Cork Open Research Archive (CORA) is UCC’s Open Access institutional repository which enables UCC researchers to make their research outputs freely available and accessible.
UCC Research Communities
Cannabinoids on the brain
Cannabis has a long history of consumption both for recreational and medicinal uses. Recently there have been significant advances in our understanding of how cannabis and related compounds (cannabinoids) affect the brain and this review addresses the current state of knowledge of these effects. Cannabinoids act primarily via two types of receptor, CB1 and CB2, with CB1 receptors mediating most of the central actions of cannabinoids. The presence of a new type of brain cannabinoid receptor is also indicated. Important advances have been made in our understanding of cannabinoid receptor signaling pathways, their modulation of synaptic transmission and plasticity, the cellular targets of cannabinoids in different central nervous system (CNS) regions and, in particular, the role of the endogenous brain cannabinoid (endocannabinoid) system. Cannabinoids have widespread actions in the brain: in the hippocampus they influence learning and memory; in the basal ganglia they modulate locomotor activity and reward pathways; in the hypothalamus they have a role in the control of appetite. Cannabinoids may also be protective against neurodegeneration and brain damage and exhibit anticonvulsant activity. Some of the analgesic effects of cannabinoids also appear to involve sites within the brain. These advances in our understanding of the actions of cannabinoids and the brain endocannabinoid system have led to important new insights into neuronal function which are likely to result in the development of new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of a number of key CNS disorders.
The effect of superoxide dismutase enzyme inhibition on renal microcirculation of spontaneously hypertensive-stroke prone and Wistar rats
(Czech Academy of Sciences, 2018-01)
A significant factor in the development of hypertension may be excessive vasoconstriction within the renal medulla. This study therefore investigated the role of superoxide dismutase (SOD) in the regulation of renal medullary and cortical blood perfusion (MBP and CBP, respectively) in both stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRSP) and normotensive Wistar rats. CBP and MBP were measured before and after intra-renal infusion of the SOD inhibitor, diethyldithio-carbamic acid (DETC). Under basal conditions, mean arterial pressure was significantly greater in SHRSP than Wistar rats, but both MBP and heart rate (HR) were significantly lower in SHRSP relative to Wistar rats (P<0.05, n=7 in both groups). Infusion of DETC (2 mg/kg/min) into the cortico-medullary border area of the kidney significantly decreased MBP in the SHRSPs (by 28+/-3 %, n=7, P<0.05), indicating a greater vasoconstriction within this vascular bed. However, DETC also significantly decreased MBP in Wistar rats to a similar extent (24+/-4 %, n=7, P<0.05). These results suggest that superoxide anions play a significant role in reducing renal vascular compliance within the renal medulla in both normotensive and hypertensive animals, although the responses are not greater in the hypertensive relative to the control animals.
One-to-one LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® positive psychology coaching for emerging adults: a single-participant case study
Purpose: This study explores one-to-one LEGO® Serious Play® in positive psychology coaching (1-1 LSP in PPC) as an intervention to help emerging adults (EAs) in higher education develop a growth mindset. Design/methodology/approach: This is a qualitative single-participant case study of an EA undergraduate student's experience with 1-1 LSP in PPC to help him navigate uncertainty about making a decision that he felt would influence his future career. Findings: 1-1 LSP in PPC enabled the participant to create a metaphoric representation of how a growth mindset operated for him, promoting self-awareness and reflectivity. The LEGO® model that the participant built during his final session acted as a reminder of the resources and processes he developed during coaching, which helped him navigate future challenges. Research limitations/implications: This study contributes to the emerging literature on the impact of using LSP as a tool in one-to-one coaching in higher education. The participant's experience demonstrates that 1-1 LSP in PPC may be an effective way to support positive EA development. More research is needed to explore its potential. Practical implications: This study provides a possible roadmap to incorporate 1-1 LSP in PPC into coaching in higher education as a reflective tool to build a growth mindset in EA students. Originality/value: Because most undergraduates are EAs navigating the transition from adolescence into adulthood, universities would benefit from adopting developmentally informed coaching practices. 1-1 LSP in PPC may be an effective intervention that provides the structured and psychologically safe environment EAs need to develop lasting personal resources.
Reimagining care discourses through a feminist ethics of care: analysing Ireland’s Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality
(Bristol University Press, 2022-12-16)
The COVID-19 pandemic brought to the fore stark gendered care inequalities and the inadequacy of care provision across states. This article presents a feminist-ethics-of-care-informed discourse analysis of the representation of care that emerged at the Irish Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality – an innovative government-created citizen deliberation process. It identifies how care was represented as a ‘problem’ of both gender inequality and the market, and uncovers key silences, which ignored care as a universal need of all citizens and the significance of care networks to sustaining caring. We propose the necessity of ethics-of-care-based understandings to address post-pandemic care challenges.
Metaheuristics and machine learning for joint stratification and sample allocation in survey design
(University College Cork, 2022-01)
In this thesis, we propose a number of metaheuristics and machine learning techniques to solve the joint stratification and sample allocation problem. Finding the optimal solution to this problem is hard when the sampling frame is large, and the evaluation algorithm is computationally burdensome. To advance the research in this area, we explore and evaluate different algorithmic methods of modelling and solving this problem. Firstly, we propose a new genetic algorithm approach using "grouping" genetic operators instead of traditional operators. Experiments show a significant improvement in solution quality for similar computational effort. Next, we combine the capability of a simulated annealing algorithm to escape from local minima with delta evaluation to exploit the similarity between consecutive solutions and thereby reduce evaluation time. Comparisons with two recent algorithms show the simulated annealing algorithm attaining comparable solution qualities in less computation time. Then, we consider the combination of the k-means and clustering algorithms with a hill climbing algorithm in stages and report the solution costs, evaluation times and training times. The multi-stage combinations generally compare well with recent algorithms, and provide the survey designer with a greater choice of algorithms to choose from. Finally, we combine the explorative properties of an estimation of distribution algorithm (EDA) to model the probabilities of an atomic stratum belonging to different strata with the exploitative search properties of a simulated annealing algorithm to create a hybrid estimation of distribution algorithm (HEDA). Results of comparisons with the best solution qualities from our earlier experiments show that the HEDA finds better solution qualities, but requires a longer total execution time than alternative approaches we considered.