NP Plitvice Lakes and NP Krka donated to Unicef ​​and became guardians of childhood

first_imgOn February 23, 2016, the public institutions “Krka National Park” and “Plitvice Lakes National Park” and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund, an international intergovernmental organization established by the UN General Assembly) and its office in Croatia concluded a grant agreement on the basis of which the Public Institution “NP Krka” will pay the amount of HRK 75.000,00 and the Public Institution “NP Plitvice Lakes” HRK 100.000,00 as a donation to UNICEF for the implementation of the early development program for children from the most vulnerable families.The aim of the program is to provide families in a difficult socio-economic situation with services that are not available to them: preschool education, services for children with disabilities, support for parents, etc. Part of the activities would be carried out at the Lika-Senj and Šibenik-Knin counties and part through UNICEF programs in other counties, where the needs of children and parents are greatest. After a record tourist season in 2015, the public institutions “Krka National Park” and “Plitvice Lakes National Park” decided to invest part of their growing annual income in programs that improve the lives of children in Croatia, with an emphasis on supporting the youngest and most vulnerable.By signing a donation agreement between JU “NP Plitvice Lakes”, JU “NP Krka” and UNICEF, public institutions join the growing family of guardians of childhood, who with their donations make sure that all children in Croatia get the opportunity to grow up healthy and happy. “It is a pleasure when the effort invested results in such great results, as it was in the last tourist season. We want to share our satisfaction and multiply the results. With numerous local initiatives and humanitarian actions, with this donation we increase good results for the benefit of the most vulnerable children throughout Croatia “, said the director of the Public Institution “Plitvice Lakes National Park” Natalija Božičević during the signing of the contract.”By preserving nature we achieve the most important part of our task, but by caring for the generations that will continue where we left off, we are investing in a common present and future. Aware of our social responsibility, we are proud partners in this project and commend the great humanitarian work that UNICEF has been successfully implementing for decades.”, Said the director of the Public Institution” Krka National Park “Krešimir Šakić.By donating to UNICEF, both institutions, which have been supporting local children’s projects for many years, are expanding the scope of child care to the entire territory of Croatia, and UNICEF is gaining a new ally to promote children’s rights, especially the most vulnerable groups. “We thank from the bottom of our hearts that both institutions that the world recognizes for the richness of natural diversity have recognized the importance of investing in children. We know that in addition to individual projects that improve children’s lives, we also need systematic and continuous investments for children living in different conditions – far from services and opportunities. For our part, we promise a sevenfold return on this investmente “, said during the signing Valentina Otmačić, head of the UNICEF office for Croatia.Research conducted in the US has shown that investments in vulnerable groups of children at an early age return to society sevenfold.last_img read more

Hoteliers for seasonal workers want Slavonians the most

first_imgAs the season gets closer and closer, preparations for it have already started a long time ago. Currently, hoteliers are focused on looking for the highest quality catering workers, and as most tourism entrepreneurs point out, the most valuable and best are in Slavonia. Hotel houses, due to the high demand for seasonal workers, have launched and published tenders on their websites, while some have come to Slavonia in person for the best possible selection.A business fair was held in Vinkovci last week, which also included two hotel houses Laguna Poreč te Jadran dd from Crikvenica. Both companies are looking for the same profiles of seasonal workers, kitchen and restaurant staff and maids, and they unanimously claim that Slavonians are the most valuable and best workers.Laguna Poreč  It employs an average of over 900 workers a year and in its accommodation facilities, can accommodate over 20 thousand guests a day, of which more than 8 thousand in hotels and apartments, and over 12 thousand in camps, which annually achieves over 2,3 million overnight stays. In addition to waiters, chefs are also looking for support staff or those staff who are not qualified catering workers. “We also need maids and maids who work as maids in the morning and as waitresses in a restaurant during dinner. We also employ about 50 gardeners, who usually start working at the earliest. For all other workers and functions where I do not need to employ a large number of people, we publish vacancies through our website and everyone can apply. In particular, we have a need for one person in charge as the animation leader ” points out Goran Kukurin, head of the human resources department from Laguna Poreč.Hotel company Jadran dd from Crikvenica has a total of 9 hotels and tourist resorts, over 1.250 rooms and 2.500 beds in solid buildings, and 2 camps with 1.700 seats. They also lack kitchen and restaurant staff and maids. “All these years we employ a large number of workers from the area of ​​Slavonia and I can say from experience that they are very good and hardworking workers.” Marija Žarković-Turak, director of human resources from Jadran dd, points out and adds that obviously Slavonians are also satisfied with them because they are happy to return. This year, Jadran dd renovated two hotels and raised the categorization of hotels to 4 *, and the need for seasonal employees increased.It is commendable that both hotel companies hold internal trainings for all new seasonal workers, especially those who have no experience. “Education is very important and we regularly educate both our permanent workers and permanent seasonal workers, so that when new inexperienced workers come, they also receive quality training.. „Pointed out Marija Žarković-Turak from Jadran ddIn Laguna Poreč, the training program for new workers consists of two parts, and they also have an internal waiter academy lasting two weeks. “After the process of selecting new staff, all those who do not have or have little experience, go through our internal education. The first training refers to the basics of spoken communication in Italian and German, a course in the profession where we educate them on the basics of setting tables, serving and certain soft skills. The second form of education refers to the basic jobs by which we introduce employees to work through getting to know the values ​​of our company, who are our guests and how to approach and communicate with guests.  Goran Kukurin pointed out and added that Laguna Poreč invests a lot in the education of all workers, both permanent and new.According to the portal, in 2015 the most sought after were the waiters. In addition to the waiters who are by far the most lacking, chefs, kitchen helpers, pizza masters, receptionists, assistant chefs and maids are also in demand. The portal advises employers to start looking for staff as soon as possible, because it can happen that in the middle of the season it is a bit harder to reach employees, especially if it is about some more specific jobs, requirements or location.last_img read more

In Rijeka, 12 percent more arrivals and 21 percent more overnight stays

first_imgAutocamp Preluk and the traffic realized at the European University Games are not included in the analyzed tourist traffic. “This multi-year increase in the number of guests who choose Rijeka as their destination can be thanked, among other things, to all participants in the tourist product, from hoteliers, private renters, hostels, travel agencies, numerous event organizers and numerous activities that the City of Rijeka and Rijeka Tourist Board spend with all stakeholders of the tourist offer of the destination, but also by continuous investment in the quality and number of accommodation units. “Pointed out Petar Škarpa, director of the Tourist Board of the City of RijekaHotels are currently the dominant category of accommodation in the city of Rijeka, although there is a visible trend of strong development of private accommodation, which in terms of percentage and number of nights is directly behind the hotel. Statistically speaking, 35,24% of overnight stays were realized in hotels, while slightly less, ie 34,40%, were realized in private accommodation.Mayor of Rijeka Vojko Obersnel, expressing satisfaction with the record tourist results this year in Rijeka, said that all this is not accidental, but the result of reflection and development of numerous strategies in which tourism has always received a special place. We managed to achieve such good results with a synergy of the work of the Tourist Board of the City of Rijeka and the City of Rijeka. However, we are not carried away by thinking that Rijeka will become a tourist city, ie a city where tourism will be the main backbone of the economy and development. I have always pointed out that tourism in Rijeka has its potentials and that it is a pity not to use them, especially since Rijeka has such results throughout the year. The reason for this is the attractiveness of various programs such as the Rijeka Carnival and numerous festivals, major sporting events and the recognition of Rijeka’s rich cultural heritage.Said Obersnel.The mayor added that a lot of funds had to be invested in all this, as well as in the arrangement of the city. In the last few years alone, about 40 million kuna has been spent on the renovation of the Old Town, which has resulted in a better catering offer. He also mentioned incentives through measures in lending, ie providing additional funds for the development of tourism and hospitality.”The fact that Rijeka was recognized by small cruisers and sailing ships due to its position and infrastructure, for which Rijeka became the starting port, also contributed to the tourist success. We expect 14 large cruisers by the end of the year”, Said the mayor, adding that the efforts to make Rijeka attractive for tourists have been recognized by entrepreneurs, such as hostel owners and private renters, which are increasing from year to year. “I believe that further investments in increasing tourist capacities, by building a new resort on Costabella, a hotel in the Benčić complex and putting the camp on Preluk into proper function, will result in even better results.”, Concluded the mayor. In the area of ​​the city of Rijeka in the period from 01.01. to 31.08.2016. There were 85.066 arrivals, which is 12 percent more than in the same period in 2015, as well as 189.133 overnight stays, which is 21 percent more than in the same period.Domestic tourists made 16.772 arrivals, while compared to the same period in 2015, the number of domestic arrivals increased by 10%, and in the total number of arrivals, domestic tourists participated with 28%. On the other hand, foreign tourists made 68.294 arrivals, and compared to the same period in 2015, the number of foreign arrivals increased by 12% and in the total number of arrivals foreign tourists participated with 72%.In the city of Rijeka, most overnight stays were realized by citizens of the Italian Republic 22.886, followed by citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany 18.021, Bosnia and Herzegovina 10.053, the French Republic 8.805, the Kingdom of Spain 8.096, the Republic of Serbia 7.526, the Republic of Poland 5.681, the Republic of Austria 5.670, Hungary 5.185 and the State of Israel with 4.590 overnight stays.last_img read more

Is the construction of the Peljesac Bridge moving from a standstill?

first_imgBiH Transport and Communications Minister Ismir Jusko said on Saturday that he expects the BiH Council of Ministers, of which he is a member, to make a decision soon approving the construction of the Peljesac Bridge, stressing that there is no dispute over the dimensions of the bridge.  “The expert team from BiH negotiated and worked on the Pelješac bridge with colleagues from Croatia. Colleagues from Croatia said that the bridge should be 48 meters high, and our delegation asked for it to be 55 meters, which was adopted. Also, the representatives of Croatia requested that the distance between the central pillars on the bridge be 200 meters, and 280 meters were adopted, as proposed by our delegation. ” Minister Jusko pointed out for the internet portal Klix from Sarajevo and added that the document was signed by both delegations and that now there are no more obstacles to approving the construction of the Peljesac Bridge. 12 applications were received for the tender for the construction of the Pelješac BridgeFormer Croatian Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds and now Agriculture Tomislav Tolusic previously announced that a contract for the Peljesac Bridge could be signed in the spring and that all problems related to construction have been resolved with BiH. In the first round of tenders for the construction of the Pelješac Bridge, Hrvatske ceste received 12 applications for participation, and in accordance with the Public Procurement Act, information on potential tenderers in this restricted public procurement procedure is secret, so Hrvatske ceste cannot speak about the names of companies submitted applications for the Pelješac Bridge.According to the optimistic scenario, at the end of January 2017, competitors who do not meet the conditions of technical, legal and financial ability will be sent notices to enter the second round, and those who meet these conditions will be invited to submit financial bids. But those who do not enter the second round have the right to appeal, so it is difficult to predict when the second round could begin and when it could be completed. And that the tender deadlines for the Pelješac Bridge are easily broken, is evidenced by the course of events in the first round of the tender, which was originally supposed to end on August 22. However, due to three appeals to the State Commission for the Control of Public Procurement Procedures against the tender documentation, the entire procedure was delayed by more than three and a half months.The estimated value of the works for the construction of the Peljesac Bridge and access roads is HRK 1,756 billion, and the number of applications confirmed the expectations of great interest of domestic and foreign construction companies for this project, which this time seems to be better prepared than in 2007. the first tender for the construction of that bridge was announced. Only three bids were received for the tender, the estimated value of the works was 1,9 billion kuna, but the contract with domestic companies was eventually terminated due to lack of money. This time most of the money for the construction of the bridge will be provided from EU funds.Pelješac Bridge Association: Croatian interests are endangered, there is no more waitingThe Pelješac Bridge Association notes that Croatian national interests are endangered, primarily the free flow of people and goods within the EU, because Dubrovnik is still separated from the rest of Croatia and represents the extraterritorial territory of the EU.Back in 2012, hundreds of ships and boats lined the sea (between the mainland near Komarna and the Pelješac peninsula near Brijesta) with the desire, need, decision of the people to continue building the bridge. Road accesses and huge abutment pillars on both shores were completed and works for the foundation of pillars on the seabed began, and then at the beginning of 2012 everything was stopped.The agony around the bridge that would connect Croatia and which is a salvation for the inhabitants of Peljesac as well as all other cities and municipalities to Dubrovnik, unfortunately, continues. According to the project, the bridge is 2.340 meters long and 55 meters above sea level, while the width of the bridge is 24,64 meters, it has four lanes, and is a continuation of the highway. The distance between the pylons is 568 meters, and thus the bridge would carry the title of second in Europe and among the top 10 in the world.last_img read more

Health tourism – an opportunity we must not miss

first_imgAt the recently concluded “IMTJ Medical Travel Summit” in Opatija, the International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ), the world’s leading online journal for medical tourism, presented various awards for excellence and innovation in medical tourism to our specialized hospitals.Thus, the hospital Sv. Katarina was named “Best Special Hospital of the Year”, all in accordance with the assessments of international independent experts in medical travel and medical tourism. On behalf of the Special Hospital Sv. Katarina’s award was received by Ms. Jadranka Primorac, a member of the Management Board, and the award was presented to her by Mr. Keith Pollard, Editor-in-Chief of the International Medical Travel Journal.Recognitions as proof of quality and excellence certainly do not end there; in the selection of the “European Business Award” Special Hospital Sv. Katarina was also selected as one of the 10 best European institutions in the category “The Award for Customer Focus” in a strong competition of as many as 33 businesses from 000 countries that participated in this year’s competition, and it is significant that she entered the finals as the only health institution from Europe. Also, the Special Hospital Sv. Katarina is the only medical institution that won the title “Superbrands Croatia”, and at the beginning of last month the British group Operations Abroad Worldwide and the Special Hospital Sv. Katarina signed an Agreement on the treatment of patients, which made Croatian healthcare a significant step forward in the development of medical tourism.Polyclinic Bagatin named the best international clinic for cosmetic surgeryPolyclinic Bagatin won the award and great recognition for the best international clinic for cosmetic surgery in 2017 and was nominated by the organizers, IMTJ organization, for a marketing initiative in terms of branding the Polyclinic, in which they are ranked in the top 3 best clinics in the world. “The quality of cosmetic surgery services at the Bagatin Polyclinic is at the highest level, as well as the marketing activities we have undertaken in order to present ourselves in the best possible light to foreign potential clients and patients. With this award for our dedicated work we have received confirmation from the profession. It came as a ‘crown’ to the confirmation of quality by our patients who place their trust in us on a daily basis. I am equally proud of our second nomination, which ranked us among the top three clinics in the world when it comes to marketing activities. ”Points out the director of the Bagatin Polyclinic, Ognjen Bagatin.In addition to the Bagatin Polyclinic and the Sv. Katarina was also awarded the Rident Polyclinic, which won the award for the best international dental clinic of the year at the IMTJ Medical Travel Summit in Opatija, while the Svjetlost Special Hospital for Ophthalmology won a high second place in the category of the best international eye clinic.Health tourism – an opportunity we must not miss According to estimates, the total revenues that are generated globally in the field of medical tourism today exceed 60 billion dollars, and in just a few years that number will exceed 100 billion dollars. The potential of health tourism has been there for years, and now Croatia has excellent, professional and highly professional institutions, but without a strategic and complete tourism product there will still not be much progress. We have too late coast and climate, top specialized health facilities, excellent connectivity, ie accessibility, as well as amazing tourist stories – we just have to pack them nicely into a rounded tourist product and tell our guests the story.Although there are about 1.100 medical tourism providers in Croatia, only five percent of tourists (patients) come from foreign markets, primarily from Italy, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. At a recent session of the Council of the Community of Health Tourism at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, it was concluded that health tourism needs stronger promotion outside Croatia and that Croatia should be put on the medical map of the world. “Mediterranean cuisine has been included in the list of cultural heritage by UNESCO as the healthiest cuisine in the world, which should be used to enrich the offer of health tourism.”, Said Marcel Medak, President of the Health Tourism Association at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce.The final conclusion is that it is necessary to move in the direction of gathering a critical mass of health tourism service providers in order to attract more agents at a stronger performance at the identified key fairs and to gain the support of the Croatian National Tourist Board. Entrepreneurs seem to be shouting loudly and sending an appeal to tourist institutions to get involved and for health tourism to become part of the integrated Croatian tourist offer.Rijeka, Lošinj and Zagreb have woken up and are working intensively on the promotion of health tourism (at least the private sector), soon an excellent story is being built in Osijek about health tourism, so the private sector, ie specialized institutions and accompanying content are ready and now on the system to round out the whole story and launch targeted strategic promotion, and be a support to the private sector, and not the other way around as before. Health tourism is one of the focuses of the Master Plan for Tourism Development until 2020, but a lot is written on paper of various strategies and master plans – the paper suffers everything, and unfortunately there are still no concrete changes in the field.It’s all up to us, we have it all, and I sincerely hope we know how to harness our potential in health tourism. We must also not forget that the world is turning fast and that the competition is not asleep, and we do not have ten more years to see any concrete changes and to arrange a quality story about health tourism in Croatia. We are constantly talking about potentials, it is time to concretize those potentials. Right now and now, because when if not now – when Croatian tourism is a trend in the focus of global tourists and the media.We have everything and everything is up to us.last_img read more

Dietary trans fat linked to worse memory

first_imgEmail Share Share on Twitter Pinterest Higher consumption of dietary trans fatty acids (dTFA), commonly used in processed foods to improve taste, texture and durability, has been linked to worsened memory function in men 45 years old and younger, according to a University of California, San Diego School of Medicine study published online on June 17 in PLOS ONE.Researchers evaluated data from 1,018 men and women who were asked to complete a dietary survey and memory test involving word recall. On average, men aged 45 and younger recalled 86 words; however, for each additional gram of trans fats consumed daily, performance dropped by 0.76 words. This translates to an expected 12 fewer words recalled by young men with dTFA intake levels matching the highest observed in the study, compared to otherwise similar men consuming no trans fats.“Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory in men during their high productivity years,” said Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, lead author and professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “Trans fat consumption has previously shown adverse associations to behavior and mood–other pillars of brain function. However, to our knowledge a relation to memory or cognition had not been shown.”center_img LinkedIn After adjusting for age, exercise, education, ethnicity and mood, the link between higher dTFA and poorer memory was maintained in men 45 and younger.The study focused predominantly on men because of a small number of women in this age group. However, including women in the analysis did not change the finding, said Golomb. An association of dTFA to word memory was not observed in older populations. Golomb said this is likely due to dietary effects showing more clearly in younger adults. Insults and injuries to the brain accrue with age and add variability to memory scores that can swamp ability to detect diet effects.Trans fatty acids have been linked to negative effects on lipid profiles, metabolic function, insulin resistance, inflammation and cardiac and general health. In 2013, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued a preliminary determination that trans fats were no longer generally recognized as safe. According to the Centers for Disease Control, reducing dTFA consumption could prevent 10,000 to 20,000 heart attacks and 3,000 to 7,000 coronary heart disease deaths per year in the U.S.“As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people,” said Golomb. Share on Facebooklast_img read more

Messages of individual blame for black Americans perpetuate racial inequality

first_imgPinterest A recent CDC report calls into question the widely reported belief that Black fathers are more absent in their children’s lives than White fathers – showing that while more Black fathers live apart from their children, they are just as involved with their children as members of other racial groups in the same living situations. So why is it that messages about Black absentee fathers, such as Obama’s 2008 Father’s Day address, are so pervasive in society?A new paper, published today in Social Psychological and Personality Science, suggests that such messages align with broader beliefs that Black Americans place too much blame on “the system” and instead need to hear messages that encourage individual responsibility. A consequence of that, the researchers say, is that they perpetuate structural racial inequalities.Phia Salter of Texas A&M University and her colleagues were interested in President Obama’s well-known speech on absentee dads, in large part because it was delivered in a predominately African-American church. “We were interested in whether the individual blame account of missing Black fathers gained attention because it was given in front of a Black audience,” she explains. “We thought it may not be just what President Obama said in his speech, but to whom he said it to that mattered.” It struck them that many of the critiques of his speech for ignoring societal factors were largely coming from the Black community (even this recent Op-ed). Email Share on Twitter Sharecenter_img LinkedIn Share on Facebook So led by then-grad students Kelly Hirsch and Luyen Thai, Salter join efforts with her colleague Rebecca Schlegel to design several studies that investigated the interactions between messaging, audience and third-party perceptions. First, to measure general perceptions, they surveyed participants online about whether they thought various groups (e.g., Black, White, Latino, Democrats, Women) believe that society is fair. The participants thought that Blacks reject the idea that society is fair and do so more than other groups.In a second study, the researchers asked participants to read a statement about racial inequality that either suggested that racial disparities stem from failures and inadequacies of individuals or from failures and inadequacies of systems. They then asked participants to what extent they thought various groups needed or wanted each message. They found that third-party observers preferred individual blame messages delivered to Black audiences, as this is what they perceived Black audiences ”need to hear.”In a third set of studies to experimentally test these perceptions, the researchers asked participants to read and respond to an excerpt from a speech given to either a Black or a White audience. The speech was actually an excerpt from Obama’s 2008 Father’s Day speech that was either the original text emphasizing personal responsibility or an edited version emphasizing a systemic account of missing fathers.“We found that believing the speech was being delivered to a Black versus White audience increased the appeal of an individual blame account of the speech but not a system blame version of the speech,” Salter says. “Although politicians and others who deliver speeches are likely to take into account who may be listening, prior social psychological research had not considered how third parties might take into account the audience’s racial composition.”The implication of this work – that people think that Black Americans have a tendency to blame the system too much and are in need of messages that counteract their perceptions of injustice – is troubling for two at least reasons, Salter says. “First, by minimizing or ignoring the ways in which structural inequality persists, we are unlikely to search for, endorse or enact solutions that might address these forms of societal problems.”Second, she says, targeting Black Americans with the idea that they caused their own circumstances by not working hard enough “reinforces the idea that Blacks are ultimately responsible for their own disadvantage, even when structural inequalities persist.” Therefore, these individual blame messages are detrimental to efforts to create a fair and just society.The work fits in with previous research that suggests that events that represent exceptional accomplishments of a few minority group members are used to demonstrate that race does not matter and, in turn, render policies that address racial inequality irrelevant. Following Obama’s presidential victory, for example, researchers found that people were more likely to conclude that racism was less of a problem and expressed decreased support for policies aimed at furthering racial equality.Heading into the next Presidential election, this research is an important reminder to be critical consumers of information, Salter says. “Political messages are encoded with a lot of information and the perceived audience is also a part of the message,” she says. “People make judgments about whether political speeches contain the ‘right’ message for the right audience. We should all take a step back and evaluate why we think a particular message is ‘right’ for a certain audience.”last_img read more

People who live for something live longer

first_imgShare on Facebook Pinterest Share Share on Twitter Emailcenter_img LinkedIn I was never a believer. Sure, I forcibly showed up to Sunday school until eighth-grade confirmation spared me from the weekly burden. But I knew by age seven that Catholicism wasn’t for me. I’ve never turned back. At some point in my 20s, however, I started to feel unexpected pangs of jealousy when I’d jog past churches and catch a glimpse of parishioners shuffling into pews.It’s not that I question my secular ethical value system (I don’t) or that I feel untethered without a community of like-minded worshippers (nope). Instead, it’s the pre-fab sense of purpose that religion offers. Even without passions to pursue, talent to cultivate or emotional bonds to build, God-fearing folks automatically have something to live for. Absent the assurance of posthumous ascension, we non-believers need to find a reason to trek through the years. We could go the nihilistic route. But, not only does the prospect of living for nothing fill me with irrepressible despair; having a purpose, a new study says, also corresponds to heart health and longevity.To assess the relationship between sense of purpose, cardiovascular health and risk of death, psychologists evaluated 10 studies, involving over 136,000 participants, and published their analysis in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine. The studies mainly concerned American and Japanese adults, who averaged 67 years old and whose health and wellbeing researchers tracked for seven years, on average. During this time period, 14,500 participants died and over 4,000 had cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and strokes. After crunching all the data, and taking into account other health factors, authors of the meta-study found a lower risk of mortality and cardiovascular hiccups among people with a high sense of purpose. The link between living longer and living for something persisted across both countries.“Sense of purpose” is, arguably, the sort of broad concept that eludes precise measure. Researchers included U.S. studies in which participants verbatim evaluated their purpose in life, as well as the meaning of life and their “usefulness to others.” Japaneses studies assessed a concept called “ikigai,” which roughly translates to a “life worth living.”“Nevertheless, the medical implications of living with a high or low sense of life purpose have only recently caught the attention of investigators,” said study author Alan Rozanski in a press release. “The current findings are important because they may open up new potential interventions for helping people to promote their health and sense of well-being.”These findings dovetail with an interesting body of work on the relationship between emotional and psychological well-being and longevity. For example, loneliness — another somewhat squishy notion — has been linked to shorter, sicklier lives. We shouldn’t hastily assert that any one component of our emotional lives has a specific and certain affect on physical health, but we also shouldn’t ignore what research continues to show: How we feel is relevant to how we fare.This article originally published by Van Winkle’s,, the editorial division of Casper Sleeplast_img read more

Brain differences in premature babies who later develop autism

first_imgExtremely premature babies run a much higher risk of developing autism in later childhood, and even during the neonate period differences are seen in the brains of those who do. This according to a new study by researchers from Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. The findings, which are published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, suggest that environmental factors can lead to autismExtremely preterm neonates survive at increasingly early gestation periods thanks to the advances made in intensive care in the past decades. However, babies born more than 13 weeks prematurely run a serious risk of brain damage, autism, ADHD and learning difficulties. They are exposed to numerous stress factors during a period critical to brain development, and it is possible that this plays a key part in the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).In this present study, the researchers examined over 100 babies who had been born extremely prematurely (i.e. before week 27, the beginning of the third trimester). With the parents’ permission they studied the growth of the babies’ brains using magnetic resonance imaging during the neonate period, and then screened the children for autistic features when they had reached the age of six. LinkedIn Share on Twitter Share Pinterestcenter_img Email Share on Facebook “We were surprised by how many – almost 30 per cent – of the extremely preterm-born children had developed ASD symptoms,” says Ulrika Ådén, researcher at the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health at Karolinska Institutet and neonatologist at the Neonatology clinic at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. “Amongst children born after full term pregnancy, the corresponding figure is 1 per cent.”The researchers found that it was more common in the group of children who had developed ASD for there to have been complications during the neonate period, such as surgery, than it was amongst their prematurely born peers who had not developed ASD. Already in the neonatal period, long before the children had manifested signs of autism, differences could be observed between the extremely preterm babies who went on to develop ASD and those who did not, with diminished growth of the parts of the brain involved in social contact, empathy and language acquisition – functions that are impaired in autistic children.Autism is generally attributed to genetic factors, even if no specific autism gene has been identified. This new study supports previous findings indicating that birth weight and complications can increase the risk of autism.“Our study shows that environmental factors can also cause autism,” says Dr Ådén. “The brain grows best in the womb, and if the developmental environment changes too early to a life in the atmosphere, it can disrupt the organisation of cerebral networks. With new therapeutic regimes to stimulate the development of such babies and avoid stress, maybe we can reduce the risk of their developing ASD.”The study was funded by grants from several sources, including the Swedish Research Council, the Regional Agreement on Medical Training and Clinical Research (ALF), the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation and the EU Seventh Framework Programme.last_img read more

Young children learn to take turns for mutual gain

first_imgLinkedIn Share on Facebook It takes children until they are about 5 years old to learn to take turns with others, while the social skill seems to elude chimpanzees, according to new findings published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.The findings show that 5-year-old children adopted a turn-taking strategy more effectively than their younger counterparts, suggesting that the skill emerges as children’s cognitive abilities mature.“Although chimpanzees and young children may be able to engage in reciprocal interactions that are driven by past events – ‘She was nice to me, so I will be nice to her now’ – this study shows that they are not able of prospective turn-taking and understanding the long-term benefits of taking turns,” says lead researcher Alicia Melis of Warwick Business School in the UK. “This suggests that more complex planning and reasoning skills are necessary for turn-taking.” Pinterest The ability to take turns to ensure future benefits is a fundamental and strategic social behavior that expands the range of cooperative behaviors humans exhibit. According to Melis, it allows individuals to cooperate even when they have conflicting interests or would otherwise compete with each other, such as when parents take turns picking children up at school or when drivers take turns merging into a single lane on the highway.To investigate children’s and chimpanzees’ turn-taking abilities, Melis and colleagues devised an experiment involving rewards placed on specially designed trays. Each pair of participants had to work together to pull the trays so that a reward – stickers for children, fruit for chimpanzees – would be reachable. Importantly, pulling one tray resulted in losing the reward on the other tray.The researchers tested a total of 96 preschoolers, half of whom were 3.5 years old and half of whom were 5 years old. Each age-matched pair completed 24 turn-taking trials. They also tested 12 chimpanzees, each of whom completed 48 trials with one partner and 48 trials with another partner.The results showed that the 5-year-old children managed to access a reward on 99.5% of the trials, while the 3.5 year-olds were successful on only 62.3% of the trials. The 5 year-olds also took turns more often than the 3.5 year-olds and their turn-taking increased as they completed more trials.The data showed that although some of the younger pairs eventually developed a turn-taking strategy, it took them awhile to do so – some of the 3.5 year-olds never resolved their conflict of interest.“Although young children are encouraged to take turns across many different situations, including in interactions with adults and when sharing resources with other children, our findings show that it was only from age 5 when the children were able to spontaneously take turns to solve a conflict of interests,” Melis explains.The chimpanzee pairs had a success rate similar to that of the younger children, accessing a reward about 64% of the time. All of the chimpanzee pairs were able to cooperate for at least several trials in a row, but none of the pairs adopted a consistent turn-taking strategy.These findings suggest that foregoing an immediate benefit to accommodate the desires of another individual is a cooperative strategy that may develop over time in humans but not in chimpanzees.“The fact that these skills in humans do not develop until age 5 suggests that turn taking requires sophisticated cognitive skills that may be lacking in chimpanzees,” the researchers write in conclusion.According to Melis, future work investigating the specific cognitive components underlying turn-taking can tease apart the relative importance of skills like the ability to think ahead and imagine future interactions, the ability to plan, and the ability to reason about fairness and mutual gain.center_img Share on Twitter Share Emaillast_img read more