The Tourism Job Fair has started, 200 ads and video interviews are waiting for you

first_imgFrom today, February 22nd, until midnight on February 28th, you have the opportunity to apply for a (seasonal) job from the comfort of your own home, as well as to do an interview with the employer, without travel expenses. All you need to do is visit the Tourism Job Fair at the web address, review the offer of open positions and apply for the desired job.We are looking for waiters, chefs, maids, but also singers, fitness instructors and managers!Whether you want to work in a hotel or a travel agency, seasonally or permanently, you have many years of experience or you are a beginner, you can find a job for yourself at the Tourism Job Fair. Almost 200 job advertisements have been opened, and you can get in touch with any employer, 32 of them to be precise.Your new employer can be: Dubrovnik Gardens of the Sun, Radisson Split, Valamar, Remisens, Lošinj Hotels & Villas, Aminess, Karisma Hotels Adriatic, Falkensteiner hotels, Samarcanda, Gulliver travel, Vidokrug travel agency, Dogus Group, Villa Andrea & Olive Tree Restaurant, Hotel Tamaris & Hotel Issa, Hotel Pinija, Hotel Life & Hotel Life Palace, Bretanide resort and many others.Many of the ads are for waiters, chefs, receptionists, animators, pastry chefs, kitchen assistants and maids, but you can also find job advertisements for restaurant managers, key account managers, control and quality assistants, DJs. , singers and fitness instructors. At the employers’ stands, in addition to the job offer, you can read the experiences of employees, view a gallery of photos and videos of your future work environment and send an inquiry via e-mail or chat.The School Studium, an adult education institution specializing in retraining, additional training, training and specialization, is also presented at the Fair. During the Fair, the College provides you with a 20% discount for enrollment via EduCentar portal. You can find the full list of exhibitors and open positions on the page Fair.Do a video interview for the desired job You can be at the Fair from 0 to 24 and you do not need to accumulate travel expenses: you can do the interview with the employer online. Once you’ve signed up for ads that meet most of these conditions, you can expect a video interview call. The employer will contact you by phone or email listed in the application form, so don’t forget to check your email inbox as well as have your cell phone with you.For a video interview, you do not need a pre-installed program, but only a quality and fast internet connection. The video interview is held directly on Fair and at the stand of the employer who previously invited you for an interview. Portal is a proud media partner of the Tourism Job Fair.last_img read more

Days of work in tourism in Osijek, Knin and Zagreb

first_imgOrganized by the Ministry of Labor and Pension System, the Ministry of Tourism, the Croatian Employment Service, the Croatian Tourist Board, the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, the Croatian Chamber of Crafts, the Croatian Employers ‘Association and the Hotel Employers’ Association, Tourism Job Days 2017 is organized in three cities: Osijek , Knin and Zagreb.The project was created with the aim of ensuring better visibility of occupations in tourism and employment opportunities provided by the tourism sector. Holding a Job Day in tourism is an opportunity to promote jobs in tourism and motivate all those who are looking for a job, whether they have worked in tourism or not, and young people who are just entering the labor market. About 10.000 visitors, the unemployed, high school graduates and many others are expected.The activities of the one-day Job Days in tourism will be held in Osijek, March 07, 2017 from 9.00 a.m. to 17.00 p.m. (sports hall Gradski vrt, kneza Trpimira 23, Osijek), u Zagreb, March 14 i Knin, 21 March 2017, which will include the presentation of employers at the stands, panel discussions and presentation of examples of good practice. The Ministry of Labor and Pension System will intensify the promotion of active labor market policy measures related to employment, training and education in tourism and other redefined active employment policy measures .The Ministry of Tourism will present a tender and hold information workshops for “Improving the access of vulnerable groups to the labor market in the tourism and hospitality sector”, co-financed by the European Social Fund. Through this tender, grants from the European Social Fund in the total amount of HRK 31.500.000 were provided for adult education institutions and associations in the tourism and hospitality sector. The lowest grant amount that can be awarded to an individual project is HRK 500.000, while the highest amount that can be awarded to an individual project is HRK 2.000.000.The call for project proposals “Improving the access of vulnerable groups to the labor market in the tourism and hospitality sector” will be funded under Operational Program Effective Human Resources 2014-2020. Through projects aimed at the unemployed, people with disabilities, under 25 and over 54, tourism professionals and lecturers in educational institutions, the main goal is to increase the employability of vulnerable groups through education and training, to integrate them into the market work in the tourism and hospitality sector.RELATED NEWS:PUBLIC CALL: IMPROVING THE ACCESS OF VULNERABLE GROUPS TO THE LABOR MARKET IN THE TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY SECTORNEW MEASURES FOR ACTIVE EMPLOYMENT POLICYlast_img read more

Vlahovic: We have created growing and long-term sustainable businesses. Adris’ investment potential is greater than ever

first_imgThe session of the General Assembly of the Adris Group, held today in Rovinj, ended the holding of the annual general meetings of the shareholders of the companies within the Group.In the last five years, Adris has invested more than four billion kuna. On average, it generated a net profit of almost HRK 427 million per year, while in 2016 the profit amounted to HRK 501 million. The average annual dividend growth was, without the extraordinary dividend, 21 percent. The share price averaged 16 percent annually for the preferred and 24 percent for the common stock. Maistra, on the other hand, increased operating revenues by almost 40 percent and operating and net profit by 2,4 times. Cromaris increased its sales revenue by almost eight times. Croatia osiguranje was financially and organizationally restructured in 2016 as well. made a net profit higher by 54 percent. Growth in new business profits has completely offset the tobacco division’s operations. These are the main conclusions from the session of the General Assembly.Obrazlažući prošlogodišnje poslovne rezultate i plan poslovanja za ovu godinu, predsjednik Uprave Adris grupe, mr. Ante Vlahović, istaknuo je kako je Adris, u okolnostima najniže stope rasta hrvatskoga gospodarstva u regiji i daljnjeg pada konkurentnosti, uspješno dovršio transformaciju tvrtke i ostvario snažan rast svih pokazatelja poslovanja. „With today’s assembly, we have formally completed the transformation of Adris. Instead of a business to which we could no longer add value, we created growing and long-term sustainable businesses. Adris’ investment potential is greater than ever. ”Said Vlahović.As he announced, Adris will invest an additional four billion kuna by 2021, of which two billion in tourism. “We are also ready for bigger challenges, we have our own criteria and we are waiting for the right opportunity”, Vlahovic pointed out.In 2016, the Adris Group generated total revenue in the amount of HRK 5,55 billion, while operating revenue amounted to HRK 5,11 billion. Revenue from sales of goods and services amounted to HRK 3,97 billion. HRK 2,81 billion was generated on the domestic market and HRK 1,16 billion on foreign markets. Net profit amounts to HRK 501 million, which is an increase of 27 percent compared to last year. Excluding the one-off effects of extraordinary net profit generated by the transaction of the tobacco part of the business, net profit after minority interests amounts to HRK 446 million, which is 19 percent more than last year’s profit.Maistra continues the investment cycle with the growth of all key business indicatorsIn 2016, Maistra continued to grow all key business indicators, while continuing to invest in the highest segments of the hotel offer. “With investments of HRK 490 million in 2016, a new investment cycle was launched, within which more than HRK 2021 billion will be invested by XNUMX, thus continuing the process of premiumization of our portfolio.”, Said the President of the Management Board of Maistra, Tomislav Popović. In 2016, almost HRK 500 million was invested. The largest investment, worth more than 300 million kuna, is the family hotel Amarin. Also, in 2016, the construction of the new Park Hotel began, a key product in the process of completing the top hotel offer in Rovinj.Maistra’s sales policy is aimed at increasing the share of direct sales channels, whose share is twice as high today as in 2011. Consequently, average sales prices are also rising. In 2016, price growth was six percent with an increase in the number of overnight stays of three percent, which led to an increase in revenue and operating and net profit.In 2016, Maistra generated operating revenue of HRK 950 million, which is ten percent more than last year’s revenue. Operating profit amounted to HRK 221 million or nine percent more than in 2015. Net profit amounts to HRK 131 million, which is an increase of 28 percent. In 2016, 3,13 million overnight stays were realized, which, compared to last year, represents an increase of three percent.Hotel Hilton in Dubrovnik proved to be a successful acquisition within the policy of investing in the highest segment of the hotel offer. It recorded an increase in all key indicators. Overnight stays in 2016 increased by four percent, prices by one, and accommodation revenues by five percent. Operating profit amounted to HRK 16 million, an increase of 22 percent. Net profit amounts to HRK 12 million or 53 percent more than the profit realized in 2015.With the announced investment cycle, the strong growth of booking in Maistra, compared to last year, is an indicator of growing demand and the announcement of the continuation of positive trends point out from Adris.HRK 279 million for dividend paymentAfter the General Assembly adopted the financial statements for 2016, it also made a decision on the use of the 2016 profit. The total realized profit after tax for 2016 amounts to HRK 236 million and is allocated to the Company’s statutory reserves. The amount of HRK 279 million will be set aside from the undistributed retained earnings of the Company for the payment of dividends, which amounts to HRK 17 per share. The dividend will be paid on July 21, 2017, to the accounts of the shareholders according to the balance and statement of the Central Depository and Clearing Company on June 30, 2017. The calculated amount of dividend on treasury shares is retained in retained earnings.PRILOG: PREZENTACIJA – POSLOVNI REZULTATI ADRIS GRUPElast_img read more

Getting a dog reduces stress in caregivers of children with autism spectrum disorder

first_imgShare on Twitter Share Pinterest Share on Facebook LinkedIncenter_img Email An article published this April in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders suggests man’s best friend can significantly reduce stress in the primary caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).In the study, 38 primary caregivers were given a pet dog, and were compared to 24 caregivers who were not given a dog.The researchers had parents complete the Parenting Stress Index three times: before getting the dog, after getting the dog, and 25-40 weeks after getting the dog. Parents’ stress levels at each of these times were compared, and the researchers found that on average, the stress of parents who were given a dog was reduced from clinically high levels to normal levels of stress. The stress levels of parents who did not get a pet dog remained the same across all three assessments. In addition to reductions in parents’ overall stress on the Parenting Stress Index, results showed that the dog owners had lower scores on the Difficult Child subscale, which assesses the child’s overall behaviors (e.g. “My child seems to cry or fuss more often than other children.”). Reductions were also observed on the Parental Distress subscale (e.g. “I often have the feeling that I cannot handle things very well.”).The authors also pointed out that it’s possible that the dog itself may not be what is causing stress reduction—instead, stress reduction may be happening more indirectly, possibly through increased physical activity, outdoor activity, or spending more time away from the child. However, the researchers believe this is unlikely considering that a 1991 study found that being around a dog reduces stress more than being around a friend.“It is likely that different factors are important in different contexts and while this may pose challenges for assessing or inferring the mechanism behind the changes noted; from a clinical perspective this may indicate that dogs are particularly useful, since their nature means they may provide a personalised and socially valid intervention with the minimum of clinical effort,” the researchers wrote.“In this context, voluntary dog acquisition offers a flexible intervention that is economically effective, integrates well into the family, making them potentially very useful for the varied symptoms of ASD, which is highly individual in nature.”Not only do these findings have important implications for the health of parents of children with ASD, these findings also have important implications for parents of children with ASD, since researchers believe that parental stress levels play a large role in the success of ASD therapy programs.This study adds to the growing evidence for the benefits of dog ownership. The results of this study are very important for parents of children with ASD, who are prone to experiencing higher stress, anxiety and other negative outcomes like depression and social isolation. The researchers suggest that it is possible a dog acts as another form of social support, and it will be important for future research to compare dog ownership to other programs for parents of children with ASD (e.g support groups).last_img read more

In social networks, group boundaries promote the spread of ideas, Penn study finds

first_imgPinterest Share Share on Facebook Email LinkedIncenter_img Social networks affect every aspect of our lives, from the jobs we get and the technologies we adopt to the partners we choose and the healthiness of our lifestyles. But where do they come from?In a new study, the University of Pennsylvania’s Damon Centola shows how social networks form and what that means for the ideas that will spread across them.Counterintuitively, he finds that breaking down group boundaries to increase the spread of knowledge across populations may ultimately result in less-effective knowledge sharing. Instead, his research shows that best practices and complex ideas are more readily integrated across populations if some degree of group boundaries is preserved. Share on Twitter The findings suggest that a policy to increase integration in the workplace by doing away with ethnically affiliated clubs, for example, could actually reduce the likelihood that ideas and beliefs would be shared across the company. The work has implications for institutional attempts to increase diversity, businesses’ efforts to spread shared values and organizations interested in integrating solutions to complex problems.Centola is an associate professor in Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication and School of Engineering and Applied Science and is director of the Network Dynamics Group at Penn. His work is published in the American Journal of Sociology.The work builds off foundational research by social theorists Peter Blau and Joseph Schwartz. In 1984, they argued that societies in which group affiliations were eliminated would enjoy the greatest levels of social integration. A direct implication of their theory was that social policies that reduce group boundaries would create the most opportunities for complex ideas and shared knowledge to spread across a society.In the current work, Centola revisited Blau and Schwartz’s theories using a new computational model to understand how social affiliations create networks and, in turn, how complex ideas and shared practices can diffuse through those networks.The model assumed that each individual’s personal and professional characteristics (e.g., gender, race, religion, income, education, political party, preferred recreational activities, residential neighborhood, etc.) define that person’s identity. The structure of a society is determined by the extent to which different characteristics are correlated with one another. For instance, if a person knows another’s religion, income and education, can he or she also predict the neighborhood where that person lives?Centola’s experiments with the model showed that these correlations have striking implications for the social networks that emerge.“The results are surprisingly clear,” Centola said. “The stronger these correlations are, the more ‘grouped’ the entire social network is. Small changes in the correlations between two characteristics, for instance religion and residential neighborhood, have large consequences for the ‘groupiness’ of the social network.”The analysis also revealed a twist on Blau and Schwartz’s work. As Blau and Schwartz predicted, reducing group boundaries increased the likelihood that complex ideas could diffuse across a population, but only up to a point.“When a society is too grouped, people do not have any social contact with people from other groups,” Centola said. “People with the same job all attended the same school, live in the same neighborhood and frequent the same clubs. Their networks do not expand beyond that group.”Loosening these tight group boundaries means that people’s next-door neighbors may have different jobs or levels of education, but they may still have similar politics or recreational activities. These similarities allow people in different social groups to encourage the adoption of a new complex idea, take neighborhood recycling as an example, which can then spread to other neighborhoods and social groups.But when group boundaries are eliminated entirely, people have almost nothing in common with their neighbors and therefore very little influence over one another, making it impossible to spread complex ideas.“There’s a belief that the more that people interact with strangers, the more that new ideas and beliefs will spread,” Centola said. “What this study shows is that preserving group boundaries is actually necessary for complex ideas to become accepted across diverse populations.”This is especially true for adopting new solutions to hard problems. In business settings, for example, a new piece of information about a stock price might not require strong social reinforcement in order to spread. But a more nuanced idea, such as what is considered an acceptable way to conduct business or how to respond to a new “green” initiative, can require strong social support to diffuse throughout a company. The success of a new initiative can depend upon group structures that can grow widespread support across a large organization.Centola further noted that these kinds of structures, in which group boundaries exist but overlap to some degree, are naturally occurring on the Internet. Distinct online communities sprout up among people with common interests, yet these groups also have interconnections across their membership.“It could be that the Internet is in fact set up and operates in such a way as to allow easier coordination on complex ideas,” he said.last_img read more

Connections between neurons performing similar tasks shows how brain circuits are wired

first_imgShare Share on Twitter “This is a culmination of a research program that began almost ten years ago. Brain networks are too large and complex to understand piecemeal, so we used high-throughput techniques to collect huge data sets of brain activity and brain wiring,” says R. Clay Reid, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science. “But we are finding that the effort is absolutely worthwhile and that we are learning a tremendous amount about the structure of networks in the brain, and ultimately how the brain’s structure is linked to its function.”“Although this study is a landmark moment in a substantial chapter of work, it is just the beginning,” says Wei-Chung Lee, Ph.D., Instructor in Neurobiology at Harvard Medicine School and lead author on the paper. “We now have the tools to embark on reverse engineering the brain by discovering relationships between circuit wiring and neuronal and network computations.”“For decades, researchers have studied brain activity and wiring in isolation, unable to link the two,” says Vincent Bonin, Principal Investigator at Neuro-Electronics Research Flanders. “What we have achieved is to bridge these two realms with unprecedented detail, linking electrical activity in neurons with the nanoscale synaptic connections they make with one another.”“We have found some of the first anatomical evidence for modular architecture in a cortical network as well as the structural basis for functionally specific connectivity between neurons,” Lee adds. “The approaches we used allowed us to define the organizational principles of neural circuits. We are now poised to discover cortical connectivity motifs, which may act as building blocks for cerebral network function.”Lee and Bonin began by identifying neurons in the mouse visual cortex that responded to particular visual stimuli, such as vertical or horizontal bars on a screen. Lee then made ultra-thin slices of brain and captured millions of detailed images of those targeted cells and synapses, which were then reconstructed in three dimensions. Teams of annotators on both coasts of the United States simultaneously traced individual neurons through the 3D stacks of images and located connections between individual neurons.Analyzing this wealth of data yielded several results, including the first direct structural evidence to support the idea that neurons that do similar tasks are more likely to be connected to each other than neurons that carry out different tasks. Furthermore, those connections are larger, despite the fact that they are tangled with many other neurons that perform entirely different functions.“Part of what makes this study unique is the combination of functional imaging and detailed microscopy,” says Reid. “The microscopic data is of unprecedented scale and detail. We gain some very powerful knowledge by first learning what function a particular neuron performs, and then seeing how it connects with neurons that do similar or dissimilar things.“It’s like a symphony orchestra with players sitting in random seats,” Reid adds. “If you listen to only a few nearby musicians, it won’t make sense. By listening to everyone, you will understand the music; it actually becomes simpler. If you then ask who each musician is listening to, you might even figure out how they make the music. There’s no conductor, so the orchestra needs to communicate.”This combination of methods will also be employed in an IARPA contracted project with the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Baylor College of Medicine, and Princeton University, which seeks to scale these methods to a larger segment of brain tissue. The data of the present study is being made available online for other researchers to investigate. LinkedIn Share on Facebookcenter_img Email Even the simplest networks of neurons in the brain are composed of millions of connections, and examining these vast networks is critical to understanding how the brain works.An international team of researchers, led by R. Clay Reid, Wei Chung Allen Lee and Vincent Bonin from the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Harvard Medical School and Neuro-Electronics Research Flanders (NERF), respectively, has published the largest network to date of connections between neurons in the cortex, where high-level processing occurs, and have revealed several crucial elements of how networks in the brain are organized.The results are published this week in the journal Nature. Pinterestlast_img read more

Researchers pinpoint part of the brain that recognizes facial expressions

first_imgResearchers at The Ohio State University have pinpointed the area of the brain responsible for recognizing human facial expressions.It’s on the right side of the brain behind the ear, in a region called the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS).In a paper published today in the Journal of Neuroscience, the researchers report that they used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify a region of pSTS as the part of the brain activated when test subjects looked at images of people making different facial expressions. Share on Twitter Share LinkedIn Pinterestcenter_img Email Share on Facebook Further, the researchers have discovered that neural patterns within the pSTS are specialized for recognizing movement in specific parts of the face. One pattern is tuned to detect a furrowed brow, another is tuned to detect the upturn of lips into a smile, and so on.“That suggests that our brains decode facial expressions by adding up sets of key muscle movements in the face of the person we are looking at,” said Aleix Martinez, a cognitive scientist and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Ohio State.This fMRI image shows activity in the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) region of the brain of a test subject who is recognizing a facial expression. Researchers at the Ohio State University have pinpointed the pSTS as the area of the brain responsible for this task.Martinez said that he and his team were able to create a machine learning algorithm that uses this brain activity to identify what facial expression a person is looking at based solely on the fMRI signal.“Humans use a very large number of facial expressions to convey emotion, other non-verbal communication signals and language,” Martinez said.“Yet, when we see someone make a face, we recognize it instantly, seemingly without conscious awareness. In computational terms, a facial expression can encode information, and we’ve long wondered how the brain is able to decode this information so efficiently.“Now we know that there is a small part of the brain devoted to this task.”Using this fMRI data, the researchers developed a machine learning algorithm that has about a 60 percent success rate in decoding human facial expressions, regardless of the facial expression and regardless of the person viewing it.“That’s a very powerful development, because it suggests that the coding of facial expressions is very similar in your brain and my brain and most everyone else’s brain,” Martinez said.The study doesn’t say anything about people who exhibit atypical neural functioning, but it could give researchers new insights, said study co-author Julie Golomb, assistant professor of psychology and director of the Vision and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at Ohio State.“This work could have a variety of applications, helping us not only understand how the brain processes facial expressions, but ultimately how this process may differ in people with autism, for example,” she said.Doctoral student Ramprakash Srinivasan, Golomb and Martinez placed 10 college students into an fMRI machine and showed them more than 1,000 photographs of people making facial expressions. The expressions corresponded to seven different emotional categories: disgusted, happily surprised, happily disgusted, angrily surprised, fearfully surprised, sadly fearful and fearfully disgusted.While some of the expressions were positive and others negative, they all had some commonalities among them. For instance, “happily surprised,” “angrily surprised” and “fearfully surprised” all include raised eyebrows, though other parts of the face differ when we express these three emotions.Test subjects in an Ohio State University study were shown a series of photographs of different facial expressions. Researchers pinpointed an area of the brain that is specifically attuned to picking up key muscle movements (here, labeled AU for ‘action units’) that combine to express emotion.fMRI detects increased blood flow in the brain, so the research group was able to obtain images of the part of the brain that was activated when the students recognized different expressions. Regardless of the expression they were looking at, all the students showed increased activity in the same region–the pSTS.Then the research group used a computer to cross-reference the fMRI images with the different facial muscle movements shown in the test photographs. They were able to create a map of regions within the pSTS that activated for different facial muscle groups, such as the muscles of the eyebrows or lips.First, they constructed maps using the fMRIs of 9 of the participants. Then, they fed the algorithm the fMRI images from the 10th student, and asked it to identify the expressions that student was looking at. Then they repeated the experiment, creating the map from scratch with data from nine of the students, but using a different student as the 10th subject.About 60 percent of the time, the algorithm was able to accurately identify the facial expression that the 10th person was looking at, based solely on that person’s fMRI image.Martinez called the results “very positive,” and said that they indicate that the algorithm is making strides toward an understanding of what happens in that region of the brain.last_img read more

Researchers flag hundreds of new genes that could contribute to autism

first_imgLinkedIn Email Share on Twitter “Geneticists can now focus on the top-ranked autism-risk gene predictions from our machine-learning program, both to direct future genome sequencing studies and to prioritize individual genes for experimental studies,” said co-lead author Arjun Krishnan, an associate research scholar at Princeton’s Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics.“The method we developed can, for the first time, identify ASD-associated genes even if they have not been previously linked to autism in genetic studies,” said Olga Troyanskaya, senior author of the paper and a Princeton professor of computer science and genomics, as well as deputy director for genomics at the Simons Center for Data Analysis. “It is vitally important that we begin to explore underappreciated aspects of how autism arises and might someday be treated.”Autism has emerged in recent decades as one of the most common developmental disorders. The disorder, which has no cure, is characterized by difficulties in communicating, learning and socializing. Children often are not diagnosed until they are 3 or 4 years old. However, intervention services, such as physical and behavioral therapy, in a child’s first few years have been shown to improve development. Therefore, clinicians are keen on detecting autism as early as possible.“It is very important that we improve ways to diagnose kids with autism earlier so we can do earlier interventions,” Krishnan said. “Furthermore, getting a handle on where, when and how autism spectrum disorders arise during brain development will be absolutely critical for drug and treatment development in the decades ahead.”“This study is elegant, sophisticated and comprehensive,” said Daniel Geschwind, director of the Center for Autism Research and Treatment at the University of California-Los Angeles, who is familiar with the study but had no role in it. “It pulls together essentially all of the data out there on using network-based approaches to better understand autism.”Other Princeton researchers involved in the study are graduate student and co-lead author Ran Zhang, as well as graduate student Victoria Yao, lab manager Chandra Theesfeld and scientific software engineer Alicja Tadych. The other Simons Foundation authors are Aaron Wong, Natalia Volfovsky, Alan Packer and Alex Lash. Funding came primarily from the National Institutes of Health.The researchers began with a “functional interaction network” of the human brain they had originally constructed little more than a year ago. The network describes how genes in the human genome work together in the brain’s molecular circuits. While every cell in the human body contains a complete set of genetic instructions for the whole body, only a portion of these genes are “turned on” in any given cell at any given point in development or everyday life. Mutations to genes — when their orderly coding becomes scrambled — can prevent them from working in concert with other genes, leading to dysfunction and illness.“We have so many types of cells in our body, and though each cell has the same set of genes, or the same box of tools, each cell type can perform very different activities by wiring these tools in different ways,” Krishnan said. “We want to discover and understand the disruptions to the genetic toolkit in the brain of people with autism to learn about its origins.”The brain-specific network the researchers relied on pooled results from thousands of previous experiments, each of them revealing piece-by-piece how genes function together throughout the human body. Next, the team applied their machine-learning program to this network. The program quickly sifted through the entire network of more than 100 million gene interactions to draw out information, learning characteristics that indicate a connection to autism, and honing the quality of returns as they proceeded.Just as teachers offer students positive and negative feedback, the Princeton and Simons Foundation team trained the machine-learning program on the connectivity patterns of known ASD-associated genes, as well as human disease genes with no association to neurodevelopment. Based on those initial cues, the program then analyzed all 25,825 genes in the human genome, seeking any interaction patterns that resemble those of ASD-related genes.Encouragingly, within its top 10 percent of ranked predictions — around 2,500 genes — the program correctly identified numerous ASD-associated genes that were different from the known ones initially used to “train” the computer program. More importantly, the program highlighted several brand-new, compelling candidate genes with no prior genetic evidence tying them to autism. “These novel genes for autism risk are great candidates for further study,” Krishnan said.To gain context for their findings, the researchers considered their gene-prediction results alongside a map of gene expression in the developing brain compiled by neuroscientists at the Yale University School of Medicine. A distinct pattern of gene activity and inactivity popped up in babies’ brains while in utero. Through the prenatal into the late-fetal stages, altered development occurred broadly across neural regions related to autism by previous studies. These regions include the cerebellum, which coordinates and integrates muscle movement and sensory information, as well as the striatum, which is involved in motivation, planning and decision-making.“It is quite clear in our findings that the signal for autism is really there in early development,” Troyanskaya said. “The signal is regionally diffuse, implying autism is likely a disorder of general brain development, and not just one specific brain region.”A significant portion of the genes with a predicted link to autism have no known function in the brain, Troyanskaya said.“Although the human genome was mapped early last decade, we still don’t know what a majority of human genes do,” she said. “Our study underlines the fact that we have a great deal yet to learn about the operation of genes in the brains of neurotypical and autistic people.” Share on Facebookcenter_img Investigators eager to uncover the genetic basis of autism could now have hundreds of promising new leads thanks to a study by Princeton University and Simons Foundation researchers.In the first effort of its kind, the research team developed a machine-learning program that scoured the whole human genome to predict which genes may contribute to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The results of the program’s analyses — a rogue’s gallery of 2,500 candidate genes — vastly expand on the 65 autism-risk genes currently known. Researchers have recently estimated that 400 to 1,000 genes underpin the complex neurodevelopmental disorder.This newest research provides a manageable, “highly enriched” pool from which to pin down the full suite of ASD-related genes, the researchers said. Many of the newly implicated genes have never been studied for their possible roles in ASD. Following up on these leads will help scientists delve deeper into autism’s strong yet byzantine genetic basis, as well as possibly lead to new diagnostic and treatment techniques. The paper was published Aug. 1 in the journal Nature Neuroscience and the researchers have made their results available online. Pinterest Sharelast_img read more

The single life continues to be stigmatized — but most single people are doing just fine

first_imgPinterest Email LinkedIn Share Share on Twittercenter_img The 21st century is the age of living single. Today, the number of single adults in the U.S. – and many other nations around the world – is unprecedented. And the numbers don’t just say people are staying single longer before settling down. More are staying single for life. A 2014 Pew Report estimates that by the time today’s young adults reach the age of 50, about one in four of them will have never married.The ascendancy of single living has left some in a panic. US News & World Report, for example, cautioned that Americans think the country’s moral values are bad and getting worse, and one of the top reasons for their concern is the large number of people remaining single. Share on Facebook But instead of fretting, maybe we should celebrate.I’m a social scientist, and I’ve spent the past two decades researching and writing about single people. I’ve found that the rise of single living is a boon to our cities and towns and communities, our relatives and friends and neighbors. This trend has the chance to redefine the traditional meaning – and confines – of home, family and community.Ties that bindFor years, communities across the country have been organized by clusters of nuclear families living in suburban homes. But there are some signs that this arrangement isn’t working out so well.These houses are often too isolating – too far from work and from one another. According to a national survey ongoing since 1974, Americans have never been less likely to be friends with their neighbors than they are now, with neighborliness lowest in the suburbs.But studies have also shown that single people are bucking those trends. For example, they are more likely than married people to encourage, help and socialize with their friends and neighbors. They are also more likely to visit, support, advise and stay in touch with their siblings and parents.In fact, people who live alone are often the life of their cities and towns. They tend to participate in more civic groups and public events, enroll in more art and music classes, and go out to dinner more often than people who live with others. Single people, regardless of whether they live alone or with others, also volunteer more for social service organizations, educational groups, hospitals and organizations devoted to the arts than people who are married.In contrast, when couples move in together or get married, they tend to become more insular, even if they don’t have children.Building strength and resilienceUnfortunately, single life continues to be stigmatized, with single people routinely stereotyped as less secure and more self-centered than married people. They’re said to die sooner, alone and sad.Yet studies of people who live alone typically find that most are doing just fine; they don’t feel isolated, nor are they sad and lonely.Reports of the early death of single people have also been greatly exaggerated, as have claims that marriage transforms miserable, sickly single people into happy and healthy spouses.In some significant ways, it’s the single people who are doing particularly well.For example, people with more diversified relationship portfolios tend to be more satisfied with their lives. In contrast, the insularity of couples who move in together or get married can leave them vulnerable to poorer mental health.Studies have shown that people who stay single develop more confidence in their own opinions and undergo more personal growth and development than people who marry. For example, they value meaningful work more than married people do. They may also have more opportunities to enjoy the solitude that many of them savor.Redefining the family and homeMarried people often put their spouse (and, for some, kids) at the center of their lives. That’s what they’re expected to do, and often it’s also what they want to do.But single people are expanding the traditional boundaries of family. The people they care about the most might include family in the traditional sense. But they’ll also loop in friends, ex-partners and mentors. It’s a bigger, more inclusive family of people who matter.For many single people, single-family suburban homes aren’t going to offer them the balance between sociability and solitude that they crave. They are instead finding or creating a variety of different lifespaces.Sometimes you’ll see 21st-century variations of traditional arrangements, like multi-generational households that allow for privacy and independence as well as social interaction. Others – and not just the very young – are living with their friends or other families of choice.Those who cherish their alone time will often choose to live alone. Some have committed romantic relationships but choose to live in places of their own, a lifestyle of “living apart together.”Some of the most fascinating innovations are pursued by people who seek both solitude and easy sociability. These individuals might move into their own apartment, but it’s in a building or neighborhood where friends and family are already living. They might buy a duplex with a close friend, or explore cohousing communities or pocket neighborhoods, which are communities of small homes clustered around shared spaces such as courtyards or gardens.Single parents are also innovating. Single mothers, for example, can go to CoAbode to try to find other single mothers with whom they can share a home and a life. Other single people might want to raise children with the full support of another parent. Now they can look for a partner in parenting – with no expectations for romance or marriage – at websites such as Family by Design and Modamily.As the potential for living a full and meaningful single life becomes more widely known, living single will become more of a genuine choice. And when living single is a real choice, then getting married will be, too. Fewer people will marry as a way of fleeing single life or simply doing what they are expected to do, and more will choose it because it’s what they really want.If current trends continue, successive generations will have unprecedented opportunities to pursue the life that suits them best, rather than the one that is prescribed.By Bella DePaulo, Project Scientist, University of California, Santa BarbaraThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.last_img read more

Mindfulness meditation alters neurophysiological characteristics that are linked to anxiety and depression

first_imgEmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter LinkedIn Sharecenter_img Mindfulness meditation training is associated with changes in resting-state brain activity, according to new research conducted with elementary school students. The study, published in the Journal of Psychophysiology, provides new insights into why mindfulness meditation could be effective in improving symptoms of anxiety and depression.“Our interest in the topic primarily resulted from a desire to identify alternative methods for attenuating anxiety and depression during preadolescence, a stage of development where children are particularly susceptible to internalizing symptoms due to increased social demands and a lack of psychological and neurological maturity to effectively cope with such demands,” said study author Nancy Aaron Jones an associate professor at Florida Atlantic University and director of the WAVES Emotion Lab.“Children in this age-range have traditionally shown less responsiveness to traditional treatments such as medication and talk therapy compared to adults, and therefore we wanted to evaluate the potential of mindfulness meditation intervention in reducing neurological symptoms of anxiety in this age range and serving as a protective factor against later development of disorders. “A second goal was to further understand the relationship between internalizing behavioral symptoms and resting-state brain activity measures in children of different age-ranges. This knowledge is valuable for understanding how the neurological mechanisms involved in anxiety and depression may fluctuate as a function of age.”The researchers examined the impact of a mindfulness meditation training program on 66 elementary school students. The mindfulness meditation program occurred in class for 15 minutes once per day for 10 weeks.The students completed self-reported assessments of depressive symptoms, anxiety, and mood before and after the mindfulness training program. The researchers also recorded the students’ electrical brain activity before and after the program.Jones and her colleagues found that self-reported depression scores declined after the mindfulness meditation training program. Using electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings, the researchers also found that the program was associated with alterations in brainwave activity.In particular, they observed increases in EEG alpha wave coherence throughout the entire cortex. The researchers also observed increases in theta, alpha, and beta power in the frontal and central areas of the brain.“We hope that this study will shed light on the potential of mindfulness meditation to serve as a buffer against anxiety development in children by demonstrating that a daily mindfulness training program significantly altered neurophysiological characteristics that signify risk for anxiety and depression, namely frontal and central power as well as frontal and parietal coherence were increased following the training,” Jones explained to PsyPost.“In the broader scope, we hope that parents, teachers, and superintendents concerned with the mental health of children recognize the helpfulness of short duration daily exercises for reducing stress, such as physical activity, music/art, or mindfulness meditation.”However, two common EEG measures linked to anxiety remained largely unchanged.“A major caveat of this study is that the participants were not formally diagnosed with anxiety or depression and therefore, we can not conclude that the same results would occur with clinical participants,” Jones said.“In addition, we did not include a control group, which leaves open the possibility that other factors may have led to the reduced neurophysiological risk for anxiety in the preadolescent participants.”“Additionally, the long-term effects of mindfulness are less well-understood, so future studies should evaluate the effects of mindfulness longitudinally with multiple time points at different stages of development. We feel one possibility is that mindfulness reduces anxiety by increasing cognitive control so it would be interesting to directly test that mediation factor,” Jones explained.“We hope that this study and others will shed light on the appropriateness and effectiveness of short-duration mindfulness meditation training for school-wide implementation. In addition to lowering anxiety, mindfulness may strengthen cognitive skills that are beneficial for school performance.”The study, “Mindfulness Meditation Intervention Alters Neurophysiological Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression in Preadolescents“, was authored by Nathaniel A. Shanok, Carol Reive, Krystal D. Mize, and Nancy Aaron Jones. Pinterestlast_img read more