This week we look at how bad the lockdown is affecting low-income families, and ask why after so many months Vitamin D has been ignored. As well as Low Dose Aspirin has a powerful benefit against COVID. #aspirin #covid #lockdown Study finds over 80% of COVID-19 patients have vitamin D deficiency https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/tes-sfo102220.php#.X5ibhuBizBU.wordpress Death rates among people with severe COVID-19 drop by a half in England https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/uoe-dra102720.php#.X5iZJ_Rg_T8.wordpress New study: aspirin use reduces risk of death in hospitalized patients https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-10/uoms-nsa102220.php https://www.census.gov/data-tools/demo/hhp/#/?measures=EVR
Cognitive decline reversed 30 years in 6 weeks
After just 1 ½ months, participants increased their cognitive abilities to levels similar to those of middle-aged adults, 30 years younger. Control group members, who did not take classes, showed no change in their performance. “The participants in the intervention bridged a 30 year difference in cognitive abilities after just 6 weeks and maintained these abilities while learning multiple new skills,” said Wu, who is an assistant professor of psychology
Shirley Leanos, Esra Kürüm, Carla M Strickland-Hughes, Annie S Ditta, Gianhu Nguyen, Miranda Felix, Hara Yum, George W Rebok, Rachel Wu. The Impact of Learning Multiple Real-World Skills on Cognitive Abilities and Functional Independence in Healthy Older Adults. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, 2019; DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbz084
#cognitive #episodic #reversal
In an interview with her sister, singer says kids will learn about different kinds of art from her Bangerz tour
theguardian.com, Sunday 9 February 2014 07.12 EST
Miley Cyrus says her Bangerz tour will be educational. Though tweets from tour rehearsals reveal people in fluffy animal costumes and Cyrus straddling a giant hot dog, she told Fuse News: “Even though parents probably won’t think this, I think my show is educational for kids. They’re going to be exposed to art most people don’t know about. Continue reading “Miley Cyrus promises tour will be educational and artistic”
A quarter of a billion children worldwide are failing to learn basic reading and maths skills in an education crisis that costs governments $129 billion annually, the UN’s cultural agency warned in a report Wednesday.
Inadequate teaching across the world has left a legacy of illiteracy more widespread than previously thought, UNESCO said in its annual monitoring report. Continue reading “$130 billion a year wasted on poor quality education: UN”
Published: Jan. 10, 2014
Black and Latino “hip-hop” students are disproportionately punished in urban schools, finds a two-year study that sheds light on some of the unfair disciplinary practices newly targeted by the Obama administration.
Muhammad Khalifa, a Michigan State University assistant professor of education, found that students who identified with hip-hop culture were often removed from school because of their cultural behaviors and dress. His paper is published in the research journal Multicultural Learning and Teaching. Continue reading “‘Hip-hop’ students unfairly targeted, study finds”
– students would commit to paying a fixed percentage of their income (6%) during their prime earning years (35-54 for example) to the university that awarded their degree
– student promises for a given university cohort bundled and sold to investors as “education securities.” Investors would receive a share of the average income for the cohort.
London, UK (January 09, 2014) Education funding, particularly at university level, is tighter than ever under current austerity measures. A new study published by SAGE in the journal Theory & Research in Education proposes a radical new approach that offers affordable higher education to all, and yet avoids additional government spending. Continue reading “Free public education that pays for itself? / education securities”
Conclusion that teachers are less important than biology sparks outrage, as researchers call for national curriculum to be abandoned in favour of personalised lesson plans
Genetics has a more powerful influence on pupils’ GCSE exam results than teachers, schools or family environment, according to a new study published tonight.
Researchers from King’s College London found that genetic differences account for 58 per cent of the differences between pupils’ GCSE exam scores – while environment (home or school) only accounted for 29 per cent. They also found boys’ results were more likely to reflect their genes than girls.
The bombshell conclusion is bound to thrust the debate over the role of genetics in education back to centre stage – just two months after Michael Gove’s outgoing senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, told his boss he believed genetics outweighed teaching when it came to determining pupil performance.
He also arranged a meeting between the Education Secretary and leading geneticist Professor Robert Plomin, one of the authors of the new research, to discuss the issue. Continue reading “Nature trumps nurture in exam success: GCSE results are ‘mainly determined by genes,’ says landmark study of twins”
Posted By Robby Soave On 9:32 PM 12/08/2013 In |
Yet more evidence that schools go to extreme lengths to punish children for even thinking about weapons: A 10-year-old Georgia boy was suspended for a day after he pretended to shoot an entirely imaginary arrow at another student.
Administrators told the boy’s parents that he could even be expelled.
Johnny Jones is a fifth grader at South Eastern Middle School. A few weeks ago, he was walking back to his desk when a friend aimed a folder at him and shot it like a gun. Jones retaliated by pulling back his arm as if releasing an arrow from an invisible bow. Whether either of the imaginary projectiles hit their target is unknown, since neither actually existed. Continue reading “Little boy makes pretend arrow-shooting gesture, could be expelled”
Friday, 22 November 2013
Harvard students are asked who is the capital of Canada?
This sort of question is typically answered by someone who has gone through the third grade in Europe (excluding UK), but students at Harvard (supposedly greatest school in the US), have exceptionally tough time coming up with the correct answer.
Finally, one Harvard student gets it correct, only to find out, the student is Canadian
Soon the only graduates carrying on their studies will be the sons and daughters of the very rich or those who can secure bursaries, scholarships and grants
England’s universities have been humming as another wave of near 340,000 undergraduates begin their rite of passage into adulthood. University is their gateway to knowledge, a career and a future. But, above all, it is about learning to think for themselves, becoming themselves, even. For them, nothing will ever be the same again.
The university sector is one of the few parts of the English institutional structure that still works. Over the decades ahead, as new technologies, unleashed by digitisation, transform our economic base, the universities could and should be an important asset to the country, both as a fountainhead of knowledge and as a unique space for bringing together people, society, business and ideas.
Instead, the unsustainable system of student finance could so fragment the sector that not only will the standard university be endangered, so will the character of the elite. Neglect and the facile belief that market structures are the solution to everything could undermine a great system.
Complacency surrounds the new regime of £9,000 tuition fees. So far, admissions to university have held up, even if applications have fallen. The effort to persuade students that the repayment of up to £45,000 of debt works more like a graduate tax, affordable because your degree makes you more valuable, has plainly worked. Yet take a closer look and the picture is more disturbing.
Although the proposition was that there would be a range of fees, few universities charge less than £9,000 a year. Indeed, average fees are about £8,400. Accommodation and living costs have to be paid for on top, so that almost whatever university a student attends or whatever the degree taken, he or she will end up with about £45,000 of debt.
Even so, universities such as Oxford, warned its vice-chancellor last week, may have to charge more, given that government support for teaching has been emasculated (full declaration: I am principal of an Oxford college, Hertford, and also chair the Independent Commission on Fees). This is a fragile system that is going to break.
One fatal weakness is that English student debt (Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish students have not been plunged into the maelstrom) comes with interest attached. At the very least, graduates are charged an interest rate equal to the retail price index, scaling up to the RPI plus 3% once their incomes exceed £41,000.
Today, this implies an effective top interest rate of a whopping 6.3%. Only the US has the same cavalier approach, but the average graduate debt there is a mere £15,700, with much lower interest rates, and a good third of American students leave with no debt. The English combination of high interest rates and sky-high debt is a unique double whammy. The impact of compound interest on debt that is only repaid slowly is deadly; only those students who earn very high salaries early in their careers can escape being locked into a debt trap.
There are insufficient jobs that pay enough to allow even a fraction of each year’s 340,000 students to escape the trap. The average salary is £26,500. Only about 10% of the population earn more than £41,000. Even allowing for the fact that wages usually rise faster than prices (though they have not since 2006), it follows that many, perhaps even the majority of, students will struggle to fully pay back their debt.
So far, this realisation has deterred only mature and part-time students, whose applications have fallen by 14% and 40% respectively since the benchmark year of 2010. But the fall-away in the demand for courses, such as languages, that are wrongly felt to be worth less in the labour market, also shows the effect showing through.
Another pressure point is the falling applications from indebted English graduates to study for master’s degrees and doctorates, especially in the humanities, and this is before the first cohort incur the full debt. Soon, the only graduates carrying on their studies will be the sons and daughters of the very rich or those poorer students who can secure one of the inadequate number of bursaries, scholarships and grants.
Yet graduate education is not just the university’s lifeblood, supplying the next generation of academics, it is one of the core elements in any innovation ecosystem. It constitutes the principal pool from which the scientists, technologists, doctors, lawyers and intellectuals of tomorrow will be recruited. A key societal function is under threat.
Universities across the board are in a quandary. The real wages of academics have fallen by 13% since 2008, one of the largest sustained wage cuts any profession has suffered since the Second World War. Yet, unsurprisingly, students incurring the debt want to see some value for their money. Research has to be sustained. What to do?
Unless there is some bold political leadership, the future is becoming clearer. Oxford, Cambridge and a handful of other top English universities will want to charge more than £9,000 to support their expensive teaching ,while trying not to deter applicants by offering even more generous fee rebates and scholarships to undergraduates and graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds.
They would preserve themselves in the short term as premier academic institutions. But they would have caused an interdependent university system to fragment, leaving less strong universities in an impossible position, and further entrenching the noxious class stratifications in English society.
The rest of the university sector would increasingly be devastated: it would have to reconstitute itself around a limited range of digital courses and online learning in order to slash fees as students became more and more aware that the debt could not be justified by any job they are likely to get. The very idea of an interdisciplinary university, across the gamut of expensive disciplines, would become impossible. Our economy and society would be immeasurably weaker.
What is needed is a mixed economy of student finance. Universities create the public good of knowledge and thus more wealth; they should be paid for in part by general taxation and in part from moderate student fees on which negligible interest is charged. Fees in moderation are a good financing principle.
But loading the entire burden for university financing on to the shoulders of the innocent young, who are so inspiring to meet, with their ambitions to change the world, while their elders are washing their hands of responsibility, is a disgrace. England will pay a high price for such arrant selfishness.
EEV: Needs second source confirmation
The perks of US education standards: ‘’Who is Fidel Castro?’ – ‘A singer?’
After graduating from American high schools, many children of wealthy Tajik, Kyrgyz and Uzbek families have failed entrance exams at universities in their home countries. English proved to be their only strong point. On every other high school subject, they had to catch up at private classes with local teachers. No great wonder, actually.
‘How many sides does a triangle have?’ – ‘Four.’ – ‘One.’ – ‘None.’ These are some of the answers given by US high school seniors in an international general knowledge test. Their counterparts in Russia, Japan and European countries did immensely better.
Most of the US seniors in the test failed to crack simple mathematical tasks. About 95% failed to name the winners and the losers in WWII. Presented with a world map, about three quarters failed to find the Persian Gulf. One in seven even failed to find the United States.
Interestingly, the American kids in the survey didn’t see their poor general knowledge as a shortcoming or a handicap. They even took pride in it as a uniquely American feature and part of the American way of life.
We have an opinion from an independent Tajik-based educationalist, Dr Rustam Babadjanov:
“Unlike American schools, which rely on cramming, Russian schools, of which we have a good many in Tajikistan, teach their students how to think and analyze problems. Mediocre academic performers from Tajik schools often win statewide knowledge contests in the US. Conversely, Tajik kids educated at American high schools encounter difficulties entering universities at home. Indeed, our university admission criteria are similar to the ones in Russia.”
According to American educationalists, the problem with the American schools is not funding, but ‘the cafeteria system’ in which a high school student is only supposed to take classes in English, US history and PE as his or her obligatory subjects.
Putting together the rest of the curriculum is up to the student. The choice is between applied disciplines like personal hygiene, cosmetics, preservation and canning of food products, consumer mathematics, household economics, driving and home health care.
American university education builds little if anything on the general knowledge base acquired by high school leavers. The following is a fragment from a general knowledge survey carried out among university-educated American adults:
Download audio file
American politicians are no exception. George W.Bush, who was America’s 43rd President, is remembered, among other things, for his ‘bushisms’ – awkward pronouncements containing ridiculous stylistic, grammatical and factual errors. About 12 hundred of them are now in seven books.
In former Soviet Central Asia, well-to-do families are now looking to Russian and European schools and universities to educate their young.
Dr Babadjanov again:
“Russia and European countries retain the time-tested traditional approach to education. There are good universities in Britain, France, Germany and, naturally, Russia.”
In the US, meanwhile, debate about overhauling America’s education system is picking up.
- Half a million fewer students enrolled in colleges in 2012 than 2011
- Biggest drop is in mature students ages 25 and older
- However, there has been an increase in the number of Hispanics enrolling
- Hispanics account for 17 percent of the student population, up from 11 percent in 2006
PUBLISHED: 19:17 EST, 3 September 2013 | UPDATED: 19:20 EST, 3 September 2013
College enrolment in 2012 dropped by a half million students compared to the year before.
Figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau also show the number students who are over the age of 25 also fell.
There are 419,000 fewer students that have enrolled at universities across the country.
Conversely, there has been an increase in college enrollments with 3.2 million new students entering classrooms between 2006 and 2011.
Enrollment by Hispanics in U.S. colleges rose 15 percent from 2011 to 2012 even as the overall college population declined.
Nearly 3.4 million Hispanics enrolled in college undergraduate or graduate programs in 2012, as the adult Hispanic population grew and because of greater demand from within the ethnic group, the bureau said.
Hispanic students have grown as a percentage of the overall college student population from 11 percent in 2006 to 17 percent in 2012.
‘This increase in the number of Hispanics enrolled in college can be attributed to the combination of an increase in the adult Hispanic population and their climbing likelihood of being enrolled,’ Julie Siebens, a statistician for the Census Bureau, said in a statement.
The Census Bureau report, titled School Enrolment: 2012, is the latest in a series of studies that seem to show that older people who fled to colleges and universities during tough economic times might be heading back into the workforce.
President Barack Obama took a two-day tour in late August to campaign for college affordability, stopping at locations in New York and Pennsylvania.
Among other initiatives, Obama pushed for a college rating system that would help students and their parents determine which colleges would provide the best return for their tuition dollars.
‘We’ve got a crisis in terms of college affordability and student debt,’ Obama said during a stop at the State University of New York at Buffalo. ‘We can’t price the middle class, and everybody working to get into the middle class, out of an education.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2410627/College-enrolment-half-million-students-2012-older-students-turned-studies.html#ixzz2dtKpg7Kx Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
Posted By Robby Soave On 9:54 PM 08/29/2013 In Education | No Comments
Have the manifest failures of public education motivated you to enroll your own children in private schools? If so, you are evil, argues Slate editor Allison Benedikt.
In a recent column titled, “If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person,” Benedikt passes judgment on all families who feel ill-treated by the American public school system. Everyone who sends their kids to private school–even her own colleagues at Slate–are “morally bankrupt,” she wrote.
The reason? Public schools would be better served if students who could afford better educations were compelled to languish there anyway. This might create more motivation among parents to improve the public system, Benedikt argues.
Of course, it would hurt these children, and might take decades to work, if it worked at all, she admits.
“This would not happen immediately,” she wrote. “It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.”
But the eventual common good is neither a compelling enough reason to enroll kids in public schools, nor well-served by doing so, said one education expert.
“The public would be much better off if everyone put their kids in private schools, rather than the other way around,” wrote Joy Pullman, editor of School Reform News, in an email to The Daily Caller.
Public education is twice as expensive as private education, and everyone has to be pay for it, whether or not they use it, said Pullmann.
“Everyone is invested in our public education system, whether we send our kids to public schools or not,” she wrote. “Childless people pay for public education.”
Benedikt’s attempt to shame private schoolers cuts against a rising trend in education reform: school choice. Lawmakers and analysts on all sides of the political spectrum increasingly say that children should have the freedom to spend their own money attending whichever school they believe will serve them best.
Benedikt stopped short of saying that private schools should be banned outright via legislation, although she did link to a Gawker column from last year that made the more extreme argument.
“Make all private schools public schools,” wrote John Cook, a writer for Gawker, in the column.
Cook and Benedikt are married. They do practice what they preach and send their kids to public schools — in Brooklyn, New York. Whether they purposefully send their kids to the very worst public schools in Brooklyn in order to eventually improve them is unknown.
Pullmann hopes they don’t. That would be immoral, she said.
“That’s maternal love right there: Damn the children! Save government education! A real liberal’s battle cry,” wrote Pullmann.
Article printed from The Daily Caller: http://dailycaller.com
Teachers should be aware that “not all pornography is bad” when taking sex education classes, according to guidance made available to schools.
By Melanie Hall and Graeme Paton
10:01PM BST 25 Apr 2013
A publication released by a group of health and children’s charities says that teachers should bear in mind that pornography is “hugely diverse”.
Pupils as young as 11 should be taught the dangers of “sexting” and five-year-olds should know how airbrushing in the media creates unrealistic body image expectations, it says.
Older pupils aged 14 upwards should tackle “real” and “unreal” behaviour in pornography, says the guide, which directs teachers to a list of online resources they can use in lessons.
It suggests using a website called TheSite.org, an advice forum for young people, which tells teenagers that “porn can be great” and aims to tackle a series of “myths” about the subject. “Sex is great. And porn can be great. It’s the idea that porn sex is like real sex which is the problem,” says the website. “But if you can separate the fantasy from the reality you’re much more likely to enjoy both.”
The guide was published by the Sex Education Forum (SEF), a coalition of more than 90 organisations, including the NSPCC and Barnardo’s, established to campaign for better lessons in the subject.
However, critics said many parents would be “horrified” if their children were taught about pornography in school. Campaigners said it was “playing with fire” and warned that it could encourage a casual attitude towards sex.
The publication follows the Government’s announcement that it will no longer include personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE), which is commonly used to deliver sex education lessons, in the National Curriculum. Instead, schools will be left to draw up their own syllabuses.
On Thursday the SEF released the first edition of the online publication Sex Educational Supplement — The Pornography Issue, which is intended to help schools teach sex education, providing resources on how to broach the “potentially difficult and controversial subject” of pornography.
The publication includes a “wish list” compiled by teachers about what they think fellow staff should know, including that “pornography is hugely diverse — it’s not necessarily ‘all bad’ ”.
However, Norman Wells, from the Family Education Trust, said that introducing pupils to pornography risked undermining children’s “natural sense of reserve”.
“The intention appears to be to steer children and young people away from a belief in moral absolutes and to encourage them to think that there are no rights and wrongs when it comes to sexual expression,” he said.
“Many parents will be horrified at the prospect of their children being taught about pornography within such a framework. To take a no-holds barred approach to sex education has the potential to break down pupils’ natural sense of reserve and to encourage casual attitudes towards sex.”
He added: “If we want children to view sexual intimacy as something valuable, special and worthy of respect, it needs to be addressed with modesty and restraint. To give lessons on pornography is to play with fire.”
The publication includes lesson ideas for each age group, with suggestions including discussing the dangers of “sexting” with pupils aged 11 to 14. It asks students to think about why young people do it, “which may include positive reasons such as ‘for fun’ ”.
The publication features an interview with a state school teacher from Sheffield, who asks her 15 and 16-year-old pupils to give their views on pornography.
Boo Spurgeon, the head of personal, social, health and economic education at Forge Valley Community School, reported that her pupils said they “need the chance to consider the pros and cons, and there should be balanced teaching about it, not just negatives”.
Pupils said the subject should be mentioned in the first year of secondary school, for 11 and 12-year-olds, because “that is the average age that pornography gets viewed”. Students also noted that “you can learn some helpful positions from some films”, but added: “It isn’t a model of good sex, but sometimes people do it because they enjoy it.”
The Department for Education has outlined a system in which schools would be given the task of drawing up their own PSHE curriculum.
Chris McGovern, a former headmaster and chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said lessons on pornography should only be carried out with parental consent. “This material may be widely available but some responsible parents will be very careful to make sure their children can’t access it and they would be horrified to think they are being exposed to it at school,” he said.
Lucy Emmerson, coordinator of the Sex Education Forum, said: “Teachers have told us they are nervous about mentioning pornography, yet given the ease with which children are able to access explicit sexual content on the internet, it is vital that teachers can respond to this reality appropriately.”
Posted: 01/10/2013 5:41 pm EST | Updated: 01/10/2013 6:32 pm EST
Public health school deans from prominent colleges and universities across the country have signed a letter condemning a hoax the Central Intelligence Agency reportedly used to obtain DNA samples from Osama bin Laden’s former compound before the raid that killed him, the New York Times reports.
Signed by representatives from Columbia, Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities, as well as other public health programs, the letter claims forces hostile to the United States have now targeted vaccinators fighting to eliminate polio in the region because a CIA operation destroyed the trust established between vaccinators and Pakistanis.
The Guardian reported in July 2011 that the CIA admitted to hiring a Pakistani doctor and sending him to Abbottabad in March 2011. He was instructed to tell officials he had procured funds to give free vaccinations for hepatitis B and to sidestep local health services by paying off low-ranking government workers. Health-related professionals typically “were among the few people who had gained access to the bin Laden compound in the past, administering polio drops to some of the children,” according to The Guardian.
The operation, which the CIA has acknowledged, used an existing international framework to eliminate polio; the doctor started his task in poorer districts to avoid suspicion and more closely align himself with existing operations.
After the hoax came to light following the U.S military raid resulting in the death of bin Laden in May 2011, angry villagers have run legitimate vaccinators out of town, and the Taliban has banned health workers from two districts in Pakistan until the United States agrees to end drone attacks — a relatively ineffective ultimatum, according to World Health Organization officials who spoke with the Times.
Nine polio vaccinators were killed in December. In their letter, the public health deans urge the U.S. government to stop using health officials as undercover agents.
The full text of the letter is provided below.
Dear President Obama,In the first years of the Peace Corps, its director, Sargent Shriver, discovered that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was infiltrating his efforts and programs for covert purposes. Mr. Shriver forcefully expressed the unacceptability of this to the President. His action, and the repeated vigilance and actions of future directors, has preserved the Peace Corps as a vehicle of service for our country’s most idealistic citizens. It also protects our Peace Corps volunteers from unwarranted suspicion, and provides opportunities for the Peace Corps to operate in areas of great need that otherwise would be closed off to them.
In September Save the Children was forced by the Government of Pakistan (GoP) to withdraw all foreign national staff. This action was apparently the result of CIA having used the cover of a fictional vaccination campaign to gather information about the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden. In fact, Save the Children never employed the Pakistani physician serving the CIA, yet in the eyes of the GoP he was associated with the organization. This past month, eight or more United Nations health workers who were vaccinating Pakistani children against polio were gunned down in unforgivable acts of terrorism. While political and security agendas may by necessity induce collateral damage, we as an open society set boundaries on these damages, and we believe this sham vaccination campaign exceeded those boundaries.
As an example of the gravity of the situation, today we are on the verge of completely eradicating polio. With your leadership, the U.S. is the largest bilateral donor to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and has provided strong direction and technical assistance as well. Polio particularly threatens young children in the most disadvantaged communities and today has been isolated to just three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. Now, because of these assassinations of vaccination workers, the UN has been forced to suspend polio eradication efforts in Pakistan. This is only one example, and illustrates why, as a general principle, public health programs should not be used as cover for covert operations.
Independent of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, contaminating humanitarian and public health programs with covert activities threatens the present participants and future potential of much of what we undertake internationally to improve health and provide humanitarian assistance. As public health academic leaders, we hereby urge you to assure the public that this type of practice will not be repeated.
International public health work builds peace and is one of the most constructive means by which our past, present, and future public health students can pursue a life of fulfillment and service. Please do not allow that outlet of common good to be closed to them because of political and/or security interests that ignore the type of unintended negative public health impacts we are witnessing in Pakistan.
Sincerely, Pierre M. Buekens, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. Dean, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine*
James W. Curran, M.D., M.P.H. Dean, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University*
John R. Finnegan Jr., Ph.D. Professor and Dean, University of Minnesota School of Public Health* Chair of the Board, Association of Schools of Public Health*
Julio Frenk, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. Dean and T&G Angelopoulos Professor of Public Health and International Development Harvard School of Public Health*
Linda P. Fried, M.D., M.P.H. Dean, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University*
Howard Frumkin, M.D., Dr.P.H. Dean, School of Public Health, University of Washington* Lynn R. Goldman, M.D., M.P.H. Professor and Dean, School of Public Health and Health Services, George Washington University* Jody Heymann, M.D., M.P.P., Ph.D. Dean, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health*
Michael J. Klag, M.D., M.P.H. Dean, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health* Martin Philbert, Ph.D. Dean, School of Public Health, University of Michigan* Barbara K. Rimer, Dr.P.H. Dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health* Stephen M. Shortell, Ph.D. Dean, School of Public Health, University of California Berkeley*
Contact: Press Office firstname.lastname@example.org 34-914-251-820 FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Female university students get drunk – on purpose – quicker than their male counterparts, and live a more sedentary life than they do, according to a study by the University of Vigo. Results show that 56.1% of female students are considered binge drinkers, as opposed to 41.3% of males.
Researchers from the HealthyFit group at the University of Vigo have studied university students’ lifestyles; their analysis, which includes alcohol and illegal drug consumption habits, sport and food, concludes that most students indulge in unhealthy behaviour. One of the main results of the study is the high consumption of alcohol.
“The amount drunk per unit of time is higher among women. In other words, even though male students drink more often, females do so more intensively in shorter periods of time, which is known as binge drinking”, explained to SINC José Mª Cancela Carral, co-author of the study published by the Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Researchers randomly selected 985 students from different degree courses and in different years at the University of Vigo.
Of the females interviewed, 51.2% lead a sedentary lifestyle, while the percentage in males is 41.7%. When analysing students who maintain an appropriate level of physical activity, 38.6% of males do physical exercise, as opposed to only 20.9% of women.
“We were also surprised by the high consumption of illegal drugs among university students – 44.9% of men and 30.9% of women – which we understand could lead to significant future health problems, mainly related to the nervous system”, underlined the researcher.
Anomalous attitudes to food were more evident among women (16.6%), although also present among men (8.8%). “However, the statistical analysis showed that this parameter depended on the degree the student was studying for”, added Cancela. Such attitudes were much more common among those studying degrees related to education (19.2%) than among those studying courses related to health (6.3%).
Spanish universities set up a Healthy University Network in 2008, a project for healthy living for universities from all over Spain, the Spanish University Rectors’ Association, the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport and some regional public health entities.
In the researcher’s opinion, at many universities this network was nothing more than “a simple first step to get on the list and nothing else”; hence transversal content should be implemented in study plans related to food, physical exercise and healthy habits.
“In the light of the results, training and information courses are required in these areas, together with healthy leisure – not just sports facilities – to set up university guidance services for a healthy student lifestyle”, concludes Cancela.
A recent study published in the PNAS journal argues that the gene called RASGRF2 could be related to a predisposition to getting drunk.
According to scientists, this gene regulates the predisposition to drink excessive amounts of alcohol as it influences mesolimbic dopamine neuron activity, which is one of the ways dopamine is taken from one region of the brain to another.
Gunter Schumann, one of the main authors of the study, explained that even though we should not consider said gene to be the main cause – as there are many environmental factors and other genes involved – the study thereof helps to explain why some people are more vulnerable to alcohol than others.
Verónica Varela-Mato, José M. Cancela, Carlos Ayan, Vicente Martín y Antonio Molina. “Lifestyle and Health among Spanish University Students: Differences by Gender and Academic Discipline”, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 9: 2728-2741, 2012. doi:10.3390/ijerph9082728.
David Staceya et al. “RASGRF2 regulates alcohol-induced reinforcement by influencing mesolimbic dopamine neuron activity and dopamine release”, PNAS 109 (51), 5 de diciembre. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1211844110.
Some 6.5 percent of Japanese elementary and junior high school students may have developmental disorders, an education ministry survey said Wednesday.
The survey, conducted in February and March, was based on the evaluations of teachers rather than doctors of some 53,800 randomly chosen students in 44 prefectures outside the 2011 disaster zone.
According to the survey, 6.5 percent of the children in the survey have difficulty reading, writing and staying calm, although they are not mentally retarded. Extrapolating, the figure means that about 613,600 of the roughly 9,432,200 children attending school in the areas covered may have developmental difficulties, the survey said.
Experts say the steps needed to improve the situation include reducing class sizes and placing more teachers in each class.
By grade, the highest number was 9.8 percent among first-graders, 7.5 percent among third-graders, and 6.3 percent among sixth-year elementary school students. The older the children, the lower the rate went. Based on sex, the figure was 9.3 percent for boys and 3.6 percent for girls.
Special assistance was emphasized for 18.4 percent of those deemed at risk by each school’s in-house committees on special needs education, but 6 percent never received such help.
“We hope to improve the environment, including teacher training,” a ministry official involved in special needs education said.
A similar survey by the ministry in 2002 conducted on some 40,000 people found 6.3 percent potentially had developmental disorders. The results of the two surveys cannot be directly compared, however, because the methods used and the regions covered differ, according to the ministry.
Two men on opposite sides of one of the biggest scandals in sports history share an air of secrecy granted by their work for the FBI.
The investigator that revealed Spanier’s alleged crimes, Louis Freeh, has also been accused of heading a massive cover-up when he was director of the FBI.
Spanier’s lawyers previously argued that Freeh’s report was unfounded in part because it didn’t take into account another investigation of Spanier “conducted simultaneously by federal officials responsible for our national security.”
That investigation reaffirmed Spanier’s Top Secret security clearance, which he holds from being chairman of the FBI National Security Higher Education Advisory Board. In 2008 Spanier accepted the “Award for Excellence in Public Service” at FBI headquarters.
Spanier was fired last November after having served as PSU president since 1995 and subsequently began consulting for the U.S. government on a project “relating to national security.” The details regarding his most recent federal gig—like which agency he works for—remain a mystery.
Freeh, who was FBI Director from 1993 to 2001, has a mystique of his own. He is a member of the secretive group Opus Dei. The international Roman Catholic order, founded in 1928 and championed early by Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, is dedicated to establishing its members in high political, corporate, and religious offices all over the world.
It’s interesting—if not highly relevant given that 1.4 million Americans have Top Secret clearance—that both the man charged with orchestrating the Penn St. cover-up and the investigator who exposed his alleged role have worked on classified projects for the government.
Security experts say new electronic voting machines can be hacked
Rapid advances in the development of cyberweapons and malicious software mean that electronic-voting machines used in the 2012 election could be hacked, potentially tipping the presidential election or a number of other races.
Since the machines are not connected to the Internet, any hack would not be a matter of someone sneaking through cyberspace to change ballots. Rather, the concern is that an individual hacker, a partisan group, or even a nation state could infect voting machines by gaining physical access to them or by targeting the companies that service them.
The 2010 discovery of the Stuxnet cyberweapon, which used a thumb drive to attack Iran‘s nuclear facilities and spread among its computers, illustrated how one type of attack could work. Most at risk are paperless e-voting machines, which don’t print out any record of votes, meaning the electronically stored results could be altered without anyone knowing they had been changed.
In a tight election, the result could be the difference between winning and losing. A Monitor analysis shows that four swing states – Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado, and Florida – rely to varying degrees on paperless machines.
“The risk of cyber manipulation of these machines is quite real,” says Barbara Simons, a computer researcher and author of “Broken Ballots,” a book documenting e-voting vulnerabilities. “Most people don’t understand that these computer-based voting machines can have software bugs or even election-rigging malicious software in them.”
There are plenty of software vulnerabilities to exploit, says Matt Blaze, a computer scientist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. In 2007, he was on a team investigating touch-screen and other voting systems for California and Ohio. The resulting study concluded “virtually every important software security mechanism is vulnerable.”
The paperless machines, however, stand out as particularly vulnerable.
“If there’s no paper trail, you can have the corrupted software display on the voting-machine screen whatever you want to display – and then after the voter leaves, record something completely different inside,” says Richard Kemmerer, a computer scientist who heads the University of California, Santa Barbara, Computer Security Group.
Voting for Pac-Man
For example, Alex Halderman, a researcher at the University of Michigan, and a colleague at Princeton University hacked into a paperless touch-screen voting machine in 2010 and installed the video game Pac-Man. That lab exercise took three afternoons but did not break any tamper-proof seals and left no traces.
Similarly, he and Princeton researchers in 2006 demonstrated that if someone could get a few minutes’ unattended access to a paperless machine, that person could install a software virus that could spread to other machines and switch those machines’ votes before deleting all traces of itself.
In fact, Dr. Halderman quips, he has a paperless e-voting machine in his office now. It plays the University of Michigan fight song “on command because I hacked it,” he says.
Such exploits have not gone unnoticed. States rushed to adopt e-voting machines after the contentious 2000 presidential vote recount in Florida, but now they are backpedaling. All but 17 have already mandated a return to paper ballots or paper verification for e-voting, including electronic optical scan or other equipment. Other states, like Florida, have gotten rid of most, but not quite all, paperless voting machines. Yet other battleground states, like Pennsylvania and Virginia, continue to use the vulnerable machines widely.
Some of the security improvements states are taking are obvious. In past years, poll workers were sometimes sent home with voting machines they were to set up the next day. But because access to a machine for even a minute can be enough to modify software, these “sleepover” practices have been largely abandoned, voting machine experts say.
Moreover, machines once sitting unmonitored in school gymnasium closets are today stored in locked rooms with surveillance equipment watching them, say officials in some states. Local officials also conduct pre- and postelection audits to check the accuracy of machines.
Colorado, which still uses paperless e-voting machines in Jefferson County, is among the states stepping up its protocols to make sure all its machines remain secure.
“Our machines are not connected to networks,” says Andrew Cole, a spokesman for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. “They’re sealed. The logs are sealed. There’s a chain of custody requirement. We know when our office or county clerk installed the software, when it was sealed, and these machines are kept in places where they’re monitored by video. Without those rules you could say they would be vulnerable. But we have safeguards in place to eliminate those vulnerabilities.”
Manufacturers, too, see big security improvements.
“There’s been a lot of improvement in the new equipment, and local jurisdictions and states are doing a lot more to ensure our machines are accurate,” says Chris Riggall, a spokesman for Domnion Voting Systems in Denver. “We still provide maintenance and support for a lot of this equipment. We can’t ever say that security is a thing of the past with election technology. It’s an area where continuous improvement is essential.”
“So often e-voting machine vote flipping appears to be deliberate, but it’s not,” he says. “Someone thinks someone has tampered with this machine, but it’s just the screen calibration that’s at fault and not anything malicious…. That’s the major thing wrong with touch-screen voting machines today. They get out of calibration – or local officials don’t go through calibration at the beginning of the day.”
Some early voters in North Carolina’s Guilford County reported vote-flipping this week when electronic voting machines changed the votes they cast for Mitt Romney to Barack Obama instead. Local election official, George Gilbert reassured them, “it’s not a conspiracy, it’s just a machine that needs to be corrected.”
Still prone to tampering?
Despite this, among the 23 states that use touch-screen Direct-Recording Electronic (DREs) machines as a primary voting system in at least some precincts, only California, Indiana, and Ohio were rated excellent in a national report this summer by Verified Voting, a Carlsbad, Calif., nonprofit that tracks voting machine use.
The updated physical security measures are not enough, security researchers add. For example, seals that cover sensitive areas of the equipment have been repeatedly shown to be ineffective. Some don’t even seal the right things.
Physically securing machines with seals is a two-edged sword, too, security experts say. If a poll worker finds a seal broken, what can be done? Votes can be recounted if the machines use paper. But if they don’t, counting the votes anyway means including results that may be invalid. Not counting the votes opens the door to an even simpler way to tamper with an election: just go to places where people vote against your candidate and tamper with those machines’ seals, Penn’s Dr. Blaze says.
“I’m not at all sanguine about the physical security improvements,” he says. “The basic findings are still valid: These machines are prone to tampering if people that can get unattended access. Certain software changes make the attacks needed more elaborate, but the bottom line is that these machines still are subject to tampering and don’t keep paper records, only electronic records that can be changed.”
How a hack might happen
Rigging a national election by cyber means would require a lot of money, hacker talent, and sophistication. But it could happen in a number of ways, experts say.
For a savvy hacker, the time and access needed to infect a machine is so small that it could be done while in a voting booth. Alternately, someone wanting to alter election results could get access through a corrupt poll worker. The Stuxnet attack, reportedly a joint US-Israeli project, provides yet another – albeit more ambitious – blueprint.
That attack is believed to have first infected the computer networks of Russian or Irnaian technicians through the Internet. Then, the Stuxnet worm gained access to the Iranian nuclear program when the technicians serviced those computers with their own infected equipment. From there, it spread throughout the Iranian network. Similarly, a hacker could in theory use the Internet to target an e-voting machine company, which would then unknowingly infect its own machines when it serviced them.
Such malicious software makes it appear to users that the system is working fine when it is not – a so-called “man in the middle” attack because the rogue software sits between the user and the machine response, working various software levers unbeknownst to the user. A Stuxnet-like attack could spread via voter memory card to many machines, no Internet or human help needed.
“If you’re considering a malicious attack, then you’re dealing with an adversary that’s strategic about where they’re going to act,” says Edward Felten, a Princeton professor who also has analyzed cybersecurity and other e-voting machine weaknesses state by state. “An attacker might look at the odds of getting away with an attack in a particular place. Where he attacks might also depend on being able to get access to a machine through a corrupt election official or in a state where defenses are weaker.”
It’s impossible to know if newer machines and software are really secure because their source code is largely unavailable for analysis, Dr. Felten and others say. Voting-equipment makers frequently say their software is a trade secret. But some security experts say that needs to change.
“Our goal should be an election so open and transparent, including the software,” says author Ms. Simon. “It’s not so much for the winners that we need it. It’s for the rest of the electorate – convincing the losers and their supporters they really did lose. That’s why it’s important.”
2009 study posted for filing
Contact: Melissa Mitchell
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — As school districts across the nation revamped curricula to meet requirements of the federal “No Child Left Behind” Act, opportunities for children to be physically active during the school day diminished significantly.
Future mandates, however, might be better served by taking into account findings from a University of Illinois study suggesting the academic benefits of physical education classes, recess periods and after-school exercise programs. The research, led by Charles Hillman, a professor of kinesiology and community health and the director of the Neurocognitive Kinesiology Laboratory at Illinois, suggests that physical activity may increase students’ cognitive control – or ability to pay attention – and also result in better performance on academic achievement tests.
“The goal of the study was to see if a single acute bout of moderate exercise – walking – was beneficial for cognitive function in a period of time afterward,” Hillman said. “This question has been asked before by our lab and others, in young adults and older adults, but it’s never been asked in children. That’s why it’s an important question.”
For each of three testing criteria, researchers noted a positive outcome linking physical activity, attention and academic achievement.
Study participants were 9-year-olds (eight girls, 12 boys) who performed a series of stimulus-discrimination tests known as flanker tasks, to assess their inhibitory control.
On one day, students were tested following a 20-minute resting period; on another day, after a 20-minute session walking on a treadmill. Students were shown congruent and incongruent stimuli on a screen and asked to push a button to respond to incongruencies. During the testing, students were outfitted with an electrode cap to measure electroencephalographic (EEG) activity.
“What we found is that following the acute bout of walking, children performed better on the flanker task,” Hillman said. “They had a higher rate of accuracy, especially when the task was more difficult. Along with that behavioral effect, we also found that there were changes in their event-related brain potentials (ERPs) – in these neuroelectric signals that are a covert measure of attentional resource allocation.”
One aspect of the neuroelectric activity of particular interest to researchers is a measure referred to as the P3 potential. Hillman said the amplitude of the potential relates to the allocation of attentional resources.
“What we found in this particular study is, following acute bouts of walking, children had a larger P3 amplitude, suggesting that they are better able to allocate attentional resources, and this effect is greater in the more difficult conditions of the flanker test, suggesting that when the environment is more noisy – visual noise in this case – kids are better able to gate out that noise and selectively attend to the correct stimulus and act upon it.”
In an effort to see how performance on such tests relates to actual classroom learning, researchers next administered an academic achievement test. The test measured performance in three areas: reading, spelling and math.
Again, the researchers noted better test results following exercise.
“And when we assessed it, the effect was largest in reading comprehension,” Hillman said. In fact, he said, “If you go by the guidelines set forth by the Wide Range Achievement Test, the increase in reading comprehension following exercise equated to approximately a full grade level.
“Thus, the exercise effect on achievement is not statistically significant, but a meaningful difference.”
Hillman said he’s not sure why the students’ performance on the spelling and math portions of the test didn’t show as much of an improvement as did reading comprehension, but suspects it may be related to design of the experiment. Students were tested on reading comprehension first, leading him to speculate that too much time may have elapsed between the physical activity and the testing period for those subjects.
“Future attempts will definitely look at the timing,” he said. Subsequent testing also will introduce other forms of physical-activity testing.
“Treadmills are great,” Hillman said. “But kids don’t walk on treadmills, so it’s not an externally valid form of exercise for most children. We currently have an ongoing project that is looking at treadmill walking at the same intensity relative to a Wii Fit game – which is a way in which kids really do exercise.”
Still, given the preliminary study’s positive outcomes on the flanker task, ERP data and academic testing, study co-author Darla Castelli believes these early findings could be used to inform useful curricular changes.
“Modifications are very easy to integrate,” Castelli said. For example, she recommends that schools make outside playground facilities accessible before and after school.
“If this is not feasible because of safety issues, then a school-wide assembly containing a brief bout of physical activity is a possible way to begin each day,” she said. “Some schools are using the Intranet or internal TV channels to broadcast physical activity sessions that can be completed in each classroom.”
Among Castelli’s other recommendations for school personnel interested in integrating physical activity into the curriculum:
•scheduling outdoor recess as a part of each school day;
•offering formal physical education 150 minutes per week at the elementary level, 225 minutes at the secondary level;
•encouraging classroom teachers to integrate physical activity into learning.
An example of how physical movement could be introduced into an actual lesson would be “when reading poetry (about nature or the change of seasons), students could act like falling leaves,” she said.
The U. of I. study appears in the current issue of the journal Neuroscience. Along with Castelli and Hillman, co-authors are U. of I. psychology professor Art Kramer and kinesiology and community health graduate student Mathew Pontifex and undergraduate Lauren Raine.
Editor’s note: To reach Charles Hillman, call 217-244-2663; e-mail: email@example.com.
To reach Darla Castelli, call 217-333-9650; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hate the Lakers? Do the Celtics make you want to hurl? Whether you like someone can affect how your brain processes their actions, according to new research from the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC.
Most of the time, watching someone else move causes a ‘mirroring’ effect – that is, the parts of our brains responsible for motor skills are activated by watching someone else in action.
But a study by USC researchers appearing Oct. 5 in PLOS ONE shows that whether or not you like the person you’re watching can actually have an effect on brain activity related to motor actions and lead to “differential processing” – for example, thinking the person you dislike is moving more slowly than they actually are.
“We address the basic question of whether social factors influence our perception of simple actions,” says Lisa Aziz-Zadeh, an assistant professor with the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC and the Division of Occupational Science. “These results indicate that an abstract sense of group membership, and not only differences in physical appearance, can affect basic sensory-motor processing.”
Past research has shown that race or physical similarity can influence brain processes, and we tend to have more empathy for people who look more like us.
In this study, the researchers controlled for race, age and gender, but introduced a back story that primed participants to dislike some of the people they were observing: half were presented as neo-Nazis, and half were presented as likeable and open-minded. All study participants recruited for the study were Jewish males.
The researchers found that when people viewed someone they disliked, a part of their brain that was otherwise activated in “mirroring” – the right ventral premotor cortex – had a different pattern of activity for the disliked individuals as compared to the liked individuals.
Importantly, the effect was specific to watching the other person move. There was no difference in brain activity in the motor region when participants simply watched still videos of the people they liked or disliked.
“Even something as basic as how we process visual stimuli of a movement is modulated by social factors, such as our interpersonal relationships and social group membership,” says Mona Sobhani, lead author of the paper and a graduate student in neuroscience at USC. “These findings lend important support for the notion that social factors influence our perceptual processing.”
Glenn R. Fox and Jonas Kaplan of the Brain and Creativity Insitute at USC were co-authors of the paper
Indonesian authorities are investigating how a picture of a Japanese porn star came to be printed on a junior high school worksheet, media reports say.
“There’s a subtle message in the picture that could actually infiltrate their minds,” Ibnu Hamad, spokesman for the Education and Culture Ministry, told the Jakarta Post. “They have to find an answer to the question and could easily search the internet to find out who she is.”
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nearly half of all sixth-grade primary school students do not understand multiplication and division with decimals, which is taught in the fifth grade or earlier, according to a study by the National Institute for Educational Policy Research (NIER).
The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry’s institution has analyzed results of the national achievement test given every academic year from 2007 to 2010. The test targeted children in the sixth grade of primary school and those in the third year of middle school. Although the questions differed on each year’s test, experts were able to conduct this first comparative survey by reviewing answers on similar questions.
The most serious deficiency was found in the arithmetic ability of the sixth grade children. In one year’s test, only 45.3 percent of students gave the correct answer for a multiple choice question related to multiplying or dividing with decimals. Students were asked to choose which formula or formulas out of four choices would yield a smaller number than the original figure.
The percentage of children who correctly answered similar questions in other years’ tests was also low. The highest percentage among the four years was only 55.7 percent.
Simple questions regarding decimals, such as asking the product of “5 x 1.2,” tended to show a higher percentage of correct answers, the institution said.
NIER said it is necessary to review the current teaching method because it seems children do not fully understand decimal multiplication and division, which they should have learned in earlier grades.
The institute also believes previous analyses of national test results have not been effectively used for reviewing teaching methodology in schools. Therefore it plans to hold an explanatory meeting for teachers in supervisory positions at schools across the nation.
Kenji Miyauchi, the head of the institution’s Department for Curriculum Development, expressed concern, saying, “Teachers can teach children how to calculate, but they may not succeed in making them understand the most important thing–why they came up with an answer.” Regarding the issue with decimals found in the study, he said: “If they don’t understand decimals, they may have trouble interpreting statistics or charts. This could have a negative impact on their lives.”
Sixth-grade students also had trouble with ratio questions, with low percentages of correct answers given for such problems. Only 55.1 percent to 57.8 percent of students answered correctly for basic ratio questions, such as “What percentage of children are girls when there are 80 girls among 200 children?”
When the answer choices contained figures with decimals instead of percentages, even fewer students got the question right.
This suggests students have difficulty understanding the relationship between two numbers, which may lead to a lack of understanding of proportions and inverse proportion, at a later stage.
Difficulty in writing logically
Furthermore, test results show sixth-grade children are weak at writing logically and developing a message. A review seems necessary of the teaching methods used in early school years.
For questions in which students had to express their opinions after reading a passage with a chart, a majority of students gave adequate answers in only one of the four years of the study.
One question on the 2009 test asked children to write their observations in 100 Japanese characters after reading a passage comparing the national averages for the running times of sixth-grade children in a 50-meter sprint with the times of one school. Only 17.8 percent of children gave acceptable answers to the question. In many cases, children could not process or interpret the information given in the passage.
Among third-year students at middle schools, 43.4 to 54.3 percent sufficiently expressed their opinions on similar questions, giving reasons to support them.
Utilize test results to improve
The education ministry determined the weak areas of students after each national test and distributed the analyses to schools so they could be used to improve teaching methods.
However, NIER believes the results have not been effectively used for adjusting teaching methodology, as the annual analyses did not seem to resolve any of the problems detected in this comparative survey. Therefore it plans to make a booklet with detailed analysis reports and hold a meeting for officials of prefectural and municipal boards of education across the nation to explain the nation’s present academic conditions.
Contact: Robin Mackar email@example.com 919-541-0073 NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
A new study shows that exposure to a chemical called diacetyl, a component of artificial butter flavoring, can be harmful to the nose and airways of mice. Scientists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), part of the National Institutes of Health, conducted the study because diacetyl has been implicated in causing obliterative bronchiolitis (OB) in humans. OB is a debilitating but rare lung disease, which has been detected recently in workers who inhale significant concentrations of the flavoring in microwave popcorn packaging plants.
When laboratory mice inhaled diacetyl vapors for three months, they developed lymphocytic bronchiolitis – a potential precursor of OB. None of the mice, however, were diagnosed with OB.
“This is one of the first studies to evaluate the respiratory toxicity of diacetyl at levels relevant to human health. Mice were exposed to diacetyl at concentrations and durations comparable to what may be inhaled at some microwave popcorn packaging plants,” said Daniel L. Morgan, Ph.D., head of the Respiratory Toxicology Group at the NIEHS and co-author on the paper that appears online in the journal, Toxicological Sciences. The study was done in collaboration with Duke University researchers.
The authors conclude that these findings suggest that workplace exposure to diacetyl contributes to the development of OB in humans, but more research is needed.
Although exposure of laboratory animals by inhalation closely duplicates the way humans are exposed to airborne toxicants, the study points out that some anatomical differences between the mice and humans may account for why the nasal cavity of mice is more susceptible to reactive vapors than that of humans. Another reason may be that mice breathe exclusively through their noses.
The researchers also speculate that the extensive reaction of diacetyl vapors in the nose and upper airways of mice may have prevented toxic concentrations from penetrating deeper in the lung to the bronchioles or tiny airways where obstruction occurs in humans.
When the mice were exposed to high concentrations of diacetyl using a method that bypasses the nose, the researchers found lesions partially obstructing the small airways. More studies are under way to determine if these lesions progress to OB in mice.
The National Toxicology Program, headquartered at the NIEHS, plans to do a larger set of studies to provide inhalation toxicity data on artificial butter flavoring and the two major components, diacetyl and another compound called acetoin. The NTP studies will help pinpoint more definitively the toxic components of artificial butter flavoring and potentially help identify biomarkers for early detection. The NTP data will then be shared with public health and regulatory agencies so they can set safe exposure levels for these compounds and develop guidance to protect the health of workers in occupations where these chemicals are used.
The National Toxicology Program is an interagency program established in 1978 by the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, which today is known as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program was created as a cooperative effort to coordinate toxicology testing programs within the federal government, strengthen the science base in toxicology, develop and validate improved testing methods, and provide information about potentially toxic chemicals to health, regulatory, and research agencies, scientific and medical communities, and the public. The NTP is headquartered at the NIEHS, for additional information visit http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/.
The primary mission of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/) (NIEHS), one of 27 Institutes and Centers at the National Institutes of Health, is to reduce the burden of human illness and disability by understanding how the environment influences the development and progression of human disease. For additional information, visit the NIEHS Web site at http://www.niehs.nih.gov/.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) – The Nation’s Medical Research Agency – includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov/.
Reference: Morgan DL, Flake GP, Kirby PJ, Palmer, SM. Respiratory Toxicity of Diacetyl in C57Bl/6 Mice Toxicological Sciences. Advance Access published on January 27, 2008. doi:10.1093/toxsci/kfn016.
Repost at request
Nurse Leader Resistance Perceived as a Barrier to High-Quality, Evidence-Based Patient Care
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new national survey of more than 1,000 registered nurses suggests that serious barriers – including resistance from nursing leaders – prevent nurses from implementing evidence-based practices that improve patient outcomes.
When survey respondents ranked these barriers, the top five included resistance from nursing leaders and nurse managers – a finding that hasn’t been reported in previous similar studies – as well as politics and organizational cultures that avoid change.
When asked what would help them implement evidence-based practice, respondents reported education, access to information and organizational support among their top five needs.
Evidence-based practice refers to making decisions about patient care that are based on the best evidence produced by well-designed clinical research. Numerous studies have suggested that evidence-based care of patients can reduce patient complications and decrease health-care costs by as much as 30 percent.
Overall, a little more than half of respondents reported that evidence-based practice was consistently used in their organization, but only about one-third said their colleagues consistently used these practices.
The respondents with more education tended to have more confidence in implementing evidence-based practice. However, the longer nurses had been working in health care, the less interested they were in learning more about evidence-based practice.
“This was a distressing finding,” said Bernadette Melnyk, the dean of the College of Nursing and chief wellness officer at Ohio State University as well as lead author of the study. “And it’s a huge problem. The average age of nurses is 47, and they were educated at a time when evidence-based practice was not well integrated into educational programs. As a result, many nurses are practicing the way they were taught or steeped in tradition of the health-care system in which they work. When new graduates who have learned to take an evidence-based approach to care are meeting these nurses in real-world settings, they encounter this prevalence of a ‘this is the way we do it here’ culture.”
Melnyk said the findings indicate the need for widespread cultural change in health-care settings and a new direction in nursing education, where many current faculty tend to emphasize teaching rigorous research methods and critique of existing research rather than how to put research findings to use in clinical practice settings. She also said consumers should feel empowered to ask whether they are receiving evidence-based care.
The study is published in the September issue of the Journal of Nursing Administration.
Examples of care that is not based on evidence are not that hard to find, noted Melnyk, a longtime consultant with health systems on implementation of evidence-based practice and a former member of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. It’s not uncommon for children suffering asthma attacks to receive a drug to open their airways with a nebulizer in an emergency room, when research has shown that using a metered-dose inhaler with a spacer instead leads to fewer side effects, less time in the emergency room and lower likelihood for hospitalization. And patients with depression typically receive an antidepressant prescription and nothing else despite research-based evidence that cognitive behavior therapy is more effective than medicine for mild to moderate depression.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report in 2003 calling for health professional education programs to include evidence-based care among five core competencies. The IOM has set a goal that 90 percent of all patient-care decisions be based on evidence by 2020.
A survey of nurses in 2005 conducted by a different research group suggested that the profession wasn’t ready then to adopt evidence-based care.
“Now, in 2012, they believe in it and they’re ready for it,” said Melnyk, also associate vice president for health promotion at Ohio State. “But there are so many barriers that continue to exist in our health-care system and our educational system.
“Another disconcerting finding in our survey was that a substantive number of nurses said their leader or manager is resistant to evidence-based practice. What I’ve seen as a consultant is a lot of leaders and managers will say they want their clinicians to deliver evidence-based care, but they don’t walk the talk. If leaders do not role model evidence-based decision-making and they are not providing tools, education and resources for their clinicians to get the knowledge and skills they need to consistently implement this, it’s probably not going to happen nor will it be sustained.”
Melnyk and colleagues solicited potential participants via emails sent to 20,000 randomly selected members of the American Nurses Association. Of those, 1,015 members completed the survey.
The survey contained questions about the state of evidence-based practice from each respondent’s perspective as well as two open-ended questions: what one thing prevents respondents from implementing evidence-based practice in daily clinical care, and what one thing would help them the most to implement this care.
Respondent ages ranged from 21 to 79 years, and 93 percent were female. Nearly 56 percent held master’s degrees or higher, and 44 percent had earned a bachelor’s, associate degree or diploma. The average number of years in nursing practice was 24, representing a range of zero to 52 years. Almost 47 percent worked in community hospitals and 23 percent practiced in academic medical centers. A quarter of respondents described themselves as nurse educators.
While 46.4 percent of respondents agreed that findings from research studies are routinely implemented to improve patient outcomes at their institution, more than three-quarters, 76.2 percent, indicated that it was important for them to receive more education and skills building in evidence-based practice. Fewer than a third of respondents reported that mentors were available in their health-care settings to help them learn more about how to adopt these practices.
Nurses working in hospitals with Magnet designation, awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center for excellence in nursing, were more likely to report the adoption of evidence-based care at their institutions, plenty of educational opportunities to gain skills in this care, and organizational cultures that supported the use of evidence in delivering care.
As for her own educational institution, Melnyk said that when she arrived at Ohio State one year ago, she held workshops on evidence-based practice with faculty “so we made sure we were talking the same language and were committed to integrating this even further throughout our curriculum. It is being strengthened all the time.”
The college has also launched a Center for Transdisciplinary Evidence-based Practice to facilitate the implementation and sustainability of evidence-based practice throughout Ohio State’s health-care system as well as at others across the country.
“Educational programs are behind on this. Many tend to still teach students at the bachelor’s and master’s levels the rigorous process of how to do research versus how to use the research that’s being produced and get it into the real-world setting at a much faster pace,” she said.
“Unless we have some drastic changes in both our clinical practice environment as well as our education systems, it’s going to be a long haul until every clinician in this country consistently delivers evidence-based care.”
Co-authors of the study include Ellen Fineout-Overholt of East Texas Baptist University, Lynn Gallagher-Ford of Ohio State’s College of Nursing and Louise Kaplan of the American Nurses Association.
Contact: Bernadette Melnyk, (614) 292-4844; Melnyk.firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Emily Caldwell, (614) 292-8310; Caldwell.email@example.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn.—New research from Vanderbilt University shows for the first time that the brain processes aggression as a reward – much like sex, food and drugs – offering insights into our propensity to fight and our fascination with violent sports like boxing and football.
The research will be published online the week of Jan. 14 by the journal Psychopharmacology.
“Aggression occurs among virtually all vertebrates and is necessary to get and keep important resources such as mates, territory and food,” Craig Kennedy, professor of special education and pediatrics, said. “We have found that the ‘reward pathway’ in the brain becomes engaged in response to an aggressive event and that dopamine is involved.”
“It is well known that dopamine is produced in response to rewarding stimuli such as food, sex and drugs of abuse,” Maria Couppis, who conducted the study as her doctoral thesis at Vanderbilt, said. “What we have now found is that it also serves as positive reinforcement for aggression.”
For the experiments, a pair of mice – one male, one female – was kept in one cage and five intruder” mice were kept in a separate cage. The female mouse was temporarily removed, and an intruder mouse was introduced in its place, triggering an aggressive response by the “home” male mouse. Aggressive behavior included tail rattle, an aggressive sideways stance, boxing and biting.
The home mouse was then trained to poke a target with its nose to get the intruder to return, at which point it again behaved aggressively toward it. The home mouse consistently poked the trigger, which was presented once a day, indicating it experienced the aggressive encounter with the intruder as a reward.
The same home mice were then treated with a drug that suppressed their dopamine receptors. After this treatment, they decreased the frequency with which they instigated the intruder’s entry.
In a separate experiment, the mice were treated with the dopamine receptor suppressors again and their movements in an open cage were observed. They showed no significant changes in overall movement compared to times when they had not received the drugs. This was done to demonstrate that their decreased aggression in the previous experiment was not caused by overall lethargy in response to the drug, a problem that had confounded previous experiments.
The Vanderbilt experiments are the first to demonstrate a link between behavior and the activity of dopamine receptors in response to an aggressive event.
“We learned from these experiments that an individual will intentionally seek out an aggressive encounter solely because they experience a rewarding sensation from it,” Kennedy said. “This shows for the first time that aggression, on its own, is motivating, and that the well-known positive reinforcer dopamine plays a critical role.”
Kennedy is chair of Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development’s special education department, which is consistently ranked as the top special education program in the nation. He is also director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research of Human Development’s Behavior Analysis Clinic.
Couppis conducted her research in affiliation with the Vanderbilt Brain Institute. She is also affiliated with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development and the Vanderbilt Center for Integrative and Cognitive Neuroscience.
The research was supported by a Discovery Grant from Vanderbilt University.
For more Vanderbilt news, visit VUCast, www.vanderbilt.edu/news.
Cheaters get a natural ‘high’ from breaking the rules, a new study has found.
Far from feeling guilty about not playing fair, dishonest people benefit from a ‘cheaters high’, researchers claim.
The University of Washington, London Business School, Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania have carried out a series of studies into how cheaters perceive their actions.
The findings showed that the majority of cheaters viewed their behaviour in a positive light.
Researchers led by Nicole Ruedy at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business asked subjects to predict how they’d feel about cheating and then asked them how they felt after completing tasks where they actually did cheat.
The studies showed that most people predicted they’ll feel bad about cheating, but most felt good after doing it.
It suggests that the thrill of pulling off a deception outweighs the negative feelings associated with immoral behaviour.
The study could go some way to explain why people get involved in financial scams when they are already very wealthy.
The report states: ‘Our documented pattern of results helps to explain otherwise puzzling unethical behavior, such as the finding that people often cheat even for trivial sums of money.’
It added that cheaters, even when under suspicion of breaking the rules, felt better off and smarter than their non-cheating colleagues.