Family accommodation – an ace up the sleeve of Croatian tourism

first_img“Croatia is expecting another record season!”, “German tourists are arriving in even greater numbers!”, “Scandinavians have rediscovered Croatia!”, “Korean tourists have flooded Dubrovnik and Split!”. These are all these days and more than the usual headlines of articles on Internet portals and front pages of print newspapers…There is no doubt – Croatia is a tourist hit and there are no indications that this could change so quickly. Unique geographically solid road infrastructure and still mostly untouched nature (at least something useful from our sluggish bureaucracy) – all this has positioned Croatia at the very top of the world tourist map where it seriously competes with tourist megapowers like Spain, Italy and France. Croatia these days seems to be doing well, some will go so far as to claim that the favorable wind in our backs is given by geopolitical turmoil and security threats that have turned many until recently popular Mediterranean tourist oases into risky destinations reached only by the greatest adventurers and hunters. to extreme discounts.The tourism sector is already in a hurry to prepare for the imminent start of the pre-season, and one of the biggest “players” in the Croatian tourism market is extremely scattered, but collectively it forms the backbone of the domestic tourist offer. Clearly, we are talking about private tourist accommodation. The boom of private tourist accommodation is visible at every step throughout the Adriatic. Large apartments are being converted into several smaller ones, garages and business premises are being converted into small apartments and it is almost difficult to find a piece of free space that is not in the function of a room or apartment for tourist rent. So far on the Adriatic, but increasingly on the continent.Our ancestors certainly did not plan is that their “zimmer frei” cry for the German brand at bus stops will turn into a global tourist trend that is part of an even bigger movement better known as sharing economy i.e., sharing economies. A good part of the population of Western Europe today, more than ever, replaces expensive hotel accommodation with cheaper, more affordable and in many ways better quality – private accommodation. Not to mention Americans, for them private accommodation is a real hit, something new, exciting and trendy. Cool millennials today snort at the memory of expensive hotels and hotel resorts, and their eyes are wide open to the memory of an authentic local experience in the local neighborhood where it is possible to experience a piece of everyday life of the local population more than anywhere else. Here’s even the infamous Wall Street giant, Goldman Sachs, concludes in one recent study that “whoever experiences private accommodation – finds it difficult to return to the hotel.”Photo: Kvarner.hrHere, too, Croatia is again in a great position. Today, private accommodation holds a share of almost 50 percent in the total accommodation capacity of Croatian tourism with an annual income which, according to conservative estimates, reaches a revenue of 1,4 billion. euros. Such an unusual balance of power between private and hotel accommodation is really hard to find in any other Mediterranean country we like to compare ourselves to. But this rarity is actually a good thing, the mentality and historical – economic circumstances fascinated by owning their own property ensures that many today maintain a standard of living, and individuals have turned renting accommodation into, by all criteria, a serious business.And what does the future hold for private accommodation? Numerous challenges, but also opportunities for even greater utilization of existing tourist capacities with maximum engagement in the extension of the tourist season, which outside large tourist destinations is difficult to go beyond 60-90 daily limits.Compared to a few years ago, the Croatian private tourist accommodation sector has made a huge step forward in terms of offer and quality of accommodation itself, so that the average apartment in a Croatian coastal city today can rightfully compete with popular world destinations. You don’t believe it? Keyboard in hand and Google… In addition, despite the occasional failures (with a lot of hype, the concept of “scattered hotels” proved to be such) in the strategy, Croatian renters are well connected, professionally represented and their interest is well represented through numerous national and local institutions and associations.The rapid development and opening of new tourist accommodation at every step is largely due to services such as Booking.com and Airbnb, which on the wings of the aforementioned sharing economy are growing at an unprecedented rate and causing new tourist trends today and tomorrow. On the other hand – the mentioned services have completely monopolized the market, at least when it comes to accommodation for individual tourists. The global hotel industry has been struggling for a long time with complete dependence on booking portals and large Internet agencies, and similar problems will soon become more present in the segment of private accommodation, which will have to find a way to regain control over part of revenue and its own business through individual branding and creating your own direct marketing and sales channels.Undoubtedly, private accommodation remains the flagship of the domestic tourist offer until further notice, and judging by the ratings that tourists leave on the Internet – Croatian renters are doing a damn good job Published by: Jasmin Hadžić is a co-founder of the company VIDIMedia and tourist service VIDIA apartments which allows renters of private accommodation to easily and affordably create websites to promote rooms, apartments or villas and receive direct reservations without the mediation of booking portals and agencies.last_img read more

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ITB Berlin, the leading tourism industry fair, opens

first_imgThe world’s leading tourism industry fair was officially opened in Berlin ITB Berlin which is celebrating its 50th jubilee, and over 200 visitors are expected at the world’s largest tourism exchange.The biggest one takes place in parallel with the stock exchange world tourism congress “Thing thank” with 20.000 participants, which will host more than 50 different professional gatherings, panels and seminars. All the latest information, trends, technology, destination management, promotion… all in one place. Definitely a major destination for the tourism sector, no matter what branch of tourism you come from. If someone wants to have a global picture of tourism, he must come to ITB Berlin, says Nedo Pinezić, president of the Family Accommodation Association at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce.Fortunately for all those who cannot be present at ITB Berlin, the organizers have provided a free internet transmission that you can follow here Photo: ITB Berlin InstargramThe main topics of the first day were the issue of security, terrorist threats and the refugee crisis, which certainly have a significant impact on tourism trends in Europe. But despite all the potential threats, the main focus of all tourist destinations at the fair is on the German market, which is growing year by year and is the largest with more than 70 million trips longer than five days.For Croatian tourism, Germany is already the standard main emitting market, while last year Croatia chose 2,12 million for vacations, which accounted for 15,8 million overnight stays. Minister of Tourism Anton Kliman from Berlin points out that the current booking for Croatia is very good and that the projections for booking by the end of June for all markets are about 5 percent higher than last year. It is especially significant that bookings from Germany are higher by over 20 percent in the same period last year. If we believe the current projections and analyzes, we can expect about 100 thousand more Germans than last year on our coast.The Minister also presented that 25 new hotels were opened last year, and that 35 percent more investments in the tourism sector are expected this year. The first three days of the fair are intended exclusively for professionals, while the last two days are open to the general public. This year’s ITB fair is being held from March 9 to 13, and it is expected to be visited by almost 200 visitors.last_img read more

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Let’s be and sell what we are – Croats. It must be our tourism product

first_imgAccording to the world’s largest tour operator, the German TUI, the number of reservations in Germany for holidays in Croatia increased in June by as much as 26,4 percent compared to the same period last year.By the way, Germany is our main emitting market, and according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), last year in the structure of foreign overnight stays, most overnight stays were traditionally made by guests from Germany (23,9%), followed by guests from Slovenia (10,1%), Austria (9%), the Czech Republic and Italy (both 7,3%), Poland (6,6%), Slovakia (3,9, 3,8%), the Netherlands (3,7%), the United Kingdom (3,4%) and Hungary (79%), for a total of 21,0%. Tourists from other countries realized XNUMX% of tourist nights.The main reason for the increase in German interest in Croatia is the instability in Turkey, Greece and Egypt, and in addition to Croatia, Spain will also benefit. So, this year German tourists will visit our Adriatic like never before, and all previous data (in the first six months there were 4,8% more arrivals and 6,8% more tourist nights) as well as booking announcements show that we will to have a record tourist season and reach the “magic number” of eight billion euros in revenue.Will we know how to take advantage of the situation and get most of the 26 percent of new Germans to buy, buy, justify the expectations to come to the Adriatic next year as well? The problem of our tourism, as well as the reason for the weak pre- and post-season, is that our tourist product is still the sun and the sea. But I would personally highlight three main problems of our tourism as well as solutions.First and foremost we need to start respecting ourselves, selling ourselves and starting to sell indigenous tourist stories. When we arrange these three elements in our heads as well as in the field, only then can we start with strategies, promotion and quality development, ie we must finally start dealing with tourism through the strategic development of tourist destinations.But let’s go in order – If we look through the prism of tourism, we definitely do not respect or appreciate our culture, history and heritage, on the contrary, we seem to be ashamed of it. Paradoxically, this is precisely our strongest asset. The motive for coming is not accommodation, but a tourist destination. A tourist destination must begin to respect its customs, culture, identity and offer just that to guests as the main tourist product. It is the meaning of tourism, to experience and get to know new cultures and ways of life. Let us respect ourselves because that is the only way others will respect us.When we understand and arrange it, we finally have to be and sell what we are – Istrians, Dalmatians, Slavonians, Međimurje, Zagorje, Ličani…. Croats. Let’s be what we are – indigenous, authentic and credible! It’s a story we have to tell and it should be our main tourism product. At the end of it all we have to pack it all up nicely and start telling our indigenous and authentic stories. Tourism consists of emotions, experiences and stories. Let’s tell stories. Every region has so many amazing indigenous stories, we just have to tell them. That is the meaning of tourism.As a metaphor, I would like to point out the Germans who will come to the Croatian coast in record numbers this year.Let’s not sell German beer to Germans, let’s sell them top-quality Croatian craft beers. If Germans love and consume beer, and we all know they love it, why do we sell them their beer? They can drink their beer every day in Germany, they want to meet, taste and experience something new and indigenous – they want to try our beer, we sell them our top craft beers. If we are at the famous Oktoberfest, do we want to try Croatian beer or German? The answer is clear – German beer. That is the meaning of tourism.As for beer, this also applies to all our other products, customs, gastronomic delicacies that we must be proud of. Tourists want to get to know us, our culture, identity, history and way of life. Let’s be Croats and sell ourselves. Let us be what we are because that is exactly what tourists want to experience, taste and see.Tourism consists of emotions, experiences and stories. Let’s tell stories.PS Finally, look at an example of how to sell figs, make figs and make a tourist product out of it. This is one of the best tourist stories and the very essence of tourism, right on the right track of everything I mentioned above. Stories like this must be our main tourist product.last_img read more

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Minister Cappelli: Everything we do must be based on quality in all segments, ie top offer

first_imgYesterday in Split, Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli held a working meeting with representatives of the tourism sector of the Republic of Croatia in order to get direct information on the current situation and activities related to the continuation of 2017 on the eve of the main part of the tourist year.The meeting was attended by numerous stakeholders from the tourism public and private sector of the Republic of Croatia, ie representatives of tourism associations, tourist agencies, airports, hoteliers, private accommodation, caterers, public institutions, chambers, county tourist boards, national parks, the Red Cross. , etc.” Croatia started 2017 with excellent tourist results – at the fairs we were declared this year’s hit destination, and in the first five months there were 2.5 million arrivals and 7.7 million overnight stays, which is an annual growth of 14 percent, with double-digit growth Croatian tourism today is an extremely positive story that is the result of cooperation and activities of all of us, or all tourism workers.All of you are responsible for the tourist success of our country and therefore I want to express my sincere and friendly thank you for every activity you undertake. It is extremely important for us to continue quality and fruitful cooperation with all of you “, the Minister pointed out and added that everything we do must be based on quality in all segments, ie top offer.After the introductory address of the Minister, a short report on the current situation in its scope of work and activities was presented by the Vice President of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce for Tourism, Trade and Finance Josip Zaher, Vice President of the Croatian Hotel Employers Association Joško Lelas, President of the Croatian Travel Agencies Association Tomislav Fain, President of Jadrolinija Alan Gorge, the head of the Croatian mountain rescue service Vinko Prizmić, director of the Croatian Institute for emergency medical Maja Grba Bujević, assistant director-general of police Krunoslav Borovec, etc.   ” Travel agencies this year recorded earlier arrival guests with a good occupancy rate until the end of the year. the tourism results that Croatia records is the result of joint effort and work ” UHPA President Tomislav Fain pointed out, adding that the biggest challenge for agencies is illegal business.” Croatia is at the top of European countries in terms of security. Security is a matter for all stakeholders in tourism and we can mostly influence it with responsible and safe behavior, ” said Assistant Director of Police Krunoslav Borovac, emphasizing that 72 foreign police officers from 17 countries, which will further contribute to the sense of security of foreign tourists in our country. ” Jadrolinija is a kind of backbone of Croatian maritime transport and tourism, which during the summer months, more precisely from June 2, when the summer sailing schedule begins, carries more than half a million passengers a week,”pointed out the President of the Management Board of Jadrolinija Alan Klanac. After short reports, the representatives of the meeting exchanged opinions and ideas on how to further improve the quality of service and offer in tourism, and contribute to the successful continuation of this tourist year.last_img read more

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What’s the optimum amount of homework to set a teenager?

first_imgEmail Share Share on Twitter Homework can help to establish a routine and to develop independent learning skills that will be useful for professional life. Conversely, it could be argued that working at home in the evenings is the beginning of an unhealthy work-life balance and that there are academic drawbacks in studying instead of sleeping.Not all children need to study the sameIt’s unclear whether the children in the Spanish study achieve more as a result of doing the “optimum” amount of homework. Children of different abilities may take different amounts of time to complete their homework. If we subscribe to the idea that there is an “optimum” time, then we are effectively saying that children who work more quickly should complete more homework than children who work more slowly, which is arguably a disincentive for the fastest – and probably the most able – children.The study also acknowledges that the nature of the homework has more influence over the outcomes than the time taken to complete it. This is an important point and is underpinned by a common sense view that an hour of inappropriate homework will be less effective than 45 minutes of appropriate homework.It is only through understanding what the goals of homework are that we can properly consider how much should be set. There has been much disagreement about this among researchers: some argue that homework is about consolidating new knowledge and improving test scores, while others argue that homework is about developing skills.The reality is that teachers set homework with different purposes, so any optimal amount of homework is unlikely to apply to all situations. In the context of mathematics, homework is often about practising a particular process – such as solving equations – whereas in other subject areas there may be a more conceptual focus, such as research into a particular aspect of history.Giving some an advantageEven if we accept that there is an optimum amount of homework, there are numerous other factors that need to be considered, including the subject area, the length of the school day, the socio-economic background of the student and the age, gender and culture of the student. With so many factors to consider, it is challenging to ensure both equity and excellence – and it is most likely impossible to generalise about an optimum amount of homework.For example, parents from middle-class families are more likely to be able to support their children with homework or to hire a tutor. This means those children from disadvantaged backgrounds become further disadvantaged as they are likely to have less academic support at home.The cultural variations between children are also significant, not only from the family perspective, but from the expectations of society. For example, children in China and the UK have very different expectations and experiences in terms of the volume of homework set. It has also long been argued that girls outperform boys in coursework, which is not dissimilar to homework.So it is difficult to generalise that all 13-year-olds should be set no more than one hour of homework a day. Every child has a unique set of individual needs that may vary over time. There has been much discussion in recent years about personalised learning in the classroom, but less so about the benefits of personalised learning through homework. One hour a day may well be the optimum amount of homework for some children in some circumstances, but let us not forget that every child has different needs.By Adam Boddison, University of WarwickThis article was originally published on The Conversation.Read the original article. Share on Facebookcenter_img Pinterest LinkedIn Coaxing teenagers to sit down and do their homework is never an easy task. But is it actually worth their while to slave away for hours on end every evening? Not according to a new study of Spanish secondary school students which has concluded that the optimum amount of homework for children is around one hour a day.Researchers at the University of Oviedo studied the maths and science homework and test results of 7,451 adolescents with an average age of around 13. They found a relationship between the amount of homework completed and children’s attainment. But the authors acknowledge they can’t say definitively that one hour of homework a night in total actually causes better test results.Previous research in this area is both inconsistent and inconclusive. Some has shown the positive effects of homework and some its negative effects. In 2012, The Guardian reported on Department of Education research showing that two to three hours per day produced greater effects on achieving the highest results. In 2014, research at Stanford University found that too much homework can have a negative impact on children.last_img read more

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At peak fertility, women who desire to maintain body attractiveness report they eat less

first_imgEmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Pinterest LinkedIncenter_img Biology isn’t the only reason women eat less as they near ovulation, a time when they are at their peak fertility.Three new independent studies found that another part of the equation is a woman’s desire to maintain her body’s attractiveness, says social psychologist and assistant professor Andrea L. Meltzer, Southern Methodist University, Dallas.Women nearing ovulation who also reported an increase in their motivation to manage their body attractiveness reported eating fewer calories out of a desire to lose weight, said Meltzer, lead researcher on the study. Share When women were not near peak fertility — regardless of whether they were motivated to manage their body attractiveness, near peak fertility but not motivated to manage their body attractiveness, or using hormonal birth control, they were less likely to want to lose weight and didn’t reduce their calories, Meltzer said.“These findings may help reconcile prior inconsistencies regarding the implications of ovulatory processes,” said Meltzer. “The desire to manage body attractiveness was a motivational factor for desired weight loss when women are nearing ovulation.”The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.The findings are published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. The article, “A psychophysiological mechanism underlying women’s weight-management goals: Women desire and strive for greater weight loss near peak fertility,” is published online in advance of print at http://bit.ly/1K9Utwn.The authors note that their study adds to a growing body of ovulation research, particularly as it relates to women’s health and weight management.Previous studies in the field have found that women, and many non-human mammals, consume fewer calories near peak fertility.They’ve also found that ovulation shifts a woman’s goals to attract a partner, motivating her to enhance her appearance to compete for men.The authors note, however, that studies by other researchers attribute those ovulatory shifts in eating behavior solely to physiological factors related to an interaction between the nervous system and the endocrine system.But Meltzer and her colleagues say the new findings suggest an additional reason, one that is related to cultural norms and influences that dictate one way women may enhance their attractiveness is by managing their weight: Ovulating women may be motivated to lose weight and eat less if they are also motivated to improve their body attractiveness.“Indeed, in our research we saw that shifting levels of hormones interacted with women’s desires to manage their body attractiveness, which predicted an important behavior — eating less,” Meltzer said. “These findings illustrate that broader social norms that dictate that thin women are more attractive can play a role, in addition to physiological factors.”Meltzer’s co-authors on the study are James K. McNulty, Florida State University, Saul L. Miller, University of Kentucky, and Levi R. Baker, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.Findings are confirmed across three independent studies.The three independent studies involved three different groups of women.The first study followed 22 heterosexual women who were not using hormonal contraceptives and found they desired greater weight loss when they were closer to ovulation than when they were not.The second study followed 92 heterosexual women, some who were using and some who were not using hormonal contraceptives. Its findings replicated the findings of the first study: Women who were not using hormonal contraceptives near peak fertility reported wanting to weigh less. In contrast, women in the study using hormonal contraceptives — which act on the endocrine system to disrupt the menstrual cycle and prevent pregnancy by altering hormonal fluctuations — didn’t demonstrate a desire to lose weight.A third study followed 89 married women and found that those who were not using hormonal birth control were the ones most motivated to restrict eating during peak fertility, but only when they were more motivated to maintain their body attractiveness.“Not only did the primary effect replicate across three independent studies,” the authors said, “it emerged in two samples of undergraduate women from different universities and a sample of married women and did not vary across participants’ weight using two samples of women who had a normal weight on average and one sample of women who were overweight on average.”last_img read more

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Alzheimer risk impairs ‘satnav’ function of the brain

first_imgYoung adults with genetically increased Alzheimer’s risk have altered activation patterns in a brain region that is crucial for spatial navigation. This is reported by the team headed by Prof Nikolai Axmacher from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, together with colleagues from the universities of Bonn, Nijmegen and Ulm in the journal Science, which appears on October 23.Entorhinal cortex affected by Alzheimer’s disease at an early stageAlzheimer’s patients suffer from severe memory loss and disorientation. One of the areas affected by the disease at an early stage is a brain region that is crucial for navigation. This brain area, the so-called entorhinal cortex, contains cells that fire in a spatial grid pattern, the grid cells. LinkedIn Pinterest That was shown in animal studies. In 2010, Christian Doeller, presently at Radboud University in Nijmegen, demonstrated that the grid cell system in humans can be recorded indirectly using functional magnetic resonance imaging when the test subjects navigate in a virtual environment.Grid pattern in entorhinal cortex altered in risk carriersNikolai Axmacher, together with his graduate student Lukas Kunz, Christian Doeller and other colleagues from Bonn, Nijmegen und Ulm, applied that method. The team analysed the grid cell system in the entorhinal cortex of young students with and without Alzheimer’s risk genes.“The risk carriers showed a less stable grid pattern in the entorhinal cortex – many decades before they might develop Alzheimer’s dementia,” says Lukas Kunz, who conducted the experiment at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn.Moreover, risk carriers moved less frequently in the centre of the virtual landscape, which indicates an altered navigation strategy. In the risk group, the brain activity in the memory system was generally increased. That might be short-term compensation of the reduced grid pattern, but it may also contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s dementia in the long term, according to the researchers.APOE gene is a risk factorAt present, there is no curative treatment for Alzheimer’s dementia. A potential reason is that drugs are only administered after large parts of the brain have been destroyed. Therefore, current research aims to identify Alzheimer’s dementia early on and to yield a better understanding of early disease stages.The APOE gene appears to play an important role in the development of the disease. One in six people present a risk variant and, accordingly, have a three times higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Examining young adults with the risk version of APOE may thus yield potential insights into very early stages of the disease.Better understanding of early changes in Alzheimer’s dementia“Our studies may contribute to a better understanding of early changes of Alzheimer’s dementia,” says Axmacher. “Now, it has to be verified if such changes also occur in older people at an early stage of Alzheimer’s dementia and if they can be affected by the application of drugs.” Share on Facebookcenter_img Email Share on Twitter Sharelast_img read more

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Working on your tot’s memory now can help his high school success

first_imgShare Share on Facebook Share on Twitter LinkedIn Preschoolers who score lower on a working memory task are likely to score higher on a dropout risk scale at the age of 13, researchers at Université Sainte-Anne and the University of Montreal revealed today.“Dropout risk is calculated from student engagement in school, their grade point average, and whether or not they previously repeated a year in school. Previous research has confirmed that this scale can successfully identify which 12 year olds will fail to complete high school by the age of 21,” explained Caroline Fitzpatrick, who led the study as first author.“These findings underscore the importance of early intervention,” added Linda Pagani, co-senior author. “Parents are able to help their children develop strong working memory skills in the home and this can have a positive impact.”center_img Pinterest Email The study was conducted with 1,824 children whose development has been followed over a number of years through the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development. Their working memory was measured using an imitation sorting task with a trained research assistant. Students indicated their academic performance, prior grade retention, and school engagement – answering questions such as “do you like school?” and “how important is it for you to get good marks?” Children also completed tests of verbal and non-verbal intelligence. Their families were also interviewed to ascertain their socioeconomic status, a factor that the researchers took into account when analyzing their data.Identifying students that are at risk of eventually dropping out of high school is an important step in preventing this social problem. Individual differences in executive functions are likely to play an important role in predicting later drop out risk because they contribute to academic success, engagement, and the achievement of long-term goals. The present results suggest that early individual differences in working memory may contribute to developmental risk for high school dropout.The early detection of working memory problems in children is possible since such children generally show patterns of dysfunction in the classroom and at home. “A child with inadequate working memory might experience difficulty completing tasks in the face of distractors, following sequential instructions, and keeping track of time in order to finish their work in a timely fashion,” Fitzpatrick explained. “Poor self-control more generally is likely to result in disorganized living spaces, such as their room, desk, or locker. Providing parents, teachers, and support staff with basic training on cognitive control and working memory may be advantageous for at-risk children.”Parents can help their children develop strong working memory skills in the home. “Preschoolers can engage in pretend play with other children to help them practice their working memory since this activity involves remembering their own roles and the roles of others. Encouraging mindfulness in children by helping them focus on their moment-to-moment experiences also has a positive effect on cognitive control and working memory,”  Pagani said, noting that breathing exercises and guided meditation can be practiced with preschool and elementary school children.In older children, vigorous aerobic activity such as soccer, basketball, and jumping rope have all been shown to have beneficial effects on concentration and working memory. “Traditional martial arts that place an important focus on respect, self-discipline, and humility have been shown to help children, especially boys build strong cognitive control and working memory skills,” Fitzpatrick added. “Another promising strategy for improving working memory in children is to limit screen time – video games, smartphones, tablets, and television – which can undermine cognitive control and take time away from more enriching pursuits.”The researchers note that generalizing their conclusion to all school children with absolute certainty will require more research.The study was published in the journal Intelligence.last_img read more

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Neurogastronomy: How our brains perceive the flavor of food

first_imgShare Pinterest Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Two women, seated at a table, told their stories in quiet tones. A group of chefs, some standing, others seated, leaned forward eagerly, clearly interested in what these two women had to say. They peppered the women with questions: did food taste better cold or hot? Was texture an issue? Did a glass of wine before dinner help or hurt the flavor experience?The women have taken chemotherapy for their cancer. One of them — Gina Mullin — will be taking chemotherapy every three weeks for the rest of her life. Both of them tell heartbreaking stories about a side effect of chemotherapy that gets swept under the rug: food tastes terrible.“Can you imagine how much quality of life you lose when you can’t enjoy your food?” asked Jen Cooper.center_img Chemotherapy, by design, kills all fast-growing cells in the body. As cancer cells die, so do all the healthy fast-growing cells, including the cells responsible for hair growth and taste buds. So your hair falls out and everything tastes metallic.“Here they are, critically ill, needing good nutrition more than ever, and they can’t enjoy food? It’s beyond unfair,” said Dan Han, a neuropsychologist at the University of Kentucky.Han has become an ardent advocate for the concept that quality of life issues — specifically, the enjoyment of food– should be measured as a clinical outcome for patients. A chance meeting in 2012 with internationally acclaimed chef Fred Morin brought the issue to his attention.“Like most clinicians, when patients brought up the issue of reduced or distorted flavor perception (if they brought it up at all), I was sympathetic but not motivated, because there’s not much we can do to help,” said Han.But Morin, chef and owner of the legendary restaurant Joe Beef, is a bioengineer by training and hugely interested in the concept of neurogastronomy, which merges the science and culinary worlds by studying the human brain and the behavior that influences how we experience food. Morin encouraged Han to read a book by Yale neuroscientist Gordon Shepherd, who coined the term in 2006.“I was hooked,” said Han. “I knew that if we could bring together chefs, neuroscientists and food scientists to explore ways to help these patients enjoy a meal, break bread with family and friends and enjoy that process again, it would be a significant contribution to science and to life.”That chance meeting was the spark for the founding of the International Society of Neurogastronomy (ISN), and last week more than 200 scientists, patients, chefs, foodies and others gathered at UK for the inaugural ISN Symposium, sharing their knowledge and exploring opportunities to improve quality of life for people who have lost their perception of taste or smell due to cancer, brain injury, stroke, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or other neurological disorders.The innovative event departed sharply from the typical academic symposium. There were no poster presentations, no prolonged science-y lectures. Instead, chefs like Morin, “Next Iron Chef” finalist and New York restaurateur Jehangir Mehta, and multiple James Beard finalist chef Ed Lee shared the podium with Gordon Shepherd, prize-winning experimental psychologist Charles Spence, acclaimed physiologist Tim Mcclintock, agricultural researcher Bob Perry, and many others for brief TED talk-style presentations that addressed every aspect of food, flavor, perception and health.During breaks, participants were encouraged to visit eight tasting stations, where experiments demonstrated how the perception of flavor is shaped by more than just the tongue. Attendees wore blindfolds, sniffed scent jars, held their noses, and more while they sampled. At one station, tasters eating a pink cookie while listening to gentle music were astonished to learn that it was equally as sweet as the black cookie paired with harsh music.The most emotional part of the day looped back to the conversation between the chefs and the chemo patients. Chefs were paired with neuroscientists and physicians to create two teams, which then competed in the “Applied Neurogastronomy Challenge “– a friendly competition to make food that appealed to Gina Mullin and Jen Cooper.“Team Morin” prepared a chunky potato soup with a range of toppings to customize the flavor experience: diced potato and bacon, pulled chicken and ginger, garlic broccoli, and fried chicken skin with paprika. “Team Mehta” also took a mix and match approach, offering peppered scallops, grilled chicken, and mustard lime halibut to be paired with chili jam, apple goji reduction, lemon marinated apples, carrot yogurt salsa, or a chocolate chili mole.“I tried every dish, and it was really fun,” said Mullin, who said the only time she cried during her diagnosis and treatment was the day she ordered two of her favorite restaurant dishes only to throw them away after one bite because they tasted so bad.“Potato soup wins!” shouted Jen Cooper to widespread applause. In truth, replied Leah Sarris, Program Director for the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University and a member of Team Morin, everyone won.“I learned so much from you, Jen and Gina, and it will inform the way I cook and teach others to cook,” she said. “We read in books about how chemo affects taste, but your stories made it real.”While neurogastronomy, as a science, is still in its infancy, the symposium has opened the door to the flow of information and ideas among neuroscientists, culinary professionals, food scientists and agriculture scientists. Participants were enthusiastic about the day’s successes and the prospect for continued conversations that advance the science in the context of neurologically-related taste impairments, sustainability, disease prevention, and more.“This really organically grew into something amazing, because people from such randomly different disciplines came together,” said Han. “The commonality that united us was to achieve better food, better flavor, better health, and better quality of life.” Email LinkedInlast_img read more

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Study shows beneficial effects of blocking brain inflammation in an experimental model of Alzheimer’s

first_imgShare Email Share on Facebook Pinterest Share on Twittercenter_img A University of Southampton-led study has found that blocking a receptor in the brain responsible for regulating immune cells could protect against the memory and behaviour changes seen in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.The research, published today in the journal Brain, was jointly funded by the MRC (Medical Research Council) and Alzheimer’s Research UK.It was originally thought that Alzheimer’s disease disturbs the brain’s immune response, but this latest study adds to evidence that inflammation in the brain can in fact drive the development of the disease. The findings suggest that by reducing this inflammation, progression of the disease could be halted. LinkedIn The team hope the discovery will lead to an effective new treatment for the disease, for which there is currently no cure.The researchers at the University of Southampton used tissue samples from healthy brains and those with Alzheimer’s, both of the same age. The researchers counted the numbers of a particular type of immune cell, known as microglia, in the samples and found that these were more numerous in the brains with Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, the activity of the molecules regulating the numbers of microglia correlated with the severity of the disease.The researchers then studied these same immune cells in mice which had been bred to develop features of Alzheimer’s. They wanted to find out whether blocking the receptor responsible for regulating microglia, known as CSF1R, could improve cognitive skills. They gave the mice oral doses of an inhibitor that blocks CSF1R and found that it could prevent the rise in microglia numbers seen in untreated mice as the disease progressed. In addition, the inhibitor prevented the loss of communication points between the nerve cells in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s, and the treated mice demonstrated fewer memory and behavioural problems compared with the untreated mice.Importantly, the team found the healthy number of microglia needed to maintain normal immune function in the brain was maintained, suggesting the blocking of CSF1R only reduces excess microglia.What the study did not find is a correlated reduction of the number of amyloid plaques in the brain, a characteristic feature of Alzheimer’s disease. This supports previous studies that argue other factors may play more of role in cognitive decline.Dr Diego Gomez-Nicola, lead author of the study and an MRC New Investigator Research Grant (NIRG) fellow at the University of Southampton, said: “These findings are as close to evidence as we can get to show that this particular pathway is active in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.“The next step is to work closely with our partners in industry to find a safe and suitable drug that can be tested to see if it works in humans.”Dr Rob Buckle, director of science programmes at the MRC, added: “It is increasingly clear that inflammation is a key player in a number of neurodegenerative conditions and this study is beginning to unravel the biological processes behind this link.“The study is an excellent example of how basic research can lead to promising partnerships with industry that could be of real benefit for those with dementia.”Dr Simon Ridley, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This work, looking at the role of the immune system in Alzheimer’s disease, suggests that blocking the action of the CSF1R protein in mice could help limit the damaging effects of inflammation and protect against symptoms like memory loss. In the last few years, scientists in Southampton have been at the forefront of research into the role of the immune system in Alzheimer’s, so it is encouraging to see this study taking these ideas forward by identifying a specific mechanism that could be a target for future treatments.“Alzheimer’s Research UK is delighted to be supporting the next phase of this work as the researchers seek to build on these findings and develop drugs that could block the action of CSF1R in people. Research like this is vital as there are currently no treatments that can stop or slow the progression of Alzheimer’s in the brain. We desperately need to see greater investment in research, if we are to find new ways to help the tens of thousands of people who develop Alzheimer’s in this country every year.”Dr Gomez-Nicola and his colleagues at the University of Southampton will continue their work with funding from the Dementia Consortium – a collaboration between Alzheimer’s Research UK, MRC Technology and pharmaceutical companies, Eisai and Lilly.last_img read more

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