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Save The Date: ESRC

Dementia in Dorset – What does this mean for you?

Saturday 9th November (1pm-5pm) Littledown Centre Bournemouth, Studio 1 –

Free event for all the family

Bournemouth University Dementia Institute (BUDI) are hosting a community engagement day as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science to showcase a range of their innovative projects which will bring dementia awareness to life through technology, maritime archaeology, exercise and tai chi, an art exhibition and many more fun hands-on-activities.

Visitors will have the chance to understand what it’s like to live with dementia through a talk by someone living with dementia and postcard stories, getting the chance to use technology which has the aim of improving the quality of life of those living with dementia, planting seeds to learn about dementia friendly environments, learning how to make healthy food more appetising to improve the mind and body, and experiencing how massage can reduce anxiety and enhance relaxation for both people living with dementia and their carers.

The BUDI team will be on-hand for a chat or to answer questions, and information from local organisations people living with dementia and carers will be available.

There is no need to register for this event, so just come along!

Journalism: New Challenges, free eBook published by CJCR

Journalism: New Challenges (book cover)The Centre for Journalism and Communication Research (CJCR) is pleased to announce the publication of Journalism: New Challenges, edited by Karen Fowler-Watt and Stuart Allan.

The free e-book is available to download as a PDF on the CJCR website, where you can also download each chapter as an individual PDF. We have also made the book available via Dropbox (http://j.mp/Journalism-New_Challenges).

Journalism: New Challenges contains 29 engaging chapters prepared by academics and journalists, in addition to an introduction by the co-editors Karen Fowler-Watt and Stuart Allan.

In seeking to identify and critique a range of the most pressing challenges confronting journalism today, this book examines topics such as:

  • the role of the journalist in a democratic society, including where questions of truth and free speech are concerned;
  • the changing priorities of newspaper, radio, television, magazine, photography, and online news organisations;
  • the political, economic and technological pressures on news and editorial independence;
  • the impact of digital convergence on the forms and practices of newsgathering and storytelling;
  • the dynamics of professionalism, such as the negotiation of impartiality and objectivity in news reports;
  • journalists’ relationships with their sources, not least where the ‘spin’ of public relations shapes what’s covered, how and why;
  • evolving genres of news reporting, including politics, business, sports, celebrity, documentary, war and peace journalism;
  • journalism’s influence on its audiences, from moral panics to the trauma of representing violence and tragedy;
  • the globalisation of news, including the role of international news agencies;
  • new approaches to investigative reporting in a digital era;
  • and the rise of citizen journalism, live-blogging and social media, amongst many others.

The chapters are written in a crisp, accessible style, with a sharp eye to the key ideas, concepts, issues and debates warranting critical attention. Each ends with a set of ‘Challenging Questions’ to explore as you develop your own perspective, as well as a list of ‘Recommended Reading’ to help push the conversation onwards.

May you discover much here that stimulates your thinking and, with luck, prompts you to participate in lively debate about the future of journalism.

Journalism: New Challenges

Edited by: Karen Fowler-Watt and Stuart Allan
Published by: Centre for Journalism & Communication Research, Bournemouth University

ISBN: 978-1-910042-01-4 [paperback]
ISBN: 978-1-910042-00-7 [ebook-PDF]
ISBN: 978-1-910042-02-1 [ebook-epub]

Copyright © 2013

Kick starting the academic year with Erasmus Mundus TECHNO and TECHNO II partneships

The start of the academic year has seen the Schools of Applied Sciences and Design, Engineering and Computing welcoming 4 new Erasmus Mundus students through the TECHNO 2 (Erasmus Mundus Partnership). Specifically, these include 3 fully funded MSc students and 1 BSc exchange students (6 month).

Last year, the School of Applied Sciences has welcomed one post-doc exchange, 2 teaching staff exchanges and 1 MPhil student TECHNO.  By December 31st, 2013 both schools will welcome an additional 2 teaching staff; 1 post-doc exchange and 1 PhD exchange.

Both TECHNO and TECHNO II projects are partnerships of the Erasmus Mundus programme of the European Union, and they are collectively funded with approximately 4 million euro. All participants receive a monthly allowance and full cover of their travel expenses and medical insurance. The person in charge of TECHNO and TECHNO II at BU is Dr Demetra Andreou; a Lecture in Environmental Science at the School of Applied Sciences and is currently supported by Dr Emilie Hardouin (maternity cover for Dr Andreou) and Mrs Heather Cashin (Senior Programme Administrator at Applied Sciences).

The second call of the TECHNO II project will take place before the end of this year. All the information about the TECHNO projects can be found at http://www.techno-em.org/ and http://www.techno2-em.org/

 

 

 

 

The TECHNO team with our current participants (Left to right: Dr Demetra Andreou, Dr Emilie Hardouin, Yating Ru, Phuong Nguyen,  Quyen Tran, Yankun Zhao, Qianqian Wei and Heather Cashin.

 

BUDI works for Internationalising Dementia Education and Research

By Mariela Gaete-Reyes

 Thanks to the Fusion Investment Fund, SMN Strand Santander Scholarships 2012-13, I was able to visit Chile and Colombia as a BUDI ambassador this summer. The objective of the visits was to undertake collaborative work with two institutions and to develop networks with other institutions and academics in both countries to explore the possibilities of working collaboratively with them in the future.

In Santiago I did scoping interviews with 8 key actors working in dementia, which explored the social-economic and political situation of people living with dementia in Chile and their families. These interviews are the basis of a research grant proposal for a comparative study (underway), in which I worked with Dr Paulina Osorio at Universidad de Chile; she is an anthropologist with a PhD in Sociology. What was evident from the interviews was the absence of public policy relating to dementia in Chile, and consequently, the scarcity of state support. Although this can be expected in a country where there is not welfare state, it means that families have to arrange, do and/or pay for all the care. Connected to this is the prevalence of a medicalised view of dementia in Chile which is reflected, in part, in the lack of social research around dementia.

I visited Hospital Clínico Universidad de Chile, and had a meeting with Dr Patricio Fuentes. He is a consultant neurologist and has 20 years of experience working with people with dementia. Dr Fuentes is part of the medical and scientific advisory panel (MSAP) of Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI). In his role, he provides expert advice and acts as the Chilean ambassador for ADI. Dr Fuentes expressed his interest in working collaboratively with us in research.

I got in contact with Corporación Profesional Alzheimer y otras Demencias COPRAD. This is a multidisciplinary organisation constituted by professionals that seek to contribute to the preservation of mental health and the improvement of the quality of life for people living with Alzheimer and other types of dementia, and also their family carers. I had a meeting with the vice-president of this association, Andrea Slachevsky, who is a consultant neurologist and has a PhD in Neuroscience (Paris). Her interests are in public policy and she, together with the corporation and other actors, has been working to put forward a National plan for dementia, this is called: Plan Nacional de Enfermedad de Alzheimer y Otras Demencias.

I had two meetings with the director of Corporación Alzheimer Chile, Nubia Alvarado. This organisation was created by family members of people with dementia and they have several services for individuals with dementia and their families. This organisation subscribes to ADI. Nubia Alvarado also expressed interest in working with us. I also visited the Instituto Nacional de Geriatria, a geriatric hospital, and had a meeting with the Director of the Hospital, Dr. Juana Silva. They have different levels of care for older people: ambulatory, daytime hospitalisation (four hours), this service is provided when somebody needs to be seen by different specialists; the objective is preventing longer periods of hospitalisations; and hospitalisation. Instituto Nacional de Geriatría has a unit which focuses on training, research, dissemination and extension. When I visited they were about to start a course on dementia care. Dr. Juana Silva manifested her interest in working with BUDI.

 

Instituto Nacional de Geriatría. Photos: Courtesy Instituto Nacional de Geriatría.

 
There were at least three people who expressed interest in coming to BUDI as visiting scholars at some point. Jean Gajardo, OT, MSc in Social Gerontology, who is doing a PhD in Public Health at Universidad de Chile. Javier Nuñez, who is a GP and works in matters relating to Dementia, and Agnieszka Bozanic a neuropsychologist who has worked with individuals with dementia and their families. Carolina Perez who works at Instituto Nacional de Geriatría is thinking about undertaking a postgraduate course (MSc or PhD) and was interested in hearing what we could offer.

After being in Chile, I went to Colombia and met a colleague from BUDI, Ben Hicks, to undertake an academic exchange in collaboration with Universidad del Rosario. We had a four day activity programme in Bogota and Nocaima. Our activities in Bogota included giving lectures/presentations at the University and MEDERI hospital to medical and OT students about the work we do at BUDI and other dementia related themes. We also participated in discussion panels. We visited Hospital Universitario de Barrios Unidos to observe a session of the programme PERMEA (Programa de Estimulación y Rehabilitación de la Memoria y la Atención), for the stimulation and rehabilitation of the memory for people with dementia and other memory problems.

Mariela Gaete-Reyes giving a talk at Universidad del Rosario.

 

Ben Hicks giving a talk at Universidad del Rosario.

As part of our academic visit we went to Nocaima a rural community close to Bogota. In Nocaima we were introduced to the Healthy Municipality project and had the opportunity to interact with Semillas de Amor, a group of elderly people. We also visited a care home which depends on the church and on donations of the local community. The care home has 33 residents and only one carer and she manages to do all the care and take them to the GP when needed. Finally, we visited Universidad Nacional de Colombia and held a meeting with the Faculty of Nursing to explore collaborative work in ‘Care for carers’, which is a training programme offered to carers of people with chronic illnesses.   

Hopefully from this visit we will be able to continue working in collaboration with the institutions we visited in Chile and Colombia in dementia research and education. So, many thanks again to the Santander Scholarship.

 
Institutions visited:

Santiago, Chile

  • Instituto Nacional de Geriatría.
  • Hospital Clínico Universidad de Chile, Geriatric section.                                 
  • Corporación Profesional Alzheimer y otras Demencias COPRAD.    
  • Corporación Alzheimer Chile.
  • Universidad de Chile, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales.  

 

Bogotá, Colombia

  • Universidad del Rosario, Facultad de Medicina y Ciencias de la Salud (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences) and Facultad de Jurisprudencia (Faculty of Law).
  • Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Facultad de enfermería (Faculty of Nursing).      

BUDI Goes To Colombia!!

It was at the age of 23 when I first discovered South America. As an inexperienced backpacker fresh out of university, I decided to spend six months travelling around the continent. I grew my hair, bought some beads and away I went with nothing but a couple of t-shirts and a Lonely Planet guide. The culture, the openness and warmth of the people I met and the beauty of the environment was like nothing I had ever experienced before and it was at this point that I was bitten by the bug (thankfully not malaria). I vowed that by the age of 30 I would return to the continent. I have no idea why I placed this arbitrary figure on my return but it just felt right at the time.

Anyway, thanks to the Santander PGR grant I was able to realise this aspiration and in my 30thyear I spent two weeks over this July and August in Bogota, Colombia. A colleague and I from Bournemouth University Dementia Institute (BUDI) were provided the opportunity to visit and work with the Universidad del Rosario. The Schedule was hectic and full-on and included four full days of lectures and discussions running from 7am to 5pm (Bogota has no seasons and so it is always light at 6am and always dark by 6pm whatever the time of year) arranged by our hosts Laura and Olga who were Occupational Therapist lecturers at the university. We were invited as expert speakers to enlighten, what is fair to say, a very medically minded audience of neuropsychologists, doctors and medical students on more sociological approaches to understanding dementia. Our lectures were warmly received by the audience and interesting discussions have already begun on how BUDI can work with the Universidad del Rosario to introduce more sociological approaches into their teaching schedules and collaborate on future research. This opportunity, as a relatively early career researcher, was nerve-racking yet enthralling and has certainly provided me with the confidence to present, discuss and defend my research in public arenas.

Outside the Local Government HQ with Joanna and Dr Alvaro Mayorga a neuropsychologist from the Universidad del Rosario

However this was not the highlight of the trip for me. This came in the second week when we were introduced to Dr Ricardo Alvarado who was to accompany us on our visit to Nocaima, a small remote settlement just outside of Bogota. As a relatively reserved English PhD student meeting a senior and well respected academic for the first time, I offered out my hand for the usual formalities only to find it being swept aside by Dr Alvarado and replaced by a huge embrace. At this point I remembered why I loved the Latin American people; there was no pretence with them. Dr Alvarado, was genuinely excited to see us. He had read about my PhD work, which involved working with rural communities of Dorset to set up activity groups for older people with dementia, and was keen to show us the work he was doing in Nocaima creating a healthy municipality.

During the winding three hour drive to Nocaima, and despite the fact that it was 6am, Dr Alvarado bounced around the minivan as he attempted to deliver a standing lecture about the work he had been doing with the rural community. He described the many problems which faced rural settlements in Colombia, as lack of jobs, income, and healthcare coupled with drug trafficking, armed conflict and acts of terrorism forced many people, particularly the young and more mobile, to head for the cities and never return. Consequently, this meant that rural communities were dying out and the populations of major cities, particularly Bogota, were rapidly increasing beyond control leaving many people living in cramped dilapidated housing on the fringes of the city. The ‘Healthy Municipality’ project aimed to develop strategies that promoted the commitment of citizens to individual and community health and in doing this it was hoped that it would encourage people to remain within the rural settlements. The project began in 2001 and since then a number of interventions have been implemented to address the needs of the Nocaima community including: employment generation; The Healthy and Useful Schools initiative; a comprehensive human development program and; a basic care plan support for the population. Dr Alvarado described in great depth the work they were doing to educate the young and working age population of Nocaima around health and well-being and to improve the services and development for the area. However until he was made aware of BUDI’s visit he had not considered introducing any initiatives for the elderly population. Despite this though, the elderly in the town had created their own group called ‘Semillas de Amor’ or ‘Seeds of love.’  All members of the group wore a white t-shirt and regularly met (some walking for over three hours each way) to participate in activities and to socialise at the back of one of the facilities that had been constructed as part of the Healthy and Useful Schools Initiative. Dr Alvarado was aware that dementia may be a concern for some of this population, yet as is the case all over the world, stigma and ill-informed perceptions of the condition presented a huge barrier in the society. Although he had recently begun some preliminary work testing for dementia throughout this population, he was keen ‘to pick our brains’ on ways he could work with the community to break down these barriers and to promote the well-being of the elderly population using more sociological and holistic approaches.  

Dr Alvarado providing us with a more sedate lecture on the work of the Healthy Municipality

As soon as we arrived and stepped off the van we were greeted by two members of the ‘Semillas de Amor’ who placed a bag of Clementines into our hands as a welcoming gift and took us to meet the rest of the group. Around 40 elderly people sat outside playing games, drinking tinto (black coffee) and eating cake. Using a mixture of pigeon Spanish and exaggerated hand gestures, I introduced myself and was warmly received by everyone there. Following a half hour meeting with the group, where I was encouraged to continually stand up and speak in an English accent to the amusement of everyone, we were taken to meet Joanna, a senior member of the local authority. She fully embraced Dr Alvarado’s work and had collaborated closely with him to implement many of the strategies in Nocaima. She was keen to show us the town and the care home where a number of elderly people, some with obvious signs of mental ill health, had been abandoned by their families when they migrated to the cities.

The care home was clean and the residents clearly well looked after which was astounding when I was introduced to the one and only carer working in the home. She was responsible for washing and dressing the 33 residents everyday, addressing any medical concerns they had and then working with the chef (the only other employee in the care home) to prepare the meals. It was an arduous task for this one woman, particularly when one of the residents needed to visit the hospital meaning that the chef was left solely in charge of the other 32 residents. At BUDI we continually promote person-centred care approaches, to understand the person and give time and consideration to their care needs, but the situation I was faced with in the care home put everything into stark reality. The care home existed on small funding pots and donations from the community alone. There was no way that additional carers could be employed and so this one woman was left to do everything on her own. Despite this though, she had developed close relationships with the residents, understood what made them ‘tick’ and went out of her way to address all of their care requirements. For this she truly deserves a medal. In fact Joanna described her as half way to heaven already and I had to agree!

However, what really struck me during my visit to Nocaima was the sense of community and the strong bond between the generations of people. People within the community looked out for others in the community as well as those in the care home. When working with rural populations, the informal support and networks that have developed over years of people living together are invaluable when implementing dementia care strategies. Of course they have the potential to be destructive to a person’s well-being if stigma surrounding dementia is prevalent and continually perpetuated but if these communities can come to see dementia in a different light, through initiatives that attempt to raise awareness and understanding of the condition, then they can offer huge support to these people and the benefits can be enormous.

My first trip to Nocaima and my first meeting with Dr Alvarado is something that I will never forget. I am excited about the future work that I can embark on with the community and Dr Alvarado and even on the drive back I was thinking about my first book-setting up Colombia’s first Dementia Friendly Municipality! Still, for now my feet are having to remain firmly grounded as I undertake the ‘small’ task of finishing my PhD. Gracias Nocaima y hasta pronto!

Still rocking the beads (old habits die hard) with one of the care home residents

Dr Tim Breitbarth and a final year Sports Management student win best paper at the Academy of Marketing Conference 2013

Dr Tim Breitbarth and a final year Sports Management student win best paper at the Academy of Marketing Conference 2013

Back in early July Dr Tim Breitbarth attended the Academy of Marketing Conference 2013 hosted by the University of South Wales in Cardiff.

Tim presented the paper “Downstream indirect reciprocity: explaining and measuring consumer reactions to sport clubs’ corporate social responsibility activities” which was co-authored by himself, Dr Stefan Walzel, German Sport University, Cologne and John Bryson, final year Bournemouth University Sports Management student.

The paper won the Best Paper in the Sports Marketing track at the conference. The award was sponsored by Emerald.

The paper presented by Tim forms part of an on-going research project. The international project team for the research, led by Stefan has also just been awarded £15,000 from the prestigious UEFA Research Grant.

Congratulations to Tim, Stefan and John on this achievement.

 

Inventions and Intellectual Property Law comes alive at the Festival of Design and Innovation 2013

The annual Festival of Design and Innovation (FoDI) opened on Thursday 20 June 2013.  It was an opportunity for students from the School of Design, Engineering and Computing (DEC) to exhibit their innovations and creations. “A cake icing pen, a computer game controlled by brain power and a glamping pod were just some of the ground-breaking ideas and inventions on display at this year’s FoDI.”

During the academic year, final year students from DEC are paired off with final year students from the Law Department studying Intellectual Property (IP) Law.  The law students are tasked with advising their DEC clients on the protection and exploitation of their innovative creations.  The DEC clients then incorporate the advice which they have received from the ‘lawyers’ into their final year projects.

The IP-DEC Project brings Intellectual Property law to life.  It gives an opportunity for law students to apply IP Law to real-life inventions and in turn it helps the DEC client to understand the importance of strong IP protection when preparing to protect, market and exploit their various creations.

The IP-DEC Project culminates with Awards for the Best DEC Student; Best IP Student and Best IP-DEC Group sponsored by Paul Turner, a retired Patent Attorney.

The Paul Turner Prize for the best IP-DEC Group was awarded at the opening night of the Festival.  The prize was awarded to Law Students Danielle Foster and Luke Trim and DEC Students Benjamen Armstrong, George Burge, Joseph Carter, Markko Reinberg, Nicholas Cron, Thomas Clements and Thomas Reynolds.

Paul Turner with two of the winning DEC students and law students Luke Trim and Danielle Foster.

The Paul Turner Individual Prize for the Best IP Student went to Gemma Jefferies whilst the Paul Turner Prize for the Best DEC Student was awarded to Coco Canessa.  The Individual Prize winners will officially receive their awards at the Graduation Ceremony in November 2013.

The opportunity to apply Intellectual Property Law to real-life scenarios and to real-life innovations together with helping the DEC clients to grasp the importance of IP law, makes this project truly unique.

The IP-DEC Project is co-ordinated by Dr. Dinusha Mendis (Law); Dr. Tania Humphries (DEC); and Dr. Reza Sahandi (DEC).

 

European Science Foundation and Global Changes in the Marine Environment

I was very proud to have been invited by the Institute of Marine Sciences – National Research Council (ISMAR-CNR) in Venice who developed on the European Science Foundation Platform, the Exploratory Workshop:  Marine woodborers: New Frontiers for European Waters. And I have to say that that was one of the most exciting research opportunities I have taken part of in the recent past.

The European Science Foundation (ESF) was established in 1974 to provide a common platform for its Member Organisations to advance European research collaboration and explore new directions for research. Currently it is an independent organisation, owned by 67 Member Organisations, which are research funding organisations, research performing organisations and academies from 29 countries.

The focus of the Exploratory Workshops scheme is on workshops aiming to explore an emerging and/or innovative field of research or research infrastructure, also of interdisciplinary character. Workshops are expected to open up new directions in research or new domains. It is expected that a workshop shall conclude with plans for follow-up research activities and/or collaborative actions or other specific outputs at international level.

The organisers, namely Davide Tagliapietra, Erica Keppel and Marco Sigovini – all from the ISMAR-CNR- did an amazing job in organising this much needed research group and by planning an excellent working programme.

The topic, centred on Marine woodborers is of utmost important as these organisms are a threat to maritime structure and archaeological heritage. Recently, an increase in attack and a northward spread has been reported. Despite the ecological, economical and cultural importance, research on this subject is carried out by few scientists scattered across Europe. An interdisciplinary approach is needed to reach a synthesis of knowledge and a deeper understanding of the causal factors. The main outcome of the workshop is the establishment of a research network aiming to coordinate scientists with an European perspective and a global view. Through the establishment of such a network, new theoretical and technical developments could be achieved.

The agenda of the workshop was to focus on:

1) bringing together experts in complementary fields that have hitherto not collaborated as a group;

2) identifying additional research competences that are not covered within the group of participants;

3) identifying, exchanging and sharing research interests for future joint leading research projects and developing an application strategies;

4) the establishment of an international network on marine woodborers.

Despite the subject ([wood-]‘boring’ organisms), there wasn’t a single dull moment. It was very exciting to spent a considerable amount of time with international peers coming from as far as Colombia and discussing the problems surrounding these particular organisms.

All sessions were extremely interesting and productive and I totally enjoyed chairing one of them in the Knowledge Café, with my hat of maritime archaeologist whose research interest based also based on marine organisms and global changes, but I am also one of few who combines degradation and protection of the cultural heritage and marine science. The Knowledge Café focussed on Systematics and biogeography, Marine woodborer-microorganism interactions, Protection of shipwrecks and maritime structures. Each group discussed weaknesses: Problems, constrains and bottlenecks, Strengths: Opportunities, synergies, and Perspectives: Solutions, actions and recommendations.

19 international peers attended, which was by invitation only, this amazing opportunity, some of which were old friends and some of which have become reference points for my current and future research on wood borers.

All with the amazing architectural beauties of a tiny Venetian island just in front of one of the world most famous squares: San Marco square!

Paola Palma 

Face Blindness Public Awareness Campaign Gets Underway!

Research from BU’s Centre for Face Processing Disorders was featured in a CBBC documentary today.  The film was entitled ‘My life: Who are you?’ and followed the journey of Hannah, a teenager with face blindness, as she participated in one of our training programmes and discusses the difficulties of everyday life.  The documentary also featured Hannah meeting another girl with face blindness for the first time, and her encounter with Duncan Bannatyne who also has the condition.

We are so pleased with the documentary, and felt the producers did an excellent job in portraying the condition with scientific accuracy, and in demonstrating the difficulties associated with face blindness.  Despite Hannah’s struggles she still maintains a positive attitude to life and the film does an excellent job of presenting her as the remarkable young lady that she is, who was so keen to make the film in order to raise public awareness of the condition.  Hannah’s story illustrates how life can be affected by brain injury, but her remarkable positivity shines through as the programme follows her journey.

If you missed the programme you can watch it here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/cbbc/episode/b01rlyc9/My_Life_Who_Are_You/

We recently launched an e-petition that aims to promote public and professional awareness of prosopagnosia by campaigning for its discussion in the House of Commons.  We need to gain 100,000 signatures to make this happen, so if you were moved by the documentary, please do add your signature:

http://www.prosopagnosiaresearch.org/awareness/e-petition

Our public awareness campaign has only just taken off so watch this space for more activities!

Ant Colony Optimization for Dynamic Optimization Problems

This interesting talk will take place next Wednesday the 5th of December, 16:00-17:00 at P302.
Our external guest is Dr Michalis Mavrovouniotis from the University of Leicester, an specialists in evolutionary algorithms, ant colony optimization, memetic computation and dynamic optimization.

Dr Mavrovouniotis will discuss very recent advances in nature-inspired computational intelligence. These ideas have also relevant implications for optimization problems, knowledge transfer and meta-learning; thus I think may be of great interest of many students, PhD candidates and senior researchers of the three centres in our school.
Abstract: In the last decade, there is a growing interest to apply nature-inspired metaheuristics in optimization problems with dynamic environments. Usually, dynamic optimization problems (DOPs) are addressed using evolutionary algorithms. Recently, ant colony optimization (ACO) algorithms proved that they are also good methods to address DOPs.

However, conventional ACO algorithms have difficulty in addressing DOPs. This is because once the algorithm converges to a solution and a dynamic change occurs, it is difficult for the population to adapt to a new environment since high levels of pheromone will be generated to a single trail and force the ants to follow it even after a dynamic change. A good solution to address this problem is to increase the diversity of solutions via transferring knowledge from previous environments to the pheromone trails of the new environment.

Best wishes, Emili

Emili Balaguer-Ballester, PhD

School of Engineering & Computing, Bournemouth University

Center for Computational Neuroscience, University of Heidelberg

Are we born to yawn?

Yawning consistently poses a conundrum to neurologists and neuroscientists. Increasingly, evidence is found to link neurological disorders through the commonality of yawning episodes and contagious yawning. Despite discrete incidences (such as parakinesia brachialis oscitans) in brain stem ischaemic stroke patients, there is considerable debate over the reasons for yawning, with the mechanism of yawning still not fully understood. Cortisol is implicated in the stress response and fatigue; repetitive yawning may be the link between neurological disorders and with a strong correlation between yawning and a rise in cortisol levels. Evidence has now been found in support of the Thompson Cortisol Hypothesis that proposes cortisol levels are elevated during yawning [1]. Additional data is in press, and further research is planned with longitudinal consideration to neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and stroke. Funding for such initiatives is currently being sought.

[1] Thompson, S.B.N., & Bishop, P., 2012. Born to yawn? Understanding yawning as a warning of the rise in cortisol levels: randomized trial. Interactive Journal of Medical Research, 1(5), e4:1-9. Doi: i-www.jmr.org/2012/e4/