessons demonstrated by a teacher. It learns by parsing and interpreting the teacher’s behaviour in terms of decomposition rules it already knows. It extends its rule set by filling in the holes in its parses of the teacher’s lessons. Both HOPPER and TADPOLE have been evaluated together in two different domains: a kitchen domain that emphasizes complexity, and a logistics domain that emphasizes plan efficiency. Every rule used by HOPPER was learned by TADPOLE and every rule learned by TADPOLE was successfully used by HOPPER to achieve various tasks, showing that TADPOLE is able to learn effective decomposition rules from minimal lessons from a teacher, and that HOPPER is able to robustly make use of them even in the face of unexpected events.

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  • Iron Nanoparticles as Magnetic Resonance Imaging Contrast Agents

    Ferguson, Peter Maurer (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Magnetic nanoparticles are effective in a range of biomedical applications including magneticresonance imaging (MRI) contrast enhancement. The efficacy of nanoparticles ascontrast agents depends mainly on the surface chemistry and magnetic properties of theparticles, with a large magnetic moment inducing efficient transverse (T₂) relaxation ofprotons. This results in improved negative enhancement of MRI contrast on T₂ weightedsequences. Iron oxide nanoparticles (FeOx NPs) have been used in MRI for 20 years andare the only commercially available T₂ contrast agents. A significantly larger magneticmoment can potentially be achieved with iron nanoparticles (Fe NPs), but developmenthas been hampered by difficulty in preparing stable particles. In this study, stable Fe NPwere prepared by a novel, simple, synthesis and compared with FeOx NP as T₂ contrastagents in a range of MRI-based biomedical applications.The effectiveness of Fe NPs versus FeOx NPs to negatively enhance MRI contrast onT₂ weighted sequences was first examined in vitro. The Fe NPs and FeOx NPs werecharacterised by electron microscopy and found to be of similar size (16nm). The Fe NPspossessed a core of highly magnetic α-Fe inside a 3nm shell of FeOx of the same crystalstructure as the pure FeOx NPs. Both types of NP were coated with the same molecule,DMSA, to produce aqueous dispersions with similar hydrodynamic particle sizes andpharmacokinetics. When dispersed in gels and examined by MRI, the Fe NPs were foundto produce more than twice the amount of T₂ contrast change per unit concentrationrelative to FeOx NPs. When cells were labelled in vitro, Fe NPs produced greater T₂contrast enhancement in all cell types tested, whilst there was no significant difference in the uptake of iron or the cytotoxicity between cells labelled with Fe or FeOx NPs.To assess the clinical applicability of the nanoparticles in vivo, FeOx NPs and Fe NPswere administered to mice and MRI experiments were performed at 1.5 T. Contrast effectsof the NPs were examined in the liver, spleen and lymph nodes, as tissues in theseorgans are rich in phagocytic cells and have a strong tendency to take up circulatingNPs. In all three organs studied, the Fe NPs produced noticeably darker contrast thanthe FeOx NPs, providing twice the contrast improvement.One of the most intensely researched applications of magnetic nanoparticles in MRI is improving detection of cancer in the lymph nodes. To model the size and NP uptake ofsmall lymph node metastases in humans, a mouse model was developed by injecting 4T1breast cancer cells directly into the mouse spleen. Analysis of mice bearing 4T1 tumoursperformed at 1.5 T showed that Fe NPs produced better contrast than FeOx NPs andimproved the detection of small tumours in the spleen as determined by two blindedradiologists. Indeed, the heightened sensitivity and specificity improved the threshold ofcancer detection on previous studies performed at 1.5 T.It was then examined whether the improved T₂ contrast could enable new MRI applicationsin vivo. A novel assay to detect induced immune responses following dendriticcell-based vaccination using MRI was developed. By tracking cells labelled with ironnanoparticles, a difference in contrast could be detected between nave mice and thosethat had developed a strong immune response after vaccination. This assay only reachedstatistical significance with Fe NPs and not with FeOx NPs.As a consequence of these studies, another MRI-based technique for assessing inductionof an immune response was developed, based on the simple observation that lymph nodesdraining the injection site became enlarged. This enlargement was seen as early as 12 hours after vaccination and was caused by a cellular in filtrate dominated by lymphoidcells. In experiments where vaccination was performed multiple times using different tumoursas a source of antigen, incremental increases in lymph node size were detectableby MRI, which was shown to be a highly antigen-specific response. In the vaccine modelstudied, the increase in lymph node size was associated with protection from a tumour challenge. Thus, Fe NPs produce a significant improvement of T₂ contrast over FeOx NPs in a rangeof applications without any differences found in uptake or cytotoxicity. These findingsare substantial enough to justify further investigations into the application of Fe NPs ina variety of clinical settings.

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  • Xikang: Han Chinese in Sichuan's Western Frontier, 1905-1949

    Lawson, Joe (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    This thesis is about Han Chinese engagement with the ethnically diverse highlands west and south-west of the Sichuan basin in the first half of the twentieth century. This territory, which includes much of the Tibetan Kham region as well as the mostly Yi- and Han-settled Liangshan, constituted Xikang province between 1939 and 1955. The thesis begins with an analysis of the settlement policy of the late Qing governor Zhao Erfeng, as well as the key sources of influence on it. Han authority suffered setbacks in the late 1910s, but recovered from the mid-1920s under the leadership of General Liu Wenhui, and the thesis highlights areas of similarity and difference between the Zhao and Liu periods. Although contemporaries and later historians have often dismissed the attempts to build Han Chinese dominated local governments in the highlands as failures, this endeavour was relatively successful in a limited number of places. Such success, however, did not entail the incorporation of territory into an undifferentiated Chinese whole. Throughout the highlands, pre-twentieth century local institutions, such as the wula corvée labour tax in Kham, continued to exercise a powerful influence on the development and nature of local and regional government. The thesis also considers the long-term life (and death) of ideas regarding social transformation as developed by leaders and historians of the highlands.

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  • Linguistic Negotiations of Sexual Agency in Sexuality Education

    King, Brian W (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    The investigative aim of this thesis is to explore the role of language in the construction of sexuality agency during a classroom-based sexuality education programme for adolescents. The thesis begins with an examination of the motivations behind the study of agency in relation to sexuality. Overlapping research gaps in the fields of language and gender/sexuality and sexuality education are identified. Scholars from both fields have pinpointed difficulties with the accessing of agentive sexual subject positions by young people (particularly young women) during conversation. Investigations into sexuality education in New Zealand have suggested that ‘Discourses’ of sexuality in classrooms and broader school communities position students as ‘sexual’ while simultaneously constructing them as innocent and childlike (and thus non-sexual). These ‘large-D’ Discourses have been identified as possible reasons for a lack of decline in the rates of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease amongst young people despite an overt focus on such topics in sexuality education. The theory is that because they have not developed a sense of agency in relation to sexuality, young people are ill-equipped to navigate the risks of sexual activity. A question which remains is exactly how sexual agency is negotiated through ‘small-d’ discourse (e.g. ‘talk’), by young people in classrooms. This study focuses on language usage during classroom discussions of sexuality in order to shed light on linguistic strategies that young people employ in order to position themselves (or not) as sexual agents during sexuality education, and how they respond to being similarly positioned, both by others and by their classroom resources. In order to gain an understanding of the working dynamics of the school and classroom, an ethnographic approach was employed. The researcher participated in classes for a period of time before the sexuality programme began inorder to observe relations between the participants, including the distribution of power amongst teacher and students. These observations were essential to comprehending the understandings that participants bring to the processes and activities under study. This approach also permitted the tracing of the emergence of a community of practice in this classroom. Through close attention to language via poststructuralist discourse analysis, it has been possible to demonstrate how interactants performatively lay claim to (or avoid) sexual agency in this community of practice. By actively participating in discussions of sexuality, the students, both boys and girls, experience being placed in sexually agentive subject positions. They respond in various ways; sometimes aligning, sometimes resisting, other times resignifying those positions in complex interactions of masculinity, femininity, desire, and sexual identity. Finally, the findings of this thesis are assembled in order to consider implications for the study of language and sexuality as well as considering the importance of discursive positionings (by teachers and classroom resources) for future student possibilities in terms of sexual agency development.

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  • From Revolution to "Refolution" A Study of Hizb al Tahrir, Its Changes and Trajectories in the Democratic Context of Indonesia (2000-2009)

    Ahnaf, Mohammad Iqbal (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) is a part of an international network organization called Hizb al-Tahrir (HT). The organization is commonly portrayed as an "anti-system" movement that seeks to overthrow democracy and revives the past transnational rule of the khilafah (caliphate). This view is justified by the doctrine of HT that promotes a revolutionary strategy of non-participation and envisages a political change outside the parliamentary process of democracy. Based on this ideology, many see the future of HT in its role of radicalizing Muslims that eventually lead to violence. This study evaluates the consistency of HTI in following its revolutionary strategy of non-participation. It argues that HTI is undertaking a strategic shift from a total non-participation to a selective participation. It establishes a strategic balance between revolution and reform by taking part in the democratic system for stirring opposition toward the existing political system. HTI focuses on challenging the legitimacy of democracy while at the same time engages with the supporting institutions and actors of the democratic system. This strategy resembles the model of political change called by Oxford University's political scientist, Timothy Garton Ash, "refolution." It aims to overthrow the existing political system without overthrowing the political regime. It seeks entry into the system to covert key elements of power holders and to persuade them to undertake a fundamental change from democracy to an Islamic government based on shari'ah law. This change is inevitable for HTI to adjust itself to the democratic context of Indonesia that integrates the majority of Muslims in the democratic system. This presence of Muslim actors in the system has created a perception of political opportunity for Islamization that prevents HTI from confronting the existing political process. This stance betrays HTI's revolutionary doctrine that requires it to uncompromisingly undermine the legitimacy of the democratic system and propagate political detachment. However, HTI understands that opposition to the Muslim involvement in the democratic process can isolate it from its most potential allies. Based on this, this study calls attention to the trajectory of HT outside the box of violent and revolutionary activism. The above path is especially likely for HT that operates in the context of Muslim democracies. HTI offers an alternative strategy to violent activism and the moderate trend of Islamist movements. Evidence shows HTI is building support bases for the establishment of a pro-shari'ah or anti-system politics, either in the form of starting a new party or in creating a coalition between the existing parties. To support this argument, this study analyzes the nature of HTI's activities and its attitude toward the democratic structure. It is primarily based on a content analysis of HTI's discourse and activities recorded in two of its main publications: Al-Islam weekly bulletin and Al-Wa'ie monthly magazine. These sources cover HTI's activism from 2000 to 2009. Methodologically, it follows references and activities relating to key elements of Indonesian democracy (such as state ideology, democracy, election, the government, House of Representative, and political parties) and elements of Muslim society that are part of the democratic system. Drawing on the theories of political change, the analysis is based on the scope of change and the degree of opposition it promotes. Cases are analysed on a scale of 1 to 3 that represents moderate, radical and extreme. The finding shows mixed attitudes with a significant portion of radical character. This confirms the character of "refolutionary" strategy: it focuses on challenging political system over political institutions and combines political participation with anti-democratic campaign.

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  • Family Dynamics and Children's Outcomes: the Role of Silent Interparental Conflict

    Kielpikowski, Magdalena Maria (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    Victoria University of Wellington

    Conflict between parents has been widely studied and its detrimental consequences for children have been documented across domains of psychological functioning, academic performance and social adjustment. Research has focused on the verbal and physical expressions of interparental conflict, however, when tested for, strong indications have been emerging that its non-verbal non-physical forms have similarly serious implications for the young people‟s wellbeing as the overt ones. The scarceness of findings related to covert forms of interparental conflict provided impetus for qualitative research with parents and adolescents (Kielpikowski & Pryor, 2008; Pryor & Pattison, 2007). The research has resulted in proposing a construct of silent interparental conflict (SIC) and provided the conceptual foundation for this thesis. Adopting a systemic approach to the functioning of families characterised by interrelatedness and reciprocity of influences among the members, this thesis investigated processes related to silent interparental conflict through a series of empirical studies with New Zealand families. The need for developing the Silent Interparental Conflict Scale (SICS) for parents was rationalised following a review of a comprehensive assembly of representative instruments for measuring couples‟ conflict. The items were derived from the qualitative data corpus (Kielpikowski, 2004). A three factor structure was established and supported by confirmatory factor analyses using data from two samples of parents (Ns = 108 and 260). The SICS demonstrated excellent psychometric qualities and stability over time. The modus operandi of SIC was hypothesises and tested from the perspectives of parents and adolescents. Drawing from multidisciplinary scholarship, predictors and psychological outcomes of SIC for parents were hypothesised. Theoretical models were tested concurrently and after a lapse of one year utilising data from 115 parental dyads. The findings suggested divergent processes for mothers and fathers. The hypothesised links between the incidence and the Costs of SIC and psychological maladjustment were supported concurrently. Additionally, uniquely for mothers, their perception of the Benefits of silent conflict resulted in reduced maladjustment over time. SIC for fathers was consistently predicted by own avoidance of conflict both concurrently and over time. For mothers the consistent concurrent and longitudinal predictor of SIC was the perceived hostility from partner. Protectiveness towards children acted as a concurrent predictor of SIC for mothers and fathers, for whom additionally it predicted SIC over time. Tests for reciprocal influences using the Actor Partner Interdependence Model (Kenny, Kashy, & Cook, 2006) indicated a significant Partner effect from fathers‟ own avoidance to mothers‟ perceptions of SIC. Parents differed significantly on Actor effects with path coefficients higher on conflict avoidance for fathers and on partner‟s hostility for mothers. The impact of SIC on the wellbeing of adolescents was hypothesised within the cognitive contextual framework (Grych & Fincham, 1990) and the spillover hypothesis (Erel & Burman, 1995). Adolescents‟ adjustment was conceptualised as consisting of internalising and externalising problems measured with items from the SDQ (Goodman, Melzer, & Bailey, 1998), and of positive expectations of the future measured with a scale designed for the study. Threat, self-blame and parental SIC-related spillover behaviour represented by hostility towards the adolescents were posed as mediators of the effects of SIC on adolescents‟ adjustment. Separate models were tested for boys and girls and for the parent-child gender constellations. Over time the effect of SIC on boys‟ internalising problems was fully mediated by father‟s hostility. In contrast, the longitudinal effect of SIC on girls‟ internalising problems was fully mediated by the appraisal of threat and the effect on their expectations of the future was fully mediated by mother‟s hostility. Analyses of longitudinal familywide models revealed that fathers‟ perceptions of SIC differentially influenced the boys‟ and girls‟ processes. The findings advance our understanding of the functioning of SIC and highlight the relatedness and the uniqueness of associated processes for family members depending on their gender and role within the family system.

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  • Essays on Macroeconomic Dynamics

    Grechyna, Daryna (2011-07-13)

    Doctoral thesis
    The University of Auckland Library

    This dissertation is comprised of three papers devoted to several recent macroeconomic problems. The first two chapters are devoted to the questions of optimal fiscal policy, in particular, to the issues of optimal public debt and deficit under the conditions of aggregate uncertainty and governmental imperfections. The problem of optimal public debt regulation is of particular importance nowadays, when seemingly developed countries face threads of unsustainable debt levels. The first chapter explains different, persistent and large public debt levels in developed countries by the presence of public corruption in these countries. The second chapter studies stochastic behavior of public debt and deficit in the time-consistent setup. The third chapter is devoted to not the least important problem of periodic financial crises that hit developed economies. It proposes evidence in favor of cautious attitude towards too fast financial development of the economies, which are not characterized by corresponding development in other, productive sectors. The first chapter proposes a possible explanation of different and positive government debt levels observed in developed economies. It builds a simple model that relates the level of government debt to the degree of corruptness of the public officials in the country, using neoclassical economy framework with discretionary and non-benevolent government. Public corruption results in higher public debt levels in the steady state. The model reproduces about 76\% of variation in debt-to-GDP levels in a sample of advanced OECD countries as a function of the measure of public corruption in these countries. In the empirical part the assumptions and predictions of the model are tested in a panel of OECD member states. The second chapter considers the implications of optimal taxation for the stochastic behavior of debt and deficit in the economy with discretionary government, focusing on Markov perfect equilibria. It concludes that in such time-consistent setup in case of market incompleteness the properties of the variables are very similar to those in the full commitment case. Moreover, debt shows more persistence than other variables and it increases in response to shocks that cause a higher deficit, which is in accordance with empirical evidence from U.S. data. This result, in contrast to the full commitment case, holds regardless whether the government pursues its optimal fiscal policy under complete markets, or under incomplete markets. The third chapter, based on the joint work with Lorenzo Ductor, investigates possible negative influence of financial development on economic growth. It defines excess finance as a level of the difference between the growth in financial sector and growth in productive sector of the economy, under which the aggregate output decreases. Based on panel data for 33 OECD economies, it is shown, that for smooth economic development the equilibrated growth of both productive (real) and financial sectors is required. Whenever financial development exceeds the development of productive industries by 4.5\% (when measured in terms of growth rates of the two sectors output), there is a thread of reaching the productive capacity bound of the economy, with consequent "financial" crisis. The existence of excess financial development may be justified by the theory of informational overshooting.

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  • A Membrane Target of Lithium in Cortical Neurons in vitro

    Butler-Munro, Charlotte (2011)

    Doctoral thesis
    The University of Auckland Library

    For over fifty years the elemental cation lithium (Li+) has been the primary agent used in the treatment and prophylaxis of bipolar disorder, but its therapeutic mechanism of action remains unknown. Bipolar disorder is associated with alterations in ion distributions and may be the result of abnormal ion channel function. Consistent with this, anticonvulsants which block voltage gated sodium (Na+) channels are the second most commonly prescribed mood stabilisers, after Li+, for the treatment of bipolar disorder. How Li+ may share a membrane effect with the anticonvulsants has presented an unresolved paradox. While anticonvulsants block voltage gated Na+ channels, Li+ readily enters neurons through voltage gated Na+ channels and can replace Na+ in membrane depolarisation. This paradox has deterred the development of an ion channel hypothesis for the mechanism of action of the anticonvulsants and Li+ in the treatment of bipolar disorder, and may have prevented progress in understanding of the pathophysiology of this disease. Recent work has indicated that voltage gated Na+ channels are functionally and structurally coupled to potassium (K+) channels sensitive to the intracellular concentration of Na+, these channels generate the Na+ activated K+ conductance (IKNa+). Evidence suggests that Li+ cannot replace Na+ in IKNa+ channel activation, however, because previous studies investigating IKNa+ channels have replaced the majority of external Na+ with Li+, the effect of low concentrations of Li+ on IKNa+ channels in the presence of physiologically relevant Na+ levels is unclear. If lower, more therapeutically relevant concentrations of Li+ were to interfere with IKNa+ channel activation this would suggest a common target of Li+ and the anticonvulsants on the electrical membrane properties of brain neurons. Li+ may directly block IKNa+ channels, and the anticonvulsants indirectly block IKNa+ channels through their primary effect to block voltage gated Na+ channels. The work in this thesis has provided a systematic characterisation of the effects of low concentrations of Li+ on the electrical properties of a neuronal membrane. The results indicate that Li+ increases membrane excitability, and decreases the decay slope and after-hyperpolarisation (AHP) of individual action potentials, consistent with decreased activation of IKNa+ channels. Li+ is shown to decrease the activation of a persistent, voltage dependent outward current active at subthreshold potentials, an effect dependent upon Li+ entry into neurons through voltage gated Na+ channels. These effects of Li+ cannot be explained by a simple inability of Li+ to activate IKNa+ current, and it is proposed that low concentrations of Li+ actively interferes with Na+ activation of IKNa+ channels. This work indicates that Li+ has a direct effect on the electrical properties of neurons. Interestingly, anticonvulsant drugs, also used in the treatment of bipolar disorder, have long been known to alter the electrical properties of neurons through inhibition of voltage gated Na+ channels. Based on our findings with Li+ and the well characterised effects of the anticonvulsants, we propose that Li+ and the anticonvulsants target structurally and functionally coupled ion channels involved in the short and long term control of membrane excitability. This is consistent with increasing genetic evidence indicating that bipolar disorder could be a disease of ion channels (a channelopathy), and has exciting implications for our understanding of the pathophysiology of mood disorders.

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  • The effects of dietary fructose and salt on maternal, fetal and adult offspring growth, metabolic status and cardiovascular health.

    Gray, Clint (2011-07)

    Doctoral thesis
    The University of Auckland Library

    The modern Western diet is typically high in salt and fructose. Variations in maternal diet can have delayed developmental effects on the adult offspring’s cardiovascular function leading to acute or chronic hypertension. The aim of the work in this thesis was to determine the effect of moderate dietary salt and/or fructose intake on maternal and fetal growth, metabolic status and cardiovascular health of the adult offspring. Sprague Dawley rats were fed either 1) control diet (chow) with tap water, 2) salt diet, 4% NaCl, 3) fructose diet, purified chow plus 10% fructose in tap water or 4) fructose and salt diet for 28 days prior to conception, through gestation and lactation. Data were collected on the non-pregnant and pregnant dam, the fetus and neonate and the adult offspring. Cardiovascular data in adult offspring were recorded between the ages of 10-15 weeks by implanted radiotelemetry probes. Dams fed fructose prior to and during gestation increased caloric intake (P<0.001), but significantly decreased basal MAP (~8mmHg) in the adult female offspring. Both fructose and salt diet had effects on the circadian variation in blood pressure and heart rate. Subsequent cardiovascular challenges revealed little beyond an altered cardiovascular set-point in these offspring. The study emphasizes the importance of quality rather than quantity when assessing maternal diet, particularly in terms of its mineral and simple sugar content. In conclusion, data within this thesis demonstrates for the first time a moderate maternal dietary intake of salt and fructose can affect offspring osmolality profile and blood pressure in a sex-specific manner and produce a pattern of symptoms resembling NAFLD which, in part, are passed vertically to the offspring.

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