Lošinj concluded a record tourist year

first_imgWith more than two million overnight stays in 2016, the return of the famous bronze statue of Apoxyomenos and the opening of the unique Apoxyomenos Museum, Lošinj – a destination of health and vitality, achieving another successful tourist year and ranked among the leading Croatian destinations with the most overnight stays.Thanks to the natural resources, diverse offer, numerous investments, but also the responsibility and creativity of the residents who help raise the quality of the offer and the common vision of the archipelago through daily cooperation, in 2016 Lošinj achieved a total 287.582 arrivals (36.964 domestic, 250.618 foreign) and 2.203.155 nights (289.273 domestic, 1.913.882 foreign) and thus surpassed the previous 2015 s 4% more arrivals i 2% more nights. This winter, Lošinj shone in a new Christmas and New Year environment, while offering a rich program of events full of surprises for islanders and visitors. With many animation, entertainment and sports events, cultural sights, restaurants and unique museum institutions have opened their doors to many visitors. Only in the period from December 23 to January 2 on Lošinj was it realized 2.722 arrivals i 8.849 nights.Traditionally, winter on the island has mostly attracted Austrians (52,7%), Slovenes (14,1%) and Croats (12,1%), Germans (10,9%) and Italians (7,2%), and other guests were in a slightly lower percentage (3%). This winter, guests stayed in hotels (2.253 arrivals, 6.487 overnight stays), but also in private accommodation (169 arrivals, 675 overnight stays) and camps (285 arrivals, 1.361 overnight stays) and other accommodation facilities (15 arrivals, 326 overnight stays). “Extremely satisfied with last year’s results, we are entering 2017 optimistically, with a focus on priority products: cultural and health tourism. Also, activities on the implementation of destination brand management continue, such as continuous coordination, development of new products, education and thematic presentations for renters, but also other activities on the ETIS project, and Total quality management, which in addition to quality management in all segments, contributes to quality the lives of our inhabitants. ” said the president of the Tourist Board of the City of Mali Lošinj, Ana Kučić.Photo: Lošinj, Siniša GulićAlso, based on a 120-year tradition of health tourism, quality destination management and many years of dedicated work and effort, the Island of Vitality is a proud holder of numerous projects and events, but also a winner of world and European awards. Thus, in October, the City of Mali Lošinj was awarded the annual Croatian tourist award for the most successful health tourism destination in the destination category of the year, and the Apoxyomenos on the Island of Vitality project was awarded the Innovation of the Year award. As part of the conference ‘World Green Destinations Day’, Mali Lošinj received the prestigious ‘Top 100 Sustainable Destinations of the World’ certificate in 2016. He is an example of the best practice for quality management in Croatia, and he won the award of the European System of Sustainable Development Indicators (ETIS), ie the award for the breadth and depth of knowledge gained on sustainable tourism practices on the island, in April 2016. “In addition to all the above, new products are being introduced, such as the project for the restoration of the Lošinj camp – Mala barka 2, which was accepted as part of the Mala barka 2 program, ie Interreg Croatia-Slovenia from EU funds for the restoration of historical maritime heritage and cultural labeling project” Kucic concluded.Lošinj is the winner of numerous other international tourism awards based on highly creative quality of work, projects, development programs, tourist presentations and numerous programs that overall contribute to the prosperity, vision and quality of visitors and residents.last_img read more

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Valamar Riviera employs 1200 new seasonal employees

first_imgValamar Riviera is a leading tourist company that can accommodate about 30 guests a day in its 15 hotels and resorts and 55.000 camping resorts along the Adriatic coast – in Istria, on the islands of Krk and Rab and in Dubrovnik, which is about 12 percent of total categorized accommodation in Croatia. The knowledge, professionalism and hard work of their 4.900 employees are the foundation of service excellence, sustainability and business growth.Also, Valamar Riviera is among the Top 5 employers in Croatia and has been named the best tourism company. That this is an employer that is attractive to seasonal workers is confirmed by the data on high returns – almost 65 percent of seasonal workers return to work at Valamar from year to year, and the company increases the number of permanent contracts from year to year. Thus, in 2016, 64 employees received permanent employment, and in 2017 another 178.Valamar for My job reveals the profile of the desired candidates and which job positions of seasonal workers it employs in the new tourist season.Which staff do you need the most for uninterrupted business in the 2017 season, and which job positions will the candidates offer at the Tourism Job Fair? For the upcoming tourist season, we are looking for more professional, hard-working and motivated people to work in a dynamic environment in tourist facilities. For successful business in the 2017 season, Valamar Riviera will employ 1200 new employees. We have the most vacancies in the food and beverage department (cook, assistant chef, kitchen worker, waiter, assistant waiter, waiter) in the household department (maid, cleaner), at the reception (receptionist, assistant receptionist, londiner), in the technical service and maintenance (homemaker, gardener, warehouse worker, driver), in sports (pool guards, sports workers), in the reservation center (sales associate in the reservation center), at info points (Perfect Experience Creator associate) and in animation.Photo: Valamar RivieraDo you offer seasonal workers secured accommodation? Valamar provides free accommodation to all seasonal workers who come to our destinations from different counties throughout Croatia, and from this year the quality of accommodation is further enhanced by the construction of “Valamar Staff Residence” centers in Dubrovnik (fully functional in 2018) on the island. Krk and Rabac (in Istria).It is part of the overall concern for the quality of life and working conditions, which is continuously worked on in order to satisfy employees.The premises are modernly decorated, everything is adapted to the needs of workers, and ensure maximum comfort of accommodation, mostly in single and double rooms. All rooms have a private bathroom with toilet, are equipped with comfortable furniture and have their own TV and refrigerator. The kitchen and dining room are intended for shared use and are equipped with a stove, refrigerator with freezer, microwave and other kitchen utensils. In a separate room that is also shared, there are washing, drying and ironing machines, and their use is, of course, free for all employees. Special attention was paid to the arrangement of the room for rest and socializing, so in addition to comfortable sofas and armchairs, a large TV, DVD player, PlayStation and board games were installed, and free wi-fi access was provided. Workers can also use the shared garden, which, in addition to beautifully landscaped horticulture, has wooden benches and a barbecue, as well as outdoor fitness equipment. Bicycle storage and parking space are also available to all.Valamar Riviera is one of the exhibitors online Tourism Job Fair which is being held from 22nd to 28th February and brings together employers in the fields of tourism, hospitality and hospitality.In addition to accommodation, job candidates are also interested in the salary they can expect. Can you provide indicative amounts?Valamar Riviera is one of the largest and most desirable employers in Croatia. We point out that since 2012, the average salary and income in Valamar have been continuously growing from year to year, even faster than the national average. In 2016, net earnings at the level of the year amounted to HRK 5.825, which is 24% more than the industry average.What advice would you give to interested candidates – how best to prepare for seasonal work in your hotels?In addition to strong motivation and ambition and a smile on the face that are necessary for work in tourism, for each job they are interested in, we advise candidates to find out what is expected of them and to get to know the tasks in more detail. The information can of course be obtained directly in a conversation with the employer as well as with the employees of Valamar Riviera. Knowledge of foreign languages ​​is a great advantage for every candidate, so we advise you to dedicate yourself to enriching your vocabulary and learning the terminology that will make their daily communication with guests easier, more pleasant and more professional. The focus is each in English, German and Italian.Source: Mojposao.netlast_img read more

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Watch your language when talking about autism

first_imgLinkedIn Share on Facebook Words matter. The way we use them to communicate with or about others can have a huge impact on people’s lives. This is especially the case when it comes to disability. Handicapped. Retarded. Mad. Activists have campaigned hard to eradicate such terms, which are offensive and perpetuate a negative view of disabled people – one as passive, unable to take control over their own lives.Responding to this demand, recent government guidelines have encouraged clinicians and teachers to use positive and inclusive language, including the use of language that does not define people by their disability.“Person-first” language has become what’s called for: that is, calling someone a “person with autism” – describing what a person has, not what a person is. This has become the recommended way to speak with or about disability – in the press, journal articles, hospitals and schools. Email Pinterestcenter_img Share Share on Twitter It is difficult not to see the good intentions behind this approach. But perhaps it is not really as inclusive as it claims to be.Many disabled people have argued vehemently against the use of “person-first” language, instead preferring “disability-first” language, such as he or she is an “autistic person”. Nowhere is this issue more hotly debated than the field of autism. Many autistic activists argue that person-first language is dehumanising, as if they can somehow be separated from their autism, that there is a “typical” person affected by autism, rather than a person whose life is in part defined by being autistic.These are difficult questions. But it is surely not difficult to argue that truly inclusive language should be defined by the people who are actually autistic. Not by well-meaning outsiders, no matter how powerful. Take a look at the #actuallyautistic and #describingautism twitter handles to see some of these debates.Not right for everyoneRecently, together with the National Autistic Society, my colleagues and I asked 3,470 autistic people, parents and their broader support network, about the words they use to describe themselves, their children or the people with whom they work. Did they prefer to use “autistic person”? Or “person with autism”? Or “person who has autism”?The results clearly showed that people use many terms when talking about autism. The words “autism” and “on the autism spectrum” were clear favourites among all the groups added together. But there was much disagreement on the use of several words and phrases. Professionals preferred to use “person with autism” while autistic adults and family members preferred on the whole to use “is autistic”. They thought that the term allowed them to describe the centrality of autism to their lives.One autistic woman said:In describing someone who’s autistic as ‘a person with autism/person who has autism/(or worst of all) person who suffers from autism’ you imply that autism is separate from a person, and behind their autism is a ‘normal’ person.Agree to disagreeBut these preferences were not unanimous, of course. Instead, for autistic people, family members and professionals, the words they used often hinged on what people believed autism to be. Those who felt that autism is one trait of many in a person tended to prefer person-first language. Others, who felt that autism is central to their or their child’s identity, opted to use “autistic”. Others still noted the need to use different words depending on whom one is speaking to.There is no one way of describing autism on which everyone can agree. There never will be. In order to answer who the question of who gets to decide which terms should be used, first, everyone connected to autism needs to come to accept the fact of disagreement and to respond to it with openness, flexibility and tolerance of divergence of opinion. We should always seek to establish how people wish to be described – by asking them directly, if possible – and not impose external views or guidelines upon them.Perhaps even more importantly, we need to create the conditions for debate and conversation between all of the people who are touched by autism and work in the field. It is, after all, only when we listen to each other that we discover what individual words are taken to mean and why they often matter so much.By Liz Pellicano, UCL Institute of EducationLiz Pellicano is Reader in Developmental Cognitive Science at UCL Institute of Education.This article was originally published on The Conversation.Read the original article.last_img read more

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Separate brain circuits for taste and calories helps explain the power of sugar

first_imgShare on Facebook Sugar’s sweetness and calorie content combine to give it lethal power to destroy diets, many scientists have assumed. However, new study by Yale University researchers says the brain responds to taste and calorie counts in fundamentally different ways. And only one of these responses explains why most New Years’ resolutions have already disappeared under a deluge of Boston Crème Pies.It’s the brain’s desire for calories — not sweetness — that dominates our desire for sugars, according to the study appearing Jan. 25, 2016 in the journal Nature Neuroscience.“It turns out the brain actually has two segregated sets of neurons to process sweetness and energy signals,” said Ivan de Araujo of the John B. Pierce Laboratory and senior author of the study. “If the brain is given the choice between pleasant taste and no energy, or unpleasant taste and energy, the brain picks energy.” Share on Twitter Pinterest LinkedIncenter_img Share Email Both sweet taste and nutrient value register in the striatum, an ancient region of the brain involved in processing rewards. Humans have a sweet tooth as one way to ensure we eat enough to give our large brains enough calories to operate at peak efficiency. However, the Yale team studying the brains of mice showed that signals for taste and nutrients are processed in two separate areas of the striatum, the ventral and dorsal, respectively. Signals about the value of taste are processed in the ventral striatum while nutritional value was processed in the dorsal striatum. The dorsal striatum remained responsive to energy even when calories fed to mice were paired with a very aversive taste.The researchers then asked which signal had more control over eating behavior. Mice fed both sugar with sweet taste but no calories or sugar that contained calories but was altered to taste horribly preferred the sugar with energy. When neurons in dorsal striatum were activated by light a technique called optogenetics, mice also ate copious amounts of bad-tasting sugar.“The sugar-responsive circuitry in the brain is therefore hardwired to prioritize calorie seeking over taste quality,” de Iraujo said.The authors hope findings help spur new strategies aiming at curbing excess sugar intake.last_img read more

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Circuit for experience-informed decision-making identified in rats

first_imgShare on Twitter How is the brain able to use past experiences to guide decision-making? A few years ago, researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health discovered in rats that awake mental replay of past experiences is critical for learning and making informed choices. Now, the team has discovered key secrets of the underlying brain circuitry — including a unique system that encodes location during inactive periods.“Advances such as these in understanding cellular and circuit-level processes underlying such basic functions as executive function, social cognition, and memory fit into NIMH’s mission of discovering the roots of complex behaviors,” said NIMH acting director Bruce Cuthbert, Ph.D.While a rat is moving through a maze — or just mentally replaying the experience — an area in the brain’s memory hub, or hippocampus, specialized for locations, called CA1, communicates with a decision-making area in the executive hub or prefrontal cortex (PFC). A distinct subset of PFC neurons excited during mental replay of the experience are activated during movement, while another distinct subset, less engaged during movement in the maze — and therefore potentially distracting — are inhibited during replay. LinkedIn Share on Facebook “Such strongly coordinated activity within this CA1-PFC circuit during awake replay is likely to optimize the brain’s ability to consolidate memories and use them to decide on future action” explained Shantanu Jadhav, Ph.D., now an assistant professor at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA., the study’s co-first author. His contributions to this line of research were made possible, in part, by a Pathway to Independence award from the Office of Research Training and Career Development of the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).Jadhav and his fellow scientist Gideon Rothschild, Ph.D., led the study under the supervision of their post-doctoral preceptor, NIMH grantee Loren Frank, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). They report on their findings March 10, 2016 in the journal Neuron.When rats are exploring a maze, spatial locations on the track are represented in hippocampal and prefrontal activity, associated with slow, rhythmic theta oscillations. During awake SWRs, activity representing similar locations on the track is conjointly reactivated in the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex.Prior to the study, researchers knew that the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex play a critical role in memory-guided behavior, but exactly what neural activity patterns underlie these abilities remained a mystery.Previous studies had shown that neurons called place cells in the hippocampus become associated with particular places when rats explore mazes. During breaks when animals are inactive, they replay these place experiences in their minds. The place cells that activated while exploring the maze fire again in the same sequence, but on a much faster timescale. This is reflected in telltale split-second bursts of electrical activity called sharp-wave ripples (SWRs), in the hippocampus.“We had previously shown that this SWR activity in the hippocampus is necessary for learning, but we didn’t know if or how it might engage other parts of the brain,” explained Jadhav. “We suspected that in order to support memory retrieval, hippocampal and PFC activity during SWRs has to be coordinated.”When they examined activity in groups of neurons in the two regions simultaneously as rats were learning spatial tasks, Jadhav and Rothschild’s team saw coordinated reactivation during SWRs spanning both the hippocampus and the PFC. In the PFC, they were surprised to see that this reactivation involved both excitation as well as inhibition of functionally distinct populations of neurons. Within a particular SWR, prefrontal neurons that showed spatial representations similar to the concurrently reactivated hippocampal neurons were excited, whereas prefrontal neurons with unrelated representations were inhibited. Any potentially distracting activity inconsistent with the replayed information coming from the hippocampus would thus be suppressed, presumably optimizing awake memory function.“Our results show that SWRs mark times of strong coordination between hippocampus and prefrontal cortex that reflects highly specific structured reactivation of representations related to ongoing experience,” said Jadhav.In a parallel study, Frank’s UCSF team focused on a neighboring region of the hippocampus called CA2. There, they were surprised to discover a distinct population of neurons that not only fire most strongly outside of SWRs, but also signal an animal’s location when the animal is immobile, including during sleep. The firing pattern of these neurons was thus complementary to the firing pattern of the SWR-associated place cells found in CA1.The study revealed that the brain employs distinct neural codes for formation of location-specific memories depending on whether the animal is moving or still. Notably, CA2 has also recently been linked to social memories; social experiences often take place during periods of inactivity, according to Frank.Remarkably, the timescale of the firing changes from SWR- vs. non-SWR patterns were similar in the prefrontal cortex and in CA2, indicating that the brain rapidly switches between the two coding systems with split-second agility.“Delusions and similar mental problems involve mistaking internally generated information for real things from the outside world; it may be that the rapid and precise switching between past and present that we see in normal brains is impaired in psychiatric disease,” said Frank.Frank and a UCSF team led by graduate student Kenneth Kay — whose research training was also supported, in part, by an individual NIMH fellowship award — reported on their discoveries online March 2, 2016 in the journal Nature.“Investing the next generation of research scientists, such as Jadhav and Kay, by supporting their mentored training in state-of-the-art research skills, is essential if the NIMH is to continue to accomplish our mission,” said Nancy Desmond, Ph.D., Associate Director for Research Training and Career Development in the NIMH Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science.center_img Share Email Pinterestlast_img read more

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Study finds link between waking-life musical activities and musical dreams

first_imgShare Do you ever remember your dreams?  Chances are that if you do remember them, they are the ones that seem most realistic.  Many people report dreaming about things that they encounter daily.  Such is the case for musicians from all walks of life who report dreams that involve music or inspire lyrics.Recalling dreams is not a new phenomenon.  In fact, most people can recall a portion of what they dream.  Some people even go so far as to maintain a sleep diary — writing down everything that they remember upon awakening.  Research has found dream recall for people involved in athletic and post-traumatic events. Now, a new study has found that people who engage in musical activities are more likely to have dreams about music.In Marh, 2016, the American Psychological Association’s journal Dreaming published research by Lukas Vogelsang and his colleagues. The research proposed that participating in musical activities while awake would result in more dreams about music.  The research was based on the continuity hypothesis (Domhoff, 2003; Schredl, 2003) which purports that waking-life activities are incorporated into dreams. Share on Facebook Pinterest LinkedIncenter_img Email Share on Twitter An example of someone whose music was inspired by a dream is Paul McCartney.  He reported that the lyrics to his song “Yesterday” were completely recalled from a dream.  This is an example of how people take their waking-life with them when they go to sleep.  Vogelsang’s research looks at examples from research participants that points to potential reasons music may be incorporated into dreams.The study included 144 participants who were divided into four groups–psychology students, music students, choir members and a rest group.  Each participant provided demographic information and completed a questionnaire which outlined their exposure to music.  Specifically, they were asked about the amount of time that they spent engaged in music both actively and passively.  For most participants, passive engagement included doing something while listening to music.Results indicated that, on average, participants were involved with music in their waking-life for about four to five hours per day.  This time was split up even further with about eighty-two minutes of practice, 111 minutes of passive listening and 42 minutes of active listening.  On average, participants reported their first training with music at six years of age.  When responding to questions about the frequency of dreaming about music, most participants reported that they had at least monthly dreams regarding music.  It was noted that the group reporting the fewest dreams related to music was the psychology group.“The main findings of the study indicate that the amount of time invested inmusical activities during the day is directly related to the estimated percentage ofmusic dreams,” Vogelsang and his colleagues wrote.The limitations of the study include the fact that participants knew that researchers were looking for specific information about dreams involving music.  This may have biased results towards more dreams involving music.The results of the research supports the findings from the continuity hypothesis.  People are more likely to dream about what they experience on a daily basis.  Specifically for this study, the more time spent actively engaged in music, the higher the percentage of dreams involving music.  This could mean dreams about music in general or even future music and lyrics.  This study also teases at the possibility that musicians will make their next big hit while sleeping.Engaged in music activities? You should get a good night’s rest so that they can use your sleep time to dream about the music or your first/next big hit.last_img read more

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The surprising side effect of kissing up at work

first_imgShare on Twitter Share on Facebook Share Email LinkedIncenter_img Pinterest Kissing up to your boss doesn’t just impact your relationship with your supervisor, it can influence your co-workers, as well.In a new study in The Journal of Applied Psychology, University of Florida researcher Trevor Foulk and David Long from The College of William & Mary looked at how “kissing up” — also known as ingratiation — affected people who witnessed it. They found that newcomers who saw a co-worker kissing up to the boss were more likely to have a positive perception about the supervisor, while other workers’ perceptions were unaffected.“That kind of information is so much more valuable to a newcomer,” Foulk said. “You’re scanning the environment looking for any cue you can get that can help you understand the workplace.” Foulk suspects that new employees are so eager for positive information about their supervisors that they’ll accept information that other employees discount, causing them to interpret attempts at ingratiation as a sign that the boss must be someone worth getting in good with. We typically don’t like ingratiators: When established workers observe this behavior, they tend to discount it. But newcomers really want to know about their supervisors, so they take the exchange as positive information and ignore its unsavory aspects, Foulk said.“If you could sit down with your supervisor for an hour and talk, that would be the best way to form an impression, but we don’t always have that opportunity,” he said. “If we can’t get good information, we’ll settle for what we can get.”In the study, participants watched a video of an employee using different types of ingratiation — compliments, interest in personal life, praise and favors — on a supervisor. After the researchers controlled for age, work experience and social skill, they found that participants who watched interactions that included ingratiation from a subordinate rated the supervisor’s warmth higher than those who watched interactions without it.The positive perception even held when participants were told that the supervisor was unpleasant and ineffective. However, it only applied when the participants imagined that they were new to the job. When participants were told that they were contractors whose term with the company was ending, the positive bump disappeared. The study also found that when employees directly observed the supervisor behaving in a positive manner, the effect of ingratiation became less important.“This study shows that this behavior can affect our impressions of others. If you’re a newcomer and I want you to like the supervisor, I can manage your impression by ingratiating the supervisor in front of you,” he said. “It’s almost like throwing your voice.”last_img read more

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Scientists shed new light on the role of calcium in learning and memory

first_imgWhile calcium’s importance for our bones and teeth is well known, its role in neurons–in particular, its effects on processes such as learning and memory–has been less well defined.In a new study published in the journal Cell Reports, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) offer new insights how calcium in mitochondria–the powerhouse of all cells–can impact the development of the brain and adult cognition.In particular, the team showed in fruit flies, a widely used model system, that blocking a channel that brings calcium to the mitochondria, called “mitochondrial calcium uniporter,” causes memory impairment but does not alter learning capacity. “When we knocked down the activity of the uniporter, we found that flies have a deficit memory,” said Ron Davis, chair of the TSRI’s Department of Neuroscience. “Intact uniporter function is necessary for full and complete memory in the adult fly. What surprised us is that they were still able to learn–albeit with a fleeting memory. But we thought they wouldn’t be able to learn at all.”The mitochondrial calcium uniporter protein, first identified in 2011, allows calcium ions to move from the cell’s interior into mitochondria–like coal moving through a shoot into a furnace room. It is regulated by other proteins known as MICU1, MICU2 and EMRE. Davis noted that human patients with mutations in MICU1 can exhibit learning disabilities.“The new study’s conclusion is that mitochondrial calcium entry during development is necessary to establish the neuronal competency for supporting adult memory,” said TSRI Research Associate Ilaria Drago, the first author of the study.Drago noted the team found evidence that inhibiting mitochondrial calcium uniporter function led to a decrease in the content of synaptic vesicles (miniscule sacs within the cell where various neurotransmitters are stored) and an increase in the length of axons (the slender filaments of neurons).While these structural problems were clearly observed, she added, what they mean in terms of neuronal development remains tantalizingly unclear. “The discovery of a developmental role for the mitochondrial calcium uniporter complex in regulating memory in adult flies is especially intriguing and deserves more exploration,” said Davis. Pinterest LinkedIn Sharecenter_img Email Share on Twitter Share on Facebooklast_img read more

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X-ray to study micronutrients in human minibrains

first_imgShare LinkedIn Simone Cardoso, Associate Professor at the Institute of Physics at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, highlights the interdisciplinary nature of the study, which involved biologists and physicists. “This allows us to gather a wide range of scientific expertise to plan and perform the experiments”.The minibrains were up to 45-days old. The authors described the distribution of nutrients in two different stages of development: an initial one, of intense cellular proliferation (day 30); and at a second time point, when cells start to become neurons and organize themselves into layers (day 45).The results show that the concentration and distribution of micronutrients are related to the stage of development and similar to previous data obtained from postmortem brain samples.It is very clear that mothers’ diet during pregnancy has long-term effects on fetal development. The observed nutrients are essential for the appropriate formation of the brain. The lack of some of them during prenatal development is also related to memory deficits and psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia. “This study reinforces how important minibrains can be as a model to investigate several aspects of brain development”, says Stevens Rehen, the principal investigator of the study and a researcher working at the D’ Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR) and at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Email Pinterestcenter_img Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Micronutrients and minerals play a key role during human fetal development. A study published in PeerJ this week describes the composition and distribution of some elements in human minibrains created in the lab.Until today, the study of nutrients in brains was restricted to postmortem or non-human tissue. Human brain organoids – tiny tridimensional structures created from human stem cells in vitro – helped to understand the dynamics of nutrients during neurodevelopment.Researchers analyzed human brain organoids, also known as minibrains, by synchrotron radiation, a sort of X-ray that allows the identification of the atomic composition of micronutrients. This technique consists of exciting tissue samples in order to quantify the unique photon signature of each atom. In doing so, they described how phosphorus, sulfur, potassium, calcium, iron and zinc are distributed during brain formation.last_img read more

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Human brain networks developing in adolescence related to evolutionary expansion

first_imgEmail Share on Twitter Share LinkedIn Pinterestcenter_img Adolescence marks not only the period of physical maturation bridging childhood and adulthood, but also a crucial period for remodeling of the human brain. A Penn study reveals new patterns of coordinated development in the outer layer of the cerebrum of the human brain and describes how these structural patterns relate to functional networks.The team found the convergence between structural and functional networks was inversely related to functional complexity. Motor, sensory, visual and functional networks aligned to distinct structural networks. This unique representation of brain maturation may open new opportunities for future studies into many psychiatric disorders that might begin during this age. A team from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania publishes the findings this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.Brain remodeling during adolescence supports the tuning of behavior and cognitive abilities, including reasoning, coordination, decision making, motivation, and regulation of emotions. Measuring these brain parameters during development is valuable for understanding both normal brain maturation and abnormalities associated with behavioral problems and psychiatric disorders. In contrast to the small sample sizes in this subject area’s previous research, this cohort of 934 youths ages 8-22 from the Philadelphia Neurodevelopmental Cohort, a collaboration between Penn Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (led by Raquel E. Gur, MD, PhD, a professor of Psychiatry) offers the opportunity to evaluate these complex patterns of brain development. Share on Facebook Many previous studies have examined the structure and function of the brain, but there has been a gap between brain imaging studies and the biological processes that drive the development of brain networks. This team took high-dimensional, complex data that would otherwise be tough to understand – and boiled it down to a limited number of developing structural brain networks (18 in total).“In an era of big, complex data, it’s sometimes difficult to see what’s going on,” said Christos Davatzikos, PhD, professor of Radiology, and senior author on the paper. “So you look at this data and think there may be some relationships, but our brain and visual interpretation can only go so far. Now we have powerful multivariate methods that can put all the data together and see deeper what’s behind it, and find patterns never seen before.”To look deeper into these patterns of brain development, the team used a sophisticated technique called non-negative matrix factorization, to simultaneously analyze complex patterns of brain structure and identify patterns of development in adolescence. Unlike previous brain representations that relied on patterns of ridges and folds on the surface of the brain, called gyri and sulci, the team looked at how elements change together in a coordinated fashion.This approach revealed a set of structural brain networks that have clear functional and evolutionary significance. Indeed, the degree to which these structural networks change in adolescence is related to the rate of evolution, as measured by the expansion of the cortical areas, from the brain of a monkey.“The most plastic parts of the brain that change during adolescence are also those that make us most human,” said Theodore D. Satterthwaite, MD, assistant professor of Psychiatry and equally contributing senior author on the paper. “Without this method, we couldn’t see these coordinated patterns of change.”“Looking at the brain in a data-driven way, we see systematic relationships between certain regions,” said Aristeidis Sotiras, PhD, a research associate and first author on the paper. “This allows us to identify the moving parts of the brain, which opens new avenues for research into an individual’s risk for developing specific diseases based on understanding how these parts get broken during adolescence.”Similar to the use of height and weight growth charts in pediatrics, looking at which brain regions change significantly compared to a normal development baseline, could show how vulnerable someone is to a specific disorder. Deviations of processes that drive development and affect structural networks could lead to psychiatric disorders. Next, the team hopes to study the association between clinical symptoms and specific brain patterns.last_img read more

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