The effect of visual and auditory short-term memory on daily learning.
This investigation was carried out with the collaboration of sixty college students aged from 19 to 20-years-old from my college. The main aim was to investigate which stimulus-audio and visual was a better method on daily-learning. This large group was broken down into two smaller groups comprising of thirty subjects for the testing on each stimulus. First group was given an article to read while the second group was allowed to listen to a short sound clip without any disturbance. Once they were done with the article and the recording clip, a distraction test- Sudoku (Easy) was given. Both groups were then required to answer fifteen short questions. Z-test was used as the statistical model and led to the rejection of the null hypothesis which claimed that there will be no significant difference between the two groups. To round it up, the mean score of visual memory test obtained was 10.2, significantly higher than auditory memory test which obtained 6.1; hence proving that visual stimulus was better than audio stimulus in terms of keeping short-term memory.
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There will be no significant difference between the results of auditory and visual stimulus on the test and both should share the same mean score in the experiment.
Visual stimulus will have higher significance result in the memory test compared to auditory stimulus.
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RESEARCH AND RATIONALE:
Figure 1: Different parts in brain. (Canadian Institute of Health Research)
Our brain is the centre of information processing where instructions can be relayed in the form of electrical impulse to bring a coordinated response to the whole organism. Our sensory organ (e.g. ear or eye) detects a stimulus (e.g. music or notes) via its receptors (either visual or auditory); the new information will then be processed into a short-term memory. Short -term memory (STM) will only last for a short period like one minute normally. (8) Certain regions such as the pre-frontal lobe (Figure 1) in our brain are activated when such stimulus is being detected.
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Figure 2: Synapses between NMDA and AMPA
Hippocampus holds new information such as short notes (reading) and song's rhythm temporarily and may integrate these two stimuli into various aspects of an experience. Undergoing consolidation of memory, memory can be then stored longer in our brain resulting in long-term memory. The underlying mechanism requires both AMPA (Î±-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid) receptors and NMDA (N-Methyl-D-asparticÂ acid) receptors (Figure 2) are two types of vital receptors present on plasma membrane of post-synaptic neurone. When pre-synaptic neuron is stimulated, neurotransmitter glutamate is released. It will then bind with AMPA receptors on post-
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synaptic neuron and at the same time NMDA receptor will be blocked by magnesium ion.
Subsequently, ion channels open up, allowing sodium ions to pass into post-synaptic neuron, thus depolarize the membrane. If postsynaptic membrane is strongly depolarized, magnesium ion will move away from NMDA receptors, allowing glutamate to bind with it. This will lead to the opening of calcium ion channel and resulted in more AMPA receptors to be inserted into membrane. Finally, nitrogen oxide will be released due to stimulation of calcium ion diffuses into pre-synaptic neuron and release more glutamate. This phenomenon is termed as long term potentation (LTP). (8) Figure 3: Baddely;s Model (Source: http://ahsmail.uwaterloo.ca/kin356/cexec/cexec.htm)
Working memory is the further extension from short-term memory, where sophisticated task such as thinking, reasoning and learning information are being held firmly in our mind. According to Baddeley's model of working memory, the Homo sapiens have a central executive that stores and maintains new information with the aid of 3 slaves
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mechanisms: Phonological loop, visual spatial sketchpad (VSSP) and episodic buffer. (Figure 3) The phonological loop stores audio information, while the VSSP stores visual and spatial information and the episodic buffer act as integrator of phonological, visual and other information unrelated to slave systems. (2)
Figure 4: Image of fMRI of brain when visual stimulus is detected. (Canadian Institute of Health Research)
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Figure 4 shows fMRI image when a visual stimulus is detected. The visual stimuli were seen and undergoes rehearse with a solid image build-up in our brain whereas for auditory stimuli, mental images are 'created' instead of 'received'. (1) This suggests that our brain has to think harder in order to get a 'picture' for audio stimulus instead of receiving a complete and precise image from visual stimulus. According to an experiment conducted by Elizabeth Hilton, the mean score for visual group is higher than auditory group by 11%. Thus, she concluded that visual condition did relatively better than the auditory condition. "As hypothesized, visual short-term memory will have a longer and more accurate duration than auditory short-term memory." (1)
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The outcome of this experiment may have significant impact on our future learning. In college, students and lecturers often have to race against time to complete the entire syllabus in order to meet the demands of examination. Thus, facilitators tend to speed up the classes by merely summarising the vital points verbally and resulted in certain students facing problems in their respective courses. The outcome of this study can be used as a yardstick, for lecturers to refine their teaching method in order to present key ideas for each topic efficiently. In addition, they can prepare their slides using PowerPoint, as it will yield a better understanding between students and the subject taught. Besides, notes in the form of hard copies can be distributed as this is far better than merely orally presentation.
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Trial A: To determine the length of an article.
First and foremost, two short scientific articles have been collected with varies number of words. Ten students were given a passage titled-'Study Explores Which Carnivores Are Most Likely To Kill Other Carnivores'-Science Daily, an article of 227 words and were then required to read through the article once and answer ten short questions related to the article. The trial was then repeated with the same group with another scientific article entitled-'Beyond Fossil Fuels' by Harrison Dillon which has approximately 1200 words.
No. of words (article)
Table 1: Results on the achievement of students.
Results collected from trial A depicted that students actually performed better in the first article, which average scoring at near full-mark as compared to the second article, where majority only managed to score merely more than half of the score. Therefore, an article around 400-600 words was chosen so that the results obtained will be more reliable as for means of comparing between these two stimulus.
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Trial B: Selection on the number of questions and type of answers (multiple choice and written type).
The aim for trial B was to set the most suitable number of questions for subjects to answer. Eight participants were divided into 4 groups and were required to read an article entitled-Agriculture by Science Daily (410 words), and were tasked to finish all the questions given.
Number of Questions
Types of answer
Table 2: Results from Trial B.
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Participants from the third and fourth group claimed that the number of questions was too much while students from first and second group expressed satisfaction for both number of questions and types of answer. Subjects who participated in the objective session clarified that they did randomly circled answers for questions that they didn't know how to answer. Hence, the number of questions was set to 15; and answers presented should be in written form to avoid random luck and aimed to test purely on their memory capability.
Trial C: Duration of distraction task.
A third trial was conducted to determine the length of distraction task. The main purpose of distraction task was to prevent the information from being rehearsed in their mind. Ten random pupils were divided into five groups and were tasked to finish a '6x6 Sudoku' after finishing an article entitled Agriculture by Science Daily (410 words) and were required to finish the 'Sudoku' as much as they can within duration of 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 minutes. After that, they were required to answer a set of 15 questions regarding the article they had just read.
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Table 3: Results for duration of distraction task on median and mean scores.
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As shown in table 3, the longer the time taken for a distraction test, the lower the mean score will be. Hence, 2.5minutes was chosen as a compromised time in order to finish the Sudoku and prevent the memory from decaying further with time.
Trial D: Time required finishing answering all the questions.
A fourth trial was conducted to determine a suitable time limit for students to finish their questions. Six students were divided into three groups and each groups were required to read an article entitled- Agriculture by Science Daily (410 words), and complete a 6X6 Sudoku in maximum 2.5 minutes or less, and were required to finish all the fifteen questions within 2 minute, 4 minutes and 6 minutes.
Table 4: Results on the scores obtained in different times.
According to the result obtained, the more time allocated for the trial, the better a subject performed. Feedbacks collected from the first two groups of students were that the time allocated was brief and needed to be increased in order for them to complete all the questions, while subjects from the third group(6 minutes) expressed satisfaction on the time given, but felt slight stress upon completing the questions. Thus, no time limit is set so that students could answer the questions comfortably without feeling any pressure.
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Trials conducted above were merely tested on visual input and these factors were assumed to have the same effect on auditory input.
The manipulated variable in this experiment was the type of stimulus tested. The responding variable was the mean score obtained from these two tests. The constant variables were the time of day for this test to be conducted, age of subjects, level of education, condition of surrounding, and proportion of genders in each group. All the tests were conducted in the evening by students from UiTM INTEC. With each participants set at the age of 20 years old, and currently undertaking the same GCE-A level this year. Proportion of gender for each group was set as 15 males and 15 females.
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A number of sixty participants were divided into equal number of males and females, with each member numbered with odd and even digits.
Odd digits group members were tasked to test on visual stimuli in conference room A, while even digits group members were tasked to test on auditory stimuli in conference room B.
Both group members were each given a confidentiality form, a foolscap paper as answer sheet, and a closed-paper with 15 questions. An article entitled- Wild Birds May Play a Role in the Spread of Bird Flu, by Science Daily (Appendix 1) was distributed only in group A and can only be opened once they are told to do so. On the other hand, members from group B were required to listen to a sound clip regarding to the same article played by a computer connected to speakers in the room. Before the recording was played, the volume of speakers was adjusted to ensure a clear sound throughout the room.
Group A was asked to read through the article once, and was tasked to complete the Sudoku distraction test (Appendix 3) within 2.5 minutes or less, and then finish all the 15 questions (Appendix 2). As for group B, the recording was played only once in the room. Subjects were required to listen carefully, and were tasked to finish the same Sudoku distraction test (Appendix 3) in 2.5 minutes or less and then finish all the questions related subsequently.
The answer sheets were then collected and the data were recorded in tables. Z-test was used as statistical method to analyse the mean score for both groups.
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This experiment was conducted in the safest manner and deemed low-ranked in terms of risk, given zero complaint in students' feedbacks. For visual experiment, the room was well lit and the brightness of light was altered according to students' demand. Subjects with eye defects such as myopia (short-sightedness) were required to wear their optical aid such as glasses and contact lenses. On the other group, the volume of speakers was adjusted to a reasonable and clear volume to avoid impairment on hearing before the experiment begun.
Everyone was briefed beforehand with the utmost aim of the experiment that was to determine which stimulus is better for daily learning purposes only, and neither to undermine nor challenge one's intellectual. They were also given assurance on their real identity, which will be kept anonymous.
Participants who felt unwell or unhealthy will be exempted and those who opted to withdraw themselves from this experiment were replaced. This was to ensure every student is willing to assist in their own accord and assist the experiment whole-heartedly.
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OBSERRVING AND RECORDING:
Number of subject(s)
Visual Stimulus, X1
Auditory Stimulus, X2
Table 5: Results collected from 60 participants for both memory tests.
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Ã-30 = 7.5
Ã-30 = 15
= 15th and 16th place
Ã-30 = 15
= 15th and 16th place
Ã-30 = 22.5
Ã-30 = 22.5
Table 6: Quartiles calculated for both stimuli.
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Graph 1A: Box plot of the scores for visual stimulus.
Graph 1B: Box plot of the scores for auditory stimulus.
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From the box plot, 50% of the participants managed to score 10.0 marks, which was significantly higher than auditory stimulus which obtained a median score of 6.0. These showed that majority of students scored higher if visual was used as an input. However, both shared the same inter-quartile range (Upper quartile - Lower quartile) of 2. Both data were assumed to be normally distributed as Q3Q2 = Q2 Q1.
Z-test was applied as statistical method as the number of samples (participants) for each stimulus was more or equal than 30, n Sixty college students were randomly selected from a group of 200 pupils and all of them have the same chance to be selected to assist in this experiment. One the other hand, t-test was not applied as the statistical method as the number of samples in this experiment is more than 30. (4)
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Types of Stimulus
Number of Subjects,Æ’
=10.2 (1 d.p.)
=6.1 (1 d.p.)
Standard Deviation, Ïƒ
Table 7: Statistical data tabulated from both types of tests.
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Hypothesis Test for Two Mean Scores
H0: ðœ‡1 = ðœ‡2 (The mean scores for both stimuli tests are equivalent.)
H1: ðœ‡1 > ðœ‡2 (The mean score of visual memory test is higher than auditory memory test.)
Significant level: 5%
Null Hypothesis= ðœ‡1 = ðœ‡2
Ïƒ1 = 1.96468827
Ïƒ2 = 1.640121947
n1 = 30
n2 = 30
1 2 ~N
Using Central Limit Theorem, the test statistic will be:
With H0, ðœ‡1 = ðœ‡2 (mean score for visual stimulus = mean score of auditory stimulus)
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From the Table of Percentage Points of The Normal Distribution, 0.05 or 5% probability gives a z-value of 1.6449. The value obtained from the one tail-test above is significant. Null Hypothesis was thus, rejected with sufficient evidence to conclude that visual memory has better effect on this experiment than auditory memory.
The result obtained from Z-test clearly favoured visual memory more than auditory memory. At 5% of significant level, z (8.7745) was higher than critical value of 1.6449, thus rejecting the null hypothesis. At least 95% chance that the results of both groups were significantly different; with visual will have a greater impact than auditory. This experiment was concordant with the one Elizabeth Hilton conducted, where the mean score for visual memory is 13% higher than auditory memory. (1)
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Graph 2: Bar chart of memory scores obtained by participants in both groups.
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Participants for visual memory quiz clearly outperformed participants from auditory group. Majority of them scored between 8 to 15 marks for visual quiz, while most of the participants scored between 2 to 8 marks for the auditory group. Twenty students managed to score between 10 to 15 marks in visual group; while twenty-three students only managed to obtain score between 5 to 7 marks. The mode score for visual group was 11 marks, while auditory group was 7 marks, four marks of difference. Incredibly, a student managed to score full marks in the visual group, due to the photo genetic memory as assumed. From the results obtained, it was clearly shown that pupils do score much more when they were given visual input, as the information can be held and rehearsed longer in the brain.
Although subjects in visual group tend to score higher marks than auditory group, there was one student who scored exceptionally low with a mark of 3. This anomalous may be due to subjects' interest in this experiment. Neither credits nor reward will be given, thus resulted in lackadaisical in subject to complete the task attentively. On the other hand, there was a participant who scored an eleven points in the other group, which was above the range score of majority. The subject may have better phonological memory compared to others, and have the potential to be an auditory learner.
When our brain received a stimulus (auditory or visual), it functions cognitively to create a 'mental image'. This image is created instantly when visual stimuli are detected by receptors located in retina in our eyes. Pictures from past experience will protrude immediately with every word read. (6)
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On the other hand, auditory stimulus needs to be pictured to create a 'mental image'. This burdens and fatigue the brain, with more time needed to process the image in phonological loop, resulted in decrease of time in rehearsing. Thus, the results of the experiment favoured for visual input. (1)
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Sixty participants that involved in this experiment are currently undertaking GCE A-level this year. These people were randomly selected from 200 students from the same college which have good command in English especially for reading and listening sector. These two properties were essential elements in this experiment as visual input requires reading, and audio input requires listening. These subjects scored at least band 7.5 for these two parts in IELTS examination. Hence, the quality of English was ensured.
In order to increase the reliability of this experiment, most variables were controlled as much as possible. As such, the gender of subjects was divided equally in each group with 15 males and 15 females. Participant's health was prioritised as unfit individual were replaced with equivalent standard individual. Each participant was required to complete the task in a conference room. There were few unavoidable disturbances such as the sound produced by a swinging fan and bad weather such as raining which caused sound pollution, thus affecting the results. These natural disturbance were treated as constant variable as each participant was assumed to experience the same thing. The experiment was set up after college hours (around 2.00 p.m.). This was essential to reduce disturbance as the conference area will be cleared and be more peaceful in order for them to perform at their best. Mobile phones and electronic devices were shut off to prevent unnecessary distraction which may affect the outcome of this test. Large sample size was selected so that more anomalies can be observed and refined to give a better understanding on this experiment.
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LIMITATIONS AND MODIFICATIONS:
Although majority managed to score within the mean score, there is always an exception in every group. Enthusiasm lies within one and can't be controlled unless the subject is serious and work in high concentration. Furthermore, not everyone can perform efficiently at the time set (afternoon). Different people have different time where they can work in focus. Some students even experienced drowsiness after lunch as most of the blood is diverted to the abdomen, supplying more oxygen to the digestive organs. (7) It was then assumed that each subject was performing at their peak. Further modification can be used to rectify this woe that is to ensure candidate to have a good night sleep or have their meals earlier so that they can perform better and efficiently.
The purpose of distraction task was to bring the number of occurrence in terms of rehearsing information to a minimal level. However, some people have the ability to remember anything they have just seen vividly. 'Mental images' are being created and stored instantly, thus resulted in the participant scoring full marks for the visual group. (1) The time set for distraction task (2.5 minutes) was only assumed to compromise between the rate of decaying and rate of rehearsing, so that both rates can be balanced up. One further modification is that conduct another trial on smaller time intervals such as 30 seconds to yield the best time frame for distraction task, in order to increase reliability of result.
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The method of marking the answers for each question was lenient. Some subjects may give almost or near accurate answer, which was deemed acceptable here as the aim of this experiment was to determine which stimuli input is better in daily learning. Further modification can be done such that answers from the marking scheme can be specified with one word or number to improve the accuracy of the results.
Besides, data collected from a single location is limited as samples were from one particular college. It is insufficient to substantiate claims that visual memory is better than short term memory. Bigger scope such as repeating the same experiment in different college will give different trends, and by collecting these trends, more accurate statistical testing can be conducted.
Other than that, further testing can be used to determine which gender has better short-term memory, as different genders have different memorising ability. Equal number of male and female can be divided into two groups, with each group to be tested with both stimuli. Data collected can be used to determine which group has better visual or auditory short-term memory.
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Source 1 and 6 are research articles regarding the similar experiment conducted by a verified expert. Both reports have been referred by various authors, thus proven reliable.
Source 2 and 4 are websites verified by trust worth-it experts and are constantly updated, hence proven higher reliability. Besides, both sites have been referring to many other references too and thus increase its reliability.
Source 3 is a website currently run by Canadian Institute of Health Research, hence proven its credential on the genuine of information. CIHR is a global leader in health research as a result of its pivotal contributions to the international advancement of health research, hence information provided are factual and reliable.
Source 7 is an article edited by BBC, which is a world renowned media that provide accurate and reliable results. The BBC is the largest broadcasting organization in the world, which has a great reputation in providing unbiased and accurate information.
Source 8 was written by prominent scientists who are internationally recognized. Source 9 was written by a PHD holder from Mcgill University of Montreal thus proven its reliability
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It was clearly depicted from the result of this experiment that visual input does have higher significant impact on short-term memory than auditory input. The mean score of visual memory test was 10.2, significantly higher than auditory memory test which was only 6.1. Using z-test, it is calculated that 8.4179 is outside the critical value at 5% significant level, thus the experimental hypothesis is accepted. Thus, it can be concluded that visual memory can be employed as a better teaching alternative for lecturers to present their ideas efficiently.
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Wild Birds May Play a Role in the Spread of Bird Flu, Science Daily
A study by the U.S. Geological Survey, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the Chinese Academy of Sciences used satellites, outbreak data and genetics to uncover an unknown link in Tibet among wild birds, poultry and the movement of the often-deadly virus.
Researchers attached GPS satellite transmitters to 29 bar-headed geese -- a wild species that migrates across most of Asia and that died in the thousands in the 2005 bird flu outbreak in Qinghai Lake, China. GPS data showed that wild geese tagged at Qinghai Lake spend their winters in a region outside of Lhasa, the capitol of Tibet, near farms where H5N1 outbreaks have occurred in domestic geese and chickens.
This is the first evidence of a mechanism for transmission between domestic farms and wild birds, said Diann Prosser, a USGS biologist at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. "Our research suggests initial outbreaks in poultry in winter, followed by outbreaks in wild birds in spring and in the breeding season. The telemetry data also show that during winter, wild geese use agricultural fields and wetlands near captive bar-headed geese and chicken farms where outbreaks have occurred."
The part that wild birds play in the spread of bird flu has been hotly debated since the 2005 outbreaks in Qinghai Lake. Bird flu that spread beyond Asia and into Europe and Africa was later found to have genetically originated in the Qinghai Lake area. Discovering the Tibet connection adds another significant link in the global transmission of bird flu.
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From 2003 through 2009, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau experienced 16 confirmed outbreaks of the virus in wild and domestic birds, most of them in the newly documented migratory pathway of the wild bar-headed geese. "Every summer, more than 150,000 migratory birds use Qinghai Lake, which sits within the eastern portion of the Central Asian Flyway, which extends from India to Russia," said John Takekawa, a wildlife biologist at the USGS Western Ecological Research Center.
The study also uncovered an undocumented migratory link between Qinghai Lake and Mongolia, further suggesting that Qinghai may be a pivotal point of H5N1 transmission.
Scott Newman, Head of the EMPRES Wildlife Health and Ecology Unit of the FAO, noted that poultry production at the southern end of the Central Asian Flyway is extensive, which has resulted in many more HPAI H5N1 outbreaks there than in the northern end, where poultry production is more limited. "In general," said Newman, "H5N1 outbreaks along this flyway mirror human and poultry densities, with domestic poultry the primary reservoir for this disease."
This study is part of a global program to not only better understand the movement of avian influenza viruses and other diseases in the Central Asian Flyway, but also to improve the understanding of the ecological habits of water birds internationally, identify important conservation issues, and better define interactions among wild and domestic birds. The H5N1 virus continues to reemerge across much of Eurasia and Africa, with high fatality rates in people, and the threat of a possible global pandemic. Since 2003, H5N1 has killed 300 people, including 18 in 2010, and has led to the culling of more than 250 million domestic poultry throughout Eurasia and Africa.
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Sixteen countries reported H5N1 outbreaks in poultry in 2010. No HPAI H5N1 has been detected in North America; despite extensive efforts to test migratory birds to provide earlyÂ warnings should birds with the virus arrive in the country.
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Fill in the blanks.
A study by the U.S. Geological Survey, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the _________________________.
Researchers attached GPS satellite transmitters to ____ bar-headed geese.
These geese migrate across most of Asia and that died in the thousands in the ______ bird flu outbreak in Qinghai Lake, China.
Bird flu that spread beyond _______ and into Europe and Africa was later found to have genetically originated in the Qinghai Lake area.
Our research suggests initial outbreaks in poultry in ________, followed by outbreaks in wild birds in spring and in the breeding season.
"Every summer, more than___________ migratory birds use Qinghai Lake, which sits within the eastern portion of the Central Asian Flyway, which extends from India to Russia," said John Takekawa.
The study also uncovered an undocumented migratory link between Qinghai Lake and Mongolia, further suggesting that Qinghai may be a pivotal point of H_N1 transmission.
That poultry production at the southern end of the _________________ is extensive.
Since 2003, H5N1 has killed ______ people, including 18 in 2010, and has led to the culling of more than 250 million domestic poultry throughout Eurasia and Africa.
______ countries reported H5N1 outbreaks in poultry in 2010.
"H5N1 outbreaks along this flyway mirror human and poultry densities, with _____________ the primary reservoir for this disease."
No HPAI H5N1 has been detected in _________, despite extensive efforts to test migratory birds to provide earlyÂ warnings should birds with the virus arrive in the country.
Scott Newman, Head of the EMPRES Wildlife ______ and Ecology Unit of the FAO.
The study also uncovered an undocumented migratory link between Qinghai Lake and ___________.
Discovering the Tibet connection adds another significant link in the global transmission of ______________.
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(Adapted from: http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/Sudoku%20puzzles%206x6.pdf)
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