Air Berlin connects Düsseldorf and Pula every Wednesday

first_imgGerman airline Air Berlin opens a new route between Düsseldorf and Pula once a week from Wednesday, July 13 to August 17, 2016Air Berlin is the second largest airline in Germany, after Lufthansa, and the ninth largest in Europe in terms of the number of passengers carried. With its fleet of about 120 aircraft, it flies to more than 170 destinations in the Mediterranean, Madeira, the Canary Islands, North Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and North and South America. The company is a member of the Oneworld association, and its Austrian subsidiary Niki is an associate member of the same association.The majority owner of the company is the Air Berlin Group, and in December 2012, Etihad Airways bought a 29,21% stake in Air Berlin. The company had 2012 employees in December 9.284, and in the same year transported over 33,3 million passengers.last_img read more

‘Lightning bolts’ in the brain show learning in action

first_imgShare on Twitter Gan, a professor at NYU Langone and its Skirball Institute for Biomolecular Medicine, says, “we have long wondered how the brain can store new information continuously throughout life without disrupting previously acquired memories. We now know that the generation of calcium spikes in separate branches of nerve cells is critical for the brain to encode and store large quantities of information without interfering with each other.”Lead study investigator Joseph Cichon, a neuroscience doctoral candidate at NYU Langone, says their discoveries could have important implications for explaining the underlying neural circuit problems in disorders like autism and schizophrenia. Cichon says the team’s next steps are to see if calcium ion spikes are malfunctioning in animal models of these brain disorders.Among the study’s key findings was that learning motor tasks such as running forward and backward induced completely separate patterns of lightning bolt-like activity in the dendrites of brain cells. These lightning bolts triggered a chain-like reaction, which changed the strength of connections between neurons.The study also identified a unique cell type in the brain that controlled where the lightning bolts were generated. When these cells were turned off, lightning bolt patterns in the brain were disrupted, and as a result, the animal lost the information it had just learned. Share Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have captured images of the underlying biological activity within brain cells and their tree-like extensions, or dendrites, in mice that show how their brains sort, store and make sense out of information during learning.In a study to be published in the journal Nature online March 30, the NYU Langone neuroscientists tracked neuronal activity in dendritic nerve branches as the mice learned motor tasks such as how to run forward and backward on a small treadmill. They concluded that the generation of calcium ion spikes — which appeared in screen images as tiny “lightning bolts” in these dendrites — was tied to the strengthening or weakening of connections between neurons, hallmarks of learning new information.“We believe our study provides important insights into how the brain deals with vast amounts of information continuously as the brain learns new tasks,” says senior study investigator and neuroscientist Wen-Biao Gan, PhD. Share on Facebookcenter_img LinkedIn Pinterest Emaillast_img read more

People with aphasia help neuroscientists map language in the brain

first_imgShare on Facebook Share The exchange of words, speaking and listening in conversation, may seem unremarkable for most people, but communicating with others is a challenge for people who have aphasia, an impairment of language that often happens after stroke or other brain injury. Aphasia affects about 1 in 250 people, making it more common than Parkinson’s Disease or cerebral palsy, and can make it difficult to return to work and to maintain social relationships. A new study published in the journal Nature Communications provides a detailed brain map of language impairments in aphasia following stroke.“By studying language in people with aphasia, we can try to accomplish two goals at once: we can improve our clinical understanding of aphasia and get new insights into how language is organized in the mind and brain,” said Daniel Mirman, PhD, an assistant professor in Drexel University’s College of Arts and Sciences who was lead author of the study.The study is part of a larger multi-site research project funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and led by senior author Myrna Schwartz, PhD of the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute. The researchers examined data from 99 people who had persistent language impairments after a left-hemisphere stroke. In the first part of the study, the researchers collected 17 measures of cognitive and language performance and used a statistical technique to find the common elements that underlie performance on multiple measures. Share on Twitter LinkedIncenter_img Email They found that spoken language impairments vary along four dimensions or factors:Semantic Recognition: difficulty recognizing the meaning or relationship of concepts, such as matching related pictures or matching words to associated pictures.Speech Recognition: difficulty with fine-grained speech perception, such as telling “ba” and “da” apart or determining whether two words rhyme.Speech Production: difficulty planning and executing speech actions, such as repeating real and made-up words or the tendency to make speech errors like saying “girappe” for “giraffe.”Semantic Errors: making semantic speech errors, such as saying “zebra” instead of “giraffe,” regardless of performance on other tasks that involved processing meaning.Mapping the Four Factors in the BrainNext, the researchers determined how individual performance differences for each of these factors were associated with the locations in the brain damaged by stroke. This procedure created a four-factor lesion-symptom map of hotspots the language-specialized left hemisphere where damage from a stroke tended to cause deficits for each specific type of language impairment. One key area was the left Sylvian fissure: speech production and speech recognition were organized as a kind of two-lane, two-way highway around the Sylvian fissure. Damage above the Sylvian fissure, in the parietal and frontal lobes, tended to cause speech production deficits; damage below the Sylvian fissure, in the temporal lobe, tended to cause speech recognition deficits. These results provide new evidence that the cortex around the Sylvian fissure houses separable neural specializations for speech recognition and production.Semantic errors were most strongly associated with lesions in the left anterior temporal lobe, a location consistent with previous research findings from these researchers and several other research groups. This finding also made an important comparison point for its opposite factor – semantic recognition, which many researchers have argued critically depends on the anterior temporal lobes. Instead, Mirman and colleagues found that semantic recognition deficits were associated with damage to an area they call a “white matter bottleneck” — a region of convergence between multiple tracts of white matter that connect brain regions required for knowing the meanings of words, objects, actions and events.“Semantic memory almost certainly involves a widely distributed neural system because meaning involves so many different kinds of information,” said Mirman. “We think the white matter bottleneck looks important because it is a point of convergence among multiple pathways in the brain, making this area a vulnerable spot where a small amount of damage can have large functional consequences for semantic processing.”In a follow-up article soon to be published in the journal Neuropsychologia, Mirman, Schwartz and their colleagues also confirmed these findings with a re-analysis using a new and more sophisticated statistical technique for lesion-symptom mapping.These studies provide a new perspective on diagnosing different kinds of aphasia, which can have a big impact on how clinicians think about the condition and how they approach developing treatment strategies. The research team at the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute works closely with its clinical affiliate, the MossRehab Aphasia Center, to develop and test approaches to aphasia rehabilitation that meet the individualized, long-term goals of the patients and are informed by scientific evidence.According to Schwartz, “A major challenge facing speech-language therapists is the wide diversity of symptoms that one sees in stroke aphasia. With this study, we took a major step towards explaining the symptom diversity in relation to a few primary underlying processes and their mosaic-like representation in the brain. These can serve as targets for new diagnostic assessments and treatment interventions.”Studying the association between patterns of brain injury and cognitive deficits is a classic approach, with roots in 19th century neurology, at the dawn of cognitive neuroscience. Mirman, Schwartz and their colleagues have scaled up this approach, both in terms of the number of participants and the number of performance measures, and combined it with 21st century brain imaging and statistical techniques. A single study may not be able to fully reveal a system as complex as language and brain, but the more we learn, the closer we get to translating basic cognitive neuroscience into effective rehabilitation strategies. Pinterestlast_img read more

Parents’ beliefs about their children make siblings different

first_imgThey grow up in the same home, eat the same food, share the same genes (and sometimes the same jeans), but somehow siblings are often no more similar than complete strangers.A new study from BYU found that parents’ beliefs about their children — and the comparisons they make — may cause differences to be magnified.‘Parents’ beliefs about their children, not just their actual parenting, may influence who their children become,’ said BYU professor and lead author of the study Alex Jensen. Share on Facebook Pinterest Email LinkedIncenter_img Share on Twitter Share The study, published Friday in the Journal of Family Psychology, focused on siblings and academic achievement. Jensen and co-author Susan McHale from Penn State looked at 388 teenage first- and second-born siblings and their parents from 17 school districts in a northeastern state. The researchers asked the parents which sibling was better in school. The majority of parents thought that the firstborn was better, although on average, siblings’ achievement was pretty similar.Parents’ beliefs about sibling differences weren’t influenced by past grades, but future grades by the teenagers were influenced by the parents’ beliefs. The child parents believed was smarter tended to do better in the future. The child parents believed was less capable tended to do relatively poorer the next year. Specifically, that belief translated to a 0.21 difference in GPA among study participants.‘That may not sound like much,’ Jensen said. ‘But over time those small effects have the potential to turn into siblings who are quite different from one another.’Jensen cautions about a chicken-and-egg scenario here. By the time siblings reach the teenage years, parents may have formed their beliefs about siblings’ relative smarts from years of experiences. So when parents compare adolescent siblings to each other, it may be based on differences that have existed for years.‘A mom or dad may think that oldest sibling is smarter because at any given time they are doing more complicated subjects in school,’ Jensen said. ‘The firstborn likely learned to read first, to write first, and that places the thought in the parent’s mind that they are more capable, but when the siblings are teenagers it leads to the siblings becoming more different. Ultimately, the sibling who is seen as less smart will tend to do worse in comparison to their sibling.’The one exception in the study was when the firstborn was a brother and the secondborn a sister. In that case, parents believed the sister was more academically competent.‘Parents tend to view older siblings as more capable, but on average older siblings are not doing better in school than their younger siblings,’ Jensen said. ‘So in that case parents’ beliefs are inaccurate. Parents also tend to think their daughters are more academically competent than their sons, and at least in terms of grades that seems to be true.’So what should parents do to set up all of their children for success?‘It’s hard for parents to not notice or think about differences between their children, it’s only natural,’ Jensen said. ‘But to help all children succeed, parents should focus on recognizing the strengths of each of their children and be careful about vocally making comparisons in front of them.’last_img read more

When new parents become unhappy, brothers and sisters become less likely

first_imgEmail Share on Facebook Pinterest LinkedIn “Parents’ experience with and after the first birth help predict how large the family will be eventually,” says Mikko Myrskylä. “Politicians concerned about low birthrates should pay attention to the well-being of new parents around and after the birth of their first child.”Well-being after first birth matters: The percentage of parents who get another child after the first one grows larger for couples who experienced less loss in well-being in the year after their first child. Self-reported happiness has been measured in units from zero to ten (maximum happiness)In order to explore how the birth of the first child influenced parental happiness, the researchers made use of mother’s and father’s self-reported life satisfaction in the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP). Every year 20,000 participants assessed their contentedness with life on a scale from zero to ten (maximum well-being).After the first child mothers and fathers reported a loss of well-being that averaged to 1.4 units on the happiness scale. They felt this decline during the first year of parenthood compared to the two years before the birth. Only just under 30 percent of the participants did not feel any decline in well-being. And more than one third experienced a decline of two or more units of happiness.This is notable compared to what international studies find for unemployment or the death of the partner (both with an average loss of one happiness-unit) or for divorce (minus 0.6 units) on the same scale.Calculations done by Myrskylä and Margolis now show how strongly experiences made with the first child affect chances for a second. Only 58 out of one hundred couples who reported a drop in well-being of three units or more had a second child within ten years. But among parents who did not feel a reduction in happiness, 66 out of one hundred couples had another baby. Thus, the share of families with at least four members was almost 14 percent larger if happiness did not decline. These results are independent of income, place of birth, or marital status of the couples.center_img Share on Twitter Share Couples who perceive a drop in happiness in the first year after they became parents, have a lower probability of having a second child. A study by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock, Germany, has shown that the larger the loss in well-being, the smaller the probability of a second baby. The effect is especially strong for mothers and fathers who are well educated and older.The investigation deals with a taboo subject. It is rarely discussed that parents often experience a considerable loss of happiness after the birth of a first child. The new study shows that for mothers and fathers in Germany the drop in life satisfaction during the year following the first birth is even larger than that caused by unemployment, divorce or the death of a partner.These findings have now been published by Mikko Myrskylä, demographer and new director at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, and Rachel Margolis from the Sociology Department at the University of Western Ontario in the Journal Demography.last_img read more

Study challenges scientific principle about Alzheimer’s protein amyloid beta

first_imgPinterest Share on Twitter The team at IRB Barcelona has studied the aggregation of two of the most common variants of Abeta, namely Abeta 40 and Abeta 42, with 40 and 42 amino acids, respectively, the latter being the variant most closely associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The literature reports that while Abeta 40 self-aggregates to sequentially form dimers (two units), trimers (three units) and tetramers (four units), Abeta 42 self-aggregates to form pentamers (five units) and hexamers (six units). These findings have been cited more than 1000 times and consequently numerous studies have been based on this premise. However, IRB Barcelona researchers Rosa Pujol-Pina and Sílvia Vilaprinyó-Pascual, the first two authors of the study, have observed that Abeta 40 and Abeta 42 goes through exactly the same aggregation states.The authors uphold that the results published to date are biased by the technique most widely used to study Aβ aggregates. The technique in question, SDS-PAGE, is characterised by the need for a small amount of sample and therefore is used for more straightforward studies. Using a new approach based on mass spectrometry and computational modelling and in collaboration with the IRB Barcelona groups headed by Marta Vilaseca and Modesto Orozco, respectively, Dr. Carulla’s team has observed that both Abeta 40 and Abeta 42 form dimers, trimers and tetramers and that in these initial stages these aggregates are spherical lacking defined structure.“The structure that we have observed challenges the kind of structure accepted until now, the so-called beta-sheet. It should be noted that up to now drug design has been based on the premise of interfering with the beta-sheet structure. We believe that this strategy should be reconsidered and recommend caution when using SDS-PAGE to study Abeta oligomers,” states Sílvia Vilaprinyó-Pascual. The experiments on aggregation have been performed with several techniques, including SDS-PAGE. “This study will lead to reservations on the part of the scientific community and that is why we have been thorough and present methodologically robust data,” says Natàlia Carulla.Carulla’s team is now working on the identification of therapeutic molecules that prevent the formation of the first amyloid beta aggregates. Share LinkedIncenter_img Share on Facebook Email Scientific Reports, a Nature group journal, has recently published results that challenge the findings of studies to date on the initial aggregates formed by amyloid beta, a protein closely associated with the onset and development of Alzheimer’s disease.Headed by Natàlia Carulla, a specialist in biomedical chemistry at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), the study focuses on the number of molecules and shape that this protein has when it begins to aggregate, a process that leads to the so-called Abeta fibrils, the main components of the plaques observed in the brains of those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.“Comprehensive knowledge of the number of units and conformation of Abeta at the initial stages of aggregation is crucial for the design of drugs capable of breaking them up or preventing their formation,” explains Natàlia Carulla.last_img read more

Proteins associated with schizophrenia hang around longer than previously thought

first_imgShare Email Share on Twitter LinkedIn Pinterestcenter_img The discovery that a particular protein doesn’t just give cells a job but also sticks around to tell them how to do these new assignments could provide insight into schizophrenia, as well as a neurodevelopmental disorder, according to a new study by a Drexel University research team.The team discovered that the protein, called TCF4, remains present in cells after neurogenesis — where they turn jobless cells into neurons. Neurons are cells in the nervous system that send specific signals to each other, and scientists believed that TCF4 degraded and disappeared at that stage. However, Drexel researchers found that TCF4 sticks around and restricts the number of synapses neurons make.“It seems these proteins are performing double duty,” said Daniel Marenda, PhD, associate professor and director of the Biology graduate program in Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences. “Not only do the proteins take a cell that doesn’t have a job and give it one, but once the cell has a job, it tells that cell how to do it.” Share on Facebook The study, “Type I bHLH Proteins Daughterless and TCF4 Restrict Neurite Branching and Synapse Formation by Repressing Neurexin in Postmiotic Neurons” was published in Cell Reports. Its first author, Mitchell D’Rozario, PhD, was Marenda’s graduate student, and is now a post-doctoral researcher at Washington University School of Medicine.While the protein at the center of the study is referred to as TCF4 in humans, rats and mice, it is called Daughterless in Drosophila, or fruit flies, where the protein’s persistence was discovered.“We found, rather unexpectedly, that the fly protein Daughterless was present in neurons, cells that already had a job. This was odd to us,” Marenda said. “So we decided to investigate what Daughterless might be doing in the cells.”When they found that Daughterless was regulating the number of synapses in neurons, the team analyzed TCF4 in mice and found that it was doing the exact same thing. The protein had not disappeared, but was still present and very active.These findings are particularly important because of the association TCF4 gene variants have with schizophrenia and Pitt-Hopkins Syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder.“Mutations in TCF4 are associated with both,” Marenda explained. “So we think that TCF4 is most likely involved in helping to form the proper number of synapses a cell makes, so that the information flow in the nervous system doesn’t get confused and dysfunctional. When you lose these proteins, you suddenly get too many synapses and it disrupts the nervous system function.”Marenda said that there is evidence that cells making too many synapses are associated with autism. Further study of the presence of TCF4 (and Daughterless) in neurons could uncover more about the relationship between synapse number and adult nervous system function.“Depending on the severity of the mutation’s effect on TCF4, you may get differing outcomes,” Marenda said. “Too severe a mutation may give you a strong effect like Pitt-Hopkins Syndrome, while other changes in the gene may increase your risk of schizophrenia. But the underlying mechanism may be similar.”last_img read more

Study on ‘going positive’ finds flattering rivals gains politicians more votes

first_imgShare on Twitter The study has interesting implications, particularly in light of the forthcoming US elections. Cavazza cites the example of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who praised and thanked his predecessor even though he was a member of the opposing party. “Usually, a new president or prime minister in the first years of his office attributes all the responsibility of problems to the predecessor!” she states. “Doing the opposite and with his positive style, Trudeau has achieved a very good reputation internationally.”Going forward, Cavazza is building on this research to explore the effects of directly flattering the audience. “I think that it is time for politicians to pay attention to ‘positive communication’ instead of becoming more and more verbally aggressive,” she says. Share on Facebook Email LinkedIncenter_img Focusing on the negative aspects of one’s political opponent has become the norm in election campaigns across the world. But a recent study by Nicoletta Cavazza published in Social Influence shows that it could be in politicians’ interests to pay more attention to positive campaigning. Cavazza found that when political candidates flatter their rivals, they are perceived to be more trustworthy and are therefore more likely to obtain votes.To find out whether a flattering comment directed at a political rival elicits a positive impression of the candidate and, consequently, whether this increases the likelihood of voting for the candidate, the participants (92 Italian university students) were given a written passage from a speech by a fictitious political candidate (a man or a woman) about the relationship between young people and politics. In the experimental condition, a positive statement about the candidate’s political opponent was inserted into the speech: ‘I believe that my competitor, who is an upright and smart person, will agree with me about the need to change this situation.’When the candidate flattered his/her rival, participants were more likely to perceive him/her as being trustworthy and were consequently more likely to vote for him/her. This was observed to be the case regardless of the candidate’s gender. Share Pinterestlast_img read more

Study: Leftists just as likely to be dogmatic authoritarians as those on the right

first_imgPinterest Share on Facebook LinkedIn Share on Twitter Conway and his colleagues developed a measure of left-wing authoritarianism, which was adapted from the right-wing authoritarianism scale developed by psychologist Bob Altemeyer.The RWA scale asks participants how much they agree with statements such as: “It’s always better to trust the judgment of the proper authorities in government and religion than to listen to the noisy rabble-rousers in our society who are trying to create doubts in people’s minds” and “Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us.”The new LWA scale, on the other hand, asks questions such as: “It’s always better to trust the judgment of the proper authorities in science with respect to issues like global warming and evolution than to listen to the noisy rabble-rousers in our society who are trying to create doubts in people’s minds” and “Our country desperately needs a mighty leader who will do what has to be done to destroy the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us.”Both scales were tested on a group of 475 undergraduates at the University of Montana and a group of 305 U.S. adults who were recruited online from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.The researchers found that left-wing authoritarianism was associated with liberal views, dogmatism, and prejudice among both samples of participants, suggesting it is a valid concept.“Our data suggest that average Americans on the political left are just as likely to be dogmatic authoritarians as those on the political right. And those left-wing authoritarians can be just as prejudiced, dogmatic, and extremist as right-wing authoritarians,” Conway told PsyPost.However, the research does have some limitations.“Our two studies should be viewed as just an opening foray in what we hope to be a lot more research on the topic,” Conway explained. “We aren’t claiming definitively that left-wingers are just as likely as right-wingers to be authoritarian in all (or even most) contexts, or that left-wing authoritarians are just the same as right-wing authoritarians in every regard (in fact, I’m pretty sure they aren’t, and we’re doing some work on that).”“There are good reasons to think authoritarianism aligns more with right-wing than left-wing ideology, and we are interested in those reasons, too. The point is, it is a further question to better define the similarities and differences in right-wing and left-wing authoritarianism.”“Also, our data only cover a few topic areas that are relevant, and only very specific samples (college undergraduates, MTurk workers) of Americans. Thus, we certainly don’t claim these data to be all inclusive for all people at all times — but every search has to start somewhere, however small.”“I would like to encourage anyone interested in this topic to get involved — there are a lot of proverbial low-hanging fruit and we have already developed and published a viable LWA questionnaire for people to use,” Conway added. “It’s an exciting area to be involved in!”The study, “Finding the Loch Ness Monster: Left-Wing Authoritarianism in the United States“, was co-authored by Shannon C. Houck, Laura Janelle Gornick and Meredith A. Repke.center_img Email Share New research provides evidence that left-wing authoritarian attitudes exist in the United States. The preliminary findings, published in the scientific journal Political Psychology, suggest liberals could be just as likely to be authoritarians as conservatives.“Political ideology in general is one of the most important and predictive variables in human psychology,” said study author Lucian Gideon Conway, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Montana.“I became interested in left-wing authoritarianism in particular because some people have said it isn’t a very real or likely phenomenon — and yet I know people I would describe as left-wing authoritarians. So I was curious to figure that out.”last_img read more

Both men and women (wrongly) believe women wearing makeup are more interested in casual sex

first_imgPinterest Share A new study suggests that women’s makeup is perceived as a signal of greater interest in casual sex. But the research found evidence that this was actually a “false signal.”The study, which was published in Personality and Individual Differences, examined the relationship between women’s makeup use and sociosexuality.People with an unrestricted sociosexual orientation are more comfortable with casual sex with different partners. Those with a restricted sociosexual orientation, on the other hand, prefer to have sex with a partner in a long-term, serious relationship. Share on Twitter LinkedIncenter_img Share on Facebook Email In an initial study, 182 people viewed photographs of 69 young adult women of European descent with varying levels of makeup. The more makeup the women were wearing, the more they were perceived as being attractive and sexually unrestricted by both male and female participants.The researchers then surveyed the 69 women regarding their actual use of makeup and their sociosexual orientation. They found no association between the women’s sociosexual orientation and time spent on makeup or money spent on makeup. In other words, the women’s self-reported sociosexuality was unrelated to their makeup habits.“This indicates that makeup is perceived to be a signal of greater unrestricted sociosexuality in women. Our findings, however, also show that this association is not a valid cue of women’s sociosexuality, as we found no systematic connection between women’s cosmetic use and their actual sociosexuality,” the authors of the study explained.The researchers also found that men perceived women with more makeup as more attractive, which in turn was associated with them falsely perceiving the women as more unrestricted in their sociosexuality.“This finding suggests that there may be some sort of wishful thinking effect among men in which attractive women are falsely, but optimistically, perceived as more willing to engage in casual sex,” the researchers noted.“Our evidence suggests that makeup is perceived to signal sociosexuality but does not actually signal sociosexuality, likely because makeup makes the face more attractive, which is incorrectly associated with sociosexuality.”The study, “Evidence that makeup is a false signal of sociosexuality“, was authored by Carlota Batres, Richard Russell, Jeffry A. Simpson, Lorne Campbell, Alison M. Hansen, and Lee Cronk.last_img read more