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Monday, December 26, 2016

Are We More Risk Averse as We Get Older? It’s a Gray (Matter )


Risk Aversion and age
Newswise, December 26, 2016 — Age itself is not the determining factor in how an individual views or tolerates risk when making decisions; instead, it is the age-related decline in the volume of gray matter in our brains, research by NYU’s Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Decision Making shows.

“These results provide a basis for understanding the neural mechanisms involved in risky choices and offer a glimpse into the dynamics that affect decision-making in an aging population,” explains study co-author Paul Glimcher, a professor at NYU’s Center for Neural Science and director of the Interdisciplinary Study of Decision Making (IISDM).

“This research can help us improve how we communicate with the elderly about complex issues that may present risks to them.”

“Older adults need to make many important financial and medical decisions, often under high levels of uncertainty,” adds lead author Ifat Levy, an associate professor of comparative medicine and of neuroscience at Yale University and visiting professor at IISDM.

“We know that decision making changes with age, but we don’t really know what the biological basis of these changes is. In this paper, we make the first step towards answering this question, by showing that the decrease in gray matter volume in a particular part of the brain – posterior parietal cortex – accounts for the increase in risk aversion observed with age."

The study, which appears in the journal Nature Communications, focused on the right posterior parietal cortex (rPPC)—a part of the brain involved in planning movements, spatial reasoning, and attention.

For the study, the research team presented a series of choices to 52 study participants, aged 18 to 88 years. Participants could either receive $5 or take their chances with a lottery of varying amounts and probabilities.

For example, a participant could choose the certain gain of $5 or opt for a 25 percent chance of getting $20. The researchers also measured the gray matter volume in the posterior parietal cortex of each subject, drawn from MRI scans.

After analyzing the risk choices and MRI measurements, the researchers confirmed that age-related decline in risk tolerance correlates more with changes in brain anatomy than with age.

The study’s other authors were: Michael Grubb, an NYU postdoctoral fellow at the time of the study and now an assistant professor at Trinity College in Connecticut; Agnieszka Tymula, a senior lecturer at the University of Sydney; and Sharon Gilaie-Dotan, a postdoctoral fellow at University College London.


The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (R01 5R01AG033406, R21AG049293); the DOI for this paper will be 10.1038/NCOMMS13822.

Do Thoughts of Death Change Our Shopping Habits?


Shopping and thoughts of Death, Morality
A new study from Concordia and HEC explores how mortality affects consumerism

Newswise, December 26, 2016-- It's been that time of year again: when festive ads command consumers to BUY! BUY! BUY! for their friends and family. But despite this holiday cheer, negative news marches on.

Reports of plane crashes, terrorist attacks, fatal car accidents and deadly fires may lead shoppers to think more about their own mortality than buying that new holiday sweater for Uncle Dave.

But new research from the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) and HEC Montréal shows that, for people with certain world views, thoughts of death can actually trigger the buying impulse.

In a study recently published in The Journal of Consumer Affairs, marketing professors Michel Laroche and Marcelo Nepomuceno found that the habits of spendthrifts don't change after contemplating their own mortality.

Compulsive shoppers, on the other hand, go out and buy more.

"Previous research shows that thoughts of death lead individuals to strongly defend world views that maintain their self-esteem," Laroche says.

"In other words, thinking about death will likely make people cling even more strongly to their beliefs because it's a way to cope with mortality."

Laroche and Nepomuceno wanted to test this assumption with anti-consumers -- people who voluntarily resist consumption out of a sense of frugality or desire to live simply, and with over-consumers -- folks who shop till they drop, no matter the season.

The researchers ran two experiments with 503 North American university students. The respondents were first asked to answer questionnaires identifying their tendency to resist consumption. They were then randomly assigned to one of two groups:
1.     In the "death thoughts" group, participants were asked to describe what they would feel if they were dying.
2. In the control group, participants were asked to report what they would feel if they were submitted to a painful dental procedure.
2.     
'Anti-consumers seem to care less about consumption than over-consumers!'

Afterwards, participants indicated their inclination to purchase a series of products. By comparing the participants in each condition, the researchers were able to identify individual tendencies to increase or reduce consumption due to thoughts of death.

"Our expectation was that the anti-consumption individuals would become even more inclined to resist consumption. This would indicate that for them, resistance was an important source of self-esteem," Nepomuceno says.

"In fact, we found that anti-consumers were not influenced by thoughts of death, which suggests that they do not believe that resistance to consumption is a source of self-esteem. In other words, anti-consumers seem to care less about consumption than over-consumers!"

Interestingly, among consumers inclined to over-consume, the researchers found that thinking about death made them even more likely to buy.

"This indicates that such consumers see purchasing and having goods and services as an important source of self-esteem. When they think about death, they become more inclined to buy because this helps them feel better about themselves," Nepomuceno explains.


He and Laroche, who was recently named editor-in-chief of the Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences, hope that the results of this study will arm the general public -- especially those inclined toward retail therapy -- with a better understanding of how consumption is influenced by situational factors. They also aim to show the occurrence of such influences without the full knowledge of the consumer.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Brain Structure Best Explains Our Dwindling Tolerance of Risk

Aging brain and less tolerance of riskNewswise, December 19, 2016 — Our brain’s changing structure, not simply getting older and wiser, most affects our attitudes to risk, according to new research.

The University of Sydney’s Dr Agnieszka Tymula has for years been studying the factors that influence human decision-making. Until now, researchers could not say whether our tendency to make fewer risky decisions as we age was due to the wisdom of growing older, or our brain structures.

Published in Nature Communications this week, Dr Tymula and her co-authors from New York University, Yale University, University College London and Trinity College show risk aversion is better explained by changes in grey matter volume in an area in the brain’s right posterior parietal cortex, rather than by age itself.

“We know that as people age, they tend to become more averse to taking risks,” said Dr Tymula. “Yet, it seems there is something to the saying that everybody ages at a different pace. Our research suggests the speed at which our brain’s structure changes has a greater impact on our tolerance of risk than chronological age.”

In an experiment, the researchers asked more than 50 adults aged 18 to 88 to make choices between a guaranteed gain of $5 or ambiguous and risky lotteries with a payout of up to $120. Older participants preferred the guaranteed option, compared to younger participants.

Surprisingly, when researchers put these data into a model to determine what best predicted this change in preference, they found it was primarily driven by the neuronal density – the thickness and thinness of grey matter – in this brain region, rather than by age.

The results are published on December 14 in the high-impact journal, Nature Communications.

“Globally, we are experiencing an unprecedented demographic shift with people over 60 expected to outnumber children in only 30 years. Understanding how such a shift will affect decisions made in our societies on a political and economic level will be hugely important,” said Dr Tymula.

“When we choose our life partners, make a bet with a colleague, invest in a stock or vote in presidential elections, we cannot predict with certainty how these decisions will affect us and others. Understanding the brain’s structure can help us predict how our own and others’ decisions will change as our brain ages.”


The paper, Neuroanatomy Accounts for Age-Related Changes in Risk Preferences, will be available online in Nature Communications from 14 December 2016 Sydney 3am (AET) / 13 December 2016 London 4pm (GMT) at this link.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Downsizing the Elderly Smoothly is Possible with FairSplit.com and SeniorMoves.org

How to distribute elderly's property during downsizing moves
Downsizing is hard, indeed often the biggest move of a person's life, and comes when one is least able to do it for themselves. SeniorMoves.org's on-location services combined with the new FairSplit.com web based division tools combine to ease the burden on families in the Phoenix area

November 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- "It's hard to begin downsizing when you're not sure what needs to be done or who is going to do them", explained Tony Siebers of SeniorMoves.org in Mesa, Arizona. 

 "That was the explanation that Nancy, my Mother-In-Law, shared with me when asked why we had not downsized Grandma Doriene, "Gigi", earlier", Tony explained about his own family experience. 

The prospect of downsizing an aging loved one seems bittersweet at best.  Many families now look for professional senior move management services.

Being a former military officer and corporate strategy executive for large companies, Tony knew the tragic outcomes of being paralyzed with indecision. 

He decided to focus his attention on the problems of his own family's move, learned from those, and started SeniorMoves.org after receiving training from the National Association of Senior Moves Managers.

With training as a Senior Move Manager, Tony had a methodology to focus on the physical and emotional needs of seniors and their families who are downsizing and help move them forward. 

In addition to fears of change, his own family was literally spread out across the world; from Japan to Washington D.C. to California.  While all understood that Gigi would move in with her daughter when the time came, the biggest emotional hurdle was what to do with the things that were no longer needed by Gigi. 

Conflicting family opinions on who wanted and should get what made downsizing complex.  Adding to that challenge, Gigi literally asked Tony, "How can I be equitable?". 

FairSplit.com turned out to have the solution and became SeniorMoves' first technology partner.  Their new web based technology platform allowed full engagement of the family and transparency to the downsizing process. Their slogan, "divide things, not families" fit well with the SeniorMoves' philosophy.

The process included consideration for emotional and monetary values. FairSplit.com founder David MacMahan says: "We provide a centralized location for everything online and a process to get things listed, sorted and fairly divided so the house can be cleared and the move made."

FairSplit.com, started as an easy to use web-based platform to share Gigi's belongings and gauge family interest in her heirlooms.  

Through the FairSplit process, Senior Moves quickly confirmed suspicions that the family did not want much, but instead felt that most of the items should be sold for Gigi's retirement fund. 

Gigi's family opted not to assign market values (i.e. eBay, Craigslist, etc.) for her belongings, but other families using Fairsplit.com have chosen to include and track market values.

Today, Fairsplit.com is a significant part of the Senior Moves' downsizing process.  When mobility and distance are core concerns, the online solution bridges gaps found in many families when trying to accomplish the move of a lifetime for someone mostly limited to a chair.

SeniorMoves.org has multiple Senior Move Managers, referred to as Senior Advocates, and together, they offer senior downsizing, transition planning and move management solutions to the Phoenix-Metro market. 

Experienced in space planning, de-cluttering, packing and moving, the team specializes in families who are geographically separated from each other.  Tel: (480) 648-5079 Email: info@SeniorMoves.org,  www.seniormoves.org


FairSplit.com is a California company focused on improving the process of listing and peacefully dividing the assets in death, divorce and downsizing.  Website: www.FairSplit.comEmail: 132415@email4pr.com Tel: 855-58-ESTATe (855-583-7828) David MacMahan is founder and CEO, and a lifetime entrepreneur creatively solving pain with technology.

Eldercare Advocate Chris Cooper: Nine Nursing Home Selection Tips



November 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The holidays are a traditional time for families to discuss if it is time to put a relative in a nursing home. They soon discover that when it comes to eldercare, there is no such thing as being safe at home.



"Selecting the right environment for an elderly person to live is a series of tough decisions that a caregiver or caretaker must negotiate," says Chris Cooper, author of the candid new guide "Eldercare Confidential: Cautionary Tales for Adult Caregivers and Caretakers of Parents and Spouses" (Indie Books International, 2016).

Cooper is a California Licensed Professional Fiduciary who works with seniors, disabled persons, and other individuals who can't manage their affairs on their own, assisting with everything from day-today financial issues to investment and estate management.

"Caregivers and caretakers are often thrust into the role of fiduciary, either by legal appointment or by assuming the role because of their relationship to the elderly person who needs caretaking," says Cooper. "The duties are more than a moral responsibility, they are also a legal obligation."

Here are nine tips from the book to guide you in evaluating potential nursing homes:

  • The best time to tour a nursing home is on a Saturday evening. Because administrative and marketing staff won't be around at that time, you'll get a truer picture of what life is really like at the facility.
  • Make sure you visit when a meal is being served. You'll get a chance to see the quality (and quantity) of food firsthand. Make sure every resident gets enough to eat and that staff are available to help those who need assistance.
  • Find out how often the nursing home brings in nurses from a staffing agency. It's not unusual or a bad thing for a nursing home to occasionally have to turn to an agency to shore up its staff—after all, you want an adequate number of medical personnel on hand at all times. But if the nursing home is always bringing in new staff who aren't familiar with the facility or the patients, that could result in a lower quality of care for your loved one.
  • Consider long-term care. Medicare offers very limited coverage for nursing home stays. That's why many people purchase long-term-care insurance or set aside money so they can pay for care out of their own pocket.
  • Consistency of caregivers matters. In some facilities, a patient's caregivers may change from day to day. That can be unsettling and confusing for patients. Try to find a nursing home where the same caregiver sees the patient on most days.
  • You need to be proactive to make sure your loved one gets the care they need.Often, it helps to designate a single family member to serve as the representative who will take charge of the patient's care and deal with the nursing home.
  • Your loved one probably won't be able to choose their doctor. Instead, they'll be limited to whatever doctor(s) work with the nursing home. The facility's doctor may also be responsible for numerous patients. Nursing home doctors may visit the facility just once a week to make quick visits with patients.
  • You should make your family member's room feel as much like home as possible. Bring personal objects and pictures so the place is familiar and comforting to them.
  • Theft can be a problem. If your loved one has valuable items (like jewelry) make sure that they aren't left out anywhere where they could easily disappear. If possible, mark valuable items with your loved one's name.
  •  
Cooper advises it is important to check with Medicare, Medicaid, and any private insurance provider to find out their current rules about covering the costs of long-term care.

When thinking about nursing home costs, keep in mind that you can have extra out-of-pocket charges for some supplies or personal care—for instance, hair appointments, laundry, and services that are outside routine care.

The rules about programs and benefits for nursing homes can change. Visit www.medicare.gov for information about different care options. To learn more about the Medicaid program, see www.medicaid.gov.

Cooper is a passionate advocate for those trying to meet the crushing costs of medical care. More tips are available on his website www.chriscooper.com.

About Indie Books International

Indie Books International (www.indiebooksintl.com) was founded in 2014 in Oceanside, California by two best-selling business authors. Similar to indie film companies and indie music labels, the mission of Indie Books International is to serve as an independent publishing alternative for consultants, executive coaches and business thought leaders.

Examining How Falls Can Alter How We Approach Aging More than one in four adults 65 or older fall each year

Falls alter on how we approach aging issues
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it's estimated that falls account for roughly $31 billion in accrued medical costs each year. Moreover, falls become increasingly dangerous in the later stages of life

WALLINGFORD, Conn., Nov. 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- With decreasing temperatures and winter approaching, Stannah Stairlifts cautions that snow and ice can possibly cause an increase in slip and fall accidents. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it's estimated that falls account for roughly $31 billion in accrued medical costs each year. 

Moreover, falls become increasingly dangerous in the later stages of life. An icy walkway transforms from a minor nuisance into a hazardous road block and injuries caused by falls can have lasting effects that carry on throughout life.

"It is unfortunately not uncommon to see a previously active person experience a rapid decline in overall health due to complications from a fall," said Susan Wile Schwarz, director of communications, The Global Coalition on Aging.  

According to The Global Coalition on Aging, simple home alterations such as increasing the brightness of lighting, fitting your shower with grab bars or installing a stair lift, can help decrease your chance of falling. 

For example, these modifications can help an individual with an altered sense of perception due to dementia reduce the risk of falls and remain in their home longer. 

There are also some lesser known ways to lower fall risk. Many elderly people and their caregivers may not be aware of the connection between their overall health and proper skin care and nourishment. "Poor skin health can cause a decrease in sensory perception," added Schwarz. 

"With less sensation in our feet and legs, we are a greater risk of falling and injuring ourselves." 

According to Schwarz, this risk is particularly pronounced in those with diabetes and other conditions that negatively impact these nerves.

While home modifications and caring for your body can reduce your risk of falling, both The Global Coalition on Aging and Stannah Stairlifts emphasize that it is equally important to maintain a healthy mind. 

Staying both physically and mentally active will ultimately serve a critical role in preventing injuries while simultaneously cultivating a positive approach towards aging.

"A stair lift can provide independence to the elderly," said Martin Stevenson, North American business development manager, Stannah Stairlifts. 

"In addition to offering protection against falls, stair lifts also provide a positive mindset for these individuals and allow them to remain active and productive members of society as they age."

Schwarz added that caring for an elderly person is a team effort and the ability to provide high-quality care is critical to maintaining an older person's health, well-being and dignity. 

"Analyzing how we can prevent falls and provide better care for our injured loved ones highlights several important opportunities to change how society approaches aging," said Schwarz.

An increasing number of companies are beginning to see the value of applying an aging perspective to how they conduct business. With help from initiatives such as the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Ageing's: Age-Friendly Business Principles, businesses are discovering the importance of adapting proactive policies that acknowledge the increasing number of employees caring for an elderly loved one. By providing services such as flexible hours, setting different schedules, or allotting more telecommuting capabilities, these companies are finding that supporting their employees' ability to fulfill their responsibilities at home also benefits their bottom line as fewer employees are leaving full-time work or coming to work distracted.

"We need a care eco-system that ensures the later years of life are as rewarding as possible," said Schwarz. 

"It is important that we are able to remain active and independent as we age because, contrary to popular belief, these years can be some of the most dynamic and rewarding of our lives."

Stannah echoes this sentiment as it also serves as the company's core value. Stair lifts are a convenient way to re-establish independence and ensure your loved ones are navigating their homes safely and independently. 

The customer stories section on Stannah's website is evidence that a proactive and positive approach helps elderly individuals spend more time doing the things they love.
"We've found tha
t a person will be much happier aging at home instead of an assisted living facility," added Stevenson. "Stair lifts help keep people in the homes they love and avoid accidents that could disrupt their lives."

To learn more about the mission of The Global Coalition on Aging please visit www.globalcoalitiononaging.com. Additionally, discover how Stannah can help you or your elderly loved one by visiting http://www.stannah-stairlifts.com.

About Stannah Stairlifts:      
Stannah is recognized around the world as the company that brings freedom, independence and a strong sense of safety back to anyone who has difficulty overcoming the challenges posed by the stairs in their home. Indoors and outdoors, around the world there are more Stannah stairlifts in place than any other brand.

Ever since Stannah was established as a family-owned company almost 150 years ago, we have been committed to quality craftsmanship. Safety, reliability, and value are the tools of our trade, while you, our customer, are our primary focus. We want you to understand and enjoy freedom, independence and the inescapable feeling of pride that comes from being the master of your home.

About The Global Coalition on Aging:
                                                                                     
The Global Coalition on Aging aims to reshape how global leaders approach and prepare for the 21st century's profound shift in population aging. The Coalition uniquely brings together leading global corporations across industry sectors with common strategic interests in aging populations, a comprehensive and systemic understanding of aging, and an optimistic view of its impact.
Through research, public policy analysis, advocacy and communication, the Coalition advances innovative solutions and works to ensure global aging is a path for fiscally sustainable economic growth, social value creation and wealth enhancement. The Coalition operates along four pillars of health and wellness, education and work, financial security, and technology and innovation to promote basic reforms to address the 21st century's age-driven demographic realities.

Chubb White Paper Finds Pre-Retirees Emphasize Legacy Building Over Wealth Accumulation

Financial planning goals for America's Elderly November 30, 2016 -- Many Americans aged 51 to 69 have a unique outlook on life, particularly when it comes to financial management and insurance, according to a new white paper from Chubb. While sharing several of the same interests and passions as younger cohorts, pre-retirees are more focused on legacy building than on wealth accumulation.  

"The Pre-Retirees: Changing Minds, Changing Needs" white paper explores the implications this changing mindset may have for wealth advisors and insurance agents. It also outlines the property and personal liability issues impacting pre-retirees, including risks associated with home ownership, travel and passionate pursuits.  

"Pre-retirees hold about $8 trillion in assets but, unlike younger generations, the majority are not focused on accumulating more wealth or property—rather, the emphasis is on what they have accomplished and the legacy they want to leave," explains Alanna Johnson, Senior Vice President, Premier Practice Leader, Chubb Personal Risk Services. 

"This has implications for how pre-retirees and their advisors approach risk management. Wealth advisors and insurance agents can best serve this generation by understanding the client's changing risk profile and designing a holistic risk management program that fits their lifestyle."
According to the white paper, some of the most pressing legacy building-related risks pre-retirees and their advisors should be aware of include:

  • Serving on non-profit boards that might not offer sufficient D&O liability coverage in the event of a lawsuit
  • Emerging property risks as a result of relocation as more pre-retirees move or purchase property to be closer to their adult children and grandchildren
  • Unforeseen gaps in protection when pursuing sophisticated wealth transfer strategies, such as the establishment of a trust or LLC
  • Having sufficient medical evacuation coverage and travel insurance in the event of an accident or injury abroad
A copy of "The Pre-Retirees: Changing Minds, Changing Needs" is available here.

About Chubb
Chubb is the world's largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company. With operations in 54 countries, Chubb provides commercial and personal property and casualty insurance, personal accident and supplemental health insurance, reinsurance and life insurance to a diverse group of clients. 

As an underwriting company, we assess, assume and manage risk with insight and discipline. We service and pay our claims fairly and promptly. The company is also defined by its extensive product and service offerings, broad distribution capabilities, exceptional financial strength and local operations globally. Parent company Chubb Limited is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: CB) and is a component of the S&P 500 index. Chubb maintains executive offices in Zurich, New York, London and other locations, and employs approximately 31,000 people worldwide. Additional information can be found at: chubb.com.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Older Men Cling To 1950’S, ’60’S Blueprint Of Masculinity


Newswise, October 26, 2016 — As men age, they continue to follow dominant ideas of masculinity learned as youth, leaving them unequipped for the assaults of old age, according to a new study.

The mismatch between aging and the often ageless expectations of popular masculinity leaves senior men without a blueprint to behave or handle emotions, according to a new literature review from Case Western Reserve University.

Men who embodied prevailing cultural and societal hallmarks of manliness as younger men—projecting an aura of toughness and independence, avoiding crying and vulnerability, while courageously taking risks—are confronted by the development of health problems, loss of spouses and loved ones, retirement and needing to be a caregiver for ailing family members in later life.

“Who you are in the past is embedded in you,” said Kaitlyn Barnes Langendoerfer, a doctoral student in sociology at Case Western Reserve and co-author of the review, which mined narrative data from nearly 100 previously published studies.

 “Men have trouble dealing with older age because they’ve followed a masculinity script that left little room for them to negotiate unavoidable problems.”

“In our study, we hear men struggling with grief—which is a vulnerable state—and caregiving, which is associated with femininity,” she said.

“If they must cry, men feel it’s to be done in the home, away from others, even when spouse has died. They have to renegotiate their masculinity in order to deal with what life is bringing their way.”

This masculinity “script” still embraced by older men was outlined as the four-part Blueprint of Manhood, first published by sociologist Robert Brannon when the men in the studies were entering adulthood in the 1970’s. The blueprint included:

No Sissy Stuff - men are to avoid being feminine, show no weaknesses and hide intimate aspects of their lives.
The Big Wheel - men must gain and retain respect and power and are expected to seek success in all they do.
The Sturdy Oak – men are to be ‘‘the strong, silent type” by projecting an air of confidence and remaining calm no matter what.
Give ‘em Hell – men are to be tough, adventurous, never give up and live life on the edge.

“We’re all aging; it’s a fact of life. But as men age, they’re unable to be who they were, and that creates a dissonance that is hard to reconcile,” said Langendoerfer, who studies aging in men.

“We need to better understand how older men adapt to their stressors—high suicide rates, emotions they stifle, avoiding the doctor—to hopefully help them build better lives in older age,” she said.

The review, published in the journal Men and Masculinities, was co-written by Edward Thompson Jr., an emeritus professor of sociology and anthropology at the College of the Holy Cross and now an affiliate of the Department of Sociology at Case Western Reserve.


Most of the data came from studies with white, middle-class men from the United States, Canada and Europe who had stable careers. “More research inclusive of different races and socioeconomic backgrounds is needed to obtain a more complete picture of how older men adapt,” Langendoerfer said. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Designing The Future Internet

 Credit: Shutterstock/monicaodo
New smart objects of future internet develop;mentRutgers’ Dipankar Raychaudhuri in the forefront of creating a mobile-friendly internet that can handle billions of devices and smart gadgets

The Internet of Things includes smart objects like fitness monitors, smart watches, smartphones and home thermostats.

Newswise, October 24, 2016 — This century, our world will be flooded with hundreds of billions of smartphones, gadgets, sensors and other smart objects connected to the internet.

 They will perform myriad services, such as monitoring our health, helping run households and boosting driver safety. At Rutgers, Dipankar “Ray” Raychaudhuri is at the forefront of efforts to redesign the internet to handle the enormous increase in traffic.

“The traffic that comes from mobile devices into the internet has been increasing exponentially. It used to be 10 percent five years ago – now it’s over 50 percent,” said Raychaudhuri, a distinguished professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the School of Engineeringand director of the WINLAB (Wireless Information Network Lab).

“As a result, mobile wireless capacity is beginning to run out,” he said.

“That’s why cellular operators have to give you data limits. When you try to use a mobile phone and you’re downloading a web page, it stalls unexpectedly at times and you have to wait for the signal to improve. Also, there are all kinds of holes in the security system that need to be fixed.”

In 2010, the National Science Foundation (NSF) launched a Future Internet Architecture initiative and invited academics to take a fresh look at the internet. Raychaudhuri and colleagues proposed a“MobilityFirst” project aimed at reimagining the Internet, winning major NSF funding.

The MobilityFirst project, now in its sixth year, includes experts at Rutgers, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke University, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The NSF provided $3.275 million to Rutgers from 2010 to 2014 and $2.9 million since 2014, said Raychaudhuri, the project’s principal investigator.

“The internet has a lot of duct tape on it,” he said. “It works very well, but it has some limitations, especially when you try to do more mobile communications. How to re-architect the internet is a very ambitious goal.”

The MobilityFirst project is centered on shifting from the current internet protocol (IP) – an elegant, address-based routing technology designed in the 1970s – to name-based routing, he said.

An IP address is a unique number for an internet device, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which allocates the numbers used to route internet traffic to devices.

MobilityFirst’s name-based approach would be a fundamental change. Names would represent people, mobile phones, internet devices, small sensors or any other objects connected to the internet, said Raychaudhuri, a native of India who received his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the State University of New York, Stony Brook.

The benefits of MobilityFirst include more flexible services, better security, support for mobility across many technologies, efficiency and the ability to handle large volumes of traffic and data.

“We are not expecting to rip out the old internet,” Raychaudhuri said. “The internet has a lot of nice properties that we don’t want to lose.

“But one of the challenges for today’s internet is that with all these different modes of communication, some of them such as mobility services, broadcasting or content delivery are not handled very efficiently, and this could lead to flooding the network with too much data.”

The different modes of communication include the “Internet of Things” – a swiftly flowering field featuring smart objects, such as fitness monitors and smart watches, home thermostats and lighting, smartphones and devices with sensors.

Smart objects are expected to become pervasive in society, managing energy use in homes, monitoring food consumption, diagnosing health problems, monitoring cybersecurity and making driving safer, among other benefits.

Some 50 billion smart objects are anticipated by 2020, and 1 trillion sensors soon thereafter, according to the NSF.

“The Internet of Things has a lot of potential, but it needs fast and low delay networks that can ensure that data are received in time,” Raychaudhuri said.

“A lot of people are working on how to make cellular networks faster – so-called '5G' – and more functional, and many of the goals are similar to what we have in the MobilityFirst project.”

Three MobilityFirst trials are underway or planned, including one with SES, a satellite services company with a Princeton office. SES is using the MobilityFirst system to deliver content closer to its users, reducing the cost and improving user experience.

The second trial – with the University of Wisconsin-Madison – will show how an internet service provider’s circuits can be extended to offer mobile service.

The third trial, led by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in Texas, will look into how to do targeted emergency messaging in a disaster-recovery scenario, such as following a terrorism incident or a major hurricane like Katrina in 2005.


The Internet of Things also covers virtual reality and augmented reality, with people wearing special glasses that, for example, provide directions as they walk or show the stores in a shopping center, said Raychaudhuri, who joined Rutgers in 2001 after working at a startup company called Iospan Wireless in Silicon Valley, as well as the NEC USA C&C Research Laboratory and Sarnoff/ RCA Laboratories, both in Princeton, New Jersey.

New Research Explores What It Means When A Child Loses A Pet

When a child loses a pet
Publisher's note:  We offer this story as a gentle reminder that loss is a part of living, and that the first instance of this is often as a child suffering the loss of pet--or even a family member.  Loss is Loss, hopefully this article will offer some guidelines of the grieving process as findings show children describe their pets as siblings or best friends and have an existential fairness around whether or not an animal lived until an appropriate age.

Newswise, October 24, 2016 — Given the relatively short lifespans of many pets, it’s not unusual for children to witness the realities of life played out in their homes. But “how children understand death in these moments, and the ideas, feelings and responses they have when their pets die are largely ignored topics,” says Joshua J. Russell, PhD. 


New research by the assistant professor of animal behavior, ecology and conservation (ABEC) at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, reveals that pets are more than just animals to children.

 “They often see themselves as the center of their pets’ affections,” says Russell, who conducted one-on-one interviews with children between the ages of six and 13. “They describe their pets as siblings or best friends with whom they have strong connections.”

For example, Neville, a 13-year-old boy was shaken by the sudden death of his cat, even though it occurred two years earlier. “I asked Neville how he felt when he learned his cat was struck by a car and he replied, ‘My life was over.’”

Unfortunately, the joy of owning a pet often goes hand-in-hand with the heartbreak of losing one. Children, in particular, “have a distinct sense of existential fairness around whether or not an animal lived until an appropriate age,” Russell explains.

A short lifespan “is normal for hamsters and fish,” according to the children interviewed, “but unexpected for dogs, cats and rabbits.” Similarly, different kinds of deaths mean different things to children.

“Children whose pets lived the extent of their potential lifetimes – or beyond – expressed acceptance upon their deaths,” Russell says.

The children also suggested that euthanasia “was the moral thing to do when a pet is suffering.

” Conversely, children whose pets died unexpectedly “described it as emotionally and morally unfair, and had a much more difficult time reconciling the loss.”

In all instances, family and friends helped the children cope with the loss of their beloved pets through discussions and family rituals.
Although, Russell discovered ambivalence about whether a new pet would lessen their grief.

“There were those who felt it would be wrong to move on to a new pet because they had to honor their relationships with the deceased one.” Several children, however, “explicitly linked getting a new pet with feeling better,” Russell continues.

“They explained it as an opportunity to start over and suggested that replacing a companion animal is more about beginning a new relationship than erasing memories of an old one.”

Neville summarized it best, Russell concludes, when he said, “Sometimes death is tragic, like when a cat is run over by a car. But ultimately, death is part of life and life does go on.”


Joshua Russell’s research involving children and non-human animals is ongoing. He is using a grant from the national Culture & Animals Foundation to investigate how children describe and derive meaning from wildlife recreational experiences, such as hunting and fishing.

Plan Ahead For Successful Agin

Newswise, October 24, 2016— For many people, the prospect of aging is scary and uncomfortable, but Florida State University Assistant Professor Dawn Carr says that research reveals a few tips that can improve our chances of a long, healthy life.

Tips for Successful AgingCarr, who joined FSU’s Department of Sociology and the Pepper Institute on Aging and Social Policy this fall, is working to identify social programs and policy solutions that improve and maintain quality of life as people age.

“The ultimate goal is to set people up for having a good life for as long as possible in ways that are meaningful and productive,” she said.

As a gerontologist, Carr studies the biological, cognitive and social processes involved in aging and the ways that societies construct systems to accommodate aging populations.

 Carr’s specialization in social gerontology means she pays particular attention to the idea of “successful aging,” or the ways that people can continue to lead fulfilling, emotionally satisfying lives as they get older.

Fundamental to understanding aging from the perspective of a social gerontologist is the important distinction between “successful aging” and pop cultural or cosmetic ideas about “anti-aging.”

“Anti-aging is a movement that views youth as the best state of being,” Carr said. “It’s focused on the idea that good agers are those who look, act and seem young.”

Conversely, the idea of successful aging is based on the notion that getting older can be a healthy and positive process — that it can yield its own unique experiences and outlooks.

Proponents of successful aging ideas argue that, with adequate and deliberate preparation, late-adulthood can be a time of increased self-actualization.

Carr, who previously served as a research associate at Stanford’s Center on Longevity, has published extensively on the subject of successful aging.

“What my research has done is to try and understand the shifts in the way we live as we get older,” Carr said.

“What I’m trying to understand is what we can do to keep health and cognitive performance up for as long as possible.”

Carr shared a few basic tips for becoming a successful ager.

Get a College Degree

There is no more crucial variable in the formula of successful aging than education. Research has repeatedly demonstrated the indispensible value of meaningful educational experiences, and especially of attaining a college degree.

“Education has been the biggest predictor of aging outcomes for a very long time,” Carr said.

“You just can’t hold a candle to number of years of education and its relationship to any outcome related to aging. It’s hard for me to ever imagine that education wouldn’t be beneficial to health, well-being and aging well.”

Eat Healthy
Eating well can have significant, measurable effects on aging outcomes. It’s important to find a healthy diet that works for your individual lifestyle.

“There are a lot of diets that work well, but none of them involve eating a ton of fast food,” Carr said. “It’s important to use nutrition in a way that doesn’t result in bad outcomes like heart disease and diabetes, but that can vary from person to person.”

Exercise
There is no substitute for a consistent exercise regimen.

“Exercise is crucial over the long term,” she said. “You can start at anytime throughout your life but it’s important to continue as much as possible. There’s no evidence that you can do too much, and exercise seems to be one of the few things that, for the average person with normal brain matter, keeps cognitive performance up later in life.”

Stay Socially Connected

Quality of social connection is one of the most reliable predictors of well-being in older individuals. This is particularly vital for older men, who tend to have a more difficult time forging important relationships as they age.

“Social connectedness is the thing that people probably pay the least attention to,” Carr said.

“Maintaining meaningful engagement with others through the duration of your life is crucial, and men aren’t so good at it, which is a problem.

”For example, research shows that older men who are married tend to do better than those who aren’t, so we know there’s something important in having close connections later in life.

“The thing is, it’s hard to have someone close to you later in life if you’ve never spent any time cultivating meaningful relationships with others.”

Carr recommends joining formal community groups as a way of ensuring sustained connection as we age.

“Embedding yourself in formal organizations like church, volunteer programs or book clubs can be a great way to cultivate relationships,” she said.

Plan Financially
It’s never too early to begin making financial arrangements for later life. While structures of economic inequality often make it difficult for some to plan in the long term, the prudent choice is always to begin considering your late-life finances as soon as possible.

“Being poor in later life is not good for your health,” Carr said.


“A lot of people don’t have control over that, which is a huge deal. But one thing we know to be true is that if you have a sufficient income, that’s pretty critical in improving outcomes. You have a lot working against you if you don’t have the money to maintain your well-being over time.” 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Ode to Recall: To remember events in order, we rely on the Brain’s ‘Symphony’

How the Brain Works to Recall Events
Newswise, October 17, 2016 — To remember events in the order they occur, the brain’s neurons function in a coordinated way that is akin to a symphony, a team of New York University scientists has found. Their findings offer new insights into how we recall information and point to factors that may disrupt certain types of memories.

“The findings enhance our understanding of how the brain keeps track of what happened and when it happened relative to other events,” explains Lila Davachi, associate professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science and the study’s senior author.

“We’ve known for some time that neurons increase their activity when we encode memories. What our study shows is there’s a rhythm to how they fire in relation to one another—much like different instruments in a symphony orchestra.”

The study’s first author was Andrew Heusser, a doctoral candidate in NYU’s Department of Psychology. Its collaborators were David Poeppel, a professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science, and Youssef Ezzyat, also a doctoral candidate in NYU’s Department of Psychology at the time of the research and now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania.

The research, which appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience, sought to determine the validity of a long-standing hypothesis, proposed in 1995 by neuroscientists John Lisman and Marco Idiart, which outlines how the order of memories is encoded.

The “theta-gamma phase coding” model states that when our brains create a memory for a specific event, our neurons oscillate in a coordinated fashion, with cells firing at high (gamma) frequencies. To encode the order of multiple events, cells representing each event fire in a sequence that is coordinated by a lower (theta) frequency brain rhythm.

To test this, the scientists had the study’s participants view a series of six objects (e.g., a butterfly, headphones, etc.), one at a time, on a computer screen.

During the experiment, researchers examined the subjects’ neural activity using magnetoencephalography (MEG), which captures measurements of the tiny magnetic fields generated by the brain.

Later, they asked subjects to recall the order of the objects they viewed.

In their analysis, the researchers examined the neuronal activity of the subjects when they first viewed the objects, then matched it to the results of the recall test.

Their data showed notable differences in the patterns of neural activity when the order of the objects was correctly encoded compared to when it was not.

Specifically, when the order of the objects was correctly encoded, the gamma activity associated with each object was temporally ordered along a slower theta oscillation so that the gamma activity for object 1 preceded that for object 2 and so on.

By contrast, when subjects incorrectly recalled the order in which the objects were presented, gamma activity was just as high—but there was no discernible pattern.

“When particular oscillations are in step with each other, we remember the order,” Davachi observes. “But when they are not, we don’t.”


The research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (RO1–MH074692).