More people engage with verifiably false news outlets on Facebook now than in 2016

first_imgiStock/luchezarBy: CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC NewsMore people are now engaging with outlets on Facebook that repeatedly publish verifiably false content than in the lead-up to the 2016 election, new research shows.These findings come despite a slew of new efforts from social media companies to combat the spread of misinformation on their platforms ahead of the 2020 presidential vote.The level of engagement with articles from “false content producers” that masquerade as news organizations but repeatedly publish demonstrably false materials has increased 102% since 2016, according to a report published Monday by the think tank German Marshall Digital Fund in partnership with the firms NewsGuard and NewsWhip.“What we were really trying to zero in on was something very simple — how is it that we keep hearing all these reports about disinformation when the platforms have taken so many actions? There have been so many announcements to prevent disinformation,” Karen Kornbluh, the director of the digital innovation and democracy initiative at the German Marshall Fund, told ABC News. “We realized there is a whole disinformation supply chain, which starts with these sites that mask as news outlets.”The researchers also found that the level of engagement with sites that don’t necessarily mask as news outlets but repeatedly fail to present information responsibly has increased 293% in the run-up to the 2020 election compared to the 2016 presidential election. Examples of these sites, dubbed “manipulators,” include Breitbart News, according to the researchers.Moreover, interactions with both kinds of deceptive sites — false content producers and manipulators — have spiked 242% between the third quarter of 2016 and the third quarter of 2020, the researchers found.Kornbluh noted that while overall engagement across all content increased during the timeframe they examined, “we see the disinformation sites increasing at greater rates than overall engagement,” she said.Kornbluh said they didn’t expect to see increased interactions with the false content producers “but we saw it there, and then we saw an enormous increase in interactions with the manipulators” since 2016.“That is an explanation for why you’re seeing so much disinformation,” she said.The researchers rated these outlets based on methodology developed by the startup NewsGuard, which ranks the credibility of outlets that claim to be journalism based on nine factors.Kornbluh said it can be hard initially for regular users to tell the difference between these false content producers, manipulators and credible news organizations, which is in part why the misinformation spreads so fast.If you see a piece of news or a headline on Facebook, “one thing you need to check is, what is the outlet this is coming from?” she said. “What are they using to make this claim? And really probing what’s the evidence behind this.”Ultimately, however, she said “there needs to be actions to change the incentives of the platforms.”“Just like the car companies in the early days, it wasn’t in their incentives to put in a seat belt, and we didn’t ask the individuals to install seat belts,” she said.Social media companies need to implement policy and internal changes to better protect users from misinformation, she argued.As for Facebook, “what they need to do is instead of playing whack-a-mole with individual pieces of content, they need to look at the disinformation supply chain,” she said, “and how they can disrupt this supply chain and not amplify that.”A Facebook spokesperson told ABC News in a statement that “engagement does not capture what most people actually see on Facebook.”“Using it to draw conclusions about the progress we’ve made in limiting misinformation and promoting authoritative sources of information since 2016 is misleading,” the spokesperson added. “Over the past four years we’ve built the largest fact-checking network of any platform, made investments in highlighting original, informative reporting, and changed our products to ensure fewer people see false information and are made aware of it when they do.”Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Firms face pension threat from stakeholder plans

first_img Previous Article Next Article Firms face pension threat from stakeholder plansOn 25 Jan 2000 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Up to a third of employers with occupational pension schemes will have toallow more staff to join if they want to avoid having to offer a stakeholderpension.Under rules released by the Government last week, employers running pensionfunds will escape providing access to the new pension only if they meet certainrequirements.Thousands of schemes would fail, as they are currently structured, on twokey issues – the minimum age for membership and the length of service beforejoining the scheme.Stakeholder pensions are the Government’s plan to provide low-cost pensionsto staff with earnings in the £9,000 to £18,000 bracket, many of whom haveneither company nor personal provision. They will be administered by privatesector providers.The Government’s position on age limits is that schemes may only excludestaff under 18. But last year’s NAPF survey reveals that 34 per cent of privatesector final salary schemes have a higher age limit. For money purchase, thefigure is 31 per cent.There are an estimated 150,000 occupational pension schemes in the UK so,potentially, 50,000 employers could be affected.The Government has also decided that pension funds requiring employees towait more than a year before being able to join the fund will have to provideaccess to stakeholder. Again this will cause problems for schemes as, accordingto NAPF figures, about 5 per cent of final salary and 9 per cent of moneypurchase schemes impose a wait of more than a year.The £200m Next pension scheme has an age limit of 20. Pensions manager JohnStevenson said the scheme was likely to extend membership rather than provideaccess to the new scheme.By Tom PowdrillRules on stakeholder pensions• Charge: there will be a maximum annual charge of 1 per cent of the valueof the fund to cover operating costs.• Advice: schemes must provide basic information and explanatory materialbut will not be required to offer individual financial advice within the 1 percent charge.• Access: The requirement to provide access to stakeholder schemes will berestricted to employers with five staff or more.• Group personal pensions: Employers which arrange group personal pensionswill also be exempt from the access requirement, provided they offer acontribution of at least 3 per cent of read more

Proptech firm claims it can help agents banish email ‘tyre kickers’

first_imgEstate agents will soon be able to automatically sort out the useful portal email leads from the tyre kickers following the launch of a new proptech service.OneDome says its OneLead product will enable estate agents to respond instantly to any buyer or vendor email enquiry coming in from Rightmove, Zoopla or OnTheMarket and work out which kind of customer they are and then direct them to either a valuations or viewings booking page.The system generates an automated reply answer to an email enquiry depending on the information within it, helping agents answer them more quickly and filtering out the ‘chaff from the wheat’, it is claimed.OneDome says Rightmove’s own figures show that 65% of vendor and buyer leads from the portals arrive out of hours.“Consumer expectations are greater than ever and they expect instant gratification,” says OneDome CEO Babek Ismayil (pictured, left).“When sending an enquiry form from a portal, buyers often get a slow response or no reply at all because agents find that many of the enquiries they get from portals are low quality, or worse, spam.“This discourages agents from responding and unfortunately, this means that high quality enquiries are missed.”The company says its existing OneCheck service can be used alongside OneLead to compile a profile about those are enquiring and ‘qualify’ each lead.OneDome, which says it offers agents the tech to improve the way they deal with leads and customers, has won funding totalling £3 million and been in business since 2016 proptech portal emails Rightmove OnTheMarket portals buyer emails vendor emails Zoopla January 16, 2018Nigel LewisWhat’s your opinion? Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.Please note: This is a site for professional discussion. Comments will carry your full name and company.This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.Related articles Letting agent fined £11,500 over unlicenced rent-to-rent HMO3rd May 2021 BREAKING: Evictions paperwork must now include ‘breathing space’ scheme details30th April 2021 City dwellers most satisfied with where they live30th April 2021 Home » News » Proptech firm claims it can help agents banish email ‘tyre kickers’ previous nextProptechProptech firm claims it can help agents banish email ‘tyre kickers’OneDome says its new product can weed out the good quality portal email leads from the dross including during ‘out of hours’.Nigel Lewis16th January 201801,065 Viewslast_img read more

USS Wasp Passes Aviation Certification

first_img View post tag: certification View post tag: Navy View post tag: passes Training & Education View post tag: Naval View post tag: aviation View post tag: Defence Share this article USS Wasp Passes Aviation Certificationcenter_img View post tag: Defense Back to overview,Home naval-today USS Wasp Passes Aviation Certification View post tag: News by topic July 1, 2013 View post tag: USS View post tag: Wasp Helicopters and AV-8B Harrier jets roared to life on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) June 24-27 as crew members went to work qualifying and passing the Afloat Training Group (ATG) Atlantic Aviation Certification (AVCERT) 1.4 Bravo.A large portion of the crew tasked with major parts of the graded AVCERT are fresh from boot camp or newly transferred making the process even harder than normal, but Wasp Sailors were ready for the challenge.“When the ATG staff came aboard Wasp for the AVCERT they came to a ship whose crew was fully prepared,” said Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Steven Vlasich, flight deck leading chief petty officer. “We knew from the last underway when ATG was aboard our crew had a good grasp on the operating and safety procedures for aircraft.”To prepare for the upcoming AVCERT Air Department Sailors spent their time between USS Bataan (LHD 5) and numerous training courses to reacquaint themselves with the different types of aircraft slated to land.“More than 45 percent of the Air Department Sailors are new, and do not have hands on experience dealing with aircraft,” said Master Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Jimmie Gardner, Air Department leading chief petty officer. “Our Crash and Salvage team had a scored above the fleet average in the firefighting team trainer and they were all new Sailors who took it, so I did not worry much when this assessment was taking place because I knew we had the best of the best in the fleet on this ship. These guys knew the importance of this assessment and they put their best foot forward.”Day and night, AV-8B Harrier jets, MV-22B Ospreys, MH-60S Seahawk and CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters launched and landed on deck working with flight deck personnel and practicing night vision operations using aided and unaided methods.“During night time flight quarters the flight deck crew and pilots use night vision goggles to safely land on the ship, and since the ship has to dim its lights to avoid blinding the pilots, this is the aided method,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jesse Seagrave. “The unaided method is landing aircraft without night vision goggles. Performing both methods gets the flight deck crew and pilots comfortable with landing aircraft in any situation.”Sailors below decks worked hard before and during AVCERT including air traffic controllers who went to team trainers in preparation for the assessment and were instrumental in landing aircraft safely.“Our job for this mission was to control the Harriers to perform different landing approaches aboard Wasp,” said Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Nathaniel Alspaugh. “To make sure we were prepared for AVCERT we went to Pensacola, Fl., and the training we received allowed us to simulate controlling aircraft and perform landing approaches on the flight deck during day and night flight quarters. The majority of the Sailors in my division are new and the fact that they were able to complete this evolution with no problems is truly an amazing accomplishment and I am proud of them.”Wasp passed AVCERT with flying colors and is one step closer to Joint Strike Fighter Developmental Testing Phase II schedule to occur later this summer.[mappress]Press Release, July 1, 2013last_img read more

‘Wad Words’ Opt-Out

first_imgIn a motion passed at the Wadham Student Union meeting on Sunday, Wadham students were given the option to opt out of being featured in their college rag-sheet.Students will now be able to email the Welfare Officers who will forward their names to the writers of ‘Wad Words’; this will be carried out in strict confidentiality.In the agenda for the meeting, the SU noted: “One. That Wadham students have a right to go about their lives without fear of being commented on in Wad Words. Two. That Wad Words nevertheless makes a contribution to college life and that there is no reason why it shouldn’t continue to do so.”Katharine Halls, Co-chair of Womens’ Campaign, says she proposed the motion after complaints were brought up at a number of meetings about the “derogatory tone of the college bog sheets”.”Oxford is an extremely stressful environment for everyone but sadly the age-old sexism of the place means it is often worse for women”, says Halls. “College rags are just another aspect of this, setting upon women for their sexual behaviour, objectifying those deemed attractive and deriding those who aren’t. We noticed that the situation in colleges with opt-out systems seemed a bit better, and thought the best way to tackle the problem was probably to take motions to common rooms.”SU President Leonora Sagan says, ” ‘Wad Words’ can sometimes be insensitive and quite cruel. An opt-out was considered to be the best way to ensure that the rag-sheet remains funny.” However, no specific examples of particularly cruel features were cited to support the motion.According to one Wadhamite, there was substantial feeling at the meeting that ” ‘Wad Words’ is not, in comparison to other college publications – for example the Jesus ‘Sheepshagger’ – that offensive.” He says, “The Freshers who chose to opt out are too boring to feature anyway.”Halls says, “I’ll be delighted if this turns out to be true. We never imagined there being more than a minority who’d want to opt out. The important thing is it is there for those who do want to, and if just one person feels a bit happier or less insecure because of it we’ll have achieved our aim. Incidentally, that minority are of course the very ones who are least likely to speak up at SU meetings.” One Fresher at Wadham said he was featured in ‘Wad Words’ for being ‘drunk too often and having to be carried home from events’. He thinks that an opt-out “takes away the point”, but that maybe people who are going to feature should be told in advance.”I wouldn’t say it was specifically sexist,” he said, “but I can see how girls would take offence to features like ‘Most Likely to Walk Funny in the Morning’.” He adds that to have been featured in ‘Wad Words’ means “you have done something noticeable or have a noticeable personality.”The ‘Wad Words’ opt-out motion follows similar motions that have been passed by Magdalen and Jesus JCRs, amongst Sarah Fleminglast_img read more

Summer sees mixed results for bakers

first_imgCraft bakers say they put up their prices due to rising costs for ingredients such as flour and butter, following a mixed summer’s trading.Gary Reeve of Salisbury-based Reeve the Baker said sales were up between 5-8% as the cooler wea-ther meant people went to the high street rather than the beaches. But due to high flour and butter prices, the bakery has added between 5-10p on its products.Canvey Island-based BB Grout’s chain of 11 shops saw sales up by about 10% during the summer. “Our hot food range, especially sausage rolls, has done very well,” said MD Giles Grout. Bad weather encouraged customers to buy cakes, pies and pastries, but sales of sandwiches also declined. BB Grout put up its prices by about 4.5%.Mike Holling, retail operations manager of Birds of Derby said it had managed to keep its price increases under 3%. “We’ve absorbed some of the costs,” said Holling.Sales performance was in line with expectations during the second quarter (weeks 14 to 25) with like-for-like sales rising to 4.4%.Trevor Mooney, joint MD of 22-shop chain Chatwins of Nantwich, said that bakery sales were up on last year. The bad weather meant that sales of cream products and savouries did not dip, usually typical during the summer. “We’ve been selling a lot more sand- wiches,” Mooney added. “We recently bought vans, which are doing a great lunchtime trade.”Dawson’s bakery added 6p to an 800g loaf. MD Robert Dawson said the company’s prices will have to go up again in October in line with an increase in flour prices. He said that the bakery had done well over the summer, with like-for-like sales up 4%.John Foster, MD of Foster’s bakery, in Barnsley, said: “The summer’s rain affected us very badly. The floods have made the wheat quality in our area poor and, as a result, we are now throwing away about 5% of our products.”last_img read more

Baking industry in limbo as salt goals stay unclear

first_imgThe Food Standard Agency’s (FSA’s) long delay in publishing revised 2010 salt targets has left the baking industry in limbo, with companies unsure how much to invest in product reformulation as time runs out before the deadline. After first agreeing 2010 salt reduction targets with industry three years ago, the FSA launched a consultation last year, looking at further lowering these targets for some foods, including cakes, pasties, sausage rolls and pies.The revised 2010 targets, along with new targets for 2012, were meant to be published in December, but the FSA has still not yet revealed what these may be, with time now running out for companies to meet them.Chris Morrant, chairman of the technical committee at the Association of Bakery Ingredient Manufacturers, said that some of the targets being proposed by the FSA were “totally unrealistic”. “The FSA has lost credibility with industry in the way that it has handled the new targets. The timescales for achieving them are unrealistic. We have to gradually acclimatise consumers to less salt.”Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Sector manager Barbara Gallani told British Baker that both the revised 2010 targets and the 2012 targets went “too far”. “We have come to a technical limit and the texture of products will be compromised with the proposed targets. Our members will find it difficult to meet them,” she said.”The FSA has shifted the goal posts on targets, but has left the industry in limbo,” added Elizabeth Ardoh-Kesson, technical manager at the British Meat Processors’ Association, which represents savoury pastry manufacturers. “Our members don’t know whether to start making changes now or wait to see what the new targets will be. The problem is that there is not enough time to imple- ment changes.”A spokesperson for the FSA said the delay in publishing the new targets was due to the large number of very detailed responses received during the consultation and the need to consider “complex issues” with stakeholders and government departments.”Part of this has included further work to assess the costs associated with reformulation and to finalise the impact assessment, which accompanied the consul-tation document,” she said.last_img read more

Press release: Government to invest over £130 million in new tech to tackle cancer and debilitating illnesses

first_img Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator: ‘NATA’ (£30 million) – brand new therapies and technologies directly targeting genetic mutations could be rolled out to treat diseases including cancer, Huntingdon’s, Parkinson’s and arthritis The Advanced Pain Discovery Platform (£12 million) – deepening our understanding of pain, this will reveal new treatment approaches and address a wide spectrum of chronic and debilitating conditions including arthritis. Versus Arthritis will contribute an additional £12 million over 3 years   UK Centre of Evidence Implementation in Adult Social Care (£7.5 million) – using high quality research, this project will lead to improvements in the delivery of social care across the UK; implementing innovations with the potential to allow more people to receive care from the comfort of their own home Tackling Multimorbidity at scale (£20 million, of which the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) is contributing £10 million) – this research into multimorbidity – when someone is suffering 2 or more long-term health conditions – will propel forward drug development, allow for earlier diagnosis and reduce progression to more severe illness and disability Minister for Innovation Nicola Blackwood said: People across the country could lead healthier and longer lives following significant government investment in new research to improve treatment, diagnosis and care options for devastating diseases including cancer.The government has today (9 September) unveiled details of how it will help thousands of people across the country living with debilitating, painful and/or sometimes life-threatening diseases by investing £133 million in life-changing treatments for arthritis and cancer and for pioneering gene-based therapies for diseases including dementia and Parkinson’s.Faster, more accurate diagnosis, and earlier interventions will be boosted by £50 million to be pumped into NHS diagnostic services and support the work of existing Centres of Excellence in digital pathology and imaging with artificial intelligence. The centres – based in Leeds, Oxford, Coventry and London – will be able to partner with more NHS Trusts and further develop cutting edge products using digital systems and artificial intelligence that could ultimately save lives.Adult social care will also receive a new cash injection of £7.5 million to use research to improve care delivery for some of the most vulnerable people in our society and £14 million for bioscience projects and technologies across the UK that could, for example, treat osteoarthritis and develop new vaccines.Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: Supporting people to live long, healthy and independent lives is a fundamental value of our society and, as our population ages, one of the biggest challenges we face. This £133 million investment will tackle important chronic diseases and also create a national centre of evidence for implementing the best evidence to provide adult social care. The UK is a global powerhouse in health research and innovation. The investments announced today will cement this, and help to further deliver on the NHS’s international leadership on applying artificial intelligence to complex health problems. Today’s announcement is good for patients, good for staff and good for researchers. A further £69.5 million of the total investment through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) will help fund 4 British projects: Notes to editorsThe Centres of Excellence fundingThe Centres of Excellence in digital pathology and imaging with AI were originally established in 2018 by UKRI. They bring together the NHS, industry, and academia who work together to develop products using advances in digital technology to improve early diagnosis of disease, including cancer by detecting abnormalities. The programme, managed by UKRI, will allocate the £50 million via a competition run between the 4 centres. The bids must demonstrate how funding will be used by the centres to invest in digital infrastructure and equipment in partner NHS Trusts, and digitally link these trusts to the centres. This will expand the geographic coverage of the NHS trusts who are able to work with the centres.Strategic Priorities FundThe Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF) supports high quality research and development priorities. This is the second wave of funding. The SPF Wave 2 total programme funding allocation is £496.8 million.More details about the funding projectsNucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator: ‘NATA’ (MRC) Supported by MRC with DHSC, BEIS, Harwell Research Campus and Oxford University.Funding requested: £30 million over 4 years. Location(s): The intention is to establish the NATA core infrastructure hub at Harwell Research Campus (Oxford). However, the challenges will be open to higher education institutions (HEIs), Institutes, public sector research establishments (PSREs) and/or businesses across the UK. Nucleic acid therapies are precision genomic medicines.The Advanced Pain Discovery Platform: Mapping the complexity of chronic pain (MRC) MRC and Versus Arthritis with BBSRC and Innovate UK.Funding requested: £12 million over 3 years. Versus Arthritis will contribute an additional £12 million over 3 years. Location(s): The intention is to build a national capability through calls which are open to HEIs, Institutes, PSREs and/or businesses across the UK.UK Centre of Evidence Implementation in Adult Social Care (ESRC) ESRC and The Health Foundation. Funding requested: £7.5 million over 8 years. This is co-funded by an additional £7.5 million by the Health Foundation, who are working in partnership with Economic and Social Research Council.Location(s): This is an open competition to deliver a nationally distributed and locally embedded centre through a call which is open to HEIs, independent research organisations and PSREs.Tackling Multimorbidity at scale: Unpicking disease clustering biological pathways and trajectories (MRC) MRC with DHSC and NIHR. Funding requested: £20 million over 4 years. UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said: Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: Chronic and painful illnesses like arthritis and Parkinson’s are dreadful and prevent people from living a full life. Curing these kinds of debilitating illnesses is one of the great challenges we face globally, and today’s commitment will play a vital role in ensuring that our scientists and thinkers have the tools they need to find new treatments that will support people to lead longer, healthier lives. We’ve got to bring NHS technology into the 21st century. I’ve seen for myself how better technology and diagnosis can save clinicians’ time so they can concentrate on care. The NHS is now spearheading world-leading technologies that can transform and save lives through new treatments, diagnosis techniques and care. I’m determined that the benefits of these advances will improve the lives of thousands of patients whose conditions have long been considered life-limiting. Combined with this new funding, none of this would be possible without the long-term plan, backed by an extra £33.9 billion a year for the NHS. government investing £133 million in healthcare innovation including gene-based therapies and artificial intelligence funding will unlock new treatments that allow people to lead healthier and longer lives This is co-funded by NIHR, who are providing half of the £20 million and are working in partnership with the Medical Research Council.Location(s): The intention is to build a national capability through calls which are open to HEIs, independent research organisations and PSREs across the UK.BackgroundThe £14 million has been awarded to cutting-edge bioscience projects across the UK by the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC).The government’s Ageing Society Grand Challenge aims to ensure that people across the UK enjoy an extra 5 years of healthy and independent living by 2035, whilst narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and the poorest.With 1 in 7 of us expected to be over 75 by 2040, today’s investment announcement will be an essential step in developing the products and services to support the UK’s ageing society by keeping them healthy, active and independent for as long as possible. Investing in innovation to promote longer, healthier lives is the aim of the government’s Ageing Society Grand Challenge.This cash boost is the latest move by the government to address the needs of our elderly citizens and meet its goal of helping everyone to enjoy 5 extra healthy and independent years by 2035. Earlier this year, a £300 million competitive fund was announced to address innovations and new technologies to helps people live in their homes longer, tackle loneliness and increase independence.last_img read more

Eight weeks to a better brain

first_imgMeditation group participants reported spending an average of 27 minutes each day practicing mindfulness exercises, and their responses to a mindfulness questionnaire indicated significant improvements compared with pre-participation responses. The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased gray-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. Although no change was seen in a self-awareness-associated structure called the insula, which had been identified in earlier studies, the authors suggest that longer-term meditation practice might be needed to produce changes in that area. None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time.“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” says Britta Hölzel, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany. “Other studies in different patient populations have shown that meditation can make significant improvements in a variety of symptoms, and we are now investigating the underlying mechanisms in the brain that facilitate this change.”Amishi Jha, a University of Miami neuroscientist who investigates mindfulness-training’s effects on individuals in high-stress situations, says, “These results shed light on the mechanisms of action of mindfulness-based training. They demonstrate that the first-person experience of stress can not only be reduced with an eight-week mindfulness training program but that this experiential change corresponds with structural changes in the amygdala, a finding that opens doors to many possibilities for further research on MBSR’s potential to protect against stress-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.” Jha was not one of the study investigators.James Carmody of the Center for Mindfulness at University of Massachusetts Medical School is one of the co-authors of the study, which was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the British Broadcasting Company, and the Mind and Life Institute. For more information on the work of Lazar’s team. Participating in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. In a study that will appear in the Jan. 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Harvard-affiliated researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) reported the results of their study, the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain’s gray matter.“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology. “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”Previous studies from Lazar’s group and others found structural differences between the brains of experienced meditation practitioners and individuals with no history of meditation, observing thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration. But those investigations could not document that those differences were actually produced by meditation.For the current study, magnetic resonance (MR) images were taken of the brain structure of 16 study participants two weeks before and after they took part in the eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness. In addition to weekly meetings that included practice of mindfulness meditation — which focuses on nonjudgmental awareness of sensations, feelings, and state of mind — participants received audio recordings for guided meditation practice and were asked to keep track of how much time they practiced each day. A set of MR brain images was also taken of a control group of nonmeditators over a similar time interval. The Daily Gazette Sign up for daily emails to get the latest Harvard news.last_img read more

Actress addresses effects of sexual assault in lecture

first_imgWhen actress, producer and philanthropist AnnaLynne McCord spoke to Notre Dame students Thursday evening in the LaFortune Ballroom, she had one very clear message: the importance of acceptance and forgiveness.At age 18, McCord, who has starred in “90210,” “Nip/Tuck” and “Dallas,” was sexually assaulted in her own home by a male friend, and she said the fact that she knew her attacker that made it harder to grasp.“[Knowing the attacker] is the part that makes it very shameful, very uncomfortable, and this is what keeps silence,” McCord said.As the assault took place, she said she was unsure of how to fight for herself. But it was when she thought of her boyfriend that she suddenly found a voice and stood up to her attacker.“For [my boyfriend] I had a voice … but I couldn’t do it for myself because I felt pushed down as a woman,” McCord said of the weakness she felt in the moment of the attack.She said instinctually repressed the memory following the attack and did not speak about it to anyone for many months.“[It was] denial, denial, denial,” she said, until she told a male friend 10 months later.“That was the first time I ever said it,” McCord said. “That was the first time I ever acknowledged that that’s actually what it was. That was the first time I even gave any kind of thought towards it.”That moment led her to a revelation: she was not reacting to her assault in the same vengeful and angered way that her friend was reacting.She couldn’t quite understand this difference, she said.“Why didn’t I feel that for myself? Why did I feel like I didn’t have a voice?” McCord said.After her many trips to Cambodia as part of her work against sex trafficking, McCord said she began to find her voice and heal.“These girls [in Cambodia] have been raped everyday. … And they were not suffering, and they were not angry,” she said, which was completely antithetical to the anger, frustration and depression that she felt after for years after her assault.However, it was not until McCord went back to the exact place where her attacker had confronted her not long after her assault that she was able to feel at peace with what happened.“I cried for myself,” she said. It was then that she felt she had moved on.As she stood in that spot, McCord said that she thought, “I’m done. I’m done with the cycle of abuse. I’m done with the suffering. … [He does not] have power over me. I’m no longer shackled.”Another big moment in her healing process came when McCord finally admitted her assault publically, she said.“I felt relieved,” McCord said. “Everyone knew I’m damaged, I’m tainted, bad stuff has happened to me … but I’m still kicking.“It was a weight off my shoulders.”Now, McCord said she forgives her attacker because her story of healing is not about him, it is about her. She said overcoming her sexual assault has led her to better forgive and accept others in her life today.“I can’t go back. I can’t undo it.” McCord said. “Now, when something happens to me, I own it, and I practice letting it go.”The event, entitled, “It Starts with Me: Healing and Forgiveness,” was sponsored by Sponsored by the Department of Film, Television and Theatre, the GeNDer Studies Program, Lyons Hall and Duncan Hall.Tags: 90210, annalynne mccord, Dallas, It Starts With Me, Nip/Tuck, sexual assaultlast_img read more