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HOK’s reaction to the text “Caterers without the right to vote”

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first_imgRelated to the text "Non-voting caterers”, Authored by Zoran Lukić, President of the Croatian Association of Waiters and Bartenders, published on the website hrturizam.hr on June 13, 2016, and which was transferred from the portal Barmen.hr, we announce the response Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts (HOK) which we transmit to you in full. As the Guild of Caterers and Tourist Employees of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts is unjustifiably called out in several places in this text, this is the reason for our address in front of the Guild, with the intention of correcting incorrectly stated or incorrectly emphasized allegations.From the above text, we single out the allegations to which we react: ....it is unfortunate that only caterers and representatives of CEHs are silent when the state strikes levies on the back….… .I never once heard on television that the CEH of the caterer rebelled and got to his feet….… ..I was present at some seminars and meetings where ideas were presented - take for example a seminar on the “New Labor Law” where only representatives of large hotel houses were present and proposed laws that would facilitate work in hotels (a system where they have all the departments arranged and it is not a problem for them to have an economist in the kitchen…) but there was NO ONE present representing the little caterer, which is most important for the image of tourism in the country… ..… .The sessions of the CEH of caterers are always closed and, unfortunately, we cannot act in isolation from the outside on important plans and changes that directly affect the development strategy of the Croatian hospitality sector. I would be overjoyed that all the membership fees that caterers have to pay actually make sense and contribute to the improvement of business conditions of the caterer …….The Guild of Caterers and Tourist Employees of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts (HOK) gathers over 16.000 craftsmen and caterers and is the most numerous Guild of HOK, and currently about 78.000 trades are active in the Republic of Croatia. Guilds are established to harmonize and resolve professional issues of the industry to which the craftsman belongs, craftsmen organize their professional work by guilds at the level of associations of craftsmen (cities and municipalities), regional (county) Chamber of Crafts and HOK.There are 9 guilds at the Croatian Chamber of Crafts (Guild of Carriers, Guild of Caterers for Tourist Workers, Guild for Fisheries and Aquaculture, Guild of Trade, Guild of Construction, Guild of Hairdressers and Beauticians, Guild of Production Crafts, Guild of Service Crafts, Guild of Agriculture and Freshwater Fisheries). Initiatives coming from the field, the Guild considers at the local and national level and sends proposals to the competent local and state authorities, in order to jointly eliminate the problems and obstacles encountered by caterers and tourism professionals in their business.Representing the interests of the membership is the primary task of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, as well as the Guilds. The author of the text states that he did not meet anyone who would represent the small caterer at seminars and meetings where the new laws were discussed. The question is whether the author of the text is a craftsman or a company. Namely, craftsmen (of all activities, including the caterer), are members of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts, and companies of all activities - doo, jdoo (as well as caterers) are members of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce.Anyone who sees their interest in such an association and joins more and more, as they get to know the activities of the professional gathering, as well as the work of the Guild of Caterers and Tourist Workers, can join the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts as voluntary members. Everyone is welcome, as is Mr. Lukić if he is registered as a caterer or wishes the catering profession well. Our Guilds independently organize discussions on new laws, and in addition, the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts has representatives of the profession in numerous working groups and commissions at the ministries, thus directly participating in the preparation of new laws.Nenad Šepak, President of the Guild of Caterers and Tourist Workers of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts / Photo: HOKWhat does the Guild of Caterers and Tourism Workers do? Lot.In the past, the caterers have proactively worked to reduce the VAT from 25% to 10% (now to 13%), by including wine and beer in food products, we have enabled the application of a rate of 13%, we have lifted the rigorous smoking ban - the only one in Europe, changed the law on 0,0 per mille, abolished the certification of price lists and standards, abolished the collection of signatures of tenants, abolished the search for administrative solutions for working hours, expanded the tourist zone, reduced payments for monument rent, reduced rent for business premises, abolished the ban on alcohol 6 to 8 hours, enabled the transfer of minimum technical requirements, increased personal deductions and increased consumption, participated in the drafting of the new Law on Hospitality, returned the profession to the laws and regulations on hospitality.In Zagreb, caterers managed to reduce consumption taxes by 33%, revised price lists, ordinances and decisions on communal order and public areas and the installation of terraces. How many caterers, for example, wrote to the Government and asked that guests can smoke in their bars, remember the famous 0 per mille of blood alcohol, VAT reduction from 25% to 13%, then extremely useful and free guides and documents for self-management HACCP system, whose price was initially € 5.000?And all this is used by caterers (not only craftsmen, members of HOK, but everyone), thanks to their representatives in the Guild and experts in the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts who defended the requests of caterers in contacts with the ministries. All activities of the Guild are public and transparent, information from the sessions is published on the website www.hok.hr and on the Facebook page of the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts and are distributed to the media, and press conferences are also organized.Value Added Tax ActWith the support of the Ministry of Tourism, a lower VAT rate (initially 10%, then 13%) was prescribed for catering services, which greatly contributes to the competitiveness of this economic sector and equalization of business conditions compared to other EU countries.Leadč good hygiene practices and HACCP leadsčThe development of the Guide to Good Hygienic Practice and the HACCP Guide for the Catering, Trade, Confectionery and Bakery activities has provided a direct benefit for our members, which is measured in tens of millions of kunas. Since HOK initiated the adoption of national guides that are publicly available, craftsmen are not forced to bring guides for each activity per person, and thus significant savings have been made to our members.More flexible regulated smoking in catering facilitiesAfter the restrictive Law on Restricting the Use of Tobacco Products, when the possibility of smoking in catering facilities was completely excluded, the HOK initiative changed the law so that smoking is allowed completely in small bars up to 50 square meters, or for larger bars in separate special rooms.Mitigated per mille in the Road Traffic Safety ActAfter the restrictive Law on Road Traffic Safety, which allowed driving with only 0 per mille of alcohol in the blood, at the initiative of HOK, changes were accepted to a reasonable extent, which provided sufficient traffic safety and normal business and consumption of food and beverages in restaurants. . Until this change, significant losses were recorded in the entire catering and wine production.For caterers, smaller subscription for HRT Prema Croatian Radio and Television Act OG 137/10, legal and natural persons performing catering activities in accordance with a special law by paying a monthly fee for one receiver in a catering facility acquired, through the commitment of HOK, the right to use three additional receivers in the same catering facility without paying a monthly fee.Law on Catering ActivityThe Guild actively participated in the preparation of the draft Law on Hospitality, which entered into force in early August 2015.The Ministry accepted some long-standing requests from the Guild of Caterers and Tourist Workers:greater possibility of extension of working hours for catering facilities by local government and self-government;in catering facilities it will be possible to trade on a smaller scale (sale of souvenirs, paintings, snack products, printed matter, etc.) in accordance with a special regulation governing the performance of trade activities;the possibility for caterers to provide accommodation services in rooms such as rooms, apartments, studio apartments and holiday homes, regardless of the organizational form, in business and residential buildings;the caterer is allowed to deny, in addition to serving alcoholic beverages and beverages containing alcohol, a guest he deems to be under 18 years of age;a public Central Register for catering and tourism services is established;it is planned to reduce the maximum and minimum amounts of fines for individual offenses, and prescribe higher fines for repeat offenders, and reduce the amount of fines for those that can be imposed at the scene of the offense. The amounts of fines are equal for natural persons, craftsmen and legal entities;our greatest success is that the Guild's request was accepted that each catering unit must have an employed professional (with the appropriate qualification or with a passed exam on professional qualification and a master's exam).Of course, there are still unresolved issues, such as, for example, the consumption tax, the recognition of entertainment expenses, inspections, occasional employment, but the Guild is continuously working on resolving them. "With respect,President of the Guild of Caterers and Tourist WorkersCroatian Chamber of Trades and CraftsNenad Šepaklast_img

ECA: Seaplanes from Thursday in the air

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first_imgEuropean Coastal Airlines (ECA) have published a notice on their website that they will start flying as of August 25, 2016, and invite passengers to book flights. For now, there is no new information from the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency (CCAA) and the official investigation is still ongoing.The ECA has already postponed the start of flights three times, first at the beginning of last week, then on Tuesday, and now on Thursday. But as the investigation is still ongoing, it is best to wait for the official notification of the CCAA about the results of the investigation.last_img

Include in a record time collected the required 250.000 euros of investment, the next target 400.000 euros

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first_imgIn just 10 days of campaigning on Funderbeamu, 21-year-old innovator Ivan Mrvoš, founder of the company Include he managed to exceed the initial requested amount and raise almost 270.000 euros of investment for the development of his smart benches.In record time, a successful domestic startup aroused great interest and became the most successful company in terms of collection speed on the innovative Funderbeam platform for investing and trading startup shares. About 90 investors from all over the world have already shown that they believe in the global success of the Croatian startup, and among them were entrepreneur and investor Nenad Bakić, as well as popular mathematician Toni Milun, who expressed his support via Twitter.The next goal of the young Croatian innovator is the amount of 400.000 euros, for which he has 20 days of the campaign left. "I am very pleased with the fact that we reached our initial goal so early, especially when we consider that this is a new approach to funding. A lot of people have supported us from the beginning, and now with the release of Include on Funderbeam they have been given the opportunity to invest in us and secure their stake in the company. Anyone can invest with an initial amount of 100 euros, and the funds raised will be used for even faster business development and penetration into new markets", Said Ivan Mrvoš, founder and director of Include.Founded in September 2016, Funderbeam South-East Europe is a Zagreb-based company in which the Zagreb Stock Exchange has a 20% stake and is supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development through their Shareholders Special Fund, while the Estonian Funderbeam owns the other 80 percent.Funderbeam is a global platform on which startup companies can raise funds, and investors after the initial investment phase can trade their shares thanks to an innovative system based on blockchain technology. The value of Funderbeam was also recognized by Skype founder Jaan Tallinn, one of the first investors in the company.last_img

Do cheaters have an evolutionary advantage?

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first_imgLinkedIn Pinterest Some amoebae ultimately become cells in the stalk of the fruiting body and die, while others rise to the top, and form spores that pass their genes to the next generation. When unrelated amoebae gather to form a fruiting body, some strains may overcontribute to the spores and undercontribute to the stalk. These are the cheaters.Scientists knew that cheaters could be found in wild populations of Dicty, but whether this was a successful strategy in the game of natural selection was anyone’s guess.Now the ease and low cost of genome sequencing has finally made it possible to answer the question. “By looking at the genetic variation in or near Dicty’s ‘social genes,’ scientists are able to tell whether variants of these genes that made cooperators into cheaters had swept through populations, fought to maintain a toehold, or been given a pass because they didn’t affect survival,” said Elizabeth Ostrowski, PhD, assistant professor of biology and biochemistry at the University of Houston.“The genome signatures we found suggest neither the cheating nor the cooperating variants of the social genes was able to take over the populations and that the variants had battled to a standstill,” said David C. Queller, PhD, the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis.“A stalemate is maintained only in a complex environment where it’s unclear which strategy will win,” said Joan Strassmann, PhD, the Charles Rebstock Professor of Biology in Arts & Sciences. “If the rules never change, the gene that is best on average will eventually drive out the other variant.”The findings suggest the benefits of cheating change with its frequency, or prevalence, in a population. Cheaters may succeed, for example, only when they are rare, and fail when they become so numerous they push out cooperators or put pressure on cooperators to find ways to defeat cheating.Many social behaviors are like this, Queller said; the success of one individual’s strategy depends on how many others are also employing it.The study, described in the June 4 issue of Current Biology, is the work of a collaboration of scientists from Washington University, the University of Houston and the Baylor College of Medicine. Ostrowski is the first author on the paper and Queller and Strassman are senior authors.An arms race or trench warfare?“For this project, we sequenced 20 Dicty strains we had isolated from the soil in the eastern U.S. We then looked for variation in 140 genes implicated in social behavior, comparing them to the rest of the genome to see if the social genes were evolving differently,” Strassmann said.“We originally got enough funding to sequence two genomes,” she said. “But by the time we had cleaned the clones up, the price of sequencing had dropped so much we were able to sequence many more.”The 140 genes, Queller said, were ones that had been located during an earlier genome-wide screen for genes, that when they are disabled, turn a cooperating amoeba into a cheater.The scientists framed their study by defining several hypothetical scenarios for the evolutionary dynamics of cheating behaviors in Dicty (see illustration), each of which makes different, testable predictions about DNA diversity in and near the social genes.“We thought we were going to see the signature of an arms race in the DNA,” Queller said, “because the cheater/cooperator conflict seems analogous with other kinds of conflict, such as host/pathogen conflict, that produce escalating battles between adaptations.”An arms race, technically a series of “selective sweeps,” would have shown up as a lack of variation in the DNA in or near the social genes, because a highly advantageous gene “sweeps” through a population. “What we found was kind of the opposite,” Queller said. “Instead of diminished variation, there was more variation in the social genes than average, which is consistent with a prolonged stalemate at these locations.”The scientists found more evidence for a stalemate when they compared strains from two different populations, one in Texas and the other in Virginia, Queller said.In an arms race, the Dicty at these geographically separated locations would probably have undergone different selective sweeps, which in turn would make the two populations less similar. In fact, however, the populations differed less at the social gene locations than at other genes, suggesting that some selective force was working to maintain the same variants of the social genes in both the Texas and Virginia populations.Both the increased genetic diversity near the social genes and the failure of separated populations to drift apart at those genetic locations support the stalemate scenario.“We failed to observe the genetic signatures of a simple arms race: a reduction in genetic diversity and long-term divergence of populations,”Ostrowski said. “Rather, the genetic signatures suggests there is trench warfare among variants of the social genes, and neither the cheaters or the cooperators are able to gain the upper hand.”But why is that? Ostrowski said. “What limits the spread of cheaters? Are they suppressed by better cheaters or by a resistant population? And conversely what limits cooperators? Why don’t the cooperators completely shut down the cheaters?”It’s hard to imagine questions of more universal interest. Share on Facebook Sharecenter_img Email Share on Twitter Anyone who has crawled along in the left lane while other drivers raced up the right lane, which was clearly marked “lane ends, merge left,” has experienced social cheating, a maddening and fascinating behavior common to many species.Although it won’t help with road rage, scientists are beginning to understand cheating in simpler “model systems,” such as the social amoeba, Dictyostelium discoideum.At one stage in their life cycle thousands of the normally solitary Dicty converge to form a multicellular slug and then a fruiting body, consisting of a stalk holding aloft a ball of spores. It is during this cooperative act that the opportunity for cheating arises.last_img

Chimps can vary their smiles like humans

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first_imgShare Email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter A new study has revealed that chimpanzees have the same types of smiles as humans when laughing, which suggests these smile types evolved from positive expressions of ancestral apes.The new findings from the University of Portsmouth suggest that chimpanzees’ communication is more similar to humans than was previously known.The research also found that chimpanzees are able to produce these smile types silently, without being constrained by the accompanying laughing sound.center_img Pinterest LinkedIn Lead researcher, Dr Marina Davila-Ross, is from the University’s Centre for Comparative and Evolutionary Psychology. Dr Davila-Ross and colleagues study the facial expressions of primates to uncover the evolutionary origins of human laughter and smiling.She said: “Humans have the flexibility to show their smile with and without talking or laughing. This ability to flexibly use our facial expressions allows us to communicate in more explicit and versatile ways, but until now we didn’t know chimps could also flexibly produce facial expressions free from their vocalizations.”The researchers filmed 46 chimpanzees at the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage and used ChimpFACS – a facial action coding system designed for chimpanzees – to measure their facial movements.Co-author on the paper, Professor Kim Bard, who designed ChimpFACS, said: “The coding system allows us to examine very subtle facial movements and compare human and chimpanzee facial expressions, based on their shared musculature.”The study investigated specific types of smiles that accompany laugh sounds and found that these smile types have the same evolutionary origin as human smiles when they are laughing. It suggests that these smile types of humans must have evolved from positive expressions of ancestral apes.The study further suggests that flexibility in facial expressions was already present in ancestral apes and emerged long before humans evolved.Dr Davila-Ross said there are still key differences between humans and our ape ancestors.She said: “Chimps only rarely display crow’s feet when laughing, but this trait is often shown by laughing humans. Then, it is called Duchenne laughter, which has a particularly positive impact on human listeners.”last_img

Study ties insurgency phase of Iraq War to higher PTSD rates

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first_imgShare Share on Facebook Pinterest Guerilla tactics such as suicide attacks and roadside bombs may trigger more posttraumatic stress than conventional warfare, suggests a Veterans Affairs study of 738 men and women who served in Iraq.The findings appeared online Dec. 14, 2015, in the journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.The study authors are with the Behavioral Science Division of the National Center for PTSD, based at the VA Boston Healthcare System, and with Boston University School of Medicine. Emailcenter_img Share on Twitter LinkedIn They identified three distinct phases of the Iraq War, based on previous reports. Then they analyzed whether veterans who fought during the insurgency phase, during which more guerilla-style tactics were used, were more likely to develop PTSD than those who deployed during the initial invasion phase of the war, or the more recent surge phase.The study found that among the men — about half the overall group — the insurgency-phase veterans were more than twice as likely to have a diagnosis of PTSD, compared with those who served in either of the other two phases.The finding held true even after the researchers adjusted for a range of other demographic and deployment-related risk factors.The trend was not seen among the women in the sample, although the authors aren’t sure why. Citing other research, they say there may be a somewhat different mix of factors that influence PTSD among women service members and veterans.The team, led by Dr. Jonathan Green, writes that on the whole, the study suggests that enemy combat tactics may be under-appreciated in understanding what drives PTSD. They note that “assessment of the nature of combat may be useful in research and in clinical settings.”They write, also, that the relatively high rates of PTSD among Vietnam War veterans may be explained, at least in part, by looking at the type of enemy tactics those troops faced. The researchers compare that war, on the whole, to the insurgency phase of the Iraq conflict.Previous studies that aimed to compare PTSD rates between wars — say, Iraq and Vietnam — didn’t allow researchers to control for shifting generational norms and differing social and political climates. As such, Green’s team focused their analysis only on the Iraq War.Still, they acknowledge there were factors they didn’t control for that could affect PTSD rates, such as the intensity of combat or social or political factors that changed even during the course of the Iraq War.last_img

Too old to hire? Research confirms age discrimination in jobs market

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first_imgShare Share on Facebook Pinterest Age stereotypes can strongly affect people’s choices about who to hire, new research from psychologists at the University of Kent has shown.If one of two equally well qualified job candidates is described as having stereotypically ‘young’ characteristics, and the other has stereotypically ‘old’ characteristics, the ‘younger’ candidate is more likely to be selected.The research team, led by Professor Dominic Abrams of the University’s School of Psychology, conducted a series of experiments in which people were asked to imagine they were running a firm and then to select the candidate who would help them to maximise their profits. LinkedIncenter_img Share on Twitter Participants were told about two equally qualified job candidates, whose strengths had been rated as equal by an independent set of judges, but whose age was not given.One candidate was described as having strengths that matched the ‘younger’ stereotype — being good at using IT, creative, good at learning new skills. The other candidate was described as having strengths that matched the ‘old’ stereotype – being good at understanding others’ views, settling arguments, and being careful.The researchers found that participants consistently favoured the young profile. In fact, regardless of whether the job was for a long or short term, and whether it was for a supervisor or supervisee role, over 70% of participants preferred the young profile. Things only evened when participants were told that both candidates would be working for them but that they had to choose which should be the subordinate. In that case, 50% chose the ‘old’ profile to be subordinate.The findings show that people’s unacknowledged assumptions about age and age-related capability can affect the way they view someone’s employability. If these assumptions affect employers’ judgements, it has serious implications for the fair chances of older workers to gain employment in new roles or workplaces.The study was published in the Journal of Social Issues. Emaillast_img

Neuroscientist finds potential new source for pain inhibition

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first_imgPinterest Share on Facebook The study focused on the body’s inhibitory networks — a series of biochemical reactions that decrease certain neurological activity, such as pain. Price said a great deal of previous research in this area has focused on the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, a chemical released by nerve cells in the brain.Normally a GABA neurotransmitter acts to inhibit neuronal activity, such as pain. However, when pain becomes chronic there is strong evidence that a process called GABAergic plasticity can cause GABA to lose its inhibitory activity, sometimes making the pain even worse.The source of these excitatory actions in neuronal circuits has been broadly attributed to chloride ions, but Price’s research has found another potential cause of GABAergic plasticity: synaptic adhesion molecules called neuroligin-2.“From a basic science perspective, we’re really excited about it because it demonstrates that the types of GABAergic plasticity that can occur in the setting of chronic pain are more diverse than we’ve appreciated before,” he said.Price, who heads the undergraduate research program in neuroscience in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, focuses much of his research on understanding the neuroscience behind pain, particularly chronic pain. He said individuals with chronic pain typically don’t receive the pain-reduction benefits delivered by inhibitory systems. Instead, they often experience increased pain.“When you hit your hand with a hammer, almost everybody has the same reflex reaction — that is, to rub your finger which, in turn, helps to reduce pain. The reason that works is because it increases GABAergic inhibition in the spinal cord,” Price said. “However, people who have chronic pain — if they do the same thing — find that rubbing it actually makes the pain worse. That’s because the GABAergic system loses its efficacy and, in fact, can become excitatory.”Price said the current research is another step in determining why the GABAergic system stops working correctly in some people; it provides a second theory for what drives the system.“Having two ideas and different models will allow us to determine what the therapeutic opportunities are — creating something that will change that back to normal. The lack of performance in the inhibitory system is very detrimental to those who are in chronic pain,” he said.Price said the development of chronic pain is, in essence, one’s body “learning” something that is bad.“It’s changing the way the body functions — it’s learning. That learning, in the case of chronic pain, is aberrant — it’s causing the situation to get worse. If we can figure out what that form of learning was, then we can potentially reverse it. Understanding that the GABAergic system changes during this form of learning potentially offers a new therapeutic avenue,” he said.Dr. Ji-Young Kim, who recently completed her PhD under the guidance of Price, played a key role in the design and execution of the study. The work was funded by the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. LinkedIn A UT Dallas scientist has found a new neurological mechanism that appears to contribute to a reduction in pain.According to Dr. Ted Price, associate professor in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, the discovery of neuroligin-2 as a cause exacerbating chronic pain is significant for the research community. Although the findings likely won’t immediately lead to new pain therapies, the findings offer a potential new therapeutic direction to investigate, he said.Price’s research on the topic has recently been published online in Pain, the journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain.center_img Email Share Share on Twitterlast_img

Psychology researchers map neurological process of learning and deciding

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first_imgScientists at The University of Texas at Austin can now map what happens neurologically when new information influences a person to change his or her mind, a finding that offers more insight into the mechanics of learning.The study, which was published Nov. 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined how dynamic shifts in a person’s knowledge are updated in the brain and impact decision making.“At a fundamental level, it is difficult to measure what someone knows,” said co-author and psychology associate professor Alison Preston. “In our new paper, we employ brain decoding techniques that allow us deeper insight into the knowledge people have available to make decisions. We were able to measure when a person’s knowledge changes to reflect new goals or opinions.” LinkedIn Pinterest Share on Twitter Emailcenter_img Share on Facebook Share The process, researchers said, involves two components of the brain working together to update and “bias” conceptual knowledge with new information to form new ideas.“How we reconcile that new information with our prior knowledge is the essence of learning. And, understanding how that process happens in the brain is the key to solving the puzzle of why learning sometimes fails and how to put learning back on track,” said the study’s lead author Michael Mack, who was a postdoctoral researcher in the Center for Learning & Memory.In the study, researchers monitored neural activity while participants learned to classify a group of images in two different ways. First participants had to learn how to conceptualize the group of images, or determine how the images were similar to each other based on similar features. Once they grouped the images, participants were then asked to switch their attention to other features within the images and group them based on these similarities instead.“By holding the stimuli constant and varying which features should be attended to across tasks, the features that were once relevant become irrelevant, and the items that were once conceptually similar may become very different,” said Preston, who holds a joint faculty appointment in neuroscience.For example, the researchers report that many Americans may have chosen their preferred presidential candidate many months ago based on political platforms or core issues. But as the election cycle continued, voters were presented with new information, influencing some to change their perspectives on the candidates and, potentially, their votes.This requires rapid updating of conceptual representations, a process that occurs in the hippocampi (HPC)–two seahorse-shaped areas near the center of the brain responsible for recording experiences, or episodic memory–researchers said. It’s also one of the first areas to suffer damage in Alzheimer’s disease.According to the study, the prefrontal cortex (PFC) — the front part of the brain that orchestrates thoughts and actions — tunes selective attention to relevant features and compares that information with the existing conceptual knowledge in the HPC, updating the organization of items based on the new relevant features, researchers said.“Looking forward, our findings place HPC as a central component of cognition — it is the brain’s code builder. I think these findings will motivate future research to consider the more general-purpose function of the hippocampus,” said Mack, who is now an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. “For example, understanding how we dynamically update conceptual knowledge may be essential to understanding how biases and prejudices are coded into our views of other people.”These findings add to the growing, though limited, body of literature on the function of the HPC beyond episodic memory by providing direct evidence of its role, in concert with the PFC, in building conceptual knowledge.“With an understanding of the mechanics of learning, we can develop educational practices and training protocols that optimally engage the brain’s learning circuits to build lasting knowledge,” Mack said.last_img

Brain blocks new memory formation on waking to safeguard consolidation of existing memories

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first_imgShare Pinterest Email Throughout our waking lives we are exposed to a continuous stream of stimuli and experiences. Some of these experiences trigger the strengthening of connections between neurons in the brain, and begin the process of forming memories. However, these initial memory traces are fragile and only a small number will become long-term memories with the potential to last a lifetime. For this transition to occur, the brain must stabilize the memory traces through a process called consolidation.Let’s sleep on itDuring consolidation, the brain produces new proteins that strengthen the fragile memory traces. However, if a new experience occurs while an existing memory trace is being consolidated, the new stimuli could disrupt or even hijack the consolidation process. Share on Twittercenter_img Share on Facebook The brain partially solves this problem by postponing some of the memory consolidation to a period in which new experiences are minimalized, that is, while we are asleep. But what happens if we wake up while consolidation is taking place? How does the brain prevent events that occur just after awakening from interrupting the consolidation process?A new study by Prof. Abraham Susswein of the Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences and The Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center at Bar-Ilan University, has now answered this question. Published today in eLife, the article’s first author is Roi Levy, whose doctoral research — conducted in Prof. Susswein’s lab — is described in the present study, which also includes part of the doctoral research of David Levitan.Susswein and his colleagues have used a seemingly unlikely subject for their study, namely the sea hare Aplysia. These marine slugs are convenient for neuroscientific investigation because of their simple nervous systems and large neurons, and because they have been shown to be capable of basic forms of learning.Just after training during waking hours, proteins are synthesized to initiate the consolidation of new memory. Consolidation proteins are produced again in greater quantities during sleep for subsequent processes on the memory trace. The researchers found that blocking the production of consolidation proteins in sleeping sea slugs prevents these creatures from forming long-term memories, confirming that, like us, they do consolidate memories during sleep.Overcoming Memory BlockSusswein, Levy and Levitan now show that exposing sea slugs to new stimuli immediately after they wake up does not trigger the formation of new memories. In a learning paradigm affecting sea slugs’ feeding activity, the animals were trained after being awakened from sleep. On awakening, interactions between new experiences and consolidation are prevented because the brain blocks long-term memory arising from the new stimuli. However, when the researchers treated the slugs just prior to the training with a drug that inhibits protein production, they found that the new stimuli could generate long-term memory. These findings show that proteins blocking the formation of new memories prevent an experience upon waking from being effective in producing memory. Removing this block – by inhibiting protein production – allows experiences just after waking to be encoded in memory. This even applies to experiences that are too brief to trigger memory formation in fully awake sea slugs.Susswein: “The major insight from this research is that there is an active process in the brain which inhibits the ability to learn new things and protects the consolidation of memories.”Two Heads are Better than OneThe researchers also compared learning by fully awake sea slugs trained in isolation and those trained with companions. They discovered that training in social isolation appears to inhibit new learning, and identified similar molecular processes common to both training in isolation and to training on waking from sleep.For the Future“Our next step following on from this work,” says Susswein, “is to identify these memory blocking proteins and to fathom how they prevent the formation of new memories.” He adds: “We may also find that the blocking process accounts for why we cannot remember our dreams when we wake up.”An important future challenge is to investigate whether the same proteins could ultimately be used to block unwanted memories, for example, in cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. LinkedInlast_img