In the first eight months, 3% more arrivals and 5% more overnight stays in Kvarner

first_imgIn the period from January to August 2016 in Kvarner was achieved 3% more arrivals and 5% more overnight stays (2.091.232 arrivals and 11.691.353 overnight stays).What is the real increase in tourist traffic, observing the multi-year period, is best documented by the fact that in 8 months of 2016, 750.000 more overnight stays were realized than in the whole of 2010. If the data for the first 8 months of 2016 are compared with the same period in 2010, this is an increase of as much as 25%.Most overnight stays were realized on the island of Krk (32% of overnight stays), where the number of overnight stays increased by 5%. In second place is the island of Rab with a share of overnight stays of 15% and an increase in the number of overnight stays of 7%. The ranking according to the number of overnight stays is continued by: the island of Lošinj, the Crikvenica Riviera, the Opatija Riviera, the island of Cres, the Novi Vinodolski Riviera, the Rijeka area and Gorski kotar. The highest number of overnight stays was recorded by guests from the age group 30 to 55 years (45% of overnight stays), and the lowest number of guests aged 18 to 29 years (11% of overnight stays). Guests under the age of 17 spent 25% of overnight stays, and those over the age of 56 19%.”We can be extremely proud of the outstanding results that Kvarner has achieved this tourist season and the increase in overnight stays by as much as 5% compared to the already record 2015. which is a great reward for all the tourism workers who have diligently prepared and done this season to whom I sincerely congratulate this way. 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 and branding of selective forms of tourism carried out by the Kvarner Tourist Board through the Kvarner Family, Kvarner Gourmet and Kvarner Food, Kvarner Outdoor and Kvarner Health & Wellbeing projects is a confirmation and guarantee that the growing tourist traffic in Kvarner observed in previous months is not accidental. ” points out Irena Perišić Živadinov, director of the Kvarner Tourist BoardAll of the above is the result of the marketing activities of the Kvarner Tourist Board in the most important emitting markets, from which almost 80% of foreign guests came, namely Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Hungary and the Czech Republic, followed by Poland and Slovakia. Guests from Germany realize almost 30% of foreign overnight stays, and in the period from January to August 2016, they achieved an increase in arrivals of 7% and overnight stays of 10%. Almost half of overnight stays were realized in private accommodation, where the increase in arrivals and overnight stays was as much as 15%. This is followed by camps where 130.000 more overnight stays were realized than in hotels.IN AUGUST INCREASE OF 3%, In August 4.659.847 overnight stays were realized in Kvarner, which is an increase of 3%. The first 6 countries in terms of the number of overnight stays in August 2016 were Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Hungary and Poland. 56% of overnight stays were realized in private accommodation, 25% in camps and 18% in hotels. Foreign tourists dominate with 94% of overnight stays, and the average stay is 6,6 days. ” Through the branding that the Kvarner Tourist Board is working on, a motive is created for the arrival of guests throughout the year. We are extremely happy that the pre-season was very good and it can be said with certainty that we are in another record tourist year, and according to the announcements, an excellent post-season is coming.”Concludes Perišić Živadinovlast_img read more

Sanja Čižmar: Croatia is a very interesting destination with international brands

first_imgTurkish investors, Dogus Group, are bringing to Zadar one of the most famous hotel brands in the world, Hyatt which will be the first hotel in Croatia. The entire project is estimated at a total value of 100 million euros, and the new hotel would be located in the former Maraska building, which is located in the city center.”Hyatt is one of several first-class global hotel brands in the segment of high-quality hospitality, so its entry into the Croatian market will certainly significantly contribute to an even stronger recognition of Croatia on the international tourist map.. ”She pointed out Sanja Čižmar, Senior partner of HD Consulting, adds that it is no coincidence that Hyatt linked its entry into Croatia to a hotel owned by the Dogus Group, since Dogus has been Hyatt’s long-term reliable partner in several hotel projects on the international market.The grand opening of the new hotel under the Hyatt cap is planned for 2019, and in addition to the hotel, hotel annexes, a new building with luxury apartments, a commercial shopping center, a restaurant and a yacht club would be built. “From personal experience of working with Hyatt, I know that this brand is extremely careful in choosing the destination it enters, since it maximally protects the brand’s reputation, especially in emerging markets such as Croatia. It is therefore a fortunate circumstance that there is a strong and stable ownership group here with a reputation for maximum professionalism like the Dogus Group, which will develop a hotel project in line with the highest international standards of high quality hospitality. Also, Zadar, whose attractiveness has become more and more visible on the international market in recent years, is also gaining even more recognition with the arrival of the Hyatt brand.”Points out ČižmarPhoto: Dogus groupAt the beginning of the year, domestic and foreign investors in tourism and hotel employees gathered in Zagreb for an international hotel investment conference. Adria Hotel Forum which was attended by the vice presidents of the world’s largest investment funds, which invest in hotels, as well as global hotel companies. The optimistic announcements of investors after the forum proved to be true, and with the entry of Hyatt into Croatia, we certainly become interesting to the largest hotel companies. “In recent years, the interest of major global brands in Croatia has been growing. Apart from Hyatt, whose entry into our market has now been made public, from personal contacts with brands regarding significant hotel development projects, I can say that all first-class global brands that are not yet present in Croatia have already signed contracts for projects in development, either negotiate such contracts, or seek suitable destinations. So, yes, in general it can be said that Croatia is currently a very interesting destination with international brands. For example, I was recently contacted by a colleague from a well-known global brand specializing in family vacation tourism who have several resorts in markets that are now affected by terrorism and are generally insecure, and asked for suggestions on which destinations and projects in Croatia could enter. Namely, they would like to withdraw from uncertain markets and move their operations to safe and attractive markets such as Croatia. “The amount of VAT and instability are still the main factors that bother and hinder foreign investors in Croatia the most, in fact, as if the situation is even worse due to political instability. Will the arrival of Hyatt encourage other large hotel chains to enter the HR market, regardless of all the circumstances? ” The entry of hotel brands has no direct connection with challenges such as legal uncertainty, tax issues, spatial planning issues and the like, which usually “hurt” investors and owners of facilities. Brands are contractually bound to the owners either through franchises or management contracts, and as a rule they all have an “asset light” strategy, ie they do not invest in assets, so when entering a market they mainly observe the attractiveness and image of the market or possible market risks. doing business from a market perspective. “Said Čižmar and adds that in addition to the natural attractiveness of an area, in modern times the security of a country where Croatia is doing well for now is especially important.Čižmar: Two factors contributed to good results this year. Apart from the nice weather, an important trend is the increasing recognition of Croatia as an attractive country, but also the fact that we are a safe country.The record tourist season and positive tourist indicators from year to year are certainly a good “bait” for new investors. Also, the satisfaction and positive feadback of hotel companies that are currently present in Croatia are also an important and good signal for new investments. When asked about the reactions from the field, Sanja Čižmar points out that according to her communication with the managements of hotel and tourist companies, the high summer season in Croatia was 5% -10% better than last year in terms of occupancy, and also announcements for the postseason are extremely good. “Prices were kept by hoteliers at last year’s level or raised minimally, depending on the destination. It is to be expected that foreign exchange revenues from tourism at the level of the year will be above 8,5 billion euros, which is a minimum of 7-8% more than last year’s revenues. ” Photo: Valamar Riviera, RabacAside from the nice weather that has accompanied us this year, what are the main success factors of this tourist season? “Two factors have fostered good results this year. Apart from the beautiful weather, which is important due to the high share of camps in our capacities, the trend of increasing recognition of Croatia as an attractive country is important, but also the fact that we are a safe country which acts as a factor in attracting demand in conditions of terrorism and general insecurity. Regardless of the fact that additional hotel capacity was put on the market this year through a larger number of renovated and a smaller number of new hotels, this did not have a negative impact on occupancy. Namely, the fact is that in relation to the needs of the summer season, we do not have enough hotel capacity, especially in conditions when part of the demand in the Mediterranean this year has moved from unsafe to safe areas. However, Croatia did not significantly capture the demand that left the countries affected by terrorism, for the simple reason that we have a different type of product and a different pricing policy. Rare hoteliers have accepted inquiries from tour operators trying to relocate operations to safer areas simply because the prices offered were below our price level. I think hoteliers did the right thing, because once you get into a spiral of price cuts, it’s hard to get out of it. ”Concludes Čižmar and adds that Croatia should not fight on the market by lowering prices, but by the quality of our product, because we certainly have our trump cards there.I can absolutely agree with Sanja Čižmar, that we should not lower prices but raise quality and that is the right direction for the development of our tourism.last_img read more

Zagreb refreshes its tourist card – Meet the Zagreb Card

first_imgZagreb finally got its own version of the tourist card – Zagreb Card.With the Zagreb Crad tourist card, visitors and tourists of the city of Zagreb get a free ride on the city transport and cable car, entrance to various city museums, the Zoo and the Zagreb Eye lookout. Also, the tourist card provides various discounts and benefits for the use of various tourist services, as well as shops and restaurants.The Zagreb Tourist Board is responsible for everything in cooperation with the partner, the company Fivestars from Zagreb, which is in charge of the implementation and implementation of the project.  “In the future, a mobile platform is being considered, but the main news for this year is the redesign of the card and the change of concept. From the card that used to offer only free transport and discounts, now we move on to the all inclusive card – transport, 2 attractions and 4 museums and additional discounts“They point out from the Zagreb Tourist Board and add that for now they do not have a segmented offer, but only through the differentiation of usage time – 24 hours or 72 hours.Zagreb Card is available to tourists in two variants, lasting 24 hours at a price of HRK 98,00 and lasting 72 hours at a price of HRK 135,00. “In communication, we will certainly emphasize the 72h card more in order to influence the guests’ stay in Zagreb for as long as possible. The main goal of the new ZG card concept is to enrich the city break product in Zagreb, and thus influence the satisfaction of guests. ” As the project was initially from Fivestar agencies, as a project partner, they invite interested partners to contact them in order to enter the Zagreb Card program and be part of a network of benefits that currently includes more than 70 partners. “We also have 12 physical Zagreb Card card outlets, and we currently include online outlets in terms of affiliate partners.. “Fivestar points out. Purchased cards can be picked up at the Tourist Information Center (TIC) on Ban J. Jelačić Square, while the list of all benefits and partners included in the benefits program for visitors and tourists can be found hereGet involved in this great project because the more benefits and opportunities there will be the better for visitors and tourists. Also, all tourist staff, and especially the hosts in family accommodation, inform and offer your guests the Zagreb Card, which provides them with various benefits. By being very important, we increase tourist spending and stimulate the local economy. At the end of the day, it is a win-win for everyone, both for tourism workers and partners and for tourists.See more about the whole project at official websitesPhoto: Davor Rostuhar, source: TZGZlast_img read more

A new hostel Morčić has opened in the center of Rijeka

first_imgIn the first four months, Kvarner recorded an increase in overnight stays of 40 percent, and the growth of interest, high occupancy of hotel accommodation and excellent booking announcements are just more than enough reason for new investments in tourism. That’s what Ivica Škrtić thought, and he was ready to invest in the new Morčić hostel, a modern design located just 3 minutes from the Korzo pedestrian zone.All facilities and sights are close to the hostel, which is certainly a great advantage, and the hostel offers two triple rooms, one single, one quadruple, two double and one bedroom with five beds – a total of 7 accommodation units for 20 people. Entering the tourism industry and starting this project is a constant increase in the number of nights in Rijeka as well as a large occupancy of the hostel form of accommodation, says Ivica Škrtić, the owner of the hostel and adds “As a young couple, we recognized the constant growth of about 20% annually and embarked on this form of tourism that we plan to expand in accordance with further finances.”The name of the hostel is associated with one of the most recognizable symbols of the city of Rijeka – Morčić, and especially the International Rijeka Carnival, whose mascot and trademark and officially since 1991. Morčić is a type of original jewelry from Rijeka, Kvarner and the Croatian Littoral, the most common in the form of earrings, and in addition to aesthetic and decorative purposes, it also means attachment to these areas. “We chose the name Morčić because Morčić is one of the symbols of the city of Rijeka, which we can often meet in jewelry, and it is still known and seen at the Rijeka Carnival. ” points out ŠkrtićThe entire investment amounts to a total of HRK 400.00, which is covered by own funds, and in the future there are plans to open another hostel next year. Interestingly, the hostel rooms will be decorated as if you were on a boat or yacht, ie as boat rooms. “As we are indirectly in tourism through laundry and cleaning services, this step was logical for us because we see a great need for new accommodation facilities in Rijeka. As we decided to learn this investment relatively quickly, we did not have time to apply for certain tenders and grants, but as we plan to open another hostel with which we want to offer something new and different, we will certainly try to get some of the grants for the day. development”Concludes Skrtić. Every new tourist investment should always be praised, whether large or small, including in the case of the newly opened hostel Morčić.last_img read more

Immersed in virtual worlds: The benefits of storytelling in video games

first_imgTo test the role of in-game storytelling, the researchers randomly assigned participants to play one of two video games. In the first game Gone Home, the player slips into the role of a female American college student, arriving home after a year abroad. The player comes upon an empty house and has to use various clues to figure out what happened to her missing family members. For the control condition, the game was Against the Wall, in which the player has to climb up an infinite wall by interacting with the bricks, in surreal but human-made surroundings. Apart from a brief description of the environment and goals, the game provided no narrative elements.For the game rich in storytelling (Gone Home), researchers provided one group of participants the game developers’ instructions and provided a second group of participants instructions to register, memorize, and evaluate various properties of the game. After 20 minutes of gameplay, all participants completed a task in which they assessed facially expressed emotions. The researchers used this task to evaluate the players’ capacity to apprehend others emotional states (theory of mind). The players also completed a survey to assess the amount of immersion and need satisfaction they experienced while playing.As published today in Social Psychological and Personality Science, the researchers found that narrative game elements contributed to a more immersive video game experience. They also found that being immersed in a game’s story supports players in perceiving opportunities for meaningful choices and relationships. And they found that the narrative elements affected theory of mind.“Although the effects regarding theory of mind were relatively small, we were excited to see initial evidence for the short-term enhancement through in-game storytelling,” Bormann says. “Importantly, this effect was specific to the condition in which participants actively engaged in the games narration, while the mere exposure to the narrative video game did not affect theory of mind, in comparison to playing a neutral video game.”Together, the results suggest that in-game storytelling contributes to a more immersive and satisfying video game experience while also fostering skills that are useful to players on a day-to-day basis. While more work needs to be done to examine these effects, Bormann says that long-term work on narration in video games could yield promising opportunities.“If further research could reveal how exactly in-game storytelling affects theory of mind,” he says, “clinicians and software developers could utilize this knowledge to develop tools to aid the treatment of disorders characterized by social-interaction impairments, like autistic disorders.” Share on Facebook A wealth of studies have shown that violent video games contribute to antisocial and aggressive behavior. But what makes those games appealing in the first place? One possibility is that storytelling plays a role, particularly if it lets players engage in meaningful choices. A new study suggests that non-violent video games that capitalize on such storytelling have prosocial benefits that could ultimately be helpful to clinical disorders such as autism.“The motivation to engage in and enjoy video games corresponds with principals that apply to human motivation in general,” says Daniel Bormann of the University of Freiburg. “For instance, successful game franchises offer players a spectrum of meaningful choices to shape the game’s narrative and environment, provide carefully balanced challenges, or encourage players to experience social connectedness and meaningful social interactions.” Research has suggested that the satisfaction of those needs results not only greater motivation to play but also enhanced well-being and a more immersive experience.Bormann and his colleague Tobias Greitemeyer wanted to explore this concept further, to see whether storytelling fosters immersion and changes how players are able to assess the mental states of others (called “theory of mind”). Immersion, Bormann says, “is characterized by an experience you might have enjoyed while watching your favorite movie for the first time – the sensation of being transported to another time or space, as though you are taking a real journey, or the feeling of being emotionally impacted by the protagonist’s fate.” Pinterest Share on Twittercenter_img Email Share LinkedInlast_img read more

When society isn’t judging, women’s sex drive rivals men’s

first_imgShare on Facebook LinkedIn Share on Twitter Share Men just want sex more than women. I’m sure you’ve heard that one. Stephen Fry even went as far as suggesting in 2010 that straight women only went to bed with men because sex was “the price they are willing to pay for a relationship”.Or perhaps you’ve even heard some of the evidence. In 1978 two psychologists, Russell Clark and Elaine Hatfield, did what became a famous experiment on the topic – not least because it demonstrated how much fun you can have as a social psychologist. Using volunteers, Clark and Hatfield had students at Florida State University approach people on campus and deliver a pick-up line.The volunteers always began the same “I’ve noticed you around campus. I find you to be very attractive”, they said. They varied what they said next according to one of three randomly chosen options. Either “would you go out tonight?”, or “will you come over to my apartment?”, or “would you go to bed with me?” (if these phrases sound familiar, it may be because they form the chorus of Touch and Go’s 1990s Jazz-pop hit “Would You Go To Bed With Me” – probably the only pop song whose lyrics are lifted entirely from the methods section of a research paper).center_img Email Pinterest In Clark and Hatfield’s research, both men and women were approached (always by volunteers of the opposite sex). The crucial measure was whether they said yes or no. And you can probably guess the results: although men and women were equally likely to accept the offer of a date (about half said yes and half said no), the two sexes differed dramatically in how they responded to the offer of casual sex. None of the women approached took up the offer of sex with a complete stranger. Three-quarters of the men did (yes, more than were willing to just go on a date with a complete stranger).A matter of interpretationBut since this experiment, controversy has raged about how it should be interpreted. One school of thought is that men and women make different choices because of different sex drives, sex drives which are different for deeply seated biological reasons to do with the logic of evolution. Because, this logic goes, there is a hard limit on how many children a women can have she should be focused on quality in her sexual partners – she wants them to invest in parenting, or at the very least make a high-grade genetic contribution. If she has a child with the wrong partner, she uses up one of a very limited number of opportunities to reproduce. So she should be choosy.A man on the other hand, shouldn’t be so concerned about quality. There’s no real limit on the number of children he can have, if he has them with different women, so he should grab every sexual opportunity he can, regardless of the partner. The costs are low, there are only benefits.This evolutionary logic, relentlessly focused as it is on reproduction and survival, does provide a consistent explanation for the differences Clark and Hatfield observed, but it isn’t the only explanation.The problem is that the participants in this experiment aren’t abstract representatives of all human men and women. They are particular men and women from a particular place and time, who exist in a particular social context – university students in American society at the end of the 20th century. And our society treats men and women very differently. So how about this alternate take: maybe men and women’s sex drives are pretty similar, but the experiment just measures behaviour which is as shaped by society as much as biology.Taking out the social factorThis month, new research published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, gives a vital handle on the question of whether women really don’t want sex as much as men do.Two German researchers, Andreas Baranowski and Heiko Hecht, replicated the original Clark and Hatfield study, but with some vital changes. First they showed that the original result still held, even among German university students in the 21st century – and they showed that it still held if you asked people in a nightclub rather than on campus. But the pair reasoned that one factor in how women respond to invitations to sex may be fear – fear of reputational damage in a culture which judges women’s sexual activity differently from men’s, and fear of physical harm from an encounter with a male stranger. They cite one study which found that 45% of US women have experienced sexual violence of some kind.So, in order to find out if women in these experiments were held back by fear, they designed an elaborate cover scenario designed to make the participants believe they could accept offers of sex without fear of anyone finding out, or of physical danger. Participants were invited into a lab under the ruse that they would be helping a dating company evaluate their compatibility rating algorithm. They were presented with ten pictures of members of the opposite sex and led to believe that all ten had already agreed to meet up with them (either for a date, or for sex). With these, and a few other convincing details, the experimenters hoped that participants would reveal their true attitudes to dating, or hooking up for sex with, total strangers, unimpeded by fear of what might happen to them if they said yes.The results were dramatic. Now there was no difference between the dating and the casual sex scenarios, large proportions of both men and women leap at the chance to meet up with a stranger with the potential for sex – 100% of the men and 97% of the women in the study chose to meet up for a date or sex with at least one partner. The women who thought they had the chance to meet up with men for sex, chose an average of slightly less than three men who they would like to have an encounter with. The men chose an average of slightly more than three women who they would like to have an encounter with.Men are from Earth – and so are womenThe study strongly suggests that the image of women as sexually choosy and conservative needs some dramatic qualification. In the right experimental circumstances, women’s drive for casual sex looks similar to men’s. Previous experiments had leapt to a conclusion about biology, when they’d actually done experiments on behaviour which is part-determined by society. It’s an important general lesson for anyone who wants to draw conclusions about gender differences, in whatever area of behaviour.There was still a gender difference in this new experiment – men chose more partners out of ten to meet up with, but still we can’t say that the effect of our culture was washed out. All the people in the experiment were brought up to expect different attitudes to their sexual behaviour based on their gender and to expect different risks of saying yes to sexual encounters (or of saying yes and then changing their minds).Even with something as biological as sex, when studying human nature it isn’t easy to separate out the effect of society on how we think, feel and act. This new study gives an important update to an old research story which too many have interpreted as saying something about unalterable differences between men and women. The real moral may be about the importance of completely alterable differences in the way society treats men and women.By Tom Stafford, University of SheffieldThis article was originally published on The Conversation.Read the original article.last_img read more

Scientists pinpoint brain-swelling mechanism

first_imgShare on Facebook Email “We’ve known for years that sodium chloride accumulation in neurons is responsible for brain swelling, but now we know how it’s getting into cells, and we have a target to stop it,” explains brain researcher Brian MacVicar, co-director of DMCBH with the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and the study’s principal investigator.The team, including Terrance Snutch, director of translational neuroscience at the DMCBH, developed several novel technological approaches to identify the cascade of events that took place within individual brain cells as they swelled.They then switched off the expression of different genes and were able to pinpoint a single protein–SLC26A11–that acts as a channel for chloride to enter nerve cells. By turning off the chloride channel, the accumulation of fluid into the cells was halted, and nerve cells no longer died.“It was quite a surprising result, because we had few indications as to what this protein did in the brain,” says Ravi Rungta, then a graduate student in the MacVicar lab and the paper’s lead author.Though the technique used by the researchers to block swelling and cell death is unlikely to work quickly enough to mitigate swelling in the case of real head trauma, the discovery has provided a target for drug development.“This discovery is significant because it gives us a specific target – now that we know what we’re shooting at, we just need the ammunition,” says MacVicar. “That’s what we’re doing now: looking for drugs to inhibit the chloride channel.” LinkedIn Sharecenter_img A team of UBC researchers has made a significant discovery uncovering the cause of brain swelling after trauma to the head. Their research, published today in Cell, paves the way for a preventative drug treatment for severe brain damage following stroke, infection, head injury or cardiac arrest.By turning off a single gene, scientists from the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health (DMCBH), a partnership of UBC and Vancouver Coastal Health, were able to successfully stop swelling in rodent brains.Brain swelling is a gradual process that becomes life-threatening within days of the injury, and is caused by sodium chloride drawing water into the nerve cells. This swelling–known as cytotoxic edema–eventually kills brain cells. Pinterest Share on Twitterlast_img read more

Political talk on Facebook mirrors political talk offline

first_imgShare on Twitter Political discussions conducted on social networking sites like Facebook mirror traditional offline discussions and don’t provide a window into previously untapped participants in the political process, according to a new study that includes two University of Kansas researchers.“Social networking is important, but what we’ve shown in political science is that the people who are using the Internet, be it Facebook, Twitter or whatever else for political activities, are really the same people who are politically active offline anyway,” said Patrick Miller, a KU assistant professor of political science and the study’s lead author. “There are not very many people who are political animals online but not in the real world.”The study, published in the journal Political Research Quarterly, involved a survey of discussions conducted in 2010 on Facebook and offline among students at the College of William & Mary while a fellow student ran for city council in Williamsburg, Va. Share on Facebook “It’s just another piece of evidence to show that social media isn’t the be-all and end-all. It is revolutionary in some aspects but at the same time people bring to social media the way that they behave everywhere else,” said co-author Peter Bobkowski, a KU assistant professor of journalism. “It’s a reflection of how people behave in various other settings, and so I think it’s a sobering reminder of the limits of social media, especially from people who try to bet a lot on it, whether it’s in political campaigns or various other ways that people try to spread messages.”However, Miller and Bobkowski said the study does provide some insight into how different people use social media and how people are discussing politics among their social ties.Better-connected Facebook users or “friend collectors” who have lots of direct social ties are more uncomfortable talking with people whose political views they disagree with or are unfamiliar with, Miller said. These users said they were more likely to tailor their Facebook privacy settings so that friends who disagreed with them politically could not see their political status updates or political discussions. They were also more likely to hide parts of their profiles with political content from friends with different political opinions.“For the friend collector, Facebook is just an echo chamber where they’re choosing to engage with like-minded people and having those opinions reinforced,” Miller said.Bobkowski said these users are less likely to express a politically risky opinion.“These people might be very expressive about anything else except for things that might threaten their position or might shrink their network,” he said.However, “gatekeepers” who connect groups of people who are otherwise not connected to each other were more comfortable discussing politics on Facebook with friends who had different political opinions. Someone in that role might be the lone social link connecting the otherwise polarized College Democrats and College Republicans, or the friend who connects students in one dorm with students in another dorm across campus.“Their job in the social fabric of a community is to connect people who don’t know each other. They are probably more used to navigating diversity and relaying information from one type of person to another,” Miller said, “so they’re more comfortable with managing risky discussion topics.”In another major difference among the two types of users, friend collectors were involved in more interactivity such as commenting on or liking their friends’ posts. Gatekeepers were more likely to use Facebook to politically persuade their friends, even though they engaged in less back-and-forth than friend collectors in those conversations. In essence, friend collectors were using Facebook to engage more deeply with friends who had similar opinions, whereas gatekeepers were more likely to use Facebook just to voice their opinion without actually interacting with friends.Even though the study found that social media platforms don’t break new ground among political discussion forums, it still could benefit political strategists if they have a way to target gatekeepers.“Facebook as a political strategy is vastly over-rated. Social media is not effective at mobilizing people who would not otherwise be politically motivated,” Miller said. “It doesn’t persuade people to vote for you and it doesn’t get out the vote by itself. But if a campaign could somehow know who are those social connectors out there, then those are the people they should use to disseminate their messages. The strategic problem for a campaign is the almost impossible task of knowing who those gatekeepers are.”Bobkowski said the next step in the research would be to examine how social media users treat the content of different types of political messages and how likely they would be to share or post them. LinkedIncenter_img Email Pinterest Sharelast_img read more

Understanding the link between bullying and suicide

first_imgEmail Share Share on Twitter Share on Facebook LinkedIncenter_img What does research tell us?Many studies have examined the relationship between bullying and suicidality, which includes suicidal thoughts and behaviors. We wanted to see what these studies could tell us about the strength of this association. Basically, is being bullied or bullying others associated with suicidality?To find out, we conducted a meta-analysis – that’s a study that rounds up all the studies to date on this topic. We examined 47 studies on bullying and suicide among students in K-12 settings. The studies were from the United States and other countries (including China, Australia, the UK and Finland).Overall, we found that youth involved in bullying in any capacity were more likely to think about and attempt suicide than youth who were not involved in bullying.The studies showed that bullies and bully-victims (youth who bully others and are also bullied themselves) all reported more suicidal thoughts and behaviors than those who were not involved in bullying. It’s bad for everyone involved.We also found that bullying and suicidality were most strongly related for bully-victims. This is consistent with past research suggesting that bully-victims are a a group at a particularly high risk for experiencing mental health issues.We wanted to know if the association between bullying and suicidality varied for girls and for boys, or if it varied by countries or how bullying was measured. So we examined these factors (where the study was conducted, the sex of the participants and so on).Stronger associations between perpetrating bullying and suicidal behaviors existed in US studies compared to international studies, and the same for bully-victims. The associations between bullying involvement and suicidality were similar for boys and girls.As a whole, studies also showed a stronger connection between being a bully-victim and suicidal thoughts in studies that used a single question (eg, Have you been bullied?) with a definition of bullying than studies that measured bullying in other ways.This finding might reflect that there are differences between youth who self-identify as being bullied rather than those who say particular experiences have happened to them (eg, they have been teased) but who do not self-identify as someone who has been bullied.What else do we need to consider?Research clearly indicates there is an association between bullying involvement and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. It also suggests that there are factors beyond involvement in bullying that are relevant to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.For instance, in one study of fifth through eighth graders, researchers found that youth with no involvement in bullying reported significantly fewer thoughts of suicide and suicidal behaviors than youth who were involved in bullying in any way.However, once depression and delinquency (engaging in illegal behaviors) were considered, there were only small differences between youth who were not involved in bullying and kids who were targets of bullying and between these uninvolved kids and bully-victims.A recent study of adolescents highlighted the role of low self-esteem and depression as factors contributing to suicidal ideation for sexual minority and heterosexual youth who had been bullied.What does this mean for intervention and prevention?Our cultural narrative about bullying presumes that youth who are bullied are at greater risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors. But research shows that bullies themselves are at risk as well. Bullying involvement of any stripe is harmful.Findings from our meta-analysis highlight that it is not just youth who are targeted by bullying who are more likely to think about or attempt suicide. Youth who bully others and bully-victims also experience suicidality.This analysis provides additional evidence that youth who both perpetrate and are victimized by bullying are at particularly high risk for psychological distress. Bolstering mental health supports for kids who bully others is essential. In addition to helping them curb their bullying behaviors, it is critical to look after their mental health needs as well.Additional research is needed to better understand other factors that contribute to the association between bullying involvement and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. In turn, more effective prevention and intervention programs can be designed to better address the mental health needs of youth involved in bullying.By Melissa Holt, Boston UniversityMelissa Holt is Assistant Professor, Counseling Psychology at Boston University.This article was originally published on The Conversation.Read the original article. Bullying, most of us probably know, can be a tremendously painful experience for a young person. Stories about teens like Phoebe Prince or Amanda Todd who killed themselves after experiencing bullying have driven this point home. All 50 states have some kind of anti-bullying law, and schools are increasingly being called upon to implement bullying prevention programs.Bullying and suicide are both significant public health concerns for children and adolescents, and we need to understand the link between the two. That means making sure that research evidence is integrated into the discussion so that we don’t jump to the wrong conclusions about bullying and suicide.For instance, when we think about bullying and suicide, we might assume that people who are bullied are at risk of suicide. But are the youth who engage in bullying behavior at risk of suicide too? Pinterestlast_img read more

Brain plasticity after vision loss has an ‘on-off switch’

first_imgShare on Twitter Share Share on Facebook Pinterest Emailcenter_img Age-related response to vision lossThe KU Leuven researchers discovered that cross-modal plasticity is age-dependent in an unexpected way: “In adult mice both the remaining eye and the whiskers compensate for the lack of vision in one eye. But in adolescent mice, only the functioning eye takes over. And yet, you would expect more plasticity in younger animals, because the brain undergoes major transformations during adolescence.”What is more, the study shows that the adolescent response can also be triggered in the brain of adult mice. “When you expose adult mice to darkness before removing their eye, they recover differently: their other senses take over to a smaller degree, similar to what happens in adolescent mice. The brain’s response, in other words, rejuvenates when adult mice spend time in the dark.”On-off switch in the brainThe brain controls which senses compensate for the loss of sight in one eye, but the underlying process has always been a mystery – until now. “Adolescent and adult mice have the same brain structure, so that cannot explain their different responses to sensory loss. Instead, we discovered a molecular on-off switch that controls whether or not the whiskers take over.”“After comparing different molecules with an impact on brain activity, we decided to manipulate neuroplasticity with indiplon, a sedative that affects the communication between brain cells and is thus similar to the activity-reducing neurotransmitter GABA. In adult mice, indiplon suppressed cross-modal plasticity: the lack of vision in one eye was compensated by the remaining eye, but not by the whiskers. You could say that we managed to ‘turn off’ the whiskers.”Clinical applicationsIn view of medical applications, the new insights into neuroplasticity – involving one or more senses – are crucial, Professor Lut Arckens explains: “Deaf or hard-of-hearing people can benefit from cochlear implants. In young patients who were treated in time, these work very well. In other patients, however, the treatment is no longer effective, as the auditory areas in their brain have already been taken over by other senses. This outcome is difficult to reverse, but we might be able to prevent it by suppressing cross-modal plasticity. In other cases, by contrast, we could support optimal recovery by boosting cross-modal plasticity. But these applications require a lot of further research. Our study paves the way by showing that we need to pay more attention to how sensory systems influence each other in the brain, for instance after surgery.” LinkedIn KU Leuven biologists have discovered a molecular on-off switch that controls how a mouse brain responds to vision loss. When the switch is on, the loss of sight in one eye will be compensated by the other eye, but also by tactile input from the whiskers. When the switch is off, only the other eye will take over. These findings may help improve patient susceptibility to sensory prosthetics such as cochlear implants or bionic eyes.Our brain adjusts to changes of all kind. This brain plasticity is useful for neural development and learning, but also comes into play when the nervous system is damaged. For instance, when we lose sight in one eye, our brain no longer receives sensory input from that eye, but it will compensate for that loss.Research in adult mice has revealed two types of neuroplasticity in response to vision loss. “When a mouse loses sight in one eye, the remaining eye starts sending additional signals to the area in the brain that used to be served by the lost eye,” biochemist Julie Nys from the KU Leuven Laboratory for Neuroplasticity and Neuroproteomic s explains. “After a while, the whiskers of the mouse – its sense of touch – step in as well. After a couple of weeks, the ‘lost’ area in the brain is entirely reclaimed and its brain activity is almost as high as it was before.” This phenomenon, whereby the brain responds to sensory loss by combining input from several sensory systems, is known as cross-modal neuroplasticity.last_img read more