The first Croatian Parks Week from 21 to 29 May 2016

first_imgWith more than 40 different activities, Croatian national parks and nature parks will mark the Day of Nature Protection of the Republic of Croatia, the International Day for Biodiversity and the European Day of Parks.Within the brand Parks of Croatia, organized by the Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection, 8 national and 11 nature parks and the UNDP PARCS project, from 21 to 29 May will mark the first Croatian Parks Week. In a week, Croatian parks will mark the Day of Nature Protection of the Republic of Croatia and the International Day for Biodiversity on May 22 and the European Day of Parks on May 24 with numerous interesting events for visitors.After creating the Parks of Croatia brand, which united all Croatian national and nature parks, for the first time we decided to dedicate a whole week a year to our protected areas, said Valentina Futač, PARCS project manager “Hrvatski parkovi prošle su godine privukli preko 3,1 milijun posjetitelja te su zasigurno jedan od najboljih promotora Hrvatske u svijetu, a uključivanje lokalnog stanovništva u aktivnosti koje organiziraju prepoznato je kao bitno za podizanje svijesti o važnosti zaštite prirode i očuvanja bioraznolikosti. U devet dana u našim će se parkovima održati više od 40 različitih aktivnosti osmišljenih za sve dobne uzraste pa pozivam građane da nam se pridruže i uživaju u prirodnim ljepotama Hrvatske” points out FutachIn terms of preserved nature, Croatia is one of the richest countries, a resource that we must preserve and nurture. Lectures and competitions for primary school students, educational workshops, volunteer programs for cleaning the environment and the seabed, presenting offers from local producers of indigenous products and competitive races are just some of the activities that public institutions want to show to local people and the general public. what natural resources Croatia abounds in.The wish of the organizers is for the Croatian Parks Week to become a traditional event with which 8 national and 11 nature parks will open the main part of the season. See the schedule of all events here, and you can find out more about the whole project at www.parkovihrvatske.hrlast_img read more

The first 3D image of a new attraction in Vukovar

first_imgThe only Croatian 3D Street Art artist, Filip Mrvelj, painted the first 3D painting in Vukovar.Over the course of 4 days, he painted the pedestrian bridge over the Vuka in such a way as to obtain a 3D effect that is very attractive to both domestic and foreign tourists, which was shown by the great interest of people and the media. At about 100 square meters in a length of almost 20 meters, Mrvelj made a picture of the illusion of three-dimensional space on the pedestrian bridge at the confluence of the Vuka and Danube rivers.This way of painting is called anamorphic painting, and the 3D effect is obtained by looking from one point using a lens (mobile phone, camera, camera). Due to their interactivity, they represent a tourist attraction in cities around the world. Philip’s paintings are found all over the world, and he was the first 3D artist to paint such a painting in Cyprus. So far, he has presented his works in Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Austria, Switzerland, Thailand and Qatar.This is the first 3D image in Vukovar and we sincerely hope that it will not be the last. It all starts with one small idea, action, strategy and vision, and a 3D image can be the first element of the urban development of the ugly city of Vukovar. Of course if we want to and if I have a development strategy. If a butterfly flutters its wings in Beijing, it can cause a hurricane in Florida, says the chaos theory, and this 3D image can cause positive chaos and launch a totally new direction in the development of the city of Vukovar – which is certainly more than welcome.Why couldn’t the Croatian or European Championship in the best 3D images be held in Vukovar? Maybe, in fact. This one 3D image should metaphorically be just butterfly wings, not a single great news that is forgotten the very next day.Again, it’s all up to us, we have potential and opportunities, it’s just a question of whether we want to or not. There is no room for excuses (no money, no people, no ideas, no opportunity…) everything is possible and everything is possible.If you can dream it, you can do it. Walt Disneylast_img read more

618 million worth of investment by Hotel Plat dd declared a strategic project

first_imgAt today’s session of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the project of building a luxury resort of Hotel Plat dd in the municipality of Župa dubrovačka was declared a strategic project of the Republic of Croatia.Karisma Hotels Adriatic (KHA), which manages Hotels Plat dd, estimates the total value of the entire project, including the acquisition and investment, at more than HRK 618 million. After the completion of the planned investment cycle in the reconstruction and construction of new capacities, the value of which is estimated at more than 428 million kuna, Hoteli Plat dd will have 550 accommodation units of 5 * standard, and the new resort will appear on the market under TUI’s most prestigious brand. SENSATORS.”The investment in “Sensators Dubrovnik” will bring a new quality to the Croatian tourist offer and give its contribution to the development of the economy and employment in this region. I am sure that with the innovative concept of our resort and the quality of service we will set new standards in Croatian tourism. The arrival of the Sensatori brand additionally confirmed the trust of TUI as the world’s largest tour operator in Croatian tourism. Furthermore, with this project we are one step closer to the goal we set for ourselves, which is that KHA manages 5000 rooms in the wider region.”, Said Marinko Benic, CEO and CEO of Karisma Hotels Adriatic (KHA).SENSATORS Dubrovnik, ie today Plat hotels, in full splendor and exceptional offer on the Croatian tourist market will shine in early 2019, and guests will be offered 550 accommodation units, including the recognizable Karisma “swim up” rooms with direct access to the pools from the terraces rooms, 5 top restaurants and 8 bars, 3 of which are located on the pools. Exceptional additional facilities will not be lacking in the offer of as many as 6 swimming pools, which will cover an area of ​​more than 2000 m1200. The most modern wellness and spa zone will occupy more than XNUMX mXNUMX, while the rich facilities will further strengthen the attractiveness of this location in the part of the offer for children and entertainment and sports facilities.By the way, KHA represents a joint company of business groups Karisma Resorts International, a leader in hotel management, which has an enviable collection of award-winning hotels in its portfolio; Agrokora dd, the largest company in the Adria region and also the leader in the activities in which it operates in the markets of Central and Eastern Europe and the TUI Group of the world’s largest tour operatorlast_img read more

Conference “Travel agencies partners to hosts” held in Split

first_imgToday in the Croatian Chamber of Commerce, the Split County Chamber, a conference “Travel agencies partners to the hosts” was held.The conference is the result of cooperation between the Family Tourism Association Section and the Professional Group of Travel Agencies at ŽK Split, and its goal was to bring the activities of travel agencies (hosts) closer to service providers, which can facilitate their business and enable them to create the advantages necessary for better competitive tourism market. ”These forms of professional networking in ŽK Split were initiated precisely because of the importance of tourism for the Croatian, and especially the Split-Dalmatia economy. Excellent tourist results oblige to further work on raising the quality of services and extending the season. Therefore, we organize such gatherings with the hope that you will find interest in improving your business in mutual contacts, with the Croatian Chamber of Commerce as your support and partner.”, Said on behalf of the organizers the director of ŽK Split, Vesna Friedl.The number of family renters in the Split-Dalmatia County is constantly increasing by about 10% more family accommodation providers, while in the area of ​​the city of Split this number rises to a staggering 30%.Five travel agencies from the Split-Dalmatia County presented their services at the conference, after which individual business talks were held between private renters and agency representatives. Travel agencies presented numerous advantages of this sales channel such as presence on several foreign portals at once in the source language of the guest country, presence with foreign partner agencies and tour operators, security when canceling a guest reservation, communication with the guest in the source language, constant expansion of sales channels. , greater choice of payment methods for the guest, advice on marketing presentation of the accommodation facility, reduced administration for the host because there is no need to calculate and collect VAT on agency commission, which is ultimately invaluable for the final impression of the guest who will leave in the comments. ”Although working through the portal is certainly a good way of doing business, it is much more demanding in terms of the engagement of the landlord himself. Travel agencies offer different levels of services, from full management of the apartment to only occasional charging, check-in and check-out of guests and guests”, Said Nataša Bušić from the Tourism Department of ŽK Split at the meeting.The number of family renters in the Split-Dalmatia County is constantly increasing, for several years in a row there are about 10% more family accommodation providers in the county, while in the city of Split this number rises to a staggering 30%. “The great interest in the topic of the conference, more than sixty hosts present, confirm that this growing market of private accommodation, in addition to the current sharp jump in quantity, also needs further quality improvement. ”Concluded from HGK ŽK Split. Providing family accommodation services is a complete business process that requires knowledge from various business areas, such as marketing, informatics, legislation, foreign languages, and the landlord can get them in partnership with a travel agency.last_img read more

Virtual training makes veterans with PTSD nine times more likely to nab a job

first_imgShare on Facebook Participants in the training practiced repeatedly with the virtual character, a human resources staff member named Molly Porter. They spoke their responses to Molly’s questions using voice recognition software. A job coach in the program gave them immediate on-screen feedback as to whether their responses helped or hurt their rapport with Molly. The interviews got tougher as they progressed.Vets with PTSD and individuals with severe mental illness who took the training were nine times more likely than non-trainees to get job offers in a six-month follow-up after training. The more training interviews participants completed, the greater the likelihood of receiving a job offer and in a shorter amount of time.“Veterans with PTSD and people with mental illness such as bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia are prone to anxiety, which can escalate during stressful social encounters such as the job interview,” said Matthew J. Smith, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “The training was a big confidence builder for them.”The study will be published July 1 in the journal Psychiatric Services.The commercially available training from SIMmersion LLC is computer-based and can be accessed over the Internet at or installed from a DVD. It fills an important need, Smith said. Evidence-based employment services are not widely available to individuals with severe mental illness at a national level.Closed-door interviews may trigger feeling trappedThe job interview can be an emotional land mine for individuals with severe mental illness.Vets with PTSD may have trouble concentrating and following a conversation. A closed-door job interview may trigger a sense of being trapped. These former soldiers also may feel detached from others, which makes it hard for them to connect socially with the interviewer.Tricky conversations about time off for therapyThe vets and individuals with severe mental illness may need structured time off from work to attend their mental health services and need to know how to discuss this in an interview. These individuals may also have an extended period of unemployment, and the training gives them tools to discuss gaps in their work history. Practicing with the training program also helped participants become more comfortable in a job interview environment.The interviews with Molly Porter taught participants how to emphasize their strong work ethic and ability to work well with others. The program also showed them how to share their prior work experiences in a positive way (rather than complaining about past experiences), sound interested in the position and speak professionally.Trainees receive a score at the end of each interview with scores of 90 or better informing them that, “You’ve got the job!”When an individual accesses Molly, the program has certain features so a person can identify a disability. The program takes that into account when it asks questions in the job interview.Study participants included 70 individuals with severe mental illness (bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder) or U.S. military veterans who had a diagnosis of PTSD and a mood or psychotic disorder. Finding a job is difficult for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and individuals with severe mental illness, who have high unemployment rates even though many want to work.The job interview — especially hard for those with mental illness — can be a major hurdle.A virtual human — based on software originally used to train FBI agents — helped vets with PTSD and individuals with severe mental illness build their job interview skills and snag significantly more job offers, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study. Email Pinterestcenter_img Share Share on Twitter LinkedInlast_img read more

Researchers: Body fat can send signals to brain, affecting stress response

first_imgThe brain’s effect on other parts of the body has been well established. Now, a group that includes two University of Florida Health researchers has found that it’s a two-way street: Body fat can send a signal that affects the way the brain deals with stress and metabolism.While the exact nature of those signals remains a mystery, researchers say simply knowing such a pathway exists and learning more about it could help break a vicious cycle: Stress causes a desire to eat more, which can lead to obesity. And too much extra fat can impair the body’s ability to send a signal to the brain to shut off the stress response.The findings are important and unique because they show that it’s not simply the brain that drives the way the body responds to stress, said James Herman, Ph.D., a co-author of the paper and a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati,. Share on Twitter Share Pinterest Share on Facebookcenter_img LinkedIn Email “It moved our understanding of stress control to include other parts of the body. Before this, everyone thought that the regulation of stress was mainly due to the brain. It’s not just in the brain. This study suggests that stress regulation occurs on a much larger scale, including body systems controlling metabolism, such as fat,” Herman said.The findings, which reveal a novel fat-to-brain feedback network, were published in the June edition of the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology by a group that included Annette D. de Kloet, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in the UF College of Medicine’s department of physiology and functional genomics, and Eric Krause, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the UF College of Pharmacy’s department of pharmacodynamics.Researchers found that a glucocorticoid receptor in fat tissue can affect the way the brain controls stress and metabolism. Initially, such signals from the receptor can be lifesavers, directing the brain to regulate its energy balance and influencing stress responses in a beneficial way.“The stress response in the short term is adaptive. It’s going to help you cope with stress,” Krause said. “The idea that fat is actually talking to the brain to dampen stress is new.”The researchers found that steroid hormones known as glucocorticoids activate their receptors within fat tissue in a way that affects a main component of the metabolic stress response. Using mouse models, they found a unique connection between glucocorticoid signaling in fat tissue and the brain’s regulation of energy balance and stress response. Because glucocorticoid signaling is crucial to regulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, fat tissue can directly affect central nervous system functions that link obesity, metabolic disease and stress-related problems, researchers concluded.Understanding fat-to-brain signaling is a first step toward someday being able to influence the broad, complex relationship between stress, obesity and metabolism. Herman credited de Kloet for pressing the search for a fat-to-brain signaling network.Now that researchers have established that a fat-to-brain signaling pathway exists, a fuller understanding of how it functions could someday lead to drugs or other therapies that ward off the negative effects of long-term stress.“The big question is the nature of that signal to the brain. We need to learn how to go in and break that cycle of stress, eating and weight gain,” Herman said.last_img read more

First-of-its-kind study finds music therapy lowers anxiety during surgical breast biopsies

first_imgA first-of-its-kind study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology finds that music therapy lessened anxiety for women undergoing surgical breast biopsies for cancer diagnosis and treatment. The two-year study out of University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center involved 207 patients.“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first randomized controlled trial to test music therapy for anxiety management with women undergoing outpatient breast cancer surgery, and the largest study of its kind to use live music therapy in the surgical arena,” said lead author Jaclyn Bradley Palmer, music therapist at UH. “Our aim was to determine if music therapy affected anxiety levels, anesthesia requirements, recovery time and patient satisfaction with the surgical experience,” she said.Patients were randomly assigned to one of three study groups. One group listened to preferred live music before surgery, one listened to preferred recorded music, and one experienced usual care with no music before surgery. The participants who listened to either recorded or live music, selected their song choice, which was downloaded and played or learned and performed by the music therapist preoperatively. Share on Facebook Email Share on Twitter LinkedIncenter_img Pinterest “We discovered that anxiety levels dropped significantly from pre-test to post-test in patients who heard one preferred song of either live or recorded music before surgery,” said Bradley Palmer. “In this trial, both live and recorded preoperative music therapy interventions reduced anxiety significantly more than usual preoperative management by 28 and 27 points, representing percent reductions of 43 percent and 41 percent, respectively.”For the study, a nurse research assistant administered a pre-test to obtain a baseline reading on the women’s anxiety levels, then a post-test after 5 minutes of music therapy or usual care without music. Live music was performed vocally with guitar or keyboard accompaniment by a music therapist who stood at the patient’s bedside and presented the brief music therapy session as the patient awaited surgery.Whether patients heard live music or pre-recorded music before surgery, music therapists in both instances would engage the patients for five minutes in a short music therapy session which included the preferred song, conversation over the music choice and processing of any emotions which may have arisen. During surgery, the two groups that experienced live or recorded music, also listened to staff-selected, pre-recorded harp music through headphones, carefully chosen for its smooth melodic lines, stable rhythms, and consistent dynamics.Patients in the control group received usual pre-operative care with no music therapy and awaited surgery in typical fashion. The control group was given noise blocking earmuffs during surgery to cancel out any potential music played by the surgeon.In addition to anxiety measurement, researchers also looked at patient satisfaction, recovery time and the amount of anesthesia (drug: propofol) administered to reach moderate sedation during surgery.“There wasn’t a significant difference in anxiety between live music and recorded music,” added Bradley Palmer. “It seems like music, no matter how it is delivered, had a similar effect on reducing a patient’s preoperative anxiety.”Deforia Lane, Ph.D., Director of Art and Music Therapy at UH Seidman Cancer Center and one of the co-authors of the study, said “We know that music touches parts of our brain: The emotional center that creates release of our body’s natural opiates, for example, endorphins, enkephalins and serotonin. All of those things that are released, are triggered by auditory stimulation, and music is prime in that… and it’s without using any pharmacologic intervention-it is simply using the music as medicine.”The music groups and controls did not differ in the amount of anesthesia requirement needed to reach moderate sedation, and satisfaction scores were universally high across all groups. Recovery time did not differ among the music and the control groups, but those who listened to live music preoperatively had a shorter recovery time when compared to those who received recorded music. Additionally, subjective reactions to perioperative music therapy revealed that it may be an enjoyable addition to the surgical experience.“What we can conclude from our findings is that music therapy may effectively serve as a complimentary modality during cancer surgery treatment. A brief music therapy session has the ability to manage the anxiety that surrounds breast cancer surgery in a way that is effective, safe, time-efficient and enjoyable,” said Bradley Palmer.The study was funded by a Kulas Foundation grant to the music department of UH Seidman Cancer Center. Other researchers included Diane Mayo, MSN, UH Case Medical Center, Mark Schluchter, PhD, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Case Western Reserve University, and Rosemary Leeming, MD, Director of the Comprehensive Breast Program, with UH Seidman Cancer Center at the time of the study and now with Geisinger Health System.“Women facing surgery for breast cancer diagnosis and treatment may be understandably anxious as they face the unknown,” said Bradley Palmer. “By offering the additional care of preferred music therapy, women may be comforted and supported by familiar melodies and lyrics that offer the expected and familiar during an unusual time and environment. During this trial, it has been an honor to serve hundreds of women facing a crucial time, and I hope that our findings will inspire other hospitals to implement surgical music therapy so that many patients may benefit in the future.” Sharelast_img read more

New model of cognitive flexibility gives insight into autism spectrum disorder

first_imgCognitive flexibility is the ability to shift our thoughts and adapt our behavior to the changing environment. In other words, it’s one’s ability to disengage from a previous task and respond effectively to a new one. It’s a faculty that most of us take for granted, yet an essential skill to navigate life.In a new paper published in the journal Trends in Neurosciences, University of Miami (UM) College of Arts & Sciences researchers clarify many of the concepts surrounding cognitive flexibility and propose a model of its underlying neural mechanisms. The new model may be instrumental in understanding behavioral and neurological disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder.“By understanding how the brain attempts to implement cognitive flexibility in a neurodevelopmental disorder like autism, we can better understand the nature of the disorder,” said Dina R. Dajani, Ph.D. student of psychology in the UM College of Arts & Sciences and first author of the study. “The model will inform whether we should try to teach individuals with autism the strategies utilized by typically developing individuals, or instead improve upon already existing strategies of individuals with the disorder.” Share LinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on Twittercenter_img Email Pinterest For instance, knowing if there is a simple increase or decrease in connectivity between brain regions compared to healthy individuals, or whether those with autism use entirely different brain regions to implement cognitive flexibility will enable researchers to better design interventions to improve cognitive flexibility skills.The more cognitive flexibility an individual has, the greater his or her chances of doing well in life. Previous studies have shown that greater cognitive flexibility relates to better reading abilities as a child, resilience as an adult, and quality of life in the advanced years.“Our goal was to summarize and provide directions for future research on a topic that is relevant for understanding several prevalent developmental disorders,” said Lucina Q. Uddin, assistant professor of psychology in the UM College of Arts & Sciences, principal investigator of this study and co-author of the paper. “We believe that a better understanding of the neural systems mediating this critical ability will help clinicians design more effect treatments to help individuals who have difficulty with flexible behaviors in daily life, particularly those with autism.”In the paper, the researchers analyzed the existing literature and neuroimaging studies on cognitive flexibility and put forth a hypothesis regarding the fundamental neural mechanisms of this important faculty. The researchers suggest four components that work together to implement cognitive flexibility: salience detection/attention (both achieve similar goals to direct attention to behaviorally relevant events), working memory, inhibition and switching.If their model is validated, it will provide a strong foundation for researchers to use as a basis in determining what may be wrong in individuals with impaired cognitive flexibility.“Our concept is quite different from other conceptualizations of cognitive flexibility because we describe it as arising from four separate cognitive operations, whereas other researchers have described it as a manifestation of a single cognitive operation,” Dajani said. “This novel hypothesis may help our understanding of this complex ability.”The title of the study is “Demystifying cognitive flexibility: Implications for clinical and developmental neuroscience.” The researchers are now using functional neuroimaging to test the “four components” cognitive flexibility hypothesis.last_img read more

Stress experienced by an individual’s ancestors may overshadow the stress experienced within a lifetime

first_imgEmail Share on Twitter Share on Facebook New research suggests that stress exposure across generations may be more important than stress experienced within a lifetime.The study, published in Hormones and Behavior, compared a population of lizards (Sceloporus undulatus) who had been living near fire ants for about 30 generations with a population that had been free of fire ants. Young offspring from both these populations were exposed to fire ants (an ecologically relevant stressor), the stress-relevant hormone corticosterone (at a dosage to mimic the elevation that occurs in response to a fire ant attack), or a handling control once a week for 43 weeks.The researchers found that exposure to fire ants or corticosterone during early life did not affect the lizards’ stress physiology in adulthood. But the offspring of lizards from the fire ant-invaded populations did show a more robust stress response in adulthood compared to offspring from uninvaded populations, regardless of the early life stress they experienced. Pinterestcenter_img LinkedIn Share PsyPost interviewed the study’s corresponding author, Gail L. McCormick of the Pennsylvania State University. Read her responses below:PsyPost: Why were you interested in this topic?McCormick: We live in a stressful world, and understanding how individuals respond to stress is becoming increasingly important for both human health and conservation management. When researchers think about how an organism responds to stress, we don’t always consider previous experience with stress. When we do, we usually think in terms of an individual’s experience within its lifetime, but less so the experience of its ancestors. These stress histories may both affect how animals cope with the increasing amount of stress imposed by environmental change. We investigated the relative influence of stress experienced by one’s ancestors (transgenerational) and stress experienced in one’s lifetime (during early life) on how that individual responds to stress as an adult (adult stress physiology).What should the average person take away from your study?Our work reveals that the stress experienced by an individual’s parents or ancestors may overshadow the stress that an individual faces within its lifetime. In this study, offspring of lizards from high-stress sites were more responsive to stress as adults, regardless of exposure to stress during their own lifetime. This change is likely adaptive, as increased stress responsiveness triggers survival-enhancing behaviors in this species (to escape from fire ant attack, a frequent stressor at high-stress sites). Early life stress, however, did not directly affect adult stress physiology.Previous research demonstrates that early life stress can have long term effects on morphology, behavior, stress physiology, and immune function in a variety of species, including humans, but our work highlights the importance of also considering the effects transgenerational stress.Are there any major caveats? What questions still need to be addressed?The mechanism behind the transgenerational effect of stress exposure is still unknown. While long-term processes like natural selection could be playing a role, it is also possible that shorter-term mechanisms contribute as well, such as epigenetic effects (within lifetime effects that are transferred to offspring) and maternal effects (how mom provisions her offspring in utero or after birth/hatching).Transgenerational and early life stress may affect other traits, such as behavior, growth, and immune function, differently, and, in lizards, it appears that they do. Preliminary results suggest that the combination of transgenerational and early life stress dictate that animal’s immune response to stress later as an adult.Is there anything else you would like to add?The relative influence of these stress histories on stress physiology may not be conserved from species to species. Nonetheless, our work suggests that transgenerational stress exposure may influence adult stress physiology and, in some cases, may be more influential than stress experienced by that individual. Both stress histories should be considered when investigating how an organism responds to stress.The study, “Ancestry trumps experience: Transgenerational but not early life stress affects the adult physiological stress response“, was also co-authored by Travis R. Robbins, Sonia A. Cavigelli and Tracy Langkilde.last_img read more

Research reveals how the brain remembers fearful experiences

first_imgShare on Twitter “A number of place cells generates electrical activity called a ‘spiking pattern,’” Ji said. “When the rat is in a certain place, a group of neurons generates a specific pattern of spikes and when it moves to a different place, a different group of neurons generates another pattern of spikes. The patterns are very distinct. We can predict where the animal is by looking at its pattern of brain activity.”But, are these spiking patterns involved in memory?How to know what a rat is thinking“Our laboratory rats cannot tell us what memory they are recalling at any particular time,” Ji said. “To overcome that, we designed an experiment that would allow us to know what was going on in the animal’s brain right before a certain event.”In the experiment, conducted by first author Chun-Ting Wu, graduate researcher at the Ji lab, a rat walked along a track, back and forth. After a period of rest, the rat walked the same track again, but when the animal approached the end of the track, it received a mild shock. After it rested again, the rat was placed back on the track. This time, however, when it approached the end of the track where it had received the mild shock before, the rat stopped and turned around, avoiding crossing the fearful path.“Before a rat walked the tracks the first time, we inserted tiny probes into its hippocampus to record the electrical signals generated by groups of active neurons,” Ji said. “By recording these brain signals while the animal walked the track for the first time we could examine the patterns that emerged in its brain – we could see what patterns were associated with each location on the track, including the location where the animal later got shocked.”“Because the rat turns around and avoids stepping on the end of the track after the shocks, we can reasonably assume that the animal is thinking about the place where it got shocked at the precise moment that it stops walking and turns away,” Ji said. “Our observations confirmed this idea.”When the researchers, in collaboration with co-author Dr. Caleb Kemere at Rice University, looked at the brain activity in place neurons at this moment, they found that the spiking patterns corresponding to the location in which the rat had received the shock re-emerged, even though this time the animal was only stopping and thinking about the location.“Interestingly, from the brain activity we can tell that the animal was ‘mentally traveling’ from its current location to the shock place. These patterns corresponding to the shock place re-emerged right at the moment when a specific memory is remembered,” Ji said.Future directionsThe next goal of the researchers is to investigate whether the spiking pattern they identified is absolutely required for the animals to behave the way they did.“If we disrupt the pattern, will the animal still avoid stepping into the zone it had learned to avoid?” Ji said. “We are also interested in determining how the spiking patterns of place neurons in the hippocampus can be used by other parts of the brain, such as those involved in making decisions.”Ji and his colleagues are also planning on exploring what role spiking patterns in the hippocampus might play in diseases that involve memory loss, such as Alzheimer’s disease.“We want to determine whether this kind of mechanism is altered in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease. Some evidence shows that it is not that the animals don’t have a memory, but that somehow they cannot recall it. Using our system to read spiking patterns in the brains of animal models of the disease, we hope to determine whether a specific spiking pattern exists during memory recall. If not, we will explore the possibility that damaged brain circuits are preventing the animal from recalling the memory and look at ways to allow the animal to recall the specific activity patterns, the memory, again.” Share LinkedIn Share on Facebookcenter_img Pinterest Email Understanding how the brain remembers can one day shed light on what went wrong when memory fails, such as it occurs in Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University reveal for the first time the specific patterns of electrical activity in rat brains that are associated with specific memories, in this case a fearful experience. They discovered that before rats avoid a place in which they had a fearful experience, the brain recalled memories of the physical location where the experience occurred. The results appear in Nature Neuroscience.“We recall memories all the time,” said senior author Dr. Daoyun Ji, associate professor of molecular and cellular biology at Baylor. “For example, I can recall the route I take from home to work every morning, but what are the brain signals at this moment when I hold this memory in my mind?”Studying the workings of the brain in people is difficult, so scientists have turned to the laboratory rat. They have learned that when the animal is in a particular place, neurons in the hippocampus, appropriately called place cells, generate pulses of activity.last_img read more