Minister Kuščević: We are abolishing energy certification in family accommodation

first_imgMinister of Construction and Physical Planning Lovro Kuščević as a guest on HRT in the show 4 study announced the abolition of the project of ‘mandatory energy certification of apartments for rent’.”There is no fact in the European directive about the certification of apartments for rent. We have studied the legal structure and issues well, we have consulted with the Ministry of Tourism and a wide range of experts, and I have decided to abolish the certification of apartments.”Minister Kuščević pointed out and added that the expert team is currently working on that decision and as soon as it is ready, it will be signed immediately.This is great news for all landlords, as well as proof of how companies through the Croatian Chamber of Commerce can and must influence changes in laws and regulations, of course if there are good reasons. It was the Association of Family Accommodation at the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, headed by Nedjeljko Pinezić, which gathers 67 landlords, that sent a request to the competent institutions to change the law and acted publicly and loudly to repeal the regulation.last_img read more

The existing way of categorizing accommodation in Croatia is outdated

first_imgRelated news /Interview Nedo Pinezić: Croatian hosts are respected as the best hosts in Europe The real reach to market segments today is achieved by the specialization of the offer expressed through the brand. In this way, the specific value of the regional and national offer is raised and a condition is created for the creation of interesting and favorable service packages, which should be the main job of DMC agencies in our country.The attitude of the family tourism community of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce on the issue of categorization of accommodation facilitiesWhat we as a Family Tourism Association represent and what we have conveyed our position to the Ministry of Tourism is the need to “brand” family accommodation as an “original Croatian household”. This is a marketing category of a quality label that is not related to the administrative process of categorization.Branding or labeling of accommodation services is something that is already applied in the highest quality tourist destinations such as South Tyrol (Trentino Alto Adige) where there is a “brand” “Suedtirol privat” (, and in Croatia “Domus bonus” in Istria, Kvarner family ”in Kvarner,“ Welcome ”in Zadar County. The quality label is awarded in a similar way in Bavaria, other German countries, and Switzerland… Along with the quality label project, which has the characteristics of a good, indigenous household everywhere, there is also the “specialization” of accommodation for certain market niches. “Suedtirol privat” has “sub-brands” “Specialists for walkers”, “Specialists for families”, “Specialists for cyclists”, “Specialists for nature and environmental lovers”, “Specialists for snow lovers”, “Specialists for barrier-free tourism” ”. In Kvarner, in addition to the “Kvarner family” quality label, there are also sub-brands “Pet friendly”, “Bike friendly”, “Hike friendly”. The “branding” of family accommodation in Zadar and Šibenik-Knin counties will be developed in the same way, because these county tourist boards have already started this process.Regional recognition and a united national brandOnce we have all the regionally recognizable, specific quality labels of family accommodation, our competitive advantage will significantly improve.At the national level, we need one “vault brand” or vault designation of origin. We imagined that such a label refers to the good practice of the label of origin that has been implemented for years by the Croatian Chamber of Commerce. Thus, we have the label “originally Croatian” for a number of HR products, but we also have a regional label for products with special characteristics such as “island product”.Applicable to family accommodation, we would have a summary quality label “Original Croatian household” for those households that will use predominantly Croatian products and services in furnishing accommodation: indoor furniture, outdoor furniture, bedding, carpentry, sanitary ware, kitchens, kitchen equipment, dishes and utensils , comfort and safety systems (automation of air conditioners, “smart” locks, monitoring systems…) but also software IT solutions such as “channel manager”, promotional films, photos published on the website of “domestic production”, etc., but also horticultural enrichment plant species (olive, willow, holm oak, vine, indigenous spices and ornamental plants ()The point is that all these products, horticulture and services must contain a part of the Croatian tradition in their design, material, design and the like. We know what it looks like in Bavaria or Italy… it is a part of the national identity that supports the sense of originality of the Croatian household.It is necessary to provide incentives for the application of such an approach. One of the roles of HBOR is financial support for domestic production, so such a role can be perfectly applied here. In order to get as much “cake” as possible, we proposed that commercial banks, which already monitor family accommodation well, be included in the process, by offering the best financing conditions in the tender, and that their interest is subsidized by HBOR funds. Such a model already works in Kvarner, where the role of HBOR has been taken over by the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County. Interest for the end user should be up to 2% in the coastal area, on larger islands and in larger cities, and up to 1% in the continental rural area and on the outer islands.The state should prescribe only the minimum technical requirements, and the category should be determined by the professionAs for the categorization itself, we believe that the existing system is outdated and that the state should not interfere in the allocation of categories, but should prescribe only the minimum technical requirements. When we say minimum, then we mean that the apartment should consist of a bedroom, kitchen with living room and bathroom. And that’s all. For example, they determine the conditions in Switzerland. Everything else should be determined by the profession according to demand trends. For example, today the categorization insists on a certain number of stars on the fixed telephone line and the telephone set in the room, and guests seek access to wireless and preferably free internet. Or the categorization insists on special HASAP conditions for serving breakfast in the household, so people for a few rooms would have to invest even more money in equipping the dining room, special kitchen, etc., and in other EU countries breakfast is served in the host’s kitchen , because he appreciates this domestic relationship, but of course he is looking for what categorization cannot even prescribe – home-made products, gluten-free foods, unleavened bread made from wholemeal flour and the like.We must understand that today the quality assessment is entirely in the hands of the guest, not the exclusive of some state bodies and inspections. The market is relentless and eliminates from business that service that most guests do not experience well. This applies to all types of accommodation, and soon such facilities will include food facilities. There are already applications that allow you to book a table in a restaurant, order food and drinks, but also to rank the quality of the gastronomic and catering offer.Professional associations are forced to follow trends, advise their membership on adaptation and ultimately be active in awarding a quality label. Our family tourism community is very active in this regard. In 2014, we started a cycle of systematic, systematized education through national and regional Family Accommodation Forums where we transfer the latest world experiences and trends and bring together Croatian equipment manufacturers, service providers who are competitive and ready to meet the needs of family accommodation. Annually, about 6.000 owners of family accommodation “pass” through this quality management system, which we implement in cooperation with the CNTB Head Office and county tourist boards, and through regional chambers. This is almost 10% of the total facilities for household accommodation services. Our members are increasingly active in the actions of awarding the annual recognition for quality “Tourist flower – quality for Croatia”. And the criteria for this quality assessment are increasingly market-oriented. Guest preferences are respected. These are all good preparations for the introduction of new, professional, “categorization” of family accommodation.We are glad that the Minister of Tourism, Anton Kliman, gave our support to our efforts, and we expect a soon working meeting where the conditions for these, much needed, changes in the policy of raising the quality of family accommodation and concrete incentives for Croatian products and services through tourism could be specified. We believe that we have proven that we are a competent and cooperative partner, and we still stand at the service of cooperation, regardless of the fact that we do not have our representatives in the executive bodies of the system of tourist boards at all levels.Family tourism community HGKPresidentNedo Pinezićlast_img read more

Mladenka Orešković, Otočac Tourist Board: With a great synergy of all participants in tourism, we are recording a record tourist season

first_imgIn the first nine months of 2016, the Tourist Board of the City of Otočac realized tourist traffic as in the whole of 2015. In that period, a total of 24.485 tourist arrivals were recorded, which amounted to 34.740 overnight stays, which is an increase compared to 2015 when a total of 22.327 arrivals were recorded. and 29.200 overnight stays.Hotels are again the dominant category of accommodation in the area of ​​the town of Otočac, although there is a visible trend of strong development of private accommodation, which by percentage and number of overnight stays is increasing from year to year. Statistically speaking, 23.680 overnight stays were realized in hotels, while a total of 11.060 overnight stays were realized in private accommodation, which is an increase of 50% compared to last year. However, this year, for the first time, in August, private accommodation had more overnight stays than hotels, 5.101 overnight stays, while hotel accommodation recorded 4.477 overnight stays. “This is a result that could only be achieved with great synergy of all participants in tourism in order to reach the desired goal together. The increase in the quality and diversity of the offer, but also the destination management activities carried out by the Tourist Board throughout the year, is a confirmation and guarantee that the trend of increasing tourist traffic in Gacka is not accidental.” points out Mladenka Orešković, director of the Tourist Board of OtočacA record 9.578 overnight stays were realized in August, which is a significant increase compared to August 2015 when 6.801 overnight stays were recorded. Domestic guests realized a total of 4.401 overnight stays, which is 27% more than in the same period last year. Foreign guests realized 30.339 overnight stays, which is 18% more than in the same period last year. “ Private accommodation records 17% fewer arrivals and 50% more overnight stays, which means that guests stay longer in our area, which is our ultimate goal when thinking about the quality of the tourist offer. Analyzing the structure of guests by type of accommodation we see that most arrivals and overnight stays tourists realized from Korea, and they are mostly hotel guests. They are followed by Croats, Italians, Germans, French and Spaniards. “Points out Orešković, and adds that the average length of stay of foreign and domestic guests is two daysThe tourist offer of the town of Otočac, the Heart of Gacka, is based mostly on the beauties and untouched nature of the river Gacka and Velebit, as well as on active vacation within which they have about 200 kilometers of bike trails, kilometers of hiking and trekking trails, paintball, birdwatching and rich eco ethno. offer. Also, the info point in the center of the city has become an unavoidable place to stop domestic and foreign guests, individuals, groups, older and younger age groups. As they point out from the Tourist Board of the City of Otočac, their attention is drawn to public bicycles, a new tourist offer in the City, which gives a clear message that Otočac is an environmentally conscious destination. It is an interesting fact that most of the fellow citizens of Otočac decided to use public bicycles, so that in the time since the bicycles were installed, over a hundred contracts on use have been concluded. “According to the announcement, a rich post-season awaits us. A large number of groups of students and pensioners have chosen Otočac and Gacka as part of their excursion tours. “Concludes OreskovicConfirmation of successful work and development is certainly the candidacy of Otočac for the most desirable destination of rural tourism in 2016, within the category “Destinations of the Year” organized every year by the Croatian Tourist Board, where Otočac entered the final round and the six best rural tourism destinations in Croatia . The CNTB will announce the solemn proclamation as part of the Tourism Day, which is being organized this year in Bol on the island of Brač. However, entering the six best rural destinations in Croatia is a great success and a wind in the back for the day-to-day development of the entire tourist destination.last_img read more

TripAdvisor is changing its booking policy to combat animal abuse

first_imgOne of the world’s largest travel sites, TripAdvisor, has decided that it will no longer promote or allow the booking of tickets for tourist attractions where animals are held captive in poor conditions or abused.As they point out in their statement, attractions such as swimming with dolphins, riding an elephant or painting with tigers will no longer be on TripAdvisor because the owners are violent towards animals. “Our new reservation policy is conceived as a means as well as to contribute to helping and improving animal health and safety standards, especially in markets with limited regulatory protection”Said Stephen Kaufer, President and CEO of TripAdvisor. At the same time, TripAdvisor also aims to celebrate and promote destinations and attractions that are pioneers in animal welfare.TripAdvisor promises to fully adjust its booking policy by 2017, with some changes taking effect immediately. TripAdvisor and its booking partner Viator are also launching an educational campaign aimed at disseminating information about animal welfare and how it relates to some of the attractions on the site. By early 2017, users will find a paw-shaped icon next to animal attractions, with data from animal real groups such as PETA.last_img read more

Infants’ superior perception linked to later autism symptoms

first_imgPeople with autism are often described as “seeing the world differently.” They tend to show superior perception for details, like, for example, the autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire’s highly accurate representations of cityscapes drawn from memory. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on June 11 show that those differences in perceptual skill are present very early in infancy, before the onset of clinical symptoms of autism.The researchers say that the findings may shift scientists’ view of autism by suggesting that changes in perception are a central feature of the disorder. The majority of research studies have focused instead on language and social interaction impairments.“The prominence of social interaction and communication problems later in development were very much suggestive of a specific ‘social brain’ deficit,” says Teodora Gliga of the Babylab, part of the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck, University of London. “Evidence is now accumulating for early differences in non-social motor and perceptual abilities, which calls for a reassessment of developmental theories of autism.” LinkedIn Share The researchers made this discovery by studying infants known to be at higher risk of autism based on the diagnosis of an older sibling. Around 20% of younger siblings are diagnosed with autism themselves, and another 30% show elevated levels of autism symptoms.Gliga and her colleagues also took advantage of the fact that infants will spontaneously orient their gaze to anything that pops out in a visual scene, for example, the letter S in a group of X’s. To test the infants’ perceptual skill, the researchers used an eye tracker to record the infants’ gazes as they were presented with letters on a screen. The researchers also assessed those younger siblings for signs of autism at 9 months, 15 months, and 2 years of age using standard screening methods.The study showed that infants with enhanced visual searching ability at 9 months old also had more emergent autism symptoms at 15 months and at 2 years. The finding suggests that the unusual perceptual ability of those infants is “intrinsically linked to the emerging autism phenotype.”“We know now that we have to give more attention to possible differences in the development of sensation and perception,” Gliga says. “It is the sensory unpredictability of social interaction, but also of many other aspects of daily life, that people with autism most often report as distressing, and we hope this study and others will bring autism research questions closer to the needs of those directly affected.”The new study also suggests that eye-tracking technology may be useful as part of future batteries of screening tests for early signs of autism.The researchers now plan to explore what exactly makes children with autism better at visual searches. They also want to explore the links between increased visual perception or attention and difficulties in social interaction, learning, and communication. Share on Twittercenter_img Email Pinterest Share on Facebooklast_img read more

Uncertainty can cause more stress than inevitable pain

first_imgShare on Twitter Participants’ uncertainty that any individual rock would have a snake under it was estimated from their guesses using a sophisticated computational model of learning. This uncertainty matched the stress levels reported by participants, which was also tracked using measurements of pupil dilation and perspiration.“Using our model we could predict how stressed our subjects would be not just from whether they got shocks but how much uncertainty they had about those shocks,” explains lead author Archy de Berker (UCL Institute of Neurology). “Our experiment allows us to draw conclusions about the effect of uncertainty on stress. It turns out that it’s much worse not knowing you are going to get a shock than knowing you definitely will or won’t. We saw exactly the same effects in our physiological measures – people sweat more and their pupils get bigger when they are more uncertain.”This is the first time that the effect of uncertainty on stress has been quantified, but the concept is likely to be familiar to many people.“When applying for a job, you’ll probably feel more relaxed if you think it’s a long shot or if you’re confident that it’s in the bag,” says co-author Dr Robb Rutledge (UCL Institute of Neurology and Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research). “The most stressful scenario is when you really don’t know. It’s the uncertainty that makes us anxious. The same is likely to apply in many familiar situations, whether it’s waiting for medical results or information on train delays.”Stress in the modern world is often seen as a negative and counterproductive response, but the study also found a potential benefit. People whose stress responses spiked the most at periods of greatest uncertainty were better at judging whether or not individual rocks would have snakes under them.“From an evolutionary perspective, our finding that stress responses are tuned to environmental uncertainty suggests that it may have offered some survival benefit,” explains senior author Dr Sven Bestmann (UCL Institute of Neurology). “Appropriate stress responses might be useful for learning about uncertain, dangerous things in the environment. Modern life comes with many potential sources of uncertainty and stress, but it has also introduced ways of addressing them. For example, taxi apps that show where a car is can offer peace of mind by reducing the uncertainty about when it will arrive. Real-time information boards at bus stops and train platforms perform a similar role, although this can be undermined by unspecified delays which cause stress for passengers and staff alike.” Email Share Share on Facebookcenter_img Pinterest LinkedIn Knowing that there is a small chance of getting a painful electric shock can lead to significantly more stress than knowing that you will definitely be shocked, finds a new UCL study funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC).The study, published in Nature Communications, found that situations in which subjects had a 50% chance of receiving a shock were the most stressful while 0% and 100% chances were the least stressful. People whose stress levels tracked uncertainty more closely were better at guessing whether or not they would receive a shock, suggesting that stress may inform judgements of risk.The experiment involved 45 volunteers who played a computer game in which they turned over rocks that might have snakes under them. They had to guess whether or not there would be a snake, and when there was they received a mildly painful electric shock on the hand. Over time they learned which rocks were most likely to harbour snakes, but those odds changed throughout the experiment, generating fluctuating levels of uncertainty.last_img read more

Female members on corporate boards can lower number of mergers and acquisitions

first_imgShare LinkedIn Share on Facebook Email Share on Twittercenter_img Pinterest Does female membership on corporate boards impact mergers and acquisitions? As the percentage of females on boards of America’s largest companies has risen from 15 percent in 2005 to 20 percent in 2015, the question is relevant to today’s decision makers.University of Notre Dame researcher Craig Crossland, management professor at the Mendoza College of Business, and colleagues decided to look into the numbers. After studying almost 3,000 acquisitions between 1998 and 2010, they found that the larger the proportion of women on a board of a U.S. public company, the fewer acquisitions it engages in.“We found that this effect existed even if we looked at firms with a single female director on the board,” Crossland said. “A change in female board representation from low to high levels was associated with an 18 percent decrease in acquisitiveness, a 12 percent decrease in acquisition size and a reduction of $97.2 million in merger and acquisition spending in a given year.” Crossland and his colleagues surmise that increasing the proportion of female directors changes the dynamics of intra-board interactions.“Groups comprised of distinct categories of people operate differently than groups where everyone shares similar characteristics,” Crossland said. “Diverse groups tend to engage in discussions that are more thorough, more contentious and more likely to identify problems with the topic at hand. Mergers and acquisitions can be beneficial for firms, but at least as often, they can destroy value. We think the boards with higher female representation are more likely to identify these challenges in a given deal, increasing the likelihood that it will be delayed or shelved entirely.”Crossland emphasized that the researchers are not making any claims that female directors differ from male directors in terms of dispositional tendencies such as risk-taking propensity or openness to experience.“The research on this is pretty sparse and we think it’s safer to assume that the nature of board-level interactions is different,” he said.The study, which was co-authored by Guoli Chen of INSEAD Business School and Sterling Huang of Singapore Management University, appears in the Strategic Management Journal.last_img read more

A single species of gut bacteria can reverse autism-related social behavior in mice

first_imgPinterest The absence of one specific species of gut bacteria causes social deficits in mice, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine report June 16 in Cell. By adding this bacterial species back to the guts of affected mice, the researchers were able to reverse some of the mice’s behavioral deficits, which are reminiscent of symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in humans. The investigators are now looking to explore the effects of probiotics on neurodevelopmental disorders in future work.“Other research groups are trying to use drugs or electrical brain stimulation as a way to reverse some of the behavioral symptoms associated with neurodevelopmental disorders–but here we have, perhaps, a new approach,” says senior author Dr. Mauro Costa-Mattioli, associate professor of neuroscience at Baylor. “Whether it would be effective in humans, we don’t know yet, but it is an extremely exciting way of affecting the brain from the gut.”The inspiration for the paper came from human epidemiological studies that have found that maternal obesity during pregnancy could increase children’s risk of developing neurodevelopmental disorders, including ASDs. In addition, some individuals with ASD also report recurring gastrointestinal problems. With emerging research showing how diet can change the gut microbiome and how gut microbes can influence the brain, Costa-Mattioli and his co-authors suspected there could be a connection. Share Email Share on Facebookcenter_img LinkedIn To begin, the researchers fed approximately 60 female mice a high-fat diet that was the rough equivalent of consistently eating fast food multiple times a day. They bred the mice and waited for them to bear young. The offspring stayed with their mother for three weeks and then were weaned onto a normal diet. After a month, these offspring showed behavioral deficits, such as spending less time in contact with their peers and not initiating interactions.“First we wanted to see whether there was a difference in the microbiome between the offspring of mouse mothers fed a normal diet versus those of mothers fed a high-fat diet. So, we used 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing to determine the bacterial composition of their gut. We found a clear difference in the microbiota of the two maternal diet groups,” says first author Shelly Buffington, a postdoctoral fellow in Costa-Mattioli’s lab. “The sequencing data was so consistent that by looking at the microbiome of an individual mouse we could predict whether its behavior would be impaired.”Buffington next tested whether the specific differences in the microbiome were causative factors underlying the social impairments in offspring of mothers fed a high-fat diet. Because mice eat each other’s poop, the researchers housed the animals together so that they would acquire microbiota from their cagemates. When socially impaired three-week-old mice born to mothers on a high-fat diet were paired with normal mice, a full restoration of the gut microbiome and a concurrent improvement in behavior was observed within four weeks. The investigators concluded that one or more beneficial bacterial species might be important for normal social behavior. Fecal-transplant experiments in mice without microbiota (germ-free mice) provided causal evidence that an imbalanced microbial ecology in the mice born to mothers on a high-fat diet is responsible for their social deficits.The investigators next wanted to know the specific bacterial species that could be affecting the social behavior of the mice. Whole-genome shotgun sequencing revealed one type of bacteria, Lactobacillus reuteri, which was reduced more than nine-fold in the microbiome of mice born to mothers on the high-fat diet.“We cultured a strain of L. reuteri originally isolated from human breast milk and introduced it into the water of the high-fat-diet offspring. We found that treatment with this single bacterial strain was able to rescue their social behavior,” Buffington says. Other ASD-related behaviors, such as anxiety, were not restored by the reconstitution of the bacteria. Interestingly, the authors found that L. reuteri also promoted the production of the “bonding hormone” oxytocin, which is known to play a crucial role in social behavior and has been associated with autism in humans.The authors wondered whether the reward circuitry in the socially impaired mice was dysfunctional. “We found that in response to social interaction there was a lack of synaptic potentiation in a key reward area of the brain that could be seen in the normal control mice,” Costa-Mattioli says. “When we put the bacteria back in the maternal-high-fat-diet offspring, we could also restore the changes in synaptic function in the reward circuitry.”The researchers believe that their work, which uses a human bacterial species to promote oxytocin levels and improve social behavioral deficits in deficient mice, could be explored as a probiotic intervention for the treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders in humans. “This is where the science is unexpectedly leading us. We could potentially see this type of approach developing quite quickly not only for the treatment of ASD but also for other neurodevelopmental disorders; anyway, this is my gut feeling,” Costa-Mattioli says. Share on Twitterlast_img read more

How the brain decides if a situation is emotionally negative or positive

first_imgShare on Twitter In a new study published recently in the journal Human Brain Mapping, a group of researchers led by Dr. Christiane Rohr of the Max Planck Institute in Germany and Dr. Okon-Singer of the Department of Psychology at the University of Haifa sought to locate the neural mechanism that “chooses” whether a given situation is positive or negative and classifies different situations that are emotionally unclear. In order to simulate the lack of emotional clarity, the researchers presented the participants with scenes from emotionally-conflicting movies, such as Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. This movie includes many complex situations, such as a scene where one person is torturing another while smiling, dancing, and talking to his victim in a friendly manner.The participants in the study watched the movie scenes while they were inside an MRI machine, and later reported whether they felt that each scene they viewed included a conflict. For each moment in the movie, the participants also rated the extent to which they felt that the positive elements were dominant, so that the scene was pleasant to watch, or the extent that negative elements prevailed, so that the scene was unpleasant to view.As in previous studies, the researchers identified two active networks – one that operates when we perceive the situation as positive, and another that operates when we perceive it as negative. For the first time, however, they identified how the brain switches between these two networks. The study found that the transition between activity in the positive or negative network is facilitated by two areas in the brain – the superior temporal sulcus (STS) and the inferior parietal lobule (IPL). These areas form part of the negative and positive networks, but also acted when the participants felt that the movie scene embodied an emotional conflict. The STS was found to be associated with the interpretation of positive situations, while the IPL is associated with the interpretation of negative situations.Dr. Okon-Singer explains that these two areas effectively function as “remote controls” that spring into action when the brain recognizes that there is an emotional conflict. The two areas seem to “speak” to each other and interpret the situation in order to decide which one will be on and which one off, thereby determining which network will be active. “The study suggests that these areas can influence the value – positive or negative – that will be dominant in an emotional conflict through control of other areas of the brain,” she added.Dr. Okon-Singer anticipates that the discovery of the areas of the brain that enable us to identify emotional situations and conflicts will now facilitate further research to examine why this mechanism does not work properly in some people. “We hope that by understanding the neural basis of the interpretation of situations as positive or negative will in the future help us to understand the neural systems of populations that have emotional difficulties. This will enable us to develop therapeutic techniques to make the interpretations among these populations more positive,” the researchers concluded. Share on Facebook Email Sharecenter_img Pinterest Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig and the University of Haifa, Israel, have identified neural mechanisms that help us understand whether a difficult and complex social situation is emotionally positive or negative.“When someone offends you while smiling, should your brain interpret it as a smile or an offense? The mechanism we found includes two areas in the brain that act almost as ‘remote controls’ that together determine what value to attribute to a situation, and accordingly which other brain areas should be on and which should be off,” explains Dr. Hadas Okon-Singer of the University of Haifa, one of the leaders of the study.We are all familiar with the expression “we don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” referring to a situation that includes both positive and negative elements. But how does the brain actually desire “whether to laugh or cry”? Dr. Okon-Singer explains that previous studies have identified the mechanisms by which the brain determines whether something is positive or negative. However, most of these studies focused on dichotomous situations – the participants were submitted either to a completely positive stimulus (a smiling baby or a pair of lovers) or a completely negative one (a dead body). The present study sought to examine complex cases involving both positive and negative stimuli. LinkedInlast_img read more

A father’s influence makes for better grades

first_imgThe warmth of a father’s love has a special influence on young people, and makes them feel optimistic and determined to strive for greater things. It also boosts the math grades of teenage girls and the language ability of boys, says Dr. Marie-Anne Suizzo of the University of Texas in the US, in an article in Springer’s journal Sex Roles.Adolescents from low-income families in particular are more likely than their middle-class peers to underachieve and to drop out of school. Studies have shown, however, that a positive attitude towards school work and the support and encouragement from their parents can help at-risk youngsters to overcome the economic barriers and lack of resources they face. Most of the evidence about the effects of parental involvement comes from research on mothers. Little is known, however, about how adolescents experience their fathers’ warmth and the beliefs and behaviors that are most affected by it.This new study is part of a larger one focusing on low-income, ethnic minority families conducted in four middle schools in the southwestern United States. Data were analyzed from questionnaires completed by 183 sixth-graders about how optimistic and motivated they were about their schoolwork, and how they experienced their fathers. The questionnaires were completed primarily by respondents of Mexican American, African American and European American descent. Their maths and language arts grades were also obtained. They were analyzed together with the questionnaire data. The research team took into account the influence that mothers have on their children’s well-being in their analyses. Email Their findings show how fathers can support their teenagers in ways that result in greater optimism, self-efficacy, and, ultimately, higher achievement at school. This is even true for men with low levels of education or those who are not proficient enough in English to help their children with their homework.“Low-income fathers affect their adolescents’ beliefs about themselves and their future, and these beliefs influence their achievement by increasing their determination to persist on school tasks,” says Suizzo.These positive effects extend to both sons and daughters, albeit in different ways. Experiencing their father’s warmth first influences daughters’ sense of optimism, and then spills over into their feeling more determined and certain about their academic abilities. This in turn leads to better math grades. There is a more direct link between their fathers’ involvement and teenage boys’ belief in their ability to succeed on the academic front. This heightened self-confidence increased their success in English language arts classes.Suizzo suggests that counselors and educators should encourage fathers to communicate warmth and acceptance to their children, because of the positive influence these emotions have on their well-being. Share on Twitter LinkedIncenter_img Pinterest Share on Facebook Sharelast_img read more