Saturday, March 5, 2011

7 Ways To Sharpen Your People Skills

Sharpening your people skills can help you maintain relationships and further your career. Find out how emotional intelligence and self-awareness improve communication and boost your confidence.

Life would be great if everybody got along and agreed on everything. But that is not the world we live in. To get along in the real world you need people skills and more. Whether to maintain relationships at home or at work, you need to know how to listen, how to make your wishes known, and how to resolve differences without conflict.

There are several strategies you can practice to improve your people skills in dealing with different personalities and challenging situations … and boost your confidence level in the process.

1. Develop Your Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence allows us to be aware of and in charge of our emotions. Sharpening your emotional intelligence can help you to keep your emotions balanced and boost your confidence.

These strategies will help you develop your emotional intelligence:

  • Learn to become more aware of your emotions and responses to certain situations. "Awareness is the foundational skill along the path to improved interpersonal skills," explains Tres Roeder, founder and president of Roeder Consulting in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Keep your emotions in balance. "In order to be in rhythm with others, you have to be in rhythm with yourself," notes Debbie Mandel, MA, stress-management specialist and author of Addicted to Stress.
  • Recognize when you or others are stressed. When it comes to dealing with difficult situations, keep in mind that "proper timing can lead to a better outcome. If you or the other person is stressed, you will lose common ground," advises Mandel.

2. Resolve Conflict in a Positive Way

Be it at work or at home, a certain amount of conflict is unavoidable in any relationship.

Try these three ways to improve your people skills and resolve conflict in a positive way:

  • Focus on the present. Holding onto old hurts or grudges makes it hard to move forward and build a better future.
  • Think about respecting the other person, not controlling them. "The goal is to adapt to situations and people, not impose yourself on them. You can show respect for other people's opinions without agreeing with them," Mandel notes.
  • Focus on compromise rather than on winning or losing. "In a constructive conflict the goal is to aim for an equitable compromise. There are no winners or losers," says Mandel.

3. Learn to Listen to Others

Talking is simple; real communication requires good listening skills.

Practice these tips to become a better listener:

  • Pay attention to inflection. "Research shows the vast majority of communication occurs at the non-verbal level," advises Roeder. "Pay attention to not only what people are saying, but also how they are saying it."
  • Take time to really listen before you respond. When others are speaking, instead of actually listening to them, many people are concentrating on what they plan to say next. Doing this can cause you to miss key elements of the other person's point and results in a lack of true communication. Take the time to be patient and simply listen before launching into your own point of view.
  • Don't interrupt. "Let the other person speak without interrupting. Focusing on what another person is saying and making eye contact helps us truly understand what is meaningful," notes Mandel.

Asking for feedback, respecting cultural differences, and seeking out new people are just some of the ways you can improve your people skills. Paying attention to your emotional intelligence can pay off in increased self-confidence and better relationships.

Here are more ways to improve your interpersonal skills.

4. Ask for Feedback

When you take a moment to ask for feedback, you communicate better and you are more likely to hear and share ideas.

Understand why feedback is important:

  • No one likes to be preached to. People don't want to feel like they are hearing a lecture. By asking for feedback and other people's opinions on a matter, you show that you are willing to hear and explore other points of view.
  • Interpretation counts. What one person says and what another person hears are often two strikingly different things. Taking time to ask for feedback such as "Do you understand what I mean?" or "How would you have handled that situation?" is a good way to see if you are communicating effectively.
  • Maintaining a positive attitude makes understanding easier. Asking for feedback shows that you have a confident and positive attitude. "People gravitate to positive people because good moods are contagious," says Mandel.

5. Respect and Be Aware of Cultural Differences

We learn most of our people skills from our parents and others in our community. When communicating with someone from a different culture, however, it is important to acknowledge cultural differences.

Try these approaches to ease communication:

  • Understand eye contact. In our culture, direct eye contact often indicates sincerity while in another culture it could be considered rude.
  • Expect some misunderstanding. In cross-cultural communication, it is best to go slowly and step back instead of getting frustrated. In our culture we like to get to the point. In other cultures it may be important to establish rapport before discussing potentially controversial issues. Keeping these differences in mind can minimize your frustration if and when you encounter any snags in communication.
  • Get some help. To foster improved communication, it can be helpful to rely on an intermediary who understands both cultures.

6. Seek out New People

Meeting new people can enhance your creativity, help broaden your perspective on life, and improve your emotional intelligence. Remember these people skills when meeting someone new:

  • Use body language. Pay attention to non-verbal communication cues such as good posture, appropriate eye contact, and friendly gestures.
  • Listen up. Rely on good communication and listening skills. Truly get to know people by allowing them to express themselves without immediately interrupting with your own ideas.
  • Be aware of the situation around you. "That includes awareness of yourself, awareness of others, and awareness of the situational context within which the relationship is occurring," says Roeder. Keeping external factors in mind, such as potential stressors and distractions, can make it easier to help navigate new situations with people you don't know very well.

7. Maintain Relationships

Healthy relationships boost your confidence and make your life more rewarding. Here are some final thoughts on people skills that promote good relationships:

  • Take the time to be aware of the important people and relationships in your life. "People are more intuitive when they have the time to be intuitive," notes Roeder. "In other words, if you are constantly running from one meeting to the next you may be missing important clues in how to get along with others."
  • In order to respect others you must respect yourself. "Self-respect means knowing what you uniquely bring to the table. When you feel good about yourself, you will be positive and affirming to others," says Mandel.
  • Have the right attitude. The emotional intelligence needed to maintain relationships is more than just people skills. It also involves having the right attitude. This includes expecting challenges along the way, keeping things in perspective, having a sense of humor, and not taking yourself too seriously.

Practice even some of these skills and you may be surprised by the results.

Thanks to

The Eyes Have It!

You've probably trained your workers on how to keep their eyes safe from injury on and off the job. But have you also educated employees on how to keep their eyes healthy? March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month, the perfect opportunity to give your workers a brief overview on eye health and wellness.

Use the information from Prevent Blindness America (PBA) to conduct your training on eye wellness. Give your workers these five healthy living tips from PBA's Vision Learning Center that they can follow to keep their eyes healthy.

  1. Don't smoke. PBA reports that not smoking—or quitting smoking—can lower people's risk for eye problems, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, and glaucoma. Not smoking is especially important if a person is diabetic, because it can reduce the risk of getting diabetic-related eye problems.
  2. Eat a healthy diet. Studies have shown that zinc, vitamins C and E, and beta-carotene can reduce the risk for AMD. Caution your workers, however, to check with their doctors before adding vitamins to their diets. Other studies report that dark green vegetables, such as spinach and kale, may also reduce the risk of getting AMD. Furthermore, healthy eating can lower the risk of developing diabetes, which is a risk factor for developing glaucoma.
  3. Live an active lifestyle. Regular exercise and activity promotes overall good health and keeps people from developing conditions that can lead to eye disease, such as diabetes. Again, caution workers to consult with their doctors before starting exercise programs.
  4. Manage blood pressure. High blood pressure can increase the risk for glaucoma. And for those with diabetes, high blood pressure increases the risk for disease-related eye problems.
  5. Protect your eyes from the sun. Remind workers that they don't just need to protect their skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays; they also need to protect their eyes. PBA recommends wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that absorb 99 percent to 100 percent of UV-A and UV-B rays.

Sprinkling occasional wellness training sessions into your usual safety training calendar can help your workforce stay healthy and alert to potential problems. If your workers want more information on eye health, point them to Prevent Blindness.

Why It Matters

According to the report, Vision Problems in the U.S.,

  • Around 3.4 million Americans 40 years old or older are visually impaired or blind.
    • Over 20 million have cataracts.
    • About 2.2 million have glaucoma.
  • In addition, about 5.3 million Americans 18 years old or older have diabetic retinopathy.
  • About 1.6 million Americans 50 years old or older have AMD.
Thanks to SafetyDailyAdvisor / NL BLR News

Friday, March 4, 2011

Method Developed To Match Police Sketch, Mug Shot: Algorithms And Software Will Match Sketches With Mugshots inIPolice Databases

MSU doctoral student Brendan Klare is one of the leaders of a research team that is developing a method of matching hand-drawn facial sketches to mug shots that are stored in law enforcement databases. (Credit: Image courtesy of Michigan State University)

ScienceDaily (Mar. 3, 2011) — The long-time practice of using police facial sketches to nab criminals has been, at best, an inexact art. But the process may soon be a little more exact thanks to the work of some Michigan State University researchers.

A team led by MSU University Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Anil Jain and doctoral student Brendan Klare has developed a set of algorithms and created software that will automatically match hand-drawn facial sketches to mug shots that are stored in law enforcement databases.

Once in use, Klare said, the implications are huge.

"We're dealing with the worst of the worst here," he said. "Police sketch artists aren't called in because someone stole a pack of gum. A lot of time is spent generating these facial sketches so it only makes sense that they are matched with the available technology to catch these criminals."

Typically, artists' sketches are drawn by artists from information obtained from a witness. Unfortunately, Klare said, "often the facial sketch is not an accurate depiction of what the person looks like."

There also are few commercial software programs available that produce sketches based on a witness' description. Those programs, however, tend to be less accurate than sketches drawn by a trained forensic artist.

The MSU project is being conducted in the Pattern Recognition and Image Processing lab in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. It is the first large-scale experiment matching operational forensic sketches with photographs and, so far, results have been promising.

"We improved significantly on one of the top commercial face-recognition systems," Klare said. "Using a database of more than 10,000 mug shot photos, 45 percent of the time we had the correct person."

All of the sketches used were from real crimes where the criminal was later identified.

"We don't match them pixel by pixel," said Jain, director of the PRIP lab. "We match them up by finding high-level features from both the sketch and the photo; features such as the structural distribution and the shape of the eyes, nose and chin."

This project and its results appear in the March 2011 issue of the journal IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence.

The MSU team plans to field test the system in about a year.

The sketches used in this research were provided by forensic artists Lois Gibson and Karen Taylor, and forensic sketch artists working for the Michigan State Police.

Story Source: The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Michigan State University.

Some Antarctic Ice Is Forming From Bottom

Radar image shows the Gamburtsev Mountains (bottom) overlain by the ice sheet, which has been deformed by a bulge of refrozen ice (center). (Credit: Courtesy Bell et al., 2011)

ScienceDaily (Mar. 3, 2011) — Scientists working in the remotest part of Antarctica have discovered that liquid water locked deep under the continent's coat of ice regularly thaws and refreezes to the bottom, creating as much as half the thickness of the ice in places, and actively modifying its structure. The finding, which turns common perceptions of glacial formation upside down, could reshape scientists' understanding of how the ice sheet expands and moves, and how it might react to warming climate, they say.

The study appears in this week's early online edition of the journal Science; it is part of a six-nation study of the invisible Gamburtsev Mountains, which lie buried under as much as two miles of ice.

Ice sheets are well known to grow from the top as snow falls and builds up annual layers over thousands of years, but scientists until recently have known little about the processes going on far below. In 2006, researchers in the current study showed that lakes of liquid water underlie widespread parts of Antarctica. In 2008-2009, they mounted an expedition using geophysical instruments to create 3-D images of the Gamburtsevs, a range larger than the European Alps. The expedition also made detailed images of the overlying ice, and subglacial water.

"We usually think of ice sheets like cakes--one layer at a time added from the top. This is like someone injected a layer of frosting at the bottom--a really thick layer," said Robin Bell, a geophysicist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and a project co-leader. "Water has always been known to be important to ice sheet dynamics, but mostly as a lubricant. As ice sheets change, we want to predict how they will change. Our results show that models must include water beneath." The Antarctic ice sheet holds enough fresh water to raise ocean levels 200 feet; if even a small part of it were to melt into the ocean, it could put major coastal cities under water.

The scientists found that refrozen ice makes up 24% of the ice sheet base around Dome A, a 13,800-foot-high plateau that forms the high point of the East Antarctic ice sheet, at 3.8 million square miles roughly the size of the continental United States. In places, slightly more than half the ice thickness appears to have originated from the bottom, not the top. Here, rates of refreezing are greater than surface accumulation rates. The researchers suggest that such refreezing has been going on since East Antarctica became encased in a large ice sheet some 32 million years ago. They may never know for sure: the ice is always moving from the deep interior toward the coast, so ice formed millions of years ago, and the evidence it would carry, is long gone.

Deeply buried ice may melt because overlying layers insulate the base, hemming in heat created there by friction, or radiating naturally from underlying rock. When the ice melts, refreezing may take place in multiple ways, the researchers say. If it collects along mountain ridges and heads of valleys, where the ice is thinner, low temperatures penetrating from the surface may refreeze it. In other cases, water gets squeezed up valley walls, and changes pressure rapidly. In the depths, water remains liquid even when it is below the normal freezing point, due to pressure exerted on it. But once moved up to an area of less pressure, such supercooled water can freeze almost instantly. Images produced by the researchers show that the refreezing deforms the ice sheet upward.

"When we first saw these structures in the field, we thought they looked like beehives and were worried they were an error in the data," Bell said. "As they were seen on many lines, it became clear that they were real. We did not think that water moving through ancient river valleys beneath more than one mile of ice would change the basic structure of the ice sheet."

Because the ice is in motion, understanding how it forms and deforms at the base is critical to understanding how the sheets will move, particularly in response to climate changes, researchers say. "It's an extremely important observation for us because this is potentially lifting the very oldest ice off the bed," said Jeff Severinghaus, a geologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego who was not involved in the study. He said it could either mean older ice is better preserved -- or, it could "make it harder to interpret the record, if it's shuffled like a deck of cards."

From November 2008 to January 2009, the researchers did fieldwork around a California-size part of Dome A. Using aircraft equipped with ice penetrating radars, laser ranging systems, gravity meters and magnetometers, they flew low-altitude transects back and forth over the ice to draw 3-D images of what lay beneath. The aim was to understand how the mountains arose, and to study the connections between the peaks, the ice sheet, and subglacial lakes. They were also hunting for likely spots where future coring may retrieve the oldest ice. The work took place near the Southern Pole of Inaccessibility, the point farthest away from any ocean, and much harder to reach than the South Pole itself. They lived in isolated field camps, enduring high winds and temperatures ranging down to minus 40 degrees C.

"Understanding these interactions is critical for the search for the oldest ice and also to better comprehend subglacial environments and ice sheet dynamics," said Fausto Ferraccioli, a scientist with the British Antarctic Survey who also helped lead the project. "Incorporating these processes into models will enable more accurate predictions of ice sheet response to global warming and its impact on future sea-level rise."

The researchers now will look into how the refreezing process acts along the margins of ice sheets, where the most visible change is occurring in Antarctica. Based on their data, a Chinese team also hopes to drill deep into Dome A in the next two or three years to remove cores that would trace long-ago climate shifts. They hope to find ice more than a million years old.

Other co-authors of the paper include Timothy T. Creyts, Indrani Das, Nicholas Frearson and Michael Wolovik, of Lamont-Doherty; Hugh Corr, Thomas Jordan and Kathryn Rose of the British Antarctic Survey; David Braaten of the Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets at Kansas University; Detlef Damaske of Germany's Federal Institute for Geosciences and Resources; and Michael Studinger of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

The work was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and launched in conjunction with the International Polar Year, a 2007-2009 effort to study the poles by thousands of scientists from more than 60 nations. Support also came from the Natural Environment Research Council of Britain; the Australian Antarctic Division; and the Polar Research Institute of China.

Story Source: The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by The Earth Institute at Columbia University, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Two Languages In Peaceful Coexistence In One Society

ScienceDaily (Mar. 2, 2011) — Physicists and mathematicians from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain are putting paid to the theory that two languages cannot co-exist in one society.

Analysing the pattern of populations speaking Castilian, the most common language spoken in Spain, and Galician, a language spoken in Galicia, the North West autonomous community of Spain, the researchers have used mathematical models to show that levels of bilingualism in a stable population can lead to the steady co-existence of two languages.

The research, published 3 March 2011, in New Journal of Physics, refutes earlier research which sought to show how one of two languages would inevitably die out.

Older models only took the number of each language's speakers and the relative status of each language into consideration, concluding that eventually the most dominant language would kill off the weaker; the decline of Welsh is often cited as an example of this.

Still with an interest in languages' relative status, the researchers used historical data to show how you can predict the continued existence of a language when you also incorporate a mathematical representation of the languages' similarity to one another, and the number of bilingual speakers, into the calculation.

If a significant fraction of the population is bilingual in two relatively similar languages, there appears to be no reason to believe that the more dominant language will inevitably kill off the weaker.

Researcher Jorge Mira Pérez said, "If the statuses of both languages were well balanced, a similarity of around 40% might be enough for the two languages to coexist. If they were not balanced, a higher degree of similarity (above 75%, depending on the values of status) would be necessary for the weaker tongue to persist."

The researchers suggest their work could be used to inform political decisions concerning the protection of endangered languages, "Allowing for varying statuses and interlinguistic similarity could suggest further and more precise political guidelines for protecting endangered tongues, as well as illuminating the evolution of the language entities themselves."

Story Source: The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Institute of Physics.

Obesity May Increase Risk Of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

ScienceDaily (Mar. 1, 2011) — New findings published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, confirm the risk of breast cancer among women who are obese and not physically active, and suggests additional mechanisms beyond estrogen.

Scientists from the Women's Health Initiative have found a relationship between obesity, physical activity and triple-negative breast cancer, a subtype of breast cancer characterized by a lack of estrogen, progesterone and HER2 expression. Triple-negative breast cancers account for about 10 to 20 percent of all breast cancers and are associated with an extremely poor prognosis due to a lack of targeted drug therapies.

"Breast cancer is not just one disease. It is a complex combination of many diseases," said Amanda Phipps, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. "The fact that we found an association with triple-negative breast cancer is unique because, biologically, this subtype is very different from other breast cancers."

Epidemiologists have long noted a link between obesity and increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, as well as a decreased risk that comes with greater physical activity. A relationship between adipose tissue and estrogen is thought to contribute to this risk.

Phipps and colleagues analyzed data from the 155,723 women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative. They assessed levels of baseline body mass index (BMI) and recreational physical activity among the 307 women who had triple-negative breast cancer and the 2,610 women who had estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.

Results showed that women with the highest BMI had a 35 percent increased risk of triple-negative breast cancers and a 39 percent increased risk of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers. Those who reported high rates of physical activity had a 23 percent decreased risk of triple-negative breast cancer and a 15 percent decreased risk of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.

Amy Trentham-Dietz, Ph.D., an associate professor of population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin and an editorial board member of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, said the study raises important questions.

"The body of literature, primarily meta-analyses, has shown most of the risk between obesity and breast cancer to be among the estrogen receptor-positive subtypes," she said. "This paper raises questions about the possible role of growth factors or inflammation, but these will need to be explored with larger patient groups with known breast cancer subtypes, especially triple-negative breast cancers."

Story Source: The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by American Association for Cancer Research.

Who's The Best Tennis Player Of All Time? Ranking Of Top Male Tennis Players Produces Some Surprises

ScienceDaily (Mar. 3, 2011) — Fans may think of Jimmy Connors as an "old school" tennis player, but according to a new ranking system developed by a Northwestern University researcher, Connors is best player in the history of the game.

The rankings are published in PLoS ONE, a journal published by the Public Library of Science.

Male tennis players who played in at least one Association of Tennis Professionals match between 1968 and 2010 were evaluated through network analysis, said Filippo Radicchi, author of the study.

Ranking tennis players is a novel way to show how complex network analysis can reveal interesting facts hidden in statistical data, said Radicchi, a physicist and postdoctoral fellow in the chemical and biological engineering department of Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Radicchi ran an algorithm, similar to the one used by Google to rank Web pages, on digital data from hundreds of thousands of matches. The data was pulled from the Association of Tennis Professionals website. He quantified the importance of players and ranked them by a "tennis prestige" score. This score is determined by a player's competitiveness, the quality of his performance and number of victories.

"In this particular ranking system, it's more important to win a single match against a very good player than many matches against not-so-good players," said Radicchi, who conducted the research in the lab of Luís Amaral, professor of chemical and biological engineering at the McCormick School.

Here's how the top 30 rank:

1. Jimmy Connors 11. Boris Becker 21. Mats Wilander
2. Ivan Lendl 12. Arthur Ashe 22. Goran Ivanišević
3. John McEnroe 13. Brian Gottfried 23. Vitas Gerulaitis
4. Guillermo Vilas 14. Stan Smith 24. Rafael Nadal
5. Andre Agassi 15. Manuel Orantes 25. Raul Ramirez
6. Stefan Edberg 16. Michael Chang 26. John Newcombe
7. Roger Federer 17. Roscoe Tanner 27. Ken Rosewall
8. Pete Sampras 18. Eddie Dibbs 28. Yevgeny Kafelnikov
9. Ilie Năstase 19. Harold Solomon 29. Andy Roddick
10. Björn Borg 20. Tom Okker 30. Thomas Muster

"One of the reasons Jimmy Connors ranks on top is because he played for more than 20 years and had the opportunity to win a lot of matches against other very good players," Radicchi said.

He expects current greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to eventually move up in the rankings if they face tough competition and continue to win matches. Radicchi, a lifelong tennis fan, plans to run this study again in 10 years to see how the rankings change.

"The rankings are a snapshot of who is at the top at this time," Radicchi said. "Players who have yet to retire are penalized with respect to those who have ended their careers. Prestige scores strongly correlate with the number of victories, and active players haven't played all the matches of their careers yet."

Researching and ranking sports stars gives a glimpse at the power of complex network analysis.

"The same application could be used to rank countries involved in the global trade of certain commodities," Radicchi said. "In general, this type of analysis can help scientists better explain and understand complicated global relationships."

Story Source: The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Northwestern University. The original article was written by Erin White.

Brain's 'Autopilot' Provides Insight Into Early Development Of Alzheimer's Disease

ScienceDaily (Mar. 3, 2011) — Watching the brain's "autopilot" network in real time may help determine the onset of cognitive decline and potentially aid in making an early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease, according to researchers at Duke University Medical Center.

While traditional MRI and imaging studies conducted in Alzheimer's disease have focused on the anatomy and function of individual regions of the brain, the Duke team conducted the first study to test how the integrity of an entire brain network relates to future cognitive decline. This "autopilot" network, known more formally as the default mode network, has been linked with the presence of the hallmark amyloid plaques believed to underpin Alzheimer's disease.

The study found altered patterns of brain activity in the default mode network among people with mild memory problems who later progress to Alzheimer's disease compared to those whose memory remains intact over a two- to three-year period.

The default mode network is increasingly becoming a target for better understanding Alzheimer's disease. It is a unique network because it becomes more active when the brain turns inward, rather than when it is outwardly engaged in cognitive tasks.

"It's like a reservoir that holds cognitive reserves," said Jeffrey R. Petrella, MD, the study's lead author and associate professor of radiology at Duke. "The default mode network shuts down its resources to reallocate them to other networks that are actively participating in a task, such as reading, speaking or remembering."

"While the default mode network has been implicated in memory development and Alzheimer's disease, until now no one had tested its role in predicting future cognitive changes in those with mild memory complaints," Petrella said. "Our study found a significant relationship between patterns of activity in the default mode network and future onset of Alzheimer's disease, which were seen above and beyond the typical measures used in routine clinical practice."

For the study, Petrella and colleagues set out to identify changes in network connectivity during a memory task and to correlate these changes with the degree of memory impairment present in patients with Alzheimer's disease or mild cognitive impairment over time. The researchers studied 12 patients with mild Alzheimer's disease, 31 patients with mild cognitive impairment and 25 healthy controls.

Researchers found different levels of connectivity in the default mode network among patients with varying degrees of cognitive impairment. Such patterns were strongly associated with future changes in memory performance and functional ability in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a group known to be at high risk for Alzheimer's.

There is speculation that overactivity in the default mode network in early and midlife may predispose a person to amyloid development later in life.

"When it comes to amyloid accumulation and network disruption in the brain, we have a chicken and egg phenomenon -- we don't know which came first," said study co-author P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, FRCP, professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke. "But our study, along with prior findings in the field, suggests that people who have both pathologic lesions and network disruptions are most vulnerable to development of Alzheimer's in the future."

"These findings may help explain why mental engagement may protect against Alzheimer's disease," Petrella said. "When someone is actively engaged in a task, the default mode network becomes less active."

The researchers said that fMRI may eventually help to identify patients at risk for developing Alzheimer's disease and play a key role in early diagnosis when combined with clinical, genetic and other imaging markers.

Given the small size and limited follow-up time, a larger study is needed to confirm the findings. The next step is to conduct a larger, multicenter study to see if fMRI can be combined with other tests to scan for future disease.

The study is published in Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The research was partly funded by the National Institute on Aging.

Story Source: The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Duke University Medical Center, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS

People With Full Bladders 'Make Better Decisions', Scientists Discover

Anyone considering an expensive purchase might do well to drink a bottle of water first, scientists concluded after finding that people with full bladders make wiser decisions.

Anyone considering an expensive purchase might do well to drink a bottle of water first, scientists concluded after finding that people with full bladders make wiser decisions: People with full bladders 'make better decisions', scientists discover 
People with full bladders were better at holding out for the larger rewards later Photo: ALAMY

They found people with a full bladder were able to better control and "hold off" making important, or expensive, decisions, leading to better judgement.

Psychologists from the University of Twente in the Netherlands linked bladder control to the same part of the brain that activates feelings of desire and reward.

The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, also concluded that just thinking about words related to urination triggered the same effect.

Their findings contradict previous research which found people who are forced to "restrain themselves" put more pressure on their brain and found it difficult exerting self-control.

Dr Mirjam Tuk, who led the study, said that the brain's "control signals" were not task specific but result in an "unintentional increase" in control over other tasks.

"People are more able to control their impulses for short term pleasures and choose more often an option which is more beneficial in the long run," she said.

"The brain area sending this signal, is activated not only for bladder control, but for all sorts of control.

"Controlling our impulsive desires for an immediate reward, in favour of a larger reward at a later date, is a similar type of response, originating from this same neurological area.

In her study, Dr Tuk asked volunteers to drink either five cups of water containing 750 millilitres or take small sips of water from five separate cups.

After 40 minutes, the estimated time water is thought to reach the bladder, researchers assessed participants' self-control.

They were asked to make eight choices ranging from small, and immediate, rewards to larger, but delayed, ones including choosing to receive either $16 (£10) tomorrow or $30 (£18) in 35 days.

They concluded that people with full bladders were better at holding out for the larger rewards later.

"You seem to make better decisions when you have a full bladder," said Dr Tuk, whose study came about after sitting through a long lecture.

"Maybe you should drink a bottle of water before making a decision about your stock portfolio.

"Or perhaps stores that count on impulse buys should keep a bathroom available to customers, since they might be more willing to go for the television with a bigger screen when they have an empty bladder."

7:00AM GMT 02 Mar 2011 / Telegraph UK

Why You’re Pissing Off Half Your Facebook Fans

Sure it has 600 million members and is significantly more compelling than any film made by Nicholas Cage in the past five years, but even with those inherent advantages, Facebook for business is hard.

It's not just that Facebook has a distinctly Favre-like approach to features and decision-making. Or, that Facebook is very clearly in business to make money for them, not necessarily for us. Those are just the operational challenges.

The bigger gauntlet for marketers on Facebook is sociological.

Specifically, nobody knows what the hell Facebook is for.

The Social Break Up Why Youre Pissing Off Half Your Facebook Fans

New research from ExactTarget and CoTweet (clients) called "The Social Break-up" studied why consumers turn their backs on social and email connections with brands. (see previous posts about this research and customer burnout here)

A Downright Scary WTF?

Within the findings is this frightening nugget:

  • 51% of consumers expect the company to send them marketing messages after "liking" the brand on Facebook
  • 40% of consumers do not expect the company to send them marketing messages after "liking" the brand on Facebook
  • 9% aren't sure what to expect

Whoa. Even consumers who have purposefully and pointedly said "we're on your team" by clicking "like" aren't clear on the ground rules of the subsequent relationship.

Imagine if that uncertainty pervaded other elements of business. Imagine that customers weren't sure if you would answer when they called you. Of if they ordered something on your website, if you would ship it out.

No wonder real Facebook success (not just fan amalgamation) is hard to come by – there aren't any codified mutual expectations.

Age and Gender Influence Your Acceptance of Facebook Promotions

Whether or not Facebook is an acceptable vehicle for company promotion is influenced to some degree by gender and age:

  • Consumers 24 years of age and younger are less likely (40%) to expect promotions; while consumers 35 and older are more likely (55%) to expect them.

If your company's audience skews younger, be cautious about promoting heavily via Facebook.

  • Regardless of age, 44% of men expect Facebook messages from brands to be promotional; 55% of women share that expectation.

If your company's audience skews heavily male, be cautious about promoting excessively via Facebook.

Set Fan Expectations From the First Click

expectation chart 300x197 Why Youre Pissing Off Half Your Facebook Fans

This uncertainly about what Facebook is for, and the consequences of "like" are an issue. Here's my idea for solving it.

On your custom Facebook landing tab (Here's a post on 5 ways to make one), instead of just selling the "like" to people who are not yet fans, also use that real estate to explain precisely what people should expect from your Facebook page. Special offers? Customer stories? Inside information about the company?

It's been a long-standing tenet of email marketing that subscription rates increase when you supply a link to a sample email. This is because it gives potential subscribers a clue as to what they can expect to receive. Makes sense, right?

Is it time to extend that best practice to Facebook? What other ways can we reduce Facebook uncertainty?

Thanks to Jay Baer's ConvinceAndConvert

World's Most Admired Companies - Industry Champions

Company  Industry  Overall score
Google  Internet Services and Retailing  8.22
Apple  Computers  8.16
Nestlé  Consumer Food Products  8.13
Nike  Apparel  8.07
Walt Disney  Entertainment  8.07
McDonald's  Food Services  7.97
W.W. Grainger  Wholesalers: Diversified  7.77
Statoil  Petroleum Refining  7.73
United Technologies  Aerospace and Defense  7.7
Occidental Petroleum  Mining, Crude-Oil Production  7.65
IBM  Information Technology Services  7.64
EMCOR Group  Engineering, Construction  7.45
Procter & Gamble  Soaps and Cosmetics  7.43
UPS  Delivery  7.42
Marriott International  Hotels, Casinos, Resorts  7.41
Manpower  Temporary Help  7.35
Deere  Industrial and Farm Equipment  7.32
3M  Medical and Other Precision Equipment  7.29
U.S. Bancorp  Superregional Banks  7.27
Goldman Sachs Group  Megabanks  7.25
Ball  Packaging, Containers  7.24
BASF  Chemicals  7.23
Charles Schwab  Securities  7.23
Medco Health Solutions  Health Care: Pharmacy and Other Services  7.21
POSCO  Metals  7.21
Qualcomm  Network and Other Communications Equipment  7.2
British American Tobacco  Tobacco  7.17
Intel  Semiconductors  7.15
UnitedHealth Group  Health Care: Insurance and Managed Care  7.1
Novartis  Pharmaceuticals  7.02
Telefónica  Telecommunications  7.01
RWE  Energy  7
Adobe Systems  Computer Software  6.95
NextEra Energy  Electric and Gas Utilities  6.95
Southern  Electric and Gas Utilities  6.95
American Express  Consumer Credit Card and Related Services  6.93
Archer Daniels Midland  Food Production  6.93
Wal-Mart Stores  General Merchandisers  6.93
Berkshire Hathaway  Insurance: Property and Casualty  6.88
BMW  Motor Vehicles  6.88
Publix Super Markets  Food and Drug Stores  6.84
Avnet  Wholesalers: Electronics and Office Equipment  6.8
Automatic Data Processing  Financial Data Services  6.78
Costco Wholesale  Specialty Retailers: Diversified  6.68
Simon Property Group  Real Estate  6.68
Union Pacific  Trucking, Transportation, Logistics  6.63
Michelin  Motor Vehicle Parts  6.62
Weyerhaeuser  Forest and Paper Products  6.61
McKesson  Wholesalers: Health Care  6.59
Whirlpool  Home Equipment, Furnishings  6.56
Limited Brands  Specialty Retailers: Apparel  6.49
Aramark  Diversified Outsourcing Services  6.45
Northwestern Mutual  Insurance: Life and Health  6.45
Delta Air Lines  Airlines  6.44
General Electric  Electronics  6.43
HCA  Health Care: Medical Facilities  6.34
KB Home  Homebuilders  5.95
Coca-Cola  Beverages  5.93
From the March 21, 2011 Issue
Thanks to