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    Saúde – Simply observing fear in others changes brain connectivity

    Research shows that it is not necessary to experience trauma directly to be affected by it. A recent study provides evidence that simply being around someone who has had a stressful experience can make changes to the way the brain processes information.

    Research shows that observing other’s stresses can change connectivity in the brain.
    Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops in some people following a frightening, dangerous, or shocking event.

    Although most people do not develop PTSD after such an experience, an estimated 7-8 percent of people in the United States will experience PTSD during their life.

    Symptoms vary from individual to individual, but can include flashbacks, intrusive negative thoughts, avoiding places, events, or objects, and being easily startled.

    Even if a specific event does not trigger PTSD at the time, it raises the chance of an individual developing it at a later date.

    PTSD without experiencing stress
    PTSD can be a life-altering condition. However, the trauma is not limited to the individual who lived through the traumatic event; it can touch anyone who interacts with this person. This can include caregivers, loved ones, or anyone who witnesses or hears about the others’ suffering.

    Lead author of the current study, Alexei Morozov – an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion – says:

    “There’s evidence that children who watched media coverage of the September 11 terrorist attacks are more likely to develop PTSD later in life when subjected to another adverse event.”

    In 2008, RAND Corp. – a nonprofit group that helps guide policy through research and analysis – assessed a number of studies on PTSD in previously deployed service members. They found that people who had not experienced a serious incident but had heard about it were just as likely to develop PTSD as those who had been involved in it. This is referred to as observational fear.

    In earlier studies, Morozov and Wataru Ito – a research assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute – investigated observational fear in a rodent model. They found that animals that witnessed stress in others, without experiencing any negative events themselves, displayed an increased fear response in other situations.

    Following on from these findings, the team set out to investigate any neurological changes that might underpin the observed behavioral changes.

    Specifically, they researched the prefrontal cortex, which is an area of the brain involved in understanding the mental state of others and empathy. Their results are published in this month’s Neuropsychopharmacology.

    Brain changes in PTSD mouse model
    Researcher Lei Liu measured neural responses in the brains of mice who had witnessed a stressful event in another mouse. The experiment involved placing two mice in adjoining cages. The cages were separated by a Plexiglass wall with holes large enough to be able to hear and smell their neighbor and touch whiskers.

    One of the mice (the demonstrator) received 24 electric shocks through the floor of the cage, one every 10 seconds. The other mouse (the observer) did not receive shocks. The next day, the brain of the observer mouse was examined for changes.

    Specifically, the team charted signal transmission through the inhibitory synapses that moderate the strength of signals being shipped to the prefrontal cortex from other brain areas.

    “Liu’s measures suggest that observational fear physically redistributes the flow of information. And this redistribution is achieved by stress, not just observed, but communicated through social cues, such as body language, sound, and smell.”

    Alexei Morozov
    The changes measured by the team indicate that communication is increased via synapses in the deeper layers of the cerebral cortex, but less so in more superficial layers. This study demonstrates that while changes certainly occur, it is not clear at this stage what the exact changes are.

    As Morozov says: “Once we understand the mechanism of this change in the brain in the person who has these experiences, we could potentially know how something like post-traumatic stress disorder is caused.”

    Although these findings can be considered preliminary, the hope is that the more we know about the changes, the more we will be able to understand how best to treat PTSD.

    Written by Tim Newman

    Jurídica – How To Protect Marital Assets During Divorce Litigation in New Jersey

    Going through a divorce can be a trying and emotional time. You are negotiating and entering into a final agreement that will hopefully resolve any and all outstanding issues between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

    Despite the high emotions, it is important that during the divorce process itself, you protect what is rightfully yours to ensure it is still there when the divorce is finalized. After all, your final agreement cannot award you an asset that no longer exists.

    The Court has an obligation to protect marital assets pending litigation. See Crowe v. DeGioia, 90 N.J., 126, 139 (1982) (court may intervene with temporary relief “to protect the res from ‘destruction, loss or impairment, so as to prevent the decree of the court, upon the merits, from becoming futile or inefficacious in operation…” (Schreiber, J., dissenting) (citing Guangione v. Guangione, 97 N.J. Eq. 303, 305 (E. & A. 1925)).

    It is not uncommon for requests to be made for the Court to prohibit one party from selling, transferring, or dissipating any marital assets which may be subject to equitable distribution. This could be for a variety of reasons including but not limited to a past history of one party taking out loans without the other’s knowledge. Should the other party have any specific reason to deplete marital assets prior to the divorce being finalized, you are going to want to make sure those assets are protected so your eventual share of them is not depleted. Once depleted, the depleting party may not be able to replace whatever asset he/she drains.

    If you have reason to believe your spouse may have the motivation or the ability to deplete marital assets during the pendency of your litigation, it is important that you obtain a court order prohibiting them from selling, transferring, dissipating, encumbering, or otherwise adversely affecting any marital assets which may be subject to equitable distribution.

    This request should also include a prohibition against either party seeking an advance of loan against their 401k or other retirement plan, if applicable. You can always mutually agree to do otherwise, but in the interim, that court order will ensure your assets are available to you when your divorce is finalized.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: William P. Lemega

    Educação – Columbia Challenges Vote by Graduate Students to Unionize

    The battle over whether graduate students at universities can unionize entered a new phase on Friday, when Columbia University filed a challenge with the National Labor Relations Board over the recent vote by its graduate assistants to unionize.

    Columbia said that tactics like voter coercion may have tipped the balance in favor of the union and that the N.L.R.B. should invalidate the vote.

    At a rally at the Morningside Heights campus in Manhattan on Monday, students said the university was trying to drag out the fight, possibly until President-elect Donald J. Trump could appoint new members to the labor board, tipping the balance in a direction more likely to favor Columbia.

    The issue has gone back and forth depending on the makeup of the board, which said in August that graduate students at private institutions had a federal right to unionize. That decision overturned a ruling from 2004 that said graduate students at Brown University could not do the same.

    The rules for public universities are different. There, states can decide if graduate students can unionize.

    In its objections, Columbia said that during the election, “known union agents” stood within 100 feet of a polling place — an area voters had to pass through in order to vote — and had conversations with eligible voters.

    Columbia also faulted the regional body of the N.L.R.B., saying a last-minute decision not to require voters to present identification might have allowed ineligible voters to cast ballots. Columbia said a board representative improperly removed an election observer.

    A couple of dozen graduate students gathered on the steps of the Low Memorial Library at Columbia on Monday to protest. They called the university’s challenge a delaying tactic, and they called it that in a Christmas-themed song, no less.

    To the tune of the Christmas song “Sleigh Ride” — “come on, it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you” — the protesters sang:

    “Hear that endowment ring-a-ling-ting-ting-ting-a-ling, too.

    Because the admin’s trying to break our graduate union!”

    They continued:

    “Wait for Trump, wait for Trump, wait for Trump, they say,

    he’ll take it away! We’ll scheme to subvert the landslide ‘yea.’”

    In an emailed statement, the university took a more bureaucratic approach.

    “Our objections were filed with the N.L.R.B. as part of its established procedure for determining whether the conduct of the election was appropriate,” said Robert Hornsby, a Columbia spokesman. “We share the N.L.R.B.’s goal of ensuring a fair electoral process and protecting the rights of all students.”


    Administração / Contábeis / Economia – Data Could Be the Next Tech Hot Button for Regulators

    Wealth and influence in the technology business have always been about gaining the upper hand in software or the machines that software ran on.

    Now data — gathered in those immense pools of information that are at the heart of everything from artificial intelligence to online shopping recommendations — is increasingly a focus of technology competition. And academics and some policy makers, especially in Europe, are considering whether big internet companies like Google and Facebook might use their data resources as a barrier to new entrants and innovation.

    In recent years, Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft have all been targets of tax evasion, privacy or antitrust investigations. But in the coming years, who controls what data could be the next worldwide regulatory focus as governments strain to understand and sometimes rein in American tech giants.

    The European Commission and the British House of Lords both issued reports last year on digital “platform” companies that highlighted the essential role that data collection, analysis and distribution play in creating and shaping markets. And the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development held a meeting in November to explore the subject, “Big Data: Bringing Competition Policy to the Digital Era.”

    As government regulators dig into this new era of data competition, they may find that standard antitrust arguments are not so easy to make. Using more and more data to improve a service for users and more accurately target ads for merchants is a clear benefit, for example. And higher prices for consumers are not present with free internet services.

    “You certainly don’t want to punish companies because of what they might do,” said Annabelle Gawer, a professor of the digital economy at the University of Surrey in England, who made a presentation at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development meeting. “But you do need to be vigilant. It’s clear that enormous power is in the hands of a few companies.”

    Maurice Stucke, a former Justice Department antitrust official and a professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law, who also spoke at the gathering, said one danger was that consumers might be afforded less privacy than they would choose in a more competitive market.

    The competition concerns echo those that gradually emerged in the 1990s about software and Microsoft. The worry is that as the big internet companies attract more users and advertisers, and gather more data, a powerful “network effect” effectively prevents users and advertisers from moving away from a dominant digital platform, like Google in search or Facebook in consumer social networks.

    Evidence of the rising importance of data can be seen from the frontiers of artificial intelligence to mainstream business software. And certain data sets can be remarkably valuable for companies working on those technologies.

    A prime example is Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn, the business social network, for $26.2 billion last year. LinkedIn has about 467 million members, and it houses their profiles and maps their connections.

    Microsoft is betting LinkedIn, combined with data on how hundreds of millions of workers use its Office 365 online software, and consumer data from search behavior on Bing, will “power a set of insights that we think is unprecedented,” said James Phillips, vice president for business applications at Microsoft.

    In an email to employees, Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, described the LinkedIn deal as a linchpin in the company’s long-term goal to “reinvent productivity and business processes” and to become the digital marketplace that defines “how people find jobs, build skills, sell, market and get work done.”

    IBM has also bet heavily on data for its future. Its acquisitions have tended to be in specific industries, like its $2.6 billion purchase last year of Truven Health, which has data on the cost and treatment of more than 200 million patients, or in specialized data sets useful across several industries, like its $2 billion acquisition of the digital assets of the Weather Company.

    IBM estimates that 70 percent of the world’s data is not out on the public web, but in private databases, often to protect privacy or trade secrets. IBM’s strategy is to take the data it has acquired, add customer data and use that to train its Watson artificial intelligence software to pursue such tasks as helping medical researchers discover novel disease therapies, or flagging suspect financial transactions for independent auditors.

    “Our focus is mainly on nonpublic data sets and extending that advantage for clients in business and science,” said David Kenny, senior vice president for IBM’s Watson and cloud businesses.

    At Google, the company’s drive into cloud-delivered business software is fueled by data, building on years of work done on its search and other consumer services, and its recent advances in image identification, speech recognition and language translation.

    For example, a new Google business offering — still in the test, or alpha, stage — is a software service to improve job finding and recruiting. Its data includes more than 17 million online job postings and the public profiles and résumés of more than 200 million people.

    Its machine-learning algorithms distilled that to about four million unique job titles, ranked the most common ones and identified specific skills. The job sites CareerBuilder and Dice are using the Google technology to show job seekers more relevant openings. And FedEx, the giant package shipper, is adding the service to its recruiting site.

    That is just one case, said Diane Greene, senior vice president for Google’s cloud business, of what is becoming increasingly possible — using the tools of artificial intelligence, notably machine learning, to sift through huge quantities of data to provide machine-curated data services.

    “You can turn this technology to whatever field you want, from manufacturing to medicine,” Ms. Greene said.

    Fei-Fei Li, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, is taking a sabbatical to become chief scientist for artificial intelligence at Google’s cloud unit. She sees working at Google as one path to pursue her career ambition to “democratize A.I.,” now that the software and data ingredients are ripe.

    “We wouldn’t have the current era of A.I. without the big data revolution,” Dr. Li said. “It’s the digital gold.”

    In the A.I. race, better software algorithms can put you ahead for a year or so, but probably no more, said Andrew Ng, a former Google scientist and adjunct professor at Stanford. He is now chief scientist at Baidu, the Chinese internet search giant, and a leading figure in artificial intelligence research.

    Rivals, he added, cannot unlock or simulate your data. “Data is the defensible barrier, not algorithms,” Mr. Ng said.