Open applications for the CIHT conference dedicated to health tourism

first_imgIn the Hotel “Omorika” in Crikvenica will November 17 and 18, 2016 maintain Crikvenica International Health Tourism Conference, the fourth conference dedicated to health tourism.Crikvenica Tourist Board, in cooperation with Thalassotherapy Crikvenica, organized a gathering dedicated to health tourism for the first time in 2013, on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of tourism in Crikvenica. In 2015, the forum gained additional value: in addition to the Crikvenica Tourist Board and Thalassotherapy, the Kvarner Health Tourism Cluster joined as a co-organizer, and the gathering became international and for the first time a business workshop was organized within it.In 2016, several more innovations are introduced: in order to achieve recognition, the gathering gets a permanent name – Crikvenica International Health Tourism Conference, for the first time will be two days and gets its website (ciht.com.hr) and Facebook page (CIHT Conference Crikvenica Croatia).In addition to the lectures that will be held on the first day of the conference, a B2B workshop will be organized, where domestic and foreign participants will be able to establish business contacts, exchange experiences and agree on concrete cooperation. In addition to the B2B workshop, a tour of health institutions in Kvarner is planned for the second day. The conference contributes to the application of current theoretical knowledge, knowledge and trends in practice and emphasizes the strategic importance and importance of health tourism development in Croatia, which, primarily thanks to very favorable climatic conditions and preserved natural healing factors and many reputable health institutions, nurtures a long tradition.Last year’s conference had international status for the first time, and apart from Croatia, this year’s speakers come from the USA, Germany, Poland, Great Britain and other countries.Applications for CIHT 2016 have started, via the new website: http://ciht.com.hr/registration-form/, where all news related to the conference can be followed regularly.last_img read more

Study examines concussion-like symptom reporting in uninjured athletes

first_imgPinterest Uninjured athletes reported concussion-like symptoms in a new study that suggests symptom reporting in the absence of recent concussion is related to male or female sex and preexisting conditions, which can include prior treatment for a psychiatric condition or substance abuse, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics.Every state in the U.S. has passed legislation pertaining to sport-related concussion. In general, the laws mandate that injured student athletes be evaluated by a qualified health care professional before they can return to participating in sports. Decisions about returning to activity are based on symptom reporting.Grant L. Iverson, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School, Boston, and coauthors sought to clarify factors associated with concussion-like symptoms in uninjured adolescents using data from more than 30,000 student athletes. It is important for clinicians to understand factors that may be associated with baseline symptom reporting so they can properly make decisions about when athletes may return to activity. Share on Facebook Share LinkedIncenter_img Share on Twitter Email The authors found symptom reporting was more common in girls than boys and that in the absence of a recent concussion, 19 percent of boys and 28 percent of girls reported a group of symptoms similar to postconcussional syndrome.Preexisting psychiatric, developmental (e.g., attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD] and learning disability) and neurological factors (e.g., migraines) were associated with higher rates of reporting symptoms that resemble postconcussional syndrome at baseline.Prior treatment of a prior psychiatric condition was the strongest indicator for symptom reporting in boys, followed by a history of migraines. For girls, the indicators were prior treatment of a psychiatric condition or substance abuse and ADHD.While prior concussions were modestly associated with increased risk for reporting clusters of symptoms, they were less so than preexisting developmental and psychiatric factors.“When managing a student athlete with a concussion, it has been widely noted that the athlete should be ‘asymptomatic’ at rest and with exercise before returning to sports, and sometimes athletes are kept out of school for prolonged periods while they wait for symptoms to resolve, which could have negative consequences for their academic, social and emotional functioning and contribute to symptom reporting. These results reinforce that ‘asymptomatic’ status after concussion can be difficult to define,” the study concludes.last_img read more

Cognitive behavior therapy can help overcome fear of the dentist

first_imgEmail Share on Twitter Pinterest The latest study, published in the British Dental Journal, looked at the characteristics of 130 patients (99 women and 31 men) attending a psychologist-led CBT service and the outcomes of their treatment. Patients attending a clinic run by the King’s College London Dental Institute Health Psychology Service at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust were surveyed for their levels of dental anxiety, general anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, alcohol use and oral health-related quality of life.Three-quarters of those assessed scored 19 or higher on the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale (MDAS), indicating dental phobia. The remainder all scored high on one or more items of the MDAS, suggesting a specific fear of some aspect of dentistry. Fear of dental injections and the dental drill were the most common high scoring items on the MDAS. Nearly all patients (94%) reported a knock-on effect from problems with their teeth, mouth or gums on their daily living and quality of life.A proportion of the patients surveyed were found to have other psychological conditions – 37% had high levels of general anxiety and 12% had clinically significant levels of depression. Suicidal thoughts were reported by 12% of patients and four (3%) reported a recent intent to commit suicide. Individuals were referred to support services via the care of their GP and for suicide risk, immediate action was taken based on local service guidelines.Of all patients referred, four-fifths (79%) went on to have dental treatment without the need for sedation and 6% had their dental treatment under sedation. The average number of CBT appointments required before a patient received dental treatment without sedation was five.Professor Tim Newton from the Dental Institute at King’s College London and lead author of the study said: “People with dental phobia are most commonly given sedation to allow them to become relaxed enough for a short period of time to have their dental treatment performed. However this does not help them to overcome their fear in the long term. The primary goal of our CBT service is to enable patients to receive dental treatment without the need for sedation, by working with each individual patient to set goals according to their priorities. Our study shows that after on average five CBT sessions, most people can go on to be treated by the dentist without the need to be sedated.”“However, there is a need for people with dental phobia to be carefully assessed by trained CBT practitioners working with dental health professionals. Some of the patients referred to us were found to be experiencing additional psychological difficulties, and needed further referral and management. CBT provides a way of reducing the need for sedation in people with a phobia, but there will still be those who need sedation because they require urgent dental treatment or they are having particularly invasive treatments. Our service should be viewed as complementing sedation services rather than as an alternative, the two together providing a comprehensive care pathway for the ultimate benefit of patients.”A recent study published in the same journal, co-authored by Professor Tim Newton, showed that more women than men reported dental phobia in the 2009 Adult Dental Health Survey. Those with dental phobia were more likely to come from a lower income background, have more caries in their teeth and suffer from poorer oral health overall. Share on Facebookcenter_img LinkedIn Cognitive behavioural therapy could help many people with a dental phobia overcome their fear of visiting the dentist and enable them to receive dental treatment without the need to be sedated, according to a new study by King’s College London.Anxiety about visiting the dentist is common and becomes a phobia when it has a marked impact on someone’s well-being; people with dental phobias typically avoid going to the dentist and end up experiencing more dental pain, poorer oral health and a detrimental effect on their quality of life. Estimates from the most recent Adult Dental Health Survey in the UK suggest around one in ten people suffers from dental phobia.Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a short-term therapy, typically lasting 6-10 sessions. CBT has been shown to help with a range of psychological problems, most notably for depression and anxiety-related disorders. Both cognitive and behavioural interventions have been shown to be successful in reducing dental anxiety and increasing dental attendance. Sharelast_img read more

‘5-D protein fingerprinting’ could give insights into Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

first_imgPinterest Share on Twitter But the processes of how amyloids form and clump together are not well understood. This is due in part to the fact that there’s currently not a good way to study them. Researchers say current methods are expensive, time-consuming and difficult to interpret, and can only provide a broad picture of the overall level of amyloids in a patient’s system.The University of Michigan and University of Fribourg researchers who developed the new technique believe that it could help solve the problem by measuring an individual molecule’s shape, volume, electrical charge, rotation speed and propensity for binding to other molecules.They call this information a “5-D fingerprint” and believe that it could uncover new information that may one day help doctors track the status of patients with neurodegenerative diseases and possibly even develop new treatments. Their work is detailed in a paper published in Nature Nanotechnology.“Imagine the challenge of identifying a specific person based only on their height and weight,” said David Sept, a U-M biomedical engineering professor who worked on the project. “That’s essentially the challenge we face with current techniques. Imagine how much easier it would be with additional descriptors like gender, hair color and clothing. That’s the kind of new information 5-D fingerprinting provides, making it much easier to identify specific proteins.”Michael Mayer, the lead author on the study and a former U-M researcher who’s now a biophysics professor at Switzerland’s Adolphe Merkle Institute, says identifying individual proteins could help doctors keep better tabs on the status of a patient’s disease, and it could also help researchers gain a better understanding of exactly how amyloid proteins are involved with neurodegenerative disease.To take the detailed measurements, the research team uses a nanopore 10-30 nanometers wide–so small that only one protein molecule can fit through at a time. The researchers filled the nanopore with a salt solution and passed an electric current through the solution.As a protein molecule tumbles through the nanopore, its movement causes tiny, measurable fluctuations in the electric current. By carefully measuring this current, the researchers can determine the protein’s unique five-dimensional signature and identify it nearly instantaneously.“Amyloid molecules not only vary widely in size, but they tend to clump together into masses that are even more difficult to study,” Mayer said. “Because it can analyze each particle one by one, this new method gives us a much better window to how amyloids behave inside the body.”Ultimately, the team aims to develop a device that doctors and researchers could use to quickly measure proteins in a sample of blood or other body fluid. This goal is likely several years off; in the meantime, they are working to improve the technique’s accuracy, honing it in order to get a better approximation of each protein’s shape. They believe that in the future, the technology could also be useful for measuring proteins associated with heart disease and in a variety of other applications as well.“I think the possibilities are pretty vast,” Sept said. “Antibodies, larger hormones, perhaps pathogens could all be detected. Synthetic nanoparticles could also be easily characterized to see how uniform they are.” In research that could one day lead to advances against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, University of Michigan engineering researchers have demonstrated a technique for precisely measuring the properties of individual protein molecules floating in a liquid.Proteins are essential to the function of every cell. Measuring their properties in blood and other body fluids could unlock valuable information, as the molecules are a vital building block in the body. The body manufactures them in a variety of complex shapes that can transmit messages between cells, carry oxygen and perform other important functions.Sometimes, however, proteins don’t form properly. Scientists believe that some types of these misshapen proteins, called amyloids, can clump together into masses in the brain. The sticky tangles block normal cell function, leading to brain cell degeneration and disease. Sharecenter_img Email LinkedIn Share on Facebooklast_img read more

Star-shaped astrocyte cells around neurons prove to be surprisingly important players in body’s clock

first_imgShare on Facebook Pinterest Share LinkedIn Until recently, work on biological clocks that dictate daily fluctuations in most body functions, including core body temperature and alertness, focused on neurons, those electrically excitable cells that are the divas of the central nervous system.Asked to define the body’s master clock, biologists would say it is two small spheres — the suprachiasmatic nuclei, or SCN — in the brain that consist of 20,000 neurons. They likely wouldn’t even mention the 6,000 astroglia mixed in with the neurons, said Erik Herzog, a neuroscientist in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. In a March 23 advance online publication from Current Biology, Herzog and his collaborators show that the astroglia help to set the pace of the SCN to schedule a mouse’s day.The astroglia, or astrocytes, were passed over in silence partly because they weren’t considered to be important. Often called “support cells,” they were supposed to be gap fillers or place holders. Their Latin name, after all, means “starry glue.”center_img Email Then two things happened. Scientists discovered that almost all the cells in the body keep time, with a few exceptions such as stem cells. And they also began to realize that the astrocytes do a lot more than they had thought. Among other things, they secrete and slurp neurotransmitters and help neurons form strengthened synapses to consolidate what we’ve learned. In fact, scientists began to speak of the tripartite synapse, emphasizing the role of an astrocyte in the communication between two neurons.So for a neuroscientist like Herzog, the obvious question was: What were the astrocytes doing in the SCN? Were they keeping time? And if they were keeping time, how did the astrocyte clocks interact with the neuron clocks?Herzog answered the first question in 2005 — yes, astrocytes have daily clocks — but then the research got stuck. To figure out what the astrocytes were doing in living networks of cells and in living animals, the scientists had to be able to manipulate them independently of the neurons with which they are entwined. The tools to do this simply didn’t exist.Now, Herzog’s graduate student Matt Tso, the first author on the paper, has solved the problem. The tools he devised allow astrocytes in the SCN to be independently controlled. Using his toolkit, the lab ran two experiments, altering the astrocyte clocks and monitoring the highly ritualized, daily behavior of wheel-running in mice.The scientists were surprised by the results, to be published in the April 7 print issue of Current Biology. In both experiments, tweaks to the astrocyte clocks reliably slowed the mouse’s sense of time. “We had no idea they would be that influential,” Tso said.The scientists are already planning follow-up experiments.Figuring out how and where these clocks function in the brain and body is important because their influence is ubiquitous. For his part, Herzog is already looking at the connections between circadian rhythm and brain cancer, pre-term birth, manic depression and other diseases.Astrocytes clock inA biological clock is a series of interlocking reactions that act somewhat like a biochemical hourglass. An accumulating protein eventually shuts down its own production, much as the sand eventually drains from the top half of the hourglass. But then –through the magic of feedback loops — the biochemical hourglass, in effect, turns itself over and starts again.At first, scientists were aware only of the clock in the SCN. If it is destroyed in an animal such as a rat, the rat will sleep for the same amount of time but in fits and starts instead of for long periods.But then the genes that make up the biological clock began to be found in many different kinds of cells: lung, heart, liver, and sperm. Hair cells, by the way, prefer to grow in the evening.So Herzog began to wonder about astrocytes in the SCN. Were they, too, keeping time?To find out, he coupled a bioluminescent protein to a clock gene and then isolated astrocytes in a glass dish. He found that the astrocytes brightened and dimmed rhythmically, proof that they were keeping time.The obvious next step was to look at the astrocytes not only in a glass dish but also in SCN slices and in living animals. But that turned out to be easier said than done. “We burned through two postdocs trying to get these experiments to work,” Herzog said.So it is a technical triumph that Tso was able to make the astrocytes light up when they were expressing clock genes and to add or delete clock genes in the astrocytes while leaving the neurons intact, Herzog said.As a first step, collaborator Michihiro Mieda from Kanazawa University created a “conditional reporter” that switched on a firefly luciferase whenever a clock gene was being expressed in a cell of interest. Tso delivered the tiny switch to the astrocytes inside a virus.In slices of a mouse SCN with this reporter in place, the scientists could see that the star-shaped cells were expressing the clock gene in a rhythmic pattern. This proved that astrocytes keep time in living tissue where they are interacting with one another and with neurons, as well as when they are isolated in a dish.Next, the scientists used the new gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 to delete a clock gene in only the astrocytes of the SCN of living mice. They then monitored the mice for changes in the time they started running on a wheel each day.Running is an easily measured behavior that provides a reliable indication of the state of the underlying body clock. A mouse in constant darkness will start running on a wheel approximately every 23.7 hours, typically deviating by less than 10 minutes from this schedule.“When we deleted the gene in the astrocytes, we had good reason to predict the rhythm would remain unchanged,” Tso said. “When people deleted this clock gene in neurons, the animals completely lost rhythm, which suggests that the neurons are necessary to sustain a daily rhythm.”Instead, when astrocyte clock was deleted, the SCN clock ran slower. The mice climbed into their wheels one hour later than usual every day.“This was quite a surprise,” Tso said.The results of the next experiment were even more exciting for them. The scientists began with a mouse that has a mutation making its clocks run fast and then “rescued” this mutation in astrocytes but not in neurons. This meant that the astrocyte clocks were running at the normal pace but the neuron clocks were still fast.“We expected the SCN to follow the neurons’ pace. There are 10 times more neurons in the SCN than astrocytes. Why would the behavior follow the astrocytes’? ” Tso said.But that is exactly what they did. The mice with the restored astrocyte clocks climbed into their wheels two hours later than mice whose astrocytes and neurons were both fast-paced.The scientists don’t know why the astrocytes are so important or how they are communicating with neurons. But their research adds to a body of work suggesting that astrocytes, far from being place holders or gap fillers, may actually be running the show. It wouldn’t be the first time the power was behind rather than on the throne. Share on Twitterlast_img read more

Neuroimaging study finds social conservatives have heightened brain reaction to a wide variety of stimuli

first_imgLinkedIn Share Share on Facebook Pinterest New neuroimaging research has uncovered a difference in how the brains of socially conservative and socially liberal individuals in Canada respond to images. The study, which was published in the scientific journal Emotion, provides evidence that our emotional predispositions influence our political orientation.“One of the fundamental assumptions of a well-functioning democracy is that the best ideas will be adopted through rational discourse and through the deliberate consideration of ideas. Yet, research over the last 60 plus years has consistently shown that political belief is colored by emotion,” explained the study’s corresponding author, Shona M. Tritt of the University of Toronto.“I became interested in studying the emotional underpinnings of political ideologies because I wanted to better understand the nonconscious factors that sway our – seemingly rational – beliefs. Understanding the psychological factors that bias information processing in the political sphere is an objective that is more critical now than ever before as partisan selective exposure and polarization is on the rise.”center_img Share on Twitter The study of 42 Canadian college students found that socially conservative individuals demonstrated heightened brain reactivity to photographs.In the study, the researchers used an EEG to record the electrical brain activity of participants while they were shown 150 pleasant, unpleasant or neutral photographs. The pictures were also categorized as either high or low arousal. (For example, an erotic scene was a high arousal pleasant picture while a disfigured person was a high arousal unpleasant picture. Low arousal pleasant pictures included things like smiling faces, while low arousal unpleasant pictures included things like garbage or sad people.)Findings from previous research had suggested that conservatives are sensitive to negativity. But the new study found no evidence of a negativity bias.More socially conservative students tended to display greater brain reactivity to all of the photographs, compared to more liberal students. The finding suggests that social conservatives have a heightened reaction to a wide variety of stimuli in their environment.“Political beliefs are not developed in a cold-cognitive manner by weighing pros and cons. Rather, our emotional predispositions may lead us to prefer one type of political ideology over another, which biases our perception of political arguments,” Tritt told PsyPost.Tritt and her colleagues wrote in their study that “[heightened]  arousal may lead individuals to feel out of control, which might enhance the appeal of conservative political orientation in an attempt to regulate the social environment so as to diminish the potential for further arousal.”But this line of study is still in its early stages. More research is needed to understand how the emotional reactions of liberals and conservatives influence their worldviews.“The notion that conservatives have a low threshold of reactivity is likely simplistic,” the researchers said in their study. “For instance, some populations of conservatives in America would seem to exhibit a preference for many arousing stimuli (e.g., firearms, pickup trucks, whiskey, the death penalty), whereas some populations of liberals prefer seemingly less arousing stimuli (e.g., tea, tai chi, Wes Anderson movies).”In other words, it is unclear whether the greater brain reactivity found in social conservatives would also be found in other types of conservative individuals, such as fiscally conservative libertarians.“As the world becomes increasingly polarized, more research is needed to determine how to help individuals to better understand – and to communicate with – individuals who hold differing political viewpoints. Conceivably, better recognition of the emotional underpinnings of political belief might help us to find better ways of understanding each other,” Tritt told PsyPost.The study, “Ideological reactivity: Political conservatism and brain responsivity to emotional and neutral stimuli“, was also co-authored by Jordan B. Peterson, Elizabeth Page-Gould, and Michael Inzlicht. Emaillast_img read more

Study finds parenting behaviors linked to suicide among adolescents

first_imgShare How often do you tell your kids they did a good job? Do you say you are proud of them? Do you help with homework? Are you emotionally engaged with your kids?A fresh look at a federally sponsored 2012 national study shows a significant link between parent’s behaviors and thoughts of suicide among adolescents, according to a presentation given by two University of Cincinnati professors at the 2017 American Public Health Association conference.UC professors Keith King and Rebecca Vidourek performed a follow-up data analysis of results from the “2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health,” which provides national- and state-level data on the use of tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs — including nonmedical use of prescription drugs — and mental health in the United States. Email LinkedIn Share on Twittercenter_img Pinterest Their findings showed that children between the ages of 12 and 17 are significantly more likely to contemplate, plan and attempt suicide when their parents do not engage in certain behaviors that demonstrate to their children that they care about them. “Kids need to know that someone’s got their back, and unfortunately, many of them do not. That’s a major problem,” King said.Startlingly, the findings showed that the age group most significantly impacted by parenting behaviors was 12- and 13-year-old children. Children in that age group with parents who never or rarely told them they were proud of them were nearly five times more likely to have suicidal thoughts, nearly seven times more likely to formulate a suicide plan and about seven times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. Similarly, 12- and 13 year olds with parents who rarely or never told them they did a good job or helped them with their homework were at excessively high risk for suicide.“Parents ask us all the time, ‘What can we do?’” said King, who coordinates UC’s health promotion and education doctoral program and serves as Director of the Center for Prevention Science. “You can tell them you’re proud of them, that they did a good job, get involved with them, and help them with their homework.”“A key is to ensure that children feel positively connected to their parents and family,” added Vidourek, who serves as Co-Director of the Center for Prevention ScienceThe risk of suicidal behaviors among high school-aged teens, though lower than among 12- and 13-year-olds, is still significantly higher when their parents aren’t emotionally involved. For example, 16- and 17-year-olds whose parents rarely or never told the children they are proud of them are about three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and almost four times more likely to make a suicide plan and attempt suicide than peers whose parents sometimes or often did.That may seem promising when compared to the youngest age group, but the decrease in the odds of suicidal behavior among children ages 14 and above may partially stem from teens finding other coping mechanisms to deal with their lack of parental engagement, such as involvement in drug use and high-risk sexualy behaviors, King said. “It follows through consistently, regardless of gender, regardless of race — it’s all across the board,” he said. Share on Facebooklast_img read more

Action video games expand the brain’s cognitive abilities

first_imgShare on Twitter Share The human brain is malleable – it learns and adapts. Numerous research studies have focused on the impact of action video games on the brain by measuring cognitive abilities, such as perception, attention and reaction time. An international team of psychologists, led by the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, has assembled data from the last fifteen years to quantify how action video games impact cognition.The research has resulted in two meta-analyses, published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, which reveal a significant improvement in the cognitive abilities of gamers.Psychologists have been studying the impact of video games on the brain ever since the late 80s, when Pacman and arcade games first took roots. The present study focuses on one specific video game genre, action video (war or shooter) games that have long been considered as mind-numbing. Do they influence the cognitive skills of players? “We decided to assemble all the relevant data from 2000 to 2015 in an attempt to answer this question, as it was the only way to have a proper overview of the real impact of action video games”, explains Daphné Bavelier, professor in the Psychology Section at UNIGE’s Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (FPSE). Psychologists from UNIGE and the universities of Columbia, Santa Barbara and Wisconsin dissected the published literature (articles, theses and conference abstracts) over the course of a year. In addition, they contacted over sixty professors, asking them for any unpublished data that might throw light on the role of action video games. Two meta-analyses emerged from the research.Profile of action gamersA total of 8,970 individuals between the ages of 6 and 40, including action gamers and non-gamers, took a number of psychometric tests in studies conducted by laboratories across the world with the aim of evaluating their cognitive abilities. The assessments included spatial attention (e.g. quickly detecting a dog in a herd of animals) as well as assessing their skills at managing multiple tasks simultaneously and changing their plans according to pre-determined rules. It was found that the cognition of gamers was better by one-half of a standard deviation compared to non-gamers.However, this first meta-analysis failed to answer a crucial question. “We needed to think about what the typical gamer profile is,” points out Benoit Bediou, researcher in the FPSE Psychology Section. “Do they play action-type video games because they already have certain cognitive skills that make them good players; Or, on the contrary, are their high cognitive abilities actually developed by playing games?”Training your brain by playing action video gamesThe psychologists proceeded to analyze intervention studies as part of the second meta-analysis. 2,883 people (men and women) who played for a maximum of one hour a week were first tested for their cognitive abilities and then randomly divided into two groups: one played action games (war or shooter games), the other played control games (SIMS, Puzzle, Tetris). Both groups played for at least 8 hours over a week and up to 50 hours over 12 weeks. At the end of the training, participants underwent cognitive testing to measure any changes in their cognitive abilities. “The aim was to find out whether the effects of action gaming on the brain are causal,” continues Bavelier, adding: “That’s why these intervention studies always compare and contrast a group that is obliged to play an action game with one obliged to play a video control game, where the mechanics are very different. This active control group ensures that the effects resulting from playing action games really do result from the nature of this kind of game. In other words, they are not due to being part of a group that is asked to undertake an engrossing task or that is the centre of scientific attention (placebo effect).”The results were beyond dispute: individuals playing action videos increased their cognition more than those playing the control games with the difference in cognitive abilities between these two training groups being of one-third of a standard deviation. “The research, which was carried out over several years all over the world, proves the real effects of action video games on the brain and paves the way for using action video games to expand cognitive abilities,” argues Bediou.Despite the good news for avid gamers, it is worth highlighting that these beneficial effects were observed in studies that asked individuals to space their game play out over a period of many weeks to months rather than to engage in a large amount of gaming in a single sitting. As is true in any learning activity, short bouts of repeated practice is much preferred over binging!The two meta-analyses, which covered fifteen years of research, underline the importance of sharing data between different laboratories in order to validate results on an international level without suffering from biases specific to each experiment and working group. Moreover, these meta-analyses help to further improve our understanding of the brain’s plasticity and potentially create games specifically designed to develop attention or spatial cognition. Emailcenter_img LinkedIn Share on Facebook Pinterestlast_img read more

Horror fandom linked to reduced psychological distress amid the COVID-19 pandemic

first_imgA new study has found that people who enjoy horror movies tend to report lower levels of psychological distress in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. The findings, published in Personality and Individual Differences, indicate that the type of fiction a person enjoys is related to how they cope with the pandemic.The authors of the study were interested in learning more about why people intentionally expose themselves to fictional violence and frightening situations. The outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 provided them with a chance to examine the psychological dispositions of people who are fond of such things.“My main research topic is the psychology of morbid curiosity, so it’s in-line with much of my other research,” explained study author Coltan Scrivner (@MorbidPsych), a fellow at the Institute for Mind and Biology and a PhD candidate at The University of Chicago. “Back in March, Penny Sarchet, a science journalist at New Scientist, asked if horror fans were faring better during the pandemic. My colleagues and I thought this was a great question, and we had considered the idea that horror fans might be able to cope with anxiety or fear better in real life before. So, we decided to investigate it.”In April of 2020, shortly after the outbreak of the novel coronavirus was declared a global pandemic, the researchers surveyed 322 U.S. participants using the online survey platform Prolific. The survey included an assessment of the psychological response to the pandemic. It also included assessments of genre preferences and morbid curiosity, among other factors.The researchers found that fans of horror movies and TV shows — as well as fans of prepper genres such as zombie movies — reported less psychological distress amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Fans of these genres were less likely to agree with statements such as “During the pandemic, I have been more depressed than usual” and “I haven’t been sleeping well since the pandemic started” compared to those who were not fans. Fans of prepper genres also reported being more prepared for the pandemic.But horror and prepper fandom were both unrelated to positive psychological resilience amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, horror and prepper fans were no more or less likely than non-fans to agree with statements such as “I feel positive about the future” and “Life has felt meaningful during the pandemic.”Those who were morbidly curious, on the other hand, reported greater positive resilience during the pandemic. But there was no relationship between morbid curiosity and psychological distress.“In this study, we show that people who engaged more frequently with frightening fictional phenomena, such as horror fans and the morbidly curious, displayed more robust psychological resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, watching films that deal with the social upheaval that might occur during a pandemic was associated with greater reported preparedness for the COVID-19 pandemic,” the researchers explained.The findings highlight “that feeling anxious or afraid isn’t always bad,” Scrivner told PsyPost.But the study does “not say anything about the mechanism behind the finding that horror fans are showing more psychological resilience during the pandemic. We speculate in the paper that this may be due to horror fans having ‘practiced’ those emotion regulation skills more due to exposing themselves to frightening fiction,” Scrivner added.“I currently have a follow-up study planned to explore possible mechanisms by which horror fans are coping better. We also have a cross-cultural study that we recently launched looking at whether or not horror fans are following COVID-19 guidelines better (or worse) than non-horror fans. For example, are they practicing social distancing and wearing masks more often than non-horror fans?”The study, “Pandemic practice: Horror fans and morbidly curious individuals are more psychologically resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic“, was authored by Coltan Scrivner, John A. Johnson, Jens Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, and Mathias Clasen.(Image by Republica from Pixabay) Share on Facebook Share on Twitter LinkedIncenter_img Email Pinterest Sharelast_img read more

NEWS SCAN: Botulism cases, Tdap vaccine for seniors, BC mumps outbreak, animal welfare & eggs

first_imgJul 8, 2011Improperly stored soup leads to 2 botulism casesAs a reminder of the dangers of botulism, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) detailed in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) two cases of botulism poisoning this year resulting from eating improperly stored potato soup. On Jan 28 a 29-year-old Ohio man was hospitalized after 5 days of progressive dizziness, blurred vision, and difficulty swallowing and breathing. He had bought refrigerated soup but had stored it unrefrigerated for 42 days before tasting some from the then-bulging container on Jan 18, noting a bad taste, and discarding the remainder. He required 57 days’ hospitalization before being transferred with residual weakness to a rehabilitation facility. On Apr 8 a 41-year-old Georgia woman was hospitalized after 4 days of progressive dizziness and difficulty swallowing. In the hospital she developed respiratory distress, required mechanical ventilation, and was treated with botulism antitoxin. Five days before hospitalization she too had tasted soup that she bought refrigerated but left unrefrigerated for 18 days. The report concludes, “If a low-acid food such as potato soup is stored unrefrigerated in an anaerobic environment (eg, a sealed container), without a barrier to bacterial growth, spores can germinate, resulting in bacterial growth and botulinum toxin production. Because heating food to a temperature of 185°F (85°C) for 5 minutes inactivates the toxin, proper preparation also is an important safeguard.”Jul 8 MMWR reportFDA approves Tdap vaccine for those over 65The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today approved GlaxoSmithKline’s tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine, Boostrix, in people 65 and older, the agency said in a press release. “Currently,” the FDA said, “there are vaccines approved for the prevention of tetanus and diphtheria that can be used in adults 65 and older. Boostrix, which is given as a single-dose booster shot, is the first vaccine approved to prevent all three diseases in older people.” Boostrix was approved for adults 19 to 64 in 2008. The safety and effectiveness of Boostrix was based on a study of about 1,300 people ages 65 and older. Boostrix was originally approved in 2005 for use in children and adolescents 10 to 18 years old.Jul 8 FDA press releaseMumps outbreak spreads from Whistler ski areaHealth officials from the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA) reported yesterday that they are investigating a mumps outbreak that started in the Whistler ski resort area and has since spread to other cities, including Vancouver. In a report posted on ProMed-mail, the Internet-based reporting system of the International Society for Infectious Diseases, they said 90 mumps cases, mainly in young adults, have been reported since February. Transmission among the initial cases appeared to spread through the sharing of marijuana joints, cigarettes, drinks, and utensils. Many of the cases in Whistler are employees of the ski report or surrounding establishments. Though several of the more recent cases don’t have links to Whistler, some are clustered along the same household or social network. The authors said Whistler has a seasonal workforce and includes people from many different countries. They added that most of the infected patients had not received two doses of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Young people born between 1970 and 1995 in the area may be vulnerable to the disease, because a second dose at age 18 months was not recommended until 1996. The health department has launched an extensive vaccine campaign that also targeted a large ski and music event in Whistler. Communication and immunization activities will also target area colleges in the fall.Jul 7 ProMed postHumane Society, egg industry reach animal welfare agreementThe Humane Society of the United States and United Egg Producers today unveiled an agreement to push for federal mandates on animal welfare standards for egg farms, Food Safety News reported. The two groups have frequently clashed over animal welfare issues. The proposed new standards, which would be the first addressing the treatment of animals on farms, would phase out battery cages in favor of housing systems that include nesting boxes and scratching areas. Eggs that don’t meet the new standards wouldn’t be cleared for sale in the United States. The egg industry has pledged $4 million toward overhauling industry practices over the next 15 years, according to the Food Safety News report. The pork industry criticized the agreement, because it reduces producers’ ability to decide what’s best for the animals and respond to market demands. Scientific studies comparing the safety of conventionally produced eggs versus those produced with cage-free methods have been limited and have yielded contradictory findings.Jul 8 Food Safety News storylast_img read more