Month: November 2020

Action plan for the development of congress tourism presented

first_imgMinister of Tourism Gari Cappelli presented an action plan for the development of congress tourism today in Zagreb as part of the 5th Forum of the Croatian Congress Industry.The action plan was created on the basis of the Tourism Development Strategy until 2020 in order to determine the steps for the development of one of the key tourism products in the coming years.  “Business tourism is one of the most promising tourism products that can significantly contribute to increasing the competitiveness of Croatian tourism. Over the past few years, revenues generated in the business travel segment accounted for only about 3 percent of total revenues in tourism, and this action plan lays the foundations for increasing revenues and creating a recognizable tourist offer that will extend the tourist season. We have set ourselves the goal of realizing revenues in tourism of 14-15 billion euros, in which business tourism can certainly have a great contribution.”Stressed the Minister of Tourism Gary Cappelli.According to the Tourism Development Strategy until 2020, the product of business meetings is considered one of the potentially more important tourist products of Croatia. Namely, despite the occasional oscillations, market trends indicate a globally stable growth of this product, which is reflected in the performance in Croatia, according to the Ministry of Tourism.Inputs from the market further indicate the perception of Croatia as an attractive and desirable destination for business meetings. Due to its various characteristics, it is also a product with a positive impact on some of the biggest challenges of Croatian tourism such as extending the tourist season, using hotel capacity and increasing tourist spending, not neglecting opportunities to generate new holiday demand by converting business guests. On the other hand, the further development of a competitive product of business meetings in Croatia necessarily implies overcoming a number of challenges, from strengthening organizational, logistical and human capacities to significant investments in production infrastructure and promotion. “This Action Plan sets a vision that would develop Croatia into one of the most desirable European destinations for small and medium-sized business gatherings of associations and corporations by 2020. Croatia’s positioning on the international market of business meetings will be based on cooperation between the private and public sectors, a modern and creative product embedded in the destination value chain, quality congress management and innovative marketing. ” emphasize from the Ministry of TourismFollowing the set vision, the goals are defined:Strategic goalDouble the number of participants – attract one million participantsIncrease average consumption per participantSub-goalsIncrease the number of gatherings of international associations and corporationsIncrease the recognition and desirability of Croatia as a destination for business meetingsIncrease organizational, lobbying and sales capacity of stakeholdersIncrease product qualityIn accordance with the set umbrella goals, Croatia intends to attract around one million participants in business meetings by 2020 and, by increasing their average spending, have a positive impact on increasing revenues from congress tourism. Such a shift necessarily presupposes a number of sub-goals, which relate to increasing the number of meetings of international associations and corporations to be held in Croatia, increasing the country’s visibility as a congress destination, increasing sales, lobbying and organizational skills and quality of content and services. In the chain of interest, including, above all, congress centers, DMC / PCO agencies and hoteliers. The realization of these goals is defined through 4 programs in the Action Plan, and they include improving the congress infrastructure, strengthening the capacity of congress offices and associations, Croatia on the international congress market.The action plan for the development of congress tourism was created in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and the Institute of Tourism, in order to contribute to global recognition in the tourism market, market repositioning from the destination of sun and sea to offer a variety of authentic content and experiences, time expansion and geographical dispersion. enriching the tourism production portfolio in order to increase the number of tourist arrivals and tourist consumption.MINT: CONGRESS TOURISM ACTION PLANlast_img read more

Scientists find clues into cognitive dysfunction in chronic fatigue syndrome

first_imgScientists at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health have identified a unique pattern of immune molecules in the cerebrospinal fluid of people with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) that provides insights into the basis for cognitive dysfunction–frequently described by patients as “brain fog”–as well as new hope for improvements in diagnosis and treatment.In the study published in Molecular Psychiatry, Mady Hornig, MD, and colleagues used immunoassay testing methods to measure the levels of 51 immune biomarkers called cytokines in the cerebrospinal fluid of 32 people with ME/CFS for an average of seven years, 40 with multiple sclerosis, and 19 non-diseased controls.The researchers found that levels of most cytokines, including the inflammatory immune molecule, interleukin 1, were depressed in individuals with ME/CFS compared with the other two groups, matching what was seen in the blood study in patients who had the disease for more than three years. One cytokine–eotaxin–was elevated in the ME/CFS and MS groups, but not in the control group. Pinterest Share Share on Facebook Emailcenter_img Share on Twitter “We now know that the same changes to the immune system that we recently reported in the blood of people with ME/CFS with long-standing disease are also present in the central nervous system,” says Dr. Hornig, professor of Epidemiology and director of translational research at the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Mailman School. “These immune findings may contribute to symptoms in both the peripheral parts of the body and the brain, from muscle weakness to brain fog.”Implications for Diagnosis and Treatment“Diagnosis of ME/CFS is now based on clinical criteria. Our findings offer the hope of objective diagnostic tests for disease as well as the potential for therapies that correct the imbalance in cytokine levels seen in people with ME/CFS at different stages of their disease,” adds W. Ian Lipkin, MD, John Snow Professor of Epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity.There is precedent for use of human monoclonal antibodies that regulate the immune response in a wide range of disorders from rheumatoid arthritis to multiple sclerosis. However, the researchers note, additional work will be needed to assess the safety and efficacy of this approach. LinkedInlast_img read more

Significant increase in major depression reported during recent recession

first_imgShare on Twitter The study is the first to evaluate the population-wide impact of the Great Recession on mental health.The study was a collaboration among Loyola researchers in the Department of Public Health Sciences and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences.Prevalence of both major and less severe depression was highest among adults who were living in poverty or had less than a high school education. “The mental health of these vulnerable populations may be most affected during time periods of economic distress, but more research is needed,” researchers wrote.It’s plausible, researchers concluded, that the Great Recession’s negative effects on employment, housing security, and stock investments contributed to the sustained increase in major depression. However, they noted it is possible other factors could have played a role.“The impact of the economic downturn on depression prevalence should be considered when formulating future policies and programs to promote and maintain the health of the U.S. population,” researchers wrote.The Great Recession officially began in December, 2007, and lasted for 18 months. But the effects of the recession, including high unemployment and home foreclosures and reduced consumer confidence, remained high even after the recession officially ended in June, 2009. During the past decade, more than 8 million jobs were lost and about 3 million homes were foreclosed.Researchers analyzed data from 24,182 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey during the years 2005 to 2012. Respondents were judged to be depressed depending on their answers to a depression questionnaire. The questionnaire asked about such depression criteria as depressed mood or irritability; decreased interest or pleasure in most activities; feelings of worthlessness or guilt; thoughts of suicide; and fatigue or loss of energy. Email Pinterest Share on Facebookcenter_img The recent Great Recession was accompanied by a significant and sustained increase in major depression in U.S. adults, according to a Loyola study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.Prevalence of major depression increased from 2.33 percent during the years 2005-2006 to 3.49 percent in 2009-2010 to 3.79 percent in 2011-2012, according to the study by Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine researchers.Prevalence of less-severe depression increased from 4.1 percent in 2005-2006 to 4.79 percent in 2009-2010, but then declined to 3.68 percent in 2011-2012. LinkedIn Sharelast_img read more

Study links delay of gratification to how brain structures are connected

first_imgPinterest Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email LinkedIncenter_img Share The ability to delay gratification in chimpanzees is linked to how specific structures of the brain are connected and communicate with each other, according to researchers at Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University.Their findings were published June 3 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.This study provides the first evidence in primates, including humans, of an association between delay of gratification performance and white matter connectivity between the caudate and the dorsal prefrontal cortex in the right hemisphere, said Dr. Robert Latzman, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Georgia State, who led the study with Dr. William Hopkins, professor of neuroscience at Georgia State. The researchers found higher white matter connectivity between the caudate and dorsal prefrontal cortex in the right hemisphere of the brain was associated with the learning of delay of gratification.Delay of gratification, the need to control emotional and behavioral impulses, is one of the earliest demands placed on individuals and is of critical importance, Latzman said.“Delay of gratification or self-control is core to a number of different types of mental illnesses, most notably ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder),” said Latzman. “This ability and the developmental process that occurs when children learn to delay gratification and inhibit an immediate want for a longer-term goal is a hugely important developmental milestone.”There is a considerable need for understanding connections among brain regions associated with delay of gratification abilities, such as the two regions that showed significant results in this study, Latzman said.The task used to measure delay of gratification in chimpanzees in this study is a parallel task to that used in a series of famous experiments conducted by psychologist Walter Mischel at Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s. Preschoolers were placed alone in a room furnished with a small desk and on the desk were two marshmallows and a bell. The researcher told the child he had to leave the room, but when he returned, the child could eat both marshmallows. If the child wanted to eat one marshmallow before the researcher returned, the child could ring the bell and eat one, but not both. When the researcher shut the door, some children ate the marshmallow right away and others tried to distract themselves, according to The New York Times.In follow-up studies, Mischel found that delay of gratification abilities at age 4 can predict a number of behaviors into adolescence and adulthood, including planning and reasoning abilities, control of negative emotions, standardized test scores, higher educational attainment, better coping abilities, fewer interpersonal difficulties, less substance use and higher self-esteem and self-worth more than 20 years later, according to Latzman.The current study involved 49 chimpanzees that were trained to perform a delay of gratification task. Researchers placed grapes in a transparent PVC pipe with a closed bottom and trained the chimpanzees to delay gratification in receiving the grapes. The study used chimpanzees because their self-control abilities, as compared to other model species such as monkeys, closely resemble those of human children and both their neuroanatomy and neural development are quite similar to humans. They also share a very high degree of genetic overlap, Latzman said.“We trained them to learn that if they waited, the one grape becomes two grapes and two grapes become three grapes and three grapes become four grapes and so on. There’s variability in how well they do and it was this variability that we were interested in,” Latzman said.All chimpanzees received DTI (diffusion tensor imaging) brain scans during their annual physical examination. Data were acquired that allowed the researchers to examine white matter tracts, or bundles of neurons that connect one part of the nervous system with another, between the caudate and prefrontal cortex. The white matter connectivity between these brain structures was compared to the chimpanzees’ delay of gratification abilities.last_img read more

Sleep helps process traumatic experiences

first_imgEmail Pinterest Share on Facebook Study participants were randomly assigned to two groups. One slept in the lab for a night after the video while their sleep was recorded via an electroencephalograph (EEG); the other group remained awake. “Our results reveal that people who slept after the film had fewer and less distressing recurring emotional memories than those who were awake,” explains first author Birgit Kleim from the Department of Experimental Psychopathology and Psychotherapy at the University of Zurich. “This supports the assumption that sleep may have a protective effect in the aftermath of traumatic experiences.”On the one hand, sleep can help weaken emotions connected to an existing memory, such as fear caused by traumatic experiences, for instance. On the other hand, it also helps contextualize the recollections, process them informationally and store these memories. However, this process presumably takes several nights.According to the authors of the study, recommendations on early treatments and dealing with traumatized people in the early phase are few and far between. “Our approach offers an important non-invasive alternative to the current attempts to erase traumatic memories or treat them with medication,” says Birgit Kleim. “The use of sleep might prove to be a suitable and natural early prevention strategy.” Share on Twittercenter_img Share LinkedIn Does sleep help process stress and trauma? Or does it actually intensify emotional reactions and memories of the event? This previously unanswered question is highly relevant for the prevention of trauma-related disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). How extremely distressing experiences are processed right at the outset can influence the further course and development of posttraumatic stress disorders. PTSD patients experience highly emotional and distressing memories or even flashbacks where they feel as if they are experiencing their trauma all over again. Sleep could play a key role in processing what they have suffered.A study conducted by a team from the Department of Psychology at the University of Zurich and the Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich has now tackled the question as to whether sleep during the first 24 hours after a trauma has a positive impact on highly emotional distress and memories related to traumatic events. In the lab, the researchers showed test subjects a traumatic video. The recurring memories of the images in the film that haunted the test subjects for a few days were recorded in detail in a diary. Virtually out of the blue, the test subjects would see a snapshot of what they had seen in their mind’s eye, reawakening the unpleasant feelings and thoughts they had experienced during the film. The quality of these memories resembles those of patients suffering from posttraumatic stress disorders. Other than after a traumatic event, however, they reliably disappear after a few days.Fewer Distressing Emotional Memorieslast_img read more

Study finds brain connectivity aberrations in anabolic-androgenic steroid users

first_imgUsers of anabolic-androgenic steroids have significantly reduced connectivity between certain brain regions, according to new research published in NeuroImage: Clinical.The study obtained resting state fMRI data from 50 male users testing positive for steroids along with 16 previous users and 59 men who never used steroids. Current users showed reduced connectivity between major brain hubs modulating emotional and cognitive functions. In particular, the researchers found reduced connectivity between the default mode network and the amygdala, and between the dorsal attention network and the superior and inferior frontal gyri and the anterior cingulate cortex.PsyPost interviewed the study’s principal investigator, Astrid Kristine Bjørnebekk of Oslo University Hospital. Read her responses below: LinkedIn Email Share on Facebook Sharecenter_img Pinterest Share on Twitter PsyPost: Why were you interested in this topic?Bjørnebekk: Studying effects of anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) on brain function is fascinating for many reasons. First of all, it kind of represents an extreme end of something that we all may relate to. AAS are synthetic derivatives of the male sex hormone testosterone, familiar to us all, but it is taken in such large quantities, with doses 5-100 times higher than the weekly production of healthy adult males. The intake of such high doses over time is often associated with both desired as well as undesired outcomes. It is beyond doubt associated with a dramatic growth of muscle mass, but for many individuals it is also associated with negative psychological side-effects such as depression, anxiety and aggression.Recent evidence, and something we are also looking into, suggests that AAS use also negatively influence aspects of cognitive functioning. AAS readily crosses the blood-brain barrier, thus there are many reason to suggest that it may influence brain processes, structural and functional organization. To our surprise no other human neuroimaging study of AAS users existed when we started up, and still there is less than a handful out there. Needless to say it is motivating to go into this exciting field on this basis.What should the average person take away from your study?We have recently published evidence suggesting that long-term AAS users show brain structural differences compared to non-using weightlifters, including smaller brain volumes and thinner cortex in widespread regions of the brain. The group differences increased with longer exposure. Now, using resting-state functional MRI, we also demonstrated that the same group of AAS users show alterations in the synchronization between large-scale brain functional networks. Briefly explained, it has been shown that brain activity during rest varies according to specific patterns, and it is considered that this intrinsic functional network organization tells us something about the network behavior underlying high level cognitive activity.These networks are found to be quite consistent across studies, and a range of neurological, mental and neurodegenerative disorders have been associated with alterations in the organization of such networks. Of interest, we found reduced connectivity in areas critically involved in emotional and cognitive regulation-namely between the amygdala and the default-mode network, and between the dorsal attention network and a frontal node encompassing the superior frontal gyri and the anterior cingulate cortex. Further reductions were seen in those fulfilling the criteria for steroid-dependence and in those with a higher lifetime exposure. Of note, although higher degree of lifetime exposure increased the effects, the effects partly seemed to be driven by current use, and hormonal status. We found clear differences between previous and current users, and higher testosterone to epitestosterone (T/E) ratio, which is used to detect exogenous administration of testosterone, was negatively correlated to brain connectivity in both the identified connections across the whole sample, including the control group.Thus, the brain network connectivity aberrations could be of transient nature influenced by the current hormonal status. Typical AAS administration regimens results in highly non-physiological levels of androgens and their metabolites, and large fluctuations at different time points in the cycle. Hormonal fluctuations of this kind are likely to influence brain functions, and might explain AAS induced alterations in mood and behavior. Seen in context with our structural MRI findings, it seems as exposure to supraphysiological doses of anabolic steroids both causes state dependent changes in brain functional network organization and has deleterious long term effects on brain structure.Are there any major caveats? What questions still need to be addressed?AAS use outside of elite sport is a relatively new phenomenon, with the first generation of AAS users now entering their 50s, so the knowledge on health consequences after long-term use is sparse. Of the least studied effects of AAS use is the potential consequences it may have on brain health. With these first neuroimaging reports, and accompanying findings from animal studies, we’re just starting to comprehend how long-term high dose AAS exposure influences brain processes and health. The early findings points to functional alterations of brain networks and widespread brain atrophy. Still there are few reports out there and to date no prospective longitudinal studies are available. Our knowledge of long-term consequences of AAS administration necessarily comes from field studies. Placebo controlled experimental trials that mimic real world usage will not be feasible in this field as it would be unethical to run studies over longer periods with the doses resembling what is being used out there.Unfortunately, of many reasons we lag behind in this field. Health care professionals have not been properly trained and aware of potential health consequences following AAS use. It has been shown that AAS users in general place little trust in health professionals because they perceive these professionals to lack knowledge about AAS use and its consequences, and users commonly do not disclose their AAS use to any physician. Thus AAS use often goes under the radar and as a consequence nothing is learned from these encounters about the potential serious medical consequences that high dose AAS use may cause. I cannot see why AAS use should not be mapped on equal terms as other drugs of abuse.Still, users may get help with medical conditions – but for mental health and cognitive problems it is different. Out-treatment patients at our institution state that the psychological consequences of long-term AAS use constitute the most serious consequences. Following AAS withdrawal, users may develop hypogonadism that may increase the risk of severe depression and sometimes suicide. Thus, a major caveat is not only increased awareness among health professionals about AAS use and its consequences, but there is an increased need to develop treatment strategies for this group.Moreover, in order to meet the needs of the growing number of the first generation AAS users entering their middle age, we need to intensify the search for AAS influence on brain functions. I’ve been encountered with AAS users with heavy AAS use for more than 25 years stating that if they had known all this back then, they never would have started. Whereas it seems as AAS use has a clear effect on brain organization and structure, we need to search deeper to understand the underlying mechanisms behind it. Moreover, although the majority of AAS users are males, there are a few females that use AAS in order to enhance muscular appearance. Although the doses applied by females often are much lower compared to what males use, the medical and psychological side-effects in females are considered to be very serious. To date, we have no knowledge about how AAS exposure affects the female brain.Is there anything else you would like to add?It should be kept in mind that we are focusing on the use of AAS for muscle up-building purposes, taken in supraphysiological doses. Our findings do not say anything about the medical use of AAS, e.g. in order to treat hypogonadism. That is probably a different story. It is known that low testosterone production in older adults is actually a risk factor for cognitive impairment and neurodegeneration, and that testosterone replacement therapy potentially may prevent such decline. Thus it is essential not to mix up these things.The study, “Brain connectivity aberrations in anabolic-androgenic steroid users“, was also co-authored by Lars T. Westlyea, Tobias Kaufmann, Dag Alnæs, and Ingunn R. Hullstein.last_img read more

Kids should pay more attention to mistakes, neuroscience study suggests

first_imgShare Share on Twitter Pinterest Share on Facebook Children who believe intelligence can grow pay more attention to and bounce back from their mistakes more effectively than kids who think intelligence is fixed, indicates a new study that measured the young participants’ brain waves.Led by scholars at Michigan State University, the research suggests teachers and parents should help children pay more attention to the mistakes they make so they can better learn from them, as opposed to shying away from or glossing over mistakes.“The main implication here is that we should pay close attention to our mistakes and use them as opportunities to learn,” said Hans Schroder, lead author on the study and a fifth-year doctoral student in MSU’s Department of Psychology.center_img LinkedIn Email Published online in the journal Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, the study is one of the first investigations into mindsets and the related brain workings of children. Participants’ average age was 7 — a time when most children are making the often difficult transition to formal schooling and when mindsets have their most noticeable impact on academic achievement.For the experiment, 123 children were assessed on whether they had a growth mindset (in which they believe people can work harder get smarter) or a fixed mindset (believing intelligence is set in stone).The children then took a fast-moving accuracy task on a computer while their brain activity was recorded. The task: Help a zookeeper capture escaped animals by pressing the spacebar when an animal appeared — unless it was a group of three orangutan friends, who were helping capture the other animals, in which case they had to withhold their response.Within half-of-a-second after making a mistake, brain activity increases as the person becomes aware of and pays close attention to what went wrong. Essentially, a bigger brain response means the person is focusing more on the error.Children with growth mindsets were significantly more likely to have this larger brain response after making a mistake in the study. In addition, they were more likely to improve their performance on the task after making a mistake.The study also showed that children with fixed mindsets were also able to bounce back after their mistakes, but only if they paid close attention to the errors. Previous research indicated that people with the fixed mindset don’t want to acknowledge they’ve made a mistake. Some people will even start taking about something else they’re good at as a defense mechanism. But the current findings suggest that the more they attend to their errors, fixed-minded children may still be able to recover as well as their growth-minded peers.Many parents and teachers shy away from addressing a child’s mistakes, telling them “It’s OK, you’ll get it the next time,” without giving them the opportunity to figure out what went wrong, Schroder said.“Instead they could say: ‘Mistakes happen, so let’s try to pay attention to what went wrong and figure it out.’”last_img read more

Sound waves boost older adult’ memory and deep sleep

first_imgGentle sound stimulation — such as the rush of a waterfall — synchronized to the rhythm of brain waves significantly enhanced deep sleep in older adults and improved their ability to recall words, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.Deep sleep is critical for memory consolidation. But beginning in middle age, deep sleep decreases substantially, which scientists believe contributes to memory loss in aging.The sound stimulation significantly enhanced deep sleep in participants and their scores on a memory test. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email Sharecenter_img LinkedIn Pinterest “This is an innovative, simple and safe non-medication approach that may help improve brain health,” said senior author Dr. Phyllis Zee, professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine sleep specialist. “This is a potential tool for enhancing memory in older populations and attenuating normal age-related memory decline.”The study will be published March 8 in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.In the study, 13 participants 60 and older received one night of acoustic stimulation and one night of sham stimulation. The sham stimulation procedure was identical to the acoustic one, but participants did not hear any noise during sleep. For both the sham and acoustic stimulation sessions, the individuals took a memory test at night and again the next morning. Recall ability after the sham stimulation generally improved on the morning test by a few percent. However, the average improvement was three times larger after pink-noise stimulation.The older adults were recruited from the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern.The degree of slow wave sleep enhancement was related to the degree of memory improvement, suggesting slow wave sleep remains important for memory, even in old age.Although the Northwestern scientists have not yet studied the effect of repeated nights of stimulation, this method could be a viable intervention for longer-term use in the home, Zee said.Previous research showed acoustic simulation played during deep sleep could improve memory consolidation in young people. But it has not been tested in older adults.The new study targeted older individuals — who have much more to gain memory-wise from enhanced deep sleep — and used a novel sound system that increased the effectiveness of the sound stimulation in older populations.The study used a new approach, which reads an individual’s brain waves in real time and locks in the gentle sound stimulation during a precise moment of neuron communication during deep sleep, which varies for each person.During deep sleep, each brain wave or oscillation slows to about one per second compared to 10 oscillations per second during wakefulness.Giovanni Santostasi, a study coauthor, developed an algorithm that delivers the sound during the rising portion of slow wave oscillations. This stimulation enhances synchronization of the neurons’ activity.After the sound stimulation, the older participants’ slow waves increased during sleep.Larger studies are needed to confirm the efficacy of this method and then “the idea is to be able to offer this for people to use at home,” said first author Nelly Papalambros, a Ph.D. student in neuroscience working in Zee’s lab. “We want to move this to long-term, at-home studies.”Northwestern scientists, under the direction of Dr. Roneil Malkani, assistant professor of neurology at Feinberg and a Northwestern Medicine sleep specialist, are currently testing the acoustic stimulation in overnight sleep studies in patients with memory complaints. The goal is to determine whether acoustic stimulation can enhance memory in adults with mild cognitive impairment.Previous studies conducted in individuals with mild cognitive impairment in collaboration with Ken Paller, professor of psychology at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern, have demonstrated a possible link between their sleep and their memory impairments.last_img read more

Consumption of ‘Cannibal drug’ in adolescence increases risk of cocaine addiction in adulthood

first_imgShare Pinterest Share on Facebook Email LinkedIncenter_img Consumption of the synthetic drug MDPV –a powerful psychostimulant known as ‘cannibal drug’- in adolescence, can increase vulnerability of cocaine addiction during adulthood, according to a study carried out with laboratory animals and led by the researchers Elena Escubedo, from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences and the Institute of Biomedicine of the UB (IBUB) and Olga Valverde, head of the Neurobiology of Behaviour Research Group (GreNeC) of Pompeu Fabra University (UPF).Cocaine addiction is now a great social, economic and health problem in lots of countries around the world. Therefore, any factor stimulating the effects of its consumption should be considered, and this is the aim of the new study, carried out on mice and published in the journal British Journal of Pharmacology.Other authors of this study are the experts David Pubill, Jordi Camarasa, Raúl López-Arnau and Letícia Duart, from the Research Group Neuropsicofarmacologia dels Derivats Amfetamínics (Neuropsychopharmacology of Amphetamine Derivatives) of the UB, and Miguel Àngel Luján, from the Neurobiology of Behaviour Research Group (UPF). Share on Twitter A new design drug with effects similar to those of cocaineDesign drugs are a new generation of addictive substances which have become popular among youngsters. Methylenedioxpyrovalrone (MDPV) is an amphetamine derivative spread as a high-abuse substance with higher psychostimulant effects than those of cocaine. Regarding the effects of this drug on humans, which inhibit the collection of neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline, there is no scientific bibliography yet.The new study analyses the influence of MDPV consumption during adolescence and its impact on adults’ vulnerability in cocaine use. The breaking point reference of the experts was the similarity of MPDPV and cocaine action mechanisms, and the practically permanent effects created by these addictive substances in certain brain areas –mostly in the nucleus accumbens- and pattern response alterations when facing specific stimuli.In the research, adolescent mice were treated with MDPV during seven days. After three weeks without the substance, adult animals’ sensitivity to cocaine was analyzed under different experimental protocols. At the same time, the changes in certain proteins associated to the addictive process were also analyzed.“In the new study, we state that the animals treated with MDPV during adolescence show reinforcing behavior patterns to cocaine which are higher than the control group. Also, these behavioural changes are related to alterations of factor expression directly related to addiction. For instance, the level of the factor DeltaFosB is three times higher than the normal level and it stays high during the three weeks after removing the addictive substances from the animals”, says Professor Elena Escubedo, also member of the Research Group Neuropsicofarmacologia dels Derivats Amfetamínics (Neuropsychopharmacology of Amphetamine Derivatives) of the UB.DeltaFosB, in particular, is a transcription factor involved in neuroplasticity expressed in addictions. “Since this factor is understood as a molecular “power switch” for cocaine addiction, we think this is the essential molecule to explain a great part of this phenomenon” says Escubedo.According to Professor Olga Valverde, from the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences of the Pompeu Fabra University, “although drug use can lead to addiction at any age, the new research shows that the sooner someone starts taking drugs, the more likely s/he will develop future severe problems. Therefore, efforts have to be focused on the study of consequences of exposure to the main abusive drugs during adolescence”.last_img read more

Maintaining strong friendships seems to be linked to slower cognitive decline

first_imgLinkedIn Email Share “You don’t have the be the life of the party, but this study supports the theory that maintaining strong social networks seems to be linked to slower cognitive decline,” said senior author Emily Rogalski, associate professor at Northwestern’s CNADC.Participants answered a 42-item questionnaire called the Ryff Psychological Well-Being Scale, which is a widely used measure of psychological well-being. The scale examines six aspects of psychological well-being: autonomy, positive relations with others, environmental mastery, personal growth, purpose in life and self-acceptance. SuperAgers scored a median overall score of 40 in positive relations with others while the control group scored 36 — a significant difference, Rogalski said.“This finding is particularly exciting as a step toward understanding what factors underlie the preservation of cognitive ability in advanced age, particularly those that may be modifiable,” said first author Amanda Cook, a clinical neuropsychology doctoral student in the laboratory of Rogalski and Sandra Weintraub.Other research studies have reported a decline in social networks in people with Alzheimer’s disease and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), and previous literature has shown psychological well-being in older age to be associated with reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia.“It’s not as simple as saying if you have a strong social network, you’ll never get Alzheimer’s disease,” Rogalski said. “But if there is a list of healthy choices one can make, such as eating a certain diet and not smoking, maintaining strong social networks may be an important one on that list. None of these things by themself guarantees you don’t get the disease, but they may still have health benefits.” Pinterestcenter_img Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Maintaining positive, warm and trusting friendships might be the key to a slower decline in memory and cognitive functioning, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study.SuperAgers — who are 80 years of age and older who have cognitive ability at least as good as people in their 50s or 60s — reported having more satisfying, high-quality relationships compared to their cognitively average, same-age peers, the study reports.Previous SuperAger research at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center (CNADC) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has focused on the biological differences in SuperAgers, such as discovering that the cortex in their brain is actually larger than their cognitively average, same-age peers. This study, published Oct. 23 in the journal PLOS ONE, was the first to examine the social side of SuperAgers.last_img read more