Benfica, Juventus meet after 21-year wait

Written by admin on 07/30/2019 Categories: 佛山桑拿网

Despite their long traditions in European football, the teams have met only twice before, in the 1968 European Cup semi-finals and the 1992/93 UEFA Cup quarter-finals, when the current Juventus coach Antonio Conte played in both legs of a 4-2 aggregate win for the Italians.

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Both teams are unbeaten in the Europa League since they parachuted into the competition after finishing third in their respective Champions League groups.

Benfica, beaten in last season’s final by Chelsea, have barely had time to celebrate the Portuguese league title which they won for only the fourth time in 20 years on Sunday by beating Olhanense 2-0.

The Eagles will be without Argentine midfielder Eduardo Salvio, who broke his arm during the first half of the Olhanense game and is out for the rest of the season.

Juventus striker Carlos Tevez may be fit after missing his side’s last two games with a minor thigh injury and midfielder Arturo Vidal may also be back after a knee problem.

The Juventus stadium will host the final on May 14 in Turin and, as the only reigning domestic champions still standing, they are obvious favourites to win the competition.

“Many players in this team have never won a European competition and Juventus haven’t won a trophy in Europe for so many years,” Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio told UEFA广西桑拿,.

“Even if we’re coming to the end of the season and our legs are beginning to feel heavy, the trophy can give you that energy to give that bit extra.”

“When we didn’t qualify and moved into the knockout phase of the Europa League, the fact that the final would be at home clearly gave us an added boost.”

(Reporting By Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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Finance News Update, what you need to know

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WORLD FINANCE UPDATE:

The Australian dollar is almost level with its previous local close, in quiet post-Easter trading with no economic data or events to give investors direction.

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At 0630 AEST on Wednesday, the local unit was trading at 93.66 US cents, a touch down from 93.67 cents on Tuesday.

And the Australian share market looks set to open higher after Wall Street was pushed upward by solid earnings and major pharmaceutical-sector deals.

At 0645 AEST on Wednesday, the June share price index futures contract was up 18 points at 5,490.

ELSEWHERE:

MADRID – Credit rating agency Moody’s says Spain is “now firmly on an improving trend” with exports boosting the euro zone’s fourth-biggest economy as it crawls out of recession.

HARARE – Zimbabwe will not take any foreign investment capital as part of its controversial indigenisation policy, the finance minister says.

BRUSSELS – Belgium has announced that it had reached an agreement with the United States on sharing bank account information as part of international efforts to crack down on tax evasion.

WASHINGTON – Sales of existing US homes slipped in March to their lowest level since July 2012 as rising prices and a tight supply of available homes discouraged many would-be buyers.

NEW YORK – McDonald’s has pledged to boost its performance in Australia and other key markets after reporting a first-quarter drop in profits of 5.2 per cent.

AMSTERDAM – Unilever PLC, the producer of countless disposable containers that clutter the landfills of the world, says it is adopting technology that will cut the amount of plastic it needs to use in each bottle by 15 per cent.

NEW YORK – General Motors asked a US bankruptcy court to bar most suits filed over its faulty ignition system, arguing its 2009 court-approved bankruptcy re-organisation shields it from liability in most cases.

MILWAUKEE – Shares of Harley-Davidson have jumped almost 7 per cent in premarket trading after the company reported first-quarter earnings that were 18.7 per cent higher than a year ago.

PHILADELPHIA – Comcast Corp says its first-quarter net income rose by 30 per cent as ad revenue surged at broadcast network NBC.

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David Moyes’ swift exit a reminder of how football has changed

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By Mark Doidge, University of Brighton

The signs did not augur well for David Moyes.

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He began his career as the Chosen One, anointed by no less a person than Sir Alex Ferguson, the most successful manager in Manchester United’s history. Very quickly, however, his transfer targets did not materialise. In September his side lost to both of United’s arch rivals – Liverpool and Manchester City. It seemed the star was on the wane.

After that less-than-confident start to the season, Manchester United under Moyes struggled to build any momentum. Chelsea and Manchester City continued their success fuelled by petrochemical money from foreign owners. Elsewhere in the north west, Liverpool enjoyed a renaissance under their young, innovative manager Brendan Rodgers. Even Moyes’ old club Everton have seen a boost under Roberto Martinez.

Manchester United, meanwhile, languished in the league and in the Champions League. In January, some fans displayed a banner declaring: “Wish he wasn’t the chosen one”. By March, a plane had been charted to fly over Old Traffford sporting a banner declaring “Wrong one – Moyes Out”. The fans were getting restless. Defeat to Everton on Easter Sunday led to the sack.

Twenty-seven years previously, Moyes’ predecessor, Ferguson, took the reigns. Like Moyes, Ferguson was Scottish and moved from a club (Aberdeen) with a different pedigree to Manchester United. They finished eleventh in Ferguson’s first season, worse than Moyes’ seventh spot at the time of his sacking. However, Manchester United were 21st when Ferguson took over. The following season they finished second, but then hit trouble in 1988-9 when they finished 11th again. It was not until 1990, four years after Ferguson took over, that United won their first trophy under his management – the FA Cup. Ferguson then went on to win the league, European Cup and helped transform the club into the global brand that they now are.

How can we explain the contrast between Moyes and Ferguson? Why was one given time and the other given nine months?

All change

Ferguson’s tenure as United manager coincided with a period of dramatic transformation of European football. The business of football turned the sport into a global industry. In his book, The European Ritual, Anthony King has highlighted how political deregulation transformed European football. Media deregulation permitted new television channels like Sky to enter the market and pay more for television rights, as well as giving a global audience to matches. Players’ contracts were deregulated under the Bosman ruling, meaning that clubs could sign players from anywhere across Europe, and with fewer restrictions, at the end of their contract.

The clubs that could command the biggest audiences could afford the best players. Star players were accumulated by the most successful European clubs like Real Madrid, Juventus and Manchester United. The reorganisation of the European Cup into the Champions League further increased the power of the larger clubs and provided another global stage for their brands. In short, much of Ferguson’s success was due to being in the right place at the right time.

Yet global success brings conflict. Alessandro Portelli wrote in 1993 about the paradoxical relationship Italian fans have with their owners. The fans adore the owners for the success that their money brings their club. Yet they also resent the fact that they are reliant on the owners. This has occurred within the English game.

Fanning the flames

The stakes are so high in terms of commercial and on-the-pitch success that fans are keener for the good times to remain. They are no longer competing with local rivals for bragging rights but have global competitive advantage to worry about. As Peter Millward has shown in his book The Global Football League, fans of Liverpool and Manchester City were happy to have foreign owners if it enabled them to compete with the success of Manchester United. It was not important for a club to be run sensibly and within a budget – as has been the case at Arsenal – foreign investment was the only way to have on-the-pitch success.

Managers have evolved to be a form of protection for the owners. Yet managers are just part of an overall team. As clubs have become more professional, there are ever-growing squads of players, as well as teams of coaches, physiotherapists, masseurs and psychologists. There is also a hierarchy of owners and directors who are running the clubs in various ways. Plus there are wider political, economic and social changes that impact on success.

But the manager has become the de facto symbol for the success and failure of the team. It is they who fans call on to be sacked. Rarely do fans call for the resignation of the commercial director or the chief executive. Calling for the manager to be sacked is one of the rare examples where fan power appears to have an effect. Fans are buying into the global media image of football and demanding increased success on the pitch. Who owns football and how it is run does not attract the same attention or the same fervour from supporters, and when it does, the fans rarely claim a scalp.

Related: Comment: Don’t blame Moyes for Manchester United woes

Mark Doidge does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

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Rick Springfield announces Australian tour

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King of the 80s Rick Springfield has announced his first ever solo tour of Australia.

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The Grammy-winning singer and New York Times best selling author is returning to Australia with a national tour opening in Perth on October 7.

It’s been a while since Australian audiences have seen the Aussie rocker in concert with his own band, although he was the headliner for the Countdown Spectacular tour of 2007.

Springfield has sold more than 25 million records and has multiple top-40 hits, including Don’t Talk to Strangers, An Affair of the Heart, I’ve Done Everything for You, Love Somebody and Speak To The Sky. He won the Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal in 1981 for his hit Jessie’s Girl.

While based in the US, Springfield insists he’s still an Aussie at heart and can’t wait to perform in his motherland.

“My best memories of my early career are all centred around Australia. It will forever be my home. I cant believe I have never done a full tour in Oz as a solo performer,” he said in a statement on Tuesday night.

Springfield has been busy over the past few years. In 2010, Springfield released his autobiography, Late, Late at Night. It entered The New York Times best-seller list at No. 13 and hit the Los Angeles Times and Publishers Weekly lists as well. Rolling Stone named it one of the top-25 rock autobiographies of all time.

Springfield’s 2012 documentary An Affair of the Heart, which captured the close ties between Springfield and his fans, debuted at numerous film festivals and won special jury awards at the Nashville, Florida, Boston, and Daytona Film Festivals.

Last year he teamed up with Dave Grohl on Grohl’s multi-faceted passion project, Sound City and later this year he will release his first novel, Magnificent Vibration, and will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

RICK SPRINGFIELD AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES

Oct 7 – Crown Theatre, Perth

Oct 9 – Eatons Hill Hotel, Brisbane

Oct 10 – Twin Towns Services, Tweed Heads

Oct 11 – Revesby Workers, Whitlam Theatre

Oct 13 – Royal Theatre, Sydney

Oct 14 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney

Oct 16 – Wrest Point Entertainment Centre, Hobart

Oct 17 – Palais Theatre, Melbourne

Oct 18 – Theabarton Theatre

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Don’t blame Moyes for Manchester United woes

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By Chris Brady, University of Salford

Patience at Manchester United has run out.

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David Moyes has been sacked possibly sooner than was expected, but entirely predictably given the huge financial pressures that were looming if the team continued to under-perform.

As Old Trafford veteran, Ryan Giggs, steps temporarily into the hot seat, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that the business model of any sports club is mostly driven by what happens on the pitch. On-field success enhances each of the three revenue streams – match day, broadcasting and commercial.

In United’s most recent financial statement published on February 12, the projected revenue for the next financial year was around £420m. But this was predicated on the fact that the team would finish at least third in the Premier League and reach the quarter finals of both the FA Cup and the Champions’ League, only one of which happened.

As a consequence, somewhere in the region of £40m will be wiped off the bottom line of the balance sheet by the club’s failure to qualify for the Champions League alone. Perhaps more importantly, the necessary rebuilding of the team will be more difficult and cost much more than anticipated from a significantly weakened negotiating position. While the immediate financial situation will not be too burdensome – given the fantastic shirt deal already in the bag with Chevrolet and another in the offing with Nike – the future was beginning to look precarious and more than one year out of the Champions League considered unacceptable.

Sense out the window

So, the sacking of David Moyes was clearly a consequence of managerial failure but not entirely, indeed not even predominantly, that of Moyes himself. The real blame lies with the board and the CEO, or executive vice chairman, as Ed Woodward is called.

All normal recruiting and managerial sense seemed to fly out of the window from the moment Alex Ferguson resigned after 26 years in charge. Ferguson himself was permitted an over-powerful influence on the selection process whereas the sensible thing to do is not involve the outgoing person at all. Notwithstanding, the board and CEO sanctioned the selection of Moyes and then compounded that by allowing the incoming manager to bring with him an entirely untried (at this level) back-room team to replace an entirely tried and tested team.

Such mass movements are common in English football and do no favours to either the club or the manager himself. Managers will often demand such deals but they should be resisted. Of course, if at the end of the first season the manager wishes to replace staff that is entirely reasonable. Managers – and apparently Moyes was one – make a rod for their own back by taking on the entire responsibility for everything within the club and see delegation as a sign of weakness whereas it is the exact opposite. Clubs collude in this by abrogating their responsibility to manage the manager.

So, again, the CEO must take responsibility for endorsing the signings of Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata, as well as a lucrative new deal for Wayne Rooney. All three decisions smacked of desperation and it was difficult to see any strategic direction behind any of them. It was said at the time of Mata’s purchase that it was needed to appease the fans. That is no reason to spend £40m of the company’s money. The fans are appeased by sensible management, not rash, expensive decisions.

Moyes is carrying the can for the dismal performance this season and it is right that he should carry his share of the responsibility but it appears, at least from the outside, that he received scant support from those whose job it is to provide it. It may be a coincidence but when strong oversight and support for the managers is removed (as happened with with the departures of David Dein at Arsenal and David Gill at United) the omniscience of the head coach is exposed as a facade.

United fans should hope the board and CEO do their jobs better this time around. If not, United may be looking at a repeat of the post-Matt Busby era of multiple managers and chronic underachievement which eventually lasted more than 20 years.

Related: Comment: David Moyes’ swift exit a reminder of how football has changed

Chris Brady does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

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Why is there still no World Environment Organisation?

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By Lucien Georgeson, University College London

This secondary status and the subsequent lack of coherence in environmental matters harms global environmental governance.

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Wouldn’t having a World Environment Organisation (WEO) help to coordinate global environmental and climate change efforts?

Many calls, few answers

There have been 40 years of debate over a World Environment Organisation, starting with calls from US foreign policy strategists for an International Environment Agency. Instead, following the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was created the following year. Despite this positive step, this was a weaker reform than many proposed, and effectively curtailed further debate over the need for a specialised agency.

Such a global body was again suggested in 1989, principally by the Netherlands, France and Norway, in order to manage the reduction of ozone-destroying CFCs under the Montreal Protocol which came in to force that year. After the Rio+5 meeting in 1997, Germany, Brazil, Singapore and South Africa again called for a global umbrella body for the environment at the UN General Assembly.

The need for the UN to attend more efficiently to environmental matters was once again recognised at the 2005 World Summit. A draft proposal for environmental governance reform was discussed in 2008, but by February 2009 efforts had stalled.

Yet again, in the run up to Rio+20 in 2012 there were calls to use this significant milestone to reform international environmental governance. The challenges identified included the need to integrate science and policy, provide a voice for environmental sustainability, secure funding, and to build a coherent and cohesive approach to working within the UN system and meeting the needs of individual countries.

In the wake of the conference, it was recognised that global sustainable development issues need a permanent international champion. But delegates failed to uphold the proposal to “upgrade” UNEP to a specialised agency. So despite more than 20 years international conferences since the first Rio environmental summit in 1992, there is today a specialised agency for industrial development, but not for sustainable development.

The compromise reached in 2012 was to grant universal membership to UNEP, meaning that any of the 193 UN member states can hold a seat on the governing council, and it will receive with more funding from the UN budget. Despite the UN statement’s claims, this does not tackle any of the structural problems identified at Rio+20, such as the lack of an authoritative, global voice for the environment, and UNEP’s weak role at the science-policy interface.

The next, small steps

There are more than 500 Multilateral Environment Agreements; these are legally binding international agreements between three or more countries to tackle specific environmental challenges, many of which have their own secretariats and legal structures. But UNEP is, on the whole, unable to help implement policies. It has around 15 offices, whereas the UN Development Programme has 177. Its budget pales in comparison to other organisations.

There is also significant overlap of function and expertise between the various organisations that currently exist (and operate autonomously) at the international level. A WEO would deliver the same institutional specialisation of expertise that has been a feature of the UN system to date, and greater coordination on environmental issues. According to a recent report, 62 of 66 countries studied have “flagship” climate change legislation in place. Countries are taking action, but international coordination is conspicuous by its absence.

 

UN body by revenue; data from UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination. Lucien Georgeson

If there are to be Sustainable Development Goals post-2015, as with the Millennium Development Goals, there needs to be an organisation that can coordinate worldwide efforts and monitor progress. If supplied with adequate funding, a specialised agency for the environment could provide greater regional presence, deliver more on the ground, as well as offer improved technical assistance and policy guidance to governments.

The lack of a WEO remains a clear sign that the environment is not given the same global status as trade, health and labour, or even maritime affairs, intellectual property and tourism – all of which are represented by UN agencies. This continues, despite the existence of high level political groups on sustainable development, or initiatives like Ban Ki-moon’s Year of Sustainable Energy for All.

But is it too late? There would certainly be difficulties in integrating all those involved in administering the various environmental treaties and protocols, which have filled the void left by the lack of a more powerful agency specific to the task.

Such an organisation would provide a central point for collaboration around global efforts to tackle the causes and effects all environmental challenges, of which climate change may be the largest. As summarised by the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) excellent What We Know report, “we are at risk of pushing our climate system toward abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes with highly damaging impacts”.

I would argue that the reform of UNEP is a step in the right direction, but the job is far from done. Will there be renewed calls for more cohesive global governance following the latest report from the IPCC? The UN Economic and Social Council does have the mandate to create a specialised agency, a move that is strongly supported by 35 nations, but not backed by the US, Russia or China. Forty years on from Stockholm and 20 years on from Rio, a World Environment Organisation still seems a long way away.

Lucien Georgeson receives funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

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David Moyes sacked: Manchester United owners blasted

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Former Manchester United star Gary Neville and fans has blasted the team’s owners for the way manager David Moyes was sacked.

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Neville said that Moyes should have been given more time before his ousting.

The Manchester United Supporters Trust said the manner of the sacking was a “PR shambles” because of media leaks about the sacking.

   

United’s American owners, the Glazer family, ousted Moyes after less than 10 months in the post, with the team slumping in the Premier League and Europe’s Champions League.

   

“The last 15, 16 hours or however long it’s been, I don’t like it, it’s not the way in which the club should portray itself,” Neville, who won eight Premier League titles with United, told Sky Sports.

   

“But it’s the modern world, it’s how things seem to be dealt with now, but I’m a traditionalist and I think it could have been dealt with a whole lot better.

   

“I believe in managers being given time, I think they should be allowed to complete their work.”

   

But Neville added that Manchester’s results this year have been “poor”.

   

“As a fan I’ve not enjoyed watching it — I’m sure David Moyes himself hasn’t enjoyed watching it.”

   

Neville said Manchester United players must “take massive responsibility” for the bad season.

   

“I never once during my 17/18-year career at United turned around after a game and thought ‘you lost us that game boss’.

   

“It’s always the players. Players have to take responsibility, accountability in football.”

   

Sean Bones, vice chairman of the Manchester United Supporters Trust, expressed outrage at the way British newspapers knew about the impending sacking on Monday, calling it a “PR shambles” for the club.

   

“The story leaked before David Moyes has been spoken to, and that’s not the Manchester United way. There was no dignity or class in the way they went about it.”

   

Former United and England striker Michael Owen said the club may have had no choice but to act now.

   

“With the summer looming and a huge transfer kitty available, United had to be 100% (certain) Moyes was the right man,” Owen said on his Twitter account.

   

“Evidently they didn’t have the confidence in him in which case makes the timing absolutely right. Now the big question is who’s next?” he added.

   

Dwight Yorke who played in United’s team which won the Champions League, Premiership and FA Cup, believes interim manager Ryan Giggs could be the person to take permanent charge.

   

“There is never going to be someone like Sir Alex Ferguson but what we’re given here is a young manager who is looking to break in,” said Yorke.

   

“He’s not got the managerial skills but we thought that David Moyes had those skills going into Manchester United with the experience that he had for 11 years being at Everton and the wonderful job that he’d done.

   

“But he hasn’t been able to turn things over at Manchester United.

   

“I think for togetherness and getting the results and playing a certain way, a brand of football that is more eye-catching, the Man United way, I feel that Ryan Giggs is the right person.”

The contenders to replace Moyes include:

JURGEN KLOPP

Klopp has certainly caught the eye on the European stage in recent years, guiding his dynamic Borussia Dortmund side to the UEFA Champions League final in 2012/13 off the back of the Bundesliga titles they won under him in each of the previous two seasons. The German is a charismatic, young coach and would surely prove a popular choice among United fans.

LOUIS VAN GAAL

The Netherlands coach has a vast amount of top-level experience and success on his CV, having previously been in charge of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Ajax, and has been heavily linked with both United and Tottenham of late.

DIEGO SIMEONE

Another youthful coach who has rapidly risen to prominence over the past few seasons, former Argentina international Simeone led Atletico Madrid to the UEFA Europa League title in 2012 and has overseen their run to the Champions League semi-finals this campaign, while it is also currently leading the Primera Division ahead of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

LAURENT BLANC

Blanc won the Ligue 1 title as Bordeaux coach and looks set to secure it again this term with Paris St Germain, having had a stint in charge of the France national team in between. The fact that he spent time at Manchester United at the end of his playing career would likely count in his favour in terms of how he would be perceived by the club’s supporters.

RYAN GIGGS

There are few players as revered among the Old Trafford faithful as the 40-year-old Welsh midfielder, who is already part of the current United coaching staff on top of being a squad member. There would be considerable goodwill towards him from fans if he were to land the top job, but he lacks management experience. He looks a likely candidate to take the job on an interim basis, if not permanently.

SIR ALEX FERGUSON

The 72-year-old Scot, who has stayed on at the club as a director since finishing as manager, returning to the hot seat so soon after selecting Moyes to be his successor would certainly be interesting. Whether Ferguson would even entertain the idea is very much up for debate, as is the issue of what his comeback would mean for United in the long-term, given the age-old question of ‘how do you replace Fergie?’ would be straight back on the agenda

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Game on – Can video games make your brain level up?

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By Amy Reichelt

The violent content that many computer games contain and engrossing nature for players can lead to increased aggressive thoughts.

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But other studies have said that the root of any video game induced violence is actually due to frustration, as many of these games are challenging and require complex motor skills.

Aside from the frustration of getting beaten by the end of level boss again, the challenge of these games is part of the appeal. The sense of accomplishment having completed a game or getting that bit further through a level activates the brain’s reward system, causing release of dopamine, which keeps people coming back for more.

But recent studies have shown that video games might actually be good for your brain, leading to increases in grey matter in regions involved in co-ordination, decision making and memory.

Brain training

As with any challenging task – practice makes perfect. Take playing the piano for example. Brain scanning with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has shown that concert pianists have less activationin regions responsible for motor control.

This indicates that their brain has become more efficient when it comes to playing that piano than non-musicians. So, over time the brain can functionally adapt to task demands, an example of neuroplasticity.

Video games often involve fine motor co-ordination, sustained attention and problem solving, often under pressure, all of which give the brain a work out. Frequently playing video games has been shown to make our brains more efficient at the tasks involved in the game.

Game on? (JDevaun/Flickr)

In a recent study, researchers observed that the greater the amount of time people spent playing video games was associated with a greater brain volume in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and frontal eye fields. These brain regions are important in rapidly deciding what to do in a new situation, and in visual attention and rapid eye movements to targets.

Level up your brain with Super Mario

Playing video games has been shown to improve visual attention and memory, and also enhance spatial and motor skills. Last year, a study showed brain changes in adults who didn’t normally play computer games.

Participants played Mario 64 on the Nintendo DS for 30 minutes per day for two months and afterwards had increased brain volume in both the hippocampus and portions of the right prefrontal cortex.

The hippocampus is important in spatial navigation and memory, and the right prefrontal cortex is important in decision making and attention.

In addition, brain volume increases were greater in the subjects who reported really enjoying playing Mario 64 and found the experience rewarding. This indicates that activation of the reward system, which leads to dopamine release, could facilitate the neuroplasticity process.

Virtual world to real world

Whether enhancement of brain function from playing video games extends to the real world is currently being tested. Enhanced visual attention has been associated with playing action video games, which leads to the proposal that gamers could show improved response times and vigilance when it comes to everyday activities like driving a car.

If video games are able to improve brain function, then they could be a useful tool in the treatment of memory disorders and to help boost cognitive skills. In particular, video games may help prevent memory deterioration associated with ageing.

Researchers at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), created a video game called Neuroracer to help older people boost mental skills.

Healthy volunteers aged 60-85 played the game, which involves controlling the speed and direction of a virtual car along a hilly, twisting road. Simultaneously, coloured shapes on road signs appear and the player must push a button only when a particular kind of sign appears.

Playing the game significantly improved short-term memory and multitasking skills in the participants.

The jury is still out whether “brain training” computer games can make you smarter as improvements are attributed to practice effects. But video games are easily accessible and could prove a useful tool in keeping our minds active.

There is great interest in the development of specialised video games that could boost mental abilities. Video games that can increase attention could benefit children with attention deficit disorder, and games promoting social interaction could help children with autism.

Amy Reichelt does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

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Nickel continues its rise

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A surge in the price of nickel, driven by ongoing concerns regarding the global supply of the metal, has pushed base metals on the London Metal Exchange to close higher.

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At the close of open-outcry trading in the British capital on Tuesday, LME 3-month nickel was up some 2.2 per cent at $18,325 per metric tonne. Earlier in the session, the metal hit $18,332 per tonne, its highest price for 14 months.

“Used primarily in the stainless steel industry, this metal is currently being driven up by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and associated concerns about supply outages,” said analysts at Commerzbank.

Nickel prices have surged by more than 30 per cent year-to-date, aided by global supply concerns amid an ongoing ore export ban in Indonesia and persistent tensions over Ukraine. Russia is a major supplier of nickel, and concerns have mounted about the potential for disruption to Russian supply in the event of any sanctions on commodities exports.

Indonesia is a key supplier of ore to the Chinese nickel pig iron market. The enforcement of the export ban there, which started in January, has reduced China’s port stocks and ore imports. Prices have risen in line with supply limitations.

“The ore export ban in Indonesia is probably playing an even bigger role, however, with more and more market participants actually anticipating a supply deficit on the global nickel market before the year is out,” it added.

LME 3-month copper closed 0.3 per cent higher at $US6,669.50 per tonne, while aluminium closed 1.3 per cent higher at $US1,890 per tonne.

Copper prices were partially buoyed by data from China Monday, which showed imports of refined copper rising 48 per cent in March from a year earlier. China accounts for around 40 per cent of the world’s copper consumption.

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Transcendence doesn’t reach its potential

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Johnny Depp steps out of his flailing Jack Sparrow pigeonhole to great effect with his new thriller Transcendence.

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Depp loses the broad comedy in favour of a quiet and unnerving performance as Dr Will Caster, a foremost expert in artificial intelligence (AI). His work is driven toward creating a machine that can transcend the human brain and in doing so, possibly cure problems like cancer and poverty.

When a radical anti-technology organisation tries to put a stop to AI research, they give Will a death sentence and by doing so, accidentally offer him a way to succeed.

The question is whether he should. His best friend Max (Paul Bettany) has misgivings about uploading Will’s consciousness to a machine and what the result will mean, but Will’s ambitious wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) is too blinded by her emotions to be anything but hell-bent on keeping his mind alive.

By the time she realises what she has potentially created, it’s too late.

While not as effectively executed, Transcendence hold similarities to Spike Jonze’s excellent Her, as the latest film to delve into the AI debate.

The directorial debut from Inception cinematographer Wally Pfister, Transcendence is terrific fodder for the cinema, but a bit too complex for its own good. However, within the muddled storytelling, there is a lot of food for thought.

At its opening, you’re presented with an intriguing world, where keyboards are perfect doorstops and mobile phones not much more than litter.

Bettany’s Max, who acts as narrator, takes us back in time to show how it all happened.

When Pfister worked on Inception, director Christopher Nolan handled a similarly complicated and clever story, but here, it’s just not told as confidently and the story becomes a bit slow and confused.

While it’s nice to see Depp outside the crazy Lone Ranger/Pirates-style roles, his on-screen relationship with Hall, another great actor, doesn’t feel all that believable or real. As such, it’s hard to get emotionally involved with the characters.

Transcendence tackles a tricky topic and doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head, but is thought provoking nonetheless.

* Transcendence is released in Australian cinemas on April 24.

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