November 2020

FlixBus connects Zagreb with 450 destinations throughout Europe

first_imgThe expansion of FlixBus from the first day, when it started with four international lines from Zagreb, Split, Rijeka and Pula, is impressive until today. With five Croatian bus partners from Slavonia, Dalmatia, Istria, Zagorje and the city of Zagreb, all parts of Croatia are connected with the largest business, cultural and entertainment centers directly such as Munich, Vienna, Budapest, Frankfurt, Milan, Turin, Rome, Ljubljana and other major hubs.When it comes to Croatia, there are currently directly (without transfers) connected to over 100 cities with 7 neighboring countries, but with transfers in the largest hubs of FlixBus, passengers have access to far more destinations. Thus, at the moment Zagreb is connected with 450 destinations and in addition to these 7 countries (Slovenia, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Switzerland), it is very easy to reach France, Romania, Slovakia, Poland, the Netherlands and Denmark. .˝All previous preparations and research for the entry of FlixBus into Croatia and the rest of the region have been elaborated in detail through many studies of the complete team and support from the main branch of FlixBus. Therefore, we are proud of the speed and flow of business development. We have charted a sustainable path and steps towards achieving the goal, which is European No.1˝ Dean Čebohin pointed out and concluded that globally, FlixBus with 100.000 connections in 900 destinations and 20 countries provides carefree travel for almost 35 million passengers, and Croatia is part of that.FlixBus teams in the background work on network planning, quality development, investing in high technology and software, dealing with customer support, traffic management, marketing and sales development. It is this background machinery that is in charge of connecting 1.000 destinations in 20 European countries, through 100.000 daily connections, for their smooth management and development, FlixBus points out.”With the daily development of the network, the number of available destinations is growing, not only from Zagreb, but also from other cities throughout Croatia, and European cities are also available seven times a week.”Said Petra Milinović, Public Relations Manager for FlixBus.Related news:REVOLUTION IN TRANSPORT – ACHIEVEMENT OF VOLLA AND UBER ACHIEVEMENT!last_img read more

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ACI has joined the ZelEn project

first_imgACI has signed a contract with HEP for the use of a product called ZelEn (green energy), which concerns the supply of electricity, obtained exclusively from renewable sources.The ZelEn product seems to be designed specifically for ACI, which has been actively caring for the environment for years and for which socially responsible behavior is a priority, stands out from ACI, which wants to position itself as a protector and friend of nature.Funds raised from the sale of ZelEn products are collected in a fund from which projects in the field of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency will be implemented for the needs of socially vulnerable categories of users of public sector services, such as kindergartens, schools, homes and similar institutions. The product is intended exclusively for HEP Opskrba customers who have opted for socially responsible business, environmental care and the use of energy from renewable sources.You can see more about the whole project herelast_img read more

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Study implicates new gene in multiple sclerosis disease activity

first_imgShare Share on Facebook A new study led by investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) reports the discovery of a genetic variant that is associated with a patient’s likelihood of responding to interferon-beta, one of the medications used in treating multiple sclerosis (MS). Published in the Annals of Neurology on May 14, the study also presents evidence that the affected gene, SLC9A9, may have a broader role in regulating the development and activity of certain immune cells that play important roles in inflammatory diseases like MS.A proportion of MS patients experience disease activity despite treatment. The early identification of the most effective drug for a given individual is critical to impact long-term outcome and to move toward a personalized treatment approach.To find predictive indicators of a patient’s response to treatment, the team, which included researchers from the Ospedale San Raffaele in Milan, Italy, performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in MS patients from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, San Raffaele Hospital and seven academic MS centers in France, all of whom were being treated with the drug interferon-beta. The variant most predictive of whether or not a patient would respond to the drug was found in the gene SLC9A9. LinkedIn Emailcenter_img Pinterest Share on Twitter “This study highlights the fact that genetic variation has a role in the course of a patient’s disease in MS, but that this role is modest and will require much larger studies to be understood in detail,” said Philip De Jager, MD, PhD, who directs the Program in Translational NeuroPsychiatric Genomics at the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at BWH. “We need to expand this type of international, collaborative science.”Discovered in Italian patients, the observation was replicated in other Italian patients as well as patients in Boston and patients in France. “Further work is now needed to validate our results in other collections of patients, particularly patients treated with other MS medications, to evaluate whether the effect of the genetic variant is limited to interferon beta treatment or is relevant to other clinical MS treatments,” said Filippo Martinelli-Boneschi, MD, PhD, of San Raffaele Scientific Institute.The variant detected has a confirmed but weak role in MS. However, laboratory work in this report shows that the loss of the SLC9A9 gene leads immune cells to become much more likely to provoke damaging immune reactions.“Manipulations of this gene in mice and in human cells will lead us to better understand mechanisms that are involved in the autoimmune response that causes MS,” said Wassim Elyaman, PhD, an investigator in the Program in Translational NeuroPsychiatric Genomics at the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at BWH.last_img read more

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Anxiety sensitivity hinders young adults from reaching their exercise goals

first_imgThe level of anxiety sensitivity in young adults is correlated with success or failure in achieving exercise goals, according to a study published earlier this month in Behavior Modification.Anxiety sensitivity (AS) is “the fear of anxiety-related sensations.” In other words, people with AS fear experiencing phenomena like tightness of the chest, sweating, or an increased heart rate—sensations that may also occur during exercise.Researchers from Boston University and the University of Texas were interested in understanding the relationship between AS and the ability to stick to exercise goals. Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Pinterest “Despite emerging evidence that AS is a predictor of exercise avoidance, to our knowledge no studies to date have examined how AS may prospectively affect attempts at behavior change in individuals who are motivated to increase their exercise,” said Michael W. Otto, corresponding author.“That is, does AS predict failure to engage in exercise even among individuals who explicitly express a desire and motivation to increase their time spent exercising?”The team also hypothesized that individuals with high AS would set smaller exercise goals for themselves.The study included 145 undergraduate students from Boston University who expressed an interest in increasing their level of exercise. Participants completed an online survey containing several questionnaires.  The questionnaires measured AS along with various personality traits characteristic of behavior change, including impulsivity, grit, perceived behavioral control, and action planning. Participants were asked to set an exercise goal for the next week and were surveyed again a week later to measure progress.The researchers found that of all participants in the study, only 37% met their exercise goal for the week. This disparity is typical—research has shown “a large intention–behavior gap for exercise behavior,” according to Otto.The data showed no indication that individuals with high AS set smaller exercise goals for themselves. However, they were significantly less likely to meet the goals they did set.Individuals with high AS were also less likely to meet their goals than those who only had low scores in grit, action planning and other behavior change personality traits, indicating that AS in and of itself is an important factor.The mixed results of the study indicate that more research is needed, according to the team.“It remains unclear whether AS is related to exercise behavior when individuals are attempting to make longer term change,” said Otto.Future research may focus on making the measurements more objective—self-reporting exercise levels can be unreliable—and extending the time period beyond one week.center_img Email Share LinkedInlast_img read more

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What is the gut microbiota and how does it affect mind and body?

first_imgShare Share on Twitter LinkedIn The human gastrointestinal tract harbours trillions of microorganisms, consisting of up to 1,000 or so different bacterial species.These bacteria, known collectively as the gut microbiota, perform a number of vital functions in our body. They defend against pathogens, aid in digestion and nutrient absorption, produce vitamins (K and B), and boost our immune system.The gut microbiota also has the potential to influence our brain development and behaviour. Our gut and the central nervous system constantly communicate with each other by releasing signalling molecules. The gut microbiota is also involved in this communication process, known as the microbiota-gut–brain axis. Pinterestcenter_img Share on Facebook Email Our microbiota is uniqueThe composition of the gut microbiota is unique to each individual (even identical twins) and can be affected by many factors including diet, diseases and ageing.Our gastrointestinal tract is nearly sterile at birth, but quickly transits to one with a diverse microbial community. The composition of this community depends on many factors, including:the composition of our mother’s gut microbiotathe way we are born (vaginal or caesarean delivery)our early diet (including being breast of formula fed as an infant)early life events such as diseases and stressthe use of antibiotics and other medicationshygiene conditionsthe environment.By the age of three, the gut microbiota stabilises, and its evolution continues at a steadier rate during adulthood.How gut imbalance affects the moodAn imbalance of beneficial versus harmful gut bacteria, known as “dysbiosis”, has been linked to a number of nervous system, gastrointestinal and psychological disorders.Exposure to early life stress – including psychological, sexual and physical abuse – can increase the risk of gastrointestinal disorders later in life. The exact reason is unknown but it may be because the establishment of stable gut microbiota is disrupted.Stress and psychological factors can make these functional gastrointestinal disorders worse. A recent animal study showed that as little as two hours of stress was enough to change the composition of gut microbiota.Another study showed two weeks of stress could influence the changes in the gut microbiota composition as well as induce some anxiety-related behaviour in mice. Researchers found a correlation between specific elements of anxiety-related behaviour and elements of the gut microbiota.Research also shows that people suffering from gastrointestinal disorders are more susceptible to anxiety-related disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder.Although the underlying mechanism is not fully understood as yet, there is clear evidence of a connection between the microbiota, gut and brain.Role of probioticsProbiotics are live microorganisms that have been delivering health benefits for thousands of years by helping to establish healthy gut microbiota. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most commonly used probiotics.The mechanisms responsible for the beneficial impact of probiotics on health are not well known, however accumulating evidence suggests they help colonization of the gut microbiota with beneficial microorganisms.Treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders with probiotics has yielded mixed results to date. This may be because not all probiotics are the same. And the same probiotic strain can exert different effects in different hosts.However, probiotic therapy holds promise for future applications both in functional gastrointestinal disorders and psychiatric illness.Of particular interest is a recently identified class of probiotics that have been categorised as “psychobiotics” due to their possible antidepressant or qualities. These have been shown to relieve anxiety in patients suffering from functional gastrointestinal disorders.What else we can do?While there is an obvious connection between gut microbiota and brain, scientists have more questions than answers about this complex relationship.What we do know is that promoting the establishment of a healthy gut microbial community in early life is the best way to harness the power of the microbiota throughout life.Breastfeeding is one of the most important practices to establish friendly gut microbiota in early life. Breastfed infants usually have healthier and more diverse gut microbiota than formula-fed infants. Breast milk also contains healthy microbial communities and materials that stimulate the growth of beneficial gut microbes and probiotics.We can improve the gut microbiota composition as well as prevent many diseases by simply changing our diet. Modern Western meals are high in sugar and fat, and low in fibre, which may affect the establishment of beneficial gut microbiota.Fibre-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole-grain cereals are essential to promote the growth and activity of beneficial gut microbiota.By Senaka Ranadheera, Early Career Research Fellow, Advanced Food Systems Research Unit, College of Health and Biomedicine, Victoria University; Deborah Hodgson, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research & Innovation, University of Newcastle, and Javad Barouei, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California, DavisThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.last_img read more

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The Juliet Effect: Why your mom and your sister don’t like your hunky boyfriend

first_imgShare on Twitter Share Pinterest Juliet’s mother hates RomeoJuliet’s mother would rather have Juliet marry Paris, who is from a good family. Juliet has set her sights on the heartthrob Romeo from the archenemy’s family.But what’s new is that you find the same opposing interests between sisters.Your sister would choose the steady fellow for youIt’s the old story. The daughter of the house brings home the handsome hunk and proclaims that he is the love of her life.But her mother prefers the respectable fellow with promising prospects, or maybe the rich guy from a good family.As it turns out, your sister would probably agree with your mother, and would rather you have a steady, boring partner, too. This despite the fact that mother and sister would both rather have a hunk themselves.Everything is ultimately about genetics and mathematics.“For their own partners, women focus on an attractive appearance that suggests good health and an ability to pass on their genes. At the same time, they prioritize qualities in their sister’s partner that can provide direct benefits for the whole family,” say the researchers. “This is consistent with our previous studies where we compared mothers’ and daughters’ choices,” they add.Studied sistersThe context for this new insight is a survey that the researchers undertook among female students and their sisters.Participants were asked to rank 133 different characteristics that described the perfect partner for themselves or their sister. A similar survey was conducted among mothers and daughters a few years ago.“For the most part, women choose the same ideal partner characteristics for themselves as for their sister. The qualities of faithfulness, loyalty, honesty, trustworthiness and reliability score highest when women are asked who would make an ideal partner,” says Biegler.But some clear differences also emerged. “The women perceived characteristics like being understanding, empathic, responsible, helpful, sensible and kind as more important for their sister’s partner than for their own,” says Biegler.Women found being sincere, humorous, charming, sexually satisfying and fun as more important for their own partner than their sister’s.Relative’s partner must contribute directlyThe reason is really simple. You are more closely related to your own kids than to your sister’s kids or your grandchild. The transfer of your own genes is ultimately most important.Shared genesYou are basically and obviously 100 percent of your genes. These genes make you just you. Your behaviour may be modified by culture, but the genetic basis is not changed because of that. We say that r = 1.You get half of your genes from your mother and half from your father. We say that r = 0.5. You transfer half of your genes to your child. Therefore you are as much related to your children as to your parents. Thus, r = 0.5.Your child passes on only half their genes to your grandchild, i.e. half of the half that you share with your children. So you are more closely related to your child than to your grandson. The grandchild is therefore r = 0.25 and is as closely related to you as your sibling. For great-grandchildren and cousins?? r is half that again, i.e. r = 0.125.You share so much genetic material with your relatives that you can’t be blasé about whom they have babies with. They also carry on some of your genes and are part of what is known as your “inclusive fitness”. But they can’t get in the way of your own direct gene transfer.“The ideal partner for your sister or your daughter can’t drain resources from you and decrease the chance that your own genes can be passed on. Preferably he should directly increase your own chances. This can be achieved in part if your sister or daughter makes big gains by choosing a particular partner, and is able to spread your shared genes much more effectively,” says Biegler.But an advantage for your sister will rarely outweigh your decreased chances. Normally you want to have the greatest genetic advantage when a relative chooses a partner that can provide direct benefits for you, in terms of wealth or status, for example.You don’t want to spend money or other resources on raising your sister’s or daughter’s kids, unless it can bring you a considerable advantage in spreading your shared genetic material. And then you’d often rather spend the resources on increasing the survival and status of your own children, or have more kids yourself who can procreate.“Women prefer for their daughter or sister to choose someone who can contribute to the upbringing of their own children and grandchildren, or who at least doesn’t pose a burden,” Kennair says.This also means that the man should be trustworthy, take care of his children, preferably be strong financially and have a social status that does not diminish your or your descendants’ chances of spreading their genes.Your own partner may contribute indirectlySo why would you rather have a good-looker yourself?“The underlying truth remains: passing on your own genes is the priority. The primary consideration is to find a partner who can give you attractive children who survive. They need to be attractive enough to pass on their genes to the next generation to the greatest extent possible,” said Kennair.That’s why the muscular heartthrob is a more interesting choice than the boring geek for one’s own partner.“A healthy hunk is presumably in good health, attractive to others as a partner and can transfer those genes to your children,” says Kennair.Then your children might also be more attractive than if you choose the geeky nerd. It’s nice to have a stable guy, but in the end you’ll be drawn to the handsome man instead.Trying to exert influenceBut it’s no sure thing that you’ll end up choosing the heartthrob. Your mother or sister might try to influence you to choose a different partner than the one you like best. Yes, this happens even in our society where we like to think that we choose our own partner.Whether you opt to listen to them is another matter entirely. That can depend on your own living situation, or if your family refuses to provide financial assistance or other help if you go for the heartthrob against their wishes.Not a moral issueKennair and Biegler are moving into an area that often evokes strong feelings. But, they say, none of this is a matter of morality, only of passing on genes.“People who haven’t behaved according to this pattern have been deselected through generations. A larger proportion of them simply didn’t get to pass on their genes to a new generation. So their contribution to the gene pool dwindled,” says Kennair.But for those who still want to look at it all through a moral lens, it just gets worse.Latent in usThe best possible outcome, of course, is if the heartthrob you’ve set eyes on is also a kind and steady-as-they-come kind of guy with good prospects.But there’s no guarantee you’ll just be able to pick one that has absolutely everything, you know. This perfect guy may prefer your sister. Or your mother. It may be part of the reason they won’t allow you this heartthrob.It could be that your sister would like you to choose another partner so that the heartthrob will be available to her instead. She may not even be thinking about it, and it’s far from certain that she’s actually trying to steal your guy.The same underlying mechanism may even still exist in your mother, even though she is past her baby-making days. It lies dormant in both of them, just as it does in you.This mechanism is a result of competition and has yielded the best results over generations, regardless of morality.No one is saying that any of this is necessarily conscious. It is a result of genetic transfer through all the generations before you. Your mother and your sister are also out after the best possible partner.Equal, but similarPerhaps most interesting is that this also applies in a relatively egalitarian society like Norway, where women are largely financially independent and choose their own partners.Today, Norwegian women can usually even provide independently for themselves and their children. But they seem to be attracted to partners with exactly the same qualities as the partners of women in countries where the family chooses their partner. In very few cultures do women have much choice.“It’s the exception for women to choose their own partners. In most cultures, it isn’t this way,” says Kennair.In most cultures, the mother will usually get her way. But the researchers’ hypothesis is that the stronger the parents’ control is over their children in a culture, the stronger the conflict between the sisters is also.“If you can’t win over mom, you still have a chance to win against your sister. The less chance you have to win one conflict, the harder you have to fight to win the other,” suggests Biegler.That’s why it is more important for you that a grandchild passes on their genes than that a cousin does.This has nothing to do with morality. It is more or less pure mathematics. We assume monogamous relationships.But even for independent Norwegian women, it can be an advantage if the partner doesn’t take off and leave you with almost all the responsibility for the kids. This can also reduce your chances of effectively passing on your genes.Maybe you would have liked to have more kids if you had been able to afford it. Or maybe your sons become paupers who don’t get support from others’ mothers.“In the end, though, Norwegian women are more attracted to the good-lookers than the boring, kind and steady types–the same attributes that have been playing out for generations before us for the greatest genetic success,” say the two researchers.The article was published in Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences. Why do we choose the partners we do, and why do we get flak about it from our parents? Professor Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair and Associate Professor Robert Biegler from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Department of Psychology say it comes down to simple genetics.“We see a conflict between mother and daughter because of opposing interests,” says Biegler.The researchers knew this was the case from their research several years ago. They even know why, and named the conflict the “Juliet effect” after the conflict between Juliet and her mother Lady Capulet in Shakespeare’s drama.center_img Share on Facebook Email LinkedInlast_img read more

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A ‘sixth sense’ protects drivers — except when texting

first_imgShare In all three interventions – absent minded, emotional and texting – the researchers found that the drivers’ handling of the wheel became jittery with respect to normal driving. This jittery handling resulted in significant lane deviations and unsafe driving only in the case of texting distractions. In the case of absent-minded and emotionally charged distractions, jittery steering resulted in straighter trajectories with respect to a normal drive and safer driving.“A likely explanation for this paradox is the function performed by a part of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex, or ACC,” Pavlidis said. “ACC is known to automatically intervene as an error corrector when there is conflict. In this case, the conflict comes from the cognitive, emotional and sensorimotor, or texting, stressors. This raises the levels of physiological stress, funneling ‘fight or flight’ energy to the driver’s arms, resulting in jittery handling of the steering wheel.”What happens when the brain’s ACC automatically intervenes, Pavlidis said, is that it counterbalances any strong jitter to the left with an instant equally strong jitter to the right and vice versa. The end effect of this forceful action is nullification of any veering to the left or the right of the lane and, thus, very straight driving.For ACC to perform this corrective function, it needs support from the driver’s eye-hand coordination loop. If this loop breaks, which it does when the driver texts, then ACC fails and the jittery handling of the steering wheel is left unchecked, resulting in a significant lane deviation and possible accident.“The driver’s mind can wander and his or her feelings may boil, but a sixth sense keeps a person safe at least in terms of veering off course,” Pavlidis said. “What makes texting so dangerous is that it wreaks havoc into this sixth sense. Self-driving cars may bypass this and other problems, but the moral of the story is that humans have their own auto systems that work wonders, until they break.”Pavlidis and Wunderlich think the scientific and manufacturing community can benefit from their team’s study. They posit that the question of what happens when self-driving cars experience failures needs to be asked now rather than later. Case in point, their research uncovers the mechanism that makes moderate cognitive and emotional distractions relatively safe, but only as long as the driver’s natural tendency to handle multiple tasks is not overwhelmed.“Following up on the results of our science study, we are currently looking into the development of a car system to monitor outward driving behaviors, such as steering jitter or lane deviation, as well as the internal state of the driver that causes them,” Pavlidis said. “This system, which I call ‘stressalyzer,’ a play on the word breathalyzer, may serve not only as a ‘black box’ in car accidents, but also as a driver alert and prevention mechanism, since it will continuously sense a driver drifting to distracted mode.”The study was published in Scientific Reports. LinkedIn Pinterest Share on Facebookcenter_img While much has been made about the dangers of texting and driving, less attention has been focused on the age-old distractions of being absent minded or upset while driving. A team of researchers from the University of Houston (UH) and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) focused on all three of these important factors.Led by Ioannis Pavlidis from UH and Robert Wunderlich of TTI, the research studied how drivers behave when they are absent minded, emotionally charged or engaged in texting. The work was funded, in part, by the Toyota Class Action Settlement Safety Research and Education Program.*The study looked at 59 volunteers who were asked to drive the same segment of highway four times – under ‘normal conditions’ of being focused on driving, while distracted with cognitively challenging questions, while distracted with emotionally charged questions and while preoccupied with texting trivialities. To avoid bias, the order of the drives was randomized. Share on Twitter Emaillast_img read more

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How social media impacts consumer spending

first_imgLinkedIn Share on Facebook Share on Twitter For businesses using social media, posts with high engagement have the greatest impact on customer spending, according to new research from the University at Buffalo School of Management.Published in the Journal of Marketing, the study assessed social media posts for sentiment (positive, neutral or negative), popularity (engagement) and customers’ likelihood to use social media, and found the popularity of a social media post had the greatest effect on purchases.“A neutral or even negative social media post with high engagement will impact sales more than a positive post that draws no likes, comments or shares,” says study co-author Ram Bezawada, PhD, associate professor of marketing in the UB School of Management. “This is true even among customers who say their purchase decisions are not swayed by what they read on social media.” Sharecenter_img Pinterest Email The researchers studied data from a large specialty retailer with multiple locations in the northeast United States. They combined data about customer participation on the company’s social media page with in-store purchases before and after the retailer’s social media engagement efforts. They also conducted a survey to determine customers’ attitudes toward technology and social media.The study also found that businesses’ social posts significantly strengthen the effect of traditional television and email marketing efforts. When social media is combined with TV marketing, customer spending increased by 1.03 percent and cross buying by 0.84 percent. When combined with email marketing, customer spending increased by 2.02 percent and cross buying by 1.22 percent. Cross buying refers to when a customer purchases additional products or services from the same firm.“The clear message here is that social media marketing matters, and managers should embrace it to build relationships with customers,” says Bezawada. “Developing a community with a dedicated fan base can lead to a definitive impact on revenues and profits.”Bezawada collaborated on the project with Ashish Kumar, assistant professor of marketing at Aalto University; Rishika Rishika, clinical assistant professor of marketing at the University of South Carolina; Ramkumar Janakiraman, associate professor of marketing at the University of South Carolina; and P.K. Kannan, the Ralph J. Tyser Professor of Marketing Science at the University of Maryland.last_img read more

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first_imgShare on Twitter Share on Facebook Email Pinterest Sharecenter_img LinkedIn Over the past few years, cats have increasingly attracted media attention due to a number of scientific studies reporting that a Toxoplasma Gondii (T. Gondii) infection is linked with mental health issues, including schizophrenia, suicide and intermittent rage disorder. Since domestic cats are the primary hosts of T. Gondii – that is, they provide an environment within which this parasite can reproduce – it is often speculated that cat ownership may put people at increased risk of mental illness, by exposing them to it.However, only a handful of small studies have found evidence to support a link between owning a cat and psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia. And most of these investigations have serious limitations. For instance, they relied on small samples, did not specify how participants were selected, and did not appropriately account for the presence of missing data and alternative explanations. This can often lead to results that are born out of chance or are biased.To tackle these limitations, we conducted a study using data from approximately 5,000 children who took part in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children between 1991 and 1992. Since then, these children and their families have been followed up to gather information on their health, as well as on their demographic, social and economic circumstances. So, unlike previous studies, we were able to follow people over time, from birth to late adolescence, and address a number of the limitations of previous research, including controlling for alternative explanations (such as income, occupation, ethnicity, other pet ownership and over-crowding) and taking into account missing data.We studied whether mothers who owned a cat while pregnant; when the child was four years old; and 10 years old, were more likely to have children who reported psychotic symptoms, such as paranoia or hallucinations, at age 13 and 18 years of age. Although most people who experience psychotic symptoms in adolescence will not develop psychotic disorders later in life, these symptoms often indicate an increased risk for such disorders and other mental illnesses, including depression.So are cats bad for your mental health? Probably, not.We found that children who were born and raised in households that included cats at any time period – that is, pregnancy, early and late childhood – were not at a higher risk of having psychotic symptoms when they were 13 or 18 years old. This finding in a large, representative sample did not change when we used statistical techniques to account for missing data and alternative explanations. This means that it is unlikely that our results are explained by chance or are biased.While this finding is reassuring, there is evidence linking exposure to T. Gondii in pregnancy to a risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, or health problems in the baby. In our study, we could not directly measure exposure to T. Gondii, so we recommend that pregnant women should continue to avoid handling soiled cat litter and other sources of T. Gondii infection, such as raw or undercooked meats, or unwashed fruit and vegetables. That said, data from our study suggests that owning a cat during pregnancy or in early childhood does not pose a direct risk for offspring having psychotic symptoms later in life.By Francesca Solmi, Research Associate, UCL and James Kirkbride, Reader, UCLThis article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.last_img read more

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first_imgShare Share on Facebook Pinterest “Since the 1960s, we have seen the religious differences between the parties to shift from differences based on religious tradition (broadly, what religion people are) to differences based on religiosity (how religious people are),” he explained. “We were interested in what implications this change might have had for American electoral politics.”“Anecdotally, we know that candidate religiosity has been an important part of the conversation in several recent elections,” Castle explained. “In 2004, some Republicans suggested that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry wasn’t ‘orthodox enough’ in the way he practiced his Catholic faith. In 2012, Mitt Romney’s campaign downplayed his strong commitment to his Mormon faith. In 2016, Donald Trump did the opposite, heavily emphasizing his religiosity and appearing with well-known Christians like Jerry Falwell, Jr.”“The fact that religiosity has been so important to both candidates and political observers suggested that we needed to understand the dynamics behind its relationship to party more clearly,” Castle said.Castle and his colleagues analyzed data from nearly 3,000 respondents who participated in the 2009 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, a national survey.Respondents were presented with a profile and a brief quote from a fictional state legislative candidate. The candidate’s party was varied to be either Democrat, Republican, or not mentioned. The short quote was varied to be either moderately religious, strongly religious, avowedly secular, or unrelated to religion. The fictional candidate’s purported policy agenda never changed.“We build a theory that candidates’ levels of religiosity should impact voter support. Specifically, highly religious candidates (regardless of party) should receive greater support from Republicans and cultural conservatives, reduced support from Democrats and cultural progressives, even after accounting for religious differences in the make-up of the party coalitions. The dynamic is the reverse among Democrats: secular candidates should be more attractive to Democrats/cultural progressives and less appealing to Republicans/cultural conservatives.” The results of the survey confirmed the researchers’ hypothesis. “Overall, we see strong evidence that a candidate’s level of religiosity conditions the impact of party identification and cultural issue attitudes,” Castle remarked.Being strongly religious increased support among Republicans while decreasing support among Democrats. Being secular, on the other hand, decreased support among Republicans but increased support among Democrats.“The results have a number of implications for American politics,” Castle said. “First, they suggest that there is still a strong bias against secular candidates. In particular, we saw that Republicans had sharply negative reactions to the secular Republican candidate — in this treatment, the effect of party identification on candidate preference disappeared almost entirely. Second, the dynamics behind the paper suggest that candidates who do not fit their party’s ‘typical’ profile will struggle to get elected. This homogeneity within parties could be one contributing factor to the increasing polarization of the parties in Congress.”Castle said a major caveat of the study was that respondents were only presented with one candidate at a time. “Thus, we cannot say at this stage how a candidate’s level of religiosity might affect support in a two candidate environment,” he explained. “For example, we saw in our experiment that Republican and conservative voters react negatively to a secular Republican. However, based on our data we cannot say how a secular Republican would fare against a highly religious Democrat. Party identification and candidate religiosity are both clearly strong indicators of candidate preference, so it would be interesting to see which matters more when voters are faced with a tough choice.”The study, “Survey Experiments on Candidate Religiosity, Political Attitudes, and Vote Choice” was also co-authored by Geoffrey C. Layman, David E. Campbell, and John C. Green. Emailcenter_img LinkedIn A candidate’s religious affiliation has been shown to influence American voters. But a new study reveals that a candidate’s religiosity — meaning how dedicated they are to their faith — also influences voters.The study in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion suggests that voters use a candidate’s religiosity to infer the candidate’s partisanship and his or her positions on cultural issues. The study also suggests that secular candidates face a particular disadvantage. Jeremiah J. Castle of Central Michigan University, the study’s corresponding author, told PsyPost that he was interested in researching the topic because of the growing importance of religion in American politics. Share on Twitterlast_img read more

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