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Spirit of Ireland – Things I’ve Learned – Day 1

No sleep equals not missing a moment.

6.16.2016 Shannon, Ireland


IMG_0870It was about 90 degrees as I left JFK international airport for Shannon, Ireland. This trip was exciting for me for several reasons; 1. I was looking forward to meeting new people. 2. Interested in the business opportunities that were available. 3. Going to a land of magic and deeply rooted history. The weather going into Shannon was at a light rain and about 68 degrees. So I was happy to be going into some cooler weather that would allow for some ease of senses. Personally, I love rain. I feel as though it’s soothing and meditative. Therefore, after the 7 hour flight form JFK to Shannon, a light rain and cool weather was something I was looking forward to.

As most of you know, I have an obsession with learning and growing. I truly believe that the more you learn, and apply, the more rounded and better player of life you become. Therefore, by default, I went into this trip to Ireland with the same mindset I do with most projects: To learn and absorb as much as possible.

After Landing

After landing in Shannon and eating breakfast, I quickly secured postcards for my two sisters, Anna and Katie, who live in Kansas. I thought of how amazing it would be to receive a postcard from a foreign country – oh and – also from your brother. ūüėÄAfter post-making them and dropping them into the mail, I waited for my ride to the B&B(Bed and Breakfast) that I would be staying at for the first night. At this time I had a total of 3 hours sleep since the morning of the 14th(82 hours). This was due to me staying up for my 3:30am ride to the airport all the way through to Shannon, Ireland with just a few snoozings on the second plane out of JFK. I don’t sleep very much as it is, but this was on a new scale for me. I’ve a lover of life and living, so sleeping is something that I use on an “as needed” basis… haha! Luckily, my lifestyle allows for a very flexibly sleeping schedule. Once my ride arrived, I was swiftly taken to the B&B which was about 20 minutes from the Airport.

Arriving at First B&B

The beautiful B&B,¬†Bunratty¬†Heights,¬†is a charming cottage that has 7 rooms with a very comfortable living room, front-view dinning room, and spacious kitchen. The countryside where I was staying for the first night is a historic area IMG_0904of Bunratty Ireland. There is the Bunratty Castle, narrow roads that are outline with ancient stone fences (or mini walls), and simple reminders of the elegant beauty that has incased Ireland of millennia. As one my suspect, there is green everywhere. This is mainly due to the climate. The keeper of the B&B, Patricia, told me that Ireland has two seasons; autumn and winter. In autumn, (August to October) highest temperatures hit between 64 and 57¬įF. September is considered a mild,¬†temperate month. Winter air temperatures inland normally reach 46¬įF, while the coldest months are January and February. This does not account for snow, or lack thereof. When Ireland gets, if they get any, or so much as 3 inches of snow, Patricia told me, will shut down everything; schools, federal buildings – telling workers to stay home. So the cool weather and rainy welcome that I received was typical and something that was quite magical.

First Activities

After I settled my things in, I had time to myself before the evening dinner that was to be down the road from the bed and breakfast. So, I decided to go for a run IMG_0899out and amongst the countryside to see what type of trouble I could get into. I literally just started down a road, allowing the road to take me where ever it led me. Interestingly enough, the road led me to this older gentleman that was working on a stone fence near a golf course that I found. I spoke with him for some time; everything from international politics to Irish farming. He told me that the land of Ireland is so intrenched with rock that you can’t plant anything but grass which, is perfect for raising sheep and cattle. He went on to tell me that he has 80 acres that has been in his family for over 4 generations, dating back to the famed Irish potato famine. In passing I met his son-in-law which he told me his son-in-law would inherit the land in order to keep it in the family. So, 200 years ago, when the people of Ireland attempted to plant in the ground they found all this really hard rock and limestone. So, being the industrious people that they are, they turned that rock into the stone fences we see now in Ireland. I asked him if that meant that the stone fences I saw today were that old, which he replied, “most, if not all of them, young lad.”

To Note:

  • Hulu does not support streaming in Ireland (No Shark Tank for a while..ūüėĎ)
  • Pandora Radio does not support music streaming in Ireland. You can listen to online radio via¬†http://www.liveradio.ie/
  • Everyone drives on the opposite side of the road from the US.
  • Their gasoline is calculated in terms of cents, not dollars. In other words, if you were to buy gas down the street from the airport it would cost you 133.9C or $1.34.

 

The brain on creativity

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There has been vast amount of study around the field of human creativity. Only until the technology could catch up with itself was it able to measure how our brain works when in creative activities. New research has come out to support the special functions of the brain that spark and continue creative thinking. The results may astound you — it did me!


A UNC School of Medicine study has provided the first direct evidence that a low dose of electric current can enhance a specific brain pattern to boost creativity by an average of 7.4 percent in healthy adults, according to a common, well-validated test of creativity.

This research, published in the journal¬†Cortex, showed that using a 10-Hertz current run through electrodes attached to the scalp enhanced the brain’s natural alpha wave oscillations — prominent rhythmic patterns that can be seen on an electroencephalogram, or EEG.

“This study is a proof-of-concept,” said senior author Flavio Frohlich, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry, cell biology and physiology, biomedical engineering, and neurology. “We’ve provided the first evidence that specifically enhancing alpha oscillations is a causal trigger of a specific and complex behavior — in this case, creativity. But our goal is to use this approach to help people with neurological and psychiatric illnesses. For instance, there is strong evidence that people with depression have impaired alpha oscillations. If we could enhance these brain activity patterns, then we could potentially help many people.”

Frohlich, who is also a member of the UNC Neuroscience Center, is now in collaboration with David Rubinow, MD, chair of the department of psychiatry, to use this particular kind of brain stimulation in two clinical trials for people with major depressive disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD — a severe form of premenstrual syndrome. Participant enrollment is now underway for both trials.

“The fact that we’ve managed to enhance creativity in a frequency-specific way — in a carefully-done double-blinded placebo-controlled study — doesn’t mean that we can definitely treat people with depression,” Frohlich cautioned. “But if people with depression are stuck in a thought pattern and fail to appropriately engage with reality, then we think it’s possible that enhancing alpha oscillations could be a meaningful, noninvasive, and inexpensive treatment paradigm for them — similar to how it enhanced creativity in healthy participants.”

Brain Rhythms

At the center of Frohlich’s research are neural oscillations — the naturally occurring rhythmic electrical patterns that neurons generate and repeat throughout the brain. Alpha oscillations occur within the frequency range of 8 and 12 Hertz 9 (or cycles per second). They were discovered in 1929 by Hans Berger, who invented EEG. Alpha oscillations occur most prominently when we close our eyes and shut out sensory stimuli — things we see, feel, taste, smell, and hear.

“For a long time, people thought alpha waves represented the brain idling,” Frohlich said. “But over the past 20 years we’ve developed much better insight. Our brains are not wasting energy, creating these patterns for nothing. When the brain is decoupled from the environment, it still does important things.”

When alpha oscillations are prominent, your sensory inputs might be offline as you daydream, meditate, or conjure ideas. But when something happens that requires action, your brain immediately redirects attention to what’s going on around you. You come fully online, and the alpha oscillations disappear. Other oscillations at higher frequencies, such as gamma oscillations, take over.

Knowing this, other researchers began associating alpha oscillations with creativity. Frohlich set out to find evidence. His idea was simple. If he could enhance the rhythmic patterns of alpha oscillations to improve creativity, then it might be possible to enhance alpha oscillations to help people with depression and other conditions of the central nervous system that seem to involve the same brain patterns.

For three years, his lab has used computer simulations and other experiments to hone a technique to improve alpha oscillation.

For the Cortex study, Frohlich’s team enrolled 20 healthy adults. Researchers placed electrodes on each side of each participant’s frontal scalp and a third electrode toward the back of the scalp. This way, the 10-Hertz alpha oscillation stimulation for each side of the cortex would be in unison. This is a key difference in Frohlich’s method as compared to other brain stimulation techniques.

Each participant underwent two sessions. During one session, researchers used a 10-Hertz sham stimulation for just five minutes. Participants felt a little tingle at the start of the five minutes. For the next 25 minutes, each participant continued to take the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, a comprehensive and commonly used test of creativity. In one task, each participant was shown a small fraction of an illustration — sometimes just a bent line on a piece of paper. Participants used the line to complete an illustration, and they wrote a title when they finished.

In the other session each participant underwent the same protocol, except they were stimulated at 10 Hertz for the entire 30 minutes while doing the Torrance test. The tingling sensation only occurred at the start of the stimulation, ensuring that each participant did not know which session was the control session.

Because rating creativity or scoring a test can involve subjectivity, Frohlich sent each participant’s work to the company that created the test. “We didn’t even tell the company what we were doing,” Frohlich said. “We just asked them to score the tests.”

Then Frohlich’s team compared each participant’s creativity score for each session. He found that during the 30-minute stimulation sessions, participants scored an average 7.4 percentage points higher than they did during the control sessions.

“That’s a pretty big difference when it comes to creativity,” Frohlich said. “Several participants showed incredible improvements in creativity. It was a very clear effect.”

Pattern Specific

But there was a question. What if the electrical stimulation merely caused a general electric effect on the brain, independent of the alpha oscillation? To find out, Frohlich’s team conducted the same experiments but used 40 Hertz of electrical current, which falls in the gamma frequency band typically associated with sensory processing — when the brain is computing what we see or touch or hear.

“Using 40 Hertz, we saw no effect on creativity,” Frohlich said. “The effect we saw was specific to the 10-hertz alpha oscillations. There’s no statistical trickery. You just have to look at each participant’s test to see these effects.”

Frohlich said he understood some people might want to capitalize on this sort of study to boost creativity in their everyday lives, but he cautioned against it. “We don’t know if there are long-term safety concerns,” he said. “We did a well-controlled, one-time study and found an acute effect.”

“Also, I have strong ethical concerns about cognitive enhancement for healthy adults, just as sports fans might have concerns about athletic enhancement through the use of performance-enhancing drugs.”

Instead, Frohlich is focused on treating people with depression and other mental conditions, such as schizophrenia, for which cognitive deficits during everyday life is a major problem.

“There are people that are cognitively impaired and need help, and sometimes there are no medications that help or the drugs have serious side effects,” Frohlich said. “Helping these populations of people is why we do this kind of research.”


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Does musical taste determine social class?

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We’ve all heard the adage of “snobs” venturing to the Opera or Symphony. We’ve also heard the stereotypes of people from the country listening to, well, country music. But, the question today is whether our social class plays into what type of music we listen to; or vise-versa?

With this conclusion it might be suggested that if you start listening to operatic music that you could rise in class. Well, at least if you GO to the Opera. The point is that musical tastes may play a bigger role in determining our social place than we might have thought. What we have found is that specific people listen to specific things. What links these individuals with these styles of music may give us insight into the psychology of their respective demographics.


 

Love the opera? Hungry for hip hop? It turns out that your musical likes and dislikes may say more about you than you think, according to UBC research.

Even in 2015, social class continues to inform our cultural attitudes and the way we listen to music, according to the study, which was recently published in the Canadian Review of Sociology.

“Breadth of taste is not linked to class. But class filters into specific likes and dislikes,” said Gerry Veenstra, study author and professor at UBC’s Department of Sociology.

The study involved nearly 1,600 telephone interviews with adults in Vancouver and Toronto, who were asked about their likes and dislikes of 21 musical genres. Veenstra himself is partial to easy listening, musical theatre and pop.

Poorer, less-educated people tended to like country, disco, easy listening, golden oldies, heavy metal and rap. Meanwhile, their wealthier and better-educated counterparts preferred genres such as classical, blues, jazz, opera, choral, pop, reggae, rock, world and musical theatre.

The research touches on a hotly debated topic in cultural sociology: whether one’s class is accompanied by specific cultural tastes, or whether “elites” are defined by a broad palette of preferences that sets them apart.

The study determines that wealth and education do not influence a person’s breadth of musical taste. However, class and other factors — such as age, gender, immigrant status and ethnicity — shape our musical tastes in interesting and complex ways.

What people don’t want to listen to also plays a key role in creating class boundaries. “What upper class people like is disliked by the lower class, and vice versa,” said Veenstra.

For example, the least-educated people in the study were over eight times more likely to dislike classical music compared to the best-educated respondents. Meanwhile, lowbrow genres such as country, easy listening and golden oldies were disliked by higher-class listeners.

Sources:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. http://www.sciencedaily.com 

Arts integration fills gaps in core-subject learning

976809_10151636660431212_131722587_oArts education within our society seems to be seen in the light of a separate component and/or supplementation to core subject learning. A shift in perspective should take place in the integration of arts education within the teaching of the core academic subjects. Research has shown that this integration enables to secure gaps in learning amongst students that struggle in varying areas of academics. What seems to occur is that the creativity from the arts integration stimulates the different parts of the brain that allow the student to see connections between the various subjects. This broader view of academia, facilitated by the arts integration, places the student in a unique position to create future connections within the life they live. They now see the world from new points of view by the connections they make. This might be the single most important component of arts-core subject integration.


 

Effective classroom arts integration can reduce or eliminate educational achievement gaps for economically disadvantaged students, according to a Mississippi State University research report.

In other words, when teachers reinforce academic concepts with the arts, students learn more and score higher on standardized tests.

MSU’s John C. Stennis Institute of Government and Community Development generated the report, which evaluated the impacts of the Mississippi Whole Schools Initiative. The program supports teachers’ efforts to use the arts–composing, painting, drawing or sculpting; playing, singing or listening to music; and dancing and dramatic performance–to foster retention and learning.

Judith Philips, Stennis research associate, headed the development of “Arts Integration and the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Whole Schools Initiative: A Stennis Institute Study for Decision-Makers.” The report initially was presented at the Mississippi Arts Commission’s 2013 Whole Schools Initiative Summer Institute.

Philips said the research verifies that effective arts integration reinforces classroom learning.

“Schools that effectively implement arts integration have either significantly reduced or completely eliminated the educational achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students,” she said. “This research indicates that arts integration can achieve that objective in Mississippi public schools.”

Currently, almost 5,500 Mississippi students in eight public and four private elementary schools are participating in WSI. The study compared results on language arts and mathematics Mississippi Curriculum Tests, fourth-grade writing assessments and fifth-grade science tests to scores of students not enrolled in arts integrated classrooms.

“The percentage of students scoring ‘proficient or above’ on standardized tests was significantly higher at schools participating in the Whole Schools Initiative that had effectively implemented the WSI arts integration model, when compared to student performance statewide and when compared to student performance for the school district within which the WSI school was located,” Phillips told arts commission participants during her presentation.

Karen Brown, MSU instructor in curriculum, instruction and workforce development, teaches an arts integration course in MSU’s College of Education. She said she’s not surprised at the Stennis report’s findings because students, especially young children, gravitate to learning that way.

“Not only is it repetition, but it’s time spent whenever a child is learning something in a different way, that means they’re learning it again,” Brown said. “They’re repeating it, and so the immersion in their learning is a different form–through the arts–but it’s also more time spent on the content, so they start thinking critically and creatively.”

Brown said all MSU elementary education majors are required to take the arts integration course. She also takes a student group to WSI’s annual summer institute.

“Arts integration, from the perspective of a classroom teacher, is teaching both the content area and the arts together, and that takes some special training and special knowledge, but when you do that, it immerses the child in the content,” Brown said. Phillips said arts integration requires quality professional development and mentorships for teachers. Providing that training for teachers requires additional resources that many state school systems may not be able to provide, she acknowledged.

“Given our state’s budget constraints, the Stennis Institute recognizes that additional resources to support these efforts will need to come from either federal grants or from philanthropic organizations,” Phillips said. “To that end, we collaborated with the arts commission and wrote a grant for the commission to the U.S. Department of Education for an Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Program grant.”

If awarded, the DOE grant should pay for a national workshop leader and John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts teaching artist to visit Mississippi on a quarterly basis. Phillips said the visiting expert would provide professional development, conduct student learning initiatives and train state teaching artists in implementing Moving through Math, a curriculum using movement, music, spatial reasoning, and interpersonal skills to teach mathematics, verbal and visual skills.

Brown said parents interested in having their children involved in arts integration should inquire with their respective school system administrators or inform other parents and teachers at parent-teacher organization meetings. Then, local advocates could request the school system apply for a WSI grant.

“I’d like to see increased involvement, funding and awareness from stakeholders, legislators, teachers, parents–everyone,” Brown said. “We have data that arts integration is working and making a difference in Mississippi classrooms.”

To read the Stennis Institute report’s executive summary or entire content, visit¬†www.mswholeschools.org/research/whole-schools-initiative-evaluation-and-research.

The above story is based on materials provided by Mississippi State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. / SienceDaily.com